"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No More Military Bases, or Stop The Empire; I Want to Get Off!


As I contemplate the pending anniversary of the birth of one of the great peacemakers of our time, Martin Luther King Jr., I find myself replaying portions of his powerful speeches and sermons in my head.  From racism to materialism to militarism (the three evils), Dr. King spoke truth to power in such a deep and compelling way that he raised the spirits of countless members of the downtrodden masses while simultaneously striking fear and hatred into the stony hearts of racists and militarists.  He warned us of the folly of our actions, but gave us hope that we might conquer these three evils, if only we would not lose sight of the core value of love and its associated nonviolence.  Of course, it was more complex than that, but that is the heart of it.

Today, nearly 42 years after Dr. King's death, we are still struggling to learn the hard lessons of love and nonviolence.  If U.S. military spending is any indicator, we have certainly not learned any lessons.  Based on government figures, the U.S. has (based fiscal year 2003) 6000 military bases in the U.S. and protectorates, and 702 bases overseas in roughly 130 countries.  This doesn't even begin to count U.S. bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and a number of other countries; one well researched article cited the probable total of overseas bases as closer to 1000.

Perhaps 7000 military bases wouldn't be such a big deal if people in the U.S. weren't staggering under the crushing weight of a crippled economy, failing educational system, a health care system that is causing far more deaths each month than terrorists have wrought, and the list goes on...  But we, the U.S. taxpayers, are shelling out well over 50% of our tax dollars to keep this military leviathan operating, even while our nation's infrastructure (both physical and human) crumbles.

But wait - What's this???  The U.S. wants to build another base???  The U.S. Navy is planning to build a base on Jeju Island (known as the Island of Peace), South Korea (roughly 500 miles south of the Korean Peninsula).  According to Bruce Gagnon, the "US will be jointly using the Navy base with the South Korean Navy as a port to deploy Aegis ships that will be used to help surround the coast of China and to give the US the capability to choke off China's ability to import 80% of its oil through the Malaka Straight that flows right off Jeju Island."  Hmm... Gunboats without the diplomacy?

Dr. King once said that, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."  It is time to stop the military madness that is dragging our nation towards economic and spiritual collapse.  We cannot afford the (economic, diplomatic, and spiritual) costs of this ever expanding empire.

SAY NO to more military bases.  SAY NO to the Navy's plan for Jeju Island.  Bruce Gagnon has tirelessly worked to support the people of Jeju Island who are resisting the plan to build the new base.

We, the undersigned global organizations and individuals, call upon the South Korean and US governments to cancel all plans to build a Navy base on Jeju Island. The base will destroy coral reefs that have been listed as world heritage environmental sites by the UNESCO and will destroy the fishing and way of life of the people.
The deployment of naval Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile defense systems, will be used to surround and provoke China and will make Jeju Island a prime target.
Jeju is called the peace island and must remain free of provocative military bases.
Please send an email stating your support for the appeal - with your name, city, state, and organization (if any) - to globalnet@mindspring.com.

Get your family, friends and co-workers to sign on as well.  What better way to honor Dr. King's memory and help the people of Jeju Island, than by resisting militarism.  We choose PEACE.

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