Last Sunday, in Trento, Italy, Prime Minister Romano Prodi was speaking at an economics conference when protesters began demonstrating outside and inside the event. They were protesting plans to dramatically expand the U.S. military base called Vicenza in their community.
Prodi, who led a center-left coalition to take power, sat silently as one woman protest leader was given the microphone to address the audience.
“We voted for you on the basis of a manifesto which spoke of less servitude towards the military and of participatory democracy. Where are those words?” she asked.
Prodi did not address the issue in his speech but told the media afterwards, “On the U.S. base at Vicenza, the government has made its decision, a decision we are sticking to.”
The several hundred protesters outside had to be carried away before Prodi could leave.
The demands of the Italians include:
BUSH, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. THE WORLD HAS HAD IT.
ITALY, DON’T FOLLOW BUSH! ITALY AND EUROPE MUST ACT AUTONOMOUSLY AGAINST THE MISGUIDED RATIONALE OF SUPREMACY AND WAR.
NO TO THE BASE IN VICENZA AT DAL MOLIN, NO TO U.S. BASES, NO TO MILITARIZATION, NO TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS, NO TO THE F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER, NO TO THE MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM.
Bush will be in Rome on June 9 and a national demonstration is planned to oppose his visit and the U.S. military empire.
The “missile defense system” issue is becoming quite big throughout Europe as Bush rushes forward with deployment plans of interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar facility in the Czech Republic. On May 26 thousands protested against U.S. plans for the radar facility in the Czech Republic. The public in both Poland and the Czech Republic are strongly opposed to these new U.S. bases but their governments are giving in to Bush’s pressure.
In Australia the government is joining the U.S. for military war games called Talisman Sabre 2007. The maneuvers will bind Australia with the U.S. military expansion currently sweeping across the north-west Pacific Ocean. This increasing militarization is anchored on the small island of Guam which the U.S. now occupies.
The majority of the 20,000 U.S. troops, planes, ships and submarines which engage in military exercises such as Talisman Sabre in Australia are either home based in Guam, are rotated to Guam, or transit through Guam from bases in Hawaii and the U.S. continent. Activists on Guam have been calling on the U.S. for many years to give the island back to the people.
Australian activists are now <http://www.peaceconvergence.com/>organizing to hold protests nationwide opposing Talisman Sabre. For two weeks, beginning mid-June, 12,400 Australian troops will participate in live aerial, ship to shore and land based artillery bombardments with the U.S. troops. Of particular concern is that the war games will be held in some of Australia,s most precious environments. Shoalwater Bay Training Area, which is partly within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, has seen a massive government injection of public funding to upgrade and expand facilities in preparation for these and future war games.
One Australian activist put it this way: “Don’t worry that the world is melting down from climate change and the oceans of aviation fuel and heavy crude oil their ships will guzzle up to come here from the other side of the world. Don’t worry about the carcinogenic nature of all these heavy metal bombs (even if we can`trust’ them on their word not to use depleted uranium bombs) they will explode and will drift on the wind over Australia for up to one thousand kilometers from the drop site. …. We have a moral obligation to object to our sacred soil being used to train soldiers for pre-emptive wars that are launched to steal natural resources from people who are no threat to us, who are always the main casualties in these adventurist wars to grab their natural resources so we can indulge our own first world lifestyles.”
In addition, some 230 miles north of Perth, at Geraldton on Australia’s west coast, the Bush administration is building a new base. When completed, it will control two geostationary satellites that feed intelligence to U.S. military forces in Asia and the Middle East. Most Americans know nothing about Geraldton, just as they know nothing about other Australian sites such as the U.S. submarine communications base at North Cape or the U.S. missile-tracking center at Pine Gap. But there is growing concern Down Under that Prime Minster John Howard’s conservative government is weaving a network of alliances and U.S. bases that puts Australia under full control of the U.S. military machine.
Just like in Italy, the public in Australia is not behind their nation’s subservience to the U.S. All over the world people are learning that their governments, as corporate globalization takes hold, have become slaves to the interests of corporate profit and militarism.
As we see the activists in Italy, Czech Republic, Guam, and Australia work hard to resist U.S. militarism, we in the U.S. must step up and stand in solidarity with those on the receiving end of the mighty U.S. military boot that is coming down hard on their necks.
A global peace movement is in motion.
BRUCE K. GAGNON is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org