|2.||The U.S. imperial alliance system|
|2.3||Murdering the body politic|
|2.6||Spreading like cancer|
|3.||Environmental impacts: The case of Japan|
|3.2||Okinawa: 'A great stationary aircraft carrier'|
|3.4||Ui Jun, fighter for environmental justice|
|4.||Environmental impacts in the U.S. and abroad|
|4.2||Undermining environmental protection laws|
|4.4||Undermining global security|
This paper will employ the concept of militarism in the broadest sense. At the time of writing, the U.S. is not directly under military control and is nominally under civilian rule. However, extensive military operations are integral to the operations of empire, Pax Americana. Global instability refers to many areas in the social and natural worlds that are affected by the military empire. Environmental destruction will be treated as the major and culminating theme of this paper since without a thriving habitat, Homo sapiens will cease to exist.
The US imperial alliance system embodies the reign of terror, genocide, plunder, and destruction that began with Europe's conquest of the world 500 year ago. The system consists of the United States at the hub of military and economic power. The G7 nations fulfill the crucial role in the empire as the first tier countries supported by the lesser rich OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries at the second tier. Dictatorships in the Third World help to insure U.S. hegemony by crushing domestic opposition. The UN Security Council members of Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France now support Pax Americana to varying degrees. The military alliances of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Europe and AMPO (U.S.-Japan alliance) in East Asia are crucial to U.S. military expansionism. Other ruling class mechanisms include: the Bretton Woods institutions including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization; the Trilateral Commission; the Business Roundtable; the World Economic Forum, and numerous other rich men's clubs. Elite lobbying groups play an increasingly powerful role in controlling the U.S. congress these days while an array of mega-corporations -- whose assets tower over the collected wealth of most of the world's countries -- have a large role in constructing U.S. policies for their own benefit.
While the terrorism which is carried out by non state actors and military dictatorships is treated with constant attention by the mainstream media, terrorism's victims are small compared to the millions of people who die from preventable hunger, disease and state sponsored war.
While unbelievably horrible in both their nature and scale, the attacks on September 11th were foreseeable, and, in many ways, inevitable-the result of deepening structures and cultures of violence and increasing acts of violence in nearly all parts of the world. The association which many people have between these trends and the practices and policies of the United States' economic, political and military power made the choosing of the United States as the target of these attacks something which many had long predicted, and warned of. U.S. economic, political and military policies since World War II have resulted in the impoverishment, marginalisation, and devastation of hundreds of millions of people world-wide (Brand-Jacobsen, 2001).
The socio-economic policy that causes millions of preventable deaths every year is consciously constructed by the institutions of the U.S. imperial alliance system. This system is terrorism writ large, but it is not called so by the corporate media.
Chossudovsky (1997) notes that IMF/World Bank reform and structural adjustment policy is 'Economic genocide... carried out through the conscious and deliberate manipulation of market forces,' whose social impact is more devastating than 'forced labour and slavery' (p. 37).
Chossudovsky documents U.S. foreign economic policy which pursues:
social polarization and concentration of wealth; intensification of the cheap labor economy and financial instability in under developed and developing countries; intensifying the process of turning the private debts of wealthy corporations into public debt in the Third World; Third-Worldization of the former Soviet bloc countries; using debt as a mechanism for imposing structural adjustment; structural adjustment as a means to transform and privatize the common wealth into corporate profits; imposing fiscal crises upon states thereby destroying national economies; spurring a global economic crisis; 'dollarising prices,' thus forcing global prices to rise even in poor countries; manipulating statistics on poverty to diminish its perceived severity, for example, by citing 'medium income' as a reliable indicator of a nation's economic health; and destroying national currencies (pp. 16-43).
Another aspect of economic genocide is the funding for so-called Third World development. Blum (1995) shows in his chart, 'This is How the Money Goes Round' (pp., 442-3) the conduit by which funding flowed during the Cold War to insure hegemony. Starting with the CIA, money is dispersed through a number of foundations, funds and trusts. From there money goes to prominent U.S. think tanks, research institutes and aid foundations. The money is then dispersed further into smaller organizations in specific geographic locations where it is finally dispersed to journalists, writers, educators, students, lawyers, and research, labor and university receptacles. These funds are nominally used to improve living standards, but in fact work to increase corporate profits while destroying ancient cultures and inflicting poverty on vast numbers of people (Sachs, 1992).
Far from bringing freedom and democracy to the down-trodden masses of the world, Blum's classic work, Rogue State (2000), outlines U.S. strategies which include but are not limited to: training terrorists; assassinating democratically elected leaders; training foreign military and police units in the arts of controlling unruly civilian populations through use of torture and terror; hiring war criminals to spread aforementioned tactics; giving haven to terrorists; supporting dictators and mass murderers in the Third World; employing a massive array of weaponry, including mini-nukes, depleted uranium tipped missiles, cluster bombs, and chemical and biological weapons (CBWs); and the encouragement of the use of CBWs by other nations. Other tactics have included innumerable direct military interventions abroad; the perverting of elections; using 'Trojan horse' aid agencies as a guise to control domestic policies in foreign countries; the undermining and manipulation of the U.N.; an elaborate high tech global surveillance system; 'kidnapping and looting' when appropriate; aiding the South African apartheid regime; CIA money-making through global illegal drug sales; and controlling the media and avoiding accountability (pp. 38-214).
Grossman (2001) provides a list of 134 U.S. military actions from 1890 to 2001, most of which took place in foreign countries but also domestically. The list does not include other military actions such as:
...demonstration duty by military police, mobilizations of the National Guard, offshore shows of naval strength, reinforcements of embassy personnel, the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Agency), military exercises, non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers), the permanent stationing of armed forces, covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role, the use of small hostage rescue units, most uses of proxy troops, U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes, foreign disaster assistance, military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat, civic action programs, and many other military activities.
In the chart, 'The Sun and its planets: Countries using torture on an administrative basis in the 1970's, with their parent-client affiliations,' Chomsky & Herman (1979) document U.S. influence on 26 countries where funds and military training were used to employ torture against political opponents and prisoners. This compared with nine other countries including the Soviet Union who employed torture on an administrative basis who were outside the U.S. sphere of political influence.
Gerson & Birchard found that during the Cold War the U.S. was involved in 'more than 200... military interventions in the Third World' (p. 12). Most of the intervention had little to do with fighting communism but was mainly devoted to protecting U.S. corporate interests and crushing movements toward political and economic independence (Chomsky, 1991).
Parenti (1995) states that the true nature of U.S. interventionism is a desire to preserve the 'politico-economic domination and the capital accumulation system' and at any time attack the 'designated 'enemy' [of the U.S. which] can be a reformist, populist, military government... a Christian socialist government... a social democracy... a Marxist-Leninist government... an Islamic revolutionary order... or even a conservative military regime' (p. 39).
The permanent U.S. concern about ruthless adversaries is mainly a ruse used to serve U.S. imperial goals. Enemies, either real, imagined, potential or supported and created by the U.S. itself, are crucial for justifying the military system to public taxpayers. Given that the U.S. has consistently opposed and undermined international treaties aimed at reducing or abolishing conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the latest 'war on terror' against an 'evil axis' of formidable enemies, be they communists, drug traffickers, Islamic fundamentalists or marijuana smoking tree huggers, rings hollow indeed (Chomsky, 2001).
Today, U.S. military and corporate power is unrivaled in the history of the world (Petras & Veltmeyer, 2001). U.S. military power is expanding it's permanent bases to every region of the planet in order to secure crucial natural resources such as fossil fuels and oil. Every new war carried out by the U.S. is accompanied by a spate of military base building as seen recently in South America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Blum, 2002). As of September 30, 2002, the U.S. officially acknowledged the existence of 703 'foreign military enclaves' (Johnson, 2003).
Gerson & Birchard (1991) present an authoritative study on military bases. After the end of W.W.II, the U.S. began a 45 year build up of half a million troops and 375 major foreign military bases around the world (p. 3). That trend changed at the end of the Cold War and saw some troop and base reductions for a time, such as the withdrawal of bases from the Philippines. However, the potential peace dividend with the end of the Cold War did not occur after it became clear that the Cold War itself was mainly a ruse to insure U.S. hegemony under the pretext of fighting communism. One of the purposes of the 1991 Gulf War was to reaffirm the global U.S. military presence, especially in the Middle East. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, any lingering trend toward reducing overseas military presence has been reversed.
As of 1989 there were 525,000 U.S. troops stationed abroad with nearly half of them in Western Germany. In Japan there were 48,000 troops and in South Korea, 44,000, thus, a strong U.S. presence had been maintained long after the end of World War II (p. 6). By comparison to U.S. bases and their personnel during the Cold War, in 1989, the 'Soviet Union had 627,000 troops deployed in 19 nations' with more than half of them in East Germany (p. 9).
The actual number of U.S. military bases in the world is hard to calculate with precision since they continue to grow in number, and in some cases the functions of various institutions are ambiguous. As of 1993, a conservative estimate for major bases (not including various smaller installations placed in the area of a main base) was 375 while one exhaustive study found the U.S.'s 'global nuclear infrastructure' contained 'more than 1,500... facilities involved in preparations for nuclear war' (Gerson & Birchard, p. 8).
In addition, there are innumerable ports and airfields as well as air space which the U.S. military regularly accesses. Wilkinson (2001) reports that:
a great deal of Japan's airspace is controlled by the US military, and Japanese civilian aircraft have to adjust their flights to fit the complex pattern of corridors surrounding the different bases and airports... the airspace above Japan can be considered a separate 'invisible US base'.
In 1996 and 1997 alone, according to Japan's major pilot union, there were 105 instances where military jets activated the collision avoidance systems of civilian airliners. In 1998, the Ministry of Transport finally got around to sending a note to the US military command in Japan indicating its concern, but nothing has changed.
Gerson & Birchard (1991) provides a broader perspective to this usurpation of sovereignty:
Numbers [of bases fails] to communicate the deeper meanings of foreign military bases... [which] bring insecurity; the loss of self determination, human rights, and sovereignty; as well as the degradation of the culture, values, health, and environment of host nations. Foreign military bases are designed to integrate host nations into U.S. military strategies and structures...
While the toll of U.S. bases on the people and societies of host nations is more immediately visible than its toll on the people of the United States, there are many similarities. Military bases corrupt what remains of our national commitment to democratic values, and they alienate us from people with whom we share the planet. Military forces endanger our lives by increasing the likelihood that conflicts will escalate into wars, and they drain our national economic, ecological, and spiritual resources' (9 -10).
The training of troops at foreign bases cause can cause severe disruption to local residents in the vicinity of bases due to noise, air, water and land pollution, and from danger by accidents from fighter jets and other activities. Johnson (2003) notes:
Stationing several thousand eighteen-to-twenty-four year-old American youths in cultures that are foreign to them and about which they are utterly ignorant is a recipe for the endless series of 'incidents' plaguing nations that have accepted U.S. bases... [furthermore] All servicemen in Okinawa know that if after committing a rape, a robbery, or an assault, they can make it back to the base before the police catch them, they will be free until indicted even though there is a Japanese arrest warrant out for their capture.
An age-old symptom of the social degradation surrounding military bases is prostitution. 'The town of Olongapo next to the U.S. base at Subic Bay was devoted entirely to 'rest and recreation' for U.S. troops and housed more than fifty thousand prostitutes' ('US military bases,' 2002). The behavior of off duty troops stationed at bases can have devastating consequences, such as the legacy of criminal acts committed by soldiers against civilians in Okinawa, Japan. In the 1995 case of three U.S. marines who were found guilty of raping a twelve year old girl, the soldiers were only arrested and turned over to the Japanese police after public outrage. At the time, a U.S. Admiral familiar with the case told the press 'I think that [the rape] was absolutely stupid. For the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl.' In other words, while rape is deemed unacceptable, prostitution is considered by many in the military, including top brass, to be standard operating procedure.
Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, were not [reacting]... just in response to this single rape, brutal though it was. Between 1972 and 1995, U.S. servicemen were implicated in 4,716 crimes, nearly one per day,..
The Japan-U.S. agreement that governs the Okinawa base allows U.S. authorities to refuse Japanese requests for military suspects, and few indeed have suffered any inconvenience for their crimes ('US military bases,' 2002).
Johnson (2003) cites the opinions of two SoFA experts, 'Most SOFAs are written so that national courts cannot exercise legal jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against local people, except in special cases where the U.S. military authorities agree to transfer jurisdiction.'
Today, the U.S. International Military Education and Training program (IMET) offers US military and police aid to 26 countries in the Western hemisphere alone.
International Military Education and Training (IMET) pays for the training or education of foreign military and a limited number of civilian personnel. IMET grants are given to foreign governments, which choose the courses their personnel will attend... IMET funding for Latin America was used to send students to approximately 150 U.S. military training institutions throughout the United States. A wide variety of courses for U.S. personnel -- some 2,000, including topics ranging from counterintelligence to helicopter repair to military justice systems -- qualify for IMET funding' (International Military Education and Training, 2003).
Lumpe (2002) found that over the past decade 'the U.S. has interacted with almost all governments in the world' while training foreign militaries at a rate of 'approximately 100,000 foreign soldiers annually... This training takes place in at least 150 institutions within the U.S. and in 180 countries around the world.'
IMET is a key institution that has partially justified its mission based on strengthening human rights and democracy. 'In truth, most of the programs have had no discernible focus on human rights and have been carried out in a highly, if not completely, unaccountable manner.'
While it is well known that the CIA is actively meddling in the affairs of foreign countries, it is perhaps surprising that a domestic U.S. police agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is active abroad in the FBI's Office of International Operations ('Federal Bureau,' 2003). As of 2003, pending congressional approval for funding, new FBI offices are to 'be established in Sarajevo, Bosnia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Kabul, Afghanistan, and Belgrade, Serbia. Existing offices would be expanded in Ottawa, Seoul, London, Berlin and Moscow," the FBI has reported. Justified by the war on terror there may soon be about 250 FBI personnel and agents 'stationed at 46 locations around the world.'
Monthly Review (2002) recently provided an informative essay on the U.S. military base issue. Despite an immediate decrease in deployments directly after the W.W.II, the following quotes illustrate that the creation of U.S. military bases abroad have steadily increased in number and global scope of operations. The Monthly Review reported that:
1) The United States emerged from the Second World War with the most extensive system of military bases that the world had ever seen... at the end of the Second World War consisted of over thirty thousand installations located at two thousand base sites residing in around one hundred countries and areas...
2) Many current U.S. bases were acquired in... the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the war in Afghanistan. U.S. military bases in Okinawa, formally part of Japan, are a legacy of the U.S. occupation of Japan during the Second World War.
3) Like all empires, the United States has been extremely reluctant to relinquish any base once acquired.
4) Bases obtained in one war are seen as forward deployment positions for some future war.
5) The majority of U.S. bases were justified as... 'containing' Communism. Yet, upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States sought to retain its entire basing system on the grounds that this was necessary for the global projection of its power and the protection of U.S. interests abroad.
6) Although the Clinton administration was to insist more strongly than the Bush administration that preceded it on the need to diminish U.S. foreign military commitments, no attempt was made to decrease the U.S. 'forward presence' abroad represented by its far-flung military bases. The main shift rather was to reduce the number of troops permanently stationed overseas by deploying troops more frequently but for shorter stays... bases were to be used for pre-positioning equipment for purposes of rapid deployment.
7) On any given day before September 11, according to the Defense Department, more than 60,000 military personnel were conducting temporary operations and exercises in about 100 countries.
8) According to the Defense Department's Base Structure Report, 2001, the United States currently has overseas military installations in thirty-eight countries and separate territories.
9) Since September 11, the United States has set up military bases housing sixty thousand troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, along with Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Also crucial in the operation is the major U.S. naval base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
10) All told, the United States now has overseas military bases in almost sixty countries and separate territories.
11) In some ways this number may even be deceptively low. All issues of jurisdiction and authority with respect to bases in host countries are spelled out in... status of forces agreements. During the Cold War years these were normally public documents, but are now often classified as secret: for example, those with Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and in certain respects Saudi Arabia. According to Pentagon records, the United States now has formal agreements of this kind with ninety-three countries.
In other words, between actual bases, the ability to move from one base into another country (forward bases) and the penetration of international air spaces and agreements with foreign militaries and police forces, the U.S. military is almost global in expanse. Other important aspects of the global presence are the encirclement of Russia and China; the use of bases to secure valuable fossil fuel pipelines in areas such as Central Asia; the intrusion on the sovereignty of host nations such as Japan where joint military exercises enmesh the host into the U.S. empire; the use of bases as an extra political threat to countries who dare to 'chart an independent course that is perceived as threatening U.S. interests... There can be no doubt, therefore, that the last remaining superpower is presently on a course of imperial expansion, as a means of promoting its political and economic interests...'
Japan is the junior partner in the U.S. imperial alliance system. In 2001, Japan was fourth in the world in military spending ($38.5 billion) behind the US ($280 billion), Russia ($43.9 billion) and France ($40 billion) ('World military marketplace,' 2002).
Kan (2002) warns that 'Under the Koizumi Administration, Japan is advancing headlong on a course toward militarization.' Given Japan's astonishing record of war crimes in the past century, the present trend is frightening, as the U.S. nurtures those elements of indigenous fascism in the ultra right wing conservatives who govern the country. The 'headlong' plunge into another century of bloodbaths is not an act of madmen; rather, it is a carefully calculated plan of action which began after the end of W.W.II. After patiently bidding their time and whittling away at Japan's post war peace culture, Japan's rulers today seek: to 'activate military powers without restraint'; 'the preparation of the legal, political, social background for ensuring' remilitarization; to create 'social systems to punish, expel, and retaliate against opposition, resistance, and obstructive groups within and without Japan.' The recent policy of the U.S. of carrying out preemptive strikes against states (such as Afghanistan and Iraq) who it deems as potential threats bolsters Japan's plan 'to propagate the ideology that it is 'just' to eradicate the 'enemies' of war, national security and the nation state.'
The re-militarization policy includes legislation that has been passed by the Japanese Diet since the mid-1990s: 'revision of the Defense Guideline for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty; the Law for Military Emergencies in Areas Surrounding Japan, passed in August 1999; the Anti-Organized Crime Law, The Basic Resident Register Law; and the National Flag and Anthem Law.' All of these laws represent a strengthening of state power and a diminishing of civil liberties. According the Japan Communist Party newspaper, the November election of the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (which has held power for the last fifty years with almost no interruption) and the slightly less hawkish Democratic Party of Japan, will hasten the decline of Japan's vaunted social safety net while plunging the nation into an uncontrolled arms race. The JCP notes that while the two parties are presented to the public as opposition parties, in fact, both parties are strongly supported by Keidanren, Japan's most powerful association of business elites. The JCP has been one of the few parties to warn against sending American and Japanese troops to Iraq, stating that the U.S. war in Iraq is an 'aggression' and that 'If Japan dispatches SDF [troops] to Iraq, Japan will be dragged into hell' ('War of aggression,' 2003; 'Who is [the] defender,' 2003).
A crucial step toward remilitarization is to revise Japan's peace constitution and once and for all rid itself of the pesky 'Article 9' which prohibits Japan's involvement in international war making. Article 9 unambiguously states: 'The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation... Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.' However, beginning as far back as 1951, the clause has steadily been eroded by military spending that exceeded reasonable requirements for defense.
Today, Japan has 240,000 men and woman under arms. Having spent nearly $50-billion (U.S.) a year on defense for each of the past five years, Japan has a force, at least in terms of funding, second only to the U.S. (Russia can no longer afford a modern military). Yet Japan does all this while preserving a constitution that states: 'The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized' (Victoria, 2003).
Japan's chief cabinet secretary in the Koizumi administration, Fukuda Yasuo, has even called for Japan to rethink it's stance on nuclear weapons and consider adopting a nuclear arsenal. (Victoria). Tokyo's right wing Governor, Shintaro Ishihara is also well known for his racist and militaristic comments but continues to gain support from the public due to their widespread ignorance on foreign affairs and the largely manufactured threats from China and North Korea. For example,
Naoyuki Agawa, the minister for public affairs and director of the Japan Information and Culture Center at the Embassy of Japan, publicly endorsed the concept of "regime change" in North Korea as "ultimately the solution" for the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula' (Shorrock, 2003).
Shorrock cites Korean affairs expert, John Feffer, who believes that "The specter of a North Korean attack is the only thing that can uproot Japan's deeply seeded pacifism.' Thus, there are no immediate plans to restrict the activities of the U.S. military stationed in Japan which is thought of as a protector from the hordes of marauding Asian's who are surely ready to descend upon Japan's pristine shores from the mainland. The fact that North Korea admitted to (and publicly apologized for) kidnapping several people from Japan in the 1970s is repeated ad nauseam by the media to prove the North Korean's inherent devilishness.
On the other hand, the details by which Japan enslaved and killed several million Koreans and other Asians during the Pacific War, an atrocity which rivals any in human history in its level of barbarity, are not well known or are ignored by most Japanese (Seagrave & Seagrave, 2003; Asano, 2003). The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.
Dower (2003), the authoritative historian of World War II in the Pacific region notes:
Okinawa and South Korea are instructive... reminders that where security concerns were paramount from the start, the United States turned its back on serious "democratization" of the sort initially introduced to the greater part of Japan. Coveted by military strategists as a great stationary aircraft carrier off the coast of Asia, Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, was immediately turned into an enormous U.S. military installation. Although the occupation of Japan formally ended in April 1952, Okinawa remained a U.S. colony until the early 1970s, when sovereignty over it was returned to Japan. The sprawling, grotesque complex of U.S. bases remains.
For the fiscal year 2003, Japan paid the U.S. government about $6 billion toward the costs of stationing U.S. troops in Japan. According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), 39,691 troops are stationed in Japan. In a recent report, the DoD praises Japan's 'host-nation support' as being the most generous of any allies. 'Japan pays more than the top 25 U.S. allies combined... [and] 5.4 times what the second largest contributor, Germany, pays' ('Japan pays', 2003). Not surprisingly, Okinawa has long been exploited by both Americans and mainland Japanese. Okinawa is:
... a culturally heterogeneous part of the country that Japan forcibly annexed in 1879 and that has long been subject to official and popular discrimination by mainland people and authorities. The Japanese press refers to... base-support payments as the omoiyari yosan (sympathy budget), meaning sympathy for the poor Americans who cannot afford their expansive foreign policy. The SOFA covering American forces in Japan says that the United States will cover all costs of the deployments (art. xxiv) but since 1978, when the omoiyari yosan came into being, the Japanese government has in fact paid more than half. No other nation offers such lavish 'host nation support' to the United States (Johnson, 2003).
In addition to the Cold War aspect of U.S. bases, Okinawa and the rest of the South Pacific stretching from Guam to the Philippines have long offered U.S. air and naval forces strategic positioning to protect natural resources destined for U.S. markets or to threaten and potential competitors. Gerson (1991) found that U.S. bases in Guam just happen to occupy the 'locations of the best farmland, fishing areas, and drinking water' (p. 19).
In Japan, there are some 105, large and small, U.S. military installations. Since at least 1986 the unfortunate inhabitants in the town Zushi, near Yokohama, have been fighting the bilateral decision of the U.S. military and the Japanese government to build a housing complex for military personnel and their dependents in the Ikego forest, 'one of the few remaining areas of greenery in the Tokyo-Yokohama megapolis' (p. 19). 'Construction of housing units for the U.S. military at the Ikego district began in 1993. At that time the central government reached an agreement with the city of Zushi... that there would be no construction of additional... units' ('Mayor to quit,' 2003). In the last year the government has decided to build additional housing for the U.S. military claiming the new decision did not violate the 1993 agreement. The mayor of Zushi however claims that the central government 'has snubbed my repeated requests for a meeting with the agency chief in this matter.' That the majority of citizens of Zushi oppose the housing units is of little consequence to the central government who change the rules as it suits them and ignore the concerns of democratically elected leaders.
In another example of an environmental threat originating from the military, a wildlife rich area targeted for use by the military was the case of Miyake island. The island is known as a bird refuge, yet the military wanted to convert it to a practice runway for night landings for fighter pilots. Only after international outrage were the plans questioned and compromises worked out (Gerson & Birchard, p. 20).
One of the major worries of residents living adjacent to U.S. bases is the sheer amount of hazardous waste that is produced.
Because scientists in host nations have extremely limited access to U.S. bases, it has been difficult to monitor the environmental destruction they cause... with the US military generating more than 400,000 tons of hazardous waste in the United States (much of it illegally), it should come as no surprise that U.S. overseas bases are heavy polluters... Acids, ammunition wastes, organic solvents, chemical warfare agents, industrial sludge, and PCBs are released into the environment surrounding U.S. bases. These wastes 'migrate,' contaminating aquifers, poisoning soil, and threatening human and animal life (p. 20).
In addition to conventional pollution, there are nuclear blunders called 'broken arrows' by the military. 'In 1968, a hydrogen bomb was lost over the side of the USS Ticonderoga as the ship passed within 40 miles of Okinawa. The details of the accident, and the fact that the pressure of the ocean probably destroyed the bomb's casing and dispersed its radioactive plutonium, were kept a state secret for more than 20 years' (20-21). One wonders how many other state secrets have covered up accidents in addition to the already published blunders which have contaminated our planet's oceans and skies.
The illegal testing of highly toxic and radioactive depleted uranium (DU) munitions occurred in Okinawa prefecture in 1995 and 1996 when aircraft fired 1,520 rounds of DU ammunition on an islands located to north of Okinawa and to the west of Kume Island ('Nuclear Policy,' 2003; Ui, 2003).
This was a violation of the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Power in Japan ... the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not pass on this information to the prefectural government of Okinawa and the citizens of Okinawa prefecture only learned about the problem through an article in the Washington Times (Ui, 2003).
The military first denied responsibility, ignoring the violation until 1997, and only then apologizing that 'they didn't see any threat to the environment... [or] to people.' Later, only one percent of the discharged shells were recovered in a sloppy clean up operation ('Nuclear Policy'). Shishin & Wilkinson (2001) note the following occurrences from the year 2000:
Casings from DU shells were found in a private scrapyard in Okinawa; the owner had bought the metal from the US military. US officials claimed at the time that the casings were not from the Torishima firing, but might have come from shells used during the Gulf War... DU shells were still being stored at Kadena, a major air base (and munition storage area) on Okinawa... several Navy ships which dock at Yokosuka, a major naval base near Tokyo, [were] equipped with guns, called 'Phalanxes,' that fire DU shells.
The dangers to the environment in Torishima and elsewhere have not been adequately addressed by the U.S. military or the Japanese government, in fact, 'The truth of this complicity might have remained hidden were it not for the efforts of Japanese citizen groups working to eliminate DU weapons.'
Another aspect of the problem is that 'Japan may be very clearly, albeit indirectly, linked to the production of [DU] weapons.' Japan is a major producer of nuclear energy with about 50 power plants in operation. The U.S. and France are two of the main countries who process enriched uranium to sell to Japan. 'When the Japanese uranium is enriched' for use as fuel in nuclear power plants, 'it leaves a residue of DU. This residue is not shipped back to Japan, but is left in the country where the enrichment is done (Shishin & Wilkinson, 2001).' Therefore, the nuclear power industry in Japan is directly contributing to the accumulation of DU residue. Some of Japan's DU residue may be manufactured into DU munitions by the U.S. and France.
The issue of environmental pollution and destruction caused by bases should be seen within the broader context of the U.S. military's continued efforts to exempt itself from environmental regulations in both the U.S. (see chapter 4) and abroad. Okinawa offers a stark example of environmental racism and class exploitation. This takes place due to the unequal alliance between the United States and Japan, and with the complicity of Japanese elites who benefit from the arrangement.
Since the 1970's, Ui Jun (2003) has been one of Japan's most well known fighters against industrial pollution. I will refer to his recent report in English which offers one of the most detailed studies available of environmental problems at U.S. bases in Okinawa.
Ui is one of the pioneers of the field of critical environmental science in Japan. Both on Japan's main island of Honshu, where he delivered very popular lectures to the general public from the engineering department at Tokyo University (where he was never to gain tenure due to his exposing the dark side of industrial society), and now for the last sixteen years in Okinawa where he has worked with the Okinawa Environment Network (OEN). Ui was beckoned to relocate in Okinawa because it held 'three of Japan's five most polluted rivers' and his expertise was valued by anti-U.S. base citizen groups there (Ui, 2003).
The U.S. military empire has not brought prosperity to Okinawa, Japan's poorest prefecture. In fact, the 'worst water pollution' in Japan has been caused by the military presence there (Ui). The U.S. military occupies 'some 23,700 hectares or 19 percent of the choicest territory of the main island' (Johnson, 2003). Ui elaborates:
The overall picture is quite clear. Okinawa, which makes up just Ê0.6 per cent of Japan's land, contains more than 70 per cent of the U.S. military bases. If the U.S. bases were spread out evenly, Okinawa would have more or less 0.6 per cent of them, but it has more than one hundred times that share.
The political economy of Okinawa is based on the money that the central government of Japan receives from the U.S. for leasing lands in Okinawa. Whenever a crisis emerges, such as the 1995 rape case (discussed above), the government subdues outrage by pouring money into public works projects. This solution serves the duel purpose in Okinawa of creating jobs while politicians arrange sweetheart construction contracts with their friends in the notorious Doken Kokka, the economically wasteful and environmentally destructive 'construction state.' Throughout Japan, this system primarily benefits Japan's top politicians, bureaucrats and construction companies and organized crime syndicates, the yakuza (Kerr, 2001; McCormack, 2002).
Not only is this an irresponsible way to deal with social problems created by the presence of bases, but it leads to the destruction of Okinawa's subtropical coral reefs and primeval forests. The huge construction projects that are part of the 'compensation' are inappropriate for Okinawa's small, fragile and unique environment. Fighting the destructive 'development' projects which are direct consequences of the political economy of the U.S. bases has consumed much of the time and effort of anti base activists such as Ui and OEN.
Ui complains that what happens on the bases themselves is a topic that has hardly been dealt with. Only when environmental problems spill over the border of bases onto communities can they not be ignored, such as 'when waste oil flows outside a base as a result of accidents.' Decades after knowing about the dangers of synthetic substances released into the environment, there is still a dearth of data regarding the contamination of soils from U.S. bases. It seems obvious that foot dragging, incompetence, indifference and a lack of courage on the part of the Japanese government bears some blame since information has been withheld that would have helped community activists address this problem. Ui notes that the greater problem is the unequal relationship between the U.S. military and the Japanese government, with the former having the upper hand.
The following points raised by Ui are worth noting in detail as they highlight the political ecology of U.S. bases in Okinawa:
1) There is a dearth of data of 'what goes on at U.S. military bases' and contamination of soils from 'high concentrations of harmful substances including mercury, cadmium, arsenic and PCBs.'
2) Large amounts of unused munitions were abandoned in the forest surrounding the Fukuchi Dam where U.S. armed forces have run training exercises. 'The dam provides most of the water to the main island of Okinawa.' To what extent toxic effluents from munitions may have reached the general population's drinking water is unclear. What is clear is the profound disregard for the Okinawan people's public health by the U.S. military and the Japanese government.
3) Ui notes that researching polluted sites takes 'high-level experience in sample taking' and access to the appropriate maps in order to determine whether bases that have been returned to the government of Okinawa are contaminated or not. However, the U.S. military has not provided such assistance, making it very difficult for researchers to locate contaminated sites. The reason is simple: 'Regarding the return of land that has been polluted, Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Status of the United States Armed Forces Agreement clearly states that the responsibility for the re-establishment of status quo ante does not lie with the United States... Article 4 as a whole is utterly unilateral and no doubt disadvantageous for Japan.'
4) 'In cases where there is pollution, the Japanese government is burdened with the fees for its removal, and it already knows that removing pollution and restoring the land is no easy task from its experience with environmental pollution. If it does not admit the damage or underestimates it,' then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can save money on budget expenditures.
5) Though 'The Communist Party took a leading part in conducting empirical research on the problems of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Status Agreement which was published in A Point by Point Critique of the Japan-U.S. Status Agreement... there is little mention of pollution in the analysis of Article 4.' Ui considered this to be an unfortunate oversight in the process.
6) The published joint statement of "Environmental Principles" agreed upon by the U.S. and Japan was not included in Okinawa's Basic Environmental Regulations in 1999. Amazingly, the Bureau for the Environment and the Council for the Environment didn't know of the joint statement. An Okinawan environmental law which does not address U.S. military pollution is like passing a law to prohibit larceny without including punishment for robbers!
7) 'The Official Announcement of the 1973 Japanese-American Joint Council Agreement on the Environment' was kept unpublished for thirty years by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Had that document been available to Japanese scientists it 'would have been possible to request for inspections and publication of the results, and... [to obtain] samples' to measure contamination at U.S. bases. Whether this document was kept secret intentionally, or, as Ui characterizes it, due to a 'lack of sense of responsibility' on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the appalling results are the same.
8) For the purpose of comparing experiences, OEN is holding workshops with NGOs from the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea. Currently South Korea suffers under the unequal status agreement similar to Japan's, while the Philippines is hosting a renewed U.S. military presence after a respite in the 1990s after having closed down of bases there. This type of networking is important for understanding the political ecology of the bases. For example, Ui reported that 'the defoliant Agent Orange containing dioxin that had caused huge problems during the Vietnam War had been transported from Okinawa and had caused serious injuries to both the Vietnamese people who were sprayed with it and the American soldiers who had carried out the spraying. Depending on where and how the defoliant was stored in Okinawa, there is a possibility of strong dioxin pollution existing today.'
9) The sad fact is that Japan's ruling parties are perfectly happy to host U.S. military bases since this serves their interests, even while harming the public welfare. Although a 're-negotiation of the unequal and unilateral status agreement was strongly demanded within Japan, among the Foreign Ministers and bureaucrats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only former Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko responded that she would look into the matter.' Ms. Tanaka was booted out of the LDP after challenging their corrupt, old boy network in the Diet.
As Ui notes, the urgent work that should have begun thirty years ago of addressing U.S. base pollution is now slowly unfolding thanks to the hard work of NGOs such as the Okinawa Environment Network. Meanwhile, groups like Peace Depot based in Yokohama are addressing the danger of the U.S. 'nuclear umbrella' which violates Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and in fact acts as a 'nuclear magnet.' As the war in Iraq has shown, violent retaliation is being carried out against U.S. soldiers and U.S. allies in response to the occupation. U.S. bases in Japan are often located near densely populated urban areas. If such retaliation occurred against a U.S. base or civilian population in Japan it could result in catastrophe.
In response to this precarious situation, Peace Depot ('Report card,' 2002; Umebayashi, 2003) has made the following demands regarding the U.S.-Japan military alliance: 'eliminate dependence on nuclear umbrella; work toward nuclear weapon free zone in NE Asia; press US and Russia for disarmament; enforce Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.'
Furthermore they call for 'South Korea, North Korea and Japan to form the core of the zone as non-nuclear states.' This proposal relies on a sensitive understanding of the history of the region where many people are 'painfully aware of what horrors' occurred when 'several hundred thousand Japanese and another 100,000 ethnic Koreans mostly displaced from the Korean Peninsula ended up as atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.' Peace Depot became the first Japanese NGO to be able to present it's proposals to The Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in Geneva in 2002. Unfortunately, the demonization of North Korea by hawks in the U.S. and Japan has disrupted the process toward creating a Northeast Asian nuclear free zone. Amidst such instability, Peace Depot felt it was 'highly significant' that they were able to propose a 'concrete vision for bringing peace' to the region 'in the presence of the various government representatives.' Peace Depot's position is bolstered by the International Court of Justice which stated in 1996 that the world's nuclear nations have an 'obligation to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.'
In addition, the No Nuclear Weapons on Okinawa! Organizing Committee ('No Nuclear,' 2003) recently sent a letter to the President of the U.N. Security Council. They requested that since U.N. weapons inspectors had finished with their work in Iraq they should proceed to Okinawa 'to determine if there are any weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons, stored in any of the U.S. military bases.' Their letter highlighted the blatant hypocrisy of the Bush Administration's policy to demand weapons inspections in Iraq when the U.S. government itself is the world's largest holder of weapons of mass destruction. Some of the points they raised were as follows:
Of all weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are the most devastating; It is common knowledge that before Okinawa was reverted to Japan, nuclear weapons were kept on U.S. bases here; Under the Japanese government's 'three non-nuclear principles', nuclear weapons may not enter Japanese territory; Despite this, the United States Government has consistently refused to say whether it has removed its nuclear weapons from Okinawa. Few Okinawans believe they have been removed. The United States is the only country in the history of the world to have actually used these worst of all weapons of mass destruction.
The distress caused by U.S. military activities, especially the noise and danger from aircraft which carry out dare devil 'low flight' and 'night landing' missions is significant around bases in Japan. Wilkinson (2001) reports that:
The earliest recorded incident came in August 1987, when a plane on a low-flight mission broke a cable in Nara Prefecture that, fortunately, was used for hauling logs. In August 1995, a woman was thrown from a horse when a low-flying plane passed overhead, and broke a vertebra. In the years since, there have been a series of crashes, but none of them resulted in any injuries to local residents (though there were fatalities among the pilots)... these flights regularly take place in at least 26 out of Japan's 47 prefectures, showing that the effects are widespread... between 1995 and 1999, there were 42 cases of windows being broken by low-flying jets... however, the central government has shown great reluctance to do anything to deal with the concerns of local residents.
Growing dissatisfaction amongst the public could be witnessed when 'the mayors of five cities in Japan that play host to US military airports... issued a document calling for the US to end' the dangerous and noisy practice of night-landings in their cities. Wilkinson believes that, 'Opposition to the arrogance of US forces may be on the increase. In both Korea and Japan, there is great opposition to the Status of Forces Agreements.'
However, due to the enormous influence that the reactionary education system and mainstream media have over people's thinking ability, some observers are pessimistic about the hopes for grassroots democracy and the removal of U.S. bases in the near future.
[The] propaganda seems to be working well. One would be hard-pressed to find any large demonstrations against U.S. bases in Japan by Japanese students or Japanese workers. One can find an active anti-U.S. base movement only in the southern island of Okinawa... Extremely weak trade unions and university student bodies in our country make it very easy for the ruling class to control people. The Japanese, I would say, have politically changed very little since 1868, when the shogun-ruled Edo period ended and the Western- leaning Meiji period began (Asano, 2003).
In contrast to Asano's pessimism, there are many young people involved in cultural change movements to make Japan a more liberal society. This is an improvement over the subservient behavior of Japanese in 19th century. But his point is well taken. In the build up to the war in Iraq in 2003, the largest anti-war demonstration was estimated to include 40,000 people. In general, the Tokyo peace movement consists of only about 5,000 hard core members in a country of over 127 million people. Though a majority of Japanese say they are anti-war, they have done little to substantively challenge their government's trajectory toward remilitarization.
Setting aside the tragic human cost, the environmental effects of the 1991 U.S. led Gulf war were a catastrophe. Landsberg (2003) reminds us of the effects when 'the sky over the Persian Gulf went dark for months after Iraqi soldiers set fire to 600 of Kuwait's oil wells and dumped four million barrels of oil into the gulf... The sooty clouds contained half a billion tons of greenhouse gases... Several million birds [including] curlews, plovers, terns, grebes, egrets, [and] spoonbills' who inhabit the regions during parts of the year were severely affected. Most people don't know that, 'The Gulf is one of the world's most important habitats for marine turtles, hosting four endangered species, [and for] otters, dolphins and dugongs which were harmed by the oil spills.'
In the so-called Drug war in Colombia, the U.S. has unleashed highly toxic herbicides meant to kill coca crops, but which have also polluted rivers and contaminated peasant food crops (Gedicks, 2002). U.S. military involvement in the region is having devastating effects on the socio-ecological system and threatens one of the most biologically rich and diverse habitats in the world.
The contamination from U.S. led wars has harmed people, habitats and wildlife in Afghanistan; in Europe and in the Balkans: Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Austria and Hungary. 12 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used in the 1999 war in Yugoslavia which 'caused irreparable damage to the Yugoslavian environment, with agriculture, livestock air and water, and public health all profoundly damaged' (Worthington, 2003). Parenti (2000) cites the testimony of a NATO coalition captain from Spain who criticized NATO's indiscriminate bombing policy in Yugoslavia:
They are destroying the country, bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nerve gases, surface mines dropped with parachute, bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilization chemicals, sprayings to poison the crops, and weapons of which even we still do not know anything. THE NORTH AMERICANS ARE COMMITTING THERE ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARBARITIES THAT CAN BE COMMITTED AGAINST HUMANITY [emphasis added].'
Parenti's conclusion, which offers a good summary of the social and environmental effects of modern warfare:
[there is] no justification for bombing fifteen cities in round-the-clock raids for over two months, spewing hundreds of thousands of tons of highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into the water, air, and soil, poisoning agricultural fields and rivers, maiming and killing thousands, exposing millions to depleted uranium, and obliterating the productive capital of an entire nation.
Relying on government reports, Savage (2000) found that the U.S. military 'produces nearly a ton of toxic pollution a minute... 500,000 tons of toxics annually -- more than the five leading chemical companies combined' (p. 5). With the recent arms build up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., this amount of pollution must be rapidly increasing as well. The U.S. military budget is expected to nearly double from mid 1990 levels of spending to reach $451 billion per year by 2007 (Chossudovsky, 2002). On November 24th, 2003, President Bush signed a military spending bill of $401 billion ('Bush signs,' 2003).
The toxic legacy left over from the Cold War in 1990 included 'more than 17,484 military sites in violation of federal environmental laws' in the U.S. (Savage) The military is a huge consumer of energy, for example, 'a conventionally powered aircraft carrier consumes 150,000 gallons of fuel per day. In less than an hour's flight, a jet launched from it's flight deck consumes as much fuel as a U.S. motorist uses in two years.' There is also the widespread problem of the military's underground chemical and fuel tanks leaking and contaminating aquifers. In one case drinking water that was tested had toxins at 10,000 times the level that was considered safe by government.
Needless to say, the monstrous expenditures that go for military uses could instead go toward environmental protections and restoration. A pittance of a few million dollars a year could go a long way toward protecting Africa's magnificent elephant populations (when the wide ranging elephants are protected, numerous other species gain protection as well). Talk of 'sustainable use' of endangered wildlife species by hunters and wildlife traders is disingenuous given the vast resources that are wasted on war preparation and battle. One can only imagine the solutions that could occur if funds were appropriately used toward a sustainable energy policy; reducing global warming, deforestation and desertification; assisting environmental refugees; and restoring the world's dying oceans, to name but a few of our planet's urgent needs.
U.S. military pollution occurs in the context of the capitalist industrial system, which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dumped '7.1 billion pounds of hazardous compounds into the air and water in the United States in the year 2000' (Malkan, 2003). This amount is just the tip of the toxic ice berg since this datum was volunteered by 'only a subset of industries.' Whitaker (2003), also relying on EPA data offers a different statistic (perhaps referring to global pollution levels) and states that 'almost 6 trillion pounds of chemicals are released into the environment each year. Some of these inevitably make their way into our bodies via the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.' The carcinogenic and immunity-impairing effects of pollution on human and non human organisms has been well documented. Whitaker, a medical doctor notes that the human 'liver undergoes subtle trauma every day' as the body's 'primary organ for detoxification,' this organ processes every poison that people 'eat, drink and inhale.' In addition to human suffering, pollution is a major contributor to medical costs in the U.S.
The health of communities around the world is being damaged by the environmental practices of the U.S. military. Day after day, the Department of Defense (DoD) and defense-related agencies are undermining the basis for life on the planet by their toxic dumping; production, testing, and battlefield use of munitions; air and water pollution; hazardous waste generation, transport, and disposal; military assault training operations; bombing and live fire training; and nuclear propulsion and warhead production, to name only a few of their deadly habits... The country's largest polluter -- the U.S. military -- and the rest of the federal government are completely or partially exempt from basic environmental, public safety, and worker protection laws and regulations. These exemptions, plus lax or nonexistent enforcement of laws that do apply, have helped produce a slew of environmental catastrophes at military bases, defense-related facilities, and battlefields across the U.S. and around the world (Taylor & Hunter, 2001).
The foremost NGO in the U.S. that addresses the issue of military pollution is the Military Toxics Project Environmental Health Coalition (MTP) (2001):
Every day the health and safety of our communities are under assault. It is constant. It is unrelenting. It is not the work of a foreign government or secret terrorist society. It is the result of hazardous and polluting operations of our own U.S. Military... Military exemptions from laws and lax enforcement by regulatory agencies have produced over 27,000 toxic hot spots on 8,500 military properties.
Since the 1970s, of the 70 laws passed to protect 'environmental, worker protection, and public safety,' the nation's largest polluting governmental agencies, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, have remained largely exempt from accountability by means of 'direct exemption, sovereign immunity, the Unitary Executive doctrine, and the use of Executive Orders.' MTP calls for immediate compliance by all U.S. government departments to the Clean Water Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; the Clean Air Act; the Oil Pollution Act, the Noise Act; the Atomic Energy Act; the Occupational Safety and Health Act; the Emergency Planning and Community Response Act; the Coastal Zone Management Act; and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Note that MTP's demands were made prior to the post 9/11 U.S. military build up and the vigorous rollback of environmental protection laws pushed for by the Bush administration. Kelly (2003) finds that the post 9/11 military spending boom 'represents a bonanza for defense contractors like Northrop Grumman' but a possible 'increase in toxic emissions... particularly in communities surrounding the thousands of plants involved in defense manufacturing nationwide.'
In one example, a Boston University epidemiologist 'studied the incidence of cancer in Concord' from 1980 to 1989 and 'found that the cancer incidence' there was 'double that in other areas' in Massachusetts. One the other side of the country in Los Angeles there is 'the largest defense manufacturing complex in the nation.' It is likely that increased military production in the post 9/11 era will occur 'without much regulatory scrutiny or public notice.'
Aerospace companies also use exotic metals, such as beryllium, because it is light, strong and flexible, qualities needed in a wide range of aircraft components, such as bushings, thermo-couplers, gyroscopes, and x-ray windows... Workers exposed to beryllium have developed immunological lung disorders, as have family members exposed to the metal when carried home on work clothing. Hexavalent chromium is a carcinogen and many solvents used in the defense industries cause nerve system disorders... and cancer.
It is also reported that 'asthmatics who number about 5 to 7 percent of the general U.S. population... are more numerous among some segments of the population, such as children and African Americans.' As Bullard (1990) discovered in his classic study on environmental racism in the Southern U.S., that,
Black communities still suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Discriminatory practices occur at various levels of government and affect the location of polling places, municipal landfills, and toxic-waste dumps... Black communities and their inhabitants must defend themselves against hostile external forces that shape land-use decisions and environmental policies.
In addition to the environmental degradation that is endured by communities of color, minorities, and other economically deprived groups in the U.S., Hoffman (2003) has forcefully documented the potential (some say inevitable) nuclear catastrophe that awaits all of America if the issue of an aging and malfunctioning nuclear industry is not unflinchingly addressed. For example, a terrorist attack on a vulnerable nuclear power plant could cause a radioactive accident of unimaginable proportions. The U.S. military itself is heavily involved in nuclear power production. Hoffman's fact sheet reports that:
1) Nuclear waste grows by about 100 tons every day around the world.
2) Each 1000 Megawatt nuclear reactor produces about 250 lb. per day of High Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW).
3) There are about 430 nuclear reactors around the world, some of which are smaller than others, but some of which are undoubtedly also less efficient. In addition to HLRW, every day these reactors produce about 400 tons of the so-called Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW), which is really just HLRW, diluted.
4) There is no such thing as low level radioactive waste. It's all dangerous.
5) If one reactor produces 1/8 of a ton per day of HLRW, then 400+ reactors produce at least 50 tons a day.
6) Most of the rest of the waste comes from military reactors. There are hundreds of them, and they may or may not be more efficient than commercial reactors. Also, there is a lot of "scrap" created during the life of a reactor, such as the reactor pressure vessel, which is highly irradiated and certainly not considered low level radioactive waste.
7) There is no known scientific method for the safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste. For the past half century, scientists have been assuring us a solution to the nuclear waste problem would be coming soon. But the fact is, it's an unsolvable problem because nuclear waste destroys any container you put it in on an atomic level.
There is now voluminous evidence that the Bush administration is not only 'ignoring America's increasingly polluted environment' but has successfully rolled back many of the environmental protections that began in the late 19th century ('Bush budget,' 2001). From the establishment of national parks during that era, all the way up to the 1970's with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a flood of laws that were passed to protect public health and endangered species, Bush's reckless policy comes at a critical time.
Evidence indicating the Earth is right now undergoing climate change, the ecological importance of large wilderness habitats such as ANWR [Alaska], and other environmental scientific findings - many by government scientists - [is] being systematically ignored and/or edited from official government documents ('Bush-Cheney,' 2001).
The Super fund toxic waste cleanup program that had been given priority by the federal government after the Cold War has now become bankrupt. This will force 'regular taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden for toxic waste cleanups' ('Super fund Trust,' 2003). 'The bankruptcy of the Super fund trust fund marks a dramatic shift in toxic waste cleanup policy. The Bush Administration is letting polluting industries off the hook again...' Well established laws such as the Clean Air Act are also under attack from presidential campaign contributors in the energy industry. Bush recently 'dropped enforcement actions against dozens of coal-fired power plants that were under investigation for violating the Clean Air Act and allegedly spewing thousands of tons of illegal pollution into the air' (Shogren, 2003). Yet another astonishing outrage is the U.S. threat to renege on one of the most successful and important international environmental treaties on record, the Montreal Protocol, which was ratified to revive the Earth's vital ozone layer (Lean, 2003).
In a report from a top U.S. environmental organization, the Earth Island Institute highlighted the litany of threats made by the Bush administration to the world's endangered wildlife ('Congress is poised,' 2003). Among laws that are in the cross hairs are the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The U.S. Navy has long been seeking an exemption to their use of powerful sonar devices (LFAS) which have been known to severely disrupt the behavior and health of marine mammals. The usual rationale of national security and the war on terror are given as blanket reasons for gutting what have been highly successful measures for protecting whales, seals, dolphins, and a myriad of other endangered species.
Another symbol of the long history of Western ecological imperialism, is the archaic practice of safari hunting ('Bush Endangered,' 2003). Bowing to pressure from lobbyists in the safari hunting, zoo and exotic wildlife trade industries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has sought to eliminate trade bans for more than 500 endangered species. Advocates of wildlife consumption claim to support the practice of 'sustainable use' whereby proceeds from the harvesting of animals nominally help pay for conservation. However, a large coalition of wildlife protection groups state that this measure would be 'fundamentally incompatible' with the Endangered Species Act and 'could lead to the extinction of any of more than 500 species around the world. Turning species into commodities will only increase the slaughter and encourage illegal trade and poaching."
To bolster the de-regulatory onslaught, the Bush administration is using archaic legal precedents to attack groups such as Greenpeace. The pretext of fighting terrorism is used to justify such draconian moves, but in reality this a means to further the agenda of logging companies (Horrock, 2003). In a case where illegally harvested mahogany logs were entering the U.S., Greenpeace protesters boarded the vessel to witness the crime. However, the tables were turned when the Ashcroft justice department charged Greenpeace with the serious offense of committing 'conspiracy.' Under the obscure ruling which blatantly infringes on the spirit and intent of the U.S. Constitution, Greenpeace may lose it's tax exempt status and be forced to report it's activities directly to the government.
For useful analyses of all the Bush administration environmental attacks and rollbacks, see the Forests.org website and their comprehensive database: http://forests.org/america/
|'Nuke the evil scum, it worked in 1945!'||-- pro-war activist (Worthington, 2003)|
'The United States is the largest generator of DU in the world, with a stockpile of 700,000 tonnes and growing' (Stapp, 2003). The U.S.'s use of so-called 'depleted' uranium weaponry has been well documented since it was first used in the Gulf war in 1991. The issue re-emerged into the mainstream with the U.S. led bombing of Yugoslavia when many coalition force troops were exposed to DU particles and became sick, and some died. To date, the U.S. has used DU on a large scale in wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003; Yugoslavia in 1999; Afghanistan in 2001 - 2002; and in training exercises in various parts of the world such as in Vieques, Puerto Rico and in Okinawa, Japan.
Mackay (2003) notes that the use of DU in the war against 17 million Iraqis in 2003 was a deliberate violation of 'a United Nations resolution which classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction [since] DU contaminates land, causes ill-health and cancers among the soldiers using the weapons, the armies they target and civilians, leading to birth defects in children.' The U.N. claims that 'Cancer appears to have increased between seven and 10 times and deformities between four and six times' due to their use in first Gulf war. Estimates of the amount of DU that was used in the first Gulf war range from 320 to 1000 metric tons. The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority reported that, 'some 500,000 people would die before the end of this century, due to radioactive debris left in the desert' of Iraq.
Nothing compares to the astronomical cancer rates and birth defects suffered by the Iraqi people who have endured vicious nuclear chastisement for years. U.S. air attacks against Iraq since 1993 have undoubtedly employed nuclear [DU] munitions. Pictures of grotesquely deformed Iraqi infants born since 1991 are overwhelming. Like those born to Gulf War I vets, many babies born to troops now in Iraq will also be afflicted with hideous deformities, neurological damage and/or blood and respiratory disorders (Worthington, 2003).
Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project and one of the most knowledgeable and outspoken critics of DU, accuses the U.S. of committing a 'war crime' every time it is employed in battle. His case rests on a foundation of international law (Mackay). According to the U.N., laws that were breached by using DU include: 'the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Charter of the United Nations; the Genocide Convention; the Convention Against Torture; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.' Rokke has noted of DU contamination, 'These consequences last for eternity. The half life of uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years' ('The war,' 2003).
In the Iraq war of 2003, it is estimated that 200 tons of DU were released during combat (Stapp, 2003). In contrast to Gulf war 1991 where most munitions were exploded in desert regions, this time numerous missiles containing DU were fired into the populated capital city of Baghdad.
The 'Christian Science Monitor' took a Geiger counter to parts of Baghdad that had been subjected to heavy shelling by U.S. troops. He found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal in residential areas where children were playing nearby.
In addition to the harm inflicted upon civilians, Dr. Rokke has investigated and exposed the connection to Gulf War Syndrome among thousands of U.S. military veterans and in wars since then.
Dr. Rokke confirms that the Pentagon lies about DU dangers and is criminally negligent for neglecting medical attention needed by DU-contaminated vets. He predicts that the numbers of American troops to be sickened by DU from Gulf War II will be staggering. As they gradually sicken and suffer a slow burn to their graves, the Pentagon will, as it did after Gulf War I, deny that their misery and death is a result of their tour in Iraq (Worthington, 2003).
Sterngold (2003, April) notes that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack's in the U.S., the Bush administration began a severely 'unilateral approach to international disputes' which has helped to undue the post W.W.II 'global arms control and disarmament movement.' According to a U.N. official who worked to extend a non-proliferation treaty, 'There is a general feeling that the disarmament machinery is just not working.' In regard to such treaties, it should be noted that the signing of a treaty shows that in principle a country agrees with its content whereas the more important ratification process means that the legislative body of a government has passed it into law. The following points illustrate Bush administration's moves to undermine global security.
1) Abrogation of the 1972 Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty.
2) Non ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which had been signed by President Clinton.
3) The United States has rejected an inspection and verification program for the biological weapons treaty, saying it is not stringent enough.
4) Resistance to the creation of a treaty that would 'prohibit weapons in outer space and to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons' in space.
5) Resistance to the space treaty which would impede the U.S.'s desire to use 'lasers on satellites as part of a missile defense.'
6) Opposition to 'efforts to ban the use of land mines.'
7) Signing of a nuclear missile reduction treaty which only temporarily decommissions such weapons while failing to permanently remove them from operations.
Building upon this reactionary agenda, the Republican led congress has paved the way for an agreement which 'will reverse a decade of self-imposed restraint on the development of so- called battlefield nuclear weapons... make nuclear exchanges more likely' and spur regional nuclear arms races (Sterngold 2003, November).
Finally, the U.S. recently 'has regained the capability to make nuclear weapons for the first time in 14 years and has restarted production of plutonium parts for bombs' (Vartabedian, 2003). This is a striking move toward re-proliferation of nuclear weapons after a decade long lull in weapons production. Even after 'the toll of environmental damage from bomb production became known... the government is now spending about $6 billion annually on the nuclear weapons complex, 50% more than it did during' the Cold War period.
As London's mayor, Ken Livingstone recently stated in reference to U.S. Dictator George W. Bush's visit to the United Kingdom, 'I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction' ('London Mayor,' 2003). While unapologetic disgust with Bush is justifiable, he is merely a symptom of the larger cancer of American militarism and corporate/financial greed that is taking the world in the direction of economic, social, political and environmental instability, if not chaos. This is evident in the unending refinement of technologies devoted to killing human beings.
A wild variety of munitions are what it takes to make the U.S. military the greatest spectacle on Earth. During the 1991 Gulf war, 'the U.S. deployed 117,634 landmines in Iraq and Kuwait,' (Landsberg, 2003). Despite the terrible effects on non-combatant civilians and the worldwide outcry against their use, the U.S. continues to deploy landmines in battle and refuses to join the 142 signatory nations of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. Naturally, the people who suffer most from such indiscriminate weaponry are peasant farmers and children playing in fields who often lose their limbs in random blasts.
When bigger fire power is needed to spook the spooks out of their caves, the military calls for aerial bombing with 2,000 pound cluster bombs which have been documented in recent wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq to indiscriminately kill civilians. Brightly colored unexploded cluster bombs have been mistaken as toys or food packages resulting in injury or death to unsuspecting civilians, particularly children.
[The] CBU-75 Sadeye [is] a cluster bomb that contains 1800 one-pound bomblets, each containing 0.7 pounds of TNT with 700 razor-sharp steel shards imbedded in it, lethal up to 40 feet. These are scattered over an area equivalent to 157 football fields; presumably nothing-military, civilian, old, young, male, female-survives within this space. Many of the bomblets fail to go off and become landmines, the perfect random killer. The people who drop these bombs know all this' (Bardacke, Lummis & Lustig, 2003).
Such weapons are not only used to inflict vast physical destruction, but also psychological terror. Bardacke et al. (2003) carried out an informal survey of the general public in North America to see if people thought there was any difference between state sanctioned military operations and terrorism. Most respondents seemed to have a woolly understanding of the issue, unable to see that the government's mega-bombs which are employed to create a 'significant emotional event' are really meant to terrify enemy troops and civilians, i.e. it is terrorism. For example, the attack on Iraq in 2003 was marketed on American TV as a sort of sports event. The opening quarter trumpeted as 'shock and awe' with an exciting array of missiles, bombs and high tech gadgetry being employed to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.
The following list offers an incomplete sampling of the modern killing technology that is being developed or is part of the U.S. arsenal:
1) The AC-130 is a 'gigantic cargo plane that has been modified so that it can shoot 20 mm and 7.62 mm Gatling guns and a 105 mm howitzer out the side door. It circles around its target... and rains down fire from all sides.' The Gatling guns which fire 'up to 6000 rounds per minute, can fill an area the size of a football field with one round per square foot. In one incident, the AC 130 that attacked the Afghan town of Chowkar-Karez on October 22-23, 2001, killing, it is said, 93 civilians.'
2) The BLU-82B, also known as Big Blue or Daisy Cutter weighs 15000 lb. 'Its lethal radius is reported to be between 300 and 600 feet ('five football fields')... Military sources say that its 'psychological effect' (i.e. terrifying effect) is at least as useful as the material destruction it wreaks' since people in the vicinity may mistake if for a nuclear weapon due to the gigantic sound and cloud of dust it releases (Bardacke et al).
3) The MOAB, which some call the 'mother of all bombs,' but really stands for 'massive ordnance air burst' bomb. MOAB is now the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. apparatus weighing in at 21,000 pounds. It is 'pushed out the back of a C-130 transport and guided by satellite.' The 'massive explosive punch... is similar to a small nuclear weapon' (McWerthy, 2003).
4) If there is an lingering doubt about the horrific nature of modern warfare, the CBU-72/B will put it to rest. CBU-72/B is 'a cluster bomb that contains three BLU-73/B fuel-air explosives (FAE). Each of these holds 75 lb. of ethylene oxide. The first explosion turns this into an aerosol cloud 60 feet in diameter and 9 feet thick; the second explosion ignites this, 'turns the air into fire' according to one description. The particular advantage of this is that there is no such thing as 'taking shelter.' The cloud follows the victims anywhere; they will even inhale the burning fuel. Even if they are in deep bunkers, the explosion burns up all the oxygen from the air, and creates a vacuum that ruptures the lungs and other internal organs. And if it fails to ignite it is still a killer: the aerosol itself is as lethal as poison gas. The U.S. dropped 254 of these during the Gulf War'... (Bardacke et al.).
5) The 'B-61-11 burrowing nuke bomb' is able to smash 'through the earth and concrete' and 'explodes with the force of an estimated 340,000 tons of TNT.' It contains plutonium and hydrogen elements which release an 'H-bomb fireball' upon explosion. The U.S. also 'plans for a new generation of 'mini,' 'micro' and 'tiny' nuclear bombs and bunker busters,' (Worthington).
6) Just as we often hear in sports commentary, it is not only physical size that contributes to a winning player, but speed as well. As Shachtman (2003) reports,
'The Tomahawk cruise missile may seem fast and far-reaching. But Pentagon planners want more.' With faster and farther ranging weaponry, the U.S. would be able to extend it's military and political hegemony over the world by comfortably 'delivering' payloads from bases in the continental U.S. The Pentagon is designing a 'hypersonic CAV (Common Aero Vehicle) cruise missile' that by 2010 is supposed to be able to deliver a 1,000 lb. 'bunker-busting bomb into near-space, and then send it crashing into a target more than 3,000 miles away, at four times the speed of sound.' By 2025, the military hopes to develop a drone plane called a Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle which could 'travel more than 10,000 miles in less than two hours, and deliver 12,000 pounds worth of CAVs or sensors.' Also on board HCVs could be 'Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) or other munitions' ('Bomb anywhere,' 2003).
7) It is not only missiles and bombs that can cause destruction, but also a new geophysical weapon being developed by the U.S. called HAARP (High Active Auroral Research Program). HAARP is supposed to be able to turn the Earth itself into a weapon by manipulating the atmosphere, the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. Solomatin (2003) found U.S. experimentation with HAARP to be so controversial that the Russian government recommended to the United Nations that HAARP experiments be banned:
Many specialists and scientists believe that unexpected natural disasters, some surprising technological catastrophes and the striking social cataclysms that struck Europe and Asia in the summer of the year 2002 might have certain global reasons in common in their origin. Principally the possibility of secret geophysical weapon tests. Tests which were either secret or unauthorized... The operators of such a weapon are able to program floods, tornadoes storms and even earthquakes in any region of the planet. It is also possible to paralyze civil and military electronic surveillance systems, and even to affect the psyche of entire nations (Solomatin).
8) Cramer (2003) found the U.S. Navy is involved in 'Aggressive efforts to exploit ocean resources.' These efforts 'threaten to alter, perhaps irrevocably, the finely-tuned chemical balances of the deep sea, with grave peril to animal and plant populations that dwell within it.' In addition to the noise that sea animals must endure from commercial 'ship engines and propellers and seismic airguns from oil exploration,' the Navy's LFAS (low frequency active sonar) emits greater noise and disruption to marine mammals who 'depend on sound to survive -- to identify feeding grounds, to communicate and find mates, and to follow migration routes.'
Each [LFAS] system, towed from a ship, deploys an array of 18 loudspeakers, each beaming 215 decibels (dB) of sound at low-frequency throughout the sea. Noise emanating from each speaker is equivalent to standing on a runway next to a jet fighter taking off. Where the sound converges, further away from the source, the noise level rises to 235 dB, one hundred times louder. A hundred miles from the source, the sound may still be as loud as 160 dB, loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage in humans (Cramer).
There is evidence that LFAS experiments from have caused numerous whales to become stranded or die at sea.
9) Wirbel (2002) directs our attention to a program which became well known in the 1980's as Star Wars, or the missile defense shield. Although the idea of missile defense has been ridiculed by scientists who found flaws in it's ability to reliably block incoming missiles, the program has offered broad cover for the merging of governmental agencies, private corporations and the U.S. military toward the goal of developing space based weaponry and surveillance systems. The U.S. Space Command's plans for space were made explicit in the 1996 document, Vision for 2020. Of crucial importance:
domination of space in order 'to protect the current global division between economic haves and have-nots'; 'satellites and satellite launches'; 'The Global Positioning System (GPS)' in order to 'provide precision targeting for military missions'; and the Defense Support Program (DSP) which warns of impending missile attacks from abroad.
The legacy of the past five hundred years of imperialist cultures in conjunction with the innovation of technology and the pace of global environmental degradation is terrifying to ponder. For example, Waugh (2003) reports that 'according to a European scientific committee' which researched radiation biology and human epidemiology, studies show that radioactive 'pollution from nuclear energy and weapons programmes up to 1989... have caused, or will eventually cause, the death of 65 million people worldwide.'
As shown in this paper, one can never relax the vigilant faculties of the mind regarding the development of ever more powerful and deadly weapons systems and other potentially destructive innovative technology. Proctor found that as of 1991, between 20 percent up to a third of the world's scientists were involved in military research. The human potential for solving environmental problems is thus squandered by the militaristic mindset that has largely created the environmental chaos we are now engulfed in.
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