Global Network Conference - Oxford, England

June 22-24 2018

By Dave Webb
(Photos and videos from Will Griffin and Paul Mobbs)


Contents


Introduction

On June 18th 2018 US President Donald Trump announced that he was ordering the Pentagon to create a sixth branch of the US armed forces - a 'Space Force' to join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It was a very useful media link for the Oxfordshire Peace Campaign who just happened to be hosting a weekend conference on 'Foreign Military Bases and the Domination of Space' at the Friends Meeting House in Oxford from 22-24 June. As it turned out later, Congress was much more sceptical about Mr Trump's idea and has not so far offered any direct funding for the idea - although, the joint House-Senate committee did instruct Defense Secretary James Mattis to come up with specific plans for warfighting in space! So, two reasons why this meeting in Oxford was so important and timely.

This was in fact, the 26th Annual meeting and conference of the 'Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space' (www.space4peace.org) and involved activists from the UK, France, Germany, India, the US, South Korea, Japan and Mauritius. The Global Network links grass-roots groups who organise protests and campaigns at bases, installations or manufacturers involved in the militarisation of space around the world and the Oxfordshire Peace Campaign, a joint grouping of Oxford CND, Farringdon, Abingdon and Kidlington Peace Groups have been a member for a long time. They focus their attention on the nearby US/NATO communications base at 'RAF' Croughton which, despite the 'RAF' title, has a large USAF presence - as demonstrated by the US security vehicles prominently patrolling the roads inside the fence.

See also: Final Conference Programme


'RAF' Croughton

Croughton is an important military and intelligence communications base for the US and NATO and a major hub in the global electronic communications, control and surveillance network which serves the interests of the US military and intelligence services regardless of the location and the mission objectives. It handles a huge portion of US military communications in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and is used to route vast amounts of data captured by their network of listening posts in diplomatic premises back to the US for analysis by the CIA and the NSA. The US is due to spend over £200m to transform Croughton into one of its largest intelligence hubs outside the US to become NATOS?s Joint Intelligence Analysis Centre (JIAC) a new centre for counter terrorism operations in Africa. The USAF base at nearby Molesworth is being closed and its function as a JAC (Joint Analysis Centre) is being transferred to Croughton. Local activist and expert Paul Mobbs was one of the key note speakers at the conference and told how:

".. based on 'intelligence-fusion' systems developed in the USA in the wake of 9/11, the JIAC brings the use of digital surveillance and wide-ranging data analytics to Europe. This development appears to be going ahead with - at least in public - the willing ignorance of the British government. There is no official recognition of the practices which are carried on at Croughton today, nor of those which the new JIAC development will enable in the future."


More information on Croughon from www.croughtonwatch.org.uk

Our Site Visit

Conference attendees went on a coach trip to see Croughton on the Sunday morning and Paul pointed out the areas of interest, explaining their function. He has produced a useful report on 'USAF Croughton, Networked Warfare, and the Intelligence-Fusion Complex' which describes how digital networks, data, and artificial intelligence are blurring the boundaries between military, political and civil conflict and can be found here. The report also states that:

"while satellite communications are the most visible feature at military communications sites, the reality today is that most military and intelligence data is shifted via optical cable."

In fact, a secure fibre-optic link between Croughton and the US air base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti helps to co-ordinate US drone strikes over Yemen and Croughton is also directly linked to other US bases such as the NSA spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire and USAF Ramstein in Germany.

 
Paul Mobbs expalins what Croughton is and will become


USAF Croughton Site Visit

 


'RAF' Croughton: An American Military Base


A polite message from us all!

Here is Paul's handout on USAF Croughton, produced for the conference;
See also a 5-minute video on USAF Croughton here;
And find out more about USAF Croughton at Croughtonwatch.


The Conference

Dave Webb, the convenor of the Global Network, gave an introduction to the militarisation of space and the US push for 'Full Spectrum Dominance' on land, sea, in the air, in space and of information. It also outlined a brief history of the Global Network, which was founded in 1992 following the launch of space probes whose instrumentation was powered by a serious amount of the highly radioactive plutonium-238. Since then it has met every year in various places around the world, hosted each time by a community that works on peace and space issues.


'An Introduction to the Global Network' by Dave Webb


Messages of Support

The Saturday conference included some short messages of support. Noam Chomsky had written to say that:

"The next step in the race to terminal destruction is the nuclear weaponization and militarization of space, an extremely hazardous initiative, another 'policy error of historic proportions.' As throughout the nuclear age, the US is in the lead, this time under a leadership that openly seeks to dominate by force"

And John Pilger, in his message, reminded us that:

"In 1967, the US signed a treaty with the Soviet Union and the UK to ban nuclear weapons in space, yet has continued to develop a messianic concept of 'full spectrum dominance' that includes the heavens under American control"

and concluded:

The enduring activism of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space has never been more vital in the struggle for peace."


Individual Reports

This was followed by some informative presentations from plenary panel speakers who gave reports from activities and actions organised by the groups they were representing.

1. Sung-Hee Choi from Jeju Island, South Korea:

... described the new challenges to peace there, despite the new relationship that appears to be developing with North Korea. The enormous US naval base in Gangjeong Village opened in February 2016 but a continued daily non-violent resistance remains and has been present now for over 4,000 days, since its construction was first announced. Now US warships and nuclear submarines are regular visitors and a military airfield is set to be constructed close by. As if this were not enough Asia's biggest Aerospace Museum is in Seogwipo on Jeju - focusing on all the fun of the war for kids - it has been picketed in the past during 'Keep Space for Peace Week' and the resistance continues. These deadly installations have no place on a volcanic Island which contains a natural World Heritage Site, internationally important wetlands, endangered coral species and has a unique, finely balanced ecology.

There have also been huge demonstrations in South Korea against the installation of the US Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Seongju, which has become the front line in the fight against the missile system. The US claims THAAD is needed to protect South Korea from a possible missile attack from North Korea but, according to J.J. Suh, professor of Politics and International Affairs at International Christian University in Japan:

"This system is designed to work at altitudes higher than 45 kms. But most North Korean missiles [that would be used against South Korea] are short-range missiles that would fly below 45 kms."

In fact, the US is installing similar systems in Eastern Europe and other parts of Asia and their locations show that they are actually surrounding China and Russia.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 3rd April uprising and massacre on Jeju Island. The struggles of the people of Gangjeong and Seongsan can be called the 2nd April 3rd uprising as people resist US domination in the region.

Please sign the petition: Campaign for the US government to take responsible actions for their role in the Jeju April 3rd Massacre.

More information:

On the navy base struggle: On the Jeju April 3rd Uprising:

Sung-Hee's presentation can be downloaded here.


2. Professor Atsushi Fujioka, from Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan:

... reported that a survey in May concluded that 66% of Japanese people approved of missile defence in their country probably because they believe in deterrence to protect against 'Rogue States' (such as North Korea, their near neighbour). It may be a reaction (emphasized by US and Japanese governments) on the nuclear tests carried out by North Korea.  In September 2017 Pyongyang said it had tested a hydrogen fusion bomb - many times more powerful than an atomic fission bomb. Missile defence appears to have worked for Israel. However, shooting down rockets launched by Hamas is different from protecting against nuclear missiles. North Korea has developed nuclear weapons as a form of insurance against future invasion rather than concern for the past. The US is establishing Aegis Ashore missile defence systems in Romania and Poland and THAAD in South Korea. Japan has recently selected 2 sites for Aegis Ashore Bases to be installed with SM-3 missiles because and nuclear missiles launched by NK would reach a height of 200 km over Japan and THAAD missiles cannot reach a height of more than 150 km. However, if NK decided to deploy a proximity fuse in their re-entry vehicles then things become more difficult. A SM 3 would approach an incoming nuclear missile at 9km per second and if the missile could detect the SM3 at 10 meters and detonate. The electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) from resultant high-altitude nuclear explosion could still destroy infrastructure on the ground, satellite and other communications and the GPS.

Atsushi's presentation can be downloaded here.


The Japan Self Defence Force has selected 2 sites for Aegis Ashore


3. Patrice Salzenstein from Mouvement de la Paix, France:

... told of the French military satellites with imaging systems useful for gathering information for the military. In addition, the international programme known as “MUltinational Space-based Imaging System for Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Observation” (MUSIS) has six partners - France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Greece, and Spain – who share imagery from various military satellites through a common, generic user ground segment (UGS). It is a project of the European Defence Agency (EDA), and is managed by OCCAR, the “Organisation conjointe de coopération en matière d'armement” (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) which manages collaborative armament programmes between this group and the UK. MUSIS is intended to provide access to several missions including the Composante Spatiale Optique (CSO – a French military Earth observation satellite programme); the successor of German SAR-Lupe called SARah; the successor of Italian COSMO-SkyMed called COSMO Second Generation (CSG) and the Spanish wide area optical satellite Ingenio (formerly known as Seosat). The first two systems are entirely military, but the other two are dual-use. One satellite, COS 1, is due to be launched this year and 2 others, COS 2 and COS 3, in 2021. These satellites will all be under the control of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. They will provide information to be used for modelling the terrain and for producing maps for guiding missiles and drones and helping plan and execute military air-strikes.

Patrice's speech can be downloaded here.


4. George Alain from Mauritius:

... was representing Lalit, a political party founded in 1976 as a left “free-expression monthly magazine” in Mauritius. By 2011 it had developed into a thriving party, which has recently accelerated its campaign for an 'alternative political economy' and for the Chagossians, removed by the UK from their island of Diego Garcia to lease it to the US to build a military base there. Today it is an important deployment site for the Pentagon’s Space Surveillance Network, part of a network of 25 locations world-wide, and is also a key installation in the USAF’s Satellite Control Network.

The 50-year illegal 'lease' expired last December and, despite an international campaign to close the base and allow the islanders to return, the US occupation continues.

160 people attended the Second Conference on Diego Garcia and Chagos at Grand Rivière in October 2016. The Mauritian State Resolution to the UN General Assembly to take the issue of sovereignty to the International Court of Justice, was then on 'hold' leaving opportunities for pressures to be applied by the UK and USA. The Conference reaffirmed its aims including those for:

  • the complete decolonization of the Republic of Mauritius, the dismantling of the British Indian Ocean Territories colony, and the re-unification of the country,
  • “the closing down of the US military base on Diego Garcia, and its ecological clean-up by the US,
  • “the right of return and full reparations for all Chagossians,”

The definition of “right of return” to also include freedom of movement within the Republic of Mauritius for all citizens; And, with the purpose of furthering this triple-aim, noting that, since our call in the First Declaration, for the Mauritian State.

There was also a decision to build international support and a pledge to encourage peoples world-wide, including the people of Mauritius, to put pressure on respective Governments to decrease all SOFAs (Status of the armed Forces Agreements) that the USA is always augmenting; and we encourage all NGOs, students, unions, journalists and media to be vigilant to the dangers of accepting money and scholarships from the US Embassy so long as military occupation of the Republic of Mauritius continues. The full Second Declaration of Grande Rivière on Diego Garcia is available here.

There has been some support from MPs in Britain and Early Day Motion 58, tabled on 26th June 2017 welcomed:

"the adoption by the UN General Assembly of Resolution 71/292 which requests an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 including the consequences in international law for the resettlement of the Chagos Islanders"

it also drew attention:

"to the 1,500 Chagos Islanders, and their descendants, who were deported from the islands by the UK between 1968 and 1973 so that Diego Garcia could be used as a military base by the US; is appalled that after nearly 50 years this situation remains unresolved; and demands that the Government fulfil its humanitarian and human rights obligations and allow the Chagossians to return home."

On 23 June 2017, the UNGA voted in favour of referring the dispute to the ICJ by a majority vote (94 for and 15 against) – however, the US continues to dig in on the island and the struggle continues.


5. Mary Beth Sullivan from Bath, USA:

... gave a presentation on “Organizing in Maine – Anatomy of a Campaign to Challenging the Military Industrial Complex”. This documented the campaign in Maine last year on a bill to continue the state tax breaks for Bath Iron Works (BIW), the local war ship builder, owned by General Dynamics (GD), who have been receiving over $3 million annually. Even though GD made $3billion profit in 2016, BIW say that the money is needed to ‘stay competitive’.

Mary Beth described how the campaign grew from youtube to letters and op eds in the press and internet blog articles. A team of campaigners then dominated the taxation committee hearing that discussed the bill but despite a brilliant, thorough investigative article that covered all the issues the First Taxation Committee Work Session was highly frustrating. Bruce was particularly stressed and decided the only way to cope was to slow down and go on a hunger strike which lasted for 37 days.

 

Friends from around the state and beyond joined in by doing a rolling fast for one or more days at a time. Other vigils and activities took place for many weeks. Eventually, at the 4th and final work session for the bill, BIW brought its paid employees to arrive early and fill the room, protestors were shut out of the meeting, the Bill was approved and sent to House and Senate by a 9-2 vote but the request is cut down from $60 to $45 million over 15 years AND they insisted that some accountability measures be build into the bill- which had never occurred before. Also, the debate challenged BIW’s largest union, inspiring the courage to withhold support.

   

A small group of thoughtful, committed people came together to challenge the Military Industrial Complex, pissed off the establishment, educated the public, and won concessions.  Did they win or lose? You decide!

A report on the hunger strike taken from Bruce's blog can be seen here.

Mary Beth's Presentation can be downloaded here.


6. Tia Patrick (Mississippi) and Reece Chenault (Kentucky) from US Labor Against War


... arrived all the way from the U.S. a bit later than most but in time for Tia to present a report on their recent delegation to South Korea to visit farmers resisting deployment of the US THAAD 'missile defense' system in their community.

The presentation included pictures from International Workers’ Day Rally, a rally in Soseongi Village and a solidarity meeting with the Gimcheon Anti-THAAD Committee.
 

Tia's presentation can be downloaded here.


Other Reports

1. Written reports were received from Sweden and India.

a. Agneta Norberg’s report on “US/Nato´s military installations in The North”

... pointed to how Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have become a strategic area for US/NATO´s war on Russia. Not just through the numerous military exercises but also through the military installations and infrastructure being prepared. Her report describes this collaboration and lists the military and installations and activities in Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat to the indigenous population), Iceland, Norway (including Vardö), and the militarized space communication and monitoring systems in Svalbard and at Esrange (in Sweden, including the European GPS system, Galileo).

Agneta also described the close connections between the NSA of the US and the Swedish equivalent organization – the FRA – and their collaboration in cyberwarfare activities. Edward Snowden has revealed that Sweden is ranked as the third biggest country for espionage after the US and Britain. Sweden has electronic spy installations on the island of Lovön, close to Stockholm, and in Lerkil, not far from Gothenburg in the South. The targets are the fibre optic communication cables passing through Sweden from Russia.

In addition, in 2014, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and the UK signed a memorandum agreeing the establishment of a StratCom Centre of Excellence (COE) in Riga, Latvia and Sweden signed the memorandum in 2015.

[Note added by DW - on 19th June 2018 700 strategic communications experts from over 40 countries met at the COE for the Riga StratCom Dialogue 2018]

Swedish journalist Britta Ring noted, in an article in January 2017, that: “all US/NATO propaganda is now officially the truth in Sweden” and added “Swedish radio journalists visited the installation in Riga in 2016 but made no criticism of it. Not one embarrassing question as to whether STRATCOM´S images of the truth are real. And those who speak out against it are tools for the Russian propaganda machine."

In conclusion Agneta notes that we have work to do to oppose all this and we need to recognise and understand all the connections.

Agneta's Report can be downloaded here.


b. Jammu Narayana Rao’s report from India on the “Weaponisation of Space: Where India Stands”

... discussed India’s Space Policy as one of the leading space faring nations. India has launched a number of satellites for a variety of applications and landed an unmanned space vehicle on moon. It has set up a satellite launch facility to be used by other countries and is developing plans for sending a cosmonaut into space. India’s Chandrayan Mission in October 2008 and the Mars Mission in Nov 2013 are considered as landmark achievements in India’s Space Program. India has also developed missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to a distance of 5000kms.

The political leadership of India is not in favour of weaponising space and was a critic of the Star War program of President Reagan.  In 1983 P.V. Narasimha Rao, former Foreign Minister of India speaking at the UN said “Extension of the arms build up to outer space would mean a permanent goodbye to disarmament and peace and would plunge mankind a perpetual nightmare.” Former Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpaye spoke of the need for developing space applications for the global good, not for warfighting and former Presidents and military personnel have recognized the importance of international law to ensure that Outer Space is developed for peaceful purposes. Former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, addressing the Indian Science Congress at Bangalore advocated an “International Space Force” to ensure that conflict on earth does not spill over into space or harms the space assets of Mankind.”

However, this anti-weaponisation position is weakening and the ASAT test conducted by China in 2007, considered to be a threat to India by the military, has not helped. Planning to protect space assets has become more of a priority. In 2011 India tested an anti-ballistic (ABM) missile and earlier this year launched its first dedicated military satellite. However, the question now is: can India afford to get involved in the costly and dangerous weaponisation of space? According to the 2014 World Bank Report, of the 872.3 million people in the world living below the poverty line, 179.6 million people are in India. What will India’s priorities be?

Rao's Report can be downloaded here.


2. Short verbal feedback reports and comments were also given by Angie Zelter from Trident Ploughshares; Aruna Kammila from Visakhapatnam, India; Manohar Dev from Indore, India; Nigel Day from Oxford CND; Prabhakar Jalluri from Visakhapatnam, India; Sanjay Dhanwate from India, Yasuo Ogata from Japan; and Sarah Swift from the Menwith Hill Accountability Campaign.

 

 

 

 
Clockwise from top left - presenters: Angie Zelter, Aruna Kammila, Nigel Day, Sarah Swift, Yasuo Ogata, Prabhakar Jalluri, Manohar Dev.


The Workshops

A series of workshops ‘Tying the Global Space System Together’ covering armed drones and bases, Europe’s military satellites, resisting through the courts and military bases.

1. Regina Hagen from Darmstadt, Germany

... presented the workshop on 'Europe’s Military Satellites' and discussed the ongoing militarization of the European Union and their common space policy, which was agreed in 2007.  Since then the European Space Agency (ESA) – founded in 1975 for “for exclusively peaceful purposes” but not as an agency of the European Union – has been steadily drawn into the EU’s sphere of action. In November 2012, the European Commission proposed that ESA should become an EU agency and “continue to develop into an organisation with an intergovernmental and an EU dimension in which military and civil programmes can coexist” and in 2016 the European Commission confirmed a prominent role for space in ‘defence’.

The inherent dual-use character of space technology allows the EU to sell its space programs to the public as ‘strictly civilian’ while supporting the military. Copernicus and Galileo are the two ‘flagship’ space programs of the EU, receiving €7 billion and €4.3 billion from European research funds respectively, while €1.3 billion has been spent on other space research. Copernicus consists of a network of ‘Sentinel’ satellites, packages on other satellites, and ground-based components. One of the services provided will be for border surveillance and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX is can use this component to help track illegal immigration into the member states of the EU.

The Galileo satellite system , expected to be operational in 2020, will consist of 24 satellites, 18 of which are already in space providing initial Positioning, Navigation, and Timing applications. Navigation and timing signals play a crucial role in military operations and, in 2016 the European Parliament noted “the importance of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service (PRS) for navigation and guidance of military systems.” The associated ground-based systems for these satellites are at the Esrange Space Center, in Kiruna and the Uplink and Sensor station at Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.

The European Union has other space programs of military relevance, including the European Data Relay System (EDRS). a laser communication network; the Multinational Space-Based Imaging System for Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Observation (MUSIS) that allows participating European countries to share satellite imagery; and the Governmental Satellite Communications (GovSatcom) to support “the execution of security missions and the protection of critical information infrastructure”.


2. The workshop on “Armed Drones and Bases” was co-presented by Peter Burt from Dronewars UK

... who gave a presentation on ‘Drones, data and digital warfare – the shape of warfare in 2030’ which discussed the role of drones, satellites and automation in the collection of data for the growing military data machine. A variety of sensors are used to gather data from space, in the air, on land and sea and also from social media like facebook, tweets, mobile phones, etc.  For example, the ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System) developed by DARPA and BAE Systems and installed on Reaper drones can monitor everything that moves over an area of 100km2. Computer algorithms and artificial intelligence methods are needed to process the vast quantities of data. Project Maven is being used to develop technology to automate the processing of data from drones to support military operations in Iraq and Syria using image recognition data developed by Google. This summer, algorithms for the automated analysis of video feeds from Reaper drones will be applied to the ARGUS-IS camera system as a step towards drones being able to identify potential targets themselves. Add the ability to act on its conclusions and you have an autonomous weapon system – a flying ‘killer robot’ able to act without human intervention.

Download Peter's Presentation: "Drones and the Global Warfare System"

The other co-presenter was Kristine Karch from ‘Stopp Ramstein’

... who discussed the role of the US Air Base at Ramstein in Germany, described as “the biggest, busiest, best and one of the most important, if not the most important military base in the world“. It has an area of 1400ha and houses 52,000 US soldiers and civilians. It is a gigantic ammunition depot, a logistics centre, a huge airport and part of the US drone war-fighting system. It is also a  SATCOM relay station connecting the base with Creech AFB in the US via fibre optic cable then by satellite to drones in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan.
 

Ramstein is also the centre for a number of US/NATO military activities. It is the HQ of the aerospace component of the US European Command (USEUCOM); NATO Allied Air Command; US/NATO European Missile Defense; Drone activities in the Middle East and Africa. It is also involved with the US/NATO nuclear weapon site at Büchel and acts as a store for over 200.000 tons of munitions.

This key US military base has therefore been the centre for an annual international gathering to protest and demonstrate. In the last few years the group Stopp Ramstein have organised festivals, the formation of a human chain and, earlier in 2018, a blockade of the entrances. The protest is growing and information about the base is spreading around the world – the actions will continue and will grow.

Kristine's Presentation 'The Drone War and the Air Base Ramstein' is here.


3. The workshop on “Military Bases” was presented by Will Griffin from The Peace Report

... who showed examples of military bases and listed the numerous types of base, including nuclear weapons installations, intelligence facilities, arsenals, radar systems, communications posts and even military schools and hospitals. These are mainly US foreign bases - over 800 around the world, while the rest of the world altogether has 40-60.

Since ancient times military bases have been a key foundation for imperial control over lands and people. The US ‘Base Nation’ probably started on September 2nd in 1940 when President Roosevelt began the transformation of the United States to a superpower of unparalleled military might. The ‘Destroyers for Bases’ agreement with Britain to provide 50 WW1 era destroyers in exchange for US control over air and naval bases enabled the US to acquire 99 year leases over bases in the Caribbean. Will dubbed this the most important agreement (from the point of view of empire building) since the Louisiana Purchase. The spread of military bases across the United States and then the world was demonstrated by showing the maps from David Vine’s book ‘Base Nation’. This eventually led to the establishing of ‘Lilly-pad’ enabling a global reach for the US military and initiating a global protest at their presence.

The American people are told that “militarism keeps us safe, so do military bases” and two major questions are – what do Americans think about the foreign bases established in their name? Do they even know about them? During the Cold War the overseas bases were justified as symbols of American military power and as way of projecting this power into areas of concern, to ensure that an American response is possible when and where necessary – even in a nuclear war. Post Cold War, the bases have been used to maintain absolute military preponderance; to spy on allies and enemies alike; to secure and control oil resources; to provide work and income for the military industrial complex and to ensure that the US military and their families are comfortable and entertained wherever they happen to be. According to Chalmers Johnson the unit for the American Empire is not the colony but the military base.

In conclusion, there are many reasons to campaign to close bases – including that they cost $1-200 billion per year; they contribute to already high rates of sexual violence; they severely damage the environment, are unaccountable and lack transparency; they displace the indigenous population; they heighten tension and discourage diplomacy and they turn the host nations into targets. Ways of moving towards the removal of US foreign bases were explored, with the final message being “Dismantle Empire!”


Will's presentation 'Military Bases' can be downloaded here.


4. The workshop on 'Resisting through the Courts' was given by Lindis Percy

... who described the work of CAAB – the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases in the UK and the use of legal challenges to the imposition of US military bases and in particular to the Menwith Hill spy base. Her numerous experiences of challenging the authorities and their support for the occupying military forces has taken her through legal actions that she has taken out and defended. From defending the right to protest at a military base to using non-violent direct action to bring the activities of the base to public attention, Lindis has used legal action to ask how accountable US bases are and to whom. This work requires a great deal of time in monitoring the activities around a base and researching through documents to uncover the legal basis, boundaries and requirements of their presence.


The Keynote Speeches

1. The ‘Global Military Infrastructure’ by Paul Mobbs

Networks, data, AI, and the blurring of boundaries between military, political and civil conflict. What Croughton’s role as a NATO Joint Intelligence Analysis Center (JIAC) will mean. Data is given meaning through the patterns and relationships between its context and the various aspects of metadata (where and how gathered, type of data, etc.) The concept of ‘data fusion’ brings this together to create new pictures and visualisations and, based on ‘intelligence-fusion’ systems developed in the USA in the wake of 9/11, the JIAC will require large amounts of computer power to run the analysis programs, and serve the large databases involved. Neither the existing NATO ‘Joint Analysis Centre’ at nearby Molesworth nor Croughton currently have that capacity today. Hence the expenditure of over £200 million on extending facilities and operations at Croughton and the transfer of intelligence operations from Molesworth, Mildenhall and Alconbury which will be closed.

‘ Data fusion’ brings together data from multiple sources – held by many different agencies/companies at many locations that are geographically isolated. For that reason a key requirement is high bandwidth communications links to a wide range of other military and civil installations and Croughton has many of these links already via fibre optic cable or satellite communications.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques develop and are extended to be used in the realm of surveillance and political control, the role of sites such as Croughton has serious political and cultural overtones – which imperil our civil liberties, and threaten to create an ever-more illiberal surveillance state where certain types of public dissent are labelled as ‘suspect’. This development appears to be going ahead with the willing ignorance of the British government. There is no official recognition of the practices carried out at Croughton today, or of those that the new JIAC development will enable in the future. As Anthony B. Newkirk noted in his articles “The Rise of the Fusion-Intelligence Complex: A critique of political surveillance after 9/11” (published in Surveillance and Society, vol.8 no.1 pp.43-60, 2010):

“A prominent goal of domestic security services over the past generation has been to completely remove the distinction between policing and information-collection. Over the past decade, this tendency has become unmistakable as a result of the frenzied privatization of state security under the guise of "homeland security." In the bargain, a new agency of political surveillance has arisen, the fusion center. This phenomenon is a medium of both privatization and assaults on ever-shrinking civil liberties in an ever more militarized, ever more insecure society.”

In conclusion, USAF Croughton is one of many sites around the world undergoing changes in their network-related functions. Due to the parallel development of data-centric operations in the corporate/on-line world, every part of the international data network, military, civilian and private, will be susceptible to becoming part of this global ‘military-intelligence network’. This is not an issue of ‘peace’ or ‘militarism’ – it raises fundamental questions of political and civil liberties, and the peace movement must build relationships with the other related campaign groups to tackle this common concern.

A recent report by Paul,funded by a grant from The Greenhouse Environmental Fundraising Group, considers the details of the JAIC development, the wider technological and policy issues surrounding 'information' and 'hybrid' warfare and the critical role of data collection and analysis in that process. The report is broken down into the following sections:

  • The USAF Croughton Site – the history of the site and its operations today;
  • The Communications Centre – examining the critical communications role of the site today, and what its data links can tell us about the functions it performs;
  • Intelligence Fusion – looking at the rise of 'intelligence fusion' after 9/11, and it's extremely poor performance, and high cost, in the US to date;
  • Information Warfare – outlining the role of data and analytics in the new practice of 'network-centric warfare', and why in an ever-more networked world this creates grave issues of public safety and democratic accountability;  
  • On-line Resources – providing access to key reports and websites related to the themes of the report.


'The Global Military Infrastructure and You' by Paul Mobbs

Paul's presentation "The Global Military Infrastructure and You" can be downloaded here.


2. ‘Space Colonisation’ by Bruce Gagnon, Co-ordinator of the Global Network.

Bruce described how space is seen as a place of exploitation by the corporations, and as a new war zone by the military. In his book “Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space 1945-1995”, Jack Manno tells how, at the end of WWII hundreds of scientists and engineers who had been working on Hitler’s V1 and V2 rocket programs, including Werner von Braun and Major General Walter Dornberger, were taken to work in the US as part of the secret program called Operation Paperclip. Dornberger became a top executive in Bell Aviation Corporation in New York, he insisted that America’s top space priority should be to “conquer, occupy, keep, and utilize space between the Earth and the moon” and urged that more attention be given to space weaponry. This military vision for space has persisted ever since.

Outer space also presents huge possibilities for resource acquisition to many corporations. The establishment of mining colonies on the Moon and planets and asteroids will require power sources and NASA is already working to produce small nuclear reactors for this purpose even though rockets with nuclear payloads suffering launch accidents would severely damage the environment. Their development alone risks accidents leading to worker and environmental contamination. The mix of nuclear power and space warfare is a deadly connection and the building of international opposition is of increasing importance.

The UN’s 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1984 Moon Treaty declare that the planetary bodies are the province of all humankind and there can be no private claims made on any body in the solar system. However The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, brought into law by President Obama in 2015, encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids and recognizes the right of U.S. citizens to own resources obtained from them. Bruce therefore sees two goals for the Pentagon’s space weapons technology program and cites some frightening documentation in support. The objectives are to the control of the Earth on behalf of corporate interests and to develop the necessary technologies to control the path on and off the Earth and protect the passage of resources extracted from planetary bodies. Trump's wish to create a military Space Force shows that the aerospace industry, which stands to make massive profits from this, the largest industrial project in human history, is in control.

The US Space Command’s 1997 document Vision for 2020 made their role in the future colonisation of space clear “…  space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance.” This was simply a declaration of intent to fulfil the dream of Walter Dornberger.

The Global Network was created 26 years ago to steadily build an international constituency who understand the plans for space control and domination and can help build a new consciousness about what kind of seed we should carry with us as we inevitably journey into space. Will we carry the bad seed of greed, private property, control and domination, and ultimately war into the heavens?  Or shall we carry the good seed of inquiry, cooperation, imagination and peace as rockets lift off from our tiny space satellite Earth? Remember the ‘Prime Directive’ of the Star Trek TV series – ‘Do no harm’? This is why we meet here in Oxford this weekend -  to continue to raise these fundamental questions and move together to ensure that we Keep Space for Peace.


'Colonising Space' by Bruce Gagnon

Bruce's speech 'Space Colonisation' can be downloaded here.


Public Meeting

Rebecca Johnson from the Acronym Institute

... gave a very informative presentation on how the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) built an international grass roots campaign that eventually led to a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons in 2017. In the same year they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and their “ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

ICAN has achieved a huge amount since its launch in Australia just 10 years ago. Engaging a diverse range of groups and working alongside the Red Cross and like-minded governments, they helped to reshape the debate on nuclear weapons. Their major focus was on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear detonations and they were able to get the support of 127 nations for a humanitarian pledge to ‘fill the gap’ in the existing legal regime governing nuclear weapons.

They have become a coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations in 101 countries, from local peace groups to international groups, representing millions of people. Rebecca, a prominent member of ICAN and its International Steering Group, emphasised that the Nobel Prize belonged to all of us who have campaigned for nuclear disarmament through the years. She also brought along one of the medals (ICAN had made a few in order to show and share them more easily) so that we could all hold and feel part of it.

The main focus for ICAN now is to persuade nations to sign and ratify it, currently there are 60 signatories and 14 ratifications – 50 ratifications are required for the Treaty to come into force. and then to work for its full implementation. Perhaps there is something for us to learn from ICAN’s campaign – can we use similar strategies to make progress on strengthening the Outer Space Treaty or the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space?


'The Nuclear Ban Treaty' - Rebecca's Speech

 


Peace in Space Award

Each year the Global Network presents a 'Peace in Space Award’ to an individual or group in recognition of their contribution to our campaign. This year it was decided to give the award to the Oxfordshire Peace Campaign for their steady and important work around USAF Croughton. Very often the first group to send details of their protest there during 'Keep Space for Peace Week’, the Oxfordshire Peace Campaign is a coalition of a number of peace groups in the region.


The members present who accepted the award were (left to right) Chris Brennan (Kidlington Peace group), Nigel Day (Oxford CND), Sally Reynolds (Abingdon Peace Group), Jennie Chesterton (Faringdon Peace Group), Nuala Young (Oxford CND), Phil Chesterton (Faringdon Peace Group).


'Peace in Space' Award


GN Business Meeting

During our business meeting we decided:

  1. New up-dated structures for our Boards (see the web site for the new structure).
     
  2. Not to change our name as had been suggested previously by some. It was recognised that the name is a bit lengthy and may not include some of our prime activities such as the actions at military bases etc. but we decided to stay with it because we had now become well known as the Global Network and it could confuse matters to change at this stage.
     
  3. To hold our 2019 GN conference in Moscow with a side-trip study tour to Crimea afterward. Bruce will be going on an exploratory visit and the actual meeting will probably be sometime in the spring (April or May). We imagine that the trip would be about eight days long. People will be able to choose to go to just the Moscow part or the Crimea leg of the journey – or both.

We also thank our wonderful hosts in Oxford who made our meeting there a special one.


Solidarity picture from the Conference

A photo display of events and people during the week-end can be seen here.

 

The December 2018 issue of "Freiraum" includes an article by Regina Hagen "Im Blick - Keep Space for Peace"gives a short glimpse into the GN meeting in Oxford (complemented by more information on German and European space issues).

See the pdf article (in German) here.



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