Watada, 28, is an Army first lieutenant who earlier this year became the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, calling the war illegal and immoral. Although other soldiers have refused deployment, his status as an officer sets his case apart. The Honolulu native of Japanese and Chinese descent faces a general court-martial and up to seven years in prison for charges involving his refusal to deploy, criticism of President Bush and "conduct unbecoming an officer."
The soldier, stationed at the U.S. Army's Ft. Lewis base near Seattle, was not available to comment because of ongoing negotiations over his case. But his father, Bob, 66, and stepmother, Rosa Sakanishi, who live in Hawaii, have pressed his case this month in appearances throughout Southern California.
The elder Watada said his son joined the Army to help protect the country after 9/11. But when his superiors told him to study up on the Iraq war, Watada concluded that U.S. officials launched it in violation of U.S. and international laws.
The turning point, the elder Watada said, was in January, when Ehren heard the father of an injured soldier lament on a radio show: "Why can't anyone stand up and stop all of this?"
"He thought the guy was talking to him," Watada said of his son. "He thought he was the person who had to stand up."
Watada's case has stirred national debate over the legality of the Iraq war and a soldier's duty versus conscience. But in the Japanese American community, the case has struck a particular nerve, echoing conflicts of another war six decades ago.
"The Watada case has provoked so much emotion because it raises the question of loyalty, and that question severely tested Japanese Americans during World War II," said Lane Hirabayashi of UCLA, the first professor in the nation to hold an academic chair dedicated to the study of the Japanese internment. "It raises a lot of controversies that I don't think have ever been fully resolved."
The above is from Teresa Watanabe's "Loyal to Country or Conscience?" (Los Angeles Times) and we'll note that it's surprising the press continues to present a critic of Ehren Watada's as just speaking out on this issue when he's been there to smear before. But apparently the press has a short memory. (I don't.) When Bob Watada was on his first speaking tour, the ghost of the past started making press waves again and he hasn't stopped. As he near his final days (he's very old) it must be pleasing for him to once again be in the thick of things promoting all things death but the idea that he's just decided to speak out is laughable and ignorant.
He'd disagree with Olive's highlight (next) but then he disagreed loudly in real time. Possibly if all the archives (including papers that have ceased publication in California) were online, the press would stop presenting him as someone who just heard about the case of Watada and felt the need to weigh in. He's a War Hawk from way back and only the press seems unaware of that.
Olive's highlight, Jane Bunce and Rachael Langford's "Iraq worst failure since Vietnam: Labor" (Australia's The Advertiser):
IRAQ is Australia's worst foreign policy failure since Vietnam and the Government must withdraw to reduce our risk of a terror attack, Labor said.
The head of the British army this week warned the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq exacerbated security problems and he would like to see his soldiers there leave soon.
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley today repeated his pledge to immediately begin withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq if Labor won the next election.
"It's not made us safer, in fact it's made the world far less safe, the fact that we're involved there," Mr Beazley told Channel 10.
"I would give notice immediately to our American allies and our other friends on coming in that we have other priorities now and the troops will be coming out," Mr Beazley said.
An ACNielsen poll earlier this week found community opposition to the war in Iraq was hardening, with six out of 10 voters now believing Australian troops should be brought home.
John Howard (prime minister) and Brendan Nelson (defence minister) have both maintained Australia's not bringing troops home. Howard's recently taken to praising Nelson and that's seen by some as an attempt to ward off any negative findings that the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco makes against Nelson. Nelson, who has been described as once being seen as a "rising star," didn't know anything but couldn't keep his mouth shut. It was more important to him to rush to the press with "news" on Kovco and it was embarrassing tot he government and painful to the friends and family of Jake Kovco while flat out confusing to the people and press of Australia. Since the commander in charge of Australian troops in Iraq (Houston) testified that he told Nelson from the start that enough was not known to speak to the press, the inquiry could have some caustic words for Nelson (who's earned them). As they await the results, Howard and Nelson rush to give one another cover. However much difference that will make is anyone's guess, since, as in the US, public opinion has "hardened" against the war.
Returning to the topic of Ehren Watada, Bob Watada is now on his second speaking tour to raise awareness on his son's stand and I believe this speaking tour concludes today with this event:
Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm
National Lawyers Guild of San Diego
Thomas Jefferson Law School,
2120 San Diego Ave,
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the los angeles times