Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Security Without Empire - Put an End to Foreign Military Bases

President Obama indicated in his speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night that his Administration was looking for ways to cut waste in defense spending, while vowing to keep the nation safe from contemporary threats. He said this within the context of his highly publicized plans of sending an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan in an effort to curtail the "gains made by the Taliban" in recent months, as the policy is often described in the corporate press. But there are other areas where the U.S. could lessen its military footprint and begin redirecting billions of dollars of much needed funds for other programs, domestic and foreign, which are not even on the policy-making table. I'm referring to the hundreds of U.S. military bases and installations scattered around the world, many of which have been criticized vociferously for years by the local inhabitants of these areas occupied by the most deliberate symbol of U.S. empire.

From Okinawa and Guam to Honduras, Germany, Iraq, and beyond people who have suffered from the abuses inherent to foreign military bases have been calling for their withdrawal. People in the U.S. have joined this call, outraged by the damage done by U.S. bases abroad and by their expense, which diverts $138 billion a year from addressing human needs and revitalizing our economy.

This is the subject of a major international conference taking place in Washington, DC this weekend, sponsored by the American Friend's Services Committee.


The conference will feature base opponents from many "host" nations and will include leading activists as keynote speakers, panelists and workshop facilitators. It will culminate on Monday, March 2, with a lobbying day on Capitol Hill, in which many conference attendees will participate.

On Friday, February 27th, beginning at 7:10am ET, we will highlight this issue of foreign U.S. bases and their impact on local populations worldwide, on Wake UP Call over WBAI Radio in New York.

My guests will include:

Raed Jarrar is an Iraqi architect, blogger, and activist resident in the United States. He is currently the Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. Born and raised in Baghdad, he is half Iraqi and half Palestinian. He first gained prominence as the person referenced in the title of the blog "Where is Raed?” written and maintained by Salam Pax, to which Jarrar himself made infrequent posts.

Jarrar, along with his family, compiled their blogs into The Iraq War Blog, An Iraqi Family's Inside View of the First Year of the Occupation (2008). The book explores how their lives were affected as the American military and coalition allies devastated the city. The Jarrar family, while chronicling their daily lives amid the destruction, also provides descriptive analyses of the political climate that resulted from the American occupation of the country.

Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad is a member of I Nasion CHamoru (Chamoru Nation) and is involved in organizing to stop the expansion of U.S. military on Guahan (Guam). She is also active with organizing to promote indigenous sovereignty, women's rights, social and environmental justice, and human rights on her native land. She has also represented Guam at the regional planning meeting in Tokyo, Japan in 2006 preparing an Asia-Pacific position for the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases in Ecuador. In summer of 2008, together with fellow activist, Julian Aguon, she completed a month-long national tour of Australia, garnering international support for the human rights violation of the United States inhibiting CHamoru self-determination and the expansion of the U.S. military on Guahan.

Dr. Natividad is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Guam. She teaches courses on social justice, multicultural counseling, and cultural competency for working with Micronesian populations. She was honored as Guahan’s Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers in 2001.

Wilbert Van Der Zeijden Wilbert van der Zeijden is the Executive Coordinator of the International No-bases Network. Based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, he runs the Network's International Secretariat, and supports the activities and plans of the hundreds of local grass-roots campaigns around the globe in their efforts to close bases and to solve the problems caused by bases. Wilbert is has an MA in International Relations from the Vrije University in Amsterdam and regularly publishes articles and op-eds on bases, the struggle against bases and other peace and security issues.

So tune in on Friday, February 27th, from 7-8:00am, on WBAI 99.5FM in NY (www.wbai.org).

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