Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

AEGIS WARSHIPS UPGRADED WITH PROVOCATIVE "MISSILE DEFENSE" SYSTEMS



The U.S. has announced that it will install so-called "theatre missile defense" (TMD) systems on Navy Aegis warships now deployed in Japan's Yokosuka base. Also called "boost-phase defense" systems, the job of these missiles would be to get close to North Korea and China in order to give the U.S. the ability to knock out any nukes launched from those countries soon after they have been launched.


The testing program for these TMD systems (also called Standard Missile-3) has been going fairly well for the Navy, as it is much easier to hit a missile soon after it has been launched. They are easy to spot as the flames shoot out of the rocket, they are relatively slow as they lift-off from the ground, and the Aegis warships would be right along the coastline and able to be much closer to the missiles.


The military's other "missile defense" program is called "National Missile Defense" which would wait until a nuke got way up into deep space before it would try to have a bullet hit a bullet at 15,000 m.p.h. This program has been the one with the glaring test failures and could also be easily overwhelmed with decoys and multiple warhead missiles.


The Aegis destroyers used by the Navy for the TMD program are made in Bath, Maine. The Republican and Democratic Party politicians of this state are slaves to the General Dynamics Corporation, which builds the ships. Each ship costs taxpayers over $1 billion.


Bath Iron Works [BIW], Maine's largest private employer, was purchased by General Dynamics in September 1995. Bath had run into financial trouble and become the property of Prudential Insurance Co. of America when debt payments could no longer be made. General Dynamics picked up the yard for half what Prudential paid for it.


We are told that the Aegis ships are being outfitted with TMD systems to protect Japan from a nuclear attack by North Korea. Not true!


The reality is that the U.S. is using the Aegis to surround the coastal region of China and intends to negate China's current nuclear weapons force of 20 missiles that are capable of hitting the continental U.S.


By making this move the U.S. will force China to build more nuclear weapons or face loosing their existing nuclear deterrent force in a first-strike attack. For the past few years the U.S. has been war-gaming a first-strike attack on China, set in the year 2016. After seeing what the U.S. has done in Iraq, and knowing that the U.S. is now doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region, China can't afford to take any chances. Thus off we go to a new arms race in the region. The weapons industry would benefit for sure.


On May 26, 2000 the Washington Post ran a story entitled, For Pentagon, Asia Moving to Forefront. The article made the case for the U.S. to "manage" China by militarily controlling the region and being able to prevail in a war with China. Here is some of the language from the article:

The Joint Chiefs' wrestling with how to think about China--and how open to be about that effort--captures in a nutshell the U.S. military's quiet shift away from its traditional focus on Europe. Cautiously but steadily, the Pentagon is looking at Asia as the most likely arena for future military conflict, or at least competition.


The new U.S. military interest in Asia also reverses a Cold War trend under which the Pentagon once planned by the year 2000 to have just "a minimal military presence" in Japan, recalls retired Army Gen. Robert W. RisCassi, a former U.S. commander in South Korea.


The U.S. military's favorite way of testing its assumptions and ideas is to run a war game. Increasingly, the major games played by the Pentagon--except for the Army--take place in Asia, on an arc from Tehran to Tokyo. The games are used to ask how the U.S. military might respond to some of the biggest questions it faces: Will Iran go nuclear--or become more aggressive with an array of hard-to-stop cruise missiles? Will Pakistan and India engage in nuclear war--or, perhaps even worse, will Pakistan break up, with its nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Afghan mujaheddin? Will Indonesia fall apart? Will North Korea collapse peacefully? And what may be the biggest question of all: Will the United States and China avoid military confrontation? All in all, estimates one Pentagon official, about two-thirds of the forward-looking games staged by the Pentagon over the last eight years have taken place partly or wholly in Asia.

The Japanese peace movement clearly understands what is at stake here with these upgrades to the Aegis system. They fear growing instability in the region will ultimately lead to a war. They regularly protest the Aegis warships at Yokosuka Naval base. They seek the support of the peace movement in the U.S.


In the state of Maine it is just a few activists who are concerned about the Aegis and those who do protest against Aegis rarely ever talk about the role of TMD and Aegis. Instead the activists talk about the cruise missiles on-board the Aegis (which are nuclear capable). While it is important to inform people about the cruise missiles, they are first-strike weapons, it is also crucial to begin to educate the activist community and the public at large about the expanded provocative role that Aegis is now playing in the overall U.S. aggressive military strategy in the region.


The ultimate solution is to begin to call for conversion of places like BIW. We must show the public, who are primarily concerned about jobs, that by converting shipyards like BIW we will be able to create many times more jobs with the money that is now wasted down the military rat hole. By creating a constituency for conversion we also begin to reduce the support for the dangerous and aggressive U.S. military schemes in the Asian-Pacific region.

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