Monday, October 24, 2011

US Seeks to Establish Naval Base on Jeju Island in Spite of Protests

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 00:00 John Lasker from

At protest against base on Jeju Island

At protest against base on Jeju Island

On beautiful Jeju Island, south of the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Navy is building a base that will soon harbor some of the world’s most advanced weapons.

But the mystery is: who inspired the base to be built on this island of pristine waters and stunning volcanic peaks in the first place?

Peace activist Bruce Gagnon says all one needs to do is call the South Korean embassy in Washington and ask.

“We have had four of our people tell us when they called the (South Korean) embassy to protest the naval base, they were told, ‘Don’t call us, call your own government,’” said Gagnon. “The US is forcing South Korea to build this base so to harbor Aegis destroyers. The base is a key part of Obama’s ‘Forward Base’ strategy for missile defense. This is a very provocative act.”

Gagnon is the director Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, which is referred to as the “Global Network” amongst its 150 affiliates across the planet. The Global Network’s mission is to raise awareness about US’s emerging missile defense “arsenal” – an arsenal they believe is a “Trojan Horse” the US is secretly and quietly rolling into the global courtyard.

Missile-defense technology, such as the Aegis-class destroyer that South Korea said will be stationed on Jeju Island, is “dual use” technology, claims the Global Network. An Aegis-class destroyer is equipped with the Aegis system of high-powered radar and missiles that can shoot-down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other warheads. But this same Aegis technology, created mainly by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, has offensive capabilities as well, such as the ability to shoot down satellite constellations the world has become so dependent on.

The Global Network’s dual-use theory is backed by plenty of incriminating evidence. The Pentagon has spent over $100 billion researching missile defense technology that has never proven itself in real combat. This $100 billion technology can also be deceived by balloon decoys that look like warheads, a fatal flaw the Pentagon has desperately tried to keep secret. While billions were being pumped into so-called missile defense during the past three decades, many high-ranking officers from the US military and US Congressmen publicly stated the nation that controls space, controls earth.

Intimidation in the Pacific and at the White House

Gagnon says the emerging Jeju island naval base, currently a construction site under heavy protest by Jeju island locals, is situated just a few miles from a Pacific sea route China uses to import oil, and that building the base is a provocative act towards China.

“China ships 80 percent of its oil through this transit line,” says Gagnon. “[And if a hostile confrontation were to occur] the US can successfully choke off their ability to transport oil. The US essentially holds the keys to China’s economic engine.”

What is equally disturbing, says Gagnon, is how two US defense contractors and their stock holders are salivating at the chance to make a buck off the threat of war between super powers.

Gagnon believes one reason the US is strong-arming South Korea to build this base on Jeju Island – a World Heritage Site designated by the UN, no less – is so General Dynamics and one of America’s largest shipyards, Bath Iron Works of Maine, can continue to score huge defense contracts from either the Pentagon or South Korea. Gagnon foresees a future where Jeju Island becomes a base where US-built Aegis-equipped destroyers are also harbored.

Both General Dynamics and Bath Iron Works are two major defense contractors that build the destroyers that can be equipped with the Aegis system, and during the last two decades, the US Aegis-equipped fleet has gone beyond 60 ships.

Gagnon believes pressuring Obama to build more Aegis-class ships is the Chicago-based Crown family who helped fund the President’s political ambitions in the years leading up to his 2008 victory. The Crown family, worth $4 billion according to Forbes, is best known for nurturing General Dynamics over the past 60 years into one of the largest weapons-makers in the world. Family members today sit on its board of directors as they grow fatter and fatter from millions-of-dollars worth of General Dynamics’ stock they’ve hoarded.

According to Salon, the Crown family chipped in $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 presidential run.

Gagnon says the Crown family now wants some payback.

“He owes them,” says Gagnon about Obama and his relationship with the Crowns.

Sputtering Orbiter? Assange Reveals the Truth

There is no doubt, says Gagnon, that Sino-American posturing in the Pacific has ignited an arms race for the 21st century, as the US continues testing its missile-defense arsenal in the Pacific.

Recall in 2007, when China shot down one of its own satellites. The US followed suit in 2008 by using an Aegis-class destroyer to shoot down an apparent “malfunctioning” satellite as it orbited over Hawaii. WikiLeaks would later reveal the Bush White House essentially had lied about the sputtering orbiter.

The real story, as told by a once secret US cable that was exposed by the elusive Assange, is that the US shot down its own satellite as a direct response to China’s display of space weapon capability the year before in 2007.

Meanwhile, peace activists of Jeju Island are being arrested and harassed by South Korean police. Ironically, the “Island of World Peace,” as dubbed by its own political leaders, is turning into an “Island of No Free Speech”.

For the past year, scores of Jeju Island peace activists, who have elicited help from Gloria Steinem and Noam Chomsky, have camped-out to block construction of the 400,000-square meter base that will harbor over 20 ships and submarines.

On July 15th, undercover police raided the tiny fishing village of Gangjeong where much of the protest strategy is originating. Three key figures of the protest were arrested, including Global Network member Sung-Hee Choi of Gangjeong, who was imprisoned for three months. She was holding a banner that read, "We need international solidarity. Please protest against the South Korean authorities with letters, press interviews and others."

Sung-Hee Choi, an artist, continues to blog about the protests. She wrote the following on Christmas day of last year.

“Snowflakes fell onto the beautiful coast rocks and sea, displaying a mysterious view as the sea horizon became clouded. It was a terrible feeling to think that the most beautiful rocks and sea in the Jeju Island might be covered with concrete if the naval base construction is enforced.”

John Lasker is a freelance journalist from Ohio.

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