MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY
TO THE ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE
DR. DANIEL BOON SCHIRMER
I am honored to have been asked to send a message to the founding conference of the Asian Peace Alliance.
The key feature of the present international scene is the domination of the world by US transnational corporations and the massively outsized US military machine. Significantly, the high point of US imperial domination globally coincides with a very low point of social and political morality in the United States. Symptomatic is the current Bush administration, representing the most reactionary, militaristic and corrupt element of the US ruling elite. As such, it constitutes a grave danger to the people of the Philippines, of Asia and of the entire world — a grave danger to world peace.
Under the guise of a “war against terrorism”, and using the traumatic crime of September 11 as rationale, the Bush administration is trying to tighten this global hegemonic dominance wherever it is possible. Given the compliant elite regime of President Gloria Arroyo, the Philippines is such a place. In July, 2002, the US military completed exercises to assist the Philippine military in a struggle with Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim terrorist group alleged to have had past connections with Al Quaeda. Many Filipinos protested these exercises as unconstitutional. Despite this, the US military announced similar Philippine exercises to take place this fall. Early in August, Washington took further steps of the same sort. It secured an agreement whereby the Philippine military assumed certain logistical responsibilities for the US military (responsibilities previously assumed by the US bases). Then the US State Department added the Communist New People’s Army to the list of officially designated terrorist groups. This caused the New People’s Army to be seen as the enemy of the United States government as well as the Philippine elite and suggested increased Pentagon intervention in the Philippines. Finally, on August 12,2002, US and Philippine defense leaders set up a senior civilian group to coordinate military policy.
The US military exercises just completed took place in Mindanao and Basilan, islands in the southern Philippines. This led Jane Perlez, the New York Times Indonesian correspondent to indicate their relationship to the underlying goal of expanded and strengthened US hegemony: “If the southern Philippines, where Muslim separatists have long operated can be stabilized the islands then could make a perfect future listening post, and a good jumping off point for guarding a whole range of American interests in the Pacific” (New York Times, April 7, 2002).
Today it is the Mideast that is the main focus of Bush Administration foreign policy. Sharply emphasizing the reactionary aspects of this policy is President Bush’s heavy support for the right-wing Israeli government of Ariel Sharon. Sharon’s policies hamper the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. To counter this opposition, Palestinians have turned to individual acts of terror, the suicide bombers. In turn, Sharon has responded with repressive incursions into Palestinian territory by the Israeli military armed with weaponry made in the United States.
But his support of Sharon is completely overshadowed by President Bush’s widely publicized intent to change the government of Iraq by military force. The projected war with Iraq seems to be the centerpiece of President Bush’s overall foreign policy: to assert, expand and tighten US hegemonic domination of the world. All this to show who is boss, to show that, with its overwhelming military strength, Washington can overthrow Hussein unilaterally.
This reckless arrogance is not lost on possible allies, as a lead editorial in the New York Times of April 11 indicates: “Rarely in preparing for war has America seemed so isolated from potential military partners and allies as it does today in approaching Iraq. European and Arab leaders have strong misgivings about the administration’s war talk. Even Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, Washington’s firmest European supporter, has serious opposition at home on this issue.”
Japan under the conservative leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party has been the foremost supporter of US foreign policy in Asia. But in the Montreal Gazette of Tuesday, August 6, Michael Zielenziger of the Knight Ridder newspapers reported “over the past weekend, leaders of the leading Liberal Democratic Party indicated it would be difficult for the nation to co-operate with the United States if it attacks Iraq.”
In the United States, both Henry Kissinger, former national security advisor to President Nixon during the Vietnam War and Brent Snowcroft, a similar advisor to Bush,Sr. during the Gulf War, have expressed dissatisfaction with President Bush’s plans for a war with Iraq. Richard Armey, Republican leader of the House, has expressed similar dissent, as have several other members of Congress.
The Bush administration insists that Saddam Hussein represents a nuclear threat to the world. There is, however, no definitive evidence that he possesses the nuclear bomb or has the capability of making one. What is certain is that the charge Bush lays on Iraq so piously is an example of gross hypocrisy. Washington now maintains a great nuclear arsenal. The Bush administration declares it now feels free to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state — feels free to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive first strike. The Bush administration is encouraging the development of underground nuclear bombs for possible use against Hussein’s reported under-ground military installations.
The United States was the first to use nuclear weapons and this first use took place in Asia, against Japan. In a ceremony August 6th on the 57th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima, the Mayor of that city, Tadatoshi Akiba, spoke in protest, saying: ” The United States has no right to force Pax Americana on the rest of us or to unilaterally determine the fate of the world…On the contrary, the peoples of the world have the right to demand ‘no annihilation without representation’ “(The Gazette, Montreal, August 6, 2002).
Like Japan, the Philippines is the seat of a strong anti-nuclear weapons movement. In a struggle for independence just more than a century ago, Filipinos were the first Asian people to challenge modern corporate imperialism in its US form. Altogether, this conference could not have been called by more responsible people, nor held in a more appropriate place.
I wish the conference success at this crucial moment. May the people of Asia, may the people of the United States, may people everywhere raise their voices so that Bush will have to draw back from his plans for a war with Iraq.
ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE © COPYRIGHT
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002