A group of soldiers running on a beach with Tulum in the background

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Rim of the Pacific military exercise. [Source: pacom.mil]

30% of Rim of the Pacific Naval Forces Are from NATO Europe

As the United States increases its military confrontation with China through new military bases on Guam and the Philippines and more land, sea and air exercises with countries in the Asia-Pacific, the world’s largest naval war exercises are going to be held in the mid-Pacific from June 26 to August 2, 2024—and NATO is in the middle of it.

Some 29 countries are participating in the 2024 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval war practice that will bring 40 ships, 3 submarines, over 150 aircraft, 14 national land forces and 25,000 personnel to the island of Oahu and the waters off Hawaii.

On June 17, peace activists held a news conference at the Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii to protest RIMPAC and the militarization policies being perpetrated by the U.S. and NATO in the Asia-Pacific and around the world.

Cancel RIMPAC Protestors outside of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. [Source: Photo Courtesy of Colonel Ann Wright]

Misty Pegram, an organizer affiliated with Anakbayan Hawaiʻi, a group promoting democracy in the Philippines, said that “the goal in this campaign is to cancel RIMPAC. We see it as a manifestation of the U.S. militaries who want to know this idea of constantly being ready for war, and where their idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific is not aligned with what a free and open Indo-Pacific actually is.” 

One-Third of Countries in RIMPAC Are Not from the Pacific, but Are from NATO-Europe

Incredibly, one-third of the countries bringing ships, submarines and aircraft to the middle of the Pacific in the RIMPAC exercise are not from Asia and the Pacific, but are from Europe—all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

European NATO members Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom are joining the United States and Canada as the full NATO members in RIMPAC.

Along with the full members of NATO, five countries in the Pacific are NATO “partners”—Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Colombia. Each will be participating in RIMPAC with ships, aircraft and personnel.

RIMPAC SLS Group Conference
Senior military leaders pose for group photo during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) senior leadership summit in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2022. [Source: dvidshub.net]

Israel Is in RIMPAC Despite Its Continuing Genocide of Gaza—Perfectly Acceptable in the U.S. “Rules-Based Dis-Order”

Because of its testing of U.S. and NATO countries’ weapons on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel has been given special status by NATO and keeps an office at NATO headquarters. The U.S. has continued its invitation to Israel to have a ship and personnel in Hawaii in RIMPAC despite the continuing Israeli genocide of Gaza with more than 37,000 Palestinians killed, thousands dead in the rubble of destroyed buildings and over 100,000 injured.

A blue and white flags on a table

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[Source: navalpost.com]

Israeli impunity in its war on Palestinians is a harmful influence on militaries participating in RIMPAC and U.S. complicity in the genocide sends a signal to other countries that violations of international laws and norms are perfectly acceptable in the U.S. “rules-based dis-order.”

Other countries sending ships, aircraft and military personnel to RIMPAC are Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tonga.

NATO Countries Send Ships on “Freedom of the Seas” Navigation Operations

During the past two years, NATO countries have sent ships to the Western Pacific in tandem with the U.S. Freedom of the Seas navigation operations in the South China Sea. In 2021, the British HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group and an American surface action group had exercises in the South China Sea. Britain’s Ministry of Defense described the strike group as the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation

A large ship in the water

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[Source: youtube.com]

In May 2024, Germany sent two warships to the Indo-Pacific on the freedom of navigation and free passage missions as tensions are raised with China over the status of Taiwan and over disputed South China Sea islands.

RIMPAC Destroys on the Land As Well As the Sea

RIMPAC war exercises harm marine life in the Hawaiian waters. Whales, dolphins and fish are harmed by the ships and their weapons. Ships are sunk by bombs, missiles and torpedoes. Onshore animals are killed during military beach assault landings. The Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island, the largest U.S. military training area in the Pacific, is bombed from aircraft some of which fly thousands of miles to drop their bombs, artillery shelling, and troop training. Human rights advocates are very concerned about human trafficking with military troops in tourist areas in Hawaii when the thousands of military personnel arrive from around the world for RIMPAC.

Citizens in the Pacific Challenge RIMPAC and the Militarization and Contamination of the Pacific by Military Forces

Citizens in most of the countries in the Pacific challenge the need for the hugely expensive and destructive RIMPAC war practice. Webinars, social mediaconferences/town hall meetings and protests are held from San Diego, California, in the eastern Pacific, through Hawaii and Guam to the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

In Hawaii, thousands of residents of Oahu are still dealing with the effects of fuel pollution from the giant underground Red Hill fuel tanks that leaked 19,000 gallons of toxic fuel into the drinking water in 2021 and the leak of 27,000 gallons of fuel in 2014. Several lawsuits against the U.S. military for the long-term damage to the health of those who ingested the contaminated water are in federal courts with the military arguing that the contamination did not cause widespread harm as military family members were hospitalized for severe reactions to the fuel-laced drinking water.

Nick Yee
Protests in Hawaii against U.S. militarism. [Source: hawaiipublicradio.org]

Additionally, residents of Hawaii are demanding the return of 29,000 acres of state land that was leased to the U.S. military 65 years ago for…$1!!! The lease of these areas on Oahu and the Big Island expires in 2029.

Communities around U.S. military bases all over the Pacific are finding that their water sources have been contaminated by the U.S. military use of fire-fighting foam that contains PFAS, the “forever chemical.” Bases on Okinawa, Japan, and South Korea, where the U.S. has had military bases since World War II and the Korean War have found high levels of contamination from PFAS.

A group of people holding a sign

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Protests in Hawaii against U.S. militarism. [Source: hawaiipublicradio.org]

Why Not Diplomacy Instead of Military Confrontation?

Instead of using diplomacy to resolve security and economic issues, RIMPAC is one of hundreds of U.S.-sponsored military war exercises that fuel dangerous confrontations in Asia and the Pacific. 

It is time for U.S. citizens to demand that elected officials/politicians use nonviolent methods to resolve conflicts—but we know we face great opposition to nonviolence from the manufacturers of violence, the weapons manufacturers which fuel the campaign coffers of politicians. 

Until we elect those who stand for peaceful resolution of issues instead of using war, we will continue to face an ever increasingly dangerous world.

NO TO NATO: YES TO PEACE Conference July 6-7, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

The No to NATO: Yes to Peace coalition will be in Washington, D.C., July 5-11, 2024, as a counterweight to the 75th anniversary celebrations of the founding of NATO in Washington, D.C. The heads of state of the 32 NATO member states and “partner” and “wanna-be” states will convene at the Washington Convention Center July 9-11.

A rainbow colored peace sign

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[Source: notonatoyestopeace.org]

Preceding the arrival of the heads of state, NO to NATO: YES to Peace will hold a one-day conference on July 6 with speakers from around the world. On July 7 there will be a rally at Lafayette Square in front of the White House. On July 9-11 concerned citizens will be at the Washington Convention Center.

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