IT'S ABOUT ENERGY WARS
I wrote the following on the bus (June 16) from Pyeongteak to the Kimpo Airport in Seoul as we make our way there for a flight to Jeju Island.
This morning our four-person group took the train from Seoul to Pyeongteak to meet with activists who are organizing against the expansion of two U.S. bases in their community. One is the Army base called Camp Humphreys (which was a Japanese imperial military base during WW II) and 13 kilometers away is the Osan Air Force Base.
As we drove the narrow farm roads on the perimeter of Camp Humphreys we saw the clear signs of massive construction going on. Housing for 10,000 military personnel and their families is being built on one edge of the Army installation. The base expansion was to be completed in 2008 but has been delayed until 2015 by the national peace campaign of opposition that peaked between 2002-2006. Another reason for the delays has been the hardball negotiations between the U.S. and the South Korean government, as the Americans have demanded that the Koreans pay a larger share of base construction costs.
Osan AFB, like Camp Humphreys, is also taking major tracks of farming land from surrounding villages in order to build a second runway and new munitions storage areas. The fighter bombers were practicing take-offs and landings as we drove around the base and the screaming planes reminded us that the levels of noise and air pollution that local residents have to daily deal with would never be acceptable to most Americans.
But the big question that must be answered is why is the Pentagon doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region? Is all this being done because of North Korea? Hardly.
On June 16, 2009 Obama and South Korean right-wing President Lee signed a new “Strategic Flexibility” agreement that turns “local responsibility” for defense of South Korea over to their military forces. The U.S. has bigger fish to fry.
Under “Strategic Flexibility” South Korea will be responsible to defend against North Korea (who is never going to initiate an attack on the south anyway) while the U.S. intends to use its expanding military presence throughout the region for its own imperial ambitions.
I asked one of our hosts at the Pyeongteak Peace Center (Yongdong Yang) just whom the U.S. was aiming at in the region if it was not North Korea? His response was straight to the point as he answered, “Russia and China. Russia has large supplies of natural gas [actually the largest in the world]. It’s about energy wars.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Alongside the Osan AFB runway, which was buzzing with U.S. warplanes, sits many concrete bunkers with the new ground-based PAC-3 (Patriot) “missile defense” system launchers raised up and ready to fire. I asked our host which direction they were pointing toward and he told me they were aimed at China not North Korea.
You can imagine that China is not pleased with these U.S. military moves throughout the region. These same kinds of Pentagon base expansions are happening in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Australia, and more. The Obama administration has recently approved the sale of PAC-3 “missile offense” systems to be sold to Taiwan – a Cuban missile crisis in reverse except this time most American people know nothing about these dangerous and provocative deployments.
Instead the American people just hear that China is upgrading its military and we are left to believe that they are just doing this because they have decided to take over the world. But the truth is that it is the U.S. that has military bases in over 130 countries around the world – not China or Russia.