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By Brian Willson
Originally published by Veterans For Peace
The beautiful island of Jeju in South Korea is packed with natural and cultural treasures and designated a UNESCO world heritage site. But it has the misfortune of appearing to the U.S. military strategically positioned to play a part in surrounding China.
Most Americans are unaware of Jeju or of the U.S. policy of increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific -- even moving the Marines into Australia. But for the people of Jeju, attempting to nonviolently resist the construction of a new military base, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu.
In fact Jeju's history is central to how the United States became the militarized nation it has been for over half a century.
Veterans for Peace (VFP) recently sent members to Jeju to monitor the local resistance to this militarization, but they were refused entry by Korean security officials who gave no reasons other than following orders. VFP represents thousands of U.S. military veterans who have participated in various overt and covert U.S. interventions violating the sovereignty of countless countries. This aggressive foreign policy, little mentioned in our history classes, has caused incalculable harm to people, cultures, and the environment. Our personal experiences summon us to carefully re-examine the nature and patterns of U.S. foreign policy. Our clear understanding of past and present imperial adventures compel us to passionately and tenaciously oppose further militarism, war and aggression which we see as severe obstacles to the continuation of our species.
In examining U.S. interventions since World War II, historian William Blum has recently catalogued the following disgraceful record: (1) attempted overthrow of more than 50 governments; (2) attempted suppression of populist and nationalist movements in 20 countries; (3) interference in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; (4) bombing of citizens in 30 countries; and (5) attempted assassinations of more than 50 foreign political leaders.
Shockingly, when all the empirical evidence is scrutinized, the U.S. has militarily intervened nearly 400 times since World War II in nearly 100 countries, while covertly intervening thousands of times. Millions of human beings have been murdered, maimed, and displaced as a result of this egregious, unlawful behavior. Adherence to international and Constitutional law, and honest diplomacy, have been thwarted over and over.
One of the darkest, virtually unknown chapters of U.S. intervention occurred in the southern portions of Korea prior to the Korean War. In 1945, a Joint U.S. Army-Navy Intelligence Study reported that the vast majority of Koreans possessed a strong desire for independence and self-rule, and were vehemently opposed to control by any successor to the hated Japanese who had ruled them since 1910. A subsequent U.S. study reported that nearly 80 percent of Koreans wanted a socialist, rather than capitalist system.
Despite the conclusions of these internal documents, U.S. President Harry Truman, after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, imposed a purportedly temporary partition at Korea’s 38th Parallel dividing a 5,000-year homogenous culture. He then commanded U.S. General Douglas MacArthur to “govern” the people living south of the 38th Parallel. In October 1945, needing a trusted Korean with “an [U.S.] American point of view” to be the U.S. strongman, MacArthur flew 71-year-old Korean-born Syngman Rhee from the U.S. to Seoul on MacArthur’s personal plane. Rhee, a Methodist who had lived in the United States for 40 years, was to be a surrogate ruler of Korea that was largely Buddhist and Confucianist.
Rhee unilaterally chose to hold separate elections in 1948 to “legally” create an artificially divided Korea, despite vigorous popular opposition throughout the Peninsula, north and south of the 38th Parallel, including residents of Cheju Island (now called Jeju, hereafter identified as such). What is referred to as the April 3 (1948) uprising on Jeju in response to these elections, actually lasted into 1950, and is the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history. The Jeju uprising in 1948 may be seen as a microcosm for the impending Korean War.
A CIA National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Rhee was so unpopular that the newly-established Republic of Korea (ROK) would not survive “without massive infusion of U.S. aid.”
The U.S. Embassy described the repression in response to the Jeju opposition to Rhee as a “scorched earth” campaign of “extermination.” Secret protocols placed all Korean Constabulary, police, ROK forces, and paramilitary units under USAMGIK’s (United States Army Military Government In Korea) control.
CIA documents concluded that politics under the USAMGIK and Rhee regime were dominated by a tiny elite class of wealthy Koreans who repressed dissent of the vast majority, using “ruthlessly brutal” policies similar to those of the previous Japanese machinery hated by most Koreans.
Then U.S. Military Governor of Korea, John Reed Hodge, briefed U.S. Congressional Representatives that “Cheju was a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee.” Despite this understanding, he commanded three U.S. military officers (among others) – Colonel Harley E. Fuller, Captain John P. Reed, and Captain James Hausman – to advise and coordinate the “extermination” and “scorched earth” campaign. Koreans who had collaborated with the hated Japanese occupiers now served in the U.S.-trained Korean Constabulary and police. Right wing paramilitary units became a brutal element of Rhee’s security apparatus. U.S. advisers accompanied all Korean Constabulary and police (and additional ROK units after 1948) in ground campaigns; U.S. pilots flew C-47s to ferry troops, weapons, war materiel while occasionally directing bombings; and U.S. intelligence officers provided daily intelligence. Additionally U.S. Navy war ships, including the USS Craig, blockaded and bombed the Island, preventing supplies and additional opposition forces from arriving, while preventing flight of boatloads of desperate Islanders.
Hodge’s successor, General William Roberts, declared it was of “utmost importance” that dissenters “be cleared up as soon as possible.” The repressive Japanese organization, “National League To Provide Guidance” (Bo Do Yun Maeng), was expanded by the Rhee regime. Used to systematically identify any Koreans who had opposed Japanese occupation, the League now worked to identify those who opposed the de facto brutal U.S./Rhee rule. Thousands were murdered, jailed, and tortured, and many dumped into the sea as a result.
The Governor of Jeju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled. One of Robert’s cohorts, Colonel Rothwell Brown, claimed that the Islanders were simply “ignorant, uneducated farmers and fishers,” a weak excuse for repressing those who, Brown asserted, refused to recognize the “superiority” of the “American Way.”
U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning, agreed in 1949 that suppression of the internal threat in South Korea, (i.e., Koreans’ passion for self-determination), with assistance of the newly created CIA, was critical to preserving Rhee’s power, and assuring success of the U.S.’s worldwide containment policy. The 1949 Chinese Revolution made repressing the neighboring Korean’s passion for self-determination indispensable for success in the emerging “Cold War,” complementing successful U.S. efforts using CIA covert actions to thwart any socialist movements in Europe following World War II.
The 1949-50 National Security Council study, known as NSC-68, laid out U.S. aims to assure a global political system to “foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”
The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953, was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of U.S.-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the U.S.-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.
Following the Korean War, Dean Acheson concluded that “Korea saved us,” enabling the U.S. to implement its apocalyptic imperial strategy laid out in NSC-68. In Korea, this meant that the U.S. consistently assured dictatorial governments for nearly 50 years, long after Rhee was forced out of office at age 85 in 1960. Since 1953, the U.S. and South Korea have lived under a Mutual Defense Treaty, Status of Forces Agreements, and a Combined Forces Command headed by a 4-star U.S. general. The fact is that despite claims to the contrary, Korea has never assumed sovereignty since the U.S. imposed division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. has possessed more than 100 military bases and nearly 50,000 troops on Korean soil, and even today has dozens of bases and 28,000 troops stationed there. For decades, the U.S. maintained its main Asian bombing range south of Seoul.
Despite this gruesome history, Koreans began to successfully assert some semblance of democratic governments in the 1990s. However, despite creation of a constitution that protects free speech and basic human rights, Koreans once again are experiencing egregious repression. The Korean residents of pristine Jeju Island vigorously oppose the construction of a deep-water port to host Korean and U.S. guided missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers at the village of Gangjeong. The South Korean government headed by reactionary President Lee Myung Bak is ruthlessly repressing their legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech. This is not acceptable. The residents of Jeju have a long history of living in peace and harmony. They were brutalized in the late 1940s for wanting independence, and are being brutalized once again for attempting to preserve self-determination. It is déjà vu.
We have been following the daily brutal repression by as many as 1,500 Korean police and security forces of Jeju’s 1,500 residents whose voices of passionate and nonviolent opposition have been completely ignored. When we called the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask why this deep-water port construction continues in Gangjeong over objections of more than 90 percent of its residents, the answer has been, “Don’t call us, call your own (U.S.) government.” Political pressure from the U.S. continues to interfere with sovereignty of the Korean people as their own government disrespects, then represses, the free speech of its own citizens despite protections inscribed in the Korean constitution.
We read reports in the Korean press of more than 2600 politicians, journalists and civilians being secretly, illegally spied upon during the current Lee administration. In January 2009, Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS) aired a program that disclosed a secret deal made by the CIA-style Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), Korean police, and components of the Jeju Island government, to quash any opposition movement to the planned construction of a Jeju deep-water military port, saying such opponents are, in effect, traitors. It is being built by the huge South Korea conglomerate, Samsung, despite watchdog Public Eye citing its history of over 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption and tax flight. Samsung’s power in South Korea is so great that many citizens speak of the “Samsung Republic.”
And we note that the NIS has raided Korean citizens and organizations, even on the mainland, who support the valiant villagers of Gangjeong on Jeju Island who resist the militarization of their Island, of their coastline, of their villages.
The stakes are much higher now that U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen a dangerous policy to militarize the Asia-Pacific region, due to obvious U.S. political intentions to encircle resource-rival China. Jeju, only 300 miles from China’s mainland, is located in a strategic sea route between Japan, Korea, and China. Obama recently dispatched U.S. troops to a northern port of Australia (2,500 miles from China) as part of this plan, while possessing existing jet landing strips in Okinawa (400 miles), Guam (1,900), and new landing bases in Afghanistan (1,000) and Turkmenistan (1,500), and increased strategic relationships with Singapore (1,200) and Philippines (750).
The immensely biodiverse Jeju Island is a most inappropriate location for a deep-water port to host highly armed U.S. and Korean Navy war ships. Former Korean President Roh Moo Kyum designated Jeju as “Jeju Island of Global Peace” when he formally apologized for the April 1948 massacre. A popular tourist vacation spot, famous for honeymooners and sometimes called “women’s Island” due to its matriarchal history, it is also called the “Island of the Gods.” It is Jeju’s incredible unique ecosystem that makes the island so inappropriate for militarizing a deep-water port in quiet coastal village of Gangjeong. It is sheer madness to blow up sacred lava rocks to make way for violent war machines. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated no less than three World Heritage sites on Jeju, including the Gureombi Lava Rocks being blown up for construction of the Navy destroyer port that are being covered with cement along the coast. UNESCO has also designated nine Geo-Parks on Jeju, as well as designating it as a protected Global Biosphere Reserve that includes Jeju coastlines and its fragile coral reefs.
The Korean government has claimed the deep-water port will also host commercial cruise ships. Their huge weight and 1,000-foot length makes them twice as heavy and long as the 500-550 foot Aegis Destroyers. The port will not be capable of hosting these tourist ships, revealing this dual-use claim as fanciful propaganda.
Our military experiences tell us this plan by Korea and the U.S. to host missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers as part of its global anti-ballistic missile system on the pristine Island of Jeju is extremely threatening to world peace, destroys the peace of the residents of Jeju and Gangjeong village, and flaunts Korea’s Constitutional assurances of protecting free speech of its citizens. We urge the Korean government act decisively to end its continued deference to pressures from the United States, and instead commence pursuing Korea’s legitimate dignity and sovereignty.
This article is written by S. Brian Willson, VFP Member of Chapter 72 in Portland, OR.
Photos of Jeju Island are from http://savejejuisland.org
S. Brian Willson, commander of an Air Force security unit in Viet Nam, a trained lawyer and criminologist, and former dairy farmer, has been a long time activist critiquing the US criminal injustice system while investigating its criminal interventions abroad. He is a long time member of Veterans For Peace and recently authored his psychohistorical memoir, "Blood On The Tracks: The Life and Times of S.Brian Willson" (PM Press, 2011).
"Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier -- than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court. You are merely planting cynicism in their souls." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The United States Congress is outraged. Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower. In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you. And not just I. NPR will tell you. This calls for action. There's a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.
Who wouldn't support the rule of law and accountability?
Well, let me think.
Oh, I know. The United States Congress.
Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture. They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture. Bush's torture program tortured numerous people to death. And what has Congress wrought?
No enforcement of subpoenas.
No defunding of operations.
No criminalizing of secrecy.
No protection of whistleblowers.
No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.
In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.
But keep hope alive.
Change is on the way.
Up in the sky!
It's Captain Peace Prize!
Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else -- certainly above the rule of law or accountability.
Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of "State Secrets" beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability. Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time. Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes. Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role. But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power.
The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won't stand for it. Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia. It's a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home. Why not apply it abroad?
Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder. The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones.
The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it.
But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes. Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law. And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action. U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.
Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.
Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.
By John Grant
Whore: (verb) To debase oneself by doing something for unworthy motives, typically to make money.
-The New Oxford American Dictionary
It’s a challenge to make adult sense of the absurdities coming out of Colombia right now.
64 years later, America Complicit in a Second Massacre on Jeju Island, South Korea: America’s Missile Defense System Destroys a World Heritage Site
By Ann Wright
President Obama, like President Bush, has a penchant for identifying areas of the world for America’s special attention. In the 2002 State of the Union message, Bush used the phrase “Axis of Evil” to signal where America’s military might was to be focused in the next years. Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians know that bad things happen for areas of the world singled out for America’s special attention. On the peninsula where North Korea, Bush’s other “Axis of Evil” country is located, Obama has declared the Asia-Pacific region as its special area of interest for the next decade and bad things are already happening.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Mike Hastie, army medic during the Vietnam War and respected poet and photographer, also a member of the Veterans Peace Team.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
Keiko 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."
In 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?
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.
Martin Luther King Jr. Spoke Out Against Vietnam War in Spring of 1965, Two Years Earlier Than People Think
Listen to the speech here.
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.
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."
By Dave Lindorff
By David Lindorff Sr.