Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Act of Decolonization #16: Guam or Guahan?

The day that Governor Felix Camacho first announced that he was planning to change Guam’s official name from Guam to Guahan, I actually had no idea it was happening. The day of his last state of the island address, I had five classes to teach, office hours to hold and then was working with Anne Perez Hattori (a fellow Guam history teacher at UOG) to organize a huge meeting of “cultural practitioners” to write a joint statement/DEIS comment about the dangers the military buildup will pose to the indigenous people of Guam, the Chamorros.

In the middle of the meeting, as we were going line by line over the statement which Anne and I had written, I got a call from Mar-Vic Cagurangan, the editor for the Marianas Variety. She was calling to get my comments on the proposal to change Guam’s name and also my insights as a historian about whether what Camacho was saying and proposing was true or not.

It was difficult to provide any decent comments since I didn’t quite know what was going on, but I did my best. I also wasn’t prepared for giving a history lesson on Guam’s many names, so I wasn’t as precise as I wanted to be in that regard either. I almost cringed when I saw my words in the newspaper the next day.

Over the past few weeks, the changing of Guam’s name has been a regular topic of conversation, something to inspire people, to enlighten people, to be another way of talking about colonization and decolonization, but its also been a source of derision, a joke, another fact to show how ridiculous activist types are on Guam, and how “out to lunch” or “off-island” Camacho is yet again. I should point out before continuing that I am for changing Guam’s name to Guahan. I think it is an important step in the maturity of any colony or former colony that it go through a process of renaming and reclaiming meaning or territory, and so this is just another part of that.

It is for this reason that one of the regular points of conversation in this debate has been so frustrating for me, especially as a Guam historian.

For those who want to counter this name-change or speak out against it, the most common talking point you can access is the one that states that “how do we know that Guahan is the original name?” or “can we ever really even know what Guam was originally called to rename it?”

These seem like very important and very real points, but in truth they are not.
Two points to be made here. First, Guahan is one of many names that Guam has been assigned over the years. When we look at maps that were distributed in Europe from the 16th – 19th century, we can see more than a dozen different names being used for Guam. San Juan, Boam, Baham, Goam and so on. Within this list we can find both Guam and Guahan. Contrary to what a lot of activists are saying about this name change, Guam was not a named “imposed” on Guahan by the US when they arrived in 1898. Guam was one of the most prominent names for the island and so they simply formalized it, although for a while Ladrones was also popular.

As Marjorie Driver noted in her Pacific News Center interview, about her book on the many names of Guam, the earliest recorded name of Guam was “Baham” with “Guahan” coming a few years later. In her interview, she reiterates the “never know the truth” trope, and this is the sort of soft gravitas point which media tend to seize on. (it allows you to play the both sides angle but some things up in a "we may never know" sort of way).




The basis of this argument is that since we can never really know Guam’s true name, then it should never be changed. This is a very common argument on Guam for almost all things Chamorro. That if people can’t agree as a community that something is the original or authentic form, then don’t call it Chamorro. This was the initial response that those who started the new forms of traditional Chamorro dance in the 1980’s and 1990’s were met with. That because the Spanish prohibited all the original Chamorro dances, and we lost that connection to that tradition, Chamorros can never again claim to have their “own” dances. They instead will forever be doomed to only copy or borrow other peoples who were fortunate enough to not be oppressively colonized.

In both of these cases, the argument is puru take’ toru, or all bullshit. Because in the minds of nearly all people “authenticity” is the basis for life, this is supposed to make sense, but if we just think about it for a moment, gumof chatklaru. Life is all about the search for fullness, essentialness, completeness and that clarity of something which is truly authentic, but as we should all know, none of it exists anywhere, especially when we are talking about culture and history.

If we take this argument to its logical conclusion we see un gof matahlek na version of the axiom that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Except in this version, those who are judged to have lost control over their past, are not allowed to have a future. If something was taken away from you long ago, you can never claim to have it again. If you lost part of your culture long ago you can never have it again in any form, you just have to accept that and move on.

It is for this reason that in my Guam History classes, I do my best to get rid of this mindset in the minds of my students. That the point of taking and learning history is not to learn about the "way things really were" so we can ensure that when we act today, we do so in the proper, authentic way.
This is the ultimate position of indigenous powerlessness, the ultimate way in which the anthropological gaze, without any tangible interference from an actual anthropologist, still permeates the minds of people in the Pacific. How some abstract ideas about limits or rules of a culture end up drastically affecting the concrete and lived ways that people such as Chamorros imagine themselves. History and life are like rivers, which means things mix, flow, change, and although things may always be moving, there is no set path to how they move. The one thing that we can be clear about, is that contrary to how we may imagine the ideal or perfect way that a culture should exist, changeless or timeless, cultures and life are not meant to be that way. They are meant to change and do constantly.

So, is the argument that we should not rename Guam Guahan sound because we don’t know what Guam is “really” supposed to be called? No, even if we accept the idea that Guam’s name should be changed to what it was originally called, does that mean that we need to go back 4,000 years ago to see what it was called when the first Chamorros arrived here? Or is it okay to accept what they called Guam 500 years ago? 1,000 years ago? 2,000? 3,000? Its most likely changed quite a bit, so which point is the truth? The one that we can rely on to be real and be authentic enough to rename the island after?

But this is precisely why, renaming the island can be considered an act of decolonization.

It’s important to note that when I say “act of decolonization” I mean it differently than most. For most people, they understand decolonization to mean either a ridding the colonies of the colonizer or a ridding of the colonies of the influence or culture of the colonizer. In the first instance, it’s primarily a physical expulsion, you get rid of settler, soldiers, government officials. In the second sense, it’s all about the technology or cultural forms they brought in. Both of these are part of decolonization, and although they may seem so significant, they can actually be a small part of the process.

According to these logics, decolonization is therefore about finding out the way things were before the colonizer came and returning to those moments, giving them the sovereignty that was stripped from them, returning to the wonderful balance that existed before “things fall apart” with the introduction of modernity or the colonizer. These are some beautiful and inspiring sentiments, but make those who crave decolonization in these ways, very susceptible to the problems I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. It leaves you too open to determine yourself and what you can do as a “decolonized entity” or “entities” on the basis of what is and isn’t authentically yours to embody or possess. It’s no wonder then that if you talk to almost anyone on Guam about the prospect of decolonization, and regardless of whether they view it positively or negatively, both will tend to view it as something through these unrealistic and laughable lenses. For some it means going back to the days before the colonizer and living in that simplicity and harmony. For others it means going back to the days before the colonizer brought in so many things to Guam that we now depend on for life, and so decolonization means giving up internet, education, capitalism, indoor plumbing and reality TV shows.

After doing research on these phenomena for years, I am still shocked to see so many normally intelligent and articulate people, turn into caricatures when the prospect of decolonization is mentioned. Someone who appears so serious one moment, will turn into a moron who is afraid of decolonization since it would mean that we would have to go back to wearing loincloths. The point that I want to draw out from the previous sentence is italicized, and that the problem with this thinking is not whether or not loincloths will be worn, but the idea that they will have to be worn as a result of decolonization, as if there is this laid out process which defines already what will stay, what will go, and what will happen. So, if Guam does become decolonized, all the influences which brought clothes to Guam from the Spanish to the US will be gone and so all we would have left is our naked decolonized bodies. We don’t have any say in the manner, since we wanted to decolonize and get rid of all that “influence.” (all of this of course is made perfectly, ironically clear by the fact that ancient Chamorro men did not wear loincloths and so all the fear of loincloths perfectly exemplifies how that loathing and dread is tied to someone else’s rules or imagination)

It’s here that I should point out that decolonization is freedom, but not in the sense in which we tend to think of it. Decolonization is not freedom in a some simple, untainted free native sense, as if by decolonizing we can achieve the mythical harmony of the pre-contact days. I mean instead freedom in the sense that Slavoj Zizek uses it, to refer to a painful disruption, which cuts across the present moment threatening to rend and reform the fabric of a community.

So returning to the previous point about the loincloth, decolonization is not a prescription for what to do with the loincloth. It is not a demand to bring the loincloth (or another “ancient” form into the present), nor is it a demand that it be thrown away as anachronistic. Decolonization is instead meant to be a freeing of the moment, an airing of it out and a making of a choice such as this, open. It is at its core a freeing up of the possibility of the colonized. It is about not seeing themselves chained to someone else’s history, story or rules for their being. It is not about being imprisoned either by some fantasy of the pre-colonial harmony of their people. It is instead just a moment where both of those basic frameworks for seeing their being, hold less sway, where the way forward as they act is not as clear, but is something which in fact they have some power over.




It is for this reason, that although I haven’t written about it much lately, I used to refer to decolonization on this blog as future fighting, as those moments where you challenge the abstract, embedded laws for how you are supposed to proceed, and attempt to forge your own path.

It is the same in the case of renaming Guam Guahan. These is not certainty as to whether or not this change is the “right” one, or the “authentic” one. There is also that impulse that these sorts of acts mean nothing, because they only cost money, inconvenience people, and actually challenge/complicate the Americaness of the island, which is always dangerous for those who happily leave and breathe colonialism in Guam and see no other way to exist except as an appendage of the US.

As people grasp for some sort of guarantee of what this will do, what this will mean, there frankly are none. It could be a fantastic move which inspires and drives a new epoch of Guam’s history, hopefully one towards sustainability and less dependency on its colonizer. It could end up ruining Guam’s image around the world by pissing off map makers, who in their rage at having to change Guam’s name on all their maps, just decide to either leave the island off the map, or rename it “Bob Bougher Island.” Or it could end up meaning very little, nothing could actually change and this is just a symbolic move by Felix Camacho to try and build some sort of legacy for himself.

As in any colony, the world is supposed to be set up in such a way that the meaning and the messages all point to whatever the colonizer has “built,” “brought” or is associated with should not be touched and never be messed with. Whatever the things are that the colonizer uses to recognize you, the things which make up his vision of you and give you life within his gaze should not be tampered with. It is for that reason that so many people who are “obviously” oppressed or being manfa’ga’ga’ga’ still cling to their forms of oppression. They see their subordination as intertwined and wrapped into whatever makes their lives stable, possible, tungo’on kontiempo. Should you dare to shed these trappings, who knows what would happen?

But this is one of the most fundamental choices as one seeks to decolonize, is to take that risk of interfering and resisting that very gaze. Of being willing to take on the uncertainty of changing your symbolic network, the very meanings and orders of your life. And by doing so, you do feel that searing risk that you might no longer exist, that you might become invisible and mean less in the world than you do know (i.e. the fear that so many have of moving from second to third world/class citizenship), but at the same time it means seizing the chance to define and determine yourself anew. To try to challenge those ideas which pin you down, which ingrain you with a sense of powerlessness and make you feel like you need to be under the control of another in order to live a good, stable, prosperous life.

But as with anything, decolonization is not a magic spell, it is not even really a solution in and of itself, it is a chance, a moment from which you can build on. So the change of name from Guam to Guahan, as many have said, it can be a start of something important, a movement towards developing that spirit of Guam as being a place of protecting and maintaining what “we have.” A step in a longer journey, or it could be nothing. A symbolic nothing, the first step of a stairs which mockingly leads to nowhere. I fine’nina yan I uttimo na pekkat gi un gua’ot asta tåya’.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dissertation Details

This past week I got some of the best news I've gotten in a long time.

I defended my dissertation last June, but had some revisions to take care of before I could submit it to my graduate school. Last week after almost two months of waiting, I finally received word from my dissertation committee that the last draft I sent them was acceptable and that I can finally submit it and officially become a Ph.D.

Right now I'm working on the finishing touches or small little "details" of the dissertation that need to be taken care of. I'm completing my works cited page, looking for any typos or grammatical mistakes, writing up my acknowledgements and preparing my table of contents.

One of the most fun and interesting details that I have left to take care of is choosing my epitaphs for each chapter. These are quotes or passages which are meant to be "teasers" or "sneak peeks" of my chapters. One thing that I've learned is that these sorts of details can be very helpful in setting the tone for my chapters, or communicating the underlying message or idea in a better way then when I just explain it.

I haven't had much time to post for the past few days, as I was applying for a new job at UOG, but I did want to share today the 9 epitaphs that I chose for my 9 chapters.

When I look back at the names of all those that I quoted, the random yan kaduku na assortment of people and ideas, I can't help but get misty-eyed and self-reflective. For the 9 chapters these are the 9 people whose voices I chose to introduce my chapters. Some of them are pretty common for this sort of philosophical, theoretical, Ethnic Studies style dissertation, while others are more funky and just plain weird. For those interested, here's the list of the nine: hyperspacemonkey (a random poster on the website FARK), Dick Cheney, Craig Santos Perez, Jacques Derrida, Edward Said,Dag Hammarskjold Madeleine Bordallo and Stephen Colbert, Albert Wendt and David Letterman.

All this reminds me of why my dissertation was at some points so hard to write and edit, but also why, unlike most people at this stage, I still love the craziness of my dissertation, and can't wait to work on it again by chopping it up into articles. Although I had to edit out alot of what I wanted, looking at it in this way makes me realize that there is still quite a bit of my silliness in this dissertation.

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CHAPTER 1: GUAM!
Where the Production of America’s Sovereignty Begins!

Hmm [sic] American colonial power is becoming really schizofrantic [sic] over the past year. The Lakota seceded, some Hawaiians are taking back their throne, Guam gets to vote in the DNC, the US has gone suddenly silent about their ridiculous North-Pole-isn't-Canadian bullcrap, and Mexicans have colonized California. The empire's in chaos! this [sic] must be what Confucius meant when he talked about living in exciting times.

- hyperspacemonkey, from the website FARK.com

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CHAPTER 2: GUAM!
Where One Can Study Sovereignty Without Sovereignty

By positioning forces on Guam, the United States can move quickly and effectively to protect our friends, to defend our interests, to bring relief in times of emergency, and to keep the sea lanes open to commerce and closed to terrorists…This island may be small, but it has tremendous importance to the peace and security in the world.

- Dick Cheney, February 22, 2007 speaking to United States troops on Guam.

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CHAPTER 3: GUAM!
Island in Need of Reversing the Colonial Gaze

On some maps, Guam doesn’t exist; I point to an empty in the Pacific and say, “I’m from here.” On some maps, Guam is a small unnamed island; I say, “I’m from this unnamed place.” On some maps, Guam is named “Guam U.S.A.” I say; “I’m from a territory of the United States.” On some maps, Guam is named, simply “Guam”; I say, “I am from Guam.”

- Craig Santos Perez, From Unincorporated Territory [hacha]

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CHAPTER 4: GUAM!
A Trace of American Sovereignty

“If this work seems so threatening, this is because it isn't simply eccentric or strange, but competent, rigorously argued, and carrying conviction.”

- Jacques Derrida

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CHAPTER 5: GUAM!
Island of Invisibility and Banality

“One stone tossed into an empty space, scarcely warrants a second thought.”

- Edward Said

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CHAPTER 6: GUAM!
Sovereignty and its Discontents at the United Nations

"The UN is not just a product of do-gooders. It is harshly real. The day will come when men will see the U.N. and what it means clearly. Everything will be all right -- you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction, and see it as a drawing they made themselves."

- Dag Hammarskjold, Former Secretary General of the United Nations

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CHAPTER 7: GUAM!
Laboratory of Liberation and Non-Voting Delegates

BORDALLO: …we are a US territory.
COLBERT: But you’re not part of the United States.
BORDALLO: We are part of the United States.
COLBERT: You…I do not believe you are.
BORDALLO: Well, uh let me say that our people of Guam wouldn’t care for that kind -
COLBERT: I think Guam is probably lovely, but it’s not a state.
BORDALLO: But we’re still US.
COLBERT: Do you live in the United States?
BORDALLO: Yes, I live in a US territory.
COLBERT: Where?
BORDALLO: Guam.
COLBERT: (holds up a map of the continental United States, upside down) Could you please show me Guam on this map?
BORDALLO: Well that’s upside down.
COLBERT: (flips map right side up) Now find it
BORDALLO: If you show me a world map I will.
COLBERT: Okay, but I said, are you part of the United States?
BORDALLO: That’s correct.
COLBERT: That’s correct, so, that’s correct that you are incorrect.
BORDALLO: No.
COLBERT: Okay. I accept your apology.

- Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo being interview by Stephen Colbert during the segment “Better Know a Protectorate” from the show The Colbert Report

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CHAPTER 8: GUAM!
Through Sovereignty Towards Decolonization

“Our quest should not be a revival of our past cultures, but for the creation of new cultures, which are free of the taint of colonialism and based firmly on our own pasts.”
- Albert Wendt from “Towards a New Oceania.”

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CHAPTER 9: GUAM!
A Case of Conventional Amnesia

David Letterman: Have you ever been to Guam?
Paul Shafer: No.
David Letterman: I know nothing about Guam. I know that the residents of the island are referred to as Guamanians, and that's all I know.
Paul Shafer: I see. They're not Guamaniacs?
David Letterman: Perhaps. So tonight, here is a segment called "Getting to Know Guam."
[Segment begins showing random images of Guam scenery]
Narrator: Guam is located in, uh, in; it’s considered part of the United States, because, uh, uh, this has been getting to know Guam.

- “Getting to Know Guam” from the Late Show with David Letterman

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Know Your Enemy, Know His Sword

Gi i ma’pos na simåna, manegga’ yu’ dokumentario gi telebishon put i lina’la’ (yan I filosofian) Si Miyamoto Musashi, un hagas matai na guerrerun Samurai giya Hapon.

Esta dies años mangguife yu’ na para bai hu fanuge’ kamek pat estoria put un tiempo annai I guerrerun Samurai yan Chamorro dumåña’ yan kumontra i sindålun Españot gi duranten i 16th century.

Annai hu egga’ Shiro’s Head gi i ma’posña na sakkan, pine’lo-ku na ma sakke’ este na idea-hu, lao sahnge i fina’tinas-ñiha. Gi i kachidon-ñiha i mañelon Muña, i taotao Chapones ma sagåyi Guahan, ya ma hokse i Chamorro siha. Para Guahu, sa’ gof ya-hu i estorian i Samurai, ga’o-ku na umafa’maolek i Chamorro yan i Samurai, ya gi i fine’nina na i Españot ma kesagåyi Guahan, i dos ma difende i isla, ya ma na’suha i Españot.

Puede ha’ un diha bai hu na’magåhet este na guinife-hu.

Lao annai hu egga’ ayu na mubi put Musashi, gi duranten na ma “chronicle” i bidå-ña siha, ma na’entalo sinangan-ña siha ginnen i tinige’-ña, The Book of Five Rings.
Gi este na lepblo, Si Musashi, ha tuge’ i filosofia-ña put lina’la’, minatai yan mumumumu. Ha tuge’ i hinasso-ña siha, put taimanu siña un ikak i kontria-mu siha, fine’nina gi i hinasson-ñiha, ya pues gi i tahtaotao-ñiha.

Achokka’ ha tuge’ este na lepblo annai esta mappao i hagga’-ña, pat annai esta hokkok iyo-ña “passion” put mumumumu, ti annok este na tinilaika gi i tinige’-ña siha. Gof kalaktos i palabras-ña, kalang manmaguasa’ parehu yan i damång-ña (sapbla). Ha na’tungo’ i tumaitaitai put taimanu siña mamuno’ hao enimigu gof chaddek. Taimanu siña un ungak gui’, na’tolleng gui’ (gi pekkåt-ña yan gi hinasso-ña siha), ya (of course) fo’yong gui’.

Ilek-ña, “Tungo’ i enimigu-mu, tungo’ i sapblå-ña.” Gi i kutturan Chapones antes, annai ilek-mu sapblan Samurai, kumekeilek-mu, “i ante-ña.” Kontat ki un tutungo’ i sanhalom i fumafana’ hao, siña un pa’kes i sanhiyong-ña.

Unu na estoria ni’ma sångan gi i dokumentario, ha pacha’ yu’. Gi i kinaguatu-ña Si Musashi para un “duel,” sigi manchathinasso Si Musashi pat kao para u igi i kontrariu, pat para u poddong? Sumugo’ gui’ gi un Guma’shinto. Gi este na guma’, i malago manaitai, para u tohgue’ gi me’nan un kampåña. Annai ha na’dandan este na kampåña, ha na’hahanao i tinaitai-ña hulo’ para i Manyu’us.

Gi ayu na tiempo, tåya’ hinengge’ña Si Musashi nu Manyu’us siha. Para Guiya, ni’ malago umigi todu i otro guerreru, ti mananggokuyon manganiti pat Manyu’us. Solu i fuetsan i taotao yan i inakihon gi i damång-ña siña ma angogokko.

Annai Si Musashi ha kekehagu’i kampåña, ha na’paran maisa gui’. Humalomg gi i tintanos-ña este: ti ha dipende i Manyu’us antes, pues sa’ hafa guaha siente-ña på’go? Gi ayu na ha’åni, ti ha na’dandan i kampåña. Ha sangåni i Manyu’us “Si Yu’us Ma’åse,” lao ti manggagao giya Siha.

Gi i lepblo-ña, ha tuge’ este na pidåsun finayi: “Respect the Gods, but do not rely on them for help.”

Gof tahdong i mensåhi gi este na sinangan.

Achokka' manggaige hit todu gi halom i kannai Yu'us, i kannai-ña ti iyo-ta. Ti ta hulat tumungo' i kannai-ña, ya taimanu para u mausa. Lao sina ta usa ya tungo' i kannai-ta siha.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Vote


I called in sick today because I had a horrible migraine last night, the kind which basically incapacitates me for a few hours. I get feverish, weak, very sensitive to light, I have trouble focusing when looking at my laptop and my mind races and sometimes I feel like I can't control it. These atdet na malinek ilu-hu siha happen every couple of months, so while I'm used to them happening, while they are happening, they are not fun.

Today, I'm trying to take it slow, I'm going to try and see a doctor about getting some stronger amot para este na klasin chetnot.

As I'm tossing and turning in bed with this migraine, I have my laptop on to live coverage of the "historic" health care reform vote that is going on right now in the US House of Representatives. Obviously I'm not in any state of mind to write about this now, but I just thought I'd post something about the vote below.

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The Final Health Care Vote and What it Really Means
Robert Reich
The Huffington Post
March 21, 2010

It's not nearly as momentous as the passage of Medicare in 1965 and won't fundamentally alter how Americans think about social safety nets. But the likely passage of Obama's health care reform bill is the biggest thing Congress has done in decades, and has enormous political significance for the future.

Medicare directly changed the life of every senior in America, giving them health security and dramatically reducing their rates of poverty. By contrast, most Americans won't be affected by Obama's health care legislation. Most of us will continue to receive health insurance through our employers. (Only a comparatively small minority will be required to buy insurance who don't want it, or be subsidized in order to afford it. Only a relatively few companies will be required to provide it who don't now.)

Medicare built on Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal notion of government as insurer, with citizens making payments to government, and government paying out benefits. That was the central idea of Social Security, and Medicare piggybacked on Social Security.

Obama's legislation comes from an alternative idea, begun under the Eisenhower administration and developed under Nixon, of a market for health care based on private insurers and employers. Eisenhower locked in the tax break for employee health benefits; Nixon pushed prepaid, competing health plans, and urged a requirement that employers cover their employees. Obama applies Nixon's idea and takes it a step further by requiring all Americans to carry health insurance, and giving subsidies to those who need it.

So don't believe anyone who says Obama's health care legislation marks a swing of the pendulum back toward the Great Society and the New Deal. Obama's health bill is a very conservative piece of legislation, building on a Republican rather than a New Deal foundation. The New Deal foundation would have offered Medicare to all Americans or, at the very least, featured a public insurance option.

The significance of Obama's health legislation is more political than substantive. For the first time since Ronald Reagan told America government is the problem, Obama's health bill reasserts that government can provide a major solution. In political terms, that's a very big deal.

Most Americans continue to be suspicious of government. That distrust is deeply etched in our culture and traditions. Our system of government was devised by people who distrusted government and intentionally created checks and balances, three separate branches, and almost insuperable odds against getting big things done. The period extending from 1933 to 1965 -- the New Deal and the Great Society -- was an historical aberration from that long tradition, animated by the unique crises of the Great Depression and World War II, and the social cohesion that flowed from them for another generation. Ronald Reagan merely picked up where Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover left off.

But Reagan's view of government as the problem is increasingly at odds with a nation whose system of health care relies on large for-profit entities designed to make money rather than improve health; whose economy is dependent on global capital and on global corporations and financial institutions with no particular loyalty to America; and much of whose fuel comes from unstable and dangerous areas of the world. Under these conditions, government is the only entity that can look out for our interests.

We will not return to the New Deal or the Great Society, but nor will we continue to wallow in the increasingly obsolete Reagan view that we don't need a strong and competent government. Today's vote confirms our hope that we can have both strength and competence in Washington. It is an audacious hope, but we have no choice.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Avatar: Because Anything Fun, is Also Problematic

I had meant to write about Avatar a few months ago after first watching it, but so many things were happening in my life and Guam and so I never got around to it. Gof ya-hu ayu na mubi, achokka’ guaha meggai ni’ siña hu tacha. I cheered and yelled throughout the movie, as I expressed my excitement and also my frustration. All in all though, I enjoyed the movie far more than I found it problematic. But as I once told an old friend, i kayu-hu estaba giya Berkeley, there is nothing fun which is not problematic.

I cringed for plenty of reasons, at times it was like anthropology porn, and therefore it had all the elements that Ethnic Studies scholars are supposed to hate, meaning it was just like Dances with Wolves, where a white man is needed to save a helpless primitive, brown people. From the gaze of any “modern” subject, it is just too tempting not to engage in this fantasy, it is the most fun liberal form of viewing the rest of the world. There is something for everyone. If you believe that non-modern people are fundamentally inferior you can watch Avatar in such a way that your thesis is proven, since the character of Jake Sully is the kind of thinking and conscious catalyst that only exists in the differentiated minds of modern people. But if you don’t see indigenous or non-modern people as being dependent upon the modern world for such first steps to consciousness, but instead see them as fundamentally other, existing in their own alterity, Avatar has something to support that fantasy as well. The Na'vi people of Pandora seem to be at last a pure, essential people, who can prove scientifically that they are one with nature, and guess what? They need a modern man to save them. Not only does it gives us a snapshot of that culture, but it also ends with a promise that those untainted or uncorrupted by the modern world can still somehow survive in their purity. This interpretation has problems of its own, but I’ll return to that in a moment.

But at the same time, something should be said about any movie which attempts to congeal together references to the Native Americans fighting off the settlers, cowboys and US government with references to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. And I frankly cheered when that battle went against the flow of history and the Na’vi of Pandora won. It was one of those moments which Hollywood can easily script, but frankly rarely do. The force of History, the way it lumbers forward, always seems to make commonsensical that a people like the Na’vi be eventually trampled over and ground into dust for display in museums. Even though the little, the oriental, the indigenous, the colonized, the native, can defeat the overpowering, the colonizer, the oppressor, the settler, Hollywood writers, directors and producers rarely make real those sorts of radically underdog scripts. Bows and arrows, pulus and acho' atupat just cannot defeat guns, germs and steel, even if you may really really want them to, it just doesn’t happen.

But as I watched the film and the standard ethnic studies critique of “white man saving brown (or blue) people” passed through my head, I deflected the resistance that the critique was supposed to foment within me, and instead decided to actually look at the basic dynamics of Jake Sully’s adoption into the Na’vi people. When I did, I didn't find much wrong with them. The type of dramatic shift of consciousness that the people of Pandora underwent in helping push them to unite and fight against the settler colonizers of Pandora is something that only happens through the sort of exceptionality or radical difference that Jake Sully represented. The first who instigates or who gives another lens to the situation does not have to be wholly different, meaning of a different race or from a different place, but they had to be clearly other in some way, and be someone who doesn’t fit in and therefore is not simply rank and file, not simply like everyone else, not normal or average in the way most people are, but someone who is different. Someone who isn’t just like everyone else and therefore can be seen to carry the weight of the critique or the alternative vision that they are articulating. The only people who can change the world are those who in some way stick out of the world and don’t seem to fully fit into the existing world. This doesn’t mean outsiders only, but only that those who change things always come in some way from the outside, outside of the normal, outside of the way things are done.

The film’s story provides a common legend through which we can see how this works. The rider of the last shadow (uttimo na anineng) or the largest of the dragons of Pandora is the one who has the power to unite the people and lead all of them. Every hunter in Pandora can ride the dragons, but only the one who isn’t just like everyone else, and can ride the Last Shadow has the true authority to lead the people. Joe Sixpack, Jofis from Yo’na, Joe the Plumber or any other symbol of the common man, they are not leaders, they don’t signify any ability to do any more than be what they are. They can be invoked by others as the symbols of who they are fighting for or changing things on behalf of, but they cannot be taken seriously in that role.

To make one final point, even though Avatar indulges in the idea of an essential, pure native, you don’t need to stop the analysis or viewing at that point. One of the parts of Avatar I found most intriguing was the scene where Sigourney Weaver’s character is trying to argue that the people of Pandora should not be ethnically cleansed because of the research potential they possess. In the background of the entire movie, a minute narrative strain has been nurtured about the incredible scientific discovers that Pandora represents in the symbiotic and numerically calculable relationship that it has with its native people. In this moment we see worlds come crashing together, worlds which are supposed to be disparate and necessarily detached from each other, divided and unintelligible, potentially unified. The beliefs, the religion and the faith of the people of Pandora collide with the scientific reasoning of humans and the result is a plea that the culture and the spirit of these simple people be recognized.

On the one hand, we can critique this as being scientific imperialism, which continues up until today, where the bodies, DNA, seeds, traditions of indigenous people become the laboratories for the first world, and represent things to unlock and pirate to benefit the first world.

On the other hand it also represents one of the those radical/critical acts that Dipesh Chakrabarty speaks of in his text Provincializing Europe. In the book, Chakrabarty (amongst other things) contends with the fact that non-modern people, when placed in history, have to lose their battles or their power because of the way they are duped into believing things or being animated by things which do not exist. Because of this, the basis for their actions is always false. They are acting based on beliefs which have not triumphed in the course of history, but things proven to be in the words of Maga’låhi Hurao “fables and fictions.” They are gods, spirits, ghosts, deities.

They emerge in history at a clear disadvantage, as things hampered from the start, stuck in illusions, which regardless of whether they win or lose against colonizers or imperial powers, ultimately have to be set aside for them to become a mover in history, rather than something which is shaken by outsiders. History is a process of riding non-European people of that alterity and delegitimizing their beliefs. Taking away from them any idea that they do have anything substantial to offer the world, marginalizing them until they are nothing but colorful footnotes in the story of human progress. This telling of history always benefits those who are its most clear and present victors, and it does so most fundamentally by the hiding of its own angels. After all, as the history of non-modern people are tragic tales of yet another after another false god being toppled, the gods of Western or modern people are always absent, or always go unpersonified, but instead resignified as forces of the nature, or forces of the universe.

What makes the form that this takes in the film so problematic is that it is first presented as an issue of recognition, that when Weaver introduces this to the audience and to the characters, it requires that we recognize it, and that we use it, that we take this new discovery and use it to unlock some universal secret or use it to make some great gain in understanding the universe. Later however in the climactic end battle, that native belief in their connection to the land is released from being some superstition that needs to be recognized, studied or debunked by the scientists and becomes an ally, a force which literally aids the people of Pandora in their fight. That is the source of sovereignty for colonized or indigenous people within the harsh flow of history. They are meant to be stones which are smoothed or shorn down to almost nothing within that current and so when there are moments when they can redirect that flow, change its course, force it to move around them or move in a new direction, those are the points where the future itself is left open.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Special Election Tomorrow

Yanggen sina bumota hao giya Guahan, mungga maleffa na agupa' botasion espesiat!

If you are registered to vote on Guam, don't forget to vote tomorrow!

Agupa i taotao Guahan para u ma ayek hayi u tinahgue Si Matt Rector gi i Leyeslaturan Guahan.

Tomorrow the people of Guam, will chose who will take the seat of Matt Rector in the Guam Legislature.

Ga'o-ku na gaigaige ha' Si Rector guihi, lao taya' guaha.

I would prefer if Rector was still in the Legislature, but its okay.

Gi entre i manmalalago pa'go unu pat dos na maolek na gayu lokkue'.

Amongst the current candidates there are one or two who are great candidates.

Ya para i estudiante-ku siha, hasso nai na sina manrisibi hao "extra credit" yanggen un prueba yu' na mambota hao.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Letter to President Obama

President Barack Obama is scheduled to come to Guam next week, although its still uncertain what his visit will entail. Its clear that he will speak to soldiers and local leaders, but will that mean he'll leave the base to hold a public meeting with the community? Hekkua'.
I'm waiting for an article by Blaine Harden from the Washington Post to be published this week, and hope that it will have an impact on the Obama administration and what they decide is politically necessary or important in Guam. Harden was on Guam last week researching his piece on the buildup, and when I met him was impressed with his concern and his level of engagement on the issues. The local press obviously doesn't have much impact on policy in Washington D.C., but a single in-depth piece from a national paper, floating amidst a sea of general ignorance (about Guam or the buildup), might have a very real impact.

As we await Obama's official schedule, I thought I would share a letter sent to him and i asagua-na Michelle on behalf of the International Network of Women Against Militarism, who held their 7th meeting in Guam last fall.

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February 14, 2010

Dear President & Michelle Obama,

As you prepare to make a stop over in Guam next month, en route to Australia and Indonesia, we ask that you take the opportunity to meet with Guam Senators and community members including women of Fuetsen Famalao’an.

As commander-in-chief of the military and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and with your experience growing up in Hawaii and working as a community organizer you are uniquely qualified to listen to what they have to say about the proposed military build up on Guam, a small island with an already fragile ecosystem.

We are writing this letter on behalf of 100 women who gathered in Guåhan (Guam) September 14-19, 2009 for the International Women’s Network Against Militarism conference entitled, “Resistance, Resilience and Respect for Human Rights” (Chinemma, Nina’maolek, yan Inarespetu para Direchon Tao’tao). We came from Australia, Belau, Chuuk, Guåhan, Hawai’i, Japan, Okinawa, Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea and mainland United States.

We are mothers, grandmothers, young women, students, teachers, professors, social workers, religious workers, and community organizers in our respective communities.

We gathered in Guåhan for our 7th international women’s conference because of the imminent transfer of some 9,000 U.S. Marines, plus their 20,000 dependents and a further 20,000 foreign contract workers to Guåhan under the proposed Military Re-alignment plan. During our weeklong meeting, we heard testimony and panel presentations, visited important sacred sites, and observed numerous U.S. military installations around the island.

We heard many local concerns about the extensive military installations that already cover 1/3 of this small island (30 miles long and 8 miles wide, comparable to the size of Moloka’i), and some of the negative effects associated with them, such as contamination, crime and prostitution. Already the local population cannot eat the fish, drink the water, or grow their own food. Guåhan has twice the infant mortality rate as the U.S. mainland, and 1997% times the rate of nasal-pharyngeal cancer. We were touched by the Chamorro people’s deep love for their land, honoring their ancestors and providing for their future generations. They expressed deep concern about the impact of an additional 9,000 troops (potentially an additional 50,000 people) and the impact this would have on their already weak infrastructure, fragile ecosystem, and quality of life.

As you have lived in Hawai’i you are probably aware of how a major military presence can impact the local community, although some effects may be hidden from plain view.

In our discussions in Guåhan we noticed a pattern that brings about increased insecurity, particularly for women and for local communities that host U.S. bases or military personnel. What we observed in Guåhan is occurring in the other partner locations in our network: the Philippines, Korea, Okinawa, mainland Japan, Hawai’i, and Puerto Rico. The following are patterns we observed and heard repeatedly about the impact of U.S. military bases:

1. Violence Against Women

Local women live in fear because of the harassment, crime and violence committed by U.S. military personnel. For example, U.S. troops commit 95% of abductions and rape cases in Okinawa. In February 2008, a U.S. Marine sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Okinawan girl. A week later, a 22-year-old Filipina woman in Okinawa was raped by a U.S. soldier. And these are not isolated cases.

Under Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) and Visiting Forces Agreements with the United States, governments that host U.S. bases, such as Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, do not have adequate authority to protect local women, prosecute U.S. military personnel, or provide redress for crimes committed against local women.

Beyond this issue, a rise in prostitution and trafficking goes hand in hand with U.S. military bases and R&R sites, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Increasingly, poor women are being trafficked into the sex industry, and those working in this industry typically experience life-long trauma.

2. Environmental Harm

U.S. military bases generate noise and many negative impacts on air, soil, water and human health, threatening the sustainability of the environment and people’s lives, both now and for future generations.

Bases that have been closed such as in the Philippines (1992) and the bombing ranges in Vieques (2003) have still not been decontaminated and devolved for use by local communities.

Environmental contamination has been linked to high rates of cancer in communities alongside military fencelines. Guåhan and Vieques have no cancer treatment facilities, so people must spend their limited resources to travel elsewhere to receive the costly medical care they need.

3. Economic Impacts

Current U.S. military spending is more than $2 billion per day. This is a huge burden and expense, especially during these severe economic times -- in the U.S. and globally -- where these resources could be used to meet the many needs in health care, education, and economic development.

The U.S. delegates to the Guåhan conference came from California, where state budget cuts have taken a toll on many social services such as education and health care. This school year $580 million was cut from public higher education in California, with huge increases in costs of tuition and student fees. Academic departments have been shut down, classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers are being laid off. 10,000 eligible students were denied admission to public higher education this year. For youth who cannot afford to go to college, or who cannot find employment, joining the military is increasingly their only option.

Internationally, the U.S. military presence has distorted economic development in other countries because people’s access to land is cut off by bases, and local economies become geared towards servicing the U.S. military. For example, prior to WWII, Guåhan was self-sufficient in agricultural production. Today, 90% of its food is imported. Prostitution, bars and a service economy dependent on exploitation of cheap labor or trafficked persons typify the distorted economic development that accompanies U.S. military bases in the countries in our network.

4. Socio-cultural Impacts

U.S. military bases have a large impact on social-cultural development, democracy, and the voice and self-determination of local communities.

In Guåhan, Hawai’i, Okinawa, and other places, ancestral lands and burial sites are currently occupied and even being used for bombing and firing practice by the military.

Guåhan remains a non-self governing territory of the United States and the Chamorro people have no right of self-determination. Guåhan is on the United Nations list of 16 remaining colonies worldwide. An additional influx of outsiders, due to the military buildup, would further strain the culture, voice and sovereignty of indigenous Chamorro people on Guam.

As we observed these things and understood that they are part of a larger pattern, we were overcome with feelings of fear, sadness, pain, frustration, and anger. As women and as leaders in our communities, we are concerned about basic human needs, primarily the everyday security of our families and communities. Women in all our communities need safety, health care and prevention from harm, as well as the protection and care of our environment. We need to be able to participate in decisions affecting our communities and homelands. We need respect and consideration for our people’s land and our ancestors.

We believe that you may be able to understand these needs and request that you use the authority of your position to do the following:

1. Please consider and address the environmental, social, and community impacts the planned military build-up will have on Guåhan and do everything you can to stop it. When you visit Guåhan, please talk to members of Fuetsen Famalao’an, an organization of respected women (Guam Senators, University of Guam professors, and other professionals) who have come together out of concern about the military buildup. Dr. Vivian Dames, former Guam Senator Hope Cristobal, and Dr. Lisa Natividad are all at the University of Guam. As residents of a U.S. territory, none of them have any representation with voting power in the U.S. Congress.

2. Please consider the burden of Okinawan communities that disproportionately host U.S. bases in Japan. Okinawa is 0.6% of the Japanese land area, yet bears 75% of the burden of U.S. bases in Japan. It has been repeatedly stated that 8,000 Marines will be transferred to Guam to “reduce the burden” of Okinawa, but Okinawans are wondering why this is tied to building a new Marines base in Henoko? Please consider measures to reduce the numbers of troops overall, stop the building of yet another new base in Okinawa, and do not redirect Okinawa’s burden to Guåhan.

3. Re-examine and follow the existing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the U.S. and the Philippines. Serious violations have taken place that require detailed review, such as the presence of bases in Mindanao and jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers who commit crimes in the Philippines. Investigate the arguments of the numerous women’s and community groups who are pushing for the VFA to be repealed.

4. Support and promote legislation comparable to HR 1613 that has been introduced in Congress to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include the Territory of Guam in the list of affected “downwind” areas with respect to the atmospheric nuclear testing that took place in Micronesia.

5. Support the Republic of the Marshall Islands Changed Circumstances Petition submitted to Congress for adequate compensation for personal injuries, property damage, medical care programs, and radiological monitoring related to the nuclear testing program conducted in the Marshall Islands.

6. Reduce future U.S. military aid to the Philippines government and enforce existing human rights conditions on current U.S. military aid to the Philippines. The clearly orchestrated massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao and countless other disappearances and extra-judicial killings reveal that there is very little accountability for U.S. weapons, military training, and military funding going to the Philippines Armed Forces.

7. Champion the clean up of toxic waste left behind in the Philippines and Puerto Rico since U.S. bases closed so that devolution to local communities can take place. The U.S. is building new bases when old bases still have not been cleaned up.

As recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, we ask you to consider these requests as part of the work of creating peace and genuine security in this world. Any decision to go to war, to send more troops for training or deployment has effects on thousands of other local communities, and long-term impact on the land and health of our global future.

Sincerely,

Delegates of the 2009 International Women’s Network Against Militarism meeting in Guåhan (Guam), active with the following organizations:

Guåhan: Famoksaiyan and Fuetsen Famalao’an
Hawai’i: DMZ-Hawai’i/Aloha ‘Aina
Korea: Du Rae Bang (My Sister’s Place), the National Campaign to Eradicate Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea, and SAFE Korea
Okinawa: Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence
Philippines: Philippine Women's Network on Peace and Security
Puerto Rico: Ilé, Inc./Organizers for Consciousness-in-Action and Alianza de Mujeres Viequenses (Viequenses Women's Allinace)
United States: Women for Genuine Security

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Buildup/Breakdown #14: F

President Barack Obama is not a liar, and when he isn't as progressive or radical as people would like him to be, its not because he is not living up to his rhetoric, one thing that has always been comforting about Obama and his rhetoric is that he has, since starting to run for office in 2007, always said exactly what he intends to do.

Thinking that because Obama's skin color is a certain way, he would therefore be interested in keeping the war machines of the first world from waging war against any more black and brown peoples, is ridiculous. What Obama represents to you or to me, has very little to do with what consciousness he carries and uses to think about the world. Obama was against the Iraq War not on principle, but because it was a stupid war, a tactical/strategic mistake, that distracted the United States and its military from the real threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And although Obama was very generous and vague in his rhetoric on ending the war in Iraq, he was almost maddeningly crystal clear on the fact that he intended to escalate and start a new war in Afghanistan.

This apparent flaw in or failure of the promise of Obama shouldn't be the point from which we start to analyze whether or not his message of change was really nothing but fancy speeches. This does not mean that the idea of Obama's election representing change or that things have changed since he came to power are false. Sure, the hype and the hope wasn't as concrete as many wished, and the chorus of angels that Hillary Clinton promised us didn't appear, but some more subtle changes have taken place. Most of them are not the dramatic inspiring things which get lazy voters so incredibly inspired to leave their homes and vote every two to four years, but they are still very important things to consider.

Last week I got a chance to meet Blaine Harden, a reporter from The Washington Post, who was on island to write a story about Guam. Me and some members of We are Guahan took him on a hike to Pagat cave and cliffs and spoke to him about the past few months and all the craziness of the DEIS public comment period and how so many things which seem so very certain last year (military buildup), now seem so up in the air, or as I write about on this blog, appearing to breakdown or fall apart. I spoke to Blaine about this and some of the ideas that I had about why this was taking place, and he reminded me of something very fundamental which had changed last year, and was no doubt playing a key role in how this military buildup is being handled.

Since Obama was sworn in last year, and Bush and his cabal are gone (well maybe not Dick Cheney), a very significant shift in government has taken place, because now numerous parts of the massive octopus that is the Federal Government, which are now simply allowed to do their jobs. Now this isn't the type of things which you might associate with being "revolutionary" or worth the incredible hype of Obama's "change train," but it can actually have very serious ripple effects on policy, something which Guam experienced a few weeks ago with regards to the military buildup. According to Harden, so many Federal regulatory agencies found themselves muzzled and ideologically oppressed during the Bush years. People who had wanted jobs maintaining and protecting things such as the rule of law, the economy or the environment found their hands ideologically tied by the Bush philosophy of government. Harden mentioned that he had interviewed several years ago several people who were responsible in the Western United States for regulating wildlife and natural resources, who found that once Bush had come to power, that they were actively prevented from doing their jobs. Many of these agencies were those which should probably run the same regardless of who is in charge in Washington D.C., but under Bush, there was a particular ideological disdain for these things and so many of the agencies were intentionally made ineffective or kept from regulating.

Under President Obama that has changed slightly. Although Fox News might disagree with me, President Obama is far less ideological in his approach than they are. When I say this I am using it not in the theoretical academic sense, but more in the layman, everyday use. Obama, like everyone has a number of different ideological investments, but his approach to running the government of the United States is far less partisan or counterproductive, meaning that he doesn’t have a list of significant Federal entities which he is after or wanting to put on the chopping block, but is unable to do so, so instead just puts useless cronies in there and let them play like everything is the land of do as you please. What Harden basically said is that under Obama, agencies like Fish and Wildlife or the EPA, just get to do their jobs. There is no pressure to be pro-business or be a regulatory agency who regulates in a free-market-Sarah Palin-shooting deer from a helicopter way.

All of this is very important for Guam because a few weeks ago the national EPA released their report on the DOD’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and their report confirmed so many of the critiques that people have been making for months now. I can’t think of the right verb to fit this occasion, I want to say that the EPA slammed the DEIS, but that isn’t strong enough. I want to say that the EPA ripped the arms of the DEIS and then savagely beat them with them, but that’s too gruesome. There’s plenty of other language out there that I could use to signify the brutality of the critiques but a lot of them involved sexist imagery and so I won’t use them here. Needless to say, the EPA gave the DEIS the lowest grade it could give for a document of that type, basically an F.

I should note first, that the EPA report is not against the buildup, it doesn’t take a principled stance that the buildup is wrong or can’t be done. So, my comments shouldn’t be interpreted as me being excited because I feel like the people at the EPA have the same consciousness as me or that they are supporting Guam’s decolonization. But its critiques which involve a six page letter and a 95 page report, all point to some very fundamental flaws and gaps in the DEIS. Some of which the EPA admits can be overcome with more research or better mitigation, but some of which the DOD is nowhere near close to justifying (most prominently the dredging of Apra Harbor).

Harden noted in our conversation that under Bush, even if the same exact DEIS had been submitted, it wouldn’t have gotten such a low grade from the EPA, and so many of the potential criticisms would have been muffled or edited out. The EPA might have just rubber stamped the document in order to keep the DOD buildup train running smoothly.

Now, it is not that under Obama, the DOD is treated like crap and give a hard time by the socialist pinko commie liberals. Obama himself has signaled from as early as 2007 that he was in favor of the buildup and nothing since then has given us any indication that he has changed in his opinion. Furthermore, although some of the architects of Bush defense policy are gone, many of them remain, and the need to militarize Guam is something that both Rumsfeld and Gates agree on.

So, the harsh criticism from EPA does not reflect any sort of explicit ideological shift, but most likely is part of a loosening of the ideological restraints on the agency from 2001-2010. It’s not that a directive came down from David Axelrod telling them that under Obama everyone gets an F’ for their DEIS, especially the military! But, rather, there was probably very little interference of ideological suggestion from above, and so regulators came to their own decisions.

Although the EPA report has very little direct impact on the process, it represents a very serious stumbling block for the DOD. It is the first national critique to join the thousands of critiques that came locally over the past four months. When Senator James Webb came through a few weeks ago, it was a similar potential national point of rupture. They are things which the DOD can ignore and simply move forward, but the path ahead becomes more and more delicate, the more points emerge and the more they refuse to slow down or acknowledge them.

To read the Analysis and Full Report click here

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EPA analysis finds military’s plan for Guam growth is ‘inadequate’
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, February 27, 2010
TOKYO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the Pentagon’s massive buildup plans for Guam “should not proceed as proposed” and has offered its harshest internal rating, a move that could force the military to rewrite its plans for the island.

The sharp criticism came in a six-page letter and 95-page analysis from the EPA on the military’s environmental impact statement, which outlines expansion plans and includes the controversial move of 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The EPA documents, dated Feb. 17, say the permanent military expansion and temporary addition of nearly 80,000 people during construction would “exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions on Guam,” including public health, the island’s sole aquifer, sewage systems, air quality, trash collection, coral reefs and other marine life.

“The impacts are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the action should not proceed as proposed and improved analyses are necessary to ensure the information in the EIS is adequate to fully inform decision-makers,” Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s administrator for Region 9 in San Francisco, wrote in a letter to Robert Natsuhara, the Navy’s acting assistant secretary for installations and environment.

By officially calling the military’s plans “inadequate,” the EPA could force the military to revise its entire environmental assessment of Guam, according to documents, which are available at http://www.epa.gov/region09/nepa/letters/Guam-CNMI-Military-Reloc-DEIS.pdf.

A ruling of inadequate, according to EPA policy, means the military must rewrite its impact statement, submit a new draft and hold an additional public comment period on expansion. The plans include the proposed Marines’ move, hosting an aircraft carrier berth for two months of every year, and adding an Army air defense unit with anti-ballistic missiles.

It was an unusually harsh ruling from the EPA, according to Mike Gawel, who retired from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency four months ago. As an environmental engineer planner, he was involved with impact statements for more than 30 years.

The EPA comments on all impact statements, which are required of federal projects that might pose harm to the environment. But the military’s statement, with its combination of a rapid construction schedule on a 212-square-mile island with aging infrastructure, tackled too much at once, Gawel said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

“This is just unheard of,” he said of the thousands of pages submitted last November by the military. “I am very concerned about this.”

The military, too, acknowledges that the scope of the project is extraordinary, calling it one of the most complex impact statements the Department of Defense has ever prepared, according to Marine Corps Maj. Neil Ruggiero, a spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office.

“Although we have worked closely with EPA and other federal and local agencies during the development of the draft EIS, we fully anticipated that formal agency comments would point out deficiencies and areas requiring revision,” Ruggiero said in a prepared statement.

“The Department of Defense is seriously evaluating all comments received on the draft EIS and is determining how best to address these issues in the final EIS,” he wrote.

That final document is expected this summer.

In its analysis, the EPA did not condemn the idea of a larger military presence on Guam, nor did it issue an opinion on whether Guam could support the influx of troops, equipment, traffic and flushing toilets. Rather, the analysis questioned whether the military had thoroughly studied the potential effects of its plans and offered adequate and long-lasting solutions for the island.

The EPA did sweep aside some of the military’s mitigation proposals, including the offer to build an artificial reef to replace coral in Apra Harbor and the plan to rely on construction companies to supply imported workers with medical, housing, electrical, water and sewage needs.

The EPA’s comments join an escalating chorus of concerns from local, congressional and Japanese officials about the buildup.

In recent months, U.S. and Japan leaders have hit a stalemate over relocating the 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. In recent weeks, the island’s legislators and governor — many of whom initially embraced the military’s plans — have offered stronger words for military and other federal leaders about the feasibility of housing those Marines and their families by 2014.

Earlier this month, the island’s lone delegate to Congress, Madeleine Bordallo, said she would not support funding for that construction schedule.

On Thursday, some of those same leaders praised the EPA’s comments.

“The Department of Defense must address the overall infrastructure requirements on Guam and how to fund those requirements including waste water and clean water concerns associated with the induced population growth,” Bordallo said in a written statement. “The EPA raised serious concerns with the DoD’s assessment method of coral reef impact and stated that the DoD underestimates coral reef impact on Guam.”

“This document further solidifies our position that these concerns must be addressed to ensure the buildup is beneficial for Guahan,” said acting Gov. Michael Cruz in a statement, using the native Chamorro word for Guam.

More vocal critics found relief — and vindication — in the EPA’s comments.

“I thought it was great,” said Guam Sen. B.J. Cruz, the legislature’s vice speaker, who has been a vocal opponent of the buildup. “It contains everything I was complaining about. I’m hoping the EPA holds their feet to the fire and insists on a redraft.”

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Military, EPA working together to address Guam environmental concerns
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Online Edition, Thursday, March 4, 2010

TOKYO — The U.S. military is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to address concerns raised when the agency sharply criticized plans for a military buildup on Guam.

The pressure is on to figure out how to meet environmental laws, community expectations and a 2014 deadline to move in 8,600 Marines from Okinawa. An EPA analysis gave the military proposal its most severe rating, and both groups are trying to move forward without significant delays to the massive project.

The military is working under a self-imposed deadline to finalize its federally required plans — drawn up as an environmental impact statement — by the end of summer in order to begin construction this fall. They say that schedule is necessary to meet an existing agreement with Japan for the Marines’ move.

Meeting the summer deadline will require substantially rewriting and reanalyzing major parts of the military’s plans, including how it will house tens of thousands of temporary workers during construction and how it can avoid dredging as much as 25 acres of coral in Apra Harbor to make way for visiting carriers.

“We’re in agreement with most of the issues that have been brought out,” said David Bice, the retired Marine Corps major general tasked with spearheading the buildup. “How do we deal with it? That’s the crux of the matter.”

For now, the EPA has not asked the military to formally rewrite its proposal, a plan that also includes building an aircraft carrier berth and moving an Army air defense unit to Guam. The EPA could ask for that at a later date.

Instead, the military and the EPA are working together to address current and predicted environmental concerns on Guam that, when combined with the military’s plans, could further tax the island’s struggling water and sewage systems.

“We understand and support DOD’s military mission,” said Nova Blazej, an EPA special assistant who has been on the Guam military project for three years. “We’ve been engaged with the military on this — we want to help ensure that this project meets all national environmental laws and meets the DOD’s deadline.”

Despite three years of collaborative work on the project, Blazej said she understood why the military received such a poor rating from EPA.

The island itself is an environmental challenge. All of Guam’s sewage plants are in noncompliance with the Clean Water Act, according to the EPA. Making the island fully compliant with all environmental standards — without the buildup — would take $800 million to $1 billion, Bice said.

Still, the harsh rating was rare. The EPA reviews about 250 environmental impact statements from other federal agencies each year. On average, only three projects each year rate “inadequate,” she said.

That inadequacy, according to the EPA’s analysis, includes military plans that would “exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions on Guam,” including public health, the island’s sole aquifer, sewage systems, air quality, trash collection, coral reefs and other marine life.

Solving many of those problems, both Bice and EPA officials say, involves getting more money from other federal agencies.

“How to pay for it is the next big challenge,” Blazej said.

Bice said Thursday he is seeing more movement on that front. Last week, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn met with his counterparts from various federal agencies to talk about finding money for Guam, Bice said.

“This is a federal move,” Bice said. “It’s not just a Marines’ move. I’m talking about all federal agencies. They all have a stake in Guam. It cannot be done without their support.”

The EPA, despite its recent analysis, says it is trying to do its part. In years past, the agency has given the island about $1 million for water and wastewater improvements; this year, Guam got $13 million, Blazej said.

The EPA acknowledges that money doesn’t come close to refurbishing Guam’s water and sewage systems. And, in the end, it could be the EPA’s “inadequate” rating that has long-lasting effects for Guam and the buildup.

If this summer’s report from the military remains unsatisfactory in the EPA’s eyes, the project could get referred for mediation by the Council on Environmental Quality, a board that oversees the environmental impact statement process.

That move, however, is even rarer. From 1970 to 2000, only 26 projects were referred for mediation, according to the EPA. More recent numbers were unavailable.

The mediation would involve the council acting on behalf of the president to resolve the environmental issues and challenges between the EPA and the federal agency pursuing the project. The council’s purpose is not to stop any project from coming to fruition, and the agency has no record of that ever happening, Blazej wrote this week in an e-mail in response to a question. If the two sides cannot work out their differences, the president could resolve the matter. That has never happened, she said.

For now, meetings were to start this week between the EPA and the military to continue working on the Guam buildup.

Bice said that work, along with much of the criticism and comments during the past few months, will be addressed in this summer’s report. He also said the current deadline — moving the Marines to Guam by 2014 — remains.

“Many have said it’s unrealistic,” he said of the timeline. “I acknowledge that 2014 remains the target.”

Officials from the EPA were less certain the hard work will meet the military’s summer deadline for a final set of plans.

“I don’t think we can make a conclusion on that,” said Lynn Kuo, another EPA special assistant who has been working solely on the Guam military buildup project since last year. “If all the stars align, it could work out. But the stars have to align.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Enemies of Glen Beck Unite!

Apparently in addition to being attacked on the forums and comments for Guampdn, I was also recently attacked by Fox News commentatory yan hakate na taotao, Glen Beck. I was forwarded this email earlier today, which led me to a link where I watched a video of Beck creating one of his famous Dadaist works of art on a chalkboard, which professed to explain some massive communist or socialist takeover of the United States government. And lo and behold amongst the names of Stalin, Che and Hillary Clinton, there was "Michael Lujan Bevacqua."

If you believe in Democratic party values or various progressive causes, then I'm willing to bet that Beck has a space for your on his chalkboard. If you'd like the view the video that I watched and even type your own name in, just click here.

The video was made possible by Moveon.org, Brave New Films and the SEIU.

I'm pasting pictures of my version of the video below, but there's something so very funny about this. Even though the video is meant to be satirical, when Glen Beck calls Barack Obama a communist, Beck is a moron. But when he calls me a "pinkocommieleftycrat" he's not really that far off.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Guafi

Fihu hinasso-ku na ti nahong i tiempo-ku gi este na mundo. Meggai na malago bai hu cho’gue, lao ti siña hu na’fanhuyong todu i minalago-hu, put i ti nahong na tiempo, pat ti nahong i fuetså-ku.

Achokka' todu i taotao siha ma hasso este na hinasso gi i lina'la'-ñiha, likidu i sinieñte para kada na taotao.

Guaha ha'åni nai siniente-ku na ti nahong i oras, ti nahong i dihas, ya maskeseha hu hago' 100 años gi este na lina'la'-hu, ti nanahong ha'.

Lao guaha otro ha'åni, nai sinieñte-ku na taibali i oras gi i dihå-hu siha. Na gi i lina'la'-hu, meggai na debi di hu cho'gue (achokka' buente ti malago yu'), ya todu este siha magagasta.

Sesso annai tinemba yu' (mana'triste yu') put este na kosas, guaha un sinangan hu hahasso.

I fine'nina nai hu hungok este na sinangan gi i kachido Star Trek: Generations. Gi ayu na mubi, guaha un petsona, ya para Guiya, "tiempo" yan i oras gi kada diha, kalang un malamana na birak. Kinakahatgue gui' ni' este na birak, todu i tiempo, kalang i anineng-na. Unu ha’ minalago-ña este na taotao, ya ti na’para’on gui’. Gi todu i bidå-ña, ha tutugong mo’na para u na’fanhuyong i guinife-ña. Lao ka ha hulat tumaka’ ayu antes di humokkok i tiempo-ña?

Este na taotao, ha sangåni i Kapitan i Enterprise, Si Jean Luc-Picard ni' este:

"Time is the fire in which we burn."

Kada diha, annai hu siesieñte na mana'lastitima i taitahgue na tiempo-ku gi este na tano', ha na'hasso yu' ni' este na sinangan. Gi ayu na momento, ha liliku'i yu' un guafi, ya todu i dinisehå-hu siha, todu i minalago-hu siha, todu i guinife-hu siha, mankikimason siha gi ayu na guafi.

Ayu na sinangan, matuge' fine'nina gi un betsu. I na'an-na i betsu "Calmly We Walk Through this April's Day" by Delmore Schwartz.

Para bai hu na'chetton i palabras-na guini pappa' gi este na post.

Calmly We Walk Through This April's Day
by Delmore Schwartz

Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn...)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(...that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Buildup/Breakdown #13: Webbslinger

One of the most frustrating things about being a liberal or a progressive person from Guam is that the only people in Washington D.C. who tend to know anything about Guam are "hawks." Although people on Guam may see their struggle for decolonization or demilitarization as being something liberals would see as part of their agenda, as part of their ideological struggle to make the US or the world a better place, this is rarely the case. Guam is primarily to the United States, and by this, I mean nearly all ideological pockets in the United States, defined through its strategic importance and the fact that it has two US military bases there.

What this means, is that even though you may want to reach out to the progressive side of the US Government or ideological spectrum when advocating on behalf of Guam, the only ears that tend to hear any of these cries or even have some background in order to understand them are thsoe who are lords of war or lobbyists for militarism and the military industrial complex. Within Washington D.C. there were for decades only three segments of political life there for whom Guam meant anything. First, former soldiers, most prominently those who fought in World War II in the Pacific, and to a lesser extent those who might have been stationed in Guam after World War II. According to Robert Underwood (who is the second most quoted person on this blog after Sumahi), the incredible successes that Guam's first non-voting delegate to Congress from Guam Antonio Won Pat in terms of getting legislation passed for Guam, despite his minute physical and political status, was because he served in Congress with a generation of politicians for whom Guam had a special status as one of those World War II battlegrounds.

Second, politicians who served on committees or subcommittees which were in charge of or responsible for the US territories, which in both the House and the Senate also deal with Natural Resources. In the House, a small circle of power has been made with the non-voting delegates and also the last two states admitted to the US union, Hawai'i and Alaska, who try to support each other as much as possible.

And lastly, we find those who are in the pockets of the military industrial complex or who actively work to protect its existing power over the United States government and even expand it further. They have close ties to defense contractors, and can work for them before they enter politics and once they leave as well. They promote militarism not just as a strategy or a tactic, but as a philosophy of life. Because Guam is such a key chess piece in the game through which they see the world, it is always in some way on their radar. They may not have decent knowledge or information about it, but its always in their mind. After all, in their minds the world is full of America's enemies, those who wish to see it destroyed or those who wish to see it equal with the rest of the world, and as such Guam is a crucial spear tip, just laying across the edge of Asia waiting to be used in defense of the United States.

This isn't to say that those interested in peace and justice on Guam shouldn't try to reach out to those communities in the states or in Washington D.C., in fact some small efforts have been made and are being made to increase the visibility and presence of Guam on those front. But I only say this to remind people that just because you may assume that people like Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama or Patrick Leahy may be on your side because of how you hear them talk about torture, Iraq or peace, means almost nothing in terms of how they might conceive of Guam in their ideological universe. Despite any political differences that someone on the left or the right in the US might have, they tend to be united around certain principles such as US exceptionalism and therefore while they may see Guam as unique and interesting it is still something which belongs to the United States. This is particularly true with regards to decolonization, since no politician in the US would ever be on record openly supporting a place such as Guam be given, even the slightest chance at becoming independent from the US. The lure of American exceptionalism and awesomeness is just too great and too potent to even appear to be against, and so self-determination for any of the US territories is so fragile and difficult at times since although it may be rhetorically support at time in small ways, it is never given any robust support for that precise fear of reshaping the existing imagined borders of the US.

My reason for writing this post is due to the fact that last month, one of those hawks came through for a visit to Guam on his way to Japan. Virginia Senator Jim Webb was on Guam briefly, met with local leaders and was interviewed by the press and had some very interesting things to say. Webb is not your generic Washington D.C. hawk however, as he actually lived on Guam in the 1970's and worked for Governor Bordallo during his first term. He had prepared a report on Guam land use for GovGuam in 1974, which had some serious relevance to current issues on Guam, in particular with the military proposing it acquire at the most 2300 more acres for its use.

After returning to Washington D.C. he released a statement which has given alot of people concerned about the buildup hope that it will either be stopped or slowed down. I think that the example of Webb's visit can remind us that although someone like him may not be on our side in terms of decolonization or demilitarization, but they can nonetheless be our ally in both ways they do and do not understand. While Webb is an ally of Guam in terms of making a statement such as the one below and also vowing to work to ensure that Guam benefits from the buildup and that it is a true partnership, he is also a potential ally in a way he might not perceive. His statement represents yet another potential breakdown in this buildup, another potential snag, another sign that the unity and "doneness" of this buildup might be more fiction than fact.

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U.S. Senator Webb: “Proper Reengagement in Asia Requires a Strong Alliance with Japan, a Strong Relationship with the People of Guam”

February 19, 2010

Washington, DC— U.S. Senator Jim Webb, who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee and the Committee on Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, issued the following statement upon completion of a week-long visit to Japan and Guam:

“Over the past week I visited Tokyo, Okinawa and Guam to examine the realignment of U.S. military forces in Asia and listen to the people involved in this issue. At the heart of this issue is the future of our national strategy, the health of our most important alliance in Asia, and the contributions of our U.S. military and civilians to our national interest.

“From our nation’s founding, the United States has developed strong relationships in Asia resulting in regional economic opportunity and the advancement of democratic values. Nowhere in the world do the interests of so many great powers coincide, including the direct interests of Russia, China, Japan, and the United States. Our country is the key to stability in this region. The success of our relationships is guaranteed by the stability our military forces provide, and by our continuing close alliance with Japan.

“I have heard sincere rhetoric from the Obama administration about reengaging Asia and its importance to our national interest. Reengagement is necessary, but it must include all military, economic, and political stakeholders. We cannot reengage properly in Asia without a strong alliance with Japan and without a strong relationship with the people of Guam. It was for this reason that I first began writing about the strategic importance of Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands in 1972, and that I worked as a defense planner here on Guam in 1973 and 1974, calling even at that time for a military realignment similar to what is now taking place.

“I have come away from this most recent trip with four primary observations.

“First, in recent months, there has been concern in Asia and in the United States regarding the value and the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance. In particular, questions surrounding the change in Japan’s government and campaign rhetoric raised concerns that leaders in Japan may seek to reshape the fundamental structure of our relationship. The meetings I held in Tokyo with the Japanese government, including Foreign Minister Okada and Defense Minister Kitazawa, reaffirmed my belief that both sides recognize the benefits of our partnership and remain committed to the alliance.

“Second, at this time, we are waiting for the Japanese government to make its own determination on the relocation the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station within Okinawa—a move that appears to be a precursor for the streamlining of U.S. bases on the island and a realignment of U.S. forces in the region. The Government of Japan has stated that it will issue a decision by May 2010. Until then, we cannot move forward on the relocation of bases outside of highly populated areas in the southern part of Okinawa, as well as the relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam.

“As we wait for a decision from the Japanese government, I am concerned that we are not realistically discussing the timeline needed to implement this relocation plan for Okinawa and Guam. The agreement to relocate forces indicates a 2014 deadline for completion of this plan—a date that has raised a lot of fears in Okinawa and Guam about how such a move can take plan when we remain at a deadlock in 2010. We need a more open discussion from civilian and military leaders on what is realistically achievable by 2014 so that the people on Okinawa and Guam can begin to make practical steps in preparation for these changes.

“Third, I strongly believe that this relocation plan is a win-win-win, for the U.S.-Japan alliance, the people of Okinawa, and the people of Guam. In particular, this plan for repositioning forces allows for a nearly 50 percent reduction of the Marine Corps forward presence on Okinawa. Done properly and with adequate time to prepare, this relocation can strengthen our position in Asia, relieve concerns of the civilian populations affected by this move, and allow the U.S. Marine Corps to retain vital assets and capabilities in the region.

“That said, I still have significant questions about the plan to implement this restructuring in Guam and would like to make clear that the U.S. government has an obligation to make sure that these changes do not place undue stress on the people of Guam. Specifically, the U.S. government should recognize the needs and sensitivities of the people and the limitations of space on the island. The U.S. military occupies or retains over one-third of the island’s territory, and I do not believe that additional lands should be acquired. If they must be acquired out of a national security interest, the U.S. government out of respect for the people of Guam should seek private arrangements for use of the land and not exercise its right of eminent domain.

“The U.S. military has been very careful to present well-reasoned plans to meet the needs of the expected 8,000 Marines, but I have great concerns about the intentions to place live-fire ranges on Guam for Marine Corps training. After visiting the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas, I believe we can be doing more for the Marine Corps on Tinian, and we should consider expanding our plans for training there. Overall, we must make sure that the footprint of the incoming Marines fits Guam.

“Fourth, and finally, if the United States remains committed to an active forward presence in Asia, and an increased U.S. military presence on Guam, then it must demonstrate that commitment by providing the civilian infrastructure and services needed to support an increased population on the island. The priorities include port modernization, water acquisition, wastewater treatment, healthcare, and schools. The military commitment to this buildup is evident. This year, the U.S. military will spend $700 million in preparation for the buildup. In contrast, the civilian government on Guam will benefit from $51 million in federal assistance in military construction projects to prepare for the buildup.

“Just this week the government on Guam was turned down for a $50 million Department of Transportation grant to upgrade the island’s port facilities. I have already called on President Obama to fund this port project with funds from the remaining $150 billion in as-yet unobligated appropriations from last year’s stimulus package. Upon my return, I also intend to discuss the needs of Guam with Senator Inouye, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and to work with his office to find other funds to support the civilian contribution to this buildup. If we expand our military presence on Guam, we need to recognize the economic and cultural stress it will place on the island’s population and fund this buildup accordingly.

“But this is not just a Guam issue. It is an issue of national strategy. If we declare a commitment to remaining a vital partner in Asia, we must properly engage the region. Our forward military presence, coupled with the strength of our values and economy, provide a platform for this endeavor.”


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U.S. SENATOR SIDES WITH GUAM ON MILITARY BUILDUP
Opposes land grab, urges Washington to fund port upgrade

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Guam PDN, Feb. 24, 2010) – U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, fresh from his Guam visit, issued a statement from his office in Washington, D.C., that the United States government has an obligation to make sure that military-buildup-related changes "do not place undue stress on the people of Guam."

"Specifically, the U.S. government should recognize the needs and sensitivities of the people and the limitations of space on the island," according to Webb’s Feb. 19 statement. "The U.S. military occupies or retains over one-third of the island’s territory, and I do not believe that additional lands should be acquired.

"If they must be acquired out of a national security interest, the U.S. government out of respect for the people of Guam should seek private arrangements for use of the land and not exercise its right of eminent domain," according to Webb.

Webb is chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee and the Committee on Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee.

The senator said the federal government needs "to recognize the economic and cultural stress it will place on the island’s population and fund this buildup accordingly."

"But this is not just a Guam issue. It is an issue of national strategy."

This year, the U.S. military will spend US$700 million in preparation for the buildup on Guam. In contrast, the civilian government on Guam will benefit from US$51 million in federal assistance in military construction projects to prepare for the buildup, according to Webb.

He mentioned the Transportation Department turned down a Guam application for about US$50 million in economic stimulus funding to help the island’s port pay for upgrades to make room for the buildup.

"I have already called on President Obama to fund this port project," according to Webb.

Webb added until Japan decides in May how to proceed with the relocation of U.S. troops in the middle of an Okinawan city, "we cannot move forward on the relocation of bases outside of highly populated areas in the southern part of Okinawa, as well as the relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam."

"As we wait for a decision from the Japanese government, I am concerned that we are not realistically discussing the timeline needed to implement this relocation plan for Okinawa and Guam. The agreement to relocate forces indicates a 2014 deadline for completion of this plan--a date that has raised a lot of fears in Okinawa and Guam about how such a move can take plan when we remain at a deadlock in 2010." according to Webb.

"We need a more open discussion from civilian and military leaders on what is realistically achievable by 2014 so that the people on Okinawa and Guam can begin to make practical steps in preparation for these changes."

He also suggested Tinian in the Northern Marianas might have room for a Marine firing range instead of Guam.

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