From Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
June 28, 2021
by Koohan Paik-Mander
Pacific Pivot and the First Island Chain
Military planners have been nurturing this Rubicon moment with China for at least a decade, beginning when Obama announced his “Pacific Pivot” toward Asia. Since then, communities in the Asia-Pacific region have been confronted with elaborate, ecocidal preparations for full-scale war with China. Natural resources have been destroyed to construct a globe-sweeping, networked infrastructure of missile deployment and satellite tracking.
That was the first phase of laying the groundwork for 21st century warfare. Biden’s current request for funding will expand this strategic rebalance of military forces into its second phase.
Most of the Pentagon-ravaged spots have been concentrated so far on the string of archipelagos that fringe China’s coastline. These islands are politically controlled by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines—nations themselves already heavily militarized.
War strategists call this the “First Island Chain.” The JADC2 system is being developed with this particular geography in mind. “Project Convergence,” a U.S. Department of Defense war exercise, takes place over a span stretching from Washington state to North Carolina, replicating the distance along the First Island Chain.
The First Island Chain is one of three chains of Pacific islands that ring China at varying distances. Further east, the Second Island Chain is comprised of Guam and the other Mariana Islands. The Third Island Chain, even further east in the mid-Pacific, is the Hawaiian archipelago.
In war strategy, these chains serve several functions: as a barrier to be breached by an attacker, as a protective wall to be strengthened by a defender, and as a springboard from which to mount an invasion. They also serve as geopolitical benchmarks for measuring regional influence, which is why control of Taiwan is so critical. If the United States loses Taiwan to mainland China, it would signal the unravelling of U.S. domination in the region.
The delicately beautiful islands of the First Island Chain have languished mostly unknown to the rest of the world. They are home to many endemic species such as the Yonaguni pony, the Ryukyu damselfly, the Amami rabbit, and a newly designated species of pufferfish that builds sand mandalas on the ocean floor to attract a mate. At the tiny airport on Ishigaki Island, local butterflies flutter in a terrarium behind the check-in counter. In town, decorative trees lining the road support sleeping bats hanging like furry ornaments.
Environmentalists fear these species are now doomed. A radar tracking station has been built, despite public protest, over the watering hole for the Yonaguni ponies. Its high-frequency radar will likely kill the bountiful insect-life found on the island, like the butterflies and the Ayamihabiru moth with its 10-inch wing span.
Amami-Oshima, an island that has remained virtually untouched since primeval times, has now been desecrated. Its old-growth forest, dense with unique flora and fauna, was razed in two areas for missile deployment, while associated development is disfiguring the coastline and other inland areas. On the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako, more missile deployment facilities have been erected against the will of locals.
Meanwhile, on Okinawa, tens of thousands of residents have been protesting the U.S. presence for decades. The latest barbarity: soil that contains an untold number of bones of Okinawan ancestors as well as U.S. soldiers—all killed in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II—is slated to be used as landfill for the bottom of Oura Bay. For four years, locals have ferociously objected to construction here of a new U.S. air base, intended to be a key JADC2 hub. The beloved bay has been home for millennia to the largest rare blue-coral colony in the world and 5,334 documented species of wildlife.
U.S. militarism continues to beleaguer Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea as well. There, villagers, fishers, and tangerine farmers have been ferociously protesting for over a decade the construction of a navy base to port Lockheed Aegis-missile bearing destroyers. The base was completed in 2015, but plans are in the works to construct a constellation of new facilities to complement the navy base, including a new airport, a missile tracking station, a weather radar station, and a satellite operations facility.
The famously drinkable streams of Jeju are now contaminated, its UNESCO-celebrated corals have been dredged, and wetlands have been smothered with concrete. Jeju Island is morphing, in real time, from one of Asia’s most cherished natural wonders to another key hub for JADC2 space-war operations