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US imposing its values through its global military presence Wednesday, 30 July, 2008

Posted by Farbod in Interviews.
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Wed, 23 Jul 2008 16:33:56
By Ramin Etesami, Press TV, Tehran

The following is an interview with prominent British peace activist and one of the founders of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), Lindis Percy.

Born in Leeds, Percy is a trained nurse and midwife and she has been arrested over 150 times for her political activities.

She says: “I was woken up to the issue of weapons of mass destruction and the presence of US bases in the UK in early 1980 when I was a midwife working in a place very near to a base called Greenham Common.

I got involved in the campaign to oppose Cruise missiles and have been involved ever since. Anni Rainbow and I founded the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases in 1992 – campaigning to bring public scrutiny and awareness to the roles and functions of US bases in this country and world wide – both of us were engaged in the Greenham Common campaign of the 1980s – profoundly changing my life.

I have been arrested hundreds of times and have been to prison over a dozen times – the last time was in May this year. I say this with no pride or pleasure. (Asking questions of those in authority sometimes gets you into trouble).

I am a pacifist and will always be involved in trying to change the ways of settling conflict by violent means to pursuing alternatives to violence. It is the civilized way desperately needed in a very trouble world.”

Q. Your campaign is focused on US military bases across the world and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; do you think there is a link between these two issues?

A. Of course there is a link – being that the world wide web of US bases are all inter-connected and the US government is bent on developing more and more deadly weapons – now in space in the form of Missile Defense which of course is an offensive system – in more ways than one! It is about domination of the world by the US – militarily and politically and the imposition of the US values and standards…there is also a question of oil!

Q. Washington says it runs military bases across the world to boost global security but critics say they pose a threat to local residents and other countries. What do you think?

A. The fact that the bases are there means that they are a focus for attack – I live 15 minutes away from a US base called Menwith Hill – it is the largest US intelligence gathering and surveillance US base outside the US. The terrible events of 9/11 and the war in Iraq meant that it is a target for attack – from persons unknown who are bent on targeting any US interests. The presence of US bases in our midst puts all our security at risk. US bases are extremely vulnerable.

Q. Do you think US troops abroad have the freedom to do what they want without having to abide by the host countries’ laws?

A.Yes – US bases in the UK and world wide are out of control of the host governments. I have many personal experiences of abuse of the host country’s laws to back this up and when there is a serious offence committed by a member of a visiting force, there are no legal remedies available as a Certificate of Immunity is submitted to the court – which says that this court has no jurisdiction to hear the case – Visiting Forces Act 1952 – I am involved in such a case at the moment. The US government has never signed up to the International Court in the Hague.

Q. While the White House claims that its missile shield plan has a defensive nature, as it would defend its European allies against threats posed by so-called ‘rouge states,’ your campaign opposes the proposed system. Why is that?

A. It is an absolute nonsense to suggest that Missile Defense (read ‘offense’) can and would fulfill such a claim. This campaign was the first to reveal that two bases in the UK were to be ‘designated’ a crucial connection to the US Missile Defense system – Menwith Hill and Fylingdales – that was in 1997 – we warned that it would not work (it is a long way off from ever being operational – if it ever can be – the system is fraught with difficulties), it would cause international tension (Russian in particular very unhappy and threatening to up the military stakes in opposition – the start of a new Cold War), it would be the start of a new arms race (it is), that the cost would be huge etc etc. The intention of the planners of Missile Defense (which has been around a long time – remember Ronald Reagan’s daft plan?) is to dominate space for US military and economic interests.

There is an urgent need to talk to so called ‘rogue states’ – through serious diplomacy and mediation and working together – not threatening each other but settling conflict by non-violent means. The sooner George W Bush goes the better – he has been a disaster and has made the world a far more dangerous place through his and his bed fellows’ mindless plans.

Q. What steps should the UK take to keep the US bases in the country accountable? What do you exactly mean when you use the term ‘accountability’?

A. Successive UK governments have been blinded by the ‘special relationship’ with the US and has followed on whatever…..a true friend gently tells her friend if they think their decisions are folly. It is high time that the UK government decouples from the US foreign policy and acts independently. I have to add that CAAB is not anti-American people – we do have a big problem however with US foreign policy. Our aim is to send the visiting forces back to within their borders – we are opposed to any visiting force being based here.

Accountability means that there are credible systems and structures in place to keep a check on what is actually happening concerning US bases – that the host nation lays down rules and regulations which are meaningful and controlled by the UK authorities and which are strictly abided by – their legal status to comply with the host nations laws, any abuse brought to account throught the courts of the host nation and any offense committed dealt with accordingly. The US military and their agencies are in firm control here – partly because historically a few people behind closed doors handed over large areas of land to a visiting forces without meaningful legal and political controls. However this goes on world wide.

Q. What are the direct impacts of the existence of US bases on the British nation?

A. I think that many people do not realize the full extent of how the US military and their agencies are in occupation and have full control. All US bases in the UK are known as RAF (Royal Air Force) and so people assume that that is who is in command and control. The reality is very different – it is the US Commander who is in control. CAAB has some interesting documents marked SECRET which set out exactly how this came about. There is a lot of secrecy surrounding what goes on on US bases – it is only perhaps when people are personally affected adversely that people might wake up!

Q. Do you believe that the West has a hand in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?

A. There are many countries in the West who are involved in developing more and more deadly weapons. The UK government is pursuing the replacement of the Trident nuclear system (actually the US control this system) – despite signing up to the Non-proliferation treaty. Hyprocracy abounds!

Q. Have your moves against the politicians who favor the expansion of US bases abroad been successful? And what can the people do?

A. We have made small steps of change and the fact that CAAB exists means that we are constantly questioning the UK government about the roles and functions of what goes on on US bases. We are constantly trying to think of new effective ways. We should all be much more aware of the extent of the presence of US bases here and world wide. It is alarming and of deep concern.

Q. The UK is supposed to be a democratic country. Why does the UK government arrest and exert pressure on the activists that are against foreign bases in their own country?

A. Democracy is in a very unhealthy state in the UK. This question, I suggest, might be directed to the UK government who have brought in more and more laws and surveillance of its citizens. It is baffling to many of us that a Labour government should have done this. Freedom and liberty are precious. Over the ten years that the Labour government has been in power there has been a very worrying erosion of civil liberties – involving protest against US bases – all in the guise of ‘national security’ – it seems to me that it is born out of fear and control. It probably goes back to the ‘special relationship’ – the relationship between the US and UK governments are so special that the US government does exactly what they want – legal or not! I have many personal experiences – what the ‘authorities’ have done to try to curtail my deep concerns – only makes to stronger!

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Comments»

1. mklxdstib qwthmnv - Tuesday, 12 August, 2008

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2. CHARLIE HATT - Saturday, 27 September, 2008

A lie is a lie no matter how many times Lindis Percy tells it. U.S. Military members are subject to every criminal law in the UK. Jurisdicition may be given to the military court which in most cases means worse punishment for the soldier, airman, sailor or Marine.
Drunk driving punishment in the UK may mean fines and some confinement, but for the US service member whose case is turned over to the military it means los of their job, in addition to the fines and confinement.
The case Percy claims to be involved in was of her own doing. All anyone has to do is look at the actual public record and findings insteda fo what Percy cliams and chooses to show.
So sick of people like Lindis Percy who are so caught up[ in their own self-importance that they must lie and create controversy just to keep the spotlight on themselves.
There was a time when her efforts should have been admired, but she has stooped beyond low in fabricating stopries or creating conflict.
Give it up.

3. Lindis Percy - Friday, 24 October, 2008

Dear Charlie Hatt

I have just come across your message – please contact me to discuss and enlarge on the claims you say I make. I would be grateful if you would let me know for example, what stories you say I have fabricated and examples of ‘creating conflict’. My experience since 1979 is very different – often being on the brunt end of US military violence.

Raising questions and challenging those in authority often causes conflict. The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) has an interesting website which will give you an idea as to how we work – there are many committed people who are deeply concerned about roles and functions of the US Visiting Forces in the UK and world wide. I seek no spotlight. We would be grateful if you would concentrate on what CAAB is working for and the wider issues and concerns – of which there are many in this troubled world.
Perhaps you are a member of the US Visiting Forces? You seem to have more than passing knowledge of a certain case. It would be good to continue this conversation with you.

One of my mottos by the way is: never give up.

Lindis Percy
Coordinator with Laila Packer
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – CAAB
http://www.caab.org.uk


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