Thursday, May 19, 2016

21st c. Berkeley: More Relevant Than Ever to Antiwar Movement

As a "peace" enclave within California's concentrated military/defense economy, Berkeley and the East Bay have a role to play in the discussion about China.

BERKELEY: Looking west -- the bay, San Francisco . . . and beyond.

As I set out to understand California's entanglement in the military-industrial complex, I started where I live: Berkeley.

Reading a letter to the editor from our representative in Congress, Barbara Lee, a few days ago reminded me that the 13th district is kind of unusual: "As the National Defense Authorization Act comes up for a vote, I will once again co-lead a bipartisan amendment to audit the Pentagon." (Read more on Barbara Lee's position on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).)

Yup, this is different than the town I just came from. Chicago's star corporate citizen is mega military contractor Boeing.

Of course, Berkeley was ground zero for the antiwar movement during the '60s. But what's its relevance today?

A bridge to China

As a long-time student of China and the Chinese language, I am enchanted to find myself in a city whose university attracts lots of the very smartest students from China and other parts of Asia. (See "Berkeley - International Student Enrollment - Fall 2015") Many other Berkeley students who are US citizens claim Asian ethnicity. (See "Berkeley - Enrollment Data")

If California, and especially the Bay Area, is the historic link between the US and China, Berkeley is a particularly vital US-China hub right now.

We all say things like "youth are our future" . . . . What would happen if we encouraged a serious discussion between the diverse people in the Berkeley community (and from other communities) about the future of peace and security in the Pacific region?

Does this make ANY sense?
The discussion we need to have

I wrote recently about the growing tensions in the South China Sea.

As I read the Chinese language paper every day, it is clear to me that -- in the absence of sustained civic discourse on the security issues in the Pacific region -- our future is being shaped by military posturing.

I think a good way to re-direct the conversation would be to get a large number of young people who know and care about the situation in the region to get together and talk. It should include people from the various countries and territories concerned. It should be directed at the future we're all trying to build together. It should place a strong premium on listening. It should be open-ended.

Some possible starting points

The good thing about a university town is that it has many of the ingredients necessary to conduct forums.

Now this I understand . . . !
(Image: Android Authority)
Here are a few available in Berkeley that might assist the type of discussion I am suggesting:

* Student associations, including Chinese Students Association, Taiwanese American Student Association,
Hong Kong Student Association, . . . .

* University departments, including International Relations and  Institute of East Asian Studies

* Citizen groups, including United Nations Association - East Bay

* Relevant University affiliates, such as Office of International Relations and International House - UC Berkeley

My hope and belief is that a Berkeley forum on peace and prosperity in the Pacific would reveal a shared interest in de-escalating the South China Sea confrontation, and dramatically increase awareness of shared Pacific prospects for well-being.

Related Posts

In four hundred and thirty-five Congressional districts, there is an inseparable relationship between campaign funding for Congressional races and the military contractors. How do we push back?

(See IT'S A LOCK: Why the US Can't Break Its Addiction to War)

What people in Asia (and others) have seen for the past century is that something is happening in the Pacific, and it's being driven in part by advances in naval (and, subsequently, aviation and electronics) technology, and in part by powerful nations (principally, but not limited to, the U.S.) proximate to the area.

(See The Imperialized Pacific: What We Need to Understand)

"Although we know the end from the very beginning," says Walker, "the story is no less compelling to watch." A man, gloriously alone (except for his own reflection) on an ice-covered lake; the soothing pastel colors of the distant sky; and what seems surely to be a circle he is digging around himself with a pick-axe. A perfect parable for our headlong rush toward climate crisis?

(See How Do You Say "Suicide Narcissus" in Chinese?)