Monday, May 09, 2005

Invisible Pacific

Since 9/11, there has been a regular stream of semi-jubliant and proudly patriotic news stories in Guam's media, about the steady build up in military presence that's going on there.

Except for Joe Murphy, this fact is always dealt with polite but obvious finatta. I say finatta', because it is a form of haughty bragging. In the common historical discourse, meaning the ideas one can get without actual investigation, but instead just passive inundation with Guam's media and gossip networks, the poor economic times in Guam are publicly because of Japan's poor economic condition, but more quietly, but nonetheless importantly because of Guam's biting the hand that feeds it during the 1980's. That's right, in the 1980's and 1990's some people, Chamorros in particular who had their families' land taken, or who were mistreated by the US military in Vietnam, or just hate being colonial citizens began to resist the US military and openly promote critiques against the US and the US in Guam. At some point during this emergence of Chamorro critical consciousness, the military closed down some of their bases and shrunk down their operations in Guam. In most people's minds, this closure, didn't just coincide with the grassroots activism that was coming out, it was actually caused by it!

In order to understand the loose and scattered points I'm making typing this at 1 in the morning, we have to consider the role of the "military" in discussions in Guam. The military is the ultimate point of hegemonization, meaning it is the point, the idea, the image, the structure which does the most in forming basic understandings and opinions in Guam. This comes in the form of what Guam means to the rest of the world (something which if the US wasn't here, some other country would invade and snatch up!), how Guam relates to the US, and how Guam survives economically.

Joe Murphy as an editorial writer for the PDN is particularly important in making this point. It is not that Murphy is a good writer, for he is definitely not. But its just that his points fall on the side of power, so one needn't be a very good writer for them to be heard. Fox News is of course a perfect example of this. If you play to the basest nationalist or cultural understandings, even if you're i mas brodie na taotao, ya kalang mababa i lu-mu, you will be heard loud and clear. If you are going against that grain, then you better be an exceptional writer, with a huge amount of knowledge at your disposal.

The current forms of finatta' over the military deal with how since Guam's economy is so poor nowadays, no one can question the current military increases. (The war on terror helps as well). Thus, there are rarely any more protests, rarely any voices saying, "Federales, fanhanao tatte!" So this basic, ultimate hegemonic, powerfully pragamtic point of the military, as the economic lifeline to Guam, can now go almost completely unquestioned, uncritiqued.

So in an article on http://www.kuam.com last week, they were discussing the most recent potential increase, some Air Force inetnon from Idaho. As usual, representatives from the military said that this increase was not in response to any particular threat in the area. The interesting thing however is that, the "area," namely the Pacific and Guam are completely invisible in these statements. For if they were visibile, then one would very quickly grasp, that the movement of these planes themselves, represent a huge threat to the region!

From here, it doesn't require must effort to see the ways that institutions creates threats, create the aura of threateningness, and then part of that consutruction is the assumption that the thing which creates the threat is the best remedy or tool against said threat.

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