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How To Support The Troops

Not to be confused with supporting the troops' civilian bosses ...
 
 
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Aside from putting stickers on our rear bumpers, let's count at least two important ways people can "support the troops," which some confuse with "support the troops' civilian bosses."

1) Joining efforts and organizations aimed at preventing the Bush administration from attacking Iran.

Before The Decider and the folks who brought us the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq assert their "authority" with a pre-emptive strike on Tehran -- as recent rhetoric and behind-the-scenes military maneuvers point toward -- there are a few questions Bush hawks should be pre-emptively asked.

Robert Naiman, national coordinator for Just Foreign Policy, gives us a good starting point.

"Given that the overwhelming majority of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq are from Sunni insurgents who seem to hate the Shiite Iranian government and Iraqi Shiites at least as much as they hate the U.S. government, why would the Iranian government want to arm them?"

"Is it 'meddling' if the Iranian government gives advice to the Iraqi government, or tries to strengthen its diplomatic and economic ties with Iraq, and if so, shouldn't such 'meddling' be distinguished from giving assistance to attacks on U.S. troops?"

"And finally, do you believe that you have the authority to attack Iran without congressional authorization?"

You'd think these kind of questions would be on the lips of every law-and-order conservative in America.

Thankfully, these and related questions are being asked by people like Professor Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. Cohn and other legal organizations signed a recent open letter to Congress about Iran.

"Offensive military action against Iran would be illegal, as the United States is bound under the United Nations Charter to settle international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any state," the letter reads in part.

While Article 51 of the UN charter recognizes the "inherent right of individual or collective self defense, such a right exists only if an armed attack occurs and is allowed only until the Security Council can take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."

"Any other type of military action by the United States would not be in compliance with the UN Charter."

As you know, that pesky little charter was ratified as a U.S. treaty and is considered the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI §2 of the United States Constitution. "If the President and Congress fail to abide by the law as provided in the Constitution they violate their sacred oaths of office," the Guild letter continues. (You can check the letter out at http://nlg.org/news/statements/Military_Iran_2007.htm)

2) Provide material and moral support for Lt. Ehren Watada, who could be facing up to six years in prison for refusing to re-deploy to Iraq.

I imagine law and order folks knee-jerk reaction is call Lt. Watada a coward. But his case really is about the law, given that his stated defense is: "The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war. ... I best serve my soldiers by speaking out against unlawful orders of the highest levels of my chain of command, and making sure our leaders are held accountable."

The presiding judge for Watada's court martial refused to allow any testimony or evidence to be entered on the illegality of the war, which is strange because, according to Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the duty of military personnel is to obey only lawful commands. "A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the law of the United States.'"

Long story short, Watada's "trial" ended last week in a mistrial and now the Army may not be able to try him again because of legal protections against double jeopardy. Lt. Watada may not go to jail but he'll probably receive a dishonorable discharge, which means he's going to need some real support.

To learn more about Watada check out http://www.thankyoult.org/content/view/33/29/.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff reporter and a syndicated columnist.

 
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