Ehren Watada is on trial for refusing to deploy to Iraq. Several UU friends in the West have worked on his case, including one of my best friends. I’ve had the opportunity to follow the story and the trial online. Watada is no peacenik in the military, he was a voluntary enlisted officer. I support his petition to resign from the military (twice denied), or to be deployed elsewhere. It is truly punitive and without merit to force this young man to Iraq given his context. His process of reflection and action are remarkable. He enlisted after 9/11 while a senior in college, and was prepared to go fight in Iraq.
That is, until he took to heart a superior’s advice to make exhaustive
preparations for missions. What he found — in reading international
law, the history of war and the history of Iraq, and articles by
governmental and independent agencies, journalists and scholars about
the situation in Iraq — changed his mind.
His actions are sparking debate in the Japanese-American community about service, and in the military about following orders without conscience (a la Nazi Germany). He is getting kudos for his thoughtful and intentional actions.
“I was in the Army and I was a lieutenant, too,” said Joe Yasutake,
74, who served during the Korean War. The Nuremberg Trials showed that
it’s not enough to simply follow orders. Yet . . . “I’ve thought,
`What if I were in the service right now, what would I do?’ Frankly, I
would probably have gone, because it takes an extraordinary amount of
courage not to.”
Read Officers Stand Deserves Our Attention from the San Jose Mercury (a city where the Rep Mike Honda D-San Jose wrote a letter in support of Watada). I’m hoping that he would make a visit to our UU General Assembly in Portland this June.