Many priests, nuns, ministers, and Buddhist monks regularly travel to Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island to protest the construction of the massive naval base that is destroying the village, the pristine ecosystem, and contributing to the military expansion of the United States, not to mention raising the already high tensions of the region.
Among the most regular protestors are three Jesuits who have made direct action their priestly ministry. All have been arrested and jailed for obstructing construction of the base. I spent many hours each day chatting with them and filming their encounters with the Korean police as many as ten times every day.
I taped an interview with the three one day during lunch in front of the gates. Their comments were inspirational, but the final couple of minutes are hilarious. Enjoy meeting my friends and brothers in this 5:50 clip.
One evening at dinner, I sat next to Sr. Stella, a Korean missionary sister with a great sense of humor and a good command of the English language. After dinner and a delightful conversation, Sr. Stella asked, “so why not interview me. I want to tell Obama and the American people something.”
How could I refuse? Sitting next to the 20 ft barbed wire topped fence of the base, with the light fading fast and a fire burning to keep warm on that cool evening, Sr. Stella with all the confidence in the world and the passion of her convictions, let it rip.
She is one of hundreds of Catholic nuns from Korea and Jeju Island who visit Gangjeong Village frequently to stand in solidarity with the villagers and activists in their struggle against the construction of the naval base that is destroying the environment and their village, not to mention the denial of their human right to live peacefully there as they have done for over one thousand years.
Even today, some six months removed from my stay in Gangjeong Village, I am overcome with emotion as I pour through hours of interviews and video for my film, Jeju: In the Crosshairs of War.
I am sure you will enjoy meeting Sr. Stella and be moved by her message.
It is truly ironic and coincidental that one day after I posted part of an interview with Jeju Bishop Peter Kang saying the only way to ensure peace is to “diminish arms,” the NY Times reports that the U.S. is allowing S. Korea to use drones and to expand the range of their ballistic missiles.
At issue here are two fundamental premises: 1) that the Korean government is clearly not a sovereign nation, but a puppet of the U.S., and 2) that peace and national security can be maintained by another escalation of the arms race and the provocation of China, N. Korea, and Russia.
It is further proof of the real intent of the U.S. government, the U.S. military, and the military industrial complex to dominate and control the planet based on the doctrine of a Pax Americana whereby the sole superpower on the planet can ensure peace and prosperity through the military might.
First, here is a portion of my interview with Bishop Peter Kang of Jeju Island calling for an end to the arms race.
Now, the NY Times article which clearly proves the control of the Korean government by the U.S. and the intent to expand the arms race by “allowing” the Korean military the use of drones and to increase the range of its ballistic missiles to reach any point in N. Korea, but not China. That must be reassuring to both!
After spending nearly a month in S. Korea and three weeks in Gangjeong Village, the site of a massive naval base being constructed to accommodate Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” I can tell you this: Koreans, and I’m sure the rest of the world, categorically HATE America for engaging in a century of warfare, the killing of millions and millions of innocent people, and the arrogance of U.S. imperialism.
It was impossible to disagree with them and to find a plausible defense for my homeland. It is ironic – but maybe not – that the Korean and European people I met believe there has been a military coup in the U.S. since the assassination of JFK. They all believe that everything from Kennedy’s assassination right on up through 9/11 has been the work of the U.S. military and the military industrial complex. No one I met believes that 9/11 was the work of Muslim terrorists! They all believe it was a false flag event justifying the invasion of Iraq in order to gain control over the Middle East.
After the hope President Obama offered in his campaign four years ago, Koreans and the rest of the world know without a shade of doubt that it matters little who the president and Congress are. America’s actions to dominate land, sea, air and space through the use of military superiority are clear to everyone except most Americans.
I encourage you to watch Pax America, a film by Denis Delestrac, in which America’s generals and senior officers unabashedly state the intent to ensure peace through the use of overwhelming military power. This film, packed with startling facts, has been shown in theaters throughout the world, yet not here in the U.S. If you haven’t seen this film, please take the time to view it.
Many people here in America and around the world feel helpless and unable to “get their minds around it all,” but I believe there is still hope. Millions and millions of people on every continent understand what is going on and are rising up against the violation of human rights, the violation of civil rights, the destruction of the environment, and the killing of innocent people.
If, as some economists predict, the world is on the verge of economic collapse, I believe it will bring about the end to the evils of unrestrained capitalism and an end to the ever-expanding military budgets of nations around the world. They just will not be able to afford spending the majority of their resources on a never-ending arms race and war.
Just as Rome, the Soviet Union, and every other imperial nation collapsed because they could not afford enormous standing armies, so will America.
Therefore, it is imperative that Americans become informed and join with people around the world in demanding an end to war and an end to the evils of capitalism. To continue as we have been focusing on a myriad of single issues is to remain divided and therefore conquered. What is needed is a massive, people-powered, grassroots coalition of peace groups, environmental groups, Bradley Manning support groups, food activists, groups demanding an end to Citizens United, and, yes Occupy.
The root cause underlying all of these issues is the doctrine of Pax Americana and unrestrained capitalism, both of which are inherently evil and will not go without a massive, universal uprising and the collapse of the global economy.
To quote Leonard Cohen, “I love the country but I can’t stand the scene,” and Michael Moore, “I refuse to live in a country like this, and I’m not leaving.”
Paula drove me down to Boston this afternoon and we checked into a motel. With an early flight out of Boston at 9:10 am tomorrow, it made things a whole lot easier. Mexican dinner because On The Border is just across the parking lot!
My special “camera equipment” backpack weighs 35 lbs…..feels heavier than that. My one checked bag came in at 42 lbs – 8 lbs to spare on the 50 lb limit. And then there’s the tripod bag which will also be a carry-on. I will not say “I’m getting too old for this,” but I’m not getting any younger either!
Am I excited?
I will try to keep everyone posted, hopefully daily with a brief account of the day and a short video clip from the days filming.
I met Bruce Gagnon a few months ago but only after hearing about him from other people. Seemed like everybody knew Bruce. Turns out, just about everybody who’s an activist of one sort or other knows Bruce. And Bruce knows everybody!
Bruce and I finally met at a state-wide Occupy meeting in Augusta. Wasn’t at all what I expected from the advance billing. He struck me as a quiet, even shy, non-assuming person. Can’t remember him speaking publicly. We connected because we both had expressed frustration at the lack of cooperation among the many advocacy groups which resulted in a losing battle at the legislature.
We chatted briefly during a break and I said I’d like to get together soon since he lives in Bath, Maine and I live just across the river in Woolwich. It was a couple of months later when we finally did meet. An internet citizen journalist based in Iran (yes, Iran) wanted someone to interview Bruce about the Occupy movement.
When I suggested we meet, Bruce asked if I could tape the interview, which I did. But, after taping the 4-5 minute interview for this Iranian show, I started asking Bruce about his background and how he became involved in the Global Network Against Weapons and Arms in Space. As soon as he started talking, I turned the camera on and came to know the man.
I believe Bruce is one of a very few people who sees the big picture and can speak to all that is wrong with our country. Everyone talks about connecting the dots. Bruce does it with amazing clarity and conviction. He travels constantly and is in great demand all over the planet.
Take the time to watch this video and get to know Bruce Gagnon and his mission in life. Then check out his website: http://www.space4peace.org/ and his blog: http://space4peace.blogspot.com/