Call for Global Action Against Military Bases: Polluting Foreign Countries Around the World

October 21st, 2017 - by admin

CODEPINK & John M. Broder / Los Angeles Times – 2017-10-21 14:35:28

Special to Environmentalists Against War

Call for Global Action Against Military Bases

(October 7, 2017) — For decades, determined activists around the world have been resisting occupation, militarism, and foreign military bases on their lands. Their struggles have been courageous and persistent. Uniting our resistance into a global action for peace and justice will make our voices louder, our power stronger and more radiant.

This fall, during the first week of October, we invite your organization to plan an anti-militarism action in your community as part of the first annual global week of actions against military bases. As we resist together to abolish war and stop the desecration of Mother Earth, we create a world where every human life has equal value and a safe environment in which to live.

This is the beginning of an annual effort that will better unite our work and make our connections with each other stronger. Will you join us in this global effort to resist war?

On October 7, 2001, in response to the events on September 11, the United States and Great Britain launched the “Enduring Freedom” mission against Afghanistan. These military forces began their assault on a country already battered by the Soviet invasion and years of a devastating civil war. Since 9/11 a new doctrine was established, Permanent Global Warfare, which has continued since that fateful day.

We live in an increasingly more volatile world with ever expanding global wars. Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan are just some of the hot spots.

War has become a strategy for global domination. This perpetual state of war is having a devastating impact on our planet, impoverishing communities and forcing massive movements of people fleeing from war and environmental degradation.

Today, in the Trump era, global warfare is intensifying rapidly. The US withdrawal from climate agreements accompanies a destructive energy policy that ignores science and eliminates environmental protections, with consequences that will fall heavily on the future of the planet and all who live on it. The use of such weapons as the MOAB, “the mother of all bombs,” clearly shows the ever more brutal course of the White House.

In this framework, the richest and most powerful country, which possesses 95% of the world’s foreign military bases, regularly threatens military intervention against other major powers. This pushes Russia, China, Iran North Korea and other countries to grotesquely expand their own militaries, leading to worsening global tensions and instability.

It is time to unify all those around the world who oppose war. We must build a network of resistance to US bases, in solidarity with the many years of active resistance in Okinawa, South Korea, Italy, the Philippines, Guam, Germany, England, and elsewhere.

On October 7, 2001, the world’s richest country began its perpetual military assault and occupation of Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest nations. We propose the week of October 7, 2017 as the first annual GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MILITARY BASES.

We invite all communities to organize solidarity actions and events during the first week of October. Each community can independently organize a resistance that meets their own community’s needs. We encourage community organizing meetings, debates, public speaking events, vigils, prayer groups, signature gathering, and direct actions.

Each community can choose its own methods and locations of resistance: at military bases, embassies, government buildings, schools, libraries, public squares, etc. To make this possible we need to work together as a united front, giving strength and visibility to every initiative. Together we ARE more powerful.

As Albert Einstein said: “War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished.” Will you join us? Let’s make this possible, together.

Toxic Waste: A Federal Failure US Military Leaves Toxic Trail Overseas
John M. Broder / Los Angeles Times

ROHL, West Germany (June 18, 1990) — The United States’ far-flung network of overseas military bases, operating in secret and far outside the reach of American environmental regulation, has left a quagmire of chemical contamination all around the globe that will cost billions of dollars to correct and will damage American foreign policy interests for years to come.

And, while the problem of toxic waste dumps created at home by industrial polluters has received high-level government attention, the very existence of a huge problem overseas is almost unknown outside the Pentagon.

For years, the brook that runs through this small village just beyond the runways of Bitburg Air Base has been a dumping ground for unwanted jet fuel, chemical solvents and firefighting chemicals.

Other US military installations have polluted the drinking water of the Pacific island of Guam, poured tons of toxic chemicals into Subic Bay in the Philippines, leaked carcinogens into the water source of a German spa, spewed tons of sulfurous coal smoke into the skies of Central Europe and pumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the oceans.

Even as they defended the freedom and security interests of the United States and its allies, America’s armed forces have bequeathed to their hosts another legacy as well, one of enduring environmental damage.

“The Department of Defense is not blameless,” conceded David J. Berteau, the senior civilian Pentagon official in charge of environmental programs. “There (are) places where we have not lived up to our responsibilities. We’ve done some dumb things in the disposal of hazardous materials.”

Today, with the Pentagon preparing to close scores of costly foreign bases because of a deepening budget crunch and easing world tensions, the bill for decades of careless and arrogant environmental behavior is coming due.

And the tab will be paid not only in billions of dollars in cleanup costs but also in strained relations with many of America’s most valued allies.

Indeed, Army and Air Force officials in West Germany have warned that US military officers or civilian employees face “the specter of criminal charges, especially concerning ground-water pollution.” Such charges have already been brought in West Germany and Italy, where prosecutors have charged civilian employees of the US military with illegal disposal of hazardous chemicals.

As the world’s most extensive industrial enterprise, the military generates huge quantities of hazardous wastes–used oils and solvents, paint sludges, plating residues, heavy metals, asbestos, cyanide, PCBs, battery acid, pesticides, herbicides and virtually every other toxic substance known to man.

American military power plants in Europe also have caused significant air pollution and acid rain by burning high-sulfur content coal imported from the United States, a result of congressional action in the 1970s to help the faltering American soft-coal industry.

Lethal Waste Piles Up
The Pentagon also creates such special classes of lethal byproducts as high-level radioactive wastes from atomic weapons plants, high explosive powder, outdated chemical weapons, rocket fuels and ordnance practice ranges full of unexploded bullets, bombs and artillery shells.

In addition, the 2 million men and women in uniform and 1 million civilian Pentagon employees stationed in the US and around the globe daily produce tons of ordinary garbage, medical wastes, photographic chemicals and as much sewage as a large city.

By the Pentagon’s own admission, much of this waste has been treated cavalierly both in the United States and abroad. A seven-year survey of 1,579 domestic bases found 14,401 sites of known and suspected contamination, including 87 that qualify for inclusion on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in America. Cleaning up the messes at US bases will cost at least $20 billion, and perhaps as much as $200 billion, according to Defense Department estimates.

The Pentagon has not even begun to assess the scope of the problem at foreign facilities, fearing the staggering cost of cleanup and the wrath of allies.

While there is no systematic effort under way to determine how badly polluted America’s overseas bases are, the Army–without even looking formally–has identified 300 contaminated sites in West Germany alone. Of the total, 30 are on bases slated for closure and 25 are currently deemed serious enough to require expensive long-term remedies.

Polluted Sites Known
The Air Force has acknowledged that it has polluted soil, streams or ground water at every one of its airfields in Europe.

The Navy says it does not know the extent of contamination at its many overseas bases because it has neither money nor a legal requirement to study the problem. The Navy’s senior environmental officer conceded that the service is aware of a number of polluted sites worldwide but refused to identify them because, he said, it would create “problems with host nations.”

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