We mince no words. Time is of the essence. Iraq is a human and political catastrophe, stark testament to the deceitful behavior of the Bush administration. The dangers are clear and present, and too many human beings are dying for an ignoble cause. The preemptive war launched against Iraq on March 20, 2003 stands illegal to its roots. Premised on lies, misstatements, and subterfuge, the destruction of that sovereign nation and its people has destroyed the reputation of America, perilously debilitating its military.
These malefactions, in violation of a host of international treaties, protocols, and conventions, have placed the military, in particular its officer corps, in legal and moral peril. West Point Graduates Against The War (westpointgradsagainstthewar.org), a grassroots movement to redeem the honor of our country, stands opposed to the Bush administration and its callous disregard for honorable behavior. At issue — which directly assaults the West Point Honor Code — are the falsehoods of the Bush administration, culminating in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations on February 5, 2003.
The West Point Honor Code — “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do” — defines honor and duty as a way of life. This provides graduates with a lifelong sense of duty, a shared responsibility for us all to do the right thing, even admonishing our country’s leadership when democracy and its inherent freedoms are at stake.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and West Point class of 1915, was a champion of the right to dissent. “Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels,” he said, “men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.” His words inspire us to act.
Eisenhower was even clearer when it came to preventive war, the kind that Bush and his chickenhawk ilk fancy so dearly. He stood foursquare against it. “When people speak to you about a preventive war,” said Eisenhower, “you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.”
When West Point graduates took their commissioning oath of office, they swore to protect the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The deceitful connivances of the current administration have resulted in a war catastrophic to our nation’s interests: politically, economically, militarily, and morally. The time has come for West Point graduates to speak out about these deplorable conditions.
We will not serve the lies of this administration. To remain silent is to tacitly serve. So we speak out, clearly and directly. We seek justice for all victims of this illegal war, both servicemen and servicewomen, and the citizens of Iraq. We stand opposed to the undoing of Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms by this most dangerous, oppressive administration. And so, too, would President Eisenhower.
“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison,” he said. “They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”
Nor shall we graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
James C. Ryan, USMA, 1958
James C. Ryan is a co-founder of West Point Graduates Against The War. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, class of 1962. Ryan spent five years in the army artillery with assignments in the United States and Europe. Thereafter a businessman, he subsequently became a writer. He divides his time between Istanbul, Turkey where he lives, and New York City where he teaches in the summer at Columbia University. Father of four, Jim has eight grandchildren.