My turn: Does Petrarca advocate rebellion?

Posted: Monday, May 28, 2007

Does Albert Petrarca (Tuesday's My Turn) really advocate rebellion within our military ranks?

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Somehow he thinks rebellion is the only way to end the war. What dream world is he living in? How can rebellion lead to anything but anarchy and chaos in today's military?

Soldiers who refuse to fight and answer the call they openly and freely signed up for are nothing but cowards and deserve punishment as required under the law. I don't necessarily agree with the politics of this war, but that is not a soldier's responsibility. His or her responsibility is to obey legal orders.

How can Petrarca even justify "fragging" as a form of protest. It was the murder of Americans by Americans and nothing else. I just wonder if Petrarca has had the opportunity to serve or even knows any of the fine soldiers who are protecting his right to protest this war.

Remember, after Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of Kurds and Iraqis that resisted his regime. The immorality Petrarca spoke of is that we didn't finish the job. Yes, I have no respect for soldiers who volunteer and sign up for the various benefits but balk at completing their contracts.

How can Petrarca say the contract would be tossed out in nonmilitary courts? If what he said is true, why are civilian courts not now overburdened with cases of soldiers requesting termination from their contracts? It is because they have signed legally binding contracts with the military. If they don't want to fight and deploy, then they shouldn't sign up. It is not a matter of whether you agree with the war - they have fellow soldiers who depend on them for support.

Also, has Petrarca ever read the oath of enlistment that soldiers voluntarily take when they enlist? I have printed it here for his information:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The important part being "that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." It's not I will obey the orders unless I disagree with them.

First Lt. Ehren Watada is not a hero but a coward who took what the Army gave him and then spit it in its face. If these cowards really don't believe in the commitment they voluntarily signed up for, then they need to get out and not shame themselves, their families and the people who depend on them.

Finally, just remember that soldiers protect the rights of people like Petrarca to write and have printed their opinions. Under Saddam's regime, Petrarca's rubbish would not have been printed; Petrarca and quite possibly his entire family would have been imprisoned or killed.

• David R. Chandler is a Juneau resident and retired from the U.S. Army.

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