Monday, April 21, 2008

Money for Reparations Not War

I saw this a few months ago at an annual activism and social justice conference in San Diego, held each year in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm posting it now because for those keeping tabs on the issue of Chamorro war reparations. After being passed by the House last year, there wasn't much movement on the issue until a few days ago, when it was "stalled" in the Senate.

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The issue of war reparations has always been an interesting one for me, because it is another one of those things which can really put super patriotic Americans from Guam at odds with super patriotic Americans from America. For so many Chamorros who feel that they are very patriotic and love America, and have probably given up a lot of their life to serve in its military, the war reparations issues is nonetheless something very near and dear to them. Something very personal because of its role in describing and making clear why they are Americans, why they chose to serve, why they chose to love and support America despite its colonial history and present in Guam. But for the other Americans, who are most closely associated with this sort of super patriotic position, the issue of war reparations is absolutely UN-AMERICAN!

I think its important to communicate to people these points. You may be serving in the military, loving America with all your heart, but in front of your face, behind your back and on conservative blogs and websites all over the internet, they are mocking you because of the war reparations issue. Your service or your patriotism means nothing to these people, since they know nothing about you, your history, your "love" of this country. And so the thing which makes you American, or supposedly gives you a place at the table of American belonging, the loyalty during World War II, the sacrifices of thousands of Chamorros, isn't something worth anything to them, in fact to them its just a waste of money, another way that Democrats are stabbing the troops in the back, or lazy, primitive backwards savages (like Native Americans and African Americans) asking for justice or restitution for the way they have been treated, when in reality they should be thankful that they even get to be alive.

I wish that more Chamorros took this issue seriously, beyond simply being another way we get to be recognized as Americans, or a big cash windfall the island is gonna get. Frankly, if you scan the pages dealing with this issue, the response from "regular" "patriotic" Americans is that Chamorros are not American and not deserving of anything for what they have been put through. I truly truly hope that, especially as the island is preparing to receive a massive military increase, people are really thinking about what these responses mean, and whether this is the sort of disrespect we should be enduring.

Just to give you an idea of the sort of "disrespect" I am talking about, let me past below an post and the comments from a conservative website on the Chamorro War Reparations issue. Just as a warning, the comments below are not nice, but are perfect examples of racist, ignorant and hateful, blind patriotism. For instance, the poor soul who dumbly joins the discursive pile-on by claiming that the war reparations bill is about "buy votes." A white knight arrives with a small shred of obvious information, namely that this can't be about buying votes since Guam has none to be bought. However this person then joins the ignorant pack, by speaking forcefully about something in a very incorrect way. One thing which is always lost in these sorts of angry tirades about Guam getting this sort of special treatment and why is it that the US has to pay off people for the crimes that another country committed, is simply that the US assumed that responsibility willingly, by making it illegal and impossible for anyone attached to the United States to sue Japan for their actions during World War II. That included Chamorros on Guam and American servicemen.

Thankfully someone does mention this point, and to my incredible surprise, it actually does stem the tide of ignorant hatefullness.

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Posted on Monday, May 07, 2007 2:18:42 PM by enough_idiocy

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and his eight compatriots, all of whom have co-sponsored a bill that would require that America pay reparations to the people of Guam for - get this - the actions of the Japanese in World War II.

According to the bill (HR.1595, the "Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act"), the people of Guam:

suffered unspeakable harm as a result of the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II , by being subjected to death, rape, severe personal injury, personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment.

For this reason (?), "the Secretary of the Treasury shall make payments" to WWII survivors and their descendants on Guam for the brutal actions of a third party.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? After all, the US is the largest aid donor on the planet; it's only logical that we should rebuild, repatriate, and reparate every country that has been hurt by every war that we can find. Let's not stop with Guam - let's include everybody from Carthage on up to the present. Should we pay reparations to the Koreans for the Mongol invasions of the 14th century, and to the Spanish for the loss of their Armada in 1588? Why not?

And while this bill holds up $126,000,000.00 for the repayment of the people of Guam for what the Japanese did (as well as $5,000,000.00 for "the Secretary of the Interior [to] establish a grants program [to]...award grants for research, educational, and media activities that memorialize the events surrounding the occupation of Guam during World War II, honor the loyalty of the people of Guam during such occupation, or both, for purposes of appropriately illuminating and interpreting the causes and circumstances of such occupation and other similar occupations during a war"), our soldiers can't even get a dime in supplemental appropriations.

Way to go, Democrats. Your "blame America first" (even for things we have nothing to do with), anti-US soldier attitudes, actions, and mindsets have just been taken to a new level."

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My rep's office could not explain to me why we're spending Americans' money to compensate Guam for what Japan did.

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What kind of lunacy is this...? Oh yeah, the Democratic kind.

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I think Steny Hoyer and his eight cronies should have to pay the reparations. Their savings and investments can be liquidated for the purpose, and their wages garnished until their debt is paid.
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Easy.. it’s called buying votes.

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Makes perfect sense...
In a bid to one-up his compatriot, Harry Reid, the Hon. Mr. Hoyer has found a way to retroactively surrender to Japan for WWII...

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Liberal logic says if we had been ready for the Pearl Harbor attack, we could have stopped Japan in it's tracks and the Japanese would have never needed or been able to occupy Guam.
So, yes it was our fault.

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I am so ashamed!! Why wasn’t I there to protect Guam? Why? Why?...Oh yeah, I wasn’t even born yet. Sheesh

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Does the word “KICKBACK” come to mind? Someone other than the people of Guam is getting some of this money. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard of in a long time. How about all the other countries that Japan invaded? Like China? How about all the countries that Germany invaded? And.....where in our Constitution does it give these idiots the right to do this?

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My grandfather lost a couple of toes and partial hearing in the Ardennes during WWII. Apparently he wasn’t loyal enough for me to get reparations.

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Easy.. it’s called buying votes.

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Votes for what? Guam is a U.S. Territory that elects a non-voting representative to Congress. It has no electoral votes for President. The current representative is a Democrat. And a Democrat has held that seat since 1993.Why aren't the Japanese paying these "reparations"? They are the ones who invaded our sovereign territory in 1941. The United States has already paid reparations in blood, liberating the island in 1944.

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I wonder how many Guamians are still alive from WWII. I would expect that most of these people would be in their 70s and 80s by now. If they survived that long, then what’s the problem? The Dems are outdoing themselves on the pork - at least the Repubs seemed to keep their pork in the USA.

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Wait until the next Democrat apologies to Germany for us winning WWII.

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Who wants to bet that Steny Hoyer and/or his cronies have Guamianian relatives?

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I don’t ever want to hear another liberal complain that we don’t have the money for this or that program.
This is so stupid, so incompetent, so ridiculous it will (and should) define congress for decades to come. I would rather dine on hay with horses than sit down at a dinner table with a single member of congress.
When do we start kicking their doors in?

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Using ‘democrat-logic’ the presence of US forces in Guam mad Guam a ‘target’ for the Japanese. You see? It’s the same thinking that says that Iraq would be a rose garden if only the US forces currently there would just... leave.

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Bullsh!t.Pure and simple bullsh!t.

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Please tell me this is some sort of parody, or joke. Please.

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It’s called the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was signed in 1951 between Japan, the United States and most of the other allied powers.

You can find the text here.

I draw your attention to Article XIV. To make a long story short, the signers of the treaty agreed that Japan would turn over certain assets to the Allied Powers, and that all further claims against Japan would be waived. The details are in the treay.

Why did we do that? Because demanding massive war reparations from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles worked out so well. You may remember the consequences of that brilliant idea by Woodrow Wilson. If not, you can look it up. The United States wanted a free Japan that could be an American ally, not a country burdened by economic troubles that would probably wind up having a revolution and going over to the Communists.

So, among other peoples, Guamians cannot claim compensation for losses from Japan. So the only country that can compensate the Guamians for their WWII losses is the United States, which has somewhat of a moral obligation, since the U.S. signed away the Guamians rights to get compensation from Japan.

That is why this is happening this way. You can agree or disagree that the U.S. should pay this compensation. I'm not interested in arguing either way. So nobody complain to me about it.
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Ican see why Queen Plastic Pelosi wants Guam's delegate to have full voting rights in the House. This is Guam's second go-around at the public trough known as the United States Treasury for damages caused by the Japanese.

You can find the The Guam Meritorious Claims Act of 1945. I especially draw your attention to the final sentence of Sec. 1 - "Provided further, That any such settlements made by such commissions under the authority of this Act shall be final and conclusive for all purposes, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary."

In short, they already got their money. Why do we need to toss another $162,000,000 at them?
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From Today’s ‘ Neal’s Nuze’ (05/07/07):
http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html
MORE OF YOUR TAX MONEY AT WORK

Brace yourself for this one. Your tax dollars are being called upon to pay for reparations to the people of Guam for the Japanese’s actions in WWII. That’s right. You read it correctly! Americans will pay for what Japanese did in a war that was fought over 50 years ago.

Here’s the story. A bill will be introduced this week in the House called the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act. This act calls for reparations—costing about $135 million—for the “unspeakable harm as a result of the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II, by being subjected to death, rape, severe personal injury, personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment.” Now mind you, these are terrible things that happened to the people of Guam, but why do I have to pay for it? And why now?

Well it turns out that Truman signed an agreement with Japan in 1951 basically stating that from then on, Japan is not responsible for “individual American war claims.” Because Guam is a U.S. territory, the burden to compensate for Japanese abuses falls on U.S. taxpayers. Thanks a lot, Harry Truman. You are a great American Democrat.

But in 2003, Bush authorized the appointment of the Guam War Claims Review Commission. I guess we can assume that this was the result.

Now here’s an interesting question. I have heard, though I have never taken the time to verify, that there was only one major war engaged in by the U.S. where U.S. taxpayers didn’t fork over huge sums to rebuild the loser. That would be the War Between the States .. sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Civil War”
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This is nothing compared to the monies we spend on Guam because of Guam's mismanagement and inability to maintain what the Federal government has already built. Ask anyone who has lived on Guam for any length of time and you will hear the same story of local government incompetence.

The Ordot dump has been scheduled for closure for 20+ years and the locals can't decide where to move it, thus costing mounting fines by the EPA. The Guam Public School System is a federal money pit that can compete with any pork program in the US. The island's infrastructure is in such disarray, because of no planned maintenance programs, it will take the Federal government to come in AGAIN to rebuild it.

The only governmental corruption cases to be prosecuted and won were cases brought by Federal prosecutors because the local judicial system can not convict their own, such as x-governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez.

The taxpayers need to know exactly how much money has already been spent on Guam.
The people of Guam need to stop depending on their Uncle Sam for their government officials incompetence.

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Thanks for this enlightening post. What say you to the post below yours?---The 1945 Act appears to be capped at $5,000. In other words, (hypothetically) you lose your mother, father, three brothers and sisters and you get: $5,000. In 1945 dollars. On Guam. Is that adequate compensation? I can't judge that.
But a look at the present act and it screams PORK!!!!
Maybe some more money is justified, but not the amounts they're talking about. And a 5 billion dollar fund is a sick joke.

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The 1945 Act appears to be capped at $5,000. In other words, (hypothetically) you lose your mother, father, three brothers and sisters and you get: $5,000. In 1945 dollars. On Guam. Is that adequate compensation? I can't judge that.
Actually, it wasn't a hard cap, and it didn't apply to death or injury claims. The $5,000 (which is somewhere north of $52,000 in 2007 dollars) limit applied only to what the Department of the Navy could approve on its own authority. Anything beyond $5,000, as well as all death and injury claims, could still be pursued, only the approval of the settlement of such claims needed to go through Congress.

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The agreement that Clinton signed re: Nazi eras crimes wasn’t any better than that, and that was implemented in the 1990s. Clinton, without going to Congress, worked with Shroeder to create the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future”, people get 5 and under from the cases I’ve read, and US courts don’t allow victims living here or their decedents to sue in federal courts opting instead to defer to that program.

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This act calls for reparations—costing about $135 million
This $135 million is close to the local Guam government's operating deficit and needed amount to balance its budget. What is interesting is the Supreme Court just decided a case that went against Guam's governor wish to borrow large amounts of monies. This government will be declared bankrupt in the near future and the US taxpayers will have to bail it out anyway.

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>>My rep’s office could not explain to me why we’re spending Americans’ money to compensate Guam for what Japan did.<<>
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Its souns like you know a lot mnore about Guam than I do so I’ll defer to you there.
However, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission money is supposed to go directly the effected individuals. These things take a long time. It wasn’t until 1995 that we finally paid the Americans effected when communists took Albania in 1945. And it wasn’t until 1998 that Germany paid us back for money we distributed in the 50’s.
This new amount is really large, though. There is something odd going on. The Albanian money in 1995 was only a couple of million.


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Sorry, but we actually signed a treaty with Japan regarding this. We assumed responsibility for payments.Naturally, this was a Democrat President, Truman.But, since Guam can’t make any claims against Japan, we have to pay.Given the behavior of the Japanese during WWII, $126 million is probably pretty cheap.

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It’s all part of the great compromise.....................
There will be many more of these wealth transfer initiatives that will benefit democrats either personally or politically.
Any rational person would realize that these sorts of spending bills are wrong for a number of reasons.
Yet many of them will be signed into law, along with subsequent earmarks, by a republican lame-duck president..............................................
In exchange for “emergency” “war-cost” funding that does not include any strings.
Yep, both sides will posture and make threats and accusations before quietly satisfying their own agendas behind closed doors.
wait and see...................
( of course I hope I’m wrong...... )

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Apparently the buck didn’t stop at Truman.

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You sound like a local.
The time I spent on Guam was perhaps the best education I could ever have had in just how badly even the most effective part of the American government—the military—can f things up. That island is an oligarchic kleptocracy. And notwithstanding the efforts of some here to claim American innocence for Guam’s ills, we sure didn’t provide them with a good example of how good government is run or elected. Just imagine the years in which we showed them how bureaucracy is supposed to run (1950-1970) and how government is supposed to run (1950-1980). Not that it helped having us dump the some of most corrupt Vietnamese and Filipinos on the island, after the fall of Saigon and the rise of Corey Aquino, either.
That place reminded me of Miami—without the art deco charm.

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Just got off the phone with my congressman’s office (Connie Mack) and he said that this bill passed, 288 to 133. It now goes to the Senate where it is in committee. They will decide either to attach to another bill, not vote on it, or put out as a separate bill.
CALL your Senator and tell him or her you are against this bill. If Congress wants monies to be paid to the Guam residents for actions caused by Japan, they should contact Japan. Send the monies from this bill to the tornado victims.
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