International Conference Against US/NATO Bases Addresses Militarism

MILITARISM, 26 Nov 2018

Roger Harris – TRANSCEND Media Service

26 Nov 2018 – For the first time in the history of humanity, the technical means are at hand to eliminate poverty if resources were not diverted to making war. World hunger could be abolished with only a small diversion from military budgets. The only luxuries that so-called middle-class Americans would have to forego would be the Blue Angels air show and drone-bombing wedding parties in the Middle East. Yet, military spending is expanding, and with it global poverty.

On November 16-18, some 300 peace activists representing over 35 countries gathered in Dublin, Ireland for the first International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases to address this tragic paradox of the technical ability to serve humanity and the political proclivity by the ruling circles in the West to do the opposite. Roger Cole of the Irish peace organization PANA identified the twin threats to humankind of global warming and global war, both driven by accelerating militarization.

Ajamu Baraka of the US-based Black Alliance for Peace highlighted the reactionary role of the US and its allies, which have by far the largest military expenditures in the world. The material basis for the absence of peace and the accelerating proliferation of military bases, in his words, is US imperialism.

Guantánamo was the first of the world network of US foreign military bases, according to keynote speaker Dr. Aleida Guevara from Cuba, daughter of Che. Cuba opposes this violation of national sovereignty. Today the US possesses some 1000 foreign military bases with troops stationed in over 170 countries.

Australian Annette Brownlie of IPAN warned of a new Cold War. The recent US National Security Strategy document, focusing on “great power confrontation,” signals open preparations for direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

David Webb of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK explained that the US is the only nation with nuclear weapons based outside its soil. US policy is to develop “usable” nuclear weapons in an enhanced first-strike capacity. Missile defense, he reproved, is the shield for the sword of nuclear weapons. The purpose of missile defense is to protect the aggressor against the inevitable retaliation after a first nuclear strike.

Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance reported that the recent US midterm elections brought in more Congressional representatives with military or security state backgrounds. The duopoly of the two US “war parties” is united in supporting an accelerated arms race. Well over half of the US government’s discretionary budget now goes to the military.

Unlike so much liberal and progressive political discourse in the US, which is obsessed with the personality of President Trump, the international perspective of this conference penetrated that distracting fog and concentrated on the continuity of US militarism regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

The session on the environmental and health impacts featured testimony on the toxic effects of military bases in Okinawa, Czech Republic, and Turkey. The US Department of Defense is the world’s largest polluter.

National Coordinator of the Irish Trade Union Federation and Secretary of the People’s Movement, Frank Keoghan, described the transformation of the European Union (EU) into a war project with the recent rush to create a single EU army. Ilda Figueiredo from the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation and another activist from France warned that the drive for an EU army would transform all national military bases into NATO bases and would in effect allow “nuclear bomb sharing.”

Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report chaired the Africa session. South African Chris Matlhako and Kenyan Ann Atambo discussed the dependency of African states on foreign aid, which is used as a tool to facilitate the occupation of Africa by foreign militaries.

Paul Pumphrey of Friends of the Congo described the development of US strategy in Africa, which has used African proxies to allow domination and extraction of valuable resources such as coltan from the Congo. Now the strategy also includes direct occupation by the US military. George W. Bush established AFRICOM in 2008 with just a single acknowledged US military base on the continent, followed by an explosion to some 50 bases and a military presence in practically every African nation under Obama.

The session on Latin America and the Caribbean outlined the immediate threat of military intervention in Venezuela, caught in the crosshairs of US imperialism. Veteran Cuban peace activist Silvio Platero of MOVPAZ condemned the continuing US blockade of Cuba and the colonial status of Puerto Rico. Speakers from Colombia (now a NATO partner), Argentina, and Brazil reported that their right-wing governments are cooperating militarily with the US.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire from Ireland made an impassioned plea and for an all-out support of WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange, “our hero of truth,” lest he die in a US prison.

The conference concluded on a high note of unity among the international peace forces. Conference coordinator Bahman Azad of the World Peace Council closed with a call to first educate and then mobilize.

Actions are being planned in Washington, D.C., around the 70th anniversary of NATO on April 4th. Coincidentally that is the date of the assassination of Martin Luther King and of his famous speech a year before when he presciently admonished, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.”

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Roger Harris is on the board of the 33-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization, Task Force on the Americas (taskforceamericas.org), and is active with the Campaign to End US-Canadian Sanctions Against Venezuela (https://tinyurl.com/yd4ptxkx).

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Nov 2018.

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4 Responses to “International Conference Against US/NATO Bases Addresses Militarism”

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive overview of the conference which both educated and inspired those attending to work together to raise awareness of the extent of military control being exerted by the US and its Allies. Australian governments have historically tied the country to the coat tails of initially Great Britain and then the US. The challenge is in fact to build self confidence amongst the citizenry in our ability to manage our own policies domestically and internationally in the interests of a peaceful just and sustainable future.

    • There is in the report missing the strong presentations from the Okinawa delegates. Their message is they are desperate for international support for an end to the US bases on their island. Construction of Futenma Replacement Facility in Henoko is opposed by the vast majority of the Okinawan community and yet the Japanese government over rides their wishes with continued support for US presence and control.
      The Pacific representatives have agreed to develop a Pacific Peace Network to inform and cooperate to advance a peaceful independent Pacific.

      • Satoshi Ashikaga says:

        (1) Origin of the U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa:

        “SUBJECT: Emperor of Japan’s Opinion Concerning the Future of the Rukyu Islands.”: http://www.archives.pref.okinawa.jp/wp-content/uploads/Emperors-message.pdf or “Enclosure to Dispatch No. 1293 dated September 22, 1947, from the United States Political Adviser for Japan, Tokyo, on the subject ‘Emperor of Japan’s Opinion Concerning the Future of the Ryukyu Islands'”: http://ryukyu-okinawa.net/pages/archive/emp1.html

        (2) Legal Aspects:

        (a) “Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America” (a.k.a. AMPO): https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/1.html
        (b) “Agreement regarding the Status of United States Armed Forces in Japan” (a.k.a. SOFA): https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/2.html

        (3) Two of the Most Critically Important Provisions in SOFA:

        ARTICLE XXV

        A Joint Committee shall be established as the means for consultation between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States on all matters requiring mutual consultation regarding the implementation of this Agreement. In particular, the Joint Committee shall serve as the means for consultation in determining the facilities and areas in Japan which are required for the use of the United States in carrying out the purpose of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

        The Joint Committee shall be composed of a representative of the Government of Japan and a representative of the Government of the United States, each of whom shall have one or more deputies and a staff. The Joint Committee shall determine its own procedures, and arrange for such auxiliary organs and administrative services as may be required. The Joint Committee shall be so organized that it may meet immediately at any time at the request of the representative of either the Government of Japan or the Government of the United States.

        If the Joint Committee is unable to resolve any matter, it shall refer that matter to the respective Governments for further consideration through appropriate channels.

        ARTICLE XXVIII

        This Agreement, and agreed revisions thereof, shall remain in force while the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security remains in force unless earlier terminated by agreement between the two Governments.

      • Satoshi Ashikaga says:

        The following articles, among many others, may help the TMS readers understand relevant issues, including those in Henoko, on the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.

        (1) “THE CONTENTIOUS U.S. PRESENCE IN OKINAWA, JAPAN”: https://worldpolicy.org/2018/04/05/the-contentious-us-presence-in-okinawa-japan/
        (2) “Base Dependency and Okinawa’s Prospects: Behind the Myths”: https://apjjf.org/2016/22/Junkerman.html
        (3) “CIA: How to shape Okinawan public opinion on the U.S. military presence”: https://apjjf.org/2018/13/Mitchell.html