- Rick Jahnkow
military power is introduced, Military Maxims are propagated and
adopted, which are inconsistent with and must soon eradicate every
idea of Civil Government." ó Samuel Adams, 1768
When the U.S. submarine
Greeneville executed a rapid ascent on February 9 and speared
the hull of the Ehime Maru, killing nine people who were on the
Japanese trawler, it revealed much more than a tragic failure
in seamanship and Navy equipment. For those who care to open their
eyes, it also provided an example of the degree to which the U.S.
has thrown its own national soul overboard and sunk into the depths
Much of the attention
and debate surrounding the Ehime Maru incident will focus on whether
some piece of sonar equipment on the Greeneville malfunctioned
or was misread by a sailor, or whether the choppy seas prevented
a periscope sighting of the trawler before the submarine rocketed
to the surface in an "emergency blow." What will be
missing from the debate is any serious examination of the question
of why the submarine was executing an emergency blow in the first
The short answer is
that it was done to make an impression on the 16 civilian guests
who were onboard and crowded into the Greeneville control room.
Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet,
said that the subís commanding officer ordered the maneuver as
a "demonstration" for the civilians. According to retired
submarine Admiral James Bush, "Of all the maneuvers, the
emergency surfacing, which the Greeneville did, is the most knock-your-socks-off
Clearly, it was done
solely for the civilians. As retired Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan
told the L.A. Times, "It obviously wasnít a training
exercise because they werenít training their own people."
One of the guests on the Greeneville was even allowed to pull
the lever that initiated the rapid ascent -- which killed nine
But the most critical
question is why were the civilians even there, and why were an
estimated 14,000 other civilians brought onto U.S. ships in the
Pacific Fleet alone last year?
In January of 1999,
then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen gave a speech decrying
what he believed to be a weakening of links between the armed
forces and civilian society. He announced a campaign to reverse
this trend and stated, "What we want to do is reconnect America
to its military."
In February, two years
later, National Transportation Safety Board member John Hammerschmidt
spoke to journalists about the NTSBís investigation of the sinking
of the Ehime Maru by the Greeneville. He read to reporters from
a May 10 Navy personnel memo that described the need for greater
outreach to the public. The goal, as the memo stated, was "reconnecting
America with its military." Obviously, William Cohenís campaign
is being carried out, with the Navy proceeding full steam ahead.
Official Navy policy
expresses the hope that on-board experiences will win over civilians
who are "active and influential in their community, business
or government." "To a certain extent," according
to retired Admiral Bush, "we want to show people the money
they spent building submarines is worthwhile. . . . People who
ride submarines are always impressed."
After spending a day
aboard the aircraft carrier Constellation, Bob Griego, a member
of the Chula Vista, Calif., school board, told a reporter, "It
was awesome. I came back a total believer in what those kids are
doing for us." Another civilian, Sheila McNeill of Kings
Bay, Ga., said, "Everyone I know who has done one of these
cruises has come back more patriotic, more energized and a great
recruiter for the Navy."
Clearly the reason
why these individuals, the 16 civilians on the Greeneville, and
thousands of other "guests" are being hosted on ships
and military bases around the country, is to turn civilians into
lobbyists, recruiters and propagandists for the Pentagon -- in
short, to expand the political power of the armed forces and obliterate
from memory the earlier, traditional view in this country that
freedom is jeopardized when civilian values and institutions are
subjected to the militaryís influence.
There may have been
some human or equipment failures onboard the Greeneville, but
the nine students, teachers and crewmembers who died on the Ehime
Maru were not just victims of a nautical mishap. In reality, they
were killed by U.S. militarism!
Los Angeles Times, February 15, 22 and 23, 2001.
This article is
from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed
to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).