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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jeju Island: A Pawn in the Imperial Struggle

A truly heroic citizens' struggle continues on the tiny island of Jeju Island where the South Korean government is building a naval base that will serve as yet another outpost in the vast array of U.S. military bases around the world

This particular base is of particular note because it represents the massive shift in focus by the Pentagon to the Asian continent, and of course CHINA!!!  Just 500 miles off the Chinese mainland, a base at Jeju will give the U.S. a new choke point in the East China Sea to control China's strategic access to resources and commerce.

The base being constructed by the South Korean government will directly support U.S. ships - including Aegis missile defense destroyers, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.  The Commander,U.S. Naval Forces, Korea has specified design specifications to accommodate U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers.

Art meets protest on Jeju Island
With over 1000 military bases around the world (even the experts differ in the exact number), the last the U.S. needs right now is another one, especially one that will only inevitably ratchet up tensions between the U.S. and China in what could become the newest  clash of superpowers.

But beyond the talk of superpowers and their petty land and resource grabs, this is a story about people struggling to hold onto what is rightfully theirs.  To maintain a way of life.  To be left alone, and not be made pawns in the disinterest of empire. 

To call the struggle of the Jeju Islanders "heroic" is not hyperbole.

Father John Dear sums up the situation on Jeju in a single paragraph:
The base is being built near Gangjeong village. These heroic villagers have maintained an impressive public stand against nuclear weapons, U.S. imperialism, environmental destruction and basic injustice. They’ve been arrested, imprisoned and had their land and civil rights taken from them. Nonetheless, they keep at it. They are demonstrating one of the most brilliant instances of active, engaged nonviolence on the planet, but they have to: South Korea, at the request of the Pentagon, is about to destroy one of the world’s natural wonders.
The struggle to extricate Jeju Island from the jaws of militarism and empire is one that affects not only this small, peaceful island, but the entire world.

  Even as I write this post, President Obama is in Southeast Asia to ensure military and economic dominance thoughout the region.  Secretary of Defense Panetta confirmed last Friday that the U.S. will be increasing the numbers of military exercises in the Pacific in conjunction with Southeast Asian allies, and of course "devoting new funding to this goal."  And guess what huge country lies just North of all those Southeast Asian countries???

There are many ways people can support the people of Jeju Island.  Go to Save Jeju Now to learn more and get involved.  And - Check out the Save Jeju Island Facebook page.

Say NO to Empire!  Say YES to Peace!  Save Jeju Island!!!

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