Korea and Nebraska — StratCom Comrades in Arms

By Tim Rinne

State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace

April 17, 2009

I want to begin by thanking “The Korean Committee for the International Conference against the Asia Pacific Missile Defense and for the End of the Arms Race.”  Nebraskans for Peace (the organization for which I work) hosted last year’s Global Network conference in Omaha, Nebraska—and I have a personal appreciation for just how much work goes into putting on one of these events.  So I thank you all for your hospitality and effort.

As a Nebraskan who has never before been to Korea, I wish I was visiting your beautiful country under more genial circumstances.  But as you know, my home state of Nebraska is the headquarters for U.S. Strategic Command—the historic command center for the U.S.’s nuclear deterrent…  and Strategic Command (“StratCom”) has been an all-too-familiar presence in the lives of the people of the Asia-Pacific for now six decades.

More than any other region on earth, the Asia-Pacific has had to contend with the menace of America’s nuclear arsenal:  from the morally reprehensible atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki… to the more than one hundred atmospheric nuclear tests on your lands and waters… to the unremitting threat of nuclear attacks against the Communist nations of the former Soviet Union, North Korea, Vietnam and China.

Since 1948, the fate of the Asia-Pacific has rested in the hands of U.S. Strategic Command on Offutt Air Force Base in suburban Omaha—just an hour from where I live.

Such belligerence on the part of the U.S.—spanning decades—has hardly laid the ground for a mutual and cooperative relationship between our two hemispheres.  The countries of the Asia-Pacific have been right to focus so much of their attention on the dangers of the U.S.’s nuclear strategy and the urgent need for international disarmament by all nuclear states.

After the horrifying exhibition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, one can hardly imagine a peril greater than that posed by StratCom’s stockpile of nearly 5,400 nuclear weapons.  The mere idea explains why for generations we have referred to nuclear war as the ‘unthinkable.’

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., however, the threat posed by StratCom—unbelievable as it sounds—has grown even more ominous and immediate.

Within months after the attack of 9/11, StratCom began undergoing a complete overhaul in its role and mission at the hands of the Bush/Cheney Administration.  In addition to its historic responsibility for “Nuclear Deterrence,” StratCom was suddenly charged with the mission for “Space.”  In early 2003, the command was assigned four more missions:  “Missile Defense,” “Intelligence/Surveillance/ Reconnaissance,” “Information Operations” and “Full-Spectrum Global Strike.”  In 2005, “Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction” was added to its duties.  And finally in 2007, StratCom was awarded “Cyberspace”—for a total of eight missions.

In addition, under the Bush/Cheney Administration’s revised “Nuclear Posture Review” of 2002, StratCom’s nuclear mission was openly shifted from ‘defensive’ to offensive—permitting ‘first strike’ nuclear attacks.

Today, the command is waging the White House’s global “War on Terror” and actively pursuing the U.S. government’s goal of militarily dominating space.  With just a phone call from the president, StratCom is now authorized to preemptively attack any place on earth within one hour—using either conventional or nuclear weapons—merely on the suspicion of a threat to the U.S.’s national interests.

StratCom will not only plan, direct and execute the next military conflict the White House gets America into, StratCom is responsible for collecting the intelligence on which the decision to attack will be made.  Sixty minutes from now, this remote command in the American heartland could have taken the U.S. to war—and the United States Congress wouldn’t even know.

Over a five-year span, StratCom went from being a purported deterrent whose ‘doomsday’ weapons were ‘never supposed to be used’ to now ‘being offensively used for everything.’ 

There really isn’t anything anymore that doesn’t fall, somehow or the other, under StratCom’s umbrella.  Under the U.S.’s revised “Unified Command Plan,” StratCom—with its space assets, comprehensive mission array and cross-service authority—now serves as the ‘enabler’ for all the other regional unified commands:  NorthCom, SouthCom, EuCom, CentCom, AfriCom and—of special interest to you here in the Asia Pacific—PaCom.

The current StratCom Commander, Air Force General and former astronaut Kevin Chilton, even proposed last year at an “Air Warfare Symposium” that Strategic Command’s name should be changed to “Global Command”—to better reflect the global nature of its missions.

StratCom, as the title of last year’s Global Network conference sized it up, is now “the most dangerous place on the face of the earth.” 

And its fingerprints are everywhere:

  • Those so-called ‘Missile Defense’ installations being proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic that have been infuriating Russia and threatening to restart the Cold War—that’s StratCom.

  • StratCom as well coordinated the shootdown in February 2008 of a falling U.S. spy satellite with a SM III missile launched from an Aegis-class Missile Defense cruiser from here in the Pacific Ocean—thereby demonstrating that America’s so-called Missile ‘Defense’ system can in fact double as an OFFENSIVE, anti-satellite weapon.

  • Those CIA Predator drones that are routinely flying over Pakistani airspace and firing Hellfire missiles at alleged al-Qaida targets are flown with the aid of StratCom’s space assets, with intelligence supplied by StratCom spy satellites.

  • And those ECHELON National Security Agency listening stations in Misawa, Japan; Pine Gap, Australia and Waihopai, New Zealand—that are eavesdropping on your phone calls and perusing your emails—are all part of StratCom’s international Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance network.

  • The recent clash between a U.S. spy ship and Chinese naval defenses in the South China Sea is linked to StratCom’s Intelligence/Surveillance/ Reconnaissance mission as well, as the U.S. sub-hunting craft was conducting spying activities near the site of a new Chinese submarine base.

  • And finally, as our South Korean hosts and friends know all too well, StratCom’s presence here on the Korean Peninsula is nearly universal—to the point where your country has become the forward operations base for everything from launching preemptive nuclear or conventional strikes against North Korea, to the deployment of a Missile Defense system across the Asia Pacific, to the economic and military encirclement of China.

It is virtually impossible nowadays to talk about any military-related activities or events in South Korea without tracing them back to U.S. Strategic Command in my home state of Nebraska:

  • Take the expulsion of the farmers of Daechu-ri near Pyeongtaek to expand Camp Humphreys Army base into a U.S. outpost to project force anywhere across East Asia…

  • Or “Operation Key Resolve”—the recent US/ROK training exercise involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier strike group, an Aegis Missile Defense cruiser, cutting-edge weaponry and tens of thousands of military personnel—which the North Korean government nervously viewed as a trial run for a preemptive invasion…

  • Or take the latest round of nuclear brinksmanship with North Korea over what it claims is a satellite launch, but which the U.S., South Korea and Japan all condemn as a ballistic missile test…

  • Or finally—reminiscent of Cold War superpower politics—the ongoing effort to draw South Korea, Japan and Australia into a “Pan-Asia Pacific Security Union” (PAPSU) that can militarily counter the influence of China and Russia…

Every one of these Korean events is directly linked to the missions of U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska.

As Mr. Ko Young-dae of SPARK so succinctly stated in his speech at last year’s Global Network conference in Omaha, “StratCom is the main threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

In fact, the peoples of our two lands—the nation of Korea and the state of Nebraska—have been recruited into a kind of ‘unnatural alliance’ by StratCom and made unwitting ‘comrades in arms.’

We are each, in our own way, victims of StratCom’s power:  both through the wealth and prestige it brings to our two economies and governments… and through the political, military—and economic—oppression it conducts in our name.

But the people of Nebraska, I can tell you today, have no interest in throwing off the shackles of this oppressor.  We in Nebraska love our StratCom.  We worship at its shrine and will not bite the hand that, we’re convinced, is so generously feeding us.  As a life-long Nebraskan, I can assure you that the liberal, anti-militarist views you have heard me express today are not shared by the overwhelming majority of my Nebraska neighbors.  They are not even shared by my own family.

The people of Korea, on the other hand, have much to gain by throwing off the yoke of StratCom’s oppression: 

Your independence from the U.S. for starters…

Then, once freed from the U.S.’s stifling influence…

the chance to finally end the 58-year-long war with the North and to pursue regional peace with your Asia Pacific neighbors.

It is to you—our Korean comrades in arms—that Nebraskans for Peace looks for leadership to truly begin challenging StratCom’s global reach.

We pledge to stand in solidarity with you as together we work to end this threat to the world. 

Thank you.

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