By Bruce Gagnon,
May 09, 2020
Due to the virus pandemic our annual Global Network meeting (scheduled for Ottawa in May along with many other groups in a coalition conference) was cancelled. Thus we have needed to bring together our board members via Internet and did so last night.
Twenty of our board members from India, U.S. (Maine, Massachusetts, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington & Hawaii), England, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Russia were on the call.
We spent 2.5 hours listening to each other report on to what is happening in our part of the globe during this pandemic as well as major military operations currently underway by our own government and/or the U.S.
It was such a positive experience that we decided to get together again next month for another round.
Here are a few notes of highlights from the folks.
- The hypocritical Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that his country supports the global ceasefire a day after it resumed weapon sales to the outlaw nation Saudi Arabia. In addition Canada is planning on purchasing a fleet of new fighter jets with the bids due this June. The Canadian government wants to buy 88 fighter jets for $19 billion in an “open and transparent” competition. However, in May, the Canadian government made a $70 million payment to the U.S. military to remain in the F-35 development consortium bringing Canada’s total payment of $540 million to date. Many peace activists expect that Canada will buy the Lockheed Martin stealth fighter, a carbon-intensive combat aircraft for first-strike operations that the country doesn’t need. Activists are calling on the federal government to invest in green new deal, not buy a new weapons system.
- The Japanese government had agreed to the deployment of US ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems called Aegis Ashore in two communities inside the country. Aegis Ashore is a launching system that replicates the Navy’s Aegis destroyer MD program. Aegis Ashore has been deployed on the land in Hawaii, Romania and Poland. These launch platforms can fire SM-3 (Standard missile interceptors) or first-strike attack nuclear capable cruise missiles. Residents near the two Japanese cities have been vigorously opposing these deployments and the government appears to be wavering in one of the communities called Akita. The people fear health impacts from the radar systems that are part of Aegis Ashore as well as the reality of becoming a direct target in a war with China or Russia.
- The Trump administration is pressuring the South Korean government to increase its ‘cost sharing’ of the expense of United States Forces of Korea (USFK). It has insisted on increasing the cost of military operations there by 500% but very recently proposed 53%. Still, this outrageous demand is not going over well in South Korea as could be expected.
- The South Korean government is creating a Space Force, purchasing four Global Hawk drones and will be launching a military satellite this year. The air force gallery in the Jeju Aerospace Museum talks about South Korea’s vision of aerospace power.
- In Australia the usual rotation of US Marines into a base in Darwin (in northern part of the country) have been cancelled due to the virus. But the US continues to send personnel to its big space spy base at Pine Gap which is located in the middle of the country on indigenous lands.
- In Germany the government was slow to respond to the virus. Borders have been closed and racism has grown worse as the lock down appears to bring out the worst in many people.
- The virus gives us all a moment to pause (the Earth has been healing itself during the global shut down) and we should use this opportunity to strongly project our transformative visions for a more sustainable way of living. In particular our call for massive cuts in military spending, ending war, and converting the war machine to needed and useful production that helps deal with our real problem – climate change.
- Been working with black and brown people who experience the brunt of the virus and racism in the US. If we are ever going to change anything then they must lead the movements. In a strange way this is a hopeful time as we either do this right now or humanity will be lost. It is time for everyone to step forward to resist the ravages (human and environmental) of capitalism.
- One of our board members from Sweden couldn’t be on the call due to illness but sent this message along: I want to contribute here with what I know about the enlarging of Esrange in the North of Sweden to be able to launch mini-satellites. (Esrange is the worlds biggest downloading station from satellites and a rocket station.) Angstrom laboratories in Uppsala, Sweden, has developed the prototype of mini-satellites for military use already in 2005. Mini-satellites will most probably be used for damaging Russian and Chinese satellites. I am prepared to write about these rather alarming developments at Esrange in the next issue of Space Alert. Another thing is that Israel most probably is training drones at North European Aerospace Test range.
- The US-NATO war games called RIMPAC are held in the Pacific and peace groups have been working hard to get them cancelled this year. The word is now that they will only do the naval portion of the war exercises this year – the practice land invasions that are usually done with the Army and Marines are cancelled.
- A corporation that promotes ‘spaceports’ is pushing to have the state of Hawaii help fund one there. This is happening in many places around the US and throughout the world.
- As the aerospace industry moves to launch tens of thousands of ‘mini-satellites’ for 5G and other uses they are saying they need more launch facilities. Even in Brunswick, Maine aerospace operatives are pushing for a spaceport at the former navy base. It is important to remember that a spaceport that got forced on the people of Kodiak Island, Alaska was sold to the public as a ‘civilian’ launch facility but every launch over the years since it was established as been a Star Wars technology test.
- News has emerged that the US (since it orchestrated the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine) has built 15 bio-warfare labs in that nation. Recent reports indicate that cattle grazing near the labs have been dying. Little public information is available. The US has also set up similar bio-war labs in Georgia, also along Russia’s border.
- Pentagon recruiting is increasing during the pandemic as unemployment grows and young people have few options.
- Migrant farm workers, considered ‘illegal’ in California, are now being called ‘essential workers’ as they harvest our food. But they are still treated poorly – lacking good housing, health care, fair wages and more.
- Homelessness is growing in the US during this pandemic. Here in Maine our state has taken good steps to help treat those experiencing homelessness with dignity which has not always been the case.
- India is spending three times more on the military than on health care during this virus pandemic. India has 300 million people living in poverty.
- We should explore space but not exploit it.
- Many current US military bases in the US (like Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg in California) will be renamed as Space Force bases.
- The UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted support for a global ceasefire but the UK (as a permanent member of the Security Council) has troops involved in several war zones, so it is not clear what this meant. In any case the Minsitry of Defence announced on 25 April that it had dropped bombs in Iraq on 10 April, one week after Raab’s tweet. The UK has also announced its own Space Force and will focus on building and launching mini-satellites. Most of these satellites (as is the case with most space technology) could be ‘dual use’ – meaning serving two masters – both military and civilian purposes. During the pandemic some arms manufacturers have been producing ventillators at the request of the government – demonstrating that shifting from military to social needs may not be as difficult as suggested in the past. It was also recently uncovered that the UK drives its military drones from Waddington which has a fibre optic link to Ramstein in Germany from where commands are uploaded to satellites – via US network.
- We must do more to show the ‘deadly connections’ between nuclear weapons and space technology. These are not separate issues.
- The corporate media is not covering any of these space issues in a real way anymore. Thus the work of the GN is needed now more than ever. It is really the only international organization doing this kind of work to stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space.
- Our next Space Alert newsletter is now in design mode as all copy has been sent to our lay out person. It should be in the mail pretty soon. The focus of this coming issue will be the Space Force. The public relations campaign around the Space Force keeps saying that it will be a ‘lean’ organization – meaning it won’t be expensive. But the truth is that for many years the aerospace industry has bragged that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in human history. Who will pay for this?
- GN board members are listed here.