“Against all enemies”: Lt. Ehren Watada, War and Resistance

Curator's Note

As Lt. Ehren Watada prepares for his second court martial, scheduled to begin 9 October, it's worth remembering how he came to this point. The first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, Army First Lieutenant Watada and his supporters have used the internet to publicize both his case and more broadly, the administration's deceptions in order to mount and sustain the war. In particular, the Watada case raises questions concerning the legality of the war, as well as the "constitutional and moral duty" of soldiers to refuse to serve in a criminal action. In this speech (made last year at the Veterans for Peace Convention) and others, Lt. Watada asserts that, while soldiers are one crucial part of an effective resistance against the war, they also need the "unconditional support of the people." Pointing out that Canadians have provided help for anti-war soldiers and their families, most U.S. citizens have remained untouched by the war or the fight to stop it. Some questions that come to mind: how might we understand civilian "sacrifice" as Lt. Watada reframes it here? How can publicity help to contest troubling military and administration practices regarding their employees (Lt. Watada's first trial ended in a mistrial)? What does it mean to "support the troops"? And where is the press coverage of this case?


Press coverage has been dismal. I've seen Watada featured prominently on Democracy Now! but that's about it. No surprises, here, I'm afraid: despite the discourse of 'supporting the troops' war resisters don't get much play in mainstream press. I've noticed the same sort of 'silence' on war resisters in the Ken Burns epic "The War." Once again, its up to alternative and citizens' media, including (for the moment at any rate) YouTube to provide an outlet for dissent of any stripe. KH

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