"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."


June 15, 2006

We call on the U.S. Army to honorably discharge, without a court-martial, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who has announced he will refuse to deploy to Iraq.

At a press conference in Tacoma on June 7, Lt. Ehren K. Watada announced that he will refuse to obey the order to deploy with a Fort Lewis Stryker brigade being sent to fight in Iraq later this month. His reason: the Iraq war is illegal, and therefore "as an officer of honor and integrity I must refuse that order."

Media coverage and commentary on Lt. Watada's refusal to fight in Iraq have focused on questions of character and circumstance. Is Lt. Watada courageous or cowardly? Did he join the military for idealistic or self-interested reasons? Is he motivated by faithfulness to his oath as an officer to support and defend the Constitution, or is he a willing pawn of the peace movement? Lost in these ad hominem discussions is his argument about the nature of the Iraq war. Admirable as he is as an individual, it is Lt. Watada's legal argument that is of central importance. Every American should study it.

Lt. Watada stressed in his statement that his decision to disobey the order to deploy is based primarily on his belief in the rule of law. Appearing with him on June 7 was Marjorie Cohn, president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild and professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, who has written extensively and testified about the illegality of the war. She said: "Lt. Watada is correct when he says this is an illegal war."

Lt. Watada's argument that he is legally obligated to disobey the order to fight in Iraq is not complicated. It can be summed up in one sentence. Together, the United Nations Charter, international conventions the U.S. has signed, and the Nuremberg Principles make wars of aggression crimes against the peace and create a legal obligation not to participate in them, and Article VI of the United States Constitution makes these documents part of American law as well—in fact, makes them "the supreme Law of the Land."

Lt. Watada also believes that the process by which the Iraq war was authorized violated the principle of checks and balances established in the first three articles of the U.S. Constitution, and that the occupation of Iraq is being conducted in a way that violates regulations established in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10.

Lt. Watada is calling on all Americans to stand up for fundamental principles. "It really is time to start sacrificing something for democracy," he said in Tacoma. Asked what he expected of Americans who hear about his case, he said: "Please—don't just say, 'That's a great guy, I support him.' We all need to make sacrifices."

Today, the number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war reached 2,500. This number has mounted steadily for 1,184 days, with no end in sight. Iraqi civilians who have been killed certainly number many tens of thousands; the total number probably exceeds 100,000. In Iraq, the United States has opened a Pandora's box of civil war and mayhem that it is powerless to close. These evils are fruits of an illegal war of aggression that would not have occurred had U.S. leaders been true to fundamental American principles.

United for Peace of Pierce County appeals to all Americans to rally around Lt. Watada as he stands up in support of a fundamental principle: the rule of law. We call for Lt. Watada to be honorably discharged, without a court-martial, and we appeal to all Americans to heed his call to make sacrifices in order that our government may be, in the immortal words of John Adams, "a government of laws and not of men."


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."