By Larry Jones
The U.S. military, in league with South Korea, is planning to use a new naval base to be built on the beautiful Jeju Island just south of the Korean peninsula. Jeju is known as the peace island. My friend, Kyle Kajahiro, with American Friends Service Committee in Honolulu, writes that “Jeju … has beautiful volcanic peaks and semi-tropical weather, pristine waters abundant with sea food and a deeply spiritual and independent people who resisted the Japanese occupation as well as repression by the military government of South Korea. The famous women pearl divers have historically been the leaders of their struggles and embodiments of their tough, fighting spirit.”
Now, according to the plan, all that will be either destroyed or seriously endangered by a missile defense system with Aegis destroyer warships docked there. Although this is advertised as Korean and “eco-friendly”, the common wisdom is that it will be mainly used as the basis for the U.S. to contain China. (More on this below.) The base port will accommodate 20 warships and two 15,000 ton cruise liners. It will bring in submarines and nuclear powered ships, further destroying what the U.N. has called an environmentally pristine location.
Despite the governments of Korea and Jeju Province and the behind-the-scenes role of the U.S., the people of the village of Gangjeong where the port will be located have continued and will continue to protest with great courage. Recently 500 police were sent in to round up protestors, mostly old people. They were resisting the ceremony marking the beginning of construction on the port.
People had barricaded the site with cars. Protestors included clergymen and many elderly. One 70 year old man tried to stop the police from pushing an elderly woman and was knocked down. His head hit a stone and he was sent to the hospital in a coma. He has since been released, but his determination shows the inspirational spirit of the people. Other senior citizens were trampled to the ground in the physical struggles. The police did nothing when women’s under-garments were ripped from their bodies. Even the mayor of the village was arrested.
The villagers used to have a thriving fishing industry, but government activity has all but destroyed that, for which an indemnity of 7.8 billion won was paid to the Gangjeong residents. Not much since one won equals only 0.000886 U.S. dollars. The pristine waters will be no more. Before the U.S. illegally annexed the Hawaiian Islands, Pearl Harbor was so named because oysters thrived there. Now the waters are so polluted that there are no longer any pearls in Pearl Harbor.
The beautiful coral reefs of Jeju will be covered with concrete, and nearby tangerine groves will be hard put to survive. An ancient and beneficent way of life will be shoved aside essentially for the expansion of empire.
The Peace Island of Jeju will be transformed from an oasis of peace to a military target with polluted waters around the new naval base. The powers-that-be claim that the port will be open to commercial shipping and will provide a major boost to the island’s income. Opponents point to U.S. bases on Okinawa where the same claim was made, yet the local economy staggers.
THE GEOPOLITICAL RATIONALE
Jeju is at the crossroads for the Malaka Straight where 80% of China’s oil is transported from the Middle East. According to Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, who has studied the Jeju issue, “If the United States is able to militarily choke off the Straight then the U.S. would be able to hold the keys to China’s economic engine.”
The U.S. is not doing very well in controlling the world through military might. Witness the catastrophes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Each drone missile that kills more civilians at weddings and funerals and each new addition of troops bring forth new recruits to the Taliban, Al Qaida, or other groupings of virulent opposition to the U.S.
It appears that one of the options to brute force the U.S. is developing is controlling the movement of oil and natural gas. Says Gagnon, “I believe that the base at Jeju is the key for this particular strategy and particularly for choking off the straight and controlling China. In many ways the current capitalist leaders of China are not wise, but they certainly are not stupid. That they will have Jeju in their sights is undoubtedly a given fact.
The evils of the U.S. imperialistic thrust know no bounds. The villagers of Gangjeong are calling upon the progressive peoples of the world to join in their protest and have expressed profound gratitude for the thousands who have. You may do so by going to http://www.space4peace.org/