Dad opposes son’s court-martial

Jason Reed, Jason Reed, and Jason Reed

While the war in Iraq rages on, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada sits behind a desk at Ft. Lewis, Wash., waiting. Not waiting to be shipped overseas – waiting for court-martial proceedings.

Watada, who refuses to participate in what he calls a morally wrong war and an outstanding infringement of American law, is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq and face charges.

Among the many people protesting and speaking out against the charges brought against Watada, one pair stands out.

Ehren’s father Bob Watada and stepmother Rosa Sakanishi have taken their son’s fight on the road, speaking throughout the nation to gather support for their son.

“[Ehren’s] a very good man, maybe he’s taking the most difficult way to refuse that’s why he’s facing a court-martial and many years in jail,” Sakanishi said during the couple’s visit to City College, Oct. 9. “This is why Bob and I are trying to build public support on his behalf, because we know he’s doing the right thing for everybody.”

Watada was charged with Contempt Towards Officials, a charge which was last prosecuted in 1965, Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer and a Gentleman and Missing Movement, for not deploying to Iraq.

Speaking to Tina Kistler’s Intercultural Communication class and Professor Manou Eskandari’s Political Science class, Watada’s father shared his experiences as a young man in college during the Vietnam War.

“What happens when your values are such that you don’t agree with what’s going on in the broader government?” Kistler asked. “Here’s this young man who’s actually doing that and to hear from his parents is even more of an opportunity for students who may not be aware of these issues.”

Watada’s father refused his draft order and joined the Peace Corps for a two-year mission in Peru and later returned to the U.S. to attend graduate school to avoid being drafted in a war he called “wrong and illegal.

“At this point I opened my eyes to what was going on in Vietnam,” Watada’s father said.

Similar to his son, Bob Watada observed how many events that were taking place in Southeast Asia were misrepresented in U.S. newspapers.

Unfortunately, Watada never had the option to not go to war. He was ordered to Iraq whether he agreed with the war or not.

Watada joined the Army after 9/11 to protect his country from future terrorist threats. After being deployed to Iraq in June, he said he unearthed secret motives and exposed lies told by the U.S. government, oil company’s objectives and contrived connections between Iraq and Al-Queda.

“This administration was just continually violating the law to serve their purpose and there was nothing to stop them,” Watada said publicly in June 2007. “Realizing the President is taking us into a war that he misled us about has broken that bond of trust we had. If the President can betray my trust, it’s time for me to evaluate what he’s telling me to do.”

Because anti-war sentiment is growing in the U.S., Watada may have reason to hope for the best.

Mike Cervantes, a member of Watada’s tour, said a military judge in another case involving a solider refusing to fight, said any American solider today has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia are illegal.

Students shared Watada and Sakanishi’s rationale for their son not fighting in the Iraq War.

“I wouldn’t fight in an illegal war,” said Eve Mitchell, a business economy major who attended the speech. “I understand how a lot of soldiers aren’t standing up for it because they have families and can’t afford to make the same sacrifice that he is, but it’s courageous that he’s doing this.”

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