Rendering unto the American Empire


Ehren Watada, a conscientious objector in the US military who refused to be deployed to Iraq, had this explanation for his actions in a video statement that he released last June:

"The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible and moral injustice, but it's a contradiction to the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me a party to war crimes."
He is facing a court-martial for this act of conscience.

I have always been interested in supporting the rights of conscientious objectors. Although the US government recognizes the right of conscientious objection for draftees, it does not seem to recognize that some individuals who joined the military voluntarily may have undergone some kind of religious or moral conversion after joining, or that they may have developed a strong objection on moral grounds to illegal or immoral acts of war by the American Empire.

When draft registration was first instituted by Jimmy Carter, I was part of the very first age group that had to register. I wrote on my registration form that I was a registering as a conscientious objector. There was no place on the form to write this, so I just scrawled it in the margins; you actually only apply for CO status once you are drafted, not when you register, but in this case I wanted to start to build a case in advance, in the event I actually got drafted, and that little note in the margin was part of that. Fortunately for me, it never happened.

Whenever Caesar and God conflict, as they so often do in this era of Imperial wars for oil and profits, I think it is more admirable, even if less expedient, to side with God.