Friday, July 2, 2010

Christine Ahn on the worldwide movement opposing the expansion of the culture of war & militarization

Christine Ahn's latest, "Move the Money, Starve the Empire," at Foreign Policy in Focus reflects on the U.S. Social Forum's conversation about popular opposition to war; the militarization of economy and education; and the 700-1000 worldwide U.S. military bases, many of them existing in opposition to local democratic choice:
The U.S. Social Forum is a meeting place for progressive social justice organizations to discuss issues, strategies, and ideas for building a social movement in this country. The sessions on the antiwar and anti-militarism track made several linkages: between the domestic economic crisis and the bloated military budget, the expansion of U.S. bases and the displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples from their land and livelihoods, and the rise of militarism and violence against women.

We can’t address the economic crisis blighting neighborhoods throughout the United States without moving money away from war. That’s the only part of the national budget not being cut. Organizers at the USSF united two disparate sectors. One is comprised of grassroots base-building organizations with multicultural constituencies working to secure jobs, education, and services. The other includes national peace organizations with mostly white, middle-class membership.

These two groups largely organize separately. But they came together at the USSF because working poor people clearly can’t get the jobs and services they need without challenging military spending. Likewise, peace groups can’t end wars without a broad movement challenging the military-industrial complex...

Just as money for jobs, health care, education, and housing is going from taxpayer pockets to feed the military-industrial complex, so is the money for foreign military operations being used to displace farmers and indigenous people in every region of the world. Members of the No U.S. Bases movement described how the over 700 U.S. bases around the world have become sites of conflict between American soldiers and the local population. Meanwhile, the United States continues to expropriate land from farmers and indigenous people to expand or build new bases.

One site of resistance is Guam, also known by its indigenous name, Guahan. An incorporated U.S. territory, Guam is the intended relocation site of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. government didn’t consult the people of the island, a disturbing parallel with the eras of Spanish and Japanese colonialism.

Lisa Natividad of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice explains that the island is very small, only 212 square miles. From top to bottom, the island is 32 miles, and the widest point is eight miles wide. Despite Guam’s small land mass, the United States is still planning to transfer the troops, which will include their families, other military personnel, and the construction of massive infrastructure to accommodate nearly 80,000 people that will occupy nearly 40 percent of the land.

According to Natividad, the Department of Defense drafted an environmental impact statement that outlined plans to dredge 72 acres of the reef surrounding the island and reclaiming 2,200 acres of land. “Looking at the legacy of militarism,” Natividad said, “the build-up of the bases will mean worsening health outcomes and shorter lives.” Natividad says there are over 100 Superfund sites on Guam...
Read the rest (opposition to the militarization of schools in LA; US bases in Columbia; women's and veterans' peace movements) here.

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