Hundreds march in San Diego to demand an end to US-led RIMPAC “war games”

The mass mobilization was organized by the Cancel RIMPAC to oppose US militarism, environmental degradation, and imperialism

July 01, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
600 marched in San Diego to oppose RIMPAC. (Photo: Narissa Lee)

On June 30, over 600 people marched through San Diego to the USS Midway Museum, in a demonstration following the Cancel RIMPAC People’s Summit, organized by the International Cancel RIMPAC Campaign. Demonstrators are demanding an end to the US-led Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the largest maritime war exercises in the world.

RIMPAC military exercises take place every two years, organized by the US Navy’s Indo-Pacific command. This year dozens of countries are participating, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK, India, Colombia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and many others.

As described by Vice Admiral John Wade, commander of the US 3rd Fleet and the RIMPAC 2024 Combined Task Force (CTF), the purpose of RIMPAC is to “build relationships, to enhance interoperability and proficiency and, ultimately, contribute to the peace and stability in the vitally-important Indo-Pacific region.” 

This year’s RIMPAC comes in the context of increasing attempts by the US to form political and military alliances against China and US “Freedom of Navigation” military exercises in the South China Sea, which are highly provocative towards China. For anti-imperialist activists, such moves constitute a slow but determined war drive against China which they term the “New Cold War”

The Cancel RIMPAC campaign has been convened by the Resist US-led War Movement, BAYAN-USA, and the International Women’s Alliance. 

Those organizing against RIMPAC have highlighted the connections between modern-day US imperialism and longtime US colonial occupation of nations such as Hawai’i. At the demonstration in San Diego, Misty Pegram of Anakbayan Hawai’i pointed out the US military’s continued abuses in Hawai’i. “The Navy has poisoned the water at Kapūkakī, or Red Hill, and failed to hold themselves accountable and attend community oversight meetings formed between the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency,” Pegram said. 

“The Army, specifically the 25th IB unit in Wahiawā, deploys military personnel to train the Armed Forces of the Philippines in counterinsurgency tactics that harass and kill peasant farmers and workers. For generations, they have desecrated the land, 20,000 acres of which they paid only $1 to for 65 years.”

Carly Brook from Resist US-Led War highlighted how RIMPAC is used to further US imperialist interests. “The US targets China with the RIMPAC exercises, but most participating countries are solely cajoled by the US,” Brook spoke at the demonstration. “It is nothing but a show to display the weapons and equipment of the US military so as to facilitate more US arms sales to its so-called partners and allies, to coerce more unequal and aggressive military treaties and to further expand the US’s desperate grasp at control over the region’s trade, resources, labor and investments.”

This mass mobilization took place in the context of a week of action organized by Cancel RIMPAC. Cancel RIMPAC organizers are also working with the Resist NATO Coalition to protest the NATO Summit in Washington, DC, happening from July 9 to 11. The Resist NATO Coalition is organizing a People’s Summit and mobilization on July 6 and 7 to counter the NATO Summit.