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!
Thank you all and we love you for all that you have done and do!
Please join in tomorrow in the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases! And see how you can make a difference doing your local `plan below, saving life on earth now, working w/humanity’s options!
Due to YouTube’s 8 hour limitation on continuous streaming, we had to split the streaming into three separate channels, one for each day.
Live Streaming has now been set up in three parts on each of these links:
New YouTube links for streaming:
Friday November 16, 2018:
Saturday November 17, 2018:
Sunday November 18, 2018:
Here are additional links to the Live Stream for the Conference:
Global Campaign Web Site:
http://NoUSNATOBases.org (3 parts)
https://www.facebook.com/USPeaceCouncil/ (3 parts)
Please publicize widely and place on your websites and share on your Facebook and other Pages.
Thank you for peace can be real!
Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases
Please see what you can take part in now as together we efficiently rethink and mindfully act, as we reach out w/your help to all and share humanity’s options now, for each to do one’s local `plan, w/neighbors and gain healthy working communities, as together we save life on earth and clean it and space up ASAP!
Thank you for this read!
Peace is real! love kara
speaking for our combined `effect at `i come to talk story
Please share widely Korean Green Party Peace Video asking for support! English Subtitles!
via GPAX Facebook Dec. 1, 2017
I love teaching. And when I teach peace, I enjoy the pushback from some passionate students, one of whom posted yesterday that he really thought peace was impossible and that we need to listen to those, like Ward Churchill, who advocate violent uprising. I riposted (with gratitude to the great researchers like Erica Chenoweth):
Yeah, Churchill is a true poseur, and an inadequate analyst. The only thing less effective than violent insurgency is terrorism, at least by all the available and robust research. The notion of strategic nonviolence has little to do with pacifism and everything to do with choosing disciplined people power to obtain desired changes in policies all the way up to and including regime change.
For the research summation in a TED talk:
For the peer-reviewed research: https://www.belfercenter.org/…/IS3301_pp007-044_Stephan_Che…
For the data set: https://www.du.edu/korb…/sie/research/chenow_navco_data.html
For the updated data set (I was one of the research professors helping code on this part of it): https://www.du.edu/…/…/documents/data/navco_2-0_codebook.pdf
The testosterone-poisoned romantic addiction to violence is exactly what gives us destructive, environmentally disastrous bloody wasteful conflict. Churchill called the 9.11.01 terrorists “gallant combat warriors.” His poor thinking has been a seriously destructive factor in limiting, if not rendering essentially ineffective, the anti-predatory globalization campaigns of the 1990s. Jacking up the resistance and provoking it to violence is exactly what the state wants. Violent insurgency wins 26 percent of the time; nonviolent insurgency wins 53 percent of the time. In other words, in the toughest struggles of all–regime change–nonviolent resistance is twice as effective, wins twice as often, and has far far far lower costs in blood, environmental impacts, and treasure.
From Rich Whitney, GPAX Co-Chair
This received almost no corporate media coverage, but I think it is significant that the AFL-CIO now advocates that “workers and our unions promote a foreign policy independent of the political interests and foreign policy of Wall Street and corporate America . . . . that the AFL-CIO promotes and advocates for a foreign policy based on international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations.”
WHEREAS, in 2005, the AFL-CIO Convention passed a historic resolution calling for the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and an end to the country’s occupation; and
WHEREAS, in 2011, the AFL-CIO Executive Council declared that American troops must be brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake; it is time to invest at home; and
WHEREAS, now 75% of Americans believe the “result of the war in Iraq was not worth the loss of American lives and other costs”; and
WHEREAS, the eventual cost to taxpayers for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will top $4 trillion; and
WHEREAS, since 2001 the United States has used military force in numerous countries, leading to the death of an untold number of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure, a massive number of refugees and the destabilizing of sovereign nations–—there are now military threats directed against Iran and North Korea, with a potential death toll in either country in the millions and which, in the case of North Korea in particular, involve the threat of nuclear war; and
WHEREAS, while the United States ranks first by far in military spending, it ranks 7th in literacy, 20th in education, 25th in infrastructure quality, 37th in quality of health care, 31st in life expectancy, and 56th in infant mortality; and
WHEREAS, 6,831 United States military personnel have died in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and about one million have been injured. There are over 39,000 homeless military veterans; on any night, more than 1.4 million are at high risk of homelessness, of which 9% are women, and 20 military veterans/active duty military take their own lives each day; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that the workers and our unions promote a foreign policy independent of the political interests and foreign policy of Wall Street and corporate America;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO promotes and advocates for a foreign policy based on international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations, and that we seek peace and reconciliation wherever possible; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO calls upon the president and Congress to bring the war dollars home and make our priority as a nation rebuilding this country’s crumbling infrastructure, creating millions of living wage jobs and addressing human needs such as education, health care, housing, retirement security and jobs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will advocate for the necessary federal funding to meet the needs of veterans by providing them comprehensive services for health care, housing, education and employment, and to establish outreach to at-risk veterans who may not be availing themselves of existing programs.
Earlier this week Jacqui Deveneau was awarded the Peace Action Maine Peace Worker’s Award. Her prepared remarks are below.
I am very moved to receive this award. When I moved back to Maine in 2002 the first organization I signed up with was the Green Party which is no surprise to you all. But right after that I was walking down by Monument Square and ran into a group of Peace activists collecting signatures for Nuclear Disarmament that was a nation wide petition. I hung out with these folks the rest of their time there and at the end when it was time to leave, Greg Field, who I grew to know and admire greatly as the director of PAM at that point, turned to me and asked if I would be the one to take this on! And that is how I got involved with PAM. So many wonderful people, many are in this room worked with me back then.
There are many stories I could share with you, but I think the best is the Noam Chomsky one. In 2010, Beth Streeter came to a meeting and said that she met the woman who was Noam Chomsky’s left hand person and that he was looking to come to Maine to do an event and so I was asked if I might help put together an event with him. It was decided a fundraiser around our yearly Peace Supper at the Woodsford Congregational Church would fit the bill. So myself and Brad Cummings who worked in the office got to work myself taking phone reservations and Brad putting them [I thought] into the data base. 700 people! So the project was that we could only seat 300 for the supper. So we had to get through the supper and that program and get 300 people up into the sanctuary from the church basement where the supper was and then check in the other 400.
Well, we got to the church and only half of the room was set up, we were in the mean time doing the check ins outside, so as I was going to tackle the fact of only half the room being set up, someone came to me from outside and said that all these people were checking in and their names were not there. So I had to run outside where I quickly realized that Brad must not have been saving some of the entries because I sat there while he was entering them so I knew he had. But as I was about to have a melt down as I knew I had to get back inside to attend to the set up, when I went in the door it was all set!! Yes, that is the beauty of this wonderful Peace community that I am part of. People just took charge and got it done.
The moving folks up to the sanctuary in a timely manner to get them settled and the other 400 in and get Noam to the front of the church all to start in time was a feat that to this day I do not know how we did it. It was one of those things that if it worked I would be crowned queen of organizing, but if I didn’t I would have 700 people very unhappy with me. Again the fact that we made it work was because of so many wonderful Peace folks, including those I call my Peace troops, the VFP who helped hold back the crowds when I needed! I have brought with me and many of you may have seen on the way in the picture of me getting Noam to the front of the church, I call it my Peace wedding, I sent a copy to Noam and he agreed.
It was after that event that I was hired on to run the PAM office form 2010 to 2012 which was the most perfect job for me that I have ever had in my life. To be paid to do Peace work! So I won’t go on, but I just want to say that there are so many of you who have continued this work, doing more actively then me at this point. I just went to the closing ceremony of the 2017 Peace Walk with so many wonderful folks. So I thank you all for never giving up against all odds and to the new young folks stepping up, as I said to the Peace Youth group I ran into at a rally in Boston, I am so glad you are here, I am so tired! And in closing I want to say that I sure hope Loukie is looking down on tonight because I think she might like that I got this award. I miss her so much. Thank you.