US military’s Asia-Pacific strategic focus — and sailors charged with rape in Okinawa

US troops held over Okinawa alleged rape

Local residents rally against deployment of Osprey aircraft at Futenma air base,  Okinawa, on 4 Oct 2012 [Photo: There have been many protests over the US military footprint, like this one over the Osprey deployment]

BBC, October 16, 2012–Two US troops have been arrested over the alleged rape of a Japanese woman on the island of Okinawa.

The two men, identified as 23-year-old sailors, were detained by police on the southern island on Tuesday. Continue reading

“Resist Oplan Bayanihan in South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula”

A massive and brutal terror campaign is currently ravaging the people of South Qezon-Bondoc Peninsula (SQ-BP) as part of the intensification of the US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression.
It is marked by one of the most concentrated deployments of fascist forces in the history of the enemy’s suppression and encirclement campaigns. Up to eight strike battalions are positioned in 22 towns, or an average of 200 fascist forces per municipality. They include the entire 74th IB, the 85th IB, the 76th IB and Special Forces Battalion, the 416th and 417th Public Safety Management Companies and three and a half battalions of CAFGU under the 59th IB. This is aside from forces of the Philippine National Police assigned to the various towns of SQ-BP.
The presence of these fascist forces are a major disruption in the normal course of the masses’ lives. They impose martial rule. They utilize their so-called “people-centered” tactics under Oplan Bayanihan but commit wanton violations of human rights.
Squad-size groups of armed soldiers comprising “peace and development teams” stay for long periods in villages. For up to six months, they live like fattened pigs in peasants’ houses in over 50 barrios, spending their days getting drunk, gambling and texting.They also use barangay centers and other public structures are bases. They are a bane to the masses’ livelihood.  Continue reading

US Army suicides up 80% since start of Iraq War

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, with 255 soldiers taking their lives in 2007 and 2008 alone.

, Global Post, March 8, 2012

US Military suicide rates over the years of the Iraq war

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last two years that had data available for the study — 2007 and 2008 — 255 soldiers took their lives. The authors of the study, the Army Public Health Command (APHC), estimated that 25% to 50% of the suicides were directly related to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide rates among active US Army personnel were decreasing between 1977 and 2003.

The number of suicides is “unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records,” according to the APHC, and the increase in deaths parallels the increasing rates of depression and other mental health conditions among soldiers, reported The Daily Mail.

The study’s authors called the high presence of mental health disorders among enlisted personnel “sentinels for suicide risk,” according to The Baltimore Sun. From 2000 to 2008, adjustment disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-abuse disorders have soared among Army personnel. During the same time, the number of visits for mental health disorders in the Army nearly doubled.

“This study does not show that US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the APHC, to ABC News. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

Pentagon report: Sexual assault in the military up dramatically

[In a time when the US military continues to face shortages due to ongoing foreign wars, “interventions,” and occupations, the War Department (aka “Defense Department” for cosmetic reasons) has moved to expand their recruiting of women and gays.  While abuse–sexual abuse–has been a long-standing fact of life in colonial and imperial armies, this new Pentagon report of greatly EXPANDED rapes of military troops could not come at a worse time for military recruiters, and for morale and operating unity, among US troops.  So, War Secretary Leon Panetta has made the expected, and routine, vow to reduce sexual assaults within the military with a series of new initiatives. — Frontlines ed.]

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By Anna Mulrine | Christian Science Monitor, January 20, 2012

There has been a startling and consistent increase in violent sex crimes within the US Army since 2006, according to a newPentagon report released Thursday.

It comes one day after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta vowed to reduce the number of sexual assaults within the military, calling the numbers “unacceptable.” He announced that the Pentagon was preparing a series of new initiatives in an effort to try to curb the assaults.

While the measures that Mr. Panetta announced this week were widely welcomed, some democratic lawmakers pointed out that many of the newly-announced initiatives were already slated to go into effect with a law passed by Congress late last year. Others warned that the announced steps did not go far enough to combat the fast-growing problem.

The rate of violent sexual crime has increased 64 percent since 2006 according to the US Army report, which noted that “rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy were the most frequent violent sex crimes committed in 2011.”

While women comprise 14 percent of the Army ranks, they account for 95 percent of all sex crime victims.

The study warns that reports of crimes such as forcible sodomy may increase among males in the coming year with the repeal of the law that barred openly gay troops from serving in the military. “Now victims may be more likely to report sexual offenses in the absence of the former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” since troops no longer have to fear being removed from the military if it is discovered that they are gay. Continue reading

Africa: Africom And the ICC – Enforcing International Justice in Africa?

[The International Criminal Court (ICC), which the USA has never joined nor recognised its authority, is now slated to use the US’ AFRICOM forces as the enforcement arm of the ICC in Africa.  This article traces how this will enable the US to further camoflage its imperialist interests and interventionist maneuvers in the current “scramble for Africa” and its resources. — Frontlines ed.]

Pambazuka News

Samar Al-Bulushi And Adam Branch

14 April 2011

The ICC (International Criminal Court) prosecutor has called for the US military to enforce ICC arrest warrants in Africa, while American officials have declared a new phase of cooperation between the US and the ICC, write Samar Al-Bulushi and Adam Branch. What some see as a solution to the ICC’s lack of enforcement capacity, the authors argue, in fact poses a dramatic danger to peace and justice in Africa and to the future of the ICC itself.

THE ICC’S ENFORCEMENT CRISIS

Nearly eight years since its establishment in July 2002, and with its first major review conference just around the corner, the International Criminal Court (ICC) faces a number of challenges. The fact that it has prosecuted only Africans has provoked charges of neocolonialism and racism; its decision to indict certain actors and not others has triggered suspicion of the court’s susceptibility to power politics; and its interventions into ongoing armed conflicts have elicited accusations that the ICC is pursuing its own brand of justice at the cost of enflaming war and disregarding the interests of victims.[1] Each of these concerns is likely to provoke heated discussions at the review conference in Kampala next week.

But there is another aspect of the court’s role in Africa that will require scrutiny going forward: enforcement. Lacking its own enforcement mechanism, the court relies upon cooperating states to execute its arrest warrants. The ICC has found, however, that many states, even if willing to cooperate, often lack the capacity to execute warrants, especially in cases of ongoing conflict or when suspects can cross international borders. Moreover, the African Union (AU) has rejected the ICC’s arrest warrant for its most high-profile target, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and ICC supporters worry that the AU will continue to challenge the court’s authority, especially when the court targets African leaders. The court today thus faces an enforcement crisis: out of 13 arrest warrants issued, only four suspects are in custody. Apparently, having concluded that African states are either unwilling or unable to act quickly or forcefully enough to apprehend suspects, the court has begun to seek support from the one country that has shown itself willing and able to wield military force across the globe: the United States. Continue reading

U.S. Military in Iraq Tries to Intimidate Soldiers Into Not Reading Wikileaks

[Many have pointed to the WikiLeaks exposures of US war crimes as the most significant of the disclosures–and the greatest reason for US government efforts to suppress the disclosures (and their messenger, Wikileaks).  This article, from gawker.com, traces some of the specific efforts by the US military brass in Iraq to prevent such war crime disclosures from being viewed by US soldiers.–Frontlines ed.]

http://gawker.com/5705639/us-military-in-iraq-tries-to-intimidate-soldiers-into-not-reading-wikileaks

Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and 1st Infantry Division in their camp's internet cafe near Fallujah, Iraq (2004 file photo)

U.S. soldiers in Iraq who try to read about the Wikileaks disclosures—or read coverage of them in mainstream news sites—on unclassified networks get a page warning them that they’re about to break the law.

The federal government seems to have lost its mind in a manic game of internet whack-a-mole aimed at getting the Wikileaks State Department cables thrown down the memory hole: First, Sen. Joe Lieberman successfully nudged Amazon into kicking the site off its servers. Then the Library of Congress blocked the site for all employees and users of its computer terminals. Now we learn that the State Department is warning prospective hires that if they write about Wikileaks on Twitter or Facebook, they might not get that job. And now Gawker has learned that military installations in Iraq are trying to keep soldiers from reading about Wikileaks.

A tipster wrote to tell us that “the Army’s unclassified, NIPRNET network in Iraq has blocked every major news website because of the Wikileaks issue,” going on to say that Foxnews.com, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, the Huffington Post, and a variety of other sites are blocked on the Army’s unclassified network. A spokesperson for U.S. forces in Iraq disputed that claim, saying that the web sites aren’t actually blocked—it’s just that attempts to access them on the unclassified network brings up a warning page saying that you’re about to break the law:

[U.S. forces in Iraq have] not blocked any news websites from being read. Because of the Wikileaks release of secret documents and their easy availability on the web, USF-I has posted a warning page NIPRNet computers go to first. This page simply warns the user that the website they are about to view may contain classified documents and that such documents should not be viewed, downloaded, or distributed on NIPR computers. There is a button at the bottom of this warning page that then allows the user to go to the website. Continue reading

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement: Solidarity with the Struggle of People of Haiti

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) is an organization of people of Afrikan descent in the United States who believe in fighting for and supporting self-determination and human rights for Afrikans in the United States and around the world. Our organization annually takes an international trip to build solidarity with other people struggling for liberation and social justice. This year, we come in solidarity to Haiti (with the people of Haiti).

Our objective was to meet with Haitian people and popular organizations and assess the current situation in the camps and throughout the country seven months after the earthquake.

What we have found is appalling. There is a lack of security, deteriorating health conditions, and inadequate access to food, water, medicine and education in the camps. We are particularly concerned about the lack of safety and the large number of reported rapes and violent attacks on Haitian women and children in the camps.

Continue reading