Why is the US Military still using Shannon Airport?

Published on 12 Jan 2017

In light of the revelations that the United States were open to leaving Shannon in 2007 but did not at the behest of the Irish Government, add to this the obvious security concerns of having military personnel at a civilian airport, and factor in the cost of at least €45million to the Irish taxpayer.

We ask the question, why is the U.S military still using Shannon Airport?  We headed down to Shannon and talked to Ed Horgan and John Lannon of Shannonwatch, who have been part of a monthly peace vigil which has ran unbroken for the last nine years.

Put together by Jamie Goldrick, Thom McDermott and James Redmond.  Archive footage courtesy of Eamonn Crudden.


A World War Has Begun: Break the Silence

Continuing our our series on Ireland's neutrality and the use of Shannon Airport by US military, we are publishing this fine edited version of an address by John Pilger at the University of Sydney.

by John Pilger

I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, “Where is that?” If I offer a clue by referring to “Bikini”, they say, “You mean the swimsuit.”

Few seem aware that the bikini swimsuit was named to celebrate the nuclear explosions that destroyed Bikini island. Sixty-six nuclear devices were exploded by the United States in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 — the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every day for twelve years.

Bikini is silent today, mutated and contaminated.  Palm trees grow in a strange grid formation. Nothing moves. There are no birds. The headstones in the old cemetery are alive with radiation. My shoes registered “unsafe” on a Geiger counter.

Standing on the beach, I watched the emerald green of the Pacific fall away into a vast black hole. This was the crater left by the hydrogen bomb they called “Bravo”. The explosion poisoned people and their environment for hundreds of miles, perhaps forever.

On my return journey, I stopped at Honolulu airport and noticed an American magazine called Women’s Health. On the cover was a smiling woman in a bikini swimsuit, and the headline: “You, too, can have a bikini body.”  A few days earlier, in the Marshall Islands, I had interviewed women who had very different “bikini bodies”; each had suffered thyroid cancer and other life-threatening cancers.

Unlike the smiling woman in the magazine, all of them were impoverished: the victims and guinea pigs of a rapacious  superpower that is today more dangerous than ever.

I relate this experience as a warning and to interrupt a distraction that has consumed so many of us.  The founder of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, described this phenomenon as “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the habits and opinions” of democratic societies. He called it an “invisible government”.

How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.

President Obama

President Obama

In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was all fake. He was lying.

The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories.  Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.

A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”

In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two — led by the United States — is taking place along Russia’s western frontier.  Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.

Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union –  has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority.

This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth.

In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia – the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.

What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China.

Seldom a day passes when China is not elevated to the status of a “threat”.  According to Admiral Harry Harris, the US Pacific commander, China is “building a great wall of sand in the South China Sea”.

What he is referring to is China building airstrips in the Spratly Islands, which are the subject of a dispute with the Philippines – a dispute without priority until Washington pressured and bribed the government in Manila and the Pentagon launched a propaganda campaign called “freedom of navigation”.

What does this really mean?  It means freedom for American warships to patrol and dominate the coastal waters of China.  Try to imagine the American reaction if Chinese warships did the same off the coast of California.

I made a film called The War You Don’t See, in which I interviewed distinguished journalists in America and Britain: reporters such as Dan Rather of CBS, Rageh Omar of the BBC, David Rose of the Observer.

All of them said that had journalists and broadcasters done their job and questioned the propaganda that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction; had the lies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair not been amplified and echoed by journalists, the 2003 invasion of Iraq might not have happened, andhundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today.

The propaganda laying the ground for a war against Russia and/or  China is no different in principle. To my knowledge, no journalist in the Western “mainstream” — a Dan Rather equivalent, say –asks why China is building airstrips in the South China Sea.

The answer ought to be glaringly obvious. The United States is encircling China with a network of bases, with ballistic missiles, battle groups, nuclear -armed bombers.

This lethal arc extends from Australia to the islands of the Pacific, the Marianas and the Marshalls and Guam, to the Philippines, Thailand, Okinawa, Korea andacross Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. America has hung a noose around the neck of China. This is not news. Silence by media; war by media.

In 2015, in high secrecy, the US and Australia staged the biggest single air-sea military exercise in recent history, known as Talisman Sabre. Its aim was to rehearse an Air-Sea Battle Plan, blocking sea lanes, such as the Straits of Malacca and the Lombok Straits, that cut off China’s access to oil, gas and other vital raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

In the circus known as the American presidential campaign, Donald Trump is being presented as a lunatic, a fascist.  He is certainly odious; but he is also a media hate figure.  That alone should arouse our scepticism.

Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than those of David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.

According to one prodigious liberal commentator, Trump is “unleashing the dark forces of violence” in the United States. Unleashing them?

This is the country where toddlers shoot their mothers and the police wage a murderous war against black Americans. This is the country that has attacked and sought to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and bombed from Asia to the Middle East, causing the deaths and dispossession of millions of people.

No country can equal this systemic record of violence. Most of America’s wars (almost all of them against defenceless countries) have been launched not by Republican presidents but by liberal Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

In 1947, a series of National Security Council directives described the paramount aim of American foreign policy as “a world substantially made over in [America’s] own image”.  The ideology was messianic Americanism. We were all Americans. Or else. Heretics would be converted, subverted, bribed, smeared or crushed.

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

Donald Trump is a symptom of this, but he is also a maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China. The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted “exceptionalism” is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.

As presidential  election day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about “hope”. And the drool goes on.

Described by the Guardian columnist Owen Jones as “funny, charming, with a coolness that eludes practically every other politician”, Obama the other day sent drones to slaughter 150 people in Somalia.  He kills people usually on Tuesdays, according to the New York Times, when he is handed a list of candidates for death by drone. So cool.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons.  As Secretary of State under Obama, she participated in the overthrow of the democratic government of Honduras. Her contribution to the destruction of Libya in 2011 was almost gleeful. When the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, was publicly sodomised with a knife – a murder made possible by American logistics – Clinton gloated over his death: “We came, we saw, he died.”

One of Clinton’s closest allies is Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of State, who has attacked young women for not supporting “Hillary”. This is the same Madeleine Albrightwho infamously celebrated on TV the death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it”.

Among Clinton’s biggest backers are the Israel lobby and the arms companies that fuel the violence in the Middle East.  She and her husband have received a fortune from Wall Street. And yet, she is about to be ordained the women’s candidate, to see off the evil Trump, the official demon. Her supporters include distinguished feminists: the likes of Gloria Steinem in the US and Anne Summers in Australia.

A generation ago, a post-modern cult now known as “identity politics” stopped many intelligent, liberal-minded people examining the causes and individuals they supported — such as the fakery of Obama and Clinton;  such as bogus progressive movements like Syriza in Greece, which betrayed the people of that country and allied with their enemies.

Self absorption, a kind of “me-ism”, became the new zeitgeist in privileged western societies and signaled the demise of great collective movements against war, social injustice, inequality,  racism and sexism.

Today, the long sleep may be over. The young are stirring again. Gradually. The thousands in Britain who supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader are part of this awakening – as are those who rallied to support Senator Bernie Sanders.

In Britain last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, his shadow treasurer John McDonnell, committed a Labour government to pay off the debts of piratical banks and, in effect, to continue so-called austerity.

In the US, Bernie Sanders has promised to support Clinton if or when she’s nominated. He, too, has voted for America’s use of violence against countries when he thinks it’s “right”. He says Obama has done “a great job”.

Predator Drone

Predator Drone

In Australia, there is a kind of mortuary politics, in which tedious parliamentary games are played out in the media while refugees and Indigenous people are persecuted and inequality grows, along with the danger of war. The government of Malcolm Turnbull has just announced a so-called defence budget of $195 billion that is a drive to war.  There was no debate. Silence.

What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?

Where are those who will shatter the silence? Or do we wait until the first nuclear missile is fired?

Original Article: Counterpunch March 26, 2016


6 Out Of 10 Irish People Want Neutrality Enshrined in Irish Constitution

 

A recently commissioned Red C Poll has shown that 6 out of 10 Irish people want Neutrality to be enshrined in the Constitution.  At present, Irish Neutrality is a policy choice, decided on by the Government of the day.

The Poll also finds that 57% of the Irish people oppose the United States use of Shannon Airport for Military Transit Purposes, this figure excludes the 'Don't Knows' which are at 4%.

This week, the acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny visits US President Barack Obama, and it is imperative that he raises the concerns of the Irish people, regarding the ongoing militarisation of much of the world, and the impact of same. This Red C Poll has shown that over half the Irish population do not agree with Ireland's current military relationship with the United States, which sees Shannon Airport used as a forward airbase for the US Military. A Press Conference will be held tomorrow at 2.30pm, in Buswells Hotel, Tuesday 15th March to discuss the findings.

Speaking on the findings of the Poll, Clare Daly TD made the point that - "A country with a policy of positive neutrality would not facilitate the massive, devastating displacement of tens of millions of people through wars whose only purpose is to keep the gears of the military-industrial complex oiled. It would not find itself in a state of absolute moral abjection when it agreed to accept only the tiniest fraction of those made homeless and stateless by wars it had abetted. We need to put meat on the bones of our neutrality, to actively and vigorously work against war and destruction, against the arms trade, against the absolute devastation of so many lives in pursuit of imperial power and wealth? Until we enshrine a policy of neutrality in our Constitution, and make it so that our neutrality is something that is real, positive, and active, we cannot and will not play that role".

Mick Wallace TD stated - "Since 2001, the US Military and their allies have been responsible for the deaths of over 2 million citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq alone. Mindless destruction of the Middle East region & beyond has seen the displacement of over 30 million people and an unprecedented refugee crisis in Europe today. It's long past time that Ireland stopped facilitating this horror by refusing to allow Shannon Airport to be used for any military purposes. We need a change of direction - It should start with the new Government. It's time for Ireland to work for peace, not war."

Mick Wallace Clare Dalysee  arrest at Shannon Airport 2014

Mick Wallace Clare Dalysee arrest at Shannon Airport 2014

Ed Horgan of Shannonwatch states that " Shannon airport has been used, or misused by the US military, with the approval of successive Irish Government's since October 2001. In the meantime over three million armed US troops have transited through Shannon on their way to and from wars and military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. In addition US military aircraft have transported unknown quantities of munitions and other war materials through Shannon airport but the Irish Government has been repeatedly denying that these aircraft are carrying weapons and munitions. Irish neutrality needs to be urgently restored to prevent Irish complicity in crimes against humanity".

Dr John Lannon of the University of Limerick and Shannonwatch stated that - "Ireland's failure to uphold national and international law at Shannon is shameful. The routine transit of armed troops to and from war zones is in contravention of the Hague Convention on Neutrality. The authorities have failed in their responsibilities under the Convention Against Torture by not investigating rendition planes at Shannon. And they also turn a blind eye to the fact that the US military aircraft landing at Shannon are likely to be carrying people who are guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Under the principle of international jurisdiction, these should be investigated and prosecuted".

Original article Mick Wallace and Clare Daly Shannonwatch  
See full 'Neutrality In Ireland' RedC Poll Feb, 2016