Pacific resists US militarisation

Issue 

About sixty people attended a meeting on “America’s Pacific Push” on July 25.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, spoke about the growing US military presence in the Pacific.

Examples included the expansion of a missile test range in Hawaii, the building of a naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island despite strong resistance from local people, and the plan to station 2500 US troops in Darwin.

Gagnon said that US bases in Australia play a crucial role in US military strategy.

Particularly important is Pine Gap, which plays a key role in communicating with US military satellites. These satellites, of which there are about 100, are involved in a range of tasks, including intercepting phone, fax and email communications, sending drones to kill people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and controlling the “missile defence” system.

Gagnon said that the “missile defence” system is offensive, not defensive, in its purpose.

The US wants to be able to wipe out most of China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles in a first strike, then use “missile defence” to destroy any Chinese missiles that survive and are launched towards the US. China is responding to this threat by developing nuclear submarines.

Gagnon said one purpose of the US military buildup is to control China’s access to the imported resources it needs for its industry, and thereby “manage” China. Many of the bases are situated close to China’s shipping routes.

This new arms race is hugely expensive, and diverts resources away from fighting poverty and climate change. The Pentagon is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet.

He said the US is “addicted” to military spending. Military production has been growing while many other industries have been declining. He said the peace movement needs to talk about alternative work for those engaged in military production.

Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero from Guam, a US colony, spoke about the effect of the US military buildup on her people.

Already the US government occupies a third of the island, mainly for military purposes, including an air force base and a submarine base. It wants take over more land for a Marine base.

The bases take land away from food production, resulting in dependence on expensive imported food. They also cause pollution, resulting in high cancer rates.

Local people are resisting the planned Marine base. A court case over failure to carry out a proper environmental impact study has delayed the project.

Guam is a US colony. Guerrero said that activists are campaigning for the right to self-determination.

The meeting was organised by the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. Some participants in the meeting decided to plan for protest action in October.