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Nobel Laureates Urge President Obama to Bring Justice to the Exiled Chagossian People before Leaving Office
Washington, DC, January 5, 2017 -- Seven Nobel Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are urging fellow Nobel Laureate President Barack Obama to use his last days in office to help end five decades of exile suffered by the Chagossian people, who were displaced from their homes on the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia by a U.S. military base.
“Only you now have the power to help the Chagossians return to their ancestral homeland” in the Indian Ocean, the Laureates tell President Obama. By helping the people return home, Obama can “cement [his] legacy as a defender of human rights,” the Nobel winners’ letter points out (full text below).
The Chagossians are descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Indians whose ancestors lived on Diego Garcia and in the rest of the Chagos Archipelago since the time of the American Revolution. The Chagossians have been living in impoverished exile since the U.S. and U.K. governments forcibly removed them between 1968 and 1973 while establishing the U.S. base on Diego Garcia. For almost 50 years, the two governments have refused Chagossian demands to go home. In signing the letter, Archbishop Tutu described the people as “marginalised and ill-used children of God.”
You recently announced plans to visit Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i at the end of December 2016 to “mourn the victims” of the Japanese Navy’s attack on the U.S. naval base on December 8, 1941 (Tokyo Time).
In fact, Pearl Harbor was not the only place Japan attacked that day. The Japanese Army had attacked the northeastern shore of the Malay Peninsula one hour earlier and would go on to attack several other British and U.S. colonies and bases in the Asia-Pacific region later that day. Japan launched these attacks in order to secure the oil and other resources of Southeast Asia essential to extend its war of aggression against China.
Since this will be your first official visit to the place where Japan’s war against the United States began, we would like to raise the following questions concerning your previous statements about the war.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
TigerSwan is one of several security firms under investigation for its work guarding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota while potentially without a permit. Besides this recent work on the Standing Rock Sioux protests in North Dakota, this company has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran.
7 September 2016
Dear Mr. Kerrey,
We are writing with the heartfelt and urgent request that you resign from your position as chairman of the Fulbright University Viet Nam (FUV) board of trustees.
It is our firm belief that you should never have been offered this appointment and, having been offered it, should have declined the offer. We strongly believe that there are other more appropriate roles for you to play in support of FUV, and that there are better qualified people without your historical baggage.
Mark Bowyer, an expat in Viet Nam, expressed doubt in an early June 2016 blog post that “reminding the world of previously unpunished US atrocities in Viet Nam is a judicious use of the political capital accumulated during Barack Obama’s recent successful visit.”
Shawn McHale, a George Washington University colleague, wrote the following comment in response to your interview with WBUR’s “Here & Now” program:
Bob Kerrey is letting his ego get in the way of US-Vietnamese rapprochement. The man has done a lot of good -- but killing civilians, a war crime, makes him unfit to be head of the Fulbright University Vietnam Board of Trustees. For the good of the university, he should recognize that he is not the person for the job.
Finally, Linh Dinh, a Vietnamese-American writer, poet, and a signatory to this letter, wrote that
“This sick and vain spectacle is hurting not just him but the university. By hanging on, he's focusing the spotlight on his war crime.”
We agree with these assessments. Your appointment is a politically- and emotionally-charged issue that is not going to go away, least of all in Viet Nam. In early June, you told the New York Times via email that you would resign, if you felt your role were jeopardizing FUV. That time is now.
There are many US veterans who have returned to Viet Nam to do penance, so to speak, some on short trips and others for the long haul. They are each making a modest contribution, trying to find a way to give back, to make amends, to make whole that which they and their government tried to destroy. On a personal level, as you can imagine, they also find this experience to be therapeutic and even cathartic.
We’d like to take the liberty of offering you some advice. Travel to Thanh Phong. Arrange to meet with the victims’ family members and the survivors. Ask for their forgiveness. Burn incense and pray at the graves of the people you and your unit killed. And do all of this with the greatest sincerity, contrition, and humility.
Offer to meet a local need, to build something of lasting value that will benefit the community. We believe that these acts will be greatly appreciated and may help you find a measure of peace. You could even invite the other members of your unit to join you.
Thank you for taking the time to read our note. We look forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you peace and happiness,
Mark A. Ashwill
Hanoi, Viet Nam
Educator; First US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant to Viet Nam, 2003
Author of Bob Kerrey and Fulbright University – What were they thinking? (7-8-16)
Patrick Barrett, Ph.D.
Havens Center for Social Justice University of Wisconsin-Madison
Political essayist, fiction writer, poet and translator. Author of Postcards from the End of America
Army Medic Vietnam
C. J. Hopkins
Playwright, author of Horse Country, The Extremists, and screwmachine/eyecandy, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Bob
Conneaut Lake, PA
Lawyer, Labor Arbitrator, Educator – Lessons of the Vietnam War
Ann Hibner Koblitz
Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University and Director of the Kovalevskaia Fund
Professor of Mathematics, University of Washington
Dr. Deepa Kumar
New Brunswick, NJ
Professor of Media Studies, Rutgers University Activist, Unionist, Author
Professor Emeritus, State University of New York
Author, American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?
President, Green Cities Fund
Co-founder, Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery established in Saigon in 1966 to treat war-injured children
Co-founder Vietnam Green Building Council
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Los Angeles, CA
Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at
the University of Southern California
Author of The Sympathizer, Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author
Author of Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam (6-20-16)
Kittery Point, ME
TV news and documentaries
State College, PA
Korean War veteran, co-founder of the State College Peace Center and creator of its documentary film series, lifetime member of Veterans for Peace.
Founder, Center for Media and Democracy
Author of books, including Weapons of Mass Deception
Jeffrey St. Clair
Editor of CounterPunch; Author of Born Under a Bad Sky
Iowa City, IA
Journalist and author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics
Director, World Beyond War
Author of books, including War Is A Lie
Michael Uhl, Ph.D.
Author of Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens Commission of Inquiry on US War Crimes and The War I Survived Was Vietnam: Collected Writings of a Veteran and Antiwar Activist (Oct. 2016)
Author of The Phoenix Program
Peter Van Buren
New York City, NY Former US Diplomat
S. Brian Willson
Author of Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson
Subject of documentary, Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson www.Brianwillson.com
Viet Nam veteran, peace activist, and trained attorney
After Eight Years of Protest of Construction of Naval Base, Gangjeong Villagers Sued by South Korean Navy
The South Korean Navy filed a civil lawsuit against 116 individual anti-base protesters and 5 groups including the Gangjeong Village Association demanding $3 million in compensation for alleged construction delays caused by protests over the past 8 years.
In one of the longest, strongest protests against more military bases in our world, the villagers of Gangjeong, Jeju Island, South Korea have achieved international recognition of their spiritual and corporal resistance and persistence in trying to preserve unique natural features of their community, the Gureombi Rocks.
Samsung was the primary contractor for the $1 BILLION dollar project and who filed a lawsuit against the government for slow down of work caused by the protests!! Samsung's profit margin was impacted by the protests!
Villagers are very angry about the lawsuit that if upheld would bankrupt everyone named. To show its displeasure to the Navy, the village moved its City Hall to a tent on the main road across from the entrance to the base. The Vice-Mayor holds city meetings in the tent and sleeps there!
Lawyers for the activists wrote that the navy's lawsuit is "an unjustified declaration of war against the people. When the reckless development of the state and large construction companies threaten the right of citizens to a peaceful existence, the right of citizens to oppose this must be guaranteed as their natural and constitutional right since sovereignty rests with the people. To condemn this action as illegal is to delegitimize the foundation of democracy!!"
To buy off public support for the $1 BILLON dollar unnecessary naval base, the South Korean government built a huge sports complex for the use by the local community. The facilities are located on the upper part of the area condemned for the naval base. The area has a track and field sports stadium, a 50 meter indoor swimming pool, indoor gymnasium, library, computer center, two restaurants, a 7/11 convenience store and a hotel on the top floor.
Photo by Ann Wright
Villagers commented that major sports facilities were built in the nearby city of Segiwopo and have been used by them for years. They say that these facilities will not make up for the loss of the cultural and spiritual areas dynamited and concreted forever!
That's why the protests continue at Gangjeong Village!!!
100 Bows Morning Vigil
Every morning for the past 8 years, at 7am, rain, snow or good weather, Gangjeong Village activists reflect through 100 bows to the universe on their lives of activism for a peaceful world while confronting the war machine at one of its gates.
Photo by Ann Wright
The thoughts represented in 100 Bows span all religions and spiritual traditions. A few of
the thoughts include:
1. While holding in my heart that truth gives freedom to life I make my first bow.
7. As I hold in my heart that possessions create other possessions and wars only give birth to other wars and cannot solve problems I make my seventh bow.
12. As I hold in my heart that the way to life-peace is to accept the world's pain as my own pain I make my twelfth bow.
55. As I resolve to let go of chauvinistic nationalism which makes other countries insecure, I make my fifty fifth bow.
56. As I resolve to let go of the superiority of my religion which makes other faiths insecure, I make my fifty sixth bow.
Photo by Ann Wright
Human Chain Noon Vigil
One day I was at Gangjeong Village this week we endured a cold wind and rain for the noon time "Human Chain" at the entrance of the Naval Base at Gangjeong Village. The winds were fierce--the southern coast is known for its very strong winds and one of the reasons why many were perplexed that the naval base was proposed for an area of the island where high winds and high seas are most frequent around the island.
Photo by Ann Wright
Other days I've been here, the weather was nice for the singing and dancing in the roadway to remind the South Korean Navy that the opposition to the construction of the naval base has not ended, despite the construction being complete. The great spirit continues to challenge the navy base and militarism with the noon dance. For those who have visited Gangjeong, both events and the sounds remain with us--as we remember that each day dedicated activists in Gangjeong Village continue the struggle against militarism.
While I was in Gangjeong Village, the South Korean Navy had "Navy Week on Jeju Island." Navy weeks are designed as a public relations event to get favorable public opinion. Most activists would not have been allowed on the navy base even if they had wanted to go--which they did not want to do. I wanted to see where the massive amount of concrete poured into the area had gone--so I produced my passport and I and another recent arrival were passed onto the base. We saw Aegis missile destroyer ships, helicopters, landing craft and demonstrations of martial arts.
But the most important thing we saw was what we think is the only remaining part of Gureombi Rock. Behind the first building on the left side of the main road past the entrance gate, is a small lake with one side of what appears to be a very small piece of the Gureombi Rock!!! The other side of the lake is composed of rock fill, but the northern side seems to be original rock.
The coastline surrounding Gangjeong Village consisted of one contiguous volcanic rock called Gureombi which was a 1.2 kilometer-long rock formed by lava flowing into the sea and rocks rising from the seabed. The estuary informed in this area was Jeju Island’s only rocky wetland and acted as home to several endangered species and soft coral reefs.
Photo by Ann Wright
In 1991, the Jeju Provincial government designated the coastline surrounding Gangjeong Village an Absolute Conservation Area (ACA). In 2002, the area where the naval base construction is currently ongoing was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Conservation Area. In December 2009, Jeju Island Governor Kim Tae-hwan nullified the ACA designation to proceed with the naval base construction. The Jeju Branch of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements have criticized the Navy’s Environmental Impact Assessment noting that several endangered species are absent from the report.
During its recent archeological excavation of the Gangjeong coastal area the Jeju Cultural Heritage Research Institute discovered artifacts dating back to 4-2 B.C.E. inside the naval base construction zone. According to the director of the Korean Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute only 10 – 20% of the site was dug up during construction violating the cultural properties protection law.
At a talk that I gave two days later, many from the village discussed how to ensure that the tiny portion of Gureombi Rock remains in tact and continues its cultural and spiritual ties to Gangjeong Village.
I mentioned that in some military bases in the United States, there are plaques to remind us of those who lived there before the U.S. government took over their lands.
And even in the family housing area on the naval base, there are two murals that represent the indigenous peoples.
Photo by Ann Wright
We hope that some type of mural will be created on the naval base depicting the importance of Gureombi Rocks so that hopefully the remaining rocks will not be blown up or concreted over!
How do anti-war, peace activists in Gangjeong village support themselves?? Some work in the Peace Farm Cooperative! One rainy morning Joan of Ark took us to two peace cooperative farms. The first was in the protected, covered greenhouse where they grow corn and beans-I asked how big the greenhouse was and she said 800 pyeongs-apparently a word indicating how big a grave should be-the length of a person's body!--An interesting way of measuring!
Photo by Ann Wright
Then we went out of the village to their second farm in a ......cemetery--or actually next to a cemetery where they grow corn and peanuts. The grass in the cemetery is allowed to grow over the gravestones and once a year a family may come to clear out the area around the gravestone. After 30 years, the family may have the ashes removed to another place.
Currie, an activist from the US, mentioned that in the US, some people want to be buried in a natural area where grass and weeds are allowed to grow, not in a formal cemetery.
Customers buy produce online from the Peace Cooperative!!
St. Francis Peace Center
The St. Francis Peace Center in Gangjeong Village has a remarkable history. In the 1970s, Father Mun was jailed for his protests during the military dictatorship and 30 years later he was awarded compensation for wrongful arrest and years in jail. With the compensation money, he purchased land overlooking the pale where the naval base was to be constructed. The Bishop of Jeju Island decided to help build a peace center on the land--and now a wonderful place for those working for peace and social justice is in Gangjeong Village!! It is a beautiful building with a 4th floor viewing area so the eyes of the peace house can alert the community to what the war machine is doing!
About the Author: Ann Wright is a 29 veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US government in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."
By Ann Wright,
Remarks at Women Against Military Violence Symposium, Naha, Okinawa
President Obama went to Hiroshima, did not apologize, did not state the facts of the matter (that there was no justification for the bombings there and in Nagasaki), and did not announce any steps to reverse his pro-nuke policies (building more nukes, putting more nukes in Europe, defying the nonproliferation treaty, opposing a ban treaty, upholding a first-strike policy, spreading nuclear energy far and wide, demonizing Iran and North Korea, antagonizing Russia, etc.).
Where Obama is usually credited -- and the reason he's usually given a pass on his actual actions -- is in the area of rhetoric. But in Hiroshima, as in Prague, his rhetoric did more harm than good. He claimed to want to eliminate nukes, but he declared that such a thing could not happen for decades (probably not in his lifetime) and he announced that humanity has always waged war (before later quietly claiming that this need not continue).
"Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind," said Obama.
"We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves," he added, leaping from a false claim about the past to a necessity to continue dumping our resources into the weapons that produce rather than avoid more wars.
After much in this higly damaging vein, Obama added: "But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe." He even said: "We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story. ..." That's right, but the U.S. President had already told a really bad one.
If war were inevitable, as Obama has repeatedly suggested, including in the first ever pro-war Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, there would be little point in trying to end it. If war were inevitable, a moral case might be made for trying to lessen its damage while it continued. And numerous parochial cases could be made for being prepared to win inevitable wars for this side or that side. That's the case Obama makes, without seeming to realize that it applies to other countries too, including countries that feel threatened by the U.S. military.
War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During this most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it. Just as some of us find it hard to imagine a world without war or murder, some human societies have found it hard to imagine a world with those things. A man in Malaysia, asked why he wouldn’t shoot an arrow at slave raiders, replied “Because it would kill them.” He was unable to comprehend that anyone could choose to kill. It’s easy to suspect him of lacking imagination, but how easy is it for us to imagine a culture in which virtually nobody would ever choose to kill and war would be unknown? Whether easy or hard to imagine, or to create, this is decidedly a matter of culture and not of DNA.
According to myth, war is “natural.” Yet a great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.
In some societies women have been virtually excluded from war making for centuries and then included. Clearly, this is a question of culture, not of genetic makeup. War is optional, not inevitable, for women and men alike.
Some nations invest much more heavily in militarism than most and take part in many more wars. Some nations, under coercion, play minor parts in the wars of others. Some nations have completely abandoned war. Some have not attacked another country for centuries. Some have put their military in a museum. And even in the United States, 44% of the people tell pollsters that they "would" participate if there were a war, yet with the U.S. currently in 7 wars, less than 1% of the people are in the military.
War long predates capitalism, and surely Switzerland is a type of capitalist nation just as the United States is. But there is a widespread belief that a culture of capitalism — or of a particular type and degree of greed and destruction and short-sightedness — necessitates war. One answer to this concern is the following: any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.
There is a sense in which this is unimportant; namely, we need to halt environmental destruction and reform corrupt government just as we need to end war, regardless of whether any of these changes depends on the others to succeed. Moreover, by uniting such campaigns into a comprehensive movement for change, strength in numbers will make each more likely to succeed.
But there is another sense in which this is important; namely, we need to understand war as the cultural creation that it is and stop imagining it as something imposed on us by forces beyond our control. In that sense it is important to recognize that no law of physics or sociology requires us to have war because we have some other institution. In fact, war is not required by a particular lifestyle or standard of living because any lifestyle can be changed, because unsustainable practices must end by definition with or without war, and because war actually impoverishes societies that use it.
War in human history up to this point has not correlated with population density or resource scarcity. The idea that climate change and the resulting catastrophes will inevitably generate wars could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not a prediction based on facts.
The growing and looming climate crisis is a good reason for us to outgrow our culture of war, so that we are prepared to handle crises by other, less destructive means. And redirecting some or all of the vast sums of money and energy that go into war and war preparation to the urgent work of protecting the climate could make a significant difference, both by ending one of our mostenvironmentally destructive activities and by funding a transition to sustainable practices.
In contrast, the mistaken belief that wars must follow climate chaos will encourage investment in military preparedness, thus exacerbating the climate crisis and making more likely the compounding of one type of catastrophe with another.
Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. In some societies some of these practices have been largely eradicated, but remain illicitly in the shadows and on the margins. Those exceptions don’t tend to convince most people that complete eradication is impossible, only that it hasn’t yet been achieved in that society. The idea of eliminating hunger from the globe was once considered ludicrous. Now it is widely understood that hunger could be abolished — and for a tiny fraction of what is spent on war. While nuclear weapons have not all been dismantled and eliminated, there exists a popular movement working to do just that.
Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, for example, in the 1920s and 1930s. In recent decades, the notion has been propogated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, and without basis in fact.
Polling is not often done on support for the abolition of war. Here’s one case when it was done.
And here's a movement to accomplish now what Obama discourages the world by claiming it can't be done anytime soon. Those who say that such things cannot be done have always had and still have the responsibility to get out of the way of the people doing them.
This video addresses the myth that humans are naturally violent: Book Discussion with Paul Chappell on The Art of Waging Peace.
This 1939 antiwar cartoon from MGM gives some indication of how mainstream opposition to war was at the time.
An example of humans’ inclination away from war: the 1914 Christmas truce.
Fry, Douglas P. & Souillac, Geneviéve (2013). The Relevance of Nomadic Forager Studies to Moral Foundations Theory: Moral Education and Global Ethics in the Twenty-First Century. Journal of Moral Education, (July) vol:xx-xx.
Henri Parens (2013) War Is Not Inevitable, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 25:2, 187-194.
Main arguments: Human civilization is at its best with universal education, affordable communication, and international travel as human connectors. War prevention is possible through support and fostering of human rights, securing of governments and institutions against abuses and exploitations by others, internationalization of children’s education, compulsory parenting education, and countering extremism of all kinds.
Brooks, Allan Laurence. “Must war be inevitable? A general semantics essay.” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 63.1 (2006): 86+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Dec. 2013.
Main arguments: Warns against two-valued positions: we are not either aggressive or non-aggressive. Points to the predominant mode of human cooperation throughout history. Arguments in line with many social and behavioral scientists who state that we have the potential to be aggressive and fight wars, but we also have the potential to be non-aggressive and peaceful.
Zur, Ofer. (1989). War Myths: Exploration of the Dominant Collective Beliefs about Warfare. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 29(3), 297-327. doi: 10.1177/0022167889293002.
Main arguments: Author critically examines three myths about war: (1) war is part of human nature; (2) decent people are peaceful and seek to avoid war; (3) war is a male institution. Good point made: Disqualifying myths scientifically does not reduce their importance to the people and cultures subscribing to them. “Exposing the erroneous nature of these beliefs can be the first step out of the vicious cycle of destructive, unconscious self-fulfilling prophecies”.
Zur, Ofer. (1987). The Psychohistory of Warfare: The Co-Evolution of Culture, Psyche and Enemy. Journal of Peace Research, 24(2), 125-134. doi: 10.1177/002234338702400203.
Main arguments: Humans have had the technical and physical ability to create and use weapons against each other for the last 200,000 years, but only created and used weapons against each other in the last 13,000 years. Wars have been waged only one percent of human evolutionary time.
The Seville Statement on Violence: PDF.
World’s leading behavior scientists refute the notion that organized human violence [e.g. war] is biologically determined. The statement was adopted by the UNESCO.
Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace by Doug Fry
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
Peaceful Revolution by Paul K. Chappell
The End of War by John Horgan
A Future Without War: The Strategy of a Warfare Transition by Judith Hand
American Wars: Illusions and Realities by Paul Buchheit
The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley
Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild
Fry, Douglas. P. (2013). War, peace, and human nature : the convergence of evolutionary and cultural views. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kemp, Graham, & Fry, Douglas P. (2004). Keeping the peace : conflict resolution and peaceful societies around the world. New York: Routledge.
Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
14-3-705 Noborimachi, Naka ward, Hiroshima City
Telephone/Fax: 082-221-7631 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We oppose the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on May 27th after Ise-Shima Summit.
Never mind an apology, Obama should admit the truth
By David Swanson, TeleSUR
Since before he entered the White House, Barack Obama has proposed handling past crimes by powerful people and entities through a policy called "looking forward" -- in other words, by ignoring them. While President Obama has targeted whistleblowers with retribution and more prosecutions than his predecessors, deported more immigrants, and kept the lights on in Guantanamo, anyone responsible for war or assassination or torture or lawless imprisonment or most major Wall Street scams (or sharing military secrets with one's mistress) has been given a total pass. Why shouldn't Harry Truman receive the same privilege?
This policy, now being brought to Hiroshima, has been a miserable failure. Wars based on lies to Congress have been displaced by wars without Congress at all. Assassinations and support for coups are open public policy, with Tuesday kill list selections and State Department support for regimes in Honduras, Ukraine, and Brazil. Torture, in the new Washington consensus, is a policy choice with at least one presidential candidate campaigning on making greater use of it. Lawless imprisonment is likewise respectable in the hoped-and-changed world, and Wall Street is doing what it did before.
Obama has carried this policy of "looking forward" backward into the past, prior to his upcoming visit to Hiroshima. "Looking forward" requires only ignoring criminality and responsibility; it permits acknowledging occurrences in the past if one does so with a face that appears regretful and eager to move on. While Obama disagreed with President George W. Bush on Iraq, Bush meant well, or so Obama now says. As did U.S. forces in Vietnam, Obama says. The Korean War was actually a victory, Obama has rather surprisingly announced. "The risk-takers, the doers . . . [who] settled the West" prove "the greatness of our nation." That was how Obama euphemized the North American genocide in his first inaugural address. What might one expect him to say of the romanticized acts of mass-murder in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the Truman regime squeezed in before World War II could end?
Many peace activists whom I greatly respect have been, along with survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (called Hibakusha), urging Obama to apologize for the nuclear bombings and/or to meet briefly with survivors. I am not opposed to such steps, but rhetoric and photo ops are not what's really needed and can often work against what's really needed. By virtue of his rhetoric and party membership, Obama has been given a pass on his warmaking for over seven years. I'd have preferred he said nothing, made no speeches at all. By virtue of a speech in Prague in which Obama persuaded people that eliminating nukes must take decades, he has been given a pass on massive investment in new nukes, continued first-strike policy, more nukes in Europe, escalated hostility toward Russia, continued noncompliance with the nonproliferation treaty, and dangerous fear mongering around Iran's scary (though nonexistent) nuclear weapons program.
What's needed is not an apology so much as an admission of the facts. When people learn the facts around claims of mountaintop rescues in Iraq, or where ISIS came from, whether Gadaffi was really threatening to massacre and handing out Viagra for rape, whether Iraq really had WMDs or took babies out of incubators, what actually happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, why the USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor, and so forth, then people turn against war. Then they all come to believe that an apology is needed. And they offer apologies on behalf of their government. And they demand a formal apology. This is what should happen for Hiroshima.
I've joined over 50 U.S. signers on a letter drafted by historian Peter Kuznick to be published on May 23rd that asks President Obama to make good use of his visit to Hiroshima by:
- "Meeting with all Hibakusha who are able to attend
- Announcing the end of U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion for the new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems
- Reinvigorating nuclear disarmament negotiations to go beyond New START by announcing the unilateral reduction of the deployed U.S. arsenal to 1,000 nuclear weapons or fewer
- Calling on Russia to join with the United States in convening the 'good faith negotiations' required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the complete elimination of the world's nuclear arsenals.
- Reconsidering your refusal to apologize or discuss the history surrounding the A-bombings, which even President Eisenhower, Generals MacArthur, King, Arnold, and LeMay and Admirals Leahy and Nimitz stated were not necessary to end the war."
If President Obama just apologizes, without explaining the facts of the matter, then he'll simply get himself denounced as a traitor without making the U.S. public any less likely to back wars. The need to "discuss the history" is therefore critical.
When asked if Obama would himself have done what Truman did, Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest said: "I think what the president would say is that it's hard to put yourself in that position from the outside. I think what the president does appreciate is that president Truman made this decision for the right reasons. President Truman was focused on the national security interests of the United States, . . . on bringing an end to a terrible war. And president Truman made this decision fully mindful of the likely human toll. I think it's hard to look back and second-guess it too much."
This is quintessential "looking forward." One must not look back and second-guess that someone powerful did something wrong. One should look back and conclude that he had good intentions, thus rendering whatever damage he caused "collateral damage" of those all-absolving good intentions.
This wouldn't matter so much if people in the United States knew the actual history of what happened to Hiroshima. Here's a recent Reuters article tactfully distinguishing between what people in the United States imagine and what historians understand:
"A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save U.S. and Japanese lives, although many historians question that view. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified."
Reuters goes on to advocate for looking forward:
"Officials in both countries have made clear they want to stress the present and future, not dig into the past, even as the two leaders honor all victims of the war."
Honoring victims by avoiding looking at what happened to them? Almost humorously, Reuters turns immediately to asking the Japanese government to look backward:
"Even without an apology, some hope that Obama's visit will highlight the huge human cost of the bombings and pressure Japan to own up more forthrightly to its responsibilities and atrocities."
As it should. But how will Obama visiting the site of a massive and unprecedented crime, and blatantly failing to acknowledge the criminality and responsibility encourage Japan to take the opposite approach?
I have previously drafted what I'd like to hear Obama say in Hiroshima. Here's an excerpt:
"There has for many years no longer been any serious dispute. Weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to 'the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.' President Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.
"Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to 'dictate the terms of ending the war.' Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was 'most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in.' Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and 'Fini Japs when that comes about.' Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.
"The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, '… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.' One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: 'The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender,' he said."
Fortunately for the world, the non-nuclear nations are moving to ban nuclear weapons. Bringing nuclear nations on board and effecting disarmament will require beginning to tell the truth.
By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune
Consider this a friendly reminder to President Obama on his way to Hiroshima.
No matter how many years one writes books, does interviews, publishes columns, and speaks at events, it remains virtually impossible to make it out the door of an event in the United States at which you've advocated abolishing war without somebody hitting you with the what-about-the-good-war question.
Of course this belief that there was a good war 75 years ago is what moves the U.S. public to tolerate dumping a trillion dollars a year into preparing in case there's a good war next year, even in the face of so many dozens of wars during the past 70 years on which there's general consensus that they were not good. Without rich, well-established myths about World War II, current propaganda about Russia or Syria or Iraq would sound as crazy to most people as it sounds to me.
And of course the funding generated by the Good War legend leads to more bad wars, rather than preventing them.
I've written on this topic at great length in many articles and books, especially this one. But perhaps it would be helpful to provide a column-length list of the top reasons that the good war was not good.
1. World War II could not have happened without World War I, without the stupid manner of starting World War I and the even stupider manner of ending World War I which led numerous wise people to predict World War II on the spot, without Wall Street's funding of Nazi Germany for decades (as preferable to commies), and without the arms race and numerous bad decisions that do not need to be repeated in the future.
2. The U.S. government was not hit with a surprise attack. President Franklin Roosevelt had committed to Churchill to provoking Japan and worked hard to provoke Japan, and knew the attack was coming, and initially drafted a declaration of war against both Germany and Japan on the evening of Pearl Harbor -- before which time, FDR had built up bases in the U.S. and multiple oceans, traded weapons to the Brits for bases, started the draft, created a list of every Japanese American person in the country, provided planes, trainers, and pilots to China, imposed harsh sanctions on Japan, and advised the U.S. military that a war with Japan was beginning.
3. The war was not humanitarian and was not even marketed as such until after it was over. There was no poster asking you to help Uncle Sam save the Jews. A ship of Jewish refugees was chased away from Miami by the Coast Guard. The U.S. and other nations would not allow Jewish refugees in, and the majority of the U.S. public supported that position. Peace groups that questioned Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his foreign secretary about shipping Jews out of Germany to save them were told that Hitler might very well agree to that but it would be too much trouble and require too many ships. The U.S. engaged in no diplomatic or military effort to save the victims in the camps. Anne Frank was denied a U.S. visa.
4. The war was not defensive. FDR lied that he had a map of Nazi plans to carve up South America, that he had a Nazi plan to eliminate religion, that U.S. ships actually assisting British war planes were innocently attacked by Nazis, that Germany was in fact a threat to the United States. A case can be made that the U.S. needed to enter the war in Europe to defend other nations, which had entered to defend yet other nations, but a case could also be made that the U.S. escalated the targeting of civilians, extended the war, and created more damage than might have been, had it done nothing, attempted diplomacy, or invested in nonviolence. To claim that a Nazi empire could have grown to someday include an occupation of the United States is wildly far fetched and not borne out by any earlier or later examples of other wars.
5. We now know much more widely and with much more data that nonviolent resistance to occupation and injustice is more likely to succeed, and that success more likely to last, than violent resistance. With this knowledge, we can look back at the stunning successes of nonviolent actions against the Nazis that were not well organized or built on beyond their initial successes.
6. The good war was not for supporting the troops. In fact, lacking intense modern conditioning to prepare soldiers to engage in the unnatural act of murder, some 80 percent of U.S. and other troops in World War II did not fire their weapons at the enemies. That those soldiers were treated better after the war than soldiers in other wars had been, or have been since, was the result of the pressure created by the Bonus Army after the previous war. That veterans were given free college was not due to the merits of the war or in some way a result of the war. Without the war, everyone could have been given free college for many years. If we provided free college to everyone today, it would take way more than World War II stories to get people into military recruiting stations.
7. Several times the number of people killed in German camps were killed outside of them in the war. The majority of those people were civilians. The scale of the killing, wounding, and destroying made this war the single worst thing humanity has ever done to itself in a short space of time. That it was somehow "opposed" to the far lesser killing in the camps -- although, again, it actually wasn't -- can't justify the cure that was worse than the disease.
8. Escalating the war to include the all-out destruction of civilian cities, culminating in the completely indefensible nuking of cities took this war out of the realm of defensible projects for many who had defended its initiation -- and rightly so. Demanding unconditional surrender and seeking to maximize death and suffering did immense damage and left a legacy that has continued.
9. Killing huge numbers of people is supposedly defensible for the "good" side in a war, but not the "bad." The distinction between the two is never as stark as fantasized. The United States had an apartheid state for African Americans, camps for Japanese Americans, a tradition of genocide against Native Americans that inspired Nazis, programs of eugenics and human experimentation before, during, and after the war (including giving syphilis to people in Guatemala during the Nuremberg trials). The U.S. military hired hundreds of top Nazis at the end of the war. They fit right in. The U.S. aimed for a wider world empire, before the war, during it, and ever since.
10. The "good" side of the "good war," the party that did most of the killing and dying for the winning side, was the communist Soviet Union. That doesn't make the war a triumph for communism, but it does tarnish the tales of triumph for "democracy."
11. World War II still hasn't ended. Ordinary people in the United States didn't have their incomes taxed until World War II and that's never stopped. It was supposed to be temporary. The bases have never closed. The troops have never left Germany or Japan. There are over 100,000 U.S. and British bombs still in the ground in Germany, still killing.
12. Going back 75 years to a nuclear-free, colonial, world of completely different structures, laws, and habits to justify what has been the greatest expense of the United States in each of the years since is a bizarre feat of self-deception that isn't attempted in the justification of any lesser enterprise. Assume I've got numbers 1 through 11 totally wrong, and you've still got to explain how the world of the early 1940s justifies dumping into 2017 wars funding that could have fed, clothed, cured, and environmentally protected the earth.
May 23, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
Dear Mr. President,
We were happy to learn of your plans to be the first sitting president of the United States to visit Hiroshima this week, after the G-7 economic summit in Japan. Many of us have been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and found it a profound, life-changing experience, as did Secretary of State John Kerry on his recent visit.
In particular, meeting and hearing the personal stories of A-bomb survivors, Hibakusha, has made a unique impact on our work for global peace and disarmament. Learning of the suffering of the Hibakusha, but also their wisdom, their awe-inspiring sense of humanity, and steadfast advocacy of nuclear abolition so the horror they experienced can never happen again to other human beings, is a precious gift that cannot help but strengthen anyone’s resolve to dispose of the nuclear menace.
Your 2009 Prague speech calling for a world free of nuclear weapons inspired hope around the world, and the New START pact with Russia, historic nuclear agreement with Iran and securing and reducing stocks of nuclear weapons-grade material globally have been significant achievements.
Yet, with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons (93% held by the U.S. and Russia) still threatening all the peoples of the planet, much more needs to be done. We believe you can still offer crucial leadership in your remaining time in office to move more boldly toward a world without nuclear weapons.
In this light, we strongly urge you to honor your promise in Prague to work for a nuclear weapons-free world by:
- Meeting with all Hibakusha who are able to attend;
- Announcing the end of U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion for the new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems;
- Reinvigorating nuclear disarmament negotiations to go beyond New START by announcing the unilateral reduction of the deployed U.S. arsenal to 1,000 nuclear weapons or fewer;
- Calling on Russia to join with the United States in convening the “good faith negotiations” required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the complete elimination of the world’s nuclear arsenals;
- Reconsidering your refusal to apologize or discuss the history surrounding the A-bombings, which even President Eisenhower, Generals MacArthur, King, Arnold, and LeMay and Admirals Leahy and Nimitz stated were not necessary to end the war.
Gar Alperowitz, University of Maryland
Christian Appy, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, author of American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity
Colin Archer, Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau
Charles K. Armstrong, Professor of History, Columbia University
Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODE PINK, Women for Peace and Global Exchange
Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies
Herbert Bix, Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton
Norman Birnbaum, University Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Law Center
Reiner Braun, Co-President, International Peace Bureau
Philip Brenner, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Graduate Program in US Foreign Policy and National Security, American University
Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; National Co-convener, United for Peace and Justice
James Carroll, Author of An American Requiem
Noam Chomsky, Professor (emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and former Executive Director, SANE
Frank Costigliola, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, niversity of Connecticut
Bruce Cumings, Professor of History, University of Chicago
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
Daniel Ellsberg, Former State and Defense Department official
John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies
Gordon Fellman, Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies, Brandeis University.
Bill Fletcher, Jr., Talk Show Host, Writer & Activist.
Norma Field, professor emerita, University of Chicago
Carolyn Forché, University Professor, Georgetown University
Max Paul Friedman, Professor of History, American University.
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
Lloyd Gardner, Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University, author Architects of Illusion and The Road to Baghdad.
Irene Gendzier Prof. Emeritus, Department of of History, Boston University
Joseph Gerson, Director, American Friends Service Committee Peace & Economic Security Program, author of With Hiroshima Eyes and Empire and the Bomb
Todd Gitlin, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
John Hallam, Human Survival Project, People for Nuclear Disarmament, Australia
Melvin Hardy, Heiwa Peace Committee, Washington, DC
Laura Hein, Professor of History, Northwestern University
Martin Hellman, Member, US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
Paul Joseph, Professor of Sociology, Tufts University
Louis Kampf, Professor of Humanities Emeritus MIT
Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University
Asaf Kfoury, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Boston University
Peter King, Honorary Associate, Government & International Relations School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Sydney, NSW
David Krieger, President Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, is author of Beyond the Laboratory
John W. Lamperti, Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, Dartmouth College
Steven Leeper, Co-founder PEACE Institute, Former Chairman, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation
Robert Jay Lifton, MD, Lecturer in Psychiatry Columbia University, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, The City University of New York
Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor, University of Minnesota, Author of Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era
Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund
Ray McGovern, Veterans For Peace, Former Head of CIA Soviet Desk and Presidential Daily Briefer
David McReynolds, Former Chair, War Resister International
Zia Mian, Professor, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Tetsuo Najita, Professor of Japanese History, Emeritus, University of Chicago, former president of Association of Asian Studies
Sophie Quinn-Judge, Retired Professor, Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture and Society, Temple University
Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University, Veteran, United States Army
Betty Reardon, Founding Director Emeritus of the International Institute on Peace Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Terry Rockefeller, Founding Member, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,
David Rothauser Filmmaker, Memory Productions, producer of “Hibakusha, Our Life to Live” and “Article 9 Comes to America
James C. Scott, Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University, ex-President of the Association of Asian Studies
Peter Dale Scott, Professor of English Emeritus, University of California, Berkleley and author of American War Machine
Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate Cornell University, editor, Asia-Pacific Journal, coauthor, The Atomic Bomb: Voices From Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Martin Sherwin, Professor of History, George Mason University, Pulitzer Prize for American Prometheus
John Steinbach, Hiroshima Nagasaki Committee
Oliver Stone, Academy Award-winning writer and director
David Swanson, director of World Beyond War
Max Tegmark, Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Founder, Future of Life Institute
Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Campaign Executive Director, Co-Chair, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (US) Disarm/End Wars Issue Committee
Michael True, Emeritus Professor, Assumption College, is co-founder of the Center for Nonviolent Solutions
David Vine, Professor, Department of Sociology, American University
Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 2009 Laureate, Right Livelihood Award
Jon Weiner, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California Irvine
Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History emeritus, SUNY/Albany
Col. Ann Wright, US Army Reserved (Ret.) & former US diplomat
Marilyn Young, Professor of History, New York University
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics & Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies, University of San Francisco
By Mel Gurtov
North Korea is on a military tear. In response to UN sanctions, it carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and a satellite launch that had missile implications in February. Then, when new UN sanctions were imposed and the annual month-long US-ROK military exercises began, the DPRK diverged from its usual practice by openly drawing attention to a number of new weapons it claims to have. It paraded a road-mobile intercontinental-range missile (probably not yet produced), launched five short-range missiles into the East or Japan Sea, claimed to have an indigenously produced engine that would enable an ICBM to reach the US with a nuclear weapon, claimed to have tested a miniature nuclear weapon, test-fired an intermediate-range missile (which has failed twice), and tested a missile launched from a submarine. A fifth nuclear test may well take place before a major party congress days from now.
How and when any of the weapons the North claims to have might actually be operational is open to speculation. Some US military officers, as well as South Korean specialists, now accept that the North already has the capability to reach the US with a nuclear-tipped missile, while experts who dispute that view nevertheless believe the North will soon have that capability.
What does seem clear is that Kim Jong-un is pressing his weapons specialists to produce a reliable deterrent that will force the issue of direct talks with the US. Meeting with nuclear specialists in early March, he praised their work and, according to the North Korean press, specifically cited “research conducted to tip various type tactical and strategic ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads,” meaning a miniaturized nuclear weapon. Kim is quoted as saying that it “is very gratifying to see the nuclear warheads with the structure of mixed charge adequate for prompt thermo-nuclear reaction. The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them . . . this can be called [a] true nuclear deterrent . . . Koreans can do anything if they have a will.”
South Korean sources are convinced the North can now put a nuclear warhead on a medium-range (800 miles) Rodong missile capable of reaching all of the ROK and Japan. The North launched these in a test in March. Whether the North has actually fitted such a missile is unknown; nor is it known whether the North will be able to do the same once it possesses an ICBM.
Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me to this hallowed ground, given meaning like the fields of Gettysburg by those who died here, far more than any speech can pretend to add.
Those deaths, here and in Nagasaki, those hundreds of thousands of lives taken in a pair of fiery nuclear infernos, were the entire point. After 70 years of lying about this, let me be clear, the purpose of dropping the bombs was dropping the bombs. The more deaths the better. The bigger the explosion, the bigger the destruction, the bigger the news story, the bolder the opening of the Cold War the better.
Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible." This is how the U.S. president who destroyed Hiroshima thought about the value of European life. Perhaps I needn't remind you of the value Americans placed on Japanese lives during the war.
A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell.
On August 6, 1945, President Truman lied on the radio that a nuclear bomb had been dropped on an army base, rather than on a city. And he justified it, not as speeding the end of the war, but as revenge against Japanese offenses. "Mr. Truman was jubilant," wrote Dorothy Day on the spot, and so he was.
People back home, let me be clear, still believe false justifications for the bombings. But here I am with you in this sacred place thousands of miles away, with these words flowing so well on this teleprompter, and I'm going to make a full confession. There has for many years no longer been any serious dispute. Weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." President Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.
Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.
The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,"… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender," he said.
Apart from the question of how rudely Truman was maneuvered into the bombing decision by his subordinates, he justified the barbarous weapon's use in purely barbarous terms, saying: "Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."
He didn't pretend to any humanitarian purpose, the way we are obliged to do these days. He told it like it was. War need not bow before any humanitarian calculation. War is the ultimate power. During my presidency, I have bombed seven countries and empowered war making in all kinds of new ways. But I have always put up a pretense of exercising some sort of restraint. I have even talked about abolishing nukes. Meanwhile I'm investing in building newer, better nukes that we now think of as more useable.
Now, I know that this policy is creating a new nuclear arms race, and that eight other nuclear nations are following suit. I know the chance of ending all life through a nuclear accident, never mind a nuclear action, has multiplied several fold. But I am going to keep pushing the U.S. war machine forward in every possible way, and the consequences be damned. And I'm not going to apologize for the mass murder committed on this site by my predecessor, because I have already told you what I know. The fact that I know the real situation and must necessarily know what ought to be done, even though I never do it, has always been good enough to satisfy my supporters back home, and it damn well ought to be good enough to satisfy you people too.
And God Bless the United States of America.
By John Grant
Dear Mr. President,
I’m just sayin’... Who Cares About Democratic Primary Results in South Carolina -- a State Democrats Will Lose in November?
By Dave Lindorff
I'll be the first to admit I'm no pollster or even political scientist, but when I read that Bernie Sanders is going to be crushed by Hillary Clinton in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, the state that fired the opening shots in the Civil War and that only last year took down a Confederate battle flag in front of the capitol building, I have to shake my head at the absurdity of it.
By Mel Gurtov
North Korea continues to rattle the cages of both friend and foe. Despite near-universal condemnation of its fourth nuclear test and a deplorable human rights record, Kim Jong-un defiantly disregards the major powers and the United Nations. And now, adding insult to injury, the UN Secretary-General reports that North Korea has notified various UN agencies of its intention to launch a satellite, apparently to test its ballistic missile technology.
Continued nuclear testing by North Korea is its way of demonstrating independence of action. Nuclear weapons are the DPRK’s “insurance policy,” David Sanger writes – its last best hope for regime survival and legitimacy, and the most dramatic way to insist that the North’s interests should not be neglected. All one has to do is, through North Korean blinkers, see what has happened in Iraq, Iran, and Libya, where dictators did not have a nuclear deterrent. Two of them were invaded, and all had to surrender their nuclear-weapon capability.
The longstanding US approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons is way off the mark. The Obama administration’s strategy of “strategic patience” shows little attention to North Korean motivations. The US insistence that no change in policy is conceivable unless and until North Korea agrees to denuclearize ensures continuing tension, the danger of a disastrous miscalculation, and more and better North Korean nuclear weapons. The immediate focus of US policy should be on trust building.
Increasing the severity of punishment, with threats of more to come, is representative of a failed policy. When the White House press secretary acknowledged recently that the US goal of defanging North Korea had not been reached but that “we have succeeded in making North Korea more isolated ever before,” he was actually acknowledging the failure. The task is, or should be, not to further isolate North Korea but rather to bring it out of its isolation, starting by accepting the legitimacy of its security concerns. The more isolated the regime is and the more it is driven into a corner, the more likely it is that it will resort to provocations and shows of strength.
Demanding that China step up and use its relationship with North Korea as leverage to get it to agree to denuclearize is a fool’s errand. Secretary of State John Kerry has chided his Chinese counterpart to abandon “business as usual” with the North and join in enacting sanctions on shipping, banking, and oil. Over many years, Chinese leaders have made plain that North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing endanger China’s as well as Korean peninsula security. They have shown their displeasure by resuming trilateral Japan-South Korea-China security dialogue after three years, and by condemning North Korea’s latest nuclear test in statements from Beijing and in a UN Security Council press statement.
But with all that, the Chinese are not about to dump Kim Jong-un. Political distancing, yes, but no serious (i.e., destabilizing) economic sanctions such as the US is now demanding. While in Beijing in late January, Kerry threatened that the US, with South Korea’s possible approval (a reversal of position), would go ahead with installing a theater missile defense system (THAAD) that the Chinese have long regarded as actually aimed at neutralizing their own missiles rather than only North Korea’s. Rest assured that all such a threat will accomplish is to harden Chinese views of US strategy in Asia, lately strained further by heightened US patrolling in the South China Sea, and lessen their commitment to imposing sanctions on the North.
The DPRK’s possession of an increasingly sophisticated nuclear program that aims at miniaturizing bombs is no small matter. As Sigfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, points out, the North Koreans “may have enough bomb fuel for 18 bombs, with a capacity to make 6 to 7 more annually. That, combined with the increased sophistication they surely achieved with this test, paints a troublesome picture.” Sanctions, threats, and “half-hearted diplomacy,” Hecker observes, have failed to change the nuclear picture.
Serious engagement with North Korea remains the only realistic policy option for the United States and its allies. To be effective, however (i.e., meaningful to the other side), engagement must be undertaken strategically—as a calculated use of incentives with expectation of mutual rewards, namely in security and peace. And it should be undertaken in a spirit of mutual respect and with due regard for sensitivity in language and action.
Here are three elements of an engagement package:
First is revival of the Six-Party Talks without preconditions and with faithfulness to previous six-party and North-South Korea joint declarations—in particular, the principle contained in the Six-Party Joint Statement of September 2005: “commitment for commitment, action for action.” At a new round of talks, the US and its partners should present a package that, in return for verifiable steps to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear, provides the North with security assurances, a proposal for ending the Korean War, a nonaggression pact with big-power guarantees (with China on board), and meaningful economic assistance from both NGOs and governments. Such a major departure from “strategic patience” would be in line with Kim Jong-il’s message to President George W. Bush in November 2002: “If the United States recognizes our sovereignty and assures nonaggression, it is our view that we should be able to find a way to resolve the nuclear issue in compliance with the demands of a new century. . . .If the United States makes a bold decision, we will respond accordingly.”
Second is creation of a Northeast Asia Security Dialogue Mechanism. We might recall that such a group was anticipated in the final statements of the Six-Party Talks, and that South Korea’s President Park has proposed a similar peace initiative. In the absence of honest brokers for disputes in Northeast Asia, the NEASDM can function as a “circuit breaker,” able to interrupt patterns of escalating confrontation when tensions in the region increase—as they are now. But the NEASDM would not focus exclusively on North Korean denuclearization. It would be open to a wide range of issues related to security in the broadest sense, such as environmental, labor, poverty, and public health problems; a code of conduct to govern territorial and boundary disputes; military budget transparency, weapons transfers, and deployments; measures to combat terrorism and piracy; creation of a nuclear-weapon free zone (NWFZ) in all or part of Northeast Asia; and ways to support confidence building and trust in the dialogue process itself. Normalization of relations among all six countries should be a priority; full recognition of the DPRK by the United States and Japan costs nothing but is an important incentive for meaningful North Korean participation.
Third is significant new humanitarian assistance to North Korea. The US and South Korean emphasis on sanctions punishes the wrong people. Kim Jong-un’s complete disregard for human rights, vigorously condemned in a UN commission of inquiry report in 2014, is before the General Assembly and will be debated in the Security Council despite China’s disapproval. (The vote to debate was 9-4 with two abstentions.) But neither human rights deprivations nor nuclear testing should affect humanitarian aid to North Korea—food, medicine, medical equipment, technical training—which at least helps some portion of its population and sends the message that the international community cares about the North Korean people. Humanitarian assistance to the DPRK is pitifully little—under $50 million in 2014, and declining every year.
The same kind of steady, patient, and creative diplomacy that led to the nuclear deal with Iran is still possible in the North Korea case. As the Under Secretary-General of the UN, Jeffrey Feltman, said, Iran shows that “diplomacy can work to address non-proliferation challenges. There is strong international consensus on the need to work for peace, stability and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. To achieve this goal, dialogue is the way forward.”
Ending the Korean War is Our Best Response
By Veterans For Peace
St. Louis, MO. As a major U.S. peace organization of veterans, including members who served in the Korean War, Veterans For Peace (VFP) is deeply concerned about the underground test of a “smaller hydrogen bomb” in North Korea on January 6 (Korean Time), as well as the rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula at this time, including the resumption of the loud anti-North propaganda broadcasts across the DMZ by the U.S.-ROK military. U.S. also sent a B-52 bomber, which can drop nuclear bombs, over the Korean sky on January 10.
It is easy to jump to hasty conclusions or put all the blame on North Korean officials, which the media portrays as crazy cartoon characters. We believe it is vitally important for the American people to have a more sophisticated understanding of what is driving the North Koreans into a dangerous and expensive nuclear program. Are they really just “crazy” or “reckless,” as some pundits maintain? A close examination of U.S.-North Korea (DPRK) relations from 1948 shows that North Korea’s military steps were often taken in response to hostile actions by South Korea and/or the U.S. government.
So, what new provocations from the U.S. and/or ROK (South Korea) may have pushed North Korea into another nuclear test? There were at least three recent U.S. government actions that probably made them react.
On November 13, 2015, the Treasury Department imposed unilateral sanctions on the DPRK ambassador to Myanmar and three other officers working for the North Korean companies. Imposing a unilateral sanction on an ambassador of another country in a third country, is unprecedented in international relations since such action would be viewed as a hostile action against the country of the offended ambassador, who is usually given high respect and privilege under customary international law.
Second, on December 8, 2015, the U.S. Treasury again imposed a new round of sanctions on the DPRK, including on six North Korean bankers, three shipping companies and the nation’s Strategic Rocket Force (a military unit dealing with missiles).
Third, on December 10, 2015, the U.S., as Chair for the UN Security Council for December, organized another special meeting of the Security Council on the alleged violations of human rights in the DPRK, even though the Security Council has no jurisdiction over human rights issues under the UN Charter. The main purpose of this session was to defame and isolate the DPRK further in the international community. These highly provocative moves of the U.S. government are a continuation of its long war against the DPRK in the form of economic and psychological warfare, that goes back to the Korean War of 1950-53 when the U.S. first imposed its economic sanctions on the DPRK.
It is not surprising therefore that the DPRK statement of January 6 pointed out, “there has been no precedent of such a deep-rooted, harsh and persistent policy as the one the U.S. has pursued toward the DPRK.” No nation should be subjected to such cruel measures for more than a half century.
While we support abolition of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, we also recognize the inherent right of all nations to self-defense, as well recognized under international law and the UN Charter. This is especially so for DPRK, which is still in a state of war with the U.S. The United States is the No. 1 exporter of military weapons in the world today and has conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests of its own – including a hydrogen bomb on the Marshall Islands in 1952. We have no right to impose harsh sanctions on a small nation that tried to do the same thing underground on its own territory.
The United States is also in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by sharing its nuclear weapons with NATO allies and engaging in continuous testing and modernization of its nuclear weapons and nuclear-industrial complex.
There is some hope, however, of finally banning nuclear weapons, as the non-nuclear States are now taking the initiative to negotiate an international treaty to ban the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons. In this regard, we are encouraged to note that DPRK was the only nuclear State that voted in favor of the 2015 UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/70/33), which called for a special meeting in 2016 of “an open-ended working group” of UN member States to discuss “concrete effective legal measures” to achieve nuclear abolition. It seems DPRK is sending an implicit message that it would be happy to rid itself of nuclear weapons if other nuclear States were to do the same.
Further U.S. economic sanctions, military threats or psychological warfare against the DPRK are not the right answer to North Korea’s nuclear test. Such steps would violate the Korean Armistice Agreement and could lead to a tragic resumption of heavy fighting on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, we urge the Obama administration to accept the constructive offers made by the North Korean government, the latest being its Jan. 2015 offer to suspend its nuclear tests in return for the suspension of annual joint U.S/ROK war drills against North Korea. Rarely seen in the U.S. media is any mention of another longstanding offer by North Korea – to sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War once and for all. These are win-win solutions for all Korean people and the people of the world.
Wage Peace, Not War!
End the Korean War Now!
In Washington, voices are rising fast and furiously. “Freedom fries” are a thing of the past and everyone agrees on the need to support France (and on more or less nothing else). Now, disagreements are sharpening over whether to only incrementally “intensify” the use of U.S. military power in Syria and Iraq or go to “war” big time and send in the troops.
By Dr Hakim
The sea shells
I picked some sea shells at Henoko in Okinawa. Henoko is where the U.S. is relocating their military base against the wishes of 76.1% of Okinawans.
I gave the sea shells as gifts to some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers to help them remember Okinawa’s story.
“Hold the sea shells just next to your ears. It is said that you can hear the waves and the stories from the shores of Okinawa,” I began, as I recounted my witness of the nonviolent efforts of ordinary Japanese to end the more than 70 years of U.S. military bases in their midst, including of Ohata being hurt by the Japanese police when he had locked arms with other Japanese in a peaceful sit-in protestat the gates of Henoko base.
Kitsu, an elder monk who organized the Okinawa Peace Walk I was participating in, remarked during a dinner of sticky rice, pickled radishes and seaweed, “Hakim, you remind me of the ‘dugong’!”
I was amused to think that I resembled the somewhat strange-looking, endangered manatee that lives on a certain species of seaweed found in the seas of Henoko.
Perhaps, it’s only when we realize the similarities we share with creatures like the ‘dugong’ that we can care more about their possible extinction. The dugong’s survival may now hinge on the U.S. government’s ‘full-spectrum dominance’ designs on Asia, as the dugong’s natural habitat is being usurped by the construction of a U.S. military base.
I had the privilege of joining a team of scientists and activists who take their ‘Peace Boats’ out daily to the area of sea cordoned off by the U.S./Japanese authorities with orange buoys.
The Peace Boats had flags which read, “سلام”, meaning “Peace” is Arabic, a word also used by Afghans in greeting one another. I was reminded that the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Afghanistan serve as launching pads for the same Great Game being played out in Asia.
Two elderly Japanese ladies were regulars on the boat, holding signs which said, “Stop Illegal Work”.
I thought, “Who made the U.S. military the ‘legal’ masters over the seas of Okinawa, over the ‘dugong’ whose survival they are threatening?” The U.S. already has 32 military bases on the island, taking up almost 20% of the entire land area of Okinawa.
The cold spray of the waves refreshed me. The soft beat of the drum played by Kamoshita, another organizer of the Okinawa Peace Walk, gave a prayerful rhythm.
In the horizon were Japanese canoeists who were also doing their daily protests.
The canoe activists at the orange-buoy cordon.
The U.S. military base’s site at Henoko can be seen in the background
The captain of our boat drove the boat across and over the cordon.
Boats of the Japanese Coast Guard and the Okinawa Defense Bureau approached and surrounded us.
They were everywhere.
They filmed us as we filmed them. They issued warnings on their loudhailers.Suddenly, as our boat picked up speed, a Japanese Coast Guard boat gave chase.
I felt as if I was in a Hollywood movie. I couldn’t believe that they were so intensely averse to a couple of old Japanese ladies, a few scientists and reporters and some peace builders!
What didn’t they want us to see? Hidden nuclear warheads? What orders were they given by the Japanese and U.S. authorities?
The Japanese Coast Guard ‘chasing’ us
I held my camera steady as their boat seemed to ‘nosedive’ towards us.
Their boat hit the side of ours. Water showered over us. I covered my camera with my Borderfree Blue Scarf, and wondered for an instant if the coast guard would soon be boarding our boat.
I sensed what my Japanese friends felt, that instead of being in Okinawa to protect the people, they are chasing the people off from their own land and seas. I saw a global military machine coming at us on a normalized, business-as-usual excuse of ‘defense’, and I understood the roots of my grandfather’s killingby the Japanese military in World War II.
This was merely one of many infringements by the U.S./Japan military on the open seas, oblivious to the ‘dugongs’ and natural life within and around the waters.
Using a magnifier viewing goggle which I placed over the side of our boat, I could see a little of the beautiful coral and its ecosystem. Unfortunately, these may be destroyed by the U.S. military with Japanese tax-payer money, unless the people of the world join Okinawans to say ‘No base! No War!”
This is what war, war bases and war preparations do.
They hurt the people.
They ignore the seas.
The people of Okinawa and Japan will keep resisting nonviolently. Their struggle for peace is ours.
A full photo essay can be seen at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com/wordpress/boat-chase-on-the-seas-of-okinawa/
Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.
By Ann Wright
A 26 person delegation from the All Okinawa Council will be in Washington, DC November 19 and 20 to ask members of the U.S. Congress to use their power to stop the construction of runway for the U.S. Marine base at Henoko into the pristine waters of the South China Sea.
The delegation is concerned about the environmental impact of the new facilities, including a runway to be built into the coral areas and natural habitat of the marine mammal, the dugong and the continued militarization of their island. Over 90% of all U.S. military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa.
The Henoko construction plan faces substantial opposition from the people of Okinawa. Protests of 35,000 citizens, Including many senior citizens, against the construction of the base have rocked the island.
The issue of the Henoko relocation plan has taken a critical turn. On October 13th, 2015, Okinawa’s new Governor Takshi Onaga revoked the land reclamation approval for the Henoko base construction, which was granted by the previous governor in December 2013.
The All Okinawa Council is a civil society organization, consisting of members of civil society organizations/groups, local assemblies, local communities, and business establishments.
Members of the delegation will have meetings with several Congresspersons and staffers on November 19 and 20 and will hold a briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives in Rayburn building room 2226 at 3pm on Thursday, November 19. The briefing is open to the public.
At 6pm on Thursday, November 19, the delegation will host a showing of the documentary “Okinawa: The Afterburn” at the Brookland Busboys and Poets, 625 Monroe St., NE, Washington, DC 20017.
The film is a comprehensive picture of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the 70-year occupation of the island by the US military.
On Friday, November 20, the delegation will hold a rally at the White House at noon and asks for support from local organizations opposed to expansion of U.S. military bases around the world.
The Henoko base construction in Okinawa would be the second base in Asia and the Pacific to be used by US military that has faced enormous citizen outrage as both bases will destroy environmentally sensitive areas and increase the militarization of their countries. The construction of the South Korean naval base on Jeju Island that will homeport ships carrying the US Aegis missiles has caused massive citizen protests.
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She has travelled to both Okinawa and Jeju Island to speak on U.S. military bases and sexual assault by US military members on women in the local communities.
No more veterans!: November 11 or Armistice Day Began as a Time to Contemplate Peace, Not to Celebrate War and Warriors
By Dave Lindorff
Dave Chaddock is the author of This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since.
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Tác giả: CHUCK SEARCY và LADY BORTON
HANOI – Now that the United States, Vietnam, and ten other nations have signed the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) – and the text, finally, has been released to the public – the U.S. Congress and the other countries' legislative bodies must decide whether to ratify the agreement. Negotiations were secret, until the document was signed. Before the release of the text a few days ago, even members of Congress were not allowed to see the agreement, except for certain members who were shown only a few pages of certain sections, alone, in a locked room.
HÀ NỘI – Nay Hoa Kỳ, Việt Nam và 9 quốc gia khác vừa ký TPP (Hiệp định đối tác xuyên Thái Bình Dương) và nội dung của văn kiện này cuối cùng cũng được công bố trước dư luận – Quốc hội Mỹ và các cơ quan lập pháp của các nước thành viên khác của TPP sẽ phải quyết định có thông qua Hiệp định này. Các cuộc hội đàm tiến hành trong vòng kín, cho tới khi văn kiện Hiệp định được ký kết. Trước khi toàn văn của Hiệp định được công bố vài ngảy trước, ngay cả các nghị viên Mỹ cũng không được xem nội dung của nó, chỉ có có vài nghị sĩ được cho xem vài tờ của một số chương nhất định, xem một mình, trong một phòng đóng kín.
Now that the text has been released, the early reviews are in. It seems quite certain that ordinary Americans will not benefit from the TPP. Most will lose.
Nay khi văn bản đã được công bố, những chỉnh sửa trước đó đã nằm trong nội dung. Nó cho thấy rằng người dân Mỹ bình thường không được lợi từ TPP. Đa số họ sẽ thất thiệt.
That also appears to be the case for the people of Vietnam. Người dân Việt cũng rơi vào tình thế tương tự.
Why should citizens of both countries be concerned?
Vì sao người dân của hai đất nước chúng ta phải lo lắng?
This year is the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments. The anniversary is being touted by both sides as a sort of milestone, and for good reason. Forty years since the end of the war that devastated Vietnam, a legacy of unexploded ordnance and Agent Orange remains, along with poverty and other reminders of the costs and consequences of the war. People of good will on both sides of course
are looking for opportunities to cooperate and ways to work together that will benefit the people of both our countries.
Năm nay là dịp kỷ niệm lần thứ 20 ngày bình thường hóa quan hệ ngoại giao giữa hai chính phủ Hoa Kỳ và Việt Nam. Ngày kỷ niệm này được tưng bừng quảng bá bởi cả hai bên như một cột mốc, do những nguyên cớ tốt đẹp. Bốn mươi năm kể từ khi kết thúc cuộc chiến tranh đã tàn phá Việt Nam, di sản của bom mìn chưa nổ và của chất độc da cam vẫn còn đó, cùng với nghèo khổ và những ký ức về cái giá phải trả và những hậu quả của cuộc chiến tranh. Người dân của cả hai bên dĩ nhiên tìm kiếm cơ hội để hợp tác và các cách thức làm việc với nhau sao cho đem lại lợi ích cho nhân dân cả hai nước.
But the TPP will not bring cooperation or benefits to American or Vietnamese citizens. It is a carefully contrived and very complicated expansion of corporate power over both governments. In the case of Vietnam, this corporate influence may actually threaten the country's sovereign rights as an independent nation with its own laws and regulations.
Nhưng TPP sẽ không mang lại cả sự hợp tác lẫn lợi ích cho các công dân Việt Nam và Mỹ. Đó là một sự khuyếch trương quyền lực của các Tập đoàn thương mại phủ bóng lên hai chính phủ, được tính toán kỹ càng. Trong trường hợp của Việt Nam, ảnh hưởng này của các tập đoàn thương mại có thể là mối đe dọa chủ quyền của đất nước, chủ quyền của một quốc gia độc lập, với những luật lệ và quy tắc của mình.
During this ratification period – which may take up to two years in the case of Vietnam, according to Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade – representatives of the National Assembly will certainly seek to understand the costs and benefits to Vietnam. Members of the U.S. Congress will do the same, although Congress will only be allowed a yes or no vote. The U.S. Congress will not be allowed to alter or improve any of the text of the agreement.
Trong quá trình thông qua Hiệp định TPP – được dự kiến tiến hành trong hai năm cho trường hợp Việt Nam, theo ông Trần Quốc Khánh, thứ trưởng Bộ Công thương Việt Nam – đại diện của Quốc hội sẽ tìm hiểu giá phải trả và lợi ích mà Việt Nam sẽ có được. Các thành viên của Quốc hội Mỹ sẽ làm đúng như vậy, cho dù tại Nghị viện Mỹ, chỉ cho phép trả lời Có hay Không. Quốc hội Mỹ sẽ không cho phép sửa đổi hay cải thiện bất cứ điều gì trong nội dung của Hiệp định,
Nonetheless, this will be a critical time. Now that the full text of the agreement has becomes public, Americans and Vietnamese should engage in dialogue and carefully scrutinize the entire TTP Agreement. Key, substantive questions have already been identified in recent months by the experts who assembled the pieces of the TPP puzzle that were leaked. That process is now going forward apace, as new details have emerged with release of the text. Some concerns include:
Tuy nhiên, đây sẽ là một thời kỳ hệ trọng. Nay khi nội dung đấy đủ của Hiệp định đã được công bố, người Mỹ và người Việt Nam cần phải tham dự vào các cuộc đối thoại và soát xét kỹ lưỡng toàn văn của bản hiệp định TTP. Các câu hỏi then chốt, thiết yếu đã được xác lập trong những tháng vừa qua bới các chuyên gia, những người đã tập hợp những đoạn của những chỗ rắc rối của TPP từng rò rỉ (trong quá trình đàm phán). Quá trình này hiện đang tiến triển mau lẹ, và những chi tiết mới sẽ còn nhô lên một khi nội dung của TPP được công bố. Dưới đây là một số quan ngại:
Vietnam will begin to lose important elements of national sovereignty, most within a five-year deadline, if the TPP goes into effect.
Việt Nam sẽ bắt đầu mất đi những thành tố quan trọng của chủ quyền, chủ yếu là trong 5 năm trước hạn chót, nếu TPP bắt đầu đi vào thực hiện.
public-interest policies and any laws that threaten a U.S. corporation's profits. U.S. corporations will be above the government of Vietnam and above Vietnamese law.
Những văn bản được công bố gần đây đề xuất TPP sẽ mở rộng1 quyền hợp pháp của các tập đoàn thương mại và các nhà đầu tư, và cho phép các tập đoàn thương mại được kiện các nước (thành viên) ra tòa án quốc tế để bồi thường những tốn hại gây bởi các chính sách vì lợi ích cộng đồng và bất kỳ luật nào (chẳng hạn như các quy chế về tài chính và bảo hộ cho công nhân và cho môi trường) đe dọa lợi nhuận của các tập đoàn thương mại Mỹ. Các tập đoàn thương mại Mỹ sẽ đứng trên chính phủ Việt Nam và đứng trên cả luật pháp Việt Nam.
Disagreements would not be settled in Vietnamese courts or international courts, but by a panel of lawyers picked by corporations.
Những bất hòa sẽ không được dàn xếp ở Việt Nam hay tòa án quốc tế, mà bởi một ban gồm các luật sư mà tập đoàn thương mại sẽ triệu tập.
The agreement includes ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions, by which a panel of lawyers picked by the corporations – not judges in Vietnamese or international courts – will rule on the lawsuits. Section 28.9(2)(a) of the Agreement says that one panel member each is chosen by each party, and under (2)(d), the chair (and third panel member) is chosen together by the parties, or, if necessary, chosen randomly from a list of qualified people on a roster. It seems likely that the drafters of the agreement sought a legal procedure that would fit all signatory nations, but now there are unintended consequences. Only a small number of lawyers are deemed qualified to serve on these panels. That group is potentially incestuous, since the corporations will have a strong say in suggesting names for the roster.
Hiệp định bao gồm các điều khoản ISDS (Dàn xếp bất hòa giữa Nhà đầu tư – Nhà nước), theo đó một ban gồm các luật sư sẽ được các tập đoàn triệu tập – chứ không phải các quan tòa Việt Nam hay quốc tế - sẽ phán quyết các vụ kiện. Mục 28.9(2)(a) của Hiệp định nói rằng mỗi bên sẽ chọn một thành viên của ban luật sư, và theo khoản (2)(d), người đứng đầu ban (cũng là thành viên thứ ba của ban) được các bên chọn ra, hoặc, nều thấy cần sẽ chọn ngẫu nhiên từ một danh sách
1 http://www.ibtimes.com/trade-pact-how-trans-pacific-partnership-gives-corporations-special-legal-rights-1975817. Accessed November 7, 2015.
Recently published texts suggest the TPP agreement will expand1 and investors and allow the corporations to sue countries in international tribunals for damages the legal rights of corporations caused by such as financial regulations and protections for workers and the environment)
những ứng viên đủ năng lực để đưa vào ban. Có vẻ như những người soạn thào hiệp định đã tìm kiếm một trình tự pháp lý sẽ hợp ý những quốc gia sẽ ký, nhưng đang xuất hiện những hệ quả không dự kiến trước. Chỉ một số nhỏ luật sư có thể đáp ứng được về mặt năng lực để tham gia vào các ban như thế. Một ban như thế dễ có thể xuất hiện những “tay trong”, vì các tập đoàn thương mại có một tiếng nói mạnh trong việc nêu tên những luật sư nào được đưa vào ban.
These secretive2 tribunals – three lawyers – would likely have a vested interest in the corporations that suggested or picked them. They are apt to impose huge, punitive fines against Vietnam. ISDS will constrain the scope of legitimate regulation, making it harder for Vietnam and other nations to achieve improved labor and environmental standards. In short, ISDS will constrain Vietnam's policy space to manage its own economic development. The government of Vietnam will no longer be beholden to its citizens but, instead, will be beholden to foreign corporations.
Những tòa án2 kiểu giấu diếm như thế - gồm ba luật sư – hẳn sẽ có quyền có được lợi tức trong các tập đoàn nào đề xuất hoặc chọn họ. Họ sẽ có khuynh hướng áp đặt những khoản phạt nặng cho Việt Nam. ISDS sẽ thu hẹp phạm vi của các quy chế hợp pháp, làm cho Việt Nam và các quốc gia khác khó đạt được sự cải thiện các tiêu chuẩn về người lao động và về môi trường. Nói tóm lại ISDS sẽ khắc chế không gian chính sách của Việt Nam, mà Việt Nam đang dùng để quản trị sự phát triển kinh tế của mình. Chính phủ Việt Nam sẽ không còn đóng vai trò thực thi nghĩa vụ trước các công dân của mình, mà lại đóng vai trò thực thi nghĩa vụ trước các tập đoàn kinh tế nước ngoài.
Ngay cả khả năng trả được khoản phạt nặng theo phán quyết của tòa án cộng với phí tố tụng cũng có thể đẩy các chính phủ (thành viên TPP) phải nhượng bộ các chủ quyền của họ: phải giảm bớt hiệu lực của các quy chế về người lao động, về môi trường, và các quy định khác; phải tránh không thông qua các quy chế, nghị định như thế. Tổ chức phi lợi nhuận Public Citizen của Mỹ đã dẫn những ví dụ3 ở Canada, nơi mà mối đe dọa của tố quyền ISDS có thể dẫn những nhà hoạch định chính sách phải cân nhắc kỹ về việc ban hành các quy chế bảo hộ liệu có đẩy chính phủ lâm vào một bất đồng đắt giả giữa nhà đầu tư và nhà nước.
This is not speculation. Similar cases have already been filed.
Đây không phải là sự suy diễn (cực đoan). Các trường hợp tương tự đã xảy ra.
2 http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21623756-governments-are-souring-treaties-protect- foreign-investors-arbitration. November 7, 2015.
3 http://www.citizen.org/documents/ISDS-and-TAFTA.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2015.
Even the possibility of paying a tribunal's huge fines plus legal costs can push governments to surrender their rights of sovereignty; dilute labor, environmental, or other regulations; and avoid passing such regulations altogether. The U.S. non-profit, Public Citizen, cited examples3 in Canada, where just the threat of ISDS action may have led policymakers "to think twice about enacting protections that could expose the government to a costly investor-state dispute."
Philip Morris, a U.S. cigarette company, has filed suits against Australia4
and Uruguay,5 arguing
those nations' laws mandating health warnings on tobacco products are an expropriation of the company's property and have cut into profits for Philip Morris. A Swedish energy firm has sued the government of Germany for restrictions on coal-fired6 and nuclear7 power plants. Veolia, a French waste-management company, is suing Egypt to overturn that nation's minimum-wage law. Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company is fighting8 Canada's efforts to reduce the price of medicine through limited drug patents in order to protect its citizens. Eli Lilly is accusing Canada of not letting the company make the profit the corporation wants.
Philip Morris, một hãng thuốc lá của Mỹ, đã khởi kiện chống lại Australia4 và Uruguay5, cáo buộc các quốc gia này ra luật buộc phải đề những cảnh báo sức khỏe trên các sản phẩm thuốc lá – là xâm phạm tải sản của công ty này, và đã làm co hẹp lợi nhuận của Philip Morris. Một hãng của Thụy Điển kiện chính phủ Đức là đã hạn chế các nhà máy điện chạy bằng than và bằng hạt nhân. Veolia, một công ty xử lý chất thải của Pháp đang kiện Ai Cập, buộc nước này phải hủy bỏ đạo luật về lương tối thiểu. Hãng dược Eli Lilly đang chống lại Canada về việc nước này đang nỗ lực làm giảm giá thuộc thông qua (việc cấp) các giấy phép kinh doanh thuốc hạn chế, để bảo hộ cho các công dân của mình. Eli Lily cáo buộc Canada đang không cho hãng này kiếm lời như nó muốn.
The number of companies that could sue Vietnam is growing. Số lượng những công ty có thể kiện Việt Nam đang tăng
As of the end of May 2015, U.S. companies in Vietnam had 742 projects worth over $11 billion. Major American firms – including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, IBM, Cargill, Microsoft, Citigroup, Chevron, Ford, General Electric, AES (formerly, Applied Energy Services), and UPS – have moved into the Vietnamese market. Some Americans who established these companies in Vietnam did so out of empathy and the wish to address post-war poverty; they may not realize that, under the TPP, the company they introduced could impinge on Vietnam's sovereignty.
Tính đến cuối tháng 5/2015, các doanh nghiệp Hoa Kỳ ở Việt Nam thực hiện 742 dự án, có tổng giá trị lên tới 11 tỉ USD. Các hãng chính của Mỹ ở đây, bao gồm Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, IBM, Cargill, Microsoft, Citigroup, Chevron, Ford, General Electric, AES (trước đây gọi là Applied Energy Services), và UPS – đã thâm nhập vào thị trường Việt Nam. Một số người Mỹ lập những công ty ở Việt Nam đã làm ăn mà không đếm xỉa đến sự thông cảm và mong muốn (các công ty này) lưu tâm đến sự nghèo khó sau chiến tranh; họ đã không nhận thấy, khi TPP được áp vào, các công ty mà họ đại diện cho có thể làm phương hại đến chủ quyền của Việt Nam.
4 http://www.ag.gov.au/tobaccoplainpackaging. Accessed November 7, 2015.
5 http://www.iisd.org/itn/2011/07/12/philip-morris-v-uruguay-will-investor-state-arbitration-send-restrictions-on- tobacco-marketing-up-in-smoke/. Accessed November 7, 2015.
6 http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2009/background_vattenfall_vs_germany.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2015.
7 http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/vattenfall-vs-germany-nuclear-phase-out-faces-billion-euro-lawsuit- a-795466.html Accessed, November 7, 2015.
8 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/us-business/lilly-ramps-up-nafta-fight- over-loss-of-patents/article13223813/. Accessed November 7, 2015.
Sectors important to Vietnam's economic security would fall under the TPP.
Những lĩnh vực quan trọng đối với an ninh kinh tế ở Việt Nam có thể bị suy sụp dưới tác động của TPP.
Some in the government of Vietnam may already be worried about such legal suits, which could dismantle its laws and regulations protecting the environment, citizens' health, children's education, and national sovereignty. Vietnam's 2005 Investment Law lists four sectors:
Một số người trong chính phủ Việt Nam có thể đã quan ngại về những vụ kiện tụng như vậy, điều sẽ làm yếu những luật lệ và quy chế bảo hộ môi trường, sức khỏe công dân, giáo dục thanh thiếu nhi, và chủ quyền quốc gia của Việt Nam. Luật đầu tư năm 2005 của Việt Nam đưa ra năm loại lĩnh vực:
prohibited sectors – lĩnh vực cấm
encouraged sectors – lĩnh vực khuyến khích
conditional sectors applicable to both foreign and domestic investors – những ngành nghề
kinh doanh có điều kiện áp dụng cho các nhà đầu tư nước ngoài và trong nước
conditional sectors applicable only to foreign investors. - những ngành nghề kinh doanh
có điều kiện áp dụng cho các nhà đầu tư nước ngoài
If a U.S. company claims Vietnam is prohibiting the company from investing in Sector 1 (activities seen as "detrimental to national defense, security and public interest, health, or historical and cultural values"), under the TPP, can that foreign company sue Vietnam? The leaked texts of the TPP make it very doubtful that Vietnam's negotiators secured any written guarantees that Vietnam's sovereignty will be respected. If sued under the TPP, Vietnam's national sovereignty would not be protected.
Nếu một doanh nghiệp Mỹ tuyên bố rằng Việt Nam đang cấm công ty này được đầu tư vào lĩnh vực 1 nói trên (các ngành nghề được xem là “bất lợi đối với quốc phòng, an ninh và lợi ích công cộng, sức khỏe, hoặc các giá trị lịch sử và văn hóa) khi TPP đã có hiệu lực, liệu công ty này có khởi kiện Việt Nam? Nội dung thẩm thấu ra ngoài của TPP gây một nghi ngại liệu các nhà đàm phán Việt Nam đã có quán triệt rằng chủ quyền của Việt Nam sẽ được tôn trọng. Nếu bị kiện khi TPP có hiệu lực, chủ quyền của Việt Nam sẽ không được bảo toàn.
The same question applies to Sector 3, (activities "having an impact on national defense, security, social order and safety; culture, information, press and publishing; finance and banking; public health; entertainment services; real estate; survey, prospecting, exploration and exploitation of natural resources; ecology and the environment; and education and training.") Under the TPP, can foreign companies sue Vietnam for restricting their involvement in that sector? Can foreign-owned banks licensed to operate in Vietnam demand the same high-profit incentives they enjoy in the United States or in other countries? Must Vietnam stop its anti- smoking campaign?
Một câu hỏi nữa dành cho Lĩnh vực 3 (các hoạt động “có ảnh hưởng tới quốc phòng, an ninh, trật tự và an toàn xã hội; văn hóa, thông tin, báo chí và xuất bản, tài chính và ngân hàng, sức khỏe cộng đồng, dịch vụ giải trí, bất động sản, thăm dò, tìm kiếm, thăm dò và khai thác các tài nguyên thiên nhiên, sinh thái môi trường, giáo dục và đào tạo”). Khi TPP có hiệu lực, liệu các công ty nước ngoài có kiện Việt Nam đã hạn chế sự dính líu của họ vào các lĩnh vực này? Liệu các nhà băng do người nước ngoài là chủ sở hữu có giấy phép hoạt động ở Việt Nam đòi họ phải có được mức lợi nhuận cao mà họ được hưởng ở Mỹ hoặc ở các nước khác? Liệu Việt Nam có phải dừng chiến dịch chống hút thuốc là lại?
In June 2015, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council said the TPP will make Vietnam increasingly attractive to U.S. investors. Why? Because the TPP will allow companies to operate with impunity, overriding Vietnam's national sovereignty.
Vào tháng 6/2015, Hội đồng kinh doanh Hoa Kỳ - ASEAN cho rằng TPP sẽ làm cho Việt Nam trở nên đặc biệt hấp dẫn với nhà đầu tư Mỹ. Vì sao? Vì TPP sẽ cho phép các doanh nghiệp được hoạt động không sợ bị trừng phạt khi không coi trọng chủ quyền của Việt Nam.
The U.S. Business Coalition for TPP spent $118 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, $126 million in the first quarter of 2015, and $135 million in the second quarter of 2015, for a total of $379 million in three quarters.
The TPP could skew regulations worldwide in favor of the banks, manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies that aggressively lobbied9 for the TPP. Further, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing U.S. corporations to engage in unlimited campaign expenditures to support or oppose candidates, we can be sure U.S. corporations will engage in heavy, financial lobbying to pressure for TPP passage during the upcoming election.
Liên minh Doanh nghiệp Mỹ ủng hộ TPP đã bỏ ra 118 triệu USD trong quý bốn của năm 2014, 216 triệu USD trong quý một năm 2015, và 135 triệu vào quý 2 năm 2015, tổng cộng là 379 triệu USD.
Questions ordinary citizens should be asking:
Những câu hỏi mà các công dân bình thường nên đặt ra:
The TPP includes patents on new pharmaceutical products. These patents prevent development of the cheaper generic drugs that have made medicines affordable for Vietnamese. The people of Vietnam should be asking, "Will our families be forced to replace cheaper generic medicines with multi-national brand names protected by the TPP?" Americans should be asking, "Do we want to force the people of Vietnam to pay the same high prices that we pay for drugs?"
Hiệp định TPP bao gồm giấy phép kinh doah các dược phẩm mới. Những giấy phép này ngăn sự phát triển của các dược phẩm rẻ hơn đang làm cho giá thuốc men là phải chăng đối với người Việt Nam. Người Việt Nam nên đặt ra câu hỏi: ‘Liệu gia đình của chúng ta có buộc phải thay những dược phẩm rẻ hơn với các chế phẩm thuốc có thương hiệu đa quốc gia được TPP bảo hộ?”
9 http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/23/us-trade-tpp-lobbying-idUSKCN0PX2JO20150723. Accessed November 7, 2015.
Những người Mỹ cần đặt câu hỏi: “Liệu chúng ta có nên buộc người Việt phải mua thuốc men với giá đắt như người Mỹ vẫn đang trả không?
Vietnam is the world's second largest rice exporter, yet the TPP will lead to a decrease in
agricultural sales in domestic and export markets. Unfortunately, Vietnam is one of the top five nations most threatened by rising seas due to climate change. The nation's two large deltas – the "Red River and Mekong Rice Baskets" – are already in danger, yet the TPP will allow U.S. corporations to sue Vietnam because of the environmental policies and regulations designed to protect those fragile deltas, the citizens, and Vietnam's food sovereignty. In particular, U.S. pesticide companies are apt to sue Vietnam for implementing so successfully the FAO-initiated IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program, which protects the environment and improves yields by teaching pest-control techniques other than pesticides and uses chemical pesticides only when absolutely needed.
Việt Nam là nước xuất khẩu gạo lớn thứ hai của thé giới, nhưng TPP đang đưa đến một sự giảm giá nông phẩm trên cả thị trường nội địa lẫn xuất khẩu. Không may là Việt Nam là một trong năm nước đứng hàng đầu danh sách bị đe dọa bởi mực nước biển dâng cao do biến đổi khí hậu. Hai đồng bằng lớn của Việt Nam là Vựa lúa châu thổ sông Mekong và đồng bằng sông Hồng đang bị đe dọa, tuy nhiên TPP cho phép các công ty Mỹ được kiện Việt Nam về các chính sách và quy chế bảo vệ một trường được lập ra để bảo vệ hai vùng đồng bằng dễ bị tổn thương này, dân cư ở đó, và chủ quyền về lương thực của Việt Nam. Đặc biệt, các công ty kinh doanh thuốc trừ sâu của Mỹ đang có xu hướng muốn kiện Việt Nam vì đã áp dụng có kết quả chương trình Quản trị dịch hại tổng hợp do FAO đề xướng, một chương trình bảo vệ môi trường và cải thiện lợi tức từ hoa màu nhờ các kỹ thuật kiểm soát sinh vật gây hại, chứ không dùng thuốc trừ sâu, và chỉ dùng các hóa chất trừ sâu bọ ở nơi nào tuyệt đối cần thiết.
Decisions about controversial introduction of GMO seeds and crops will be made outside of Vietnam. The Vietnamese government will no longer have sovereignty in such matters.
Quyết định về việc đưa hạt giống biến đổi gen và thu hoạch loại sản phẩm này sẽ được quyết định ở ngoài Việt Nam. Chính phủ Việt Nam sẽ không có chủ quyền trong những việc này nữa.
Vietnamese farmers and agricultural producers should be asking, "How will TPP affect our ability to compete in world markets, against huge corporations?"
Những người nông dân và các nhà sản xuất nông phẩm nên đặt câu hỏi, “Liệu TPP có ảnh hưởng đến năng lực cạnh tranh của chúng tôi trên trường quốc tế, chống lại những doanh nghiệp lớn?”
A major effort has gone into lobbying in Vietnam for the TTP, with highly paid American consultants, an orchestrated international and domestic press, and the U.S. Embassy's year-long, 20-year-anniversary celebration pushing the TTP while the contents of the agreement were cloaked in secrecy. As noted above, corporations have undertaken an even bigger lobbying effort in the United States.
Một nỗ lực chủ yếu đã được bỏ ra để vận động hành lang ở Việt Nam cho TTP, với những nhà tư vấn được trả lương cao, một dàn đồng ca trên báo chí trong ngoài nước, và cuộc kỷ niệm 20 năm thiết lập quan hệ ngoại giao kéo tới một năm ròng của sứ quán Mỹ cũng nhằm thúc đẩy TPP khi
nội dung của Hiệp định này còn đang được gói trong bức màn bí mật. Như đã nói trên, các tập đoàn thương mại cũng dấy lên một nỗ lực lobby còn lớn hơn ở Mỹ.
Some of the very rich in Vietnam will probably benefit. A small percent of wealthy Americans and major corporate shareholders will make more money. Ordinary people and the poor will lose. That is always the case when agreements are written in secret.
Một số người rất giàu ở Việt Nam chắc sẽ được lợi. Một phần trăm nhỏ của những người Mỹ giàu có và các cổ đông chính của các tập đoàn thương mại sẽ kiếm ra nhiều tiền hơn. Những người dân thường và người nghèo sẽ chịu tổn thất. Điều này thường xảy ra khi các hiệp định được viết trong vòng bí mật.
The ratification period is critical. The "people's representatives" – legislative bodies in the United States, Vietnam and other signatory nations – will be debating the full text of the TPP recently disclosed. During this time of legislative approval or disapproval of such a sweeping agreement, ordinary citizens in Vietnam, the United States, and other nations must raise their voices.
Giai đoạn thông qua (TPP) sẽ là then chốt. Những dân biểu – các nhà lập pháp ở Mỹ và Việt Nam và ở các quốc gia đã ký hiệp định này – sẽ thảo luận nội dung đầy đủ của TPP vừa được công bố. Trong khoảng thời gian cần để thông qua hay bác bỏ một hiệp định có ảnh hưởng rộng lớn như thế, công dân bình thường ở Việt Nam, Mỹ và các nước khác cần cất cao tiếng nói của mình.
Chuck Searcy is a Vietnam veteran; Lady Borton worked with all sides during the war. Both have worked in Vietnam since before normalization of US-Vietnam diplomatic relations 20 years ago.
Chuck Searcy là một cựu chiến binh chiến tranh Việt Nam. Lady Borton từng làm việc với tất cả các phía của cuộc chiến tranh đó. Cả hai đã sang Việt Nam làm việc trước khi bình thường hóa quan hệ ngoại giao Mỹ - Việt, 20 năm về trước.
By Maya Evans
Okinawa-- Around one hundred and fifty Japanese protesters gathered to stop construction trucks from entering the U.S. base 'Camp Schwab', after the Ministry of Land over-ruled the local Governors' decision to revoke permission for construction plans, criticizing the "mainland-centric" Japanese Government of compromising the environmental, health and safety interests of the Islanders.
Riot police poured out of buses at six a.m., out-numbering protesters four to one, with road sitters systematically picked off in less than an hour to make way for construction vehicles.
All the mayors and government representatives of Okinawa have objected to the construction of the new coastal base, which will landfill one hundred and sixty acres of Oura Bay, for a two hundred and five hectare construction plan which will be part of a military runway.
Marine biologists describe Oura Bay as a critical habitat for the endangered 'dugong' (a species of manatee), which feeds in the area, as well as sea turtles and unique large coral communities.
The bay is particularly special for its extreme rich ecosystem which has developed due to six inland rivers converging into the bay, making the sea levels deep, and ideal from various types of porites coral and dependent creatures.
'Camp Schwab' is just one of 32 U.S. bases which occupy 17% of the Island, using various areas for military exercises from jungle training to Osprey helicopter training exercises. There are on average 50 Osprey take off and landings every day, many next to housing and built up residential areas, causing disruption to everyday life with extreme noise levels, heat and diesel smell from the engines.
Two days ago there were six arrests outside the base, as well as 'Kayactivists' in the sea trying to disrupt the construction. A formidable line of tethered red buoys mark out the area consigned for construction, running from the land to a group of offshore rocks, Nagashima and Hirashima, described by local shamans as the place where dragons (the source of wisdom) originated.
Protesters also have a number of speed boats which take to the waters around the cordoned area; the response of the coast guard is to use the tactic of trying to board these boats after ramming them off course.
The overwhelming feeling of the local people is that the Government on the mainland is willing to sacrifice the wishes of Okinawans in order to pursue its military defense measures against China. Bound by Article 9, Japan has not had an army since world war two, though moves by the Government suggest a desire to scrap the Article and embark on a 'special relationship' with the U.S., who is already securing control of the area with over 200 bases, and thus tightening the Asia pivot with control over land and sea trade routes, particularly those routes used by China.
Meanwhile, Japan is footing 75% of the bill for accommodating the U.S., with each soldier costing the Japanese Government 200 million yen per year, that’s $4.4 billion a year for the 53,082 U.S. soldiers currently in Japan, with around half (26,460) based in Okinawa. The new base at Henoko is also expected to cost the Japanese Government a tidy sum with the current price tag calculated to be at least 5 trillion yen.
Okinawa suffered devastating losses during the Second World War, with a quarter of the population killed within the 3-month-long 'Battle of Okinawa' which claimed 200,000 lives in total. Hilltops are said to have changed shape due to the sheer bombardment of ammunition.
Local activist Hiroshi Ashitomi has been protesting at Camp Schwab since the expansion was announced 11 years ago, he said: "We want an island of peace and the ability to make our own decisions, if this doesn’t happen then maybe we might need to start talking about independence."
Maya Evans coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK. (vcnv.org.uk).
Céline Nahory is International Coordinator for Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign. She also serves as Regional/International Representative in the International Peace Bureau's Council. She has worked for fifteen years with NGOs in the US, Japan and India, carrying out research and running advocacy campaigns on issues of peace, security, disarmament, economic justice and sustainable development.
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By Buddy Bell
Okinawa--In late October 2015, I was with 3 Okinawa peace activists and a British solidarity activist on a tour of local resistance to U.S. military bases. After an hour of driving north from the city of Nago, crossing deep ravines and shimmering blue bays, we approached a dense forest, where the U.S. military’s only jungle warfare training center is situated, way up in the northernmost section of the island of Okinawa.
As we continued driving, the highway was suddenly blocked by some large, camouflage military vehicles, and we got out to investigate. One of the vehicles was an armored personnel carrier with what looked to be about 25 soldiers inside, some of them looking out at us quizzically. I waved and a few of them waved back. We watched two soldiers get out and direct traffic around their convoy, while they waited to enter the training center’s main gate. For a few minutes we chanted and banged our drums at the gate. Once the first vehicle cleared whatever impasse they had at the gate, all the vehicles soon vacated the highway and disappeared into the training center.
Such a sight seems to be commonplace in this region, yet a more grave concern lies in the fact that military aircraft fly low over people’s homes and fields. One family, which keeps a decibel meter in their home, says that the noise level sometimes reaches 100 decibels and that sometimes the pilots’ faces are visible. The blasts of heat from the flying machines and the smell of fuel further irritate the senses.
The U.S. Air Force plans to build six new helipads in the jungle as part of a deal to give about one half of the training center acreage back to Japan. Yet, right in the middle of these proposed helipad sites lies Takae, a village of little more than 150 residents. They are the people who will suffer the increased air traffic that is sure to result if the helipads are built. They will have to abide the possibility of a crash--- there have been at least 46 aircraft accidents since 1972, and in 1959 a plane carrying 2 missiles crashed into a school, killing 17 people and injuring 200.
Now that the air force has a new toy, the MV-22 Osprey helicopter, there have been a lot of trainee pilots going out on practice runs. Unfortunately, the Osprey has established an abysmal safety record compared to earlier models, and what makes the prospect of a crash even more unsettling for the villagers is the fact that its propellers are specifically designed to shatter on impact and disperse laterally, away from the pilot. This “safety” feature would not be safe for potential bystanders.
Takae residents also believe that the U.S. military would like to use their village as part of training exercises, an idea that doesn’t seem so farfetched after considering what happened during the Vietnam War. At that time, the U.S. military built a “dummy” village in the jungle and forcefully conscripted Takae residents, one as young as six years old, to wear black clothing and carry on as though they were living in a Vietcong stronghold. The conscripted residents were even required to stage mock attacks from the village.
Now, Takae residents and solidarity activists from other parts of Okinawa maintain 2 protest camps that block either end of an access road to two of the helipad construction sites. Two more entrances to 2 already constructed helipads are permanently blocked with parked beater vehicles surrounded by a kind of welded scaffolding. At least a few activists watch the road to the unfinished helipads 24 hours a day, often in rotating shifts. So far, construction vehicles have been unable to enter the access road in order to finish building the helipads.
On the day I visited the protest camp, I met Professor Kosuzu, from Ryukyu University. She typically spends her weekends at the Takae encampment. A specialist in North American geography, particularly the Caribbean region, she says the Takae movement draws a lot of inspiration from the 1990s struggle that ended U.S. military training on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
“One of the Puerto Rican campaigners came to Okinawa to help us completely encircle Futenma Air Base back in 1995. I feel like the U.S. relationship with Okinawa is also a kind of colonialism.”
My goal in travelling to Okinawa is to tell other people in the U.S. about that reality, of bases maintained on forcefully expropriated land. With enough of a persistent uproar, coming from the Okinawa side and from the U.S. side, we will make it ever more difficult for the U.S. to maintain its overseas bases, rather than to simply close them.
Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)