A staggering piece of investigative disclosure from veteran journalist John Pilger. Pilger is a rare treasure that manages to skirt around the decoys & obfuscations that the machine erects to delve directly to matters of the highest urgency or significance that are generally regarded as ‘off limits’ to the standard reporter. He will construct whole documentaries around subjects that many journalists would not even devote a paragraph to for fear of demotion, persecution or exclusion. There is a serene advantage in this kind of veracity & temerity – for whatever ramifications are bequeathed through facing off with forbidden subjects – the end result is total freedom from redaction & control.
The subject of this documentary (Pilger’s 60th film) is Americas unprecedented military bellicosity in the Pacific & it’s excessive profusion of military bases that infest the region. It’s ambitions of a global super state which it refers to as “Vision 2020” or more insidiously as “Full Spectrum Dominance”. This entails astronomic military expenditure, geographic ubiquity & the tacit subjugation of all sovereign nations to US interests as host nations. A few countries don’t play along with the US’s democratic despotism, self-asserted hegemony & megalomania. China is one of them (it’s one of the few places in the region <if not the world> that does not host any US military bases), & as this documentary clearly divulges – the US is very unhappy about this lack of subservience & the countries growth & independence. hence a continuing military build-up, intimidation & provocation, especially over disputed island territories that are often claimed by up to four separate countries. The worry is, that these flash-points could be the shallow pretext to exact a war on China, which could be indescribably catastrophic given that both the USA & China have colossal nuclear capacity.
The origins of such intervention, exploitation & colonization really emerge after the second world war. One such area that receives great attention in this film is the Marshall Islands. They became a ‘trust territory’ of the US in 1946. As well as hosting military bases, they acted as a live laboratory for US nuclear weapon experiments, including the Hydrogen bomb. Apparently, for twelve years straight, the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb was being detonated there every day. The 5th atomic bomb was detonated near the island of Bikini, with 57 naval ships deliberately stationed within the blast radius for ‘test’ purposes. The film displays awful footage of animals being strapped to the decks of these condemned ships, so they can study the rate of incineration & radiation. Perverse. Such experimentation on live subjects went beyond animals. Although no one was directly atomized by the bombs (unlike the 100,000 in Hiroshima), the “human radiation experiments” on the indigenous islanders was rife, calculated & deliberate. This resulted in major maladies, from prolific cancers with absurd contraction rates, still births, deformities & “jellyfish babies”. Paradise islands were rendered inhabitable due to hazardous radiation levels as well as forced evacuations. Many of the islanders now languish in extreme poverty in slums after being evicted & relocated. In one of the most insane juxtapositions, 12,000 people are crammed into a small island/strip, whilst over the bay, US expatriates & military personnel live in a first word micro-paradise. The indigenous paupers are ferried over during the day to work in the gardens & golf-courses, then literally ferried back to abject poverty each evening, a process that Pilger aptly refers to as “Pacific apartheid”. God-bless America.
Pilger moves on to China itself. There’s a series of excellent interviews (some of which challenge/are critical of the Chinese regime directly) & analysis from multiple characters. Particularly pertinent & rarely discussed is the prospect of a continued ‘Yellow Peril’ (i.e. – obsessive racism & exaggerated demonization of Sino people, particularly the Chinese) that is driving US military expansion & escalation.
Jeju island (off South Korea) & Okinawa (the Ryuku islands off southern Japan) are a hubbub of local resistance opposing US military occupation & expansion, which is covered extensively here. Okinawa has practically made such public condemnation & rejection a cultural pastime & the resistance is consolidated by hugely popular approval within Okinawa (considerably less on mainland Japan). There’s another shocking piece of hidden history with striking similarities to the nuclear-holocaust close-shave incidents of Vasili Arkhipov & yet again with Stanislav Petrov where false alarms almost triggered ‘retaliatory’ missile launches. In this case the testimony comes from John Bordne who was a US missile airman stationed on Okinawa. “mutually assured destruction” was averted by two officers with revolvers preventing the launch. It was that close!
Finally, there is some amazing footage & oration from US anti-nuclear pundits who are extremely concerned & alarmed at this growing hostility & the insane ordinance of devastating mass-murdering fire-power that’s piling-up waiting to be depleted. Like so much in the fuck-up that is American politics, these crucial & extremely important protective voices & institutions have just been ignored. Such indescribably colossal failures of sense, decency & leadership were all during the Obama administrations atrophy. You can only imagine the lunacy, peril & degradation under the current brainless, shit-dribbling anus-dabber & his coterie of criminally insane shit-scabs. As usual, the US remains the world’s greatest tyrant & the largest threat to life on earth.
Director – John Pilger (2016).
Dartmouth Films/101 Films.