Monday, May 7, 2012

Bruce Gagnon on weapons and nukes in space, Jeju Island, and the corporatization of the US military

Bruce Gagnon, co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, recently toured the northwest, where he spoke to David Delk, AfD co-chair and host of the Portland OR chapter's show Populist Dialogues.

Bruce and David talked about the US military industrial complex, which now serves as a "resource extraction service" for global corporatism. The need to control gas and oil resources--including access to oil by China--is driving US military expansion in Asia, while space technologies developed by taxpayer dollars are now being seen as a means for private corporations to generate wealth by mining planets and asteroids.

You can watch Bruce's wide-ranging, fascinating, and frightening report here, and learn how to rebroadcast this show on your local public access station here. If your station would prefer receiving shows on dvd, please email the Alliance for Democracy office.

  In addition to hosting Bruce on Populist Dialogues, Alliance for Democracy joined several organizations in sponsoring Bruce and South Korean artist and peace activist Gillchun Koh at a demonstration at the Seattle South Korean Consulate.

The protest targeted the naval base currently under construction on Jeju Island, South Korea. This naval base is unnecessary, a drain on our economy, will destabilize both US and South Korean relations with China, and will put the people of Jeju Island at risk as a strategic target. We're posting a short history of the resistance to the base construction and commentary containing some good reasons for bringing this project to a halt. We've excerpted them from writing by Leonard Eiger, coordinator of Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

 The April 3 Massacre
30,000 people murdered!!! Jeju Island is known as the "Island of World Peace," a name that does not begin to tell the story of the Island's extensive history of conflict, occupation, repression and genocide. The most horrific episode in this history began in 1948 when the South Korean military and national police hunted down and slaughtered approximately 30,000 people. The U.S., which was the occupying power at the time, did nothing to stop what is now known as the April 3 massacre.

Why did the government do such a horrific thing? 1948 was a tumultuous time of establishing two governments in Korea. The people of Jeju Island rose up to protest the long-term division of the nation by boycotting the elections that were occurring in Seoul. For this they were branded as Communists, and the terror began.

For decades following, public discussion of the April 3 massacre was ruthlessly repressed. Following democratization, the slow and painful process of fact finding and truth telling began, and continues today. In 2003, South Korean President Noh Moo Hyun travelled to Jeju Island and officially apologized.

History Repeats Itself 
Now, over 60 years after the April 3 massacre the people of Jeju Island are once again protesting. This time they are protesting the U.S. Missile Defense System and a provocative new naval base being built on their island.

Why? If you look at a map of Jeju Island, you can see that it lies about 500 kilometers West of China. This military base is intended to project force towards China and to provide a forward operating installation in the event of a military conflict between the U.S. and China. For five years, South Korean activists have been protesting the plans for the new naval base on Jeju Island. During that time the response by the South Korean police and military has become more heavy-handed and brutal. Col. Anne Wright (former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department) reported that earlier this month "police broke arms of activists who had locked arms inside PCV pipes, beat up activists and threw them from kayaks."

A Global Context
(Excerpt from article by Noam Chomsky and Matthew Hoey)
The last thing the world needs is a military confrontation between the U.S. and China. On that dreaded eventuality, there is no need to elaborate. In terms of its implications, what is now taking place on Jeju island counts as one of the most critical struggles against a potentially devastating war in Asia, and the deeply-rooted institutional structures that are driving the world towards even more bitter conflict than is raging in all too many places today.

It is important to become aware of what is happening on Jeju Island and to find ways to help the residents to prevent this very dangerous and destructive project. The consequences of losing the struggle to prevent the base construction might impact not only Asia but the United States and the rest of the world as well. The project is naturally seen by China as a threat to its national security. At the very least, it is likely to trigger confrontation and an arms race between South Korea and China, with the U.S. almost inevitably drawn in.

The immediate threat is to Jeju Island civilians, whose home was recently described in a South Korean daily as “the spearhead of the country’s defense line,” a line recklessly located approximately 500km from China. We need not speculate about how the U.S. would react were China doing something similar near its coast.

For more information:
Save Jeju Island website
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

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