As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm working on a letter to the PDN editor while I'm on island. Here's my draft so far, there's just a few things I need to check on first at MARC and then I'll send it out this week.
Should issues of Guam’s political status become more prominent in public discussions?
The answer to this question should be an obvious hunggan. With thousands of new military looming on the horizon, a common sense confrontation with Guam’s colonial status is more necessary than ever.
A classic psychological defense is to over-support things which we have no control over, and we see that very much at work with many of Guam’s leaders. While their cheerleader-like positions in support of whatever the US military wants and the lack of any serious discussion of the inevitable negative impacts, might be a simple strategy to get more money from the Feds, it is just as likely linked to their powerlessness in this transition. With their power in this matter reduced to suggestion box optimism, their best bet seems to be to wave the flag and hope for the best. Talk about being a partner, in order to cover up the fact that when it comes down to it, you are absolutely not a partner.
Believe it or not, but in addition to Guam’s geographic location, it is this political powerlessness that creates some of the more unmentioned aspects of Guam’s strategic value. In 1969, Richard Nixon during a press conference on Guam laid the rhetorical groundwork for this value. These statements became The Nixon Doctrine, which among other things, supported the relocation of American troops from “contested” sites throughout Asia (Okinawa, South Korea and Vietnam), where local governments or people loathed the military presence, to “uncontested” sites in the Pacific, such as Guam.
“Uncontested” could mean an understanding local population (US military here is treated liked “liberators”) and flexible political situation (according to several Naval Commanders, there aren’t political restrictions on the US military in Guam, like you find in other countries). Another version however is less discussed, and therefore far more relevant, we can find it in the statements of an Air Force Captain in 1993, “People on Guam seem to forget that they are a possession, and not an equal partner…If California says that they want to do this, it is like my wife saying that she wants to move here or there: I’ll have to respect her wish and at least discuss it with her. If Guam says they want to do this or that, it is as if this cup here, expresses a wish: the answer will be, you belong to me and I can do with you as best I please.” During an NBC report on Operation Valiant Shield, this reality was accidentally revealed, when we were referred to as “the US owned island of Guam.”
One lesson which America claims to have learned long ago, remains unlearned in the case of Guam, and we are thus forced to live that convenient ignorance. No matter how comfortable it may feel to be a footnote of the American Empire, there is no equality and no freedom when someone “owns” you. It is this harsh lesson in political status that we must take with us when we “negotiate” the benefits and damages of this incoming barrage of military increases.