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US military relief operations in Asia far worse than the tsunami

13. January 2005

ILPS-Philippines Chapter

January 11, 2005

The ILPS Philippines Chapter condemns the US for making political capital out of the catastrophic tsunami which engulfed a wide swath of Asia, including some parts of Africa, and killed 160,000 people.

The ILPS Philippines Chapter denounces the crass opportunism expressed by US State Secretary Colin Powell when he said that the US military relief and aid that it is giving Aceh “should change the battered image of the US” around the globe after the its arrogant disregard of international public opinion against the invasion of Iraq. He likewise boasted that this aid is a manifestation of US “generosity” and “American values in action”.

Instead of sending skilled civilians, the US seized the opportunity to send an array of US warships, planes, helicopters, and more than 13,000 US military personnel purportedly to help Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, countries most affected by the December 26 disaster. The USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier with 6,000 sailors on board, is currently stationed about 28 kms or 15 nautical miles off Aceh while a fleet of Sea Hawk helicopters from same carrier has been flying food, water, and medical supplies in said region where there is an armed rebellion against the Indonesian government. One thousand and five hundred US troops, meanwhile, are deployed in Sri Lanka where there is also an armed rebellion waged by the Tamil Tigers which is fighting for self-determination.

US forces are also using Thailand´s Vietnam era air base of Utapao as an airlift hub for the so-called “humanitarian” mission, strengthening potential US military logistical support through Southeast Asia. Conducting the largest operation in Asia since the Vietnam War, the US military said that its forces could remain in the region for up to six months. Six months can always be extended of course until it becomes permanent.

It is well known that strengthening US military presence in Southeast Asia is a major element in the neocons´ imperialist project of Pax Americana in the 21st century that presupposes US imperialism´s unchallenged global hegemony. Given US imperialism´s proven record of economic plunder and destructive wars, the US military deployment augurs a calamity far worse than the tsunami that devastated these Asian countries.