Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up

The tiny British territory of Diego Garcia is being used for a US military build up. David Cameron is silent on the issue.

Britain has, to say the least, a chequered history with the tiny island of Diego Garcia.  Located in the near-centre of the Indian Ocean, the island was taken over by Britain in 1965 as part of a deal which saw them purchase the entire Chagos Archipelago from the then self-governing colony of Mauritius for £3 million.

Soon afterwards, as part of the establishment of the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’ the entire native population began to be forcibly displaced, with the eventual goal being that, as the Colonial Office reported to the UN, “there will be no indigenous population except seagulls.” By 1973, the entire native population had been transferred to Mauritius – a country where they didn’t speak the language, and unemployment was already at 20 per cent. Diego Garcia was established as a bonafide UK-US military outpost.

The native population’s legal battle for their right to return to Diego Garcia rumbles on* but right now the island forms the backdrop of a different dispute – that between the UN, and more specifically the US, and Iran.  Despite the fact that military and intelligence reports to Congress in April 2010 reveal that Iran’s military stance is “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities,” that it has “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders,” and that its “willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons” forms part of a “deterrent strategy”, rather than anything aggressive, US military commanders repeatedly assert that Iran is the “single-most important” threat to the security of Israel and the United States. To that end, along with a fresh round of UN sanctions against Iran, Obama has overseen a rapid proliferation of military resources on the British-owned island of Diego Garcia.

According to a US Navy cargo manifest obtained by the Sunday Herald, Obama has recently dispatched “195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs,” specifically aimed at destroying hardened underground structures. Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, states:

“They [the US] are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran… US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.”

Which begs the question – why is David Cameron allowing this strategy to be pursued on British soil? As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the intensifying implicit threat of military action against Iran is in direct violation of the UN Charter, which specifically bans the “threat of force… against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”  Furthermore, the US insistence on preserving nuclear weapons facilities on Diego Garcia is an open infringement of the nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty established by the African Union last year.

US personnel on Diego Garcia may outnumber British personnel by nearly 500 to 1, but the island remains a British territory governed by British law – hence, a victim of ‘extraordinary rendition’ whose flight landed on the island was able to sue in a UK court. And yet neither Cameron, nor any prominent voices in the mainstream media have made any comment on these open violations of international law, or on the fact they would seem to directly threaten the likelihood of successful peace talks with the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One can only hope that Cameron understands the gravity of what he is allowing to occur on the little island of Diego Garcia, and that we are not headed for a repeat of 2003 – when, on 20th March, 48 hours before B-52s and B-1s deployed to the island carried out the initial aerial bombardment of Baghdad using the very same “bunker buster” bombs recently dispatched to the island by Obama, Tony Blair told his party, “I hope, even  now, Iraq can be disarmed peacefully.”

* According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “deportation or forcible transfer of population” constitutes a crime against humanity.

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33 Responses to “Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up”

  1. NewLeftProject

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  2. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  3. JamieSW

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  4. Khaled Hishma

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  5. Ell Aitch

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  6. John O'Dwyer

    RT @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  7. Matthew Owen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  8. Matthew Owen

    @DianaJOwen Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up – http://bit.ly/c3iNNU (RT!)

  9. rented

    Who is this mysterious David Garcia? He should be found and dealt with.

  10. Kiera Hardie

    “Illegal” military build-up, eh? Well we can’t have that.

    It seems to me there are two systems of international law. There’s the real one, with lawyers and such, and there’s the make-believe one ruled by Noam Chomsky, and apparently, now, Left Foot Forward.

    President Ahmedinejad has had all the time he needs to engage in and conclude “talks” with all the other countries that would be threatened by his government’s move to acquire nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction. The time is coming when appeasement and all the rest of it needs to end. It makes sense for the US and its allies in the UK to use their assets to develop a credible threat that if he doesn’t succumb then his country will be attacked. None of us have any interest in seeing Iran succeed in acquiring these weapons.

    I have no doubt that if we had taken the necessary action in the twenties and thirties to prevent Germany and Japan from building up the forces they needed then Prof Chomsky and indeed yourselves would have condemned us as war criminals.

  11. YouCannotBeSerious!

    This article attacks the silence of Cameron, but to be fair, I haven’t heard Labour speaking out on this issue either. Do you really think that things would be any different on Diego Garcia if Labour had won the last election?

  12. LockPickerNet

    Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU via @leftfootfwd

  13. Olly

    Great piece. The way the Chagossians have been treated is just awful, and carries on unchecked

  14. Two left feet « Matt Owen

    […] (originally published here) Filed under Chomsky, David Cameron, Iran, Middle East, UK Politics, progressive politics ← Tackling the deficit […]

  15. Diana Owen

    RT @Matt0wen: @DianaJOwen Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up – http://bit.ly/c3iNNU (RT!)

  16. Gerry

    cameron the man who claimed we needed the bomb to stop china

    W Cameron

  17. Dylan Barlow

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  18. Robster

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  19. Diana Owen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up http://bit.ly/c3iNNU

  20. Diana Owen

    please keep us informed of any further developments on this story – and draft a letter that we can all send to our MPs and maybe get a question in the House about it

  21. Paul Barasi

    @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in news #ImAshamed2BBrit

  22. their_vodka

    RT @PaulBarasi: @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in …

  23. d

    RT @PaulBarasi: @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in …

  24. Moonbootica

    RT @PaulBarasi: @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in …

  25. Guido Fawkes

    I hope “David Garcia” can put a stop to all this unpleasantness. Meantime, lets use Diego Garcia as a launch pad to wipe out the Iranian nuclear threat as a prelude to establishing unchallenged Anglo-American hegemony over the Middle East, ushering in a period of peace and prosperity in that troublesome region.

  26. Matt Owen

    YouCannotBeSerious! – No, I don’t think that a Labour government would be speaking out on the issue either – I don’t suggest this anywhere in the piece. In fact, as I state, Diego Garcia was also used as a launchpad for Blair’s invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. Not really sure what you’re getting at here, truth be told.

    Kiera Hardie – Well, if you consider the UN Charter and the NWFZ established by the African Union to be “make-believe” systems of international law, that’s your prerogative. Personally, i see them as pretty important legal safeguards.

    And as for the “appeasement failed” argument you’ve predictably wheeled out, I’d be interested to hear a) what the “necessary action” you refer to would have been b) how you can, with a straight face, draw a parallel between Nazi Germany – an extremely powerful military force with very real plans to dominate Europe – and Iran, a country with, to quote the NY Times, “a GDP roughly that of Connecticut, and a military budget comparable to Sweden’s.”

    Guido Fawkes – I can only hope that your wish for “unchallenged Anglo-American hegemony over the Middle East” is not made in seriousness.

  27. Jeff

    Kiera Hardie – I wonder if you’d react in a similar fashion if the Iranian military was conducting a huge military build-up on the Isle of Wight, and telling us to stop building nukes as they continued to stockpile the biggest supply of said weapons on the planet?

  28. Steve Wakefield

    RT @PaulBarasi: @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in news #ImAshamed2BBrit

  29. SSP Campsie

    RT @PaulBarasi: @leftfootfwd Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US base http://bit.ly/c3iNNU << Chagos back in …

  30. Will Hague and Clegg deliver on their pledge to the Chagossians? | Left Foot Forward

    […] the most senior roles in government – David Cameron dodged the issue, as Left Foot Forward reported last month – and with a commitment to finally finding a fair settlement for the Chagossians, it […]

  31. Andrew James

    Recent academic article on the subject by some scholars in the US may be of interest:

    Erickson, Andrew S., Walter C. Ladwig III and Justin D. Mikolay, “Diego Garcia and the United States’ Emerging Indian Ocean Strategy,” Asian Security, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Autumn 2010), pp. 214-37.

    A copy can be found here: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mert1769/Diego%20Garcia.pdf

  32. Telegraph: US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam « Center for Intelligence News Study

    […] Cameron silent on use of British territory for illegal US military build-up (leftfootforward.org) […]

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