Bruce Gagnon speaking at the "Peace in Asia and the Pacific" conference in Washington, D.C.Photo: AFSC
U.S. Military Expansion in the Asia-Pacific
My name is Bruce Gagnon and I work for the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space that was founded in 1992. The organization is made up of 150 affiliated groups around the world.
On February 24-26, 2012 we will observe our 20th anniversary by holding our annual space organizing conference in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea. We’ve been working hard for the past two years to help build international support for the villagers who are fighting to save their 400 year old fishing and farming community from construction of a Navy base that will port U.S. warships, including Aegis destroyers that are outfitted with so-called “missile defense” systems.
Missile defense (offense) is a key part of U.S. first-strike strategy. They are the shield that would be used to pick off the retaliatory launches after the U.S. initiates a first-strike attack. Missile defense (MD) systems have also proven to be capable anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons and are ultimately driving a new arms race with Russia and China.
The Pentagon is now encircling Russia and China with MD systems. Why Russia? Could it be because Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas and significant supplies of oil?
Why China? The U.S. knows it can’t compete with China economically. But China imports 80% of their oil on ships. If the Pentagon can choke off China’s ability to transport these vital resources then the U.S. would hold the keys to China’s economic engine.
The U.S. Space Command has been annually war-gaming a first-strike attack on China, set in the year 2016. Using the new military space plane (successor to the shuttle) that is now under development, and will be able to fly through space from one side of the world to the other in just under an hour, the Pentagon in this computer war game launches an attack on China’s nuclear forces. China has about 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S. After the initial attack on China’s nukes they fire their remaining retaliatory capability. It is then that the Pentagon’s MD systems, the shield, are used to pick off the remaining Chinese nuclear capability.
Just recently the U.S. signed a deal with Turkey to position a MD radar system in that country. An agreement was also just signed with Romania to allow U.S. ground-based MD interceptors to be based there. Poland has already agreed to host U.S. PAC-3 (Patriot 3rd generation) MD interceptors, just 35 kms from the Russian border in Kaliningrad. The Pentagon is now negotiating with Georgia to place a MD radar on Russia’s border. U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with MD systems, are now routinely operating in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. And Spain has just agreed to offer a port to these Aegis warships. An expanding NATO and U.S. MD systems are surrounding Russia.
A similar strategy is now happening with China. The Pentagon has position PAC-3 MD interceptors in Taiwan as well as in Japan and South Korea. Aegis warships with MD systems are now or will soon be ported in Australia, Japan, Guam, and South Korea. The Navy base on Jeju Island, just 300 miles from China’s coastline, will become a strategic base for these Aegis destroyers as Chinese ships pass through the Yellow Sea.
The Aegis warships test their MD systems at the Pacific Missile Range Facility located on Kauai, Hawaii. The range is the world's largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing & training range. It is the only range in the world where subsurface, surface, air and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.
At the urging of the Pentagon, India has in recent years created a Space Command, mimicking the provocative language from the U.S. Space Command, and has undertaken a crash program to build and test MD and ASAT systems. India’s role is to help this U.S. “containment” of China.
Peace groups in all these places are working hard to build opposition to these MD and ASAT programs that will only lead to a deadly and expensive arms race in space and on Mother Earth.
Before the 2008 election an old friend in Maine asked me if I knew of the Crown family in Chicago. I did not. He told me to google them. I did and found that the Crown family was majority stockholders in the General Dynamics Corporation (GD) at that time. GD owns Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine where I live. They build the Navy Aegis destroyers that are being deployed with these MD systems on-board.
Forbes reports that the Crown family is worth $4 billion and in the 2008 election they gave Obama $500,000 for his campaign. In fact early on, before Obama became known, they built support for him in the national Jewish community and across the military industrial complex. Thus it was no surprise that Obama raised more money from the weapons industry in the 2008 election than John McCain, the war hawk, did.
Since Obama became president the cost of the latest editions of these warships at BIW have gone from $1.5 billion to $3 billion a copy. Just recently it was announced that Saudi Arabia was considering buying $20 billion worth of Aegis destroyers from BIW. During Obama’s time in office he has made the decision to shut down some of Bush’s preferred MD systems and instead has increased emphasis on the Navy Aegis warships made by General Dynamics. Is this political pay back? I believe so.
We are currently witnessing a corporate agenda of global resource control. The dismantling of Libya, the largest producer of oil on the African continent, is just one recent example. Obama has now deployed boots on the ground in Uganda, another area with significant natural resources including oil.
U.S. foreign and military policy is being privatized. The more instability corporate interests can create in a particular region, the easier it is to justify intervention and control of resources and markets by the U.S. and NATO. NATO, under U.S. control, is fast becoming the military arm of corporate globalization. All of this of course means increased profits for the military industrial complex. The Pentagon calls its new role in the world “security export”.
We must do more to connect this militarized corporate strategy to the growing anti-corporate Occupy movements spring up all over the U.S. and around the world. It is a key piece still generally missing from the articulation of the 99%.
I would also recommend that a coordinated day of actions be planned against the growing militarization across the Pacific. We need greater sharing, linkages and cooperation amongst groups working on these issues.
Bruce K. Gagnon