U.S. Bases in Okinawa Are a Threat to Freedom

AsiaBasesBigotryEnvironmentNorth America

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
Remarks at Rally outside White House, January 7, 2019.

There are a number of problems with the idea that maintaining and expanding giant military bases in other people’s countries protects freedom in the U.S. or in the occupied land.

For one thing, the United States maintains these bases in everything from the most brutal dictatorships to the most liberal so-called democracies. Are the U.S. troops in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia protecting the same freedoms as those in Italy and Germany? What freedoms might those be?

For another thing, few, if any, nations occupied by U.S. bases are actually credibly threatened with invasion and overthrow. For North Korea to effectively invade and occupy either Japan or the United States, much less both of them, even if those countries were unarmed and completely unaware of nonviolent resistance tactics that have become mainstream (boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, etc.), would require the complete abandonment of North Korea by a population universally recruited into the military and multiplied by some sort of rapid cloning.

China has also expressed zero interest in occupying and reducing freedoms in Japan or the United States, would eliminate hundreds of millions of customers for its products in the process, and has responded in kind to reduced or increased U.S. militarism and hostility. In other words, occupying Okinawa with tens of thousands of armed U.S. troops does nothing positive for freedom.

But it does do something negative. The people of Okinawa are denied the freedom not to be a prime target for attack, the freedom not to have their water poisoned, the freedom to live without noise pollution and crashing airplanes and drunken vandals and rapists and massive environmental destruction. Over and over again they tell pollsters and elect governments to shut down these bases. And over and over again more bases are built in the name of spreading democracy.

The people of Okinawa don’t just vote; they organize and act nonviolently; they risk prison and injury and death. They pull in activists from around the globe to help them in their cause — a struggle against the U.S. government whose people imagine it is protecting democracy, while polls find global opinion to be just the opposite.

And of course, during all of this military buildup and the counterproductive wars and threats of wars, the people of the United States see their own freedoms eroded in the name of the militarism that is supposedly aimed at protecting their freedoms.

Okinawa ought to be independent and not Japanese, but Japan claims ownership of Okinawa, and the people of Japan are more accepting of the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, though many of them seem to be getting tired of it or at least of paying for it financially. And a lot of them are protesting in solidarity with the people of Okinawa. But the people of Japan have never been allowed to vote on the U.S. occupation of Okinawa. Nor have the people of the United States. Lay out for either population the counterproductive, endangering nature of these bases, the environmental cost, the financial cost, and the risk of provoking nuclear apocalypse, and I’d be willing to go with the resulting public vote.

But what of the idea that the bases protect not freedom but safety, that the threat is not invasion and freedom reductions but deadly attack? There are two main problems with this idea, either of which is sufficient to reject it. First, the evidence is overwhelming that this sort of militarism is counterproductive, that it generates hostility rather than deterring it. Second, even if you believe in the logic of deterrence through the threat of mass murder and destruction, current technology allows the United States to accomplish that anywhere on earth without nearby bases. This means both that the bases in Okinawa are not needed for what they claim to be for, and that they are actually kept there for some other reason or reasons. Combine this fact with the revelations made by Edward Snowden that the United States has sabotaged Japanese infrastructure in order to be able to extensively damage Japan should it choose to, and I will leave it to the people of Japan to reason out what the bases are really for.

In reality there is no upside to these bases that can be weighed against poisoning the groundwater of Okinawa with cancer-causing chemicals, raping Okinawan girls, or destroying coral that protects us all from an actual danger while creating another. Environmental collapse and nuclear war are the twin catastrophes we face. Militarism is a top cause of the first, the sole cause of the second, and the pit into which unfathomable resources are dumped instead of being put to actually protective use.

Of course, U.S. military bases poison ground water all over the United States as well, and poison U.S. troops at foreign bases, but my friend Pat Elder has noted that some people are far less accepting of being given cancer than Americans are. We cannot afford, any of us, to be accepting of increasing the risks of global catastrophe. There is no such thing as isolated climate destruction or isolated nuclear war.

We need the people of Japan and of the world to change course, uphold Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and renounce the idea of wars, militaries, and bases. You may have heard the U.S. government is shut down. Not a single war or base or ship has been shut down. Open up the non-military U.S. government! Shut down all the military bases!

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Green Party Peace Action Committee Supports Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Syria

Calls for Withdrawal of All Military Forces From the Region

The Green Party Peace Action Committee supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, consistent with its broader call to end all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation, and intervention in the internal affairs of all sovereign nations.

A chorus of commentators in the corporate media, leaders of the military-industrial complex and members of Congress from both corporate parties were quick to condemn President Trump’s announcement of the planned withdrawal last month. Although the criticisms were framed as opposition to President Trump for his poor judgment, which made the criticisms more politically palatable, the real reason for this opposition is that the U.S. ruling class has long pushed for the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria — especially after President Bashar Al-Assad rejected Western plans for a $10 billion pipeline to ship natural gas from Qatar to Turkey in 2009.

Some Americans who ordinarily oppose U.S. war and intervention may find themselves persuaded to oppose the withdrawal because the initiative came from Trump. However, such opposition is ill-founded. To support a particular action by the president does not imply support for the president himself, trust in his judgment or motives – or even that he will make good on his promise. Such actions must be evaluated on their own merits. In this particular instance, for whatever reason, President Trump has announced an action that merits support by the peace movement and all Americans. He should be encouraged to take further like actions, not criticized simply because so many of his other policies and statements merit criticism.

Criticisms of the proposed withdrawal are based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Many critics cited Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis’s resignation in protest after Trump’s announcement, lauding Mattis as a “stable figure” in the administration. In aligning themselves with the likes of Mattis, critics are making common cause with a sociopathic warmonger who dismissed reports of civilian casualties in Iraq, and once remarked that it was “a hell of a hoot” and “fun to shoot some people” in Afghanistan.

Other critics feigned concern over the fate of Kurds in Syria, ignoring the long U.S. history of using the Kurds as a surrogate force and political football, repeatedly courted and rejected as U.S. ruling class interests dictate. Although Kurds in Syria were concerned about being attacked by Turkey, they were savvy enough to see which way the wind was blowing and are already reaching a rapprochement with the Assad government to ensure their security.

Finally, critics raise the specter of a resurgence in ISIS if the United States leaves – a criticism made ridiculous by a tremendous body of evidence showing that the rise of ISIS was itself a product of U.S. intervention in the region.

More importantly, critics of the withdrawal overlook two fundamental facts. First, U.S. funding of insurrection in Syria, and its bombing, drone strikes and military occupation of a large swath of Syrian territory are all utterly illegal under international law. Like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, these acts are in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter, all treaties to which the United States is a signatory. These acts, ordered in the first place by former President Obama, were also patently unconstitutional, made possible by an abdication of Congress’s exclusive constitutional authority to declare war.

Second, the attacks on Syria, like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, do not in any respect serve the interests of the working-class majority of the United States. Rather, they represent the designs of Big Oil, the military-industrial-congressional complex, the Deep State, and other ruling-class interests that profit immensely from U.S. domination of the globe and perpetual warfare.

These acts of war do not enrich working-class people. They represent an enormous theft of financial resources badly needed to combat climate change, provide health care for all, higher education for all who desire it, and economic security for all. Military spending does not create jobs; it destroys jobs. Every bomb dropped and every drone strike represents millions of dollars less for schools, health care, affordable housing, public transportation, infrastructure repair, and essential services.

And of course, every bomb dropped and every drone strike on working men, women and children in nations like Syria is a thoroughly immoral and inhumane act, causing mass death, incalculable human suffering, and contributing to a global refugee crisis.

We stand with the people of Syria in demanding an end to all foreign intervention in Syria, restoration of its national sovereignty, and an end to the seven-year nightmare the people have been living. An end to “intervention” must include not only the removal of all U.S. ground troops, but the removal of all occupying forces, mercenaries, private contractors, an end to CIA and other covert intervention, an end to support for surrogate forces in Syria, and end to attacks on Syria staged from Iraq or other countries, and an end to aerial assaults on Syrian territory.

We further call on the peace movement and all concerned Americans to demand that the Trump administration and Congress put an end to all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation, and intervention in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations, close all U.S. foreign military bases, and conduct U.S. foreign policy in a peaceful manner, in compliance with international law.

 

SOA Action, Deanna, Jacqui and Tom on the Mexican Side


More pictures below info!

Event Info:

Dear Friends,We are excited to welcome you to our 3rd Encuentro, with the theme this year, “Dismantle Border Imperialism!  Fight, Create, Power to the People.”

We have an exciting weekend planned with workshops, actions, and a concert in Mexico. One of the critical events of our time together will include a vigil at Eloy Detention Center – one of the deadliest detention facilities in the United States. Check out the weekend’s events here and check out our social media for livestreams of workshops and other updates.

During this year’s Encuentro, we will also uplift and remember the Salvadoran martyrs that gave their lives speaking truth to power 29 years ago today – six Jesuits priests, Elba and Celina Ramos were murdered at the University of Central America by the Salvadoran army, trained at the School of the Americas.  It is with their spirit that we send the message that when our communities are under attack, we stand up and fight back.

Beyond the activities planned, this weekend will also be a time for our community to connect, resist, and build the power of our movement. Moreover, this weekend will  be a chance for us to stand united in our resolve to fight back – and most importantly to win – because we know that nothing is stronger than the power of the people.

As the asylum seekers’ caravan from Honduras and other countries across Central America approaches the U.S. border, our collective message of ending border imperialism could not be more important.  We urge you to join us however you can – in person or online to uplift our message of solidarity and collective liberation.  With escalating attacks from the Trump administration towards Black and Brown communities our united voices will signal that the fight is far from over.

We hope to see you throughout the weekend and we stand in solidarity with our communities far and near who are standing against U.S. imperialism.

¡Ya basta!
SOA Watch

ENCUENTRO TRAVEL TIPS

– Don’t forget to register for the Encuentro. If your organization would like to endorse the Encuentro, please do so here.
– Bring a form of identification (US Passport, Driver’s License, LPR Card, Work Permit, etc)
– Wear comfortable walking shoes and WARM clothing. Temperatures are dropping, so check the weather forecast to pack accordingly!
– Wear sun protection and bring a water bottle. Remember you are coming to the Sonora Desert. Stay hydrated. Water is life.
– For any and all legal questions, please contact the Legal Collective at southernarizona@nlg.org. There will be a 24-hour legal hotline throughout the weekend: 520-462-3440 
– For any other questions, please contact SOA Watch at 202-234-3440

ENCUENTRO WEEKEND INFORMATION

– Weekend Schedule of Events here
– Download the full Encuentro Program here
– Full schedule of workshops & Panels* here

*While crossing from the US into Mexico does not require much time, crossing from Mexico into the US does (on weekends, the lines can take up to 2 hours or more). Please keep this in mind as you view the weekend schedule of events and make your decisions accordingly. 

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

– We will be informing and updating on the Encuentro throughout the weekend! Plug in by following us on social media:

Twitter @SOAWatch ; Facebook @SchoolOfTheAmericasWatch ; Instagram @SOAWatch

– Use our hashtags:

#BorderEncuentro2018 #LucharCrearPoderPopular #StruggleCreatePowerToThePeople #NoBanNoWalls

#SOAWatch #CloseSOA #NoMasSOA

SOA Watch
The movement to close the SOA is a community, and all ideas are welcome.

If you like the work of SOA Watch, you can donate here or send a check to us at
SOA Watch, 225 E 26th St, Suite 7, Tucson, AZ 85713

  

       

11/17/2018 8:40 AM

Hi all,

Just a quick check in to let you know we are safe and **BUSY**!!! I have a few minutes this morning that I thought I would share what has been going on so far here in Nogales.

Yesterday was a packed day.  We mingled with and met people from all around the country yesterday morning the Hotel Americana in Nogales. At 1:00 we caravanned to Tucson to protest Milkor USA (milkorusa.com – it’s a disgusting website) at the subcontractor in Tucson, called Abrams Airborne Manufacturing. Milkor partnered with them to created the major components of the a 40mm multi-shot grenade launcher). The protest went well – there were about 200 people and George Martin was there! The Tucson Police actually came and helped out due to the crowd size and they even decided to shut down the part of the street we were on to do an impromptu march.

After that we caravanned to Eloy, AZ to hold a rally and vigil a the ICE Detention Center.  There was music, art, poetry, speakers, signing, dancing.  Two of the speakers had actually spent time in the Eloy detention center and are now speaking out in their activism.  At the end all 300-400 people lined the sidewalk in front of the detention center, sang and made noise. we could see people inside jumping up and down and sending us signals of acknowledgement in various ways. They knew we were there and felt the love and support. This rally/vigil portion of the day lasted 3 hours.  We then travelled back to Nogales and crashed!

Today we are starting off the day with a walk to the border led by Veterans for Peace (they have a strong presence here) at 7:30am. Today is tabling and workshop day that will go to about 6pm.  Our GPUS/GPAX table is on the Mexico side. Then at 7:30pm is a concert at the Border wall with a lineup of great artists and featuring Rebel Diaz, a hip hop artist who has been affected personally by the issues.

Tomorrow all the activities take place at the border wall.  Father Roy Bourgeois will be speaking along with many others.  I will report out on that when I can.  We will be leaving Nogales tomorrow after the Border Encuentro closing to head back to Salt Lake, stopping for the night in Flagstaff and then finishing our journey on Monday.

The entire schedule of activities is at this link (it is a pdf):  http://www.soaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2018_SOAW_ENCUENTO_PROGRAM__LINEAR_PDF_WITH_PAGINATION.pdf

I took the liberty of having 10 lawn signs made that split up what is on our banner (attached). I have the banner, but I wasn’t sure how two of us would be able to use it in the various activities, so I had this done to at least have something with GPAX on it to hold/display.  I also had a table runner done by my sign guy and it is absolutely gorgeous.  He even threw in a green table cloth to put under it.  I will be sure to take a pic today and share. One of the attached photos is of me holding one of the signs, standing beside Georg, at the afternoon protest.

Whew!

Peace,

Dee

Green Party Endorses School of the Americas Annual Border Encuentro

Protest War and Racism, in Chicago, on August 25th

Commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention Protests

(This article is posted here.)

The following is the prepared text of remarks Rich Whitney made on behalf of the Chicago Committee Against War and Racism at a press conference on July 24th, 2018 in Grant Park in Chicago, near the statue of John A. Logan, General John Logan Statue in Grant Park, scene of one of the most iconic protests against the Vietnam War during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. 

The CCAWR has issued a Call for a demonstration against war and police violence on August 25th, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when the movement against the Vietnam War was suppressed inside the convention hall, and brutally attacked by Mayor Richard Daley’s police on the streets of Chicago. If you can, won’t you please come to Chicago, and help change the world, on August 25th!

In calling for this demonstration, the Chicago Committee Against War and Racism declares that in many respects we are confronting worse evils today than we were 50 years ago — but we are still confronting the same institutional barriers to peace and progress.

Just 11 days ago, U.S.-led coalition warplanes in Syria conducted intensive airstrikes near Abu Kamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with estimates of civilian casualties ranging from 30 to 54, the higher estimate coming from The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. All too typically, this received little media attention. It was not part of the so-called “national conversation.” But acts like these, occurring on a regular basis, need to become part of the national conversation, and that is part of what motivates us to call for this protest. These acts of aggressive war are not somehow magically transformed into moral acts simply because relatively few U.S. personnel are at risk of harm.

In 1968, the U.S. government was engaged in one illegal war. Now the U.S. illegally bombs, drone-strikes and/or occupies territory in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen. It is responsible for millions of casualties, horrific devastation and suffering, and the displacement of millions of refugees. It has also been financing covert destabilization, “regime change” and support for repressive governments in much of Central and South America –and then it cruelly imprisons and punishes the hundreds of thousands of refugees who come to this country seeking safety and the opportunity to work. It spends $10.3 million a day of our tax dollars in military support for the repressive, now officially apartheid regime in Israel.

Every single one of these attacks on countries that never attacked the United States are illegal under established international law, including the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter. As in 1968, we have no right to attack other nations that never attacked us.

Let us be clear. These wars are not only thoroughly immoral and illegal in their direct impacts, they are also part of a war at home against the American working class, and especially its most oppressed members, people of color. We spend over $1.3 trillion a year on wars and maintaining a military machine, including about 1,000 military bases in about 135 different countries — while working people and students are being driven into poverty and debt, and while millions of people go without access to health care, decent schools, higher education, decent and affordable housing, safe drinking water, decent public transportation and other necessities. And our government spends these colossal sums on what amounts to corporate welfare, to help ensure the continued profits of giant energy corporations, weapons manufacturers and others, to maintain an empire and continue policies of global domination that actually make us all less safe.

Read the rest of the article here or continue reading below.

Continue reading “Protest War and Racism, in Chicago, on August 25th”

Bipartisan Dysfunctionality Puts The World At Risk

It is an imperative for US foreign policy to seek cooperation between Russia and the US to make a more safe, healthy and secure world. To accomplish that the stranglehold of the duopoly war parties must be broken.

All of humanity is being put at risk by the duopoly of Democrats and Republicans opposition to dialogue with Russia. The combination of Russophobia and the Democratic Party’s compulsion to criticize Trump’s every action, even when he accidentally does something sensible, is preventing the two largest nuclear powers, with the two most advanced militaries in the world, from working together to create a safer and more secure world.

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin finally met for a lengthy meeting. Not much was accomplished, but it might be the beginning of an important dialogue, which could have significant positive impacts.

Russia and the United States are involved in many conflicts where de-escalation is possible if a working relationship is established. There are global crisis situations that could be reduced if the two nations work together, and bring other nations with them, to confront those problems.

Unfortunately, the reaction by members of the political duopoly and media to the Trump and Putin meeting is preventing progress urgently needed by the world. Hurdles are being created to prevent continued dialogue. For example, Russiagate delayed this first meeting and is making detente difficult to achieve.

Partisan Democrats are calling Trump a traitor for even meeting with Putin. They treat Robert Mueller’s indictment, timed just before their meeting, of Russian intelligence officials as if it were a conviction, not an accusation. It is unlikely these cases will ever be brought to trial so we are unlikely to see the evidence. Robert Mueller has a history of “misleading the public as he did when he was FBI director and claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

There are too many potential conflicts that could lead to war and too many crisis situations impacting millions for the United States and Russia not to be talking. Presidents Trump and Putin should meet again. Before their next meeting the two governments should negotiate progress on at least the following issues so their talks will be meaningful:

These are seven top priorities for diplomacy between the United States and Russia. There are many other crisis issues that the world is facing that a positive relationship between Russia and the US could ameliorate if not resolve — imagine the potential of a world where peace broke-out.

Continue reading “Bipartisan Dysfunctionality Puts The World At Risk”

Green Party Endorses Women’s March on the Pentagon