Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Radio Radio

I have a radio interview lined up for tomorrow, with i kayu-hu Migetu Tuncap from UC Berkeley. We're going to discuss what Migetu has been doing at UC Berkeley in terms of getting Pacific Islanders recognized, funded and with their own faculty and programs, and also my recent trip to the United Nations and what's happening right now in Guam and the military buildup.

I'm pasting the information below for the interview, and also a list of radio interviews done by members of Famoksaiyan over the past year on similar topics. Check them out, the interviews are very good and very informative. There are alot of voices involved and touching on so many important issues for Chamorros, whether it be environmental damage, military build up, economic dispossession, cultural and language revitalization and even music.

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Apex Express: Asian Pacific Islander radio
Thursdays 7PM-8PM, KPFA 94.1 FM, KFCF Fresno,
www.kpfa.org

Thurs. Nov. 29th:
US Troop Increase, Indigenous Rights Decrease? And will there be Pacific Islander Studies at UC Berkeley? Hear how Native Gumanians face military might as they try to re-claim land, language, political power. We talk with Michael Lujan Bevacqua--who testified at the UN--as well as Michael Tuncap who will also talk about plans for starting Pacific Islander Studies at UC Berkeley. Island music and more during Indigenous Peoples' Month.
Contact: 510-848-6767x464; apex@... ;
for more stories: www.apexexpress.org . For Apex 's hip -hop
site: www.myspace.com/apexexpress

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Famoksaiyan Gi I Rediu

November 9th, 2006 - Apex Express
http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17065
And at the UN, the indigenous people of Guam called for the world to recognize their plight. Hear Victoria Leon Guerrero, Mike Tuncap and Erica Benton talk about how the US military base build-up on Guam will further erode their rights. We will also have music from Guam from Chris Barnett.
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November 20th, 2006 - Women's Magazine
http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17238
Catalina Vazquez talks to two women from Guam, one of the last colonies in the world, about the U.S. military occupation and militarization of Guam and their recent visit to the United Nations to get support for the independence of Guam and to stop the military's plans to increase that occupation.
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November 21st, 2006 - Flashpoints
http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17261
An Indigenous Chamorro group from Guam reports back from a delegation to the UN to protest expanding US militarization on their island.
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November 24th, 2006 - Full Circle
http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17202
Military Land Expansion in Guam
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December 11th, 2006 - The Morning Show
http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17592
Impact of U.S. Military bases on Guam (indigenously called ‘Guahan')Victoria Leon Guerrero is an author of semi-autobiographical children's book about growing up on Guahan called "Lola's Journey Home” and is working on her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Mills College. Julian Aguon, writer-activist from the island of Guahan (Guam), is the author of the new book “The Fire This Time: Essays on Life Under US Occupation." Michael Lujan Bevacqua is a Ph.D candidate in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego and the editor of the Minagahet (Truth) Zine, www.geocities.com/minagahet


Monday, November 26, 2007

The Democrats and African Americans

Published on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 by the Sun-Times (Chicago)
Most Democratic Candidates are Ignoring African Americans
by Jesse Jackson

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they’re not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that’s why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.

Yet the Democratic candidates — with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign — have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.

Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren’t talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans.
The civil rights movement succeeded in ending segregation and providing blacks with the right to vote. But the end of legal apartheid did not end the era of discrimination. And the ending of institutionalized violence did not end institutionalized racism.

Patterns of discrimination are sharply etched. African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. On the other hand, we’re suffering twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health).

African Americans are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Young African Americans are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested if searched, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be sentenced to prison if charged, less likely to get early parole if imprisoned. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. And yet no candidate speaks to this central reality.

African Americans are more likely to go to overcrowded and underfunded schools, more likely to go without health care, more likely to drop out, less likely to find employment. Those who do work have less access to banks and are more likely to be ripped off by payday lenders, more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages — even when adjusting for income. And yet, no candidate speaks to this central reality.

The result is visiting a catastrophe on the urban black community. I and many others campaign for young people to stay in school, to graduate and not to make babies until they are prepared to be parents. My son and I write and teach about personal financial responsibility. Personal responsibility is critical. But personal responsibility alone cannot overcome the effects of a discriminatory criminal justice and economic system in generating broken families and broken dreams.

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage — to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact — he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.

© Copyright 2007 Digital Chicago, Inc.

The Pacific

I am writing right now two lectures on the Pacific and Pacific Islanders which I'll be giving this week in the Ethnic Studies 1A class at UCSD. I've got the basic idea of what I want to say and what I'll use to say and prove it, but still the actually writing and plotting of it is a bit difficult.

I at first wanted to show what Pacific Islanders and their islands mean in relation to the United States, so for other Americans, what do they enable, perform or make possible culturally, politically and militarily. The different segments of a nation and an empire are bound together in various ways, but one important and obvious one being practical or utilitarian. From the vantage of being a "real" citizen, or a "real" American, what it is for example, that different racial or ethnic groups provide to the health and prosperity of the nation. What it is that they bring here that is important?

The reason for this is of course to both explain why someone should be here, but also to always attach that person to somewhere else. The people who can just simply be here, the people who can and shouldn't be told to go back to where they came from, these are the "real" citizens and "real" Americans. Everyone else comes from somewhere else and can always be stripped of their power, rights and sense of belonging, by be reminded not only that they are truly not from here, but that their presence here requires something extra, they cannot simply call this place "home" and never worry about it again.

We can see this in so many ways throughout our daily lives, in the way Asian Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans and so on are discussed. For instance, recently it was announced that the citizenship tests given by Immigration would in the future be made much harder and focus more on American history and government questions. In some ways, this doesn't appear to be a big deal. But in going over the lists of potentialy questions and topics, you can see clearly that most Americans, who are adults or in college or in high school wouldn't potentially know the answers to these questions. But that is the privilege of being a "real" American, is that you don't even have to know your own history and government, but can simply use it to prove that other people don't belong here.

In a more critical way, we can see this through what Yen Le Espiritu calls differential inclusion. The emphasis on what a particular group gives or contributes to the nation, can lead us to the ways in which those groups are only to be differentially included, or included in some ways, excluded in others. For instance, different ethnic groups are absolutely allowed to come to the United States to work and to contribute to the economy of the United States, most often for very low wages, working in very poor conditions. But this "contribution" does not translate into cultural or political demands. Although they are allowed to help the American economy, whatever cultural and especially political baggage is not given the same free pass as their labor. For instance, last year the country was rocked by huge protests and demonstrations on behalf of and in support of Mexican and Latino labor in this country. Millions of people emerged from "the shadows" to protest their treatment by this country, and also to make clear the depth and significance of their economic contribution to it. Little happened however, as the demands that these millions of people made almost fell completely on deaf ears by the majority of the country and its government. These workers demanded recognition of particular national, regional and global structures of economic exploitation and (with a some people benefiting), and demanded that the the economic and political structures and boundaries of the United States be shifted, be changed and be altered to stop this exploitation. Their protests were shouts to the United States, that you get our labor and you get to act out your national insecurities on our bodies and with our lives, and what do we get in return that you don't claim we are stealing?

For the lectures I am writing, being about Pacific Islanders, things are a little different. As a relatively tiny population in the United States and very heterogenous, there aren't really any discussions of contribution to the United States, except maybe in three ways, hula, gangs and football players. For larger groups, one cannot help but bump up against speech and ideas designed to include and exclude them in the United States, but this isn't the case yet with Pacific Islanders.

One of the reasons for this is no doubt, the emptiness of the Pacific, or the idea of it simply not having anything in it. The force and presence of Pacific Islanders and the Pacific in the United States, therefore seems to duplicate their arrangement on a map, scattered, tiny, distant and disconnected islands and nothing more.

But one simply shouldn't stop at this point, this dead end and sigh, well, I guess the Pacific doesn't mean very much. For anyone who is looking carefully at the relationship between the United States, the Pacific as a region and particular islands in the Pacific, then they know that this is absolutely not the case. The Pacific has played a large role in making the United States, giving it certain identities and fantasies of itself, whether through the whalers and beachcombers of the 19th century, or the tourists and military soliders of the 20th century.

So in my lectures this week I definitely want to highlight this relationship, how the Pacific and its images of being empty, of being paradise, of being ripe for the taking, all of these things become foundational for the identity of America today and for Americans.

So as I'm working on this, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on "the Pacific." And why I feel what I have to say is important.


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If the world is a neighborhood and its regions divided into different buildings and places within that community, then the Pacific as I see it has a large, but surprisingly banal and empty part of this neighborhood. If Africa is as Achille Mbembe and others have noted, a geographic and temporal warehouse for the nasty, uncivilized desires and fantasies for Europe, then the Pacific would most likely be a vast empty lot in the neighborhood, which occasionally someone has grand plans for, but nothing ever materializes, and the lot doesn’t seem to have much impact on the rest of the neighborhood.

Since 1892, there have been regular calls for an emerging epoch that is destined to be called “The Pacific Century” or “The Pacific Age.” In 2002 the Bush Administration has joined in this sort of christening, during a discussion on Japanese and American political unity. The enshrining of this large unit of time as belonging to a region of the world however is misleading, as the actual text of Bush’s press release makes clear that the approaching century actually belongs to East Asia or the Pacific Rim, or even just China and Japan.

Right across the road from Ethnic Studies here at UCSD we have the prestigious department of International Relations and Pacific Studies. A quick glance at the list of graduate student projects or the research interests of their faculty reveals that this department isn’t really very good at studying the Pacific. My most revealing interaction with IRPS was a discussion with a group of graduate students there, who didn’t even know that Guam was a territory/colony of the United States On another occasion, a Pacific Islander student, during a class taught through IRPS asked that since an upcoming lecture was to be about militarization and geopolitics in the Pacific and Asia, and would discuss China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, that given the fact that several thousand Marines were planned to be moved out of Okinawa into Guam, the professor should include Guam in the lecture and discussion. The professor responding by asking the class, by a show of hands to indicate “who here thinks that Guam isn’t important?” The majority of the class raised their hands, at which point the professor responded “Well, so no, there’s your answer, Guam isn’t important.” Interestingly enough, this talk of a Pacific age, doesn’t by any means a “Pacific Islands Century.” A year after claiming that the 21st century would be the Pacific Century, Condelezza Rice stood before a delegation of Pacific Island leaders, and announced boldly that 2007 would be the “YEAR of the Pacific.”


In the Pacific we find a handful examples of still existing regular old fashioned colonialism (interestingly enough, most of the rest of the examples can be found in another large body of water, the Caribbean). We also find a group of newly formed, newly christened sort of nations in Micronesia, in Palau, the RMI and the FSM, which appear to be experiments or blueprints for a world under Empire. As an almost bonus to the United States military empire, the strategic importance of the Pacific to the United States seems to have little presence in the imaginations of the global Left or anti-war or anti-base groups in the United States. The statement of William Mckinley in 1901 that “Hawai’i is more important than California” remains true, but seems to have nonetheless been forgotten as the United States can generally claim the Pacific as its region, its lake, and its to militarze.

If we do look into the Pacific, instead of passing over it, we see small islands, coconuts, very few people, nothing but natives, shattered cultures, which have to depend upon the rest of the world for everything. There is a paradoxical largeness and smallness to the Pacific, and a curious way that the fringes become the centers. So that analysis of the Pacific is not consumed with its center, or the sea of islands in the Pacific, but rather its edges.

For those doing critical work about the Pacific, it is important that they simply do not accept the paradoxical exotification of the Pacific, with its simultaneous blandness and inability to impact history. It is important that they either recognize the role that the Pacific has in producing modern material and discursive structures or power and knowledge, or they interrogate the absence of the Pacific today, and the banality that makes it natural to exclude it from analysis.
Speaking to the role of the Pacific and the ocean in general in the development of modern ideas Chris Connery in his articles “The Oceanic Feeling and the Regional Imaginary” and “Ideologies of Land and Sea” reminds his readers about their centrality in shaping, contrasting or stimulating the way we conceive of space, geography and being. The cartographies and prescriptions of Empire in both the 19th and the 20th centuries were spurned by texts such as Alfred Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power on History which called for a domination and control of the sea.
In ideological terms, we can extend this past political economy, into the subjectivities and perceptions of modern subjects that are produced through the metaphors of the sea. According to Conner, “Ocean going, for Hegel activated Western history, and the geographical opportunity for ocean exploration was the condition of possibility for Western Europe’s entry into world history.” Then quoting Hegel from The Philosophy of History:

The sea gives us the idea of indefinite, the unlimited and the infinite; and in feeling his own infinite in that Infinite, man is stimulated and emboldened to stretch beyond the limited: to sea invites man to conquest and to piratical plunder, but also to honest gain and to commerce. The land, the mere valley-plain attaches him to the soil; it involves him in an indefinite multitude of dependencies, but the sea carries him out beyond these limited circles of thought and action.

Carl Schmitt, begins his text The Nomos of the Earth, with a line from a Goethe poem, which might be a good way to connect to my next point. In beginning his attempt to theorize the world, in geographic and spatial terms, and describe the spatial consciousness that has emerged over the past few centuries of European development, Schmitti quotes, “The small and the petty have all trickled away. Only the land and the sea matter here."

While this might be considered a very pragmatic, ruthless claim in the style of Mahan, that the only thing that matters is control of territory! It could also be a reflection on the way and the assumed reason that the Pacific and Pacific Islands and Islanders as topics of analysis are consistently ignored, forgotten or rejected.

The remarks of one of the most prominent American cultural studies scholar might give us a clue into this absence. Several years ago at a race conference at Cornell University, this scholar had been invited as one of the key note speakers. During her presentation she outlined the scope of her new book, which will discuss the intimate connections through race and capitalism of four of the world’s continents in making possible the development of humanistic and modern knowledge. One of my friends, a Pacific Islander scholar, during the question and answer period asked the presenter how could she and why did she completely ignore in her intended treatise on the development of the modern world and modern knowledge, the Pacific. The scholar’s very insulting and very revealing response was, “I didn’t go into the Pacific, because I’m not writing about genocide.”
Apart from the implicit assertion that the Pacific doesn’t have an impact on the way the modern world has been developed or shaped, the Pacific becomes a curious instance where “genocide” isn’t apparently a meaningful part of a discussion about the development of race thinking, capitalism and modernity. These points completely disconnected from the fact that the scholar’s indifferent insinuation that there is no one in the Pacific is primarily performative and not descriptive, or in another way, “I did not write about the Pacific, because I have just killed them off.”
In terms of the global non-dimension of the Pacific for those outside of the Pacific, its important to recognize that following World War II, the United States sought to control the majority of the Pacific in the hopes of creating a “buffer zone” which would prevent any “surprise” attacks from Asia.

In the way that the Pacific is skipped over in analysis of the global, or even Pacific Studies, and how Pacific Islanders are written off or never considered due to their status as the “small and petty” that “have all trickled away,” we see the Pacific becoming another “buffer zone.” In this instance a quiet, banal bodyguard for American power and interests, as the Pacific sits silently beneath so many critiques, demands and social movements.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mattochihu

Hu tuge' este hagas ha' (lao ti gof hagas). Hu fakcha'i este anai umaliligao yu' gi My Documents gi iyo-ku computer. Hu taitai este, ya ha na'malalago yu' para bei fangge' betsu siha ta'lo...

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Måttochihu

Abak yu’ gi I pakyo-mu
Chaochaochao lao suette yu’
Chubasko ya taifitme, Pat osino bei tekuni (hao)
Magof mafoyung-hu, mahalla ya sesso naofrågu (nene)
Måtmos yu’ ya mangge hao? Pinacha’ yu’ lao nao’ao hao (nene)
Hågu, I chi-hu
Hågu, I chi-hu

Taifinakpo’ I tasi, enkubukao-hu taiguini, (ombre)
Sesso un na’kilili, guaha na biahi nai un goggue (yu’)
Na’dafflok yu’ mangguaiya, na’klåru humitå-ta, (sångan)
Kao guahu I amot-mu? Pat Guahu I chetnot-mu? (Fehman)
Hågu, chi-hu
Hågu, chi-hu


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World

CALL FOR PAPERS

"POSTCOLONIAL" FUTURES IN A NOT-YET POSTCOLONIAL WORLD:
Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous, and Postcolonial Studies

March 5-7, 2008
Ethnic Studies Department
University of California, San Diego

In September 2007, after twenty years of debate, the United Nations finally passed the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a huge symbolic victory for indigenous peoples around the world who struggle under predatory and exploitative relationships with(in) existing nation-states. At the same moment, the UN was lumbering along in the 18th year of its impossible attempts to eradicate colonialism, with groups from around the world flocking to it to petition for the decolonization of their territories or to demand that their situations at least be recognized as "colonial."

Across all continents, indigenous and stateless peoples are struggling for and demanding various forms of sovereignty, as the recently decolonized world is sobering up from the learning of its limits and pratfalls. Postcolonial societies that were born of sometimes radical anti-colonial spirits, now appear to be taking on the role of the colonizer, often against the indigenous peoples that reside within their borders. In places such as Central and Latin America, a resurgence of Third World Leftist politics is being accompanied by a resurgence of indigenous populism. Meanwhile the recent arrests of sovereignty/environmental activists in New Zealand represents another instance where those from the 3rd and 4th worlds who dare to challenge the current make up of today's "postcolonial world" are branded as terrorists.

As scholars involved in critical ethnic studies engage with these ever more complex worlds, they are increasingly resorting to the lenses provided by postcolonial and indigenous studies. This engagement however is not without its limits or problems. As ethnic studies scholars seek to make their vision and scholarship more transnational and global, this push is nonetheless accompanied by gestures that, at the expense of indigenous and postcolonial frameworks, re-center the United States and reaffirm the solvency of its nation-state. In addition, despite their various commonalities, indigenous and postcolonial studies represent intellectual bodies of knowledge that are fundamentally divided over issues such as hybridity, sovereignty, nation, citizenship and subjectivity.

The purpose of this conference, then, is to create a space where scholars and activists engaged in these various projects, in various forms, can congregate to share ideas, hash out differences and move beyond caricatured understandings of each of these intellectual projects. It seeks to ask how, by putting ethnic, indigenous and postcolonial studies in conversation with each other, we may theorize new epistemologies that may better address the violences and injustices of the contemporary world.

To this end we solicit papers that address questions including, but in no way limited to, the following:

- What are the epistemological frameworks that inform postcolonial, ethnic and indigenous studies? What is their relationship to modernity and how do they challenge and/or complement each other?

- What constitutes the subject of postcolonial and ethnic studies? How does the construction of these subjectivities limit possible conversations with indigenous studies?

- What are the limitations and pitfalls of sovereignty as popularly envisioned? How do postcolonial and indigenous communities reaffirm or rearticulate sovereignty within their respective contexts?

- What are the different theories and strategies of decolonization as laid out by postcolonial and indigenous studies, and how do they inform each other?

- How does the political status of indigenous peoples complicate dominant discourses on immigration and citizenship? Moreover, with regards to settler nation-states such as the U.S., how does the "nations-within-nations" status of indigenous communities complicate the project of ethnic and transnational studies?

Abstracts must be submitted to: futures0308@gmail.com

Requirements:
250-word abstract, specifying if the proposal is for individual or roundtable presentations
Information including name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address

Deadline for Submission: January 7th, 2008

For more information please contact: Michael Lujan Bevacqua at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com or Rashné Limki at rashne.limki@gmail.com

Website: http://futures0308.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wars on the Horizon

(The website Antiwar.com is fundraising right now to make it through the next quarter of the year. Articles such as the one below, which are one the reasons that the website is so necessary. It provides a very important archive for the different, disparate voices which are speaking out against war in different ways. It does obviously feature alot of authors which I don't generally trust or care for, and I sometimes include this Justin Raimondo (the author below), but it is nonetheless a very helpful resource. Please click here to help support their site and make a donation.)

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Wars to Watch Out For
2008 will bring us an abundant crop of overseas crises
by Justin Raimondo
From Antiwar.com

As we approach the new year, a fresh crop of overseas crises threatens to spring up, like mushrooms after a rain, and the prospects for peace on earth, this holiday season, are dimmer than ever.

Iraq: First up on the agenda is, of course, the war in Iraq, which, we are told, is going swimmingly. The much-touted statistics that we're being fed by the War Party and its media enablers sound good, but if you look at them a bit closer, the illusion begins to dissipate. The downturn in violence that we're hearing so much about is largely due to the fact that the ethno-religious cleansing of contested regions of Iraq has been completed, for the most part: in Baghdad, for example, the Shi'ites have driven the Sunnis out, with the help of the U.S.-supported "police" and the Iraqi "army" – which are really just Shi'ite death squads. They've shed all the blood they can, at least for now: give them a moment to catch their collective breath, however, and the sectarian killings will recommence with gusto.

Similarly, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hails the "return" of "7,000 families" to Baghdad as proof positive that the "surge" is working, but the reality is that, as Juan Cole points out, the many tens of thousands who fled to Syria are now being forced by the Syrian government to leave, which explains the great "return." They're being kicked out of Damascus, and they're not allowed into the U.S., so where else are they supposed to go?

The emerging hotspot in Iraq is Kurdistan, which has been relatively peaceful until this point – but only because the ruling parties have kept such a tight lid on internal dissent, ruthlessly suppressing their critics and growing fat on U.S. and Israeli aid. The lid is about to blow off the pot, however, due to two factors: first, terrorist attacks in Turkey carried out by guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which many Turks suspect is funded and managed by the U.S. and the Kurdish regional government, and second, a provision in the Iraqi constitution that requires a referendum to decide who gets the oil-hub city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by the Kurds and the Iraqi central government.

As I have said before on several occasions, the Kurds are the most disruptive and unpredictable factor in the Iraqi jigsaw puzzle, which virtually ensures that the state smashed by U.S. force of arms almost certainly cannot be put back together again, no matter how much glue – in the form of U.S. troops and subsidies – is poured into the breach. Virulent Kurdish nationalism, unleashed by the American invasion and empowered by U.S. and Israeli aid and arms, is on the march, and every nation in the region is going to be negatively affected. It isn't going to be pretty, as the Turks have discovered to their sorrow and growing anger.

Iran: It seems like virtually unanimous opposition from the U.S. military has lessened the possibility of a war being launched by this White House any time soon, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

Admiral Fallon and a number of other military figures have spoken out against a new war in the Middle East, pointing to the overstretch of our resources and the near-impossibility of mobilizing an effective fighting force while we're bogged down in Iraq, but realism was never the neoconservatives' strong point and that isn't stopping them from pushing their agenda. The president, as I've pointed out before, is the most radical neocon of them all – or, at the very least, a fervent fellow traveler – and it really is up to him. Certainly the Kyl-Lieberman resolution gives him the legal and political tools to do it, since it can be seen as merely an extension of the original post-9/11 authorization to go to war against "terrorists." If the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are "terrorists" and are actively killing American soldiers in Iraq, as Kyl-Lieberman avers, then the resolution in tandem with the post-9/11 legislation gives ample legal cover to an administration hell-bent on war with Iran.

Lebanon: Recent incursions by the Israelis over Lebanese airspace could prefigure another Israeli invasion, this time to prevent Hezbollah and its Christian allies from displacing the increasingly unpopular and beleaguered "pro-Western" government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. All factions are arming themselves, and the country looks ready to slide into yet another civil war, which would almost certainly provoke intervention by several outside interests, including the U.S. and/or Israel. Lebanon is the Balkans of the Middle East: a spark struck there could ignite the whole region.

Syria: I've been keeping a close watch on developments in Syria for years, in the belief that this is really the focal point of Israeli interests. Syria, after all, is where the Palestinian factions have been headquartered, and it is the front-line state that has provided support to the Palestinian resistance struggle. For more on Syria as an Israeli target of opportunity, read the now famous "Clean Break" scenario painted by prominent neocons now in high positions in the U.S. government.

Naturally, the Israelis have wanted to take out the Syrians, but they have lacked the capacity to do so. Now, as in the case of Iraq, it could be that the Americans are going to do the job for them. There's been a lot of anti-Syrian rhetoric coming out of this White House, and our State Department has done everything but cut off diplomatic relations with Damascus: we have no ambassador presently in Syria, only low-level diplomatic personnel. Sanctions are hurting the always precarious Syrian economy, the Kurds are busy stirring up trouble, and now there's this news from Nation columnist Eric Alterman:

"I got a letter the other day from a faculty member at the University of Maryland's overseas division in Europe. UM is the primary university providing classes for U.S. service members abroad. Here it is:

"'The reason that I am writing today is to inform you of something rather unsettling. Last weekend, we had a Europe-wide faculty meeting at our headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. At that meeting, we were told that the U of MD military education contracts will be expanding soon to Iraq, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, and other locations in the Middle East and Africa. This comes as no surprise.

"'What is startling is that the U.S. military has also asked us to prepare a bid for educational programs in IRAN and SYRIA (and, oddly enough, France – where we have had no presence since NATO was expelled in 1967 – probably a function of the new conservative government there). We will be bidding on an education contract to these locations at the end of November.
"'This is a truly ominous development. The U of MD overseas program follows the military around the world – thus clearly the contingencies for an occupation of several Middle Eastern countries is not only being contemplated, but actually set up.'"

That Israeli air strike at what was supposedly a Syrian "nuclear facility" portends something, but as to whether it's a U.S.-Israeli invasion is an open question. In my own view, it's not a matter of if, but when.

Somalia-Ethiopia: This was supposed to be war as it should be fought, according to the War Party here on the home front. Why, those no-nonsense Ethiopians, who have no sissy-liberal compunctions about collateral damage, would soon make short work of those pro-terrorist Somalis, but there's just one problem. The Ethiopians aren't winning. You'll remember how the neocons trotted out the old Stalinist eggs-omelet argument, in a new guise, but now we have to ask: where's the beef?

Expect this latest front in our perpetual "war on terrorism" to degenerate further, as the Ethiopian regime faces increasing opposition on the home front, where its program of repression and ethnic supremacism is not only alienating large sectors of Ethiopian society and provoking a new civil war, but also further impoverishing one of the poorest nations on earth. Addis Ababa can't even keep its own house from falling to pieces, so it's no surprise that their Somali sock puppets are at each other's throats. Another factor that could throw the rapidly deteriorating region into the spotlight is the resumption of Ethiopia's endless war with Eritrea. The U.S. has sided with the Ethiopians in the ongoing Ethiopian-Eritrean dispute, giving aid and diplomatic cover to the neocon dictator Meles Zenawi's dreams of a "Greater Ethiopia," but we may well have picked the wrong horse in that fight. The Eritreans are a fierce and proud people who have successfully fought off Ethiopian attempts to incorporate them into "Greater Ethiopia" for centuries, most recently in the late 1990s, a conflict in which 70,000 perished. Of course, the U.S. has no interest in helping the thug Zenawi subjugate his neighbors, who have clung tenaciously to their thin strip of territory on the shores of the Red Sea since independence was won from Ethiopia in 1993.

The Russian periphery: I have long believed that the next stage in the neocons' bid for empire will be a rapidly escalating assault on the remnants of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union – dressed up as yet another crusade for "democracy," Washington-style, launched by the U.S. This has so far been a political effort, typified by the various "color revolutions" that erupted in the post-Soviet periphery, from the Rose Revolution in Georgia to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution led by Viktor Yushchenko. These efforts are apparently stalled, and even suffering from a determined rollback led by nationalist forces, and the next phase is likely to be a series of low-level proxy wars between Russian-backed nationalists and U.S.-backed "democrats."

There are a number of theaters where hostilities could break out, but I'll just cover the hottest hotspots:

Georgia: As President Mikheil Saakashvili deflowers his own revolution and shuts down the opposition media, he could well try to divert attention away from his political problems by ginning up a fresh conflict with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are protected by Russian troops and regional militias. Saakashvili, the great "democrat," is busy charging anyone who opposes him with being a pawn of the Russians (and therefore guilty of treason), but the West is calling on him to restore civil liberties – and, in an apparent effort to propitiate his Western benefactors, he has lifted some restrictions and called new elections. Widespread and growing opposition to his strong-arm tactics, even among many of his former supporters, spells political trouble for Saakashvili and his corrupt cohorts, however – and an appeal to Georgian ultra-nationalism (which was always the real ideological motivation of the Rose Revolutionaries) would bolster him in the polls and provide a much-needed distraction, at least from the ruling party's point of view.

In the event of an outbreak of hostilities, expect the U.S. to do what they have done for the duration of Georgia's political crisis: proffer unconditional support to Saakashvili. With Russia aiding and giving political and diplomatic support to the Abkhazians and the Ossetians, and the Americans letting loose a flood of military aid to Tbilisi, this could be the first theater of actual conflict in the new cold war.

Kosovo – again!: The irony of this is all too apparent to longtime readers of Antiwar.com. Virtually alone among opponents of imperialism in the U.S., we opposed the American "liberation" of Kosovo and considered U.S. support for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – a gang of drug-smuggling thugs whose control of the European heroin trade subsidized their terrorist activities against the people of Kosovo and neighboring countries – to be a war crime. As it turned out, it was the Clintonian precursor to the American sponsorship of Iraqi exile groups, such as Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, whose ersatz "intelligence" helped lie the American people into war. It is only fitting that this hotspot should get hotter even as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claims Kosovo as a model for what we ought to have done in Iraq.

The problem in Kosovo is that the "liberation" led to a reign of terror by the KLA, which burned Serbian Orthodox churches, terrorized the remnants of Serbian communities, and demanded immediate independence. On this latter demand, they managed to be contained by their NATO and U.S. allies, but that pot is about to boil over as Hashim Thaci, KLA militant and candidate of the grievously misnamed "Democratic Party," takes the presidency. Ever since the "liberation," the KLA was kept out of power by the prestige of Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo, but Rugova's death from cancer in 2006 paved the way for the thuggish Thaci to seize power – and he has.

A unilateral declaration of independence by the Thaci regime would not necessarily lead to fighting in the region, although there is that possibility. The real danger is that it will set off a chain reaction in Moscow, which will then encourage its allies in the various regions of the Russian "near abroad" to issue similar declarations: Abkhazia, Adjara (site of a Russian military base), Ossetia, and certain sections of Moldova could be granted diplomatic recognition by Russia and its allies, on the grounds that what's good for the Kosovar goose in good for the Abkhazian-Adjarian-Ossetian-Transnistrian-Gagauzian gander. This could set off a whole series of proxy wars, with the Russians backing the breakaway republics and the Americans standing with their super-centralizing satraps, such as Saakashvili.

With the arms-control treaties pioneered by Reagan and other U.S. presidents now discarded, and the Russians chafing over a missile-defense system installed in the Czech republic and Poland supposedly because of an imminent danger of an Iranian attack, this new development is particularly dangerous.

The ultimate goal of the War Party is "regime change" in the Kremlin: they long to put another one of their stooges, along the lines of Boris Yeltsin, in the drivers' seat. The problem with Yeltsin was that he couldn't stay sober long enough to do Washington's bidding. And now there is no plausible rival to the wildly popular Vladimir Putin, who has put the country back into some semblance of order. Their solution: declare Putin to be the reincarnation of Stalin and announce the death of "democracy" in the former Soviet Union. This would pave the way for a resurgence of aid to "democratic" organizations inside Russia, funneled covertly as well as overtly, and a slowly escalating series of trade sanctions designed to cripple the Russians economically, or at least make them feel the sting of Western wrath.

All in all, a rather grim outlook for 2008, and all the more reason to support Antiwar.com – which, now that I mention it, seems to be lagging at the moment. Our winter fundraising effort, coming as it does between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, is being extended this year – and we need your help more than ever. That's because war clouds are currently gathering on the horizon in nearly every direction, and we're busy as all get-out just trying to keep up. Add to that the increased difficulty in raising funds this time around, due to a number of factors beyond our control, such as the worsening economy and the start of the political season, and you can see why we're experiencing a bit of a problem at the moment.

Look, I don't want to push the panic button quite yet, but we don't have a lot of cash reserves to fill the gap between expected contributions and the depressing reality of a shortfall. We need your contribution today – or else I can't guarantee that we'll be here at the end of this year, at least in our present, comprehensive form.

Cut back on Antiwar.com when the prospects for peace are so dark? That's the last thing we need to do, but we'll have to do it if we don't make our fundraising goal of $70,000. It's as simple as that.

I don't know what I have to do to communicate the seriousness of the situation we face. All I know is that for a decade we've been turning to you, our readers and supporters, for the funds we need to keep going, and you've always come through. Now, we need your support more than ever – and we're asking that you come through once again. At a time of constant war, the need for Antiwar.com has never been greater. Are you really going to let this day, this moment, go by without contributing?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Study Buddies

The next few days will be busy, as you can see from my last couple of posts. I've got an action packed couple of next days ahead of me. Here's my list of to do things (off the top of my head):

1. Attend a educational policy meeting at UCLA tomorrow morning for Pacific Islanders.

2. Supervise a college networking workshop Saturday morning at the 6th Annual National Pacific Islander Education Network Conference (NPIEN) at Paramount High School.

3. Have my brother Jack record another "Guam Talk" with my friend Josette Saturday afternoon.

4. Meet with other grad students in the department on Sunday to help finalize plans for an Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies Conference we're organizing next year at UCSD.

5. Finish by the 20th, my first column that I've been asked to write for the Guam magazine GU. The column will tenatively be titled "In Search of a Slingstone."

6. Write two lectures on Pacific Islanders and their contemporary and historical relationship to the United States that I'll be giving before 450 undergraduates next week at UCSD.

7. Finish the Ford application by the 29th.

8. Finish writing the five conference abstracts that are due on the 1st of December. I have three done, two more to go. These conference papers are crucial in helping to set up my theoretical foundation for my dissertation.

9. Finalize plans for the next Famoksaiyan conference coming up next year down here in San Diego. More on this soon!

10. Edit and put together the first issue for next year of the journal African Identities. Since last year I've been working as the assistant managing editor for the journal, and so issue 6.1 of next year is the first issue that I'll be in charge of throwing together.
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Sigh...hagong, hagong disspasio, hagong lao mungga gumuha...sina un cho'gue todu este siha, lao disspasio put fabot, osino siempre hineart attack hao.
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How, you may ask, can I accomplish all of these things? To quote one of my favorite Beatle's song, "with a little help from my friends." Just wanted to introduce you to my favorite study buddies in the world, i nobia-hu Rashne Limki and iyo-ku ga'chong ofisina Ayako Sahara. We have spent many long hours both working furiously and tiredly barely working in different restaurants, offices and coffee shops over the past year. Rashne in particular has been so helpful in keeping me going and keeping me motivated, and even taking on the terrifying task of editing my papers. Si Yu'us Ma'ase Baloo para todu i guinaiya-mu yan inayudu-mu!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kuentos Guahan

A few years ago, me and i atungo'-hu Josette Lujan Quinata recorded a "Guam Talk." For those of you who don't know who Josette is, she is a Chamorro raised most of her life in the states, who for the past few years has been looking for different ways to connect to Guam. She wrote her senior thesis as an undergrad on Guam, and later worked in the Department of Interior as an intern. Lola Sablan Santos from the Guam Communications Network first introduced us over the phone, since according to Lola, Josette had plenty of questions about what's going on in Guam and what's happening to Chamorro language and culture, and I could probably help her answer them. We emailed back and forth, at one point Josette giving me a list of I think 12 questions and me responding with 12 pages of answers. Sen magof yu' kada na mamakcha'i yu' mangge na Chamoru taiguini, pi'ot gi lagu. Hassan gi entre i manhoben pa'go este na guinaiya yan minalago para u ayuda i taotao-ta.

Josette was very interested in what we, out here in the states can do for Chamorros in the diaspora, but also what we can do for Guam. As all Chamorros know, Guam has alot of problems, but unlike the majority of diasporic Chamorros who use Guam's problems to justify their leaving of the island (because the island as more than one Chamorro out here has told me "is beyond hope"), Josette was determined to find ways that she could help "fix" Guam and not just sotta' ha' sa' malamas gi corruption.

One incredible thing that came out of our meeting was that she became an integral part of making the first Famoksaiyan conference, Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures a reality, along with her friend Destiny Tedtaotao and my cousin Alfred Peredo Flores. Last year, I had Josette, Destiny, Alfred, along with Migetu Tuncap from UC Berkeley nominated and awarded Tan Chong Padula Medallions for their work in making the conference an success.

But prior to our planning of the conference me and Josette had recorded a "Guam Talk." One of the initial 12 questions that Josette asked me was the simple and obvious, "hafa sina ta cho'gue?" or "what can we do?" One of my responses in terms of revitalizing Chamorro language and also raising consciousness amongst Chamorros, was the creation of media with the intent to do either of these things. Given the lack of knowledge and interest that young Chamorros have today with regards to their language, history and even just the state of affairs of their island, one would expect an avanlanche of media would exist or be in the works to help fix this dangerous lack. Sadly, there is not a lot out there. There is a scattering of Chamorro language learning aides, books and tools, but it is very very rudimentary and aimed primarily at small children, and not for adults or even teenagers who want to learn. There are not alot of books out there, which are aimed at non-academic audiences, to tell them about where we have come from, where we are going, and how we exist today. And even on the internat, where space and websites are so cheap and easy to create, there is practically nothing there. A few websites here or there which are critical in focus and intent, and I run or started probably half of them. Bloggers have been touted recently as a political force in the United States and around the world, in creating networks of alternative information and activism, yet for Chamorros and for Guam, there is practically nothing productive about the blogs that are out there.

So what me and Josette decided to try and do was record a conversation between ourselves, which touched on issues of language and cultural loss, decolonization, diaspora, identity and so on, from a Chamorro perspective. We met in March of 2005 at the apartment of my brothers Cyrus and Aaron in Los Angeles, and recorded an hour long talk, and then a song and a poem. We were both incredibly excited about the recording, and the energy we derived from it eventually pushed us to work with Alfred to start planning the Famoksaiyan conference.

Unfortunately however, we never did anything concrete with our recording. Cyrus over time cleaned up the recording, but we never actually looked into distributing it or finding a way to get it out to the larger audience that we first intended. That is of course, until now. If you would like to listen to an excerpt from our recording, just click on this link below.

Guam Talk - Track 5
To save the file, right click on the link and then click "save target as"


This section of the recording deals with the trauma of the World War II on Guam, and how that affected Chamorro identifications, perceptions and just generally feelings towards the United States

The reason that I'm discussing this now, is because me and Josette are attempting to make another Guam Talk this weekend while I'm in Los Angeles for the UCLA Pacific Islander education policy meeting on the 16th and NPIEN on the 17th. Some of what we said in the first Guam Talk will still have relevance today, but at the same time there is a need to say more and not simply discuss what can be done, but also inform people about all the things that we already have done! Hopefully this time we will be more serious though about sharing our thoughts with others in hopes of making an impact.

I'll keep you posted on the new Guam talk, and also if people enjoy this segment of the old one, then I might post more.

Obama in Iowa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why My Research is "Guam"

I'm applying for fellowships, scholarships and other forms of funding right now to help me through my dissertation writing process. It is a pain in the ass process, made much more difficult by the fact that people don't know very much about Guam and so everything I write requires lots of explainations about where I come from and why this is important, yet the page limits for the personal statements that they request are so short, I don't really have enough room to say very much after I've explained Guam and where I'm coming from.

Perhaps its like this for everyone, regardless of what their project is, namely that they feel like the page limits they are given are far too short to describe who they are and why their work is important. I'm not so sure about this, I think that this sort of generalization is too easy and too useless. For those whose communities or topics are "small" or "invisible" there is almost an excessive scrutiny when it comes to why the hell is this important. And I know that the categories of small and invisible are fluid and can mean almost anything, but they can be most prominently and frustratingly felt when the community or topic in question seems to "naturally" require something else for it to be complete.

There is a difference here though in terms of feedback for one's project being that you need to go a little deeper, or bring in some different research or perspective, and being told that your unit of analysis, requires another most likely larger or more researched unit of the same type in order for your project to work. It was almost natural for a while that whenever I discussed Chamorros and Guam in the United States, people unfamiliar with either of these words or the bodies, histories and realities that are bundled up within them, that I be told to "compare" them with other "similar" groups. So if I wanted to talk about Guam, I needed to also talk about the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. If I wanted to talk about Chamorros I needed to talk about Native Hawaiians or Samoans.

This sort of preculiar, empty position of Guam, where it constantly needs to be filled by other groups, categories or ideas in order to mean something is precisely why my dissertation has taken the form that it has. When during a two hour discussion about my project with my professors, and nearly forty minutes of that discussion is spent simply on the question of "why Guam?" then the need for my project should already be obvious. It is because Guam can be at the same time, one of the most potent and treasured American military bases, yet at the same time, mean almost nothing to people in the United States who are interested in critiquing war or militarism, that my project or what I am interested in doing is so important.

If you look at critical texts on American imperialism you will always find mention of Guam, since its seizure in 1898 along with Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines represent one of the key moments of the development of America as a global and imperial power. The centrality of this moment is self-serving of course, one main reason being because it doesn't count the displacement and genocide of Native Americans as "imperial" but more so as an internal and domestic form of "house cleaning." But unlike the other three territories which each are often taken up in these texts to describe different vile and immoral aspects of American colonization, imperialism and militarism, Guam is rarely or never assumed to be able to express or articulate these things. This, despite the fact that unlike Cuba or the Philippines, Guam remains along with Puerto Rico the places where American colonialism has not fundamentally changed or been given a different facade.

To make this point further, I'll share with you an experience one of my friends had recently while planning a workshop on Guam for the 2007 US Social Forum. While putting her proposal together, she had come across an existing proposal for the forum titled “U.S. Colonialisms.” She contacted the organizer to see what the content of their presentations would be and if it would be possible to join them. Interrestingly enough, none of the communities covered by this panel were from the current “colonies” of the United States, but were instead US minority communities which were using the metaphor of “colonialism” to articulate their victimization. After suggesting that Guam would be an important addition to this panel, my friend was rebuffed through the curious argument that “Look, Puerto Rico is a colony, and we haven’t asked Puerto Ricans to be a part of this. Why should we ask Guam?”

Even in this instance where the specificity of Guam is asked to be looked at, asked to be acknowledged since Guam is one of the few places where America is still formally "colonial," there is something about Guam whereby it can be dismissed and be set aside as something which isn't really the point or which doesn't really matter. Here too we see that same dynamic of Guam needing something else for it to be complete, where the fact that Puerto Rico is larger and more visible gives it the tiniest advantage in the discourse of these speaker, where it through its mention is "more" colonial then Guam, but still not colonial enough to be on the panel.

But enough of this rambling about my dissertation. I finally have a first draft of my personal statement for one of these grants and so I just thought I'd share it. Right now its at three single spaced pages and needs to be cut down to three double spaced pages by the 20th of November. Wish me luck! (Here's a photo of me not feeling very smart while writing one fellowship application.)


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Life on Guam has a curiously semi or sort of American character to it. The territorial status of the island turning life there into this cruel game of being American one moment and not American the next. This manifests politically at the ambiguous and exceptional ways Guam exists in relation to the United States. People on Guam are eligible for food stamps and welfare, but can not vote for President or have a voting representative in the US Congress. Despite this lack of formal representation all Federal laws apply to Guam and supersede any local laws.

Growing up there however, this ambiguity was felt primarily through issues of culture and education. There were a million different ways in which we were American. We had American citizenship, we learned American history and culture in school, we watched American movies and TV. Yet at the same time in learning and consuming all those pieces of American knowledge and culture, we were shocked to learn everyday, that we weren’t really American. In learning about America’s 50 states, we did not learn about its five territories, even though we lived in one of them! The learning of state capitals didn’t include Hagåtña, Guam. We pledged allegiance every morning to a flag which had no start to represent Guam. And despite all the feelings of pride in being American, Guam nonetheless had its own Olympic team, as well as its own entries to the Miss World and Mr. Universe competitions.

Life on Guam was then governed and made frightening and frustrating by the constant tension between being apart from the United States, but at the same time being a part of it. Everyone knows or can at least feel in someway that there is something inequitable and unjust about this status. But at the same time, it is a comfortable status, being a distantly imagined but fortunate appendage to the richest and most powerful nation in the world. On Guam, this status is generally accepted as the natural order of things, because there’s probably nothing we could do about this, and why would we want to do anything anyways? Being a First World colony is far better than being a Third World one.

It wasn’t until I attended the University of Guam as an undergraduate that I first began to really perceive the web of power and injustice behind Guam’s political status. Former Guam Congressman and Guam scholar Robert Underwood once said that being a Chamorro is a simple life, until you ask simple questions. The University of Guam is the largest institution of higher education in the Western Pacific and as such is an educational magnet for students from East Asian countries such as China and Japan, and the surrounding islands of Micronesia, as well as Chamorro and Filipino students from Guam.

Yet the faculty of the University, comprised primarily of white men from the United States, did seek or feel the need to reflect in their scholarship, their pedagogy and their curriculum the wealth of culture and history that their students and the region itself represented. During my time there as an undergrad, I saw and felt colonialism regularly in the classroom, whether in the choices for curriculum, the privileging of certain students voices, but mainly through attitudes of much of the faculty that the local students’ inability to read and write implied they were almost a different species.

Since that time, in both academic and community terms I have been working at developing theoretical and practical ways of thinking about contemporary colonization and working towards decolonization.

On Guam, since 2002 I have been involved in a number of sovereignty and cultural groups, and as a writer and historian have helped produce numerous forms of media in the hopes of pushing the consciousness of the island to recognize the need for the island’s decolonization. During my time in Ethnic Studies at UCSD, I have researched different theories of colonization and decolonization from around the world. I used some of these readings to create the theoretical basis for the master’s thesis I completed there, as well as develop a series of conference papers on the topic. At present, myself and a number of other grad students in my department are planning a conference for March of 2008 which will provide a dialogue space on the conflicts and intersections between indigenous studies, postcolonial studies and ethnic studies. Decolonization will be one of the axes around which the conference will be organized.

Since coming to the United States for graduate school, I have had the privilege of working with a good number of diasporic Chamorro and Pacific Islander community organizations. This work has broadened my perceptions of the current struggles for sovereignty and self-determination taking place in the Pacific, and has also given me fresh and drastically different perspective on what decolonization can and should be, this time from the diaspora. To this end, I have assisted in the organization of a handful of important conferences and events in San Diego and San Francisco, to discuss and inform those in the United States about the colonization of Guam, but more importantly strategize ways in which Chamorros in the diaspora can help in the decolonization of Guam, and use theories of decolonization to change their own lives.

I feel that this background gives me the ability to teach in critical and progressive ways to a wide range of students, especially those from marginalized communities. First of all, colonization and decolonization can be productive lenses through which students of color can perceive structures of power around them and possibly challenge and dismantle them. By providing case studies and historical or contemporary images through which one can more effectively perceive the nature of power in a given space, colonialism as a lens can help students understand the processes of economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement which are taking place around them in African American, Latino American and Asian American communities.

At the same time, I feel that I have much to offer those communities whose existences continue up until today, to be colonial, and for whom decolonization isn’t simply a critical metaphor, but rather a necessary strategy or process to ensure their survival. These groups, who wait behind what I call the “Fourth World Wall” are made up primarily of indigenous peoples and stateless groups. They were missed by the age of decolonization in the previous century, or were displaced by the emergence of the current postcolonial global order. For these groups decolonization and the ability to determine their futures is still a far distant dream.

My goal is to become a professor at the University of Guam and teaching Micronesian Studies, and as such I would seek ways to incorporate decolonization as a concept and a set of potential practices, into my curriculum and pedagogy. I would do this by making clear in each class I teach the centrality of colonization and decolonization in everyday life in Guam. I would reposition decolonization from a formal governmental change in Guam’s existence, to a process which is ongoing and open, and which not just Presidents, Governors and Legislators participate in, but rather something which we are all responsible for. Colonization does not happen with the stabbing of a flag into the ground, and neither is decolonization accomplished in such a simple way. I could create in the mind’s of my students, a very active and open conceptualization, where through choices everyday that we on Guam make, we both colonize and decolonize the island. Therefore, in teaching the history of Guam, I would highlight how different social, political, economic and environmental problems on Guam can be traced in both historical and contemporary terms to the colonization on Guam, and use this framework of decolonization to see themselves as always active agents in either facilitating the continuation of these problems, or as a force in potentially decolonizing or fixing them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Question of Guam

The press release from my visit to the UN last month. I'll be pasting soon the full testimonies from the three of us who spoken on behalf of the people of Guam.

_______________________________

FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE

Contact: Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero
510-967-9872
Email: decolonizeguam@gmail.com

Chamorro Delegation Urges United Nations Intervention on Guam’s Decolonization, Military Buildup.

New York City, November 9, 2007 — Chamorros from Guam testified October 9, 2007 before the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee about Guam’s current political status. They insisted that the international community pay closer attention to the island as it faces a massive U.S. military build-up; accompanied by enormous indifference as to the effect this buildup will have on the island and its residents.

The Fourth Committee is responsible for overseeing the decolonization of the world’s 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT), including Guam.

Delegations from Guam have appealed to the United Nations for more than 20 years regarding the island’s political status and the United States’ refusal to respect the Chamorro people’s right to self-determination. Today’s delegation represents a second wave of Chamorros demanding their right to sovereignty.

Rima Miles, a Refaluwasch from the island of Saipan, speaking as a representative of the Guahån Indigenous Collective, shed light on the dangerously high level of military use the United States has planned for Guam, which it hides beneath a veneer of supposed environmental stewardship.

“Currently, we are preparing for a projected population increase of 55,000, more than a quarter of the current population, to the 212 square mile island of Guam. This is in conjunction with the growth of military facilities and the addition of new air and sea machines of destruction. At the same time, there are plans to step up the exploitation of what the US refers to as the Marianas Islands Range Complex (MIRC) through the proposed development of training areas for underwater mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare, an underwater training range, new small arms and mortar ranges and military operations on urban terrain. Public documents available at the initial MIRC meeting to fill the public in on US plans called our home a ‘century-old safe testing and training environment for the US.’ The same document also said, ‘The land, air and sea areas of the Mariana Islands are irreplaceable.’”

Marie Auyong spoke on behalf of Chamorro author and activist Victoria Leon Guerrero from the Guahån Coalition for Peace and Justice. Leon Guerrero noted that the effects of the increased US militarization of the island is further marginalizes the Chamorro people through the selling off of Guam’s land and resources.

“The militarization of our island has sparked a capitalistic boom. American companies and expensive chain restaurants like Home Depot, Chili’s and Ruby Tuesdays are being constructed on the island,” Leon Guerrero stated. “Untapped beachfront and other pristine property is up for grabs all over Guåhan. Indigenous Chamoru families struggling to survive the island’s poor economy and high cost of living have begun to sell their land to U.S. and foreign companies, who hope to profit from the military build-up. It seems as though Guåhan is for sale. The island’s most vital resources – our water, commercial port and landfill – are all slated for privatization. And U.S. officials are traveling Asia to make the sale.”

Michael Lujan Bevacqua, a scholar and activist speaking for the Chamorro organization Famoksaiyan, urged the United Nations to not allow the United States to escape its moral and legal responsibilities to the people of Guam, and encouraged that if the United States continues to engage its own forms of impolite resistance to Guam’s decolonization, then the United Nations must follow suit in impolitely insisting it take place.

“First, Resolution 1541 must be upheld and the United States must not be released from its moral and legal obligations to work with Guam and the UN in bringing about the island’s decolonization. Second, given the very open and disdainful rejection of the United States to any substantive discussion of the decolonization of Guam, there is no chance of the administering power requesting a fact finding mission to the island in order to further the decolonization process. This lack of earnestness is the largest current obstacle that we are facing. Therefore, given the principle that each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be dealt with on a case by case basis, it is imperative that the UN “impolitely” and without proper invitation send a fact-finding mission to Guam, in order to help jump start to this process.”


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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why I Can't Take My Eyes Off of Frank Rich

Published on Sunday, November 4, 2007 by The New York Times
Noun + Verb + 9/11 + Iran = Democrats’ Defeat?
by Frank Rich

When President Bush started making noises about World War III, he only confirmed what has been a Democratic article of faith all year: Between now and Election Day he and Dick Cheney, cheered on by the mob of neocon dead-enders, are going to bomb Iran.

But what happens if President Bush does not bomb Iran? That is good news for the world, but potentially terrible news for the Democrats. If we do go to war in Iran, the election will indeed be a referendum on the results, which the Republican Party will own no matter whom it nominates for president. But if we don’t, the Democratic standard-bearer will have to take a clear stand on the defining issue of the race. As we saw once again at Tuesday night’s debate, the front-runner, Hillary Clinton, does not have one.

The reason so many Democrats believe war with Iran is inevitable, of course, is that the administration is so flagrantly rerunning the sales campaign that gave us Iraq. The same old scare tactic - a Middle East Hitler plotting a nuclear holocaust - has been recycled with a fresh arsenal of hyped, loosey-goosey intelligence and outright falsehoods that are sometimes regurgitated without corroboration by the press.

Mr. Bush has gone so far as to accuse Iran of shipping arms to its Sunni antagonists in the Taliban, a stretch Newsweek finally slapped down last week. Back in the reality-based community, it is Mr. Bush who has most conspicuously enabled the Taliban’s resurgence by dropping the ball as it regrouped in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Administration policy also opened the door to Iran’s lethal involvement in Iraq. The Iraqi “unity government” that our troops are dying to prop up has more allies in its Shiite counterpart in Tehran than it does in Washington.

Yet 2002 history may not literally repeat itself. Mr. Cheney doesn’t necessarily rule in the post-Rumsfeld second Bush term. There are saner military minds afoot now: the defense secretary Robert Gates, the Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen, the Central Command chief William Fallon. They know that a clean, surgical military strike at Iran could precipitate even more blowback than our “cakewalk” in Iraq. The Economist tallied up the risks of a potential Shock and Awe II this summer: “Iran could fire hundreds of missiles at Israel, attack American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, organize terrorist attacks in the West or choke off tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s oil windpipe.”

Then there’s the really bad news. Much as Iraq distracted America from the war against Al Qaeda, so a strike on Iran could ignite Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s thriving base and the actual central front of the war on terror. As Joe Biden said Tuesday night, if we attack Iran to stop it from obtaining a few kilograms of highly enriched uranium, we risk facilitating the fall of the teetering Musharraf government and the unleashing of Pakistan’s already good-to-go nuclear arsenal on Israel and India.

A full-scale regional war, chaos in the oil market, an overstretched American military pushed past the brink - all to take down a little thug like Ahmadinejad (who isn’t even Iran’s primary leader) and a state, however truculent, whose defense budget is less than 1 percent of America’s? Call me a Pollyanna, but I don’t think even the Bush administration can be this crazy.

Yet there is nonetheless a method to all the mad threats of war coming out of the White House. While the saber- rattling is reckless as foreign policy, it’s a proven winner as election-year Republican campaign strategy. The real point may be less to intimidate Iranians than to frighten Americans. Fear, the only remaining card this administration still knows how to play, may once more give a seemingly spent G.O.P. a crack at the White House in 2008.

Whatever happens in or to Iran, the American public will be carpet-bombed by apocalyptic propaganda for the 12 months to come. Mr. Bush has nothing to lose by once again using the specter of war to pillory the Democrats as soft on national security. The question for the Democrats is whether they’ll walk once more into this trap.

You’d think the same tired tactics wouldn’t work again after Iraq, a debacle now soundly rejected by a lopsided majority of voters. But even a lame-duck president can effectively wield the power of the bully pulpit. From Mr. Bush’s surge speech in January to Gen. David Petraeus’s Congressional testimony in September, the pivot toward Iran has been relentless.

Reinforcements are arriving daily. Dan Senor, the former flack for L. Paul Bremer in Baghdad, fronted a recent Fox News special, “Iran: The Ticking Bomb,” a perfect accompaniment to the Rudy Giuliani campaign that is ubiquitous on that Murdoch channel. The former Bush flack Ari Fleischer is a founder of Freedom’s Watch, a neocon fat-cat fund that has been spending $15 million for ads supporting the surge and is poised to up the ante for Iran war fever.

There are signs that the steady invocation of new mushroom clouds is already having an impact as it did in 2002 and 2003. A Zogby poll last month found that a majority of Americans (52 percent) now supports a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In 2002 Senators Clinton, Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards and Chris Dodd all looked over their shoulders at such polls. They and the party’s Congressional leaders, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, voted for the Iraq war resolution out of the cynical calculation that it would inoculate them against charges of wussiness. Sure, they had their caveats at the time. They talked about wanting “to give diplomacy the best possible opportunity” (as Mr. Gephardt put it then). In her Oct. 10, 2002, speech of support for the Iraq resolution on the Senate floor, Mrs. Clinton hedged by saying, “A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war.”

We know how smart this strategic positioning turned out to be. Weeks later the Democrats lost the Senate.

This time around, with the exception of Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidates seem to be saying what they really believe rather than trying to play both sides against the middle. Only Mrs. Clinton voted for this fall’s nonbinding Kyl-Lieberman Senate resolution, designed by its hawk authors to validate Mr. Bush’s Iran policy. The House isn’t even going to bring up this malevolent bill because, as Nancy Pelosi has said, there has “never been a declaration by a Congress before in our history” that “declared a piece of a country’s army to be a terrorist organization.”

In 2002, the Iraq war resolution passed by 77 to 23. In 2007, Kyl-Lieberman passed by 76 to 22. No sooner did Mrs. Clinton cast her vote than she started taking heat in Iowa. Her response was to blur her stand. She abruptly signed on as the sole co- sponsor of a six-month-old (and languishing) bill introduced by the Virginia Democrat Jim Webb forbidding money for military operations in Iran without Congressional approval.

In Tuesday’s debate Mrs. Clinton tried to play down her vote for Kyl-Lieberman again by incessantly repeating her belief in “vigorous diplomacy” as well as the same sound bite she used after her Iraq vote five years ago. “I am not in favor of this rush for war,” she said, “but I’m also not in favor of doing nothing.”

Much like her now notorious effort to fudge her stand on Eliot Spitzer’s driver’s license program for illegal immigrants, this is a profile in vacillation. And this time Mrs. Clinton’s straddling stood out as it didn’t in 2002. That’s not because she was the only woman on stage but because she is the only Democratic candidate who has not said a firm no to Bush policy.

That leaves her in a no man’s - or woman’s - land. If Mr. Bush actually does make a strike against Iran, Mrs. Clinton will be the only leading Democrat to have played a cameo role in enabling it. If he doesn’t, she can no longer be arguing in the campaign crunch of fall 2008 that she is against rushing to war, because it would no longer be a rush. Her hand would be forced.

Mr. Biden got a well-deserved laugh Tuesday night when he said there are only three things in a Giuliani sentence: “a noun and a verb and 9/11.” But a year from now, after the public has been worn down by so many months more of effective White House propaganda, “America’s mayor” (or any of his similarly bellicose Republican rivals) will be offering voters the clearest possible choice, however perilous, about America’s future in the world.

Potentially facing that Republican may be a Democrat who is not in favor of rushing to war in Iran but, now as in 2002, may well be in favor of walking to war. In any event, she will not have been a leader in making the strenuous case for an alternative policy that defuses rather than escalates tensions with Tehran.

Noun + verb + 9/11 - also Mr. Bush’s strategy in 2004, lest we forget - would once again square off against a Democratic opponent who was for a pre-emptive war before being against it.

– Frank Rich

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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