US hegemony-media on the US’ military “pivot” to Asia

[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia.  In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere.  This article, from TIME magazine in July, explores the responses to, and embraces of, these US moves in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]

American ‘Pivot’ to Asia Divides the Philippines

Recent trouble in the South China Sea has renewed debate as to whether the U.S. is a trusted friend, or an old foe

By Catherine Traywick , TIME magazine, July 23, 2012

Romeo Ranoco / Reuters — Members of a militant women’s group hold up placards condemning the joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila on April 27, 2012 

Bai Ali Indayla, a human-rights worker and antimilitary activist, has met just one American soldier. They convened at a picnic table inside a Philippine army camp in Mindanao in 2010 to discuss the alleged suicide of a Filipino who died under mysterious circumstances after starting a job with the U.S. military’s counterterrorism program. Indayla believed the death was suspicious, and she wanted answers, but her first and only interaction with a U.S. soldier earned her none. He was dismissive, she says, as well as arrogant and profane. After a brief and terse exchange, he walked out of the meeting without warning, and she walked away with all of her prejudices soundly affirmed.

The encounter, colored by her mistrust and his apparent indifference, reflects an enduring dynamic at play between two forces in Philippine society: the U.S. military, whose decades-long occupation of the islands eventually gave way to civil unrest, and a small but historically significant network of activists who believe the former’s presence is tantamount to neocolonialism. As China more aggressively asserts its claim over the South China Sea and the U.S. ponders a “pivot” to Asia, the gap between these groups seems to widen, calling fresh attention to the question of U.S.-Philippine ties.

The relationship between ordinary Filipinos and U.S. armed forces is a tortured one, dating back to America’s “liberation” of the Philippines from colonial Spain more than a century ago. The U.S. takeover of the Philippines in 1899 kicked off a short, bloody war, during which Filipinos were forced into reconcentrados (a type of concentration camp), massacred in their villages and subjected to a new torture technique now known as waterboarding. When the U.S. finally gave the Philippines its independence in 1945, sprawling American military bases remained — and with them, an exploding sex industry and a legacy of human-rights violations widely publicized by the national press.

A decades-long antimilitary movement culminated in the 1991 closure of American bases and the ousting of U.S. troops. Yet American forces have nevertheless maintained a limited but continuous presence in the country, where they conduct regular joint training exercises and have, in recent years, extended antiterrorism efforts. Dubbed “the second front of the war on terror” in 2002, western Mindanao has played host to 600-strong U.S. troop rotations as they pursue two al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. Though officially base-less, barracks, ports and communications infrastructure emerged within and near the Philippine military camps that host American soldiers. This year, the Aquino administration granted the U.S. Navy permission to use the former U.S. base in Subic Bay for the service of U.S. warships. Continue reading

Memorial Day: While the system glorifies imperialist war, the people remember the victims of their war crimes — Hiroshima/Nagasaki

USA Terrorism: HIROSHIMA / NAGASAKI Atomic Bomb

This video is a clip from a BBC Documentary called “BBC History of World War II: Hiroshima (2005)”. It is available on DVD
The US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the largest international terrorist attack in history.  This attack was the only time that atomic or nuclear weapons have been used.

“Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation against civilians in the pursuit of political aims.
In the Geneva and Hague Conventions, which in turn are based upon the basic principle that the deliberate harming of
soldiers during wartime is a necessary evil, and thus permissible, whereas the deliberate targeting of civilians is absolutely forbidden.

These Conventions thus differentiate between soldiers who attack a military adversary, and war criminals who deliberately
attack civilians.”

General Giap–Military Strategist/Commander of Vietnam’s Liberation Forces–is 100 years old

The famous independence hero was born August 25, 1911 in a central-north province. His name is linked to the wars against the French, Japanese and U.S.. He is still remembered for the battle of Dien Bien Phu in the plain, in 1954, which ended the war in Indochina….

General Vo Nguyen Giap in 1953, planning the battle of Dien Bien Phu--the Waterloo for French colonial forces in Vietnam

Thursday, August 25, 2011

By Asia News

Hanoi – After defeating the French, Japanese and Americans one after the other, he also seems to have defeated time itself: General Vo Nguyen Giap, hero of the Vietnamese, today celebrates his 100th birthday. He was born August 25, 1911 in central-north Quang Binh province to a poor family, composed of seven siblings, some of whom died young. Politically active since his school years, he was expelled from a school in Hue for organizing student protests. But his name is tied hand in glove with the wars in Indochina in the second half of the 1900’s, so much so that the Vietnamese people consider him the second most important national personality, only after “Uncle” Ho Chi Minh. Continue reading

Hungarian disaster revives Vietnam’s bauxite mine fears

An aerial view shows the broken dam responsible for the toxic flood near Devecser, Hungary, October 7. Pollution levels from the red sludge spill have subsided in the Danube and there is no risk of a biological or environmental catastrophe in the major European waterway, Hungarian officials said on October 8. There were still no estimates of the financial damage wrought by the sludge — waste from bauxite refining that has a strong caustic effect — over an area of 800-1,000 hectares (1,920-2,400 acres).

While the government wants to exploit the world’s largest reserves of the ore, others are not so keen

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
November 8, 2010

Protests in Vietnam against plans for six massive bauxite mines coupled with fears of Chinese economic imperialism have revived following last month’s toxic spill in Hungary that killed nine people and destroyed three villages.

The government of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has grudgingly agreed to review the bauxite mine and alumina production projects planned for the Central Highlands after receiving a much-publicized letter from 1,500 noted former politicians and intellectuals calling for new studies of the scheme.

“The disaster in Hungary is a serious warning to Vietnam,” said the letter, whose signatories included former vice-president Nguyen Thi Binh and former deputy minister of natural resources and environment Dang Hung Vo.

But although government spokesmen have said “It is necessary to listen to concerns of the public and intellectuals,” the tone and body language suggest there is no enthusiasm for halting the development of what, at 5.5 billion tonnes, are said to be some of the world’s largest reserves of the ore from which aluminum is produced. Continue reading

Vietnam: “The Cu Chi Tunnels”

[The American War in Vietnam became a legendary turning point for imperialism, and for the people’s struggles worldwide.  The defeat of the US by the Vietnamese people continues to inspire struggles against imperialism and reaction worldwide today.  Yet, with the passage of time, many do not know how the resistance was waged.  This story of the Cu Chi Tunnels gives a picture of how the Vietnamese people’s resistance , with great determination, resilience and resourcefulness,  was able to win victory against what looked like insurmountable odds.–Frontlines ed.]

THE CU CHI TUNNELS (with subtitles as told by America’s former enemy), running time 59:16

This film was the first to be shot in Vietnam since the war ended. Director Mickey Grant started shooting it in 1986 on 16mm film and it premiered on 35mm film at a Saigon theater in 1990 with all the cast of former Viet Cong present and ended with a standing ovation that lasted over 30 minutes. During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence.

When the Americans began bombing the villages of Cu Chi, the survivors went underground where they remained for the duration of the war. The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often passes beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Continue reading

Vietnam sentences independent unionists to 7-9 years in prison

Protect Viet Workers, October 31, 2010

Mr Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung inside the Vietnamese court, surrounded by the police.

Mr Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung inside the Vietnamese court, surrounded by the police.

On 27th October 2010, Vietnam sentenced Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh to 7, 9, and 7 years respectively, for distributing leaflets complaining about wages, for being in contact with my group, and for helping workers organise a 10,000-strong strike at the My Phong shoe factory. They had been held without charges since February 2010.

As an indication that the trial’s outcomes were pre-decided, at 5 pm the day before, 26th October, the state-run Cong An Nhan Dan actually posted an online news item announcing that “On 27 October, the court sentenced..”

At her arrest, witnesses saw police punching the petite 5-feet tall Hanh in the face, her lips dripping blood. As to Hung, it can be seen that he has lost much weight, probably not because in jail he is body-image conscious. Our information is that in jail, all three were physically and mentally abused. Chuong’s and Hanh’s families were allowed one visit each during the 8 months. Hung’s was not allowed even 1 visit. Continue reading