by Aree


RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, is hosted by the U.S. Navy with 29 participant countries, including Thailand and Israel. RIMPAC masquerades as a cooperative effort among nations to enhance maritime security and interoperability. However, its true purpose is to assert Western imperialist dominance over the Asia-Pacific region under the guise of military cooperation. This annual exercise brings together navies from across the globe, including those of imperialist powers like the United States and Israel, whose history of military intervention and exploitation is well-documented. Thailand must refuse to aid and abet Israel as well as other imperialist powers in their actions. Thailand must withdraw from RIMPAC. 

From June 26 to August 2 of this year, approximately 40 surface ships, 3 submarines, 14 national land forces, over 150 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel will participate in RIMPAC in and around the Hawaiian Islands. RIMPAC was created in 1971 by the U.S., Australia, and Canada, originally born out of the Cold War. The exercises span the nautical distance between San Diego and the Hawaiian Islands. It was an annual exercise until 1974, when it switched to a biennial exercise. RIMPAC’s purpose is to control “free trade” routes within the Pacific and Pacific Rim, and to show dominance in the Pacific region against China. Thailand has been a RIMPAC participant nation since 1997.

RIMPAC is a platform for the projection of imperialist power and influence in the Asia-Pacific region, reflecting the imperialist ambitions of dominant nations. As the primary organizer and participant in the exercise, the U.S. utilizes RIMPAC as a vehicle to assert its military dominance and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Through large-scale naval maneuvers and joint exercises, the U.S. Navy demonstrates its formidable military capabilities, sending a clear message of power projection to potential rivals and allies alike.

This imperialist platform also includes the experimental Trident Warrior exercises, where new war technologies are tested, including weapons that are being used in the genocide in Gaza. Weapons systems, such as the Iron Dome, Palletized Load Systems and Medium-Range Intercept Capability (MRIC) weapons systems created by Raytheon are tested by the Army and Marines in Hawaiʻi and Guåhan (also known as Guam), during RIMPAC and other exercises. MRIC fires the Raytheon “SkyHunter” SAM, the American name for the Israeli “Tamir Iron Dome” missile used by Israel in Gaza.

These war exercises serve as a tool for consolidating the U.S.-led military alliances and partnerships in the region, further entrenching American hegemony. RIMPAC strengthens the network of military alliances that underpin U.S. strategic objectives in the Asia-Pacific. In addition to its role in advancing American imperialism, RIMPAC also facilitates the interests of other imperialist powers, including Israel, Japan, and Australia. These nations leverage the exercise to assert their own strategic agendas and expand their influence in the region.

Israel, a key participant in the exercise, uses this opportunity to showcase its military prowess and strengthen its ties with other imperialist powers. By participating in RIMPAC, Thailand aligns itself with the Zionist regime, thereby endorsing its policies of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people. By welcoming Israel as a participant in the exercise, RIMPAC provides legitimacy to the Israeli military and its actions, effectively normalizing its genocide, occupation, apartheid, against the Palestinian people. RIMPAC serves as a platform for Israel to showcase its military capabilities and strengthen its ties with other nations, including those with imperialist agendas. By participating in joint naval exercises and maneuvers, Israel enhances its strategic partnerships and bolsters its position as a regional military power, further entrenching its occupation of Palestinian territories.

RIMPAC’s inclusion of Israel is an act of complicity and support for Zionism. By allowing Israel to participate in a multinational military exercise, RIMPAC effectively endorses Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians, illegal occupation of Palestine, military aggression, and blockade of Gaza. This complicity reinforces the impunity with which Israel operates and undermines efforts to hold it accountable for its actions. By participating in RIMPAC, nations endorse and support Israel’s Zionist agenda, contributing to the perpetuation of injustice and oppression in Palestine and beyond.

During RIMPAC, Thailand, Israel, the United States, and other nations will gather to share war tactics and participate in war “games.” Not only will Thailand be learning from tactics used by Israel against Palestinians, Thailand will also be arming Israel with new tactics to be implemented in the ongoing genocide. While Thailand has taken a small step in the right direction by demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire alone is not enough. The violence upon Palestinians did not start after October 7 2023, but dates back to the British conquest of Jerusalem in 1917, which laid the foundations for the modern Zionist settler state. True liberation necessitates boycotts, divestments, and sanctions towards Israel, including withdrawing from RIMPAC.

RIMPAC also perpetuates the colonial exploitation of Hawaiʻi. By conducting military exercises in waters that are vital to the livelihoods and cultures of Kanaka Maoli, the Native Hawaiians, RIMPAC impedes on the sovereignty of Hawaiʻi. In conducting large-scale military maneuvers in these waters and lands without the consent of the Kanaka Maoli, RIMPAC not only desecrates ʻāina (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi for “that which feeds”) but also furthers the ongoing illegal U.S. occupation of Hawaiʻi. With over 25,000 military personnel expected to participate in RIMPAC, an increase in sexual violence and human trafficking follows, particularly for Kanaka Maoli women and girls.

The underwater noise from the naval sonar, sonic booms and torpedoes severely kill, injure, and disturb marine mammals. Under its five-year plan for training and testing, the U.S. Navy is permitted to harm marine mammals nearly 9.6 million times while conducting high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations. The District of Hawaiʻi court found that the National Marine Fisheries Service – the agency charged with protecting marine mammals – violated multiple requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act when agreeing to the Navy’s plan.

RIMPAC facilitates the strengthening of military alliances and partnerships among participating nations, many of which are key U.S. allies. Through joint exercises and interoperability training, RIMPAC fosters closer military cooperation and coordination, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of U.S.-led alliances such as the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). By solidifying these alliances, the United States bolsters its strategic influence and reinforces its role as a dominant security guarantor in the region. RIMPAC allows the United States to send strategic signals to regional actors, signaling its commitment to upholding a rules-based international order and defending its interests in the Asia-Pacific. Through its participation in RIMPAC, the United States underscores its role as a supposed “security provider” and “stabilizing force” in the region, while simultaneously warning potential adversaries against challenging its hegemonic position.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to vital sea lanes and maritime resources, making control over these waters crucial for economic and strategic interests. The occupation of Hawai’i must be considered in the context of the U.S. foreign policy strategy to “Pivot to Asia”. RIMPAC has become part of Pacific Pathways. First created by General Vincent K. Brooks in 2014, Pacific Pathways is a program run by United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) and operationally led by I Corps with the goal of expanding the U.S. military presence Pacific region and reducing the costs of doing so by linking multiple military exercises together through the creation of a “Pathway”. This is a continuation of the “Pacific Pivot” of the early 2010s, initiated under US President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, which shifted more U.S. military capacity toward the region, further cementing U.S. military hegemony over the lands and waters of Oceania. RIMPAC enables the United States to assert control over key maritime routes and establish dominance in critical areas, thereby securing its access to resources, facilitating trade, and exerting influence over regional affairs.

The narrative of national security and wartime necessity are used to naturalize U.S. presence and possession in Asia and the Pacific Islands. In “Transpacific Entanglements”, Yên Lê Espiritu, Lisa Lowe, and Lisa Yoneyama identify how the “discourse of the United States as liberator of Asia is employed in turn to explain the necessary expansion of militarism in the Philippines, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Okinawa, Korea, and Vietnam and to justify the current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere”. During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. military was bombing Hawaiian land as “practice” to kill people in Vietnam, Lao (known more commonly by the colonial name Laos), and Cambodia. In Lao alone, the U.S. dropped over two million tons of cluster bombs, which continue to devastate the native communities and environments. Agent Orange was also developed at the University of Hawai’i and tested on Hawaiian lands before being mobilized in war in Southeast Asia. The bombing of Hawaiian land and the use of Hawai’i as a testing grounds for imperialist U.S. wars continues to this day. As our oppressions are inextricably linked, so is our liberation.

All people of conscience have the duty to organize against RIMPAC. Let us join hands with our comrades across the globe in solidarity against imperialism, colonialism, and oppression in all its forms.

How can you get involved in organizing against RIMPAC?

You can join the Cancel RIMPAC Campaign by filling out this form, and by following the International Women’s Alliance (IMA), BAYAN USA, and Resist US-Led War on their respective social media accounts for campaign updates. You can also sign the Thai for Palestine and SeriiPalestine’s petition for Thailand to withdraw from RIMPAC.