Friday, January 12, 2007

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Nobody knows how much strain the ground forces can bear. Commanders worry about any sign of damage to morale, such as anecdotal evidence of rising divorce rates among servicemen. A poll in the Military Times last month found falling support for the war. Just 41% approved of the decision to go into Iraq, compared with 56% the previous year. Last June Ehren Watada, an army first lieutenant, became the first commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. He said the war was “not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law”. He will be court-martialled next month.
Nevertheless, Mr Bush has decided to stretch the army a bit more. The surge will be achieved by extending the service of troops in Iraq, speeding up the deployment of forces scheduled to arrive later this year, and calling up a fresh batch of reservists for duty in 2008.

The above, noted by Gareth, is from "The president's last throw" (The Economist) and he wanted to note that even The Economist (not a left-wing periodical) could do what The Nation couldn't throughout 2006, mention Ehren Watada. Now, in fairness to The Nation, they did mention him in a 2007 issue, remember? They quoted a person calling him a coward. That was
Ehren Watada's first appearence in The Nation (print edition). Now if you think there's something wrong with that, with the fact that Ehren Watada appears to be treated more fairly by the right-leaning Economist than by the left Nation, you are . . . 100% right.

Now the court-martial is scheduled for February 5th, Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance to show their support for Ehren Watada (photos and blog posts at Iraq Veterans Against The War Deployed) and, as noted in the snapshot yesterday, "Paul Boring (Whidbey News Times) reports US war resister Ehren Watada will be speaking this Saturday (January 13th) at 1:00 pm at the Coupeville Recreation Hall (901 NW Alexander ST., Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington)." That may be one of the last speaking appearences of Watada before the court-martial. Later this month, Tacoma Washington will be the location for a citizens' tribunal -- A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College.

In addition to the things noted above, Portland steers us towards a benefit for Watada this weekend. From The Entertainer's "Crooked Kate plays for peace: Trio joins Childers-Carson Duo for Second Saturdays performance" (Corvallis Gazette):

Corvallis -- The trio Crooked Kate and the Childers-Carson Duo will perform a set of music ranging from folk to classical at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, in the first of a series of monthly musical events to benefit causes that contribute to peace. The first session of "Second Saturdays" opens at Sunnyside-Up, 116 N.W. Third St.
Organizers suggest a donation of $5 for the event, but say no one will be turned away because of a lack of funds.
Made up of Susan Peck, Rita Brown and Anne Ridlington, Crooked Kate will produce a genre-crossing mix of voices, keyboard, cello, guitar, banjo, penny-whistle, accordion and percussion from 7 to 8 p.m. Laurie Childers and Mina Carson, who accompany their songs with keyboard, violin, mandolin, guitar and drums, will open for Crooked Kate from 6 to 7 p.m.
Corvallis Alternatives to War and the Mid-Valley Veterans for Peace chapter are sponsors of the monthly musical sessions. The Troubadour Music Center is co-sponsor.
All donations from the Jan. 13 event will go to the defense fund for Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse service in Iraq. As a result of his decision, the Army has chosen to court-martial him in a trial set to begin Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis in Washington. For information about the case, go to

The pre-trial heard testimony last week and there were demonstrations of support for Watada. Keelen notes Marilyn Bechtel's "Rally protests Watada court martial; Military subpoenas reporters" (People's Weekly World):

As the Feb. 5 date for court martial proceedings against military resister 1st Lt. Ehren Watada approaches, antiwar, faith-based and veterans organizations are building support for his right to refuse deployment to Iraq and to speak out against a war he declares is illegal. As Watada, the first commissioned officer to reject going to Iraq, underwent pre-trial hearings at Fort Lewis, Wash., Jan. 4, over 200 supporters gathered at the federal building here for a rally and "die-in" to demand the return home of U.S. soldiers. Some 28 protesters were later arrested as they lay, wrapped in sheets, in front of the doors.
"They've told so many lies, let them tell another -- declare victory and bring our troops home now," Marilyn Saner of Military Families Speak Out told the crowd.
Saner's son, an active duty Army soldier, was wounded by an IED last July and now faces redeployment to Iraq. Calling his organization a "cross-section" of the community, the Rev. Lloyd Wake of the Watada Support Committee urged Congress to end funding for the war, bring the troops home and treat them decently on their return.
[. . .]
Besides the Watada Support Committee, the protest was organized by APIs Resist, Declaration of Peace, faith-based organizations including Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Episcopalians and Buddhists, and peace and veterans groups. Watada's supporters also gathered at the gates of Fort Lewis.

Two links for more information about Watada are Ehren Watada and Courage to Resist. The e-mail address for this site is

ehren watada