According to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen, including military officers as high as colonel, refused orders to participate in the Iraqi government’s assault on Basra.
The deserters either had no stomach for killing fellow Iraqis or they feared the later consequences (i.e., deadly retaliation) for doing so.
Not surprisingly, the refusal to kill fellow Iraqis is causing U.S. officials to doubt the “effectiveness” of Iraqi forces. One senior U.S. military official, who chose to remain anonymous, said that he expected the Iraqi government to deal firmly with the deserters. That’s not surprising, of course, given that it is standard U.S. military doctrine that soldiers are expected to obey the orders of their commander in chief to kill people, even if the soldiers believe that the killings are wrongful.
That’s, of course, what the Pentagon’s criminal prosecution of Lt. Ehren Watada is all about.
Watada, an American officer, refused orders to deploy to Iraq where he would be expected to kill Iraqis. The reason that he refused to obey such orders is that since Iraq had never attacked the United States, killing Iraqis in a war of aggression would be morally wrong.
The U.S. government’s response to Watada: We don’t care about your crisis of conscience. Obey orders to deploy to Iraq and kill Iraqis or be punished severely.
So, this is what we have come to in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq — encouraging Iraqis to kill fellow Iraqis and expecting them to be punished for refusing orders to do so, even while punishing American soldiers for following their conscience by refusing to kill people in a war of aggression, a type of war that was punished as a war crime at Nuremberg.
It’s all just one more reflection of the moral debauchery into which U.S. foreign policy has plunged our nation.
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