Jeju

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Robert Redford: “How the Arms Race is Threatening a Korean Paradise”

The South Korean government, which is subordinate on military matters to the U.S., under the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, is building the enormous base on the coast at Gangjeong, Jeju, South Korea, a traditional farming and fishing community. If the project is allowed to continue, it will be large enough to hold 20 warships, including Aegis destroyers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and 8,000 troops. South Korea is already one of the most militarized places in the world. But this new base is part of the Pentagon’s recently announced plan to move 60 percent of its military resources from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region – the “Pacific pivot.” The idea is to circle China with Aegis missiles. Islanders fear the base would destabilize the region, lead to a new Cold War, and turn their home into a first-strike target.

“Imagine dropping fifty-seven cement caissons, each one the size of a four-story house, on miles of beach and soft coral reefs. It would destroy the marine ecosystem. Our imperfect knowledge already tells us that at least nine endangered species would be wiped out, and no one knows or perhaps can know the chain reaction. That’s what is about to happen on the pristine coastline of Jeju Island…” —Robert Redford Read More

“For the United States, the base’s purpose is to project force toward China – and to provide a forward operating installation in the event of a military conflict. The last thing the world needs is brinksmanship between the U.S. and China. The protest now taking place on Jeju counts as a critical struggle against a potentially devastating war in Asia, and against the deeply rooted institutional structures that are driving the world toward ever more conflict.—Noam Chomsky Read More

Residents of Gangjeong, the village that is to be home to this base, have been living in tents along the endangered coastline, trying to stave off the dredging and bulldozing. In a vote several years ago at a village meeting, residents overwhelming opposed the base. They’ve tried to block construction with lawsuits and pleas for a proper environmental impact study. They’ve been fined, beaten, arrested and imprisoned. They’ve gone on hunger strikes, chained themselves to anything available, invited tourists in to see what’s at stake, established Web sites and won support from global peace organizations.” Gloria Steinem Read More

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