Workshops on Foreign Military Bases at the World Social Forum 2007
To be organized by the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases
1) Gaining a Foothold: The United States’ Plans for Expanding its
Military Presence in Africa
One of the United States biggest overseas military bases in the world is in Africa. Few people, even in Africa know this. This ignorance continues even while the US military base in Diego Garcia -- which is part of the Mauritius' Chagos islands -- has in recent years been used for to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq. The base also hosts a prison where "terrorist suspects" are believed to have been "rendered."
As the US undertakes its most comprehensive transformation of its global military deployment since World War II, Africa -- which has been hosting bases used by European militaries -- is being eyed to host even more foreign bases apart from Diego Garcia. Plans are foot for the establishment of US military installations or the securing of access to military facilities in the region. Algeria, Mali, Guinea, Djibouti are some of the countries that have been identified. Special Operations Forces are already stationed at the Horn of Africa. There is also a standing proposal to establish a separate US military command to cover the region, in the same way that the Pacific Command covers most of Asia and the Pacific while the Southern Command covers Latin America. Ostensibly, the US military presence is being justified as being aimed against “terrorists.” Indeed, sub-Saharan Africa has been designated part of the global “arc of instability” in which the US must expand or deepen its military presence. But with the Gulf of Guinea countries now supplying 16% of US energy requirements – a figure that’s projected to grow to as much as 25% by 2015, it is believed that – as in West Asia and Central Asia – US bases are being established to secure access to natural resources and to bolster the US capacity for rapid military interventions.
This will be an educational forum for sharing information and raising awareness on the latest US military plans and designs on Africa, for deepening our understanding of the larger implications of the current US global military realignment, and for learning from the experience of other countries that are also currently hosting foreign military presence.
PANEL 1: Understanding the evolving US military strategy (45 mins)
- Phyllis Bennis (US)
- Frank Pascual (Philippines)
- Toshi Ogura (Japan)
SHARING and DISCUSSION (45 mins)
PANEL 2: The US, other powers and Africa (45 mins)
- Samir Amin (Senegal)
- speaker from Kenya (to be proposed by Wilbert)
- The Combined Joint Task Force Africa (Djibouti) and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines: 'Models of Future Military Operations'?: Herbert Docena
- Europe and Africa: Hannelore Toelke (Germany)
SHARING and DISCUSSION (45 mins)
SYNTHESIS (10 mins)
Facilitators: Allison Budschalow and Theresa Wolfwood
2) Building the Movement: Africa and the Global Movement for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases
Even as the United States moves to expand and deepen its military presence around the world and in outer space, the past years has also seen the emergence of a global network for the abolition of foreign military bases. Spurred on by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the global “war against terror,” the effort has seen the coming together of diverse regional, national, and community-based movements that have long been struggling against foreign military presence around the world – from Okinawa to Korea, from Puerto Rico to the Philippines, from Italy to Cuba. As the empire of bases expands its reach, so too are the movements building their ranks of solidarity
and common action. Plans are underway for an international conference for the abolition of foreign military bases in Ecuador in March 2007. It is envisioned to be an opportunity for the movements to share their experiences, to plan for concrete actions, and to build the capacity of the network.
This will be a planning and networking workshop aimed at introducing the network to more people, to build links with African movements that share its concerns and aims, to collectively strategize and plan further, and to gather inputs on how to further strengthen the movement, through the Ecuador conference and other efforts. The ideas arising from the workshop will be brought to the Ecuador conference for further deliberations. It is a continuation of the workshops that have been held in previous World Social Forums in Mumbai and Porto Alegre and other meetings.
Introducing the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases: Alfred Marder (10 mins)
Sharing on Struggles against Bases around the World (45 mins)
- Javier Garate
- Tanie Suano (Philippines)
- someone from Africa (to be identified by Wilbert)
- Joel Suarez (Cuba)
- Kaori Sunagawa (Japan)
- others who will be there
Introducing the Global Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases: Bal Pinguel (10 mins)
OPEN DISCUSSION: What strategies should the network pursue in order to push for the abolition of foreign military bases globally? (75 mins)
SYNTHESIS (10 mins)
Facilitators: Wilbert van der Zeijden and Baltazar Pinguel