“What makes the green grass grow? Blood, blood, blood makes the green grass grow.”
This is a popular phrase in the military. Many of us had to scream it at the top of our lungs when our drill instructors ordered us to show our ‘war face’.
No, its not water or a clean environment that helps the green grass grow. It is violence, war, and militarism that makes the green grass grow according to our beloved armed forces. A few friends of mine made a visit to the pristine Yanbaru Forest on Okinawa Island, the same area where the USMC conducts military training exercises. To even begin to think that the military will leave no trace of them behind is a joke. With 800 bases around the world, the Pentagon is the largest polluter in the world today.
I just finished my third VFP delegation to Okinawa where we stood with the local resistance against U.S. bases that occupy almost 20 percent of the island. Despite the 32 military bases on the island that hold over 50,000 troops not including family members, two additional bases are being built in Takae and Henoko where the Okinawan people have been struggling for decades.
On the last day, a few friends of mine took a trip to Yanbaru Forest to take a hike with a local biologist who has been studying the forest of years. They posted photos of the MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) left behind from U.S. troops. The photos really display the disregard for the environment, in which the people of Okinawa are interconnected.
The Pentagon is notorious for polluting the environment. Even if the bases were to close tomorrow, the Pentagon wouldn’t bother to clean up after themselves. I was in South Korea earlier this year learning about the closure of Yongsan Garrison where local activists released information showing the level of pollution was much higher than the U.S. Forces Korea has previously made public. And guess who has to clean up the mess? Not the Pentagon.
The United States of America is an empire and there is no such thing as a ‘good empire’. The intentions of the military might be good (I’d argue otherwise), but it will never be a solution to our problems in the 21st century. We may sometimes forget that there are zero foreign forces on U.S. soil. We all know that if a foreign military occupied U.S. soil, made us pay for their bases, and then we had to clean up after them we would surely be protesting it and demanding a clean up after forcing them out. So what makes it okay for America to do it to other nations? It doesn’t.
That is why I’m proud to have stood on the side of justice and democracy with the people of Okinawa. As a resident of the empire, its our duty to follow in the footsteps of local communities who are leading the way in building a sustainable future. And its quite easy to do so. I’ll leave you with the best instructions on how to support communities like Okinawa:
Sit down, shut up, and listen.
UPDATE: RT News covered this story. RT interview Mike Hanes and Will Griffin. RT even put The Peace Report’s video in their post. Check it out here.