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Bellingham’s Veterans For Peace Chapter 111 Member, Michael Jacobsen, in South Korea

www.veteransforpeace.org

After three Veterans For Peace members were deported from Korea last month for trying to join the valiant efforts of the citizens of Jeju, South Korea, in blocking the construction of a giant US naval base,  Bellingham, Washington’s VFP Chapter member Michael Jacobsen has successfully joined the efforts to demonstrate with local protestors.
After seeing the amazing efforts and determination of the people to use nonviolent resistance in the face of police brutality, Jacobsen flew to S.Korea join them soon after other VFP activists were turned away.

"It is the US that wants this giant base. We the citizens of the US are responsible for what is happening to the people of Jeju,” said former VFP Board President Elliott Adams, turned back in March with two other VFP activists. “For us not to join the citizens' defense would be to support this awful naval base."

The photo above shows VFP member Michael Jacobsen now standing with and supporting the beleaguered residents in the town of Gangjeong.

Jacobsen (right) will be spending most of April working with local activists on the front line of the demonstrations before returning to Bellingham.

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The Russia-NATO summit cancelled

From Itar-Tass:

A Russia-NATO summit, which was scheduled in May, is cancelled. According to the official version, the summit was cancelled over “an intensive domestic political calendar in Russia.” However, the experts believe that this step is caused by disagreements of the parties concerned over the European missile defence system.

Jeju: Island of Peace

Dear Mr. Ambassador, Why Keep Nonviolent Activists Out of South Korea?

On March 17, 2012 Veterans For Peace members, Elliott Adams and Tarak Kauff delivered this letter to the Republic of South Korea’s Consulate in New York, NY

Honorable Ambassador Choi Young-jin

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea

2320 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Washington, DC 20008

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

Many of us, as US soldiers, went to South Korea to protect and assure its democracy. It is with a sad heart that we, now as US veterans, watch as the Republic of Korea becomes a republic in name only.

Recently three US veterans were invited by the people of Jeju to come and see whether the charges that freedom of speech is being suppressed and democracy is being subverted by the ROK government were true. We were forcibly deported by the ROK government officials.

Three VFP members denied entry to Jeju Island

By Bruce K. Gagnon

We've just learned that the three Veterans For Peace members who arrived in Jeju Island, South Korea today were denied entry into the country.
 
Tarak Kauff, Elliott Adams, and Mike Hastie were met by South Korean authorities when they landed on Jeju Island via Shanghai, China.  The South Korean authorities had a photo of each of them in their hands and told them they would not be allowed to enter Jeju Island.
 
They were instead taken and put on a plane back to Shanghai.
 
When they arrived in Shanghai they were told that they each had to pay $280 for the change in flight schedule.  But Tarak told the Chinese that they had just been denied entry into South Korea because they were going to protest against a Navy base that was being aimed at China.  When the Chinese authorities heard that they waived the $280 fee for each of them.
 
Tarak, Elliott and Mike are severely disappointed that they will not be able to stand with the people of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  South Korean members of VFP were planning on flying from Seoul to Jeju Island to meet with the American VFP members.
 
This case though illustrates just how much the South Korean puppet regime fears the growing international movement to support the fight against the Navy base on Jeju Island.  We know where the South Korean authorities got the photos of the three American veterans.  They got them from the US military who is pressuring the South Korean government to build this base that will be used to port U.S. warships that will be used in Obama's military "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific region.
 
Just yesterday Angie Zelter (UK) and Benji Monnet (France) were deported from South Korea after being arrested for protesting against the Navy base. 
 
Please help send a strong message to the South Korean government by calling and/or organizing a protest at the nearest South Korean embassy/consulate to your community.
 
Also call the South Korean embassy in Washington DC 202-939-5692 or 202-939-5600 to lodge a strong complaint about them denying the three VFP members entry to Jeju Island.
 
Can there be an question that we are now living in a corporate dominated police state?
 
Please remember too that the South Korean corporation Samsung is the lead contractor building the Navy base on Jeju.  Boycott Samsung!
 

VFP Veterans Peace Team Members go to Gangjeong Village

Veterans especially are very aware of the tragic and dangerous situation now happening on Jeju Island in South Korea. The Navy has begun blasting the rocks in Gangjeong village.  People have flocked there from all over and more than 100 people occupied the highways, chaining themselves to cars and trucks, in order to obstruct the Navy and Samsung (lead contractor).
 

It is urgent that more international people go to Jeju ASAP.  This is a critical request to help raise funds to send four members from Veterans For Peace in the United States to the village immediately.

 
Three of the four VFP members who will travel to Jeju are:
  • Tarak Kauff (New York), former paratrooper, lifetime member and organizer with Veterans For Peace, who initiated with others the Veterans Peace Team, designed to stand in opposition to state violence alongside nonviolent people exercising their right to address grievances.

“When I read Bruce's Gagnon's account of Gangjelong Village my heart went out to these brave villagers and I felt immediately that this was a place the Veterans Peace Team needed to be. Our statement of purpose says, 'We also stand in solidarity with . . . all peoples worldwide, who are standing up courageously, leading and often dying in the struggle for equality and justice as they are exposed to massive state run police and military violence.' It was important to live up to these words."—Tarak Kauff

  • Elliott Adams (New York), past president of Veterans For Peace and a member of Veterans Peace Team. He served in the infantry as a paratrooper in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Alaska. He has spent 15 years in local elected public office. Now he is dedicating his life to stopping war.
"The United States has been an occupying force in Korea since WWII and as a U.S. military veteran who served there I feel a special obligation to stand with these brave people resisting a U.S.-imposed doctrine of militarization."—Elliott Adams
In a letter to the South Korean Embassy, S. Brian Willson, who has been to Korea 8 times, wrote,
 
"As a former US military officer who participated in our illegal war against the Vietnamese people, I am outraged over the decision of the South Korean government, under relentless pressure from the United States government, to contract with Daelim and Samsung Engineering Construction companies to build a Navy base at Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island (Island of Peace). This decision goes against the expressed wishes of the citizens of Gangjeong. Korea represents itself as a democratic republic that upholds human rights of its citizens. How can this be? The stated purpose is to create a deep water port for additional Korean Aegis Destroyers ($1 billion each), and porting new U.S. Aegis Destroyers. This mentality toward ever more war and militarization creates insecurity, not security! And that you consent to such tyrannical U.S. pressure is shameful!
 
"I am aware of the horrendous massacre in 1948 of at least 30,000 Jeju villagers by Syngman Rhee's ruthless death squads, under the direction and oversight of U.S. ground advisers and U.S. air support. The continued influence of the U.S. in South Korean affairs, including the obstruction of a permanent peace treaty with North Korea, perpetuates a mentality of hatred, motivated by immense profits for the military industrial complex while threatening peace for both Korean people, and the rest of us."
 
Sending international peace workers to Jeju Island at this time signals that the global peace movement clearly understands the strategic nature of this local struggle. Obama's announced "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific means a virtual doubling of U.S. military operations in that region—thus the Navy needs more ports-of-call near China's coast. In this case Gangjeong village is only 300 miles away.
 
Jeju Island is an early spark in the coming dangerous and expensive super-power confrontation between the ever-expanding U.S.-NATO military empire and China. The intent is to "contain and control" China and fully submerge that nation under corporate globalization. Our coordinated international peace response to these moves on the grand chessboard is timely and crucial. You can make a real-time secure credit card donation online by going to the Global Network's website and using the Green Donate Now  button at www.space4peace.org
 
Or you can send us a check in the mail at our post office box (see address below). If you send via snail mail please send us an email today letting us know how much you are pledging so we can better make preparations.
 
We are truly grateful for your support from Veterans For Peace and the Veterans Peace Team.  They will represent all of us who so badly wish we could be there as well at this time.  Please help make it possible.

In Solidarity, 

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011

Bruce Gagnon (Maine): serves as Secretary/Coordinator of the GN. He has been working on space issues for the past 25 years and helped create the GN in 1992. His book, Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire, was republished in 2008. For 15 years he coordinated the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. He was trained as an organizer by the United Farmworkers Union and is also a member of Veterans for Peace

Jeju Island Needs Our Help

By Mary Beth Sullivan

At the end of February, 2012, I joined the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space to attend an international peace conference, and connect with the villagers and activists living in Jeju Island’s 450-year old Gangjeong village.

The South Korean Navy, with pressure from the United States, intends to build a naval base at this southern coastal village.  For five years, the villagers have been fighting this decision through political and legal means, while simultaneously resisting each stage in the process.  The Navy, with lead contractors Samsung and Daelim, has taken over people’s property; felled trees; destroyed greenhouses; built miles of fence preventing the village’s view or access to Guroembi, their ancient, holy place of prayer.

International Peace Activists Needed in Gangjeong Village Immediately!

It was difficult for all of us to leave Gangjeong village. My last day in the village was filled with horror as the police surrounded the villagers and their kayaks and would not allow them to be put in the water. Four villagers were arrested and a daylong back and forth struggle took place where villagers and supporters would not give up their attempts to pull a kayak free and have people quickly put them in the water and try to head toward the embattled rocky coastline that is now virtually sealed off with razor wire.

Several people were hurt, as the police would swarm over any attempt to remove a kayak. Catholic Father Moon was knocked to the bottom of one scrum along with another revered villager who got his hand cut up. A Frenchman named Benji, who has been in the village for months, was knocked down and repeatedly pounced on by the police. I saw the police push one man off a ramp who was filming the scene.

Natasha Mayers (Maine artist) and Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi were able to get one kayak into the water. Angie Zelter put on a life vest and jumped into the cold water and swam to the rocky coastline. Benji jumped in with half of a wet suit on to make sure she didn't drown.

At one point I was asked to help create a diversion by going into the middle of where the police were surrounding the kayaks and attempt to pull a kayak out while others took kayaks from a nearby boat house. This worked and I was exhausted after trying to pull a kayak free from the grips of the police for at least 10-15 minutes during my diversionary attempt.

Earlier in the day yesterday about 30 of the villagers and remaining international supporters made the one-hour trip to Jeju City to hold a news conference demanding that the weak-kneed Governor Woo stand up to the Navy and protect the 450-year old village from destruction by the Navy. A large number of media covered the news conference and then we moved across the street to the governor's office building but they locked us out.

I've never seen such a thing where taxpaying citizens were locked out of their own government building - especially with the large media throng accompanying them. After much Korean-style yelling and demanding they finally opened the door and allowed Mayor Kang, Dave Webb (UK), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), me, and a translator to go up and deliver our letter to the governor's office.

All day long I couldn't get out of my head the thought that South Korea is absolutely a police state. I think it is a sign of where we in the U.S. are quickly heading. The South Korean people have been dealing with this reality for many years but we in the U.S. are hardly prepared for what this tastes like.

I've just arrived at JFK airport in New York City after a 13-hour flight from Seoul. When I checked the Facebook page called No Navy Base on Jeju! I saw a tweet from Father Moon saying, "February 28 Gangjeong port blockade! Today, worse! They surrounded the kayak storage container. Not even allowed to enter the sea, blocking fiercely! SWAT team has been deployed, who was mobilized at that time of Yongsan eviction crack down in 2009 [in Seoul]."

The Navy has been bringing police in from Seoul by the hundreds at a time. They have no allegiance to Jeju Island and are conscripts doing their two-years of service.

So in the last two days about 30 people have been arrested for trying to protect the sacred coastline of Gangjeong village. The villagers tell us that every day is like this - an endless struggle just to be able to stand on their own shoreline or now even have access to the water with a kayak!

People keep asking what they can do to help. They should continue to call the South Korean embassy/consulate nearest to you. But most importantly more international delegations are urgently needed in the village. When the international presence is strong the police have to back off some of their more aggressive treatment of the villagers.

I can't urge strongly enough for activists around the world to discuss sending 2-3 folks from your community to Jeju for 7-10 days. We can help you make the necessary contacts there. Please discuss this great need in your local community. I can promise you it will be an experience that you will never forget. The villagers are worn out and would be thrilled if you could bring them this kind of support.
 
Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
www.space4peace.org
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/  (blog)

The US and Its Dark Passenger, Part II: Act of Valor

 

By John Grant

 

The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.

In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.

The US and Its Dark Passenger

 

By John Grant

 

I could have been a vicious raving monster who killed and killed and left towers of rotting flesh in my wake. Instead, here I was on the side of truth, justice and the American way. Still a monster, of course, but I cleaned up nicely afterward, and I was OUR monster, dressed in red, white and blue 100 percent synthetic virtue.
 
-Jeff Lindsay
Dearly Devoted Dexter

 


I teach creative writing in a maximum security prison in Philadelphia. During the week I scour two thrift shops for 35-cent paperbacks that I haul in to stock a small lending library I created for inmates. Amazingly, the prison had no library.

Letter from Okinawa

Dear Mom:

I haven’t written much from Okinawa. I’m sorry about that. I guess maybe you were expecting lots of exciting war stories from your son the Marine. But honestly, the most exciting thing we’ve done is put in a sea wall over by the Torii Beach shoreline and then take it down again when it wasn’t doing its job of controlling erosion.

INT’L PEACE GROUP TO HOLD MEETING ON JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA: WILL SUPPORT VILLAGERS' FIGHT AGAINST CONTROVERSIAL NAVY BASE

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 20th annual space organizing conference in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea from February 24-26.  The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the development of a new arms race in space.  The theme for the conferencewill be Jeju for Island of Peace.

The South Korean Navy is building a base just 300-miles from the Chinese mainland.  The base will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with “missile defense” systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  The 400-year old Gangjeong fishing and farming village on Jeju Island is being destroyed to build the base.  Endangered soft-coral reefs offshore will also be destroyed when the seabed is dredged to make it possible to bring U.S. warships into the port.

Okinawans Block Relocation of Futenma Base, Still Working on Closing Existing Location

From New York Times:

Both sides have agreed to rework part of the agreement that makes relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma a precondition for moving the Marines, who along with their dependents were supposed to be transferred to Guam by 2014.

The large Marine contingent on Okinawa, a vestige of the U.S. occupation of postwar Japan, has long been resented by the island's residents, and many Okinawans want the Futenma air station closed, not merely relocated.

Anniversaries From "Unhistory"

By Noam Chomsky, Truthout


Flying under radar control with a B-66 Destroyer, Air Force F-105 Thunderchief pilots bomb a military target through low clouds over the southern panhandle of North Vietnam. June 14, 1966. (Photo: Lt. Col. Cecil J. Poss, USAF)

George Orwell coined the useful term “unperson” for creatures denied personhood because they don’t abide by state doctrine. We may add the term “unhistory” to refer to the fate of unpersons, expunged from history on similar grounds.

The unhistory of unpersons is illuminated by the fate of anniversaries. Important ones are usually commemorated, with due solemnity when appropriate: Pearl Harbor, for example. Some are not, and we can learn a lot about ourselves by extricating them from unhistory.

Right now we are failing to commemorate an event of great human significance: the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s decision to launch the direct invasion of South Vietnam, soon to become the most extreme crime of aggression since World War II.

Kennedy ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb South Vietnam (by February 1962, hundreds of missions had flown); authorized chemical warfare to destroy food crops so as to starve the rebellious population into submission; and set in motion the programs that ultimately drove millions of villagers into urban slums and virtual concentration camps, or “Strategic Hamlets.” There the villagers would be “protected” from the indigenous guerrillas whom, as the administration knew, they were willingly supporting.

READ THE REST AT TRUTHOUT.

 

Okinawa Marine Bases and U.S. Military Spending: A Congressional Briefing

Can we close the Futenma Marine Base Without Constructing Additional Marine Bases in Okinawa?

Hosted by Nago City & Network for Okinawa

When: Wednesday, February 8th 2012 11am-Noon

Where: 2456 Rayburn House Office, (Congressional Office Building) 45 Independence Ave SW

Who: Susumu Inamine, Mayor of Nago City, Okinawa, Japan

John Feffer, Network for Okinawa, Institute for Policy Studies

What: A briefing with the Mayor of Nago-City, Okinawa, Japan to talk about U.S. military spending and closing the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station

To RSVP, please send an e-mail to nagomayorvisit2012@gmail.com

How the Arms Race is Threatening a Korean Paradise

Obama Re-Occupying "Our Little Brown Brothers" in the Philippines, But Don't Mention It Or You Support the Racists

From Democracy Now:

The United States could be expanding its military presence in the Philippines as part of the Obama administration’s avowed intent to focus on the Asia-Pacific. According to the Washington Post, the White House and the Philippine government are resuming talks in Washington today after beginning preliminary negotiations last spring. The talks come two decades after the United States was forced to leave its military base at the Philippines’ Subic Bay.

Koreans Resist U.S. Military Base Construction That U.S.ians Work Hard to Remain Unaware of

Bruce Gagnon reports:

Today, in the Gangjeong sea protest, 5 people including Catholic brother Park Do-hyon, Ms. Oh Doo-hee, Abigail Yu, Lee Jong-hwa and Kim Dong-won, were arrested by Jeju maritime police agency. The purpose of barge ship was to move the tetra pods near the Gangjeong port so the Navy (and lead contractor Samsung) can prepare the site for blasting the rocky coastline which the villagers fondly call Gureombee.

Also from Gagnon:

Youngsil Kang from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island joined me at Bath Iron Works yesterday as workers streamed out of the shipyard at 3:30 pm. Youngsil is traveling around the U.S. for two months and did a talk in New York City last week. We were lucky to have her visit Bath yesterday. Two local newspapers covered her visit - one of the stories will appear in the paper today and the other next Thursday.

It was a surprise for the workers to see the Korean banner Youngsil held (No Navy Base) but of course they did not know what it said. I called out to them as they passed by telling them she was from South Korea and that she came from a place where the Aegis destroyers they build will be ported.

Usually on such a day I've had at least a dozen workers take my flyers but yesterday, with three cameramen snapping photos, only two took Youngsil's letter. (One of those taking photos was BIW worker Peter Woodruff who shares a weekly radio show with me on WBOR at Bowdoin College. Youngsil was impressed that Peter had the courage to come out when so many workers at the shipyard scurried away from us.) We submitted her letter to the local newspaper as a Letter to the Editor so hopefully the content will still be available to the public.

"U.S. Navy shipbuilding programs will not be slashed to meet an expected Pentagon-wide reduction in spending. We've placed a priority on shipbuilding," Sean Stackley, the Navy's top acquisition official, told reporters on January 12. "You can see a lot of alignment between the [new Obama] defense strategy and what the Navy does."

With the new Naval fleet, "We span the globe.....We have enormous payload capacity in our big boys," bragged Navy Undersecretary Bob Work at the Surface Navy Association symposium in Washington DC.

In a related story the Washington Post reported yesterday that "Two decades after evicting U.S. forces from their biggest base in the Pacific, the Philippines is in talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence in the island nation, the latest in a series of strategic moves aimed at China. If an arrangement is reached, it would follow other recent agreements to base thousands of U.S. Marines in northern Australia and to station Navy warships in Singapore."

Obama is moving quickly to implement his "pivot toward the Asia-Pacific" as outlined in the Pentagon's recent Defense Guidance. This coming massive U.S. military buildup bodes ill for the likes of Jeju Island, Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hawaii and more.

These military moves on the grand chess board make the coming Global Network meetings in Hawaii (Feb 18-21) and on Jeju Island (Feb 24-26) all the more important for our work. It is through these meetings that we will learn much more about the real impacts this "pivot" will cause to the people across the Asia-Pacific. From these meetings we will also be able to develop organizing strategies to increase our ability to support the beleaguered people who are always the ones to suffer from U.S. imperial designs.

As Obama and the Pentagon make their "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific it is incumbent on the peace movement to also make an intellectual and organizing pivot toward that region as well.

Japanese Delegation Wants the U.S. Out of Okinawa

A 24-member delegation from Japan is in Washington, D.C., this week opposing the presence and new construction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.  Participating are members of the Japanese House of Councilors, of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and of city governments in Okinawa, as well as leading protest organizers and the heads of several important organizations opposed to the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Okinawa.

The famously stingy U.S. tax payer, frequently seen bitterly protesting outrageously wasteful spending of a few million dollars, is paying billions of dollars to maintain and expand some 90 military bases in Japan (and to make those who profit from such business filthy rich).  Thirty-four of those bases, containing 74% of their total land area, are in Okinawa, which itself contains only 0.6% of Japanese land.  Okinawa is dominated by U.S. military bases and has been for 67 years since the U.S. forcibly appropriated much of the best land.

The people of Okinawa tell pollsters year after year that they oppose the bases.  Year after year they elect government officials who oppose the bases.  Year after year they march, sit-in, protest, and demand to be heard.  Year after year, the national Japanese government confronts the issue and fails to take any decisive steps to resolve it.  Year after year, the people of the United States remain blissfully unaware that, as in so many other places around the world, our military occupation of Okinawa is ruining people's lives.

Members of the delegation spoke at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., Monday night.  Toshio Ikemiyagi thanked people who came to hear them and pointed out that we all looked healthy and alert.  That, he said, is because you have all had sleep.  You've been able to sleep at night without deafening jet noise, he said.  Ikemiyagi is the lead attorney on a lawsuit challenging the Kadena Air Base's noise pollution.  He played us a video on Monday of what it is like.  For the people who live there, he said, the war that ended 67 years ago has never ended.

keikoKeiko Itokazu, a Member of the Japanese National Diet, depicted in this painting, said the Okinawan people had been heartbroken since having been unable to protect a 12-year-old girl from gang rape by U.S. troops in 1995.  The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan gives U.S. troops immunity from Japanese prosecution.  Between 1979 and 2008, U.S. forces in Okinawa caused 1,439 accidents (487 of them airplane related), and 5,584 criminal cases (559 of them involving violent crimes).  The list includes fatal driving incidents, residential break-ins, taxi robberies, sexual violence, and other serious crimes against local citizens.

I spoke recently with Maria Allwine who describes herself as "a former Marine Corps spouse."  She said, "It is common practice for military personnel to use Japanese women as 'mama-sans,' exchanging house cleaning and sexual favors for money.  Nothing new, but it's given a wink and a nod by military brass.  Those who don't cheat are considered abnormal by their peers."

The sex police are as absent as the skinflints from their usual place of prominence in U.S. political debate when it comes to occupying other people's countries.  Imagine, however, just for a moment, that even one Japanese military base existed in the United States, and imagine that even one Japanese soldier committed a single crime.  Can you imagine some things that U.S. television talking heads might say?

Our military is trying to build yet more bases in Okinawa.  Why, you ask?  Word around town is that even the Pentagon thinks it serves no purpose, but the Marine Corps likes to hold onto anything it's got.  The Marines have even named one of their bases in Okinawa for Smedley Butler, the author of "War Is A Racket," and a man whom the Marines once imprisoned at Quantico for having spoken badly of Benito Mussolini.  Don't look for logic.  Look for petty rivalry and power, combined with unaccountability and we the people missing in action.

The least popular base in Okinawa is probably Futenma Air Base, which sits in the middle of a city, near schools, a hospital, and houses -- houses which military helicopters have been known to crash into.  The Marine Corps plans to bring the accident-prone MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Futenma in 2012.  Overwhelmingly, the people of Okinawa want the base closed, and do not want it relocated to a less populated area, and do not want it combined with another existing base.  For the past 16 years, residents of Henoko, a location under consideration for relocation of the base, have held a continuous sit-in protest without pause.  They have also risked their lives hanging onto a floating platform in the ocean, surrounded by supportive fishing boats, successfully preventing the military from surveying the site for construction.

Hiroshi Ashitomi has been a leader of the nonviolent resistance in Henoko for 16 years.  "We use our own bodies," he said on Monday, "to resist aggressive actions by the Japanese government."  Pointing to the picture of Gandhi in the collage on the wall at Busboys, Ashitomi said, "We follow the example of Gandhi.  It is not easy.  We receive threats from the police.  But we are determined to use nonviolent resistance, and we get a lot of support from all over Japan.  We are trying to protect the environment, so many young people from all over Japan come to our tent and participate in our resistance."

dugongIn fact, the environment and the rights of certain endangered species have come to dominate the anti-base movement in Okinawa.  Apparently the rights of humans are far less interesting than the rights of the black naped tern, the blue coral, or above all the dugong.  The dugong is the manatee-like creature in this photo.  Osamu Makishi of the Citizens' Network for Okinawan Biodiversity spoke movingly about these species and their ecosystem on Monday, which he said are protected by treaty.

The Japanese delegation is meeting with Congress Members, including Senator Jim Webb on Wednesday, urging them to close and consolidate bases.  I once accompanied a group of Italians on almost identical visits to Congress.  The people of Vicenza, Italy, oppose the bases the U.S. military and the national Italian government impose on them, just as the people of Okinawa do.  The congress members and staffers we met with at that time gave not the slightest damn for human rights or the environment or popular opinion.  I don't think any of the Japanese delegates expect to encounter such humanity this week either.  Their hope is to highlight the financial costs to the United States of the occupation of Japan.  My hope is that we can help them by telling our misrepresentatives that we agree with the members of the delegation.  If you're inclined to help, please call your rep and two senators with that message.

Specifically, the delegation is asking for the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station; cancellation of plans to construct a new Marine Corps air base at Cape Henoko; reduction of unbearable noise caused by air operations at Kadena Air Base; withdrawal of any proposal to integrate Futenma's helicopter squadrons into Kadena's operations; an end to the construction of six new helipads in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa; and revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to allow fair prosecutions of crimes.

Ultimately, however, the members of the delegation want the bases all to be closed.  And they do not want them relocated to Guam or Australia or anywhere else, except perhaps to the United States.  Itokazu suggested that the U.S. government could save money and produce jobs by bringing bases home.  But, of course, we don't want a military occupation any more than Japan does, and the same money would produce more jobs if spent on a non-military industry.

Base opponents in Okinawa work with others in Korea, Guam, and Hawaii, and with former residents of Diego Garcia, as well as others around the world.  An international conference called "Dialogue Under Occupation" was held in Okinawa last summer.  In fact, people are working extremely hard in cities around the world to shut down or prevent the construction of giant military bases that we in the United States pay for and are endangered by but have very little awareness of.

John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies (see http://closethebase.org ) believes Futenma can be closed and can serve as a model for closing more.  It is very difficult, however, Feffer says, to accomplish base closings cleanly without some sort of asterisk attached.  When a base was closed in Seoul, Korea, a new one was opened outside it.  When bases were closed in the Philippines, a Visiting Forces Agreement was drawn up.  Yet, the Navy left Vieques, and the President of Ecuador seems to have found the magic formula in his proposal that any U.S. base in Ecuador be matched by an Ecuadorean base in Florida.

Here is another proposal: bring in the IAEA for inspections.  No independent organization has verified U.S. claims to no longer be storing nuclear weapons in Japan.  On the model of Iran, if full inspections are not permitted by, say, Thursday, or even if they are, we should seriously consider launching preemptive strikes against ourselves.  The Constitution that the United States imposed on Japan 65 years ago forbids war preparation, yet the United States trains its forces in Japan to fight wars elsewhere in the world.  Are we spreading democracy or hypocrisy? Are we building trust or animosity?  

Ikemiyagi says democracy requires U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa.  As with the location of nuclear power plants in Japan, he says, the Japanese government wants the military bases out of sight.  If Tokyo wants bases, he says, then put them in Tokyo.  The people of Okinawa have had enough. 

Haven't we all?

Okinawan Delegation Visits DC for Base Closure

Contact: John Feffer, Institute for Policy Studies

Washington, DC - A delegation of politicians, lawyers, activists and students from Okinawa, Japan, will travel to Washington, DC, from January 21 to January 27 to advocate for the closure of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma.  The delegation of 24 Japanese leaders will hold a series of Congressionalmeetings and community events to raise awareness of the Futenma crisis.

Okinawa is home to approximately 65% of U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ), including the controversial Futenma base in Ginowan City.  The relocation of Futenma base has been in negotiation since 1996 and continues to cause significant political strain on U.S. Japan relations. Given the current political climate in Washington, the group hopes that foreign base closures may comprise a portion of proposed cuts to military spending.

Defense Budgets and Cavemen

by Gwynne Dyer

If you’re not allowed to enslave people any more, or even loot their resources, then what is the point of being a traditional great power?

The United States kept an army of over 100,000 soldiers in Iraq for eight years, at a cost that will probably end up around a trillion dollars. Yet it didn’t enslave a single Iraqi (though it killed quite a lot), and throughout the occupation it paid full market price for Iraqi oil. So what American purpose did the entire enterprise serve?

Oh, silly me. I forgot. It was about “security”. And here it comes again, on an even bigger scale.

Prospects for Peace on Earth

This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.

An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."

Thoughts on Mark Twain's 'The War Prayer'

 

By David Lindorff Sr.

 

70 Years of Lying About Pearl Harbor

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter World War II in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry and assisting in targeting of submarines as it had been doing. Of course, Germany's declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor and the immediate U.S. declaration of war on Japan, helped as well, but it was Pearl Harbor that radically converted the American people from opposition to support for war.

Why Does Obama Suddenly Want a War With China?

By William Pfaff

One might think that a bitter Central Asian war in Afghanistan, spilling into Pakistan, with no sign of ending, and an as yet ambiguous military commitment to a defeated and incompletely reconstituted Iraq, now overshadowed by Iran and the Arab Awakening across the Middle East, would be enough for President Barack Obama to cope with.

He was, after all, elected to reduce American military commitments. He was going to end things in Iraq, fight the “right war” in Afghanistan, which Gen. David Petraeus told him could be wound up in a year. Unaccustomed to generals as he might have been, he surely did not expect “Af-Pak” to turn into a permanent activity and a source of income for the Pentagon and the American arms industry.

Why then does he now want a war with China? No one seems to have made much of this in American press reports and comment, but others have noticed, most of all in China. His journey to Asia this month proclaimed a Pax Americana for Asia—which as such is absurd. The effort is likely to become just the opposite: a steadily deepening and costly engagement in suppressing China’s attempt to reclaim the Asian preeminence it held for more than a thousand years.

This is the sort of thing that starts world wars.

READ THE REST.

Jeju Island Gets a Reprieve

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

Thank you so much for your efforts of solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong! We did it! We stopped the blast of Gureombi—at least for the time being.

We’ve been informed that the Jeju police have turned down the companies’ request for blasting Gureombi for three reasons: insufficient documents, safety concerns, and the go-ahead from Jeju Governor Woo. 

Arundhati Roy

See also Guardian article.

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