Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Other Items

In response to "Backing a reluctant soldier" (Jan. 5):
Lt. Ehren Watada is doing the right thing in refusing to serve in Iraq. Our invasion of Iraq is unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression.
Following orders never excuses war crimes. It was no defense for the Nazis, and it was no defense for Lt. Calley and his men at My Lai.
Ultimately we all remain responsible for our own actions.
Richard Gellar

Durham Gal noted the above from "Observer forum: Letters to editor" (Charlotte Observer). Meanwhile, as Calvin notes, The Seattle Times offers up "The case against Lt. Ehren Watada" where they say convict Ehren Watada on both charges but then dishonorable discharge him because who wants to make a martyr? Calvin wonders if this is supposed to pass for "journalistic bravery"? Apparently it is. Apparently, it is okay to lie a nation into an illegal war and when your lies are exposed (belatedly by a mainstream media too cowed to do their job in real time), no one's supposed to be too offended or to speak out too loudly. Apparently, we're supposed to lightly chuckle over it in a chagrined manner and do nothing else. This entire thing is being treated as though Watada is Goldie Hawn's Judy Benjamin in Private Benjamin and, when presented with the possibility of serving in Guam, responded, "Pass, my hair will frizz." Where is the outrage over the illegal war from the mainstream press? Or is it hard to express that when they turned themselves into publicists for the Bully Boy on 9-11 and every day following only stopping (slightly) when the public outcry was so intense and his polling numbers consistently tanked?

Richard Geller gets it, The Seattle Times pretends not to. (I've gone back and forth this morning over whether or not to link to the editorial. I've decided to link to it because it's an opinion -- as opposed to a 'report' that managed to slam Watada the first time a magazine finally decided to run an article about him. Members, feel free to weigh in on the decision to link.)

Joan notes Lisa Kubota's "Military Expert Weighs in on Watada" (Hawaii's KGMB):

"Although the judge obviously has indicated that he's not necessarily going to allow us to go as far afield as we'd like as far as arguing about the illegality of the war, he certainly is going to preserve our rights to mount a defense," said Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, in a phone interview from Ft. Lewis, Washington last week. Long-time military attorney, Earle Partington, said he was not surprised by the judge's view.
"The courts do not adjudicate political questions," he explained. "We have a long history of that. They tried the same thing in Vietnam. I don't know how many soldiers tried it. They lost every single case. It's not going to be any different now."

Right there, "I don't know how many soldiers tried it," the 'expertise' of Earle Partington falls into question. We learn that Partington was in Vietnam (for "a year and a half") even though he had questions. While there were certainly lies about Vietnam (as The Pentagon Papers would demonstrate) and while it was never a threat to the United States, the reality is the revelations that have come out have done much more quickly than in Vietnam -- Downing Street Memos, etc. -- and if the mainstream press and so-called 'experts' want to pretend like that haven't, possibly they should be reminded that the most public martyr of the illegal war remains Judith Miller who created a "name" for herself via swallowing whole the so-called "reasons" for war.

He also wonders, the 'expert,' what would happen if soldiers could pick and serve which wars they served in which, first, reminds of Diane Keaton's dismissal of Woody Allen's concerns in Love & Death with, "I know. And if everybody went to the same restaurant on the same evening and ordered blintzes, there'd be chaos. But they don't."

We saw that with the nonsense The Nation ran where they quoted someone slamming Ehren Watada and thinking 'real courage' came from putting your signature on a piece of paper. (Take that, Ghandi!) But the reality is that Nuremberg demands that every soldier examine their own potential actions because they will be held responsible for them.

Is Nuremberg only a principle used to punish smaller or defeated nations? Or is something, as we've been taught repeatedly, for years and decades, or is it the moral we've been taught? If it's not, if it's just grand standing by the victorious side, then by all means throw Watada in prison but if it really stood for anything remotely like what it was, and is, sold on/sold as, then we need to get serious about it and not just trot it out when it's time to stroke our own egos about what a great nation did -- because if Nuremberg means nothing more than Germans who took part in war crimes were only punished severely because they lost, well, make that point clear because there will be a lot of shock for many who've bought the notions that this was a victory for humanity.

Terrence notes Kaz Suzat's "'Camp Resistance' opens Ft. Lewis gates" (Party for Socialism and Liberation):

On Jan. 4, 2007, several members of Iraq Veterans Against the War launched a new tactic in an effort to support and
encourage resistance among service members to the U.S. war on Iraq by founding "Camp Resistance."
On private land, with the support of the property owner, an IVAW yellow school bus sits just across I-5 from the gates to the massive military base, Fort Lewis. In spite of difficult winter conditions, over half a dozen Iraq, Afghanistan and other recent veterans and resisters are vowing to stay until the conclusion of Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial Feb. 5.

The article notes that US war resister Ricky Clousing and Sara Rich (Suzanne Swift's mother) are part of this action.

Meanwhile, Aaron Glantz is left to explore what the LA Times' editorial board and others don't seem to care about, the attempts to force peace activists to testify in a military trial. From his
"More Subpoenas Come Down in Watada Case" (IPS):

In a case that could have repercussions for free speech and press freedom in the United States, the U.S. military has subpoenaed two peace activists and a journalist in its case against Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq. "I'm alarmed," said Olympia-based activist Phan Nguyen, who moderated a Jun. 7th press conference that marked Lt. Watada's first public opposition to the Iraq war.
"When I was first contacted by the lead prosecutor I was questioned as to conversations I had had with Lt. Watada and how this press conference had come about," he said.
Nguyen told IPS that military prosecutors asked who organised the press conference as well as who produced the video statement from Lt. Watada that was played at the gathering.
"This starts leading into how activists go about their procedures in opposing the military," Nguyen said. "I don't believe the military should be questioning activists about how they protest military actions when we're just exercising our first amendment rights."

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