From International Committee of the Red Cross, the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950. My favorite is the fourth principle which states,
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.Not that this would be a valid defense for Lieutenant Watada as a military judge, Lieutenant Colonel John M. Head as already issued a ruling nuking the so-called Nuremburg Defense. Judge Head wrote, "The question of lawfulness of an order is an interlocutory matter for the judge to decide.... The order to deploy soldiers is a nonjusticiable political question." His ruling?
The defense motion for a hearing on the "Nuernberg defense" is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED. The government motion to prevent the defense from introducing evidence of the accused's motive not to deploy is GRANTED. Further, I find by a preponderance of the evidence, the order to deploy, if given, was LAWFUL.I think Lieutenant Watada's best defense at this point is to plead out that he did, indeed, miss movement... and let the chips fall where they may.
On a different front, the Commandant of the Marine Corps recently provided his Commandant's Intent titled "Every Marine Into the Fight." Wrote General Conway,
A. THE MARINE CORPS REMAINS ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN COMBAT OPERATIONS IN THE CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY. MARINES, BY THEIR PERFORMANCE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, HAVE ADDED NOTABLY TO THE LEGACY OF OUR COLORS. FREQUENT DEPLOYMENTS AND SHORT DWELL PERIODS HAVE BEEN THE NORM, YET OUR MARINES HAVE RESPONDED MAGNIFICENTLY WITH UNWAVERING DETERMINATION AND COMMITMENT TO WIN THE LONG WAR FROM THE VERY OUTSET. WHEN THEY JOIN OUR CORPS, MARINES EXPECT TO TRAIN, DEPLOY, AND FIGHT. THAT'S WHO WE ARE; THAT'S WHAT WE DO; AND WE MUST ALLOW EVERY MARINE THAT OPPORTUNITY.
B. AS OUR CORPS' POSTURES FOR THE LONG WAR, AND IN ORDER TO HELP MEET THE CHALLENGES OF FREQUENT DEPLOYMENTS, I WANT OUR CORPS' LEADERSHIP TO INITIATE POLICIES TO ENSURE ALL MARINES, FIRST TERMERS AND CAREER MARINES ALIKE, ARE PROVIDED THE ABILITY TO DEPLOY TO A COMBAT ZONE.
Mike Honda, who represents San Jose, California, in the U.S. House of Representatives, recently wrote about Mr. Watada's case:
This soldier is neither a conscientious objector nor a pacifist. He volunteered to serve his nation in the armed forces, has expressed his willingness to fight in our struggle in Afghanistan, and declined his superiors' offer to deploy to a desk job in Iraq, out of harm's way. There is not, nor can there be, the slightest doubt as to this young man's bravery, patriotism or commitment to his fellow soldiers.But, those who serve don't get the option to choose where they serve; that's more the luck of the draw.
Take a stand; pay the price. At least Mr. Watada has figured out what is most important for him.