Monday, January 28, 2013


This semester at UOG I am organizing a colloquium series for the newly christened Chamorro Studies program. We'll be having four different speakers, a different one each month, to come and discuss with faculty and students their ideas of what Chamorro Studies is or should be, and also what projects they are currently working on elsewhere in the community. Each speaker is someone on island who plays an important role in helping shape ideas of "Chinamorro" or "Chamorroness."

For our first speaker we have invited Joseph Artero-Cameron who is the President of the Department of Chamorro Affairs. His talks is titled "I Hinanao-Ta: Our Journey." It will take place tomorrow, January 28th, at 2 pm in the Dean's Professional Development Room in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building at UOG.

Here is a description of his talk as well as a bio below:

In this colloquium, Cameron, the President of the Department of Chamorro Affairs will provide a depiction of the rich cultural history of our people and the traditions dedicated to advancement and progress that we continue today. He will outline continuing governmental efforts to celebrate Chamorro language and culture, educate our visitors and create a territorial museum worthy of representing the unique journey of the Chamorro people.

Joseph Artero Cameron Biography
The Calvo-Tenorio administration will be the fourth consecutive gubernatorial cabinet Joseph Cameron will serve in.  He has served as the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for Governor Joseph Ada; Director for the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designated state health official, and the Social Security Administration disability determination services program manager in the following administration; and Director for Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority, Acting President of Department of Chamorro Affairs, and Emergency Support Function Lead for Mass Care and Medical Sheltering for Guam Homeland Security for Governor Felix Camacho.  He is fluent in Chamorro (reading, writing, and speaking).  Cameron holds a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, with a Minor in Criminal Justice at Sacred Heart College in North Carolina.  Mr. Artero-Cameron is now the President of the Dept of Chamorro Affairs (DCA) with added agencies by reorganization. The additional agencies under DCA are Hagåtña Restoration and Redevelopment Authority/Council of the Arts and Humanities/Public Library System/ and PBS/Channel 12. The Guam Museum and the Chamorro Village continue to be under the DCA administration & organizational umbrella.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Ideological Troops

Ideology is one of those things about life that can feel so secure and clear. It can provide you a clear position from which you can see the world and assign value to certain idea, places and even bodies. But at the same time ideology is something that is so pervasive and massive, it cannot help but also be unforgivingly contradictory and sometimes appear to make absolutely no sense. There is a feeling that things should be black and white, but there is also a feeling that things are really actually gray.

We move between these two positions in a strategic way. When things being black and white works in our favor, we take that position in order to argue that our position is in line with the clear nature of reality. There is no wiggle room, what we stand for and believe in is so completely clear. But when the ideological black and white world is not in our favor, we tend to take the position that the exceptions matter and that in between those two binary opposites, is the world we all actually live in.

The military buildup was something where the ideological lines on island have been drawn and redrawn over the past few years. For some the buildup was a clear ideological issue. If you supported it, you were a patriotic American, who believed in a prosperous island and a strong military. If you didn’t, you were a crazy activist, a “communist” who hated America and wanted to give comfort to its enemies. For those who saw or continue to see the world this way, they perceived the buildup as a gift to Guam from the United States. It was not something to question but just to accept. It was the island’s duty to accept to and not make a fuss and most importantly not act ungrateful and dare to refuse it.

One of the things that held people ideologically in place and didn’t allow them to “question” and “critique” the buildup was the way it became associated with “the troops.” “The troops” is one of the most intriguing ideological constructions. It isn’t really the actual troops that serve in the military, but instead an image of it that everyone purports to speak for and be defending with their ideology. Those who often talk the most about supporting “the troops” are actually those who do them the most objective damage. Those who speak about them the most are often the ones who put them in harm’s way more often and usually for things that aren’t actually that important. Those are the ones who would rather throw huge sums of money at defense contractors than the troops themselves.

Curiously, “the troops” are simultaneously supposed to be strong and powerful defenders of the nation, but also seem to be weak and meek in terms of how easily they are wounded by words or a lack of flag waving. In the minds of those who see the buildup in black and white, the reason it isn’t happening or has been stalled is because of the island’s lack of support and faith. Bases closed in the 1990s because people dared to protest the military. If we criticize Uncle Sam and the military too much one day they may decide to just pack up and leave us. The Achilles’ Heel of “the troops” is that while they are capable against all foreign enemies, they are apparently weak and easily crushed by domestic ones.

That is the key to why this construction exists. It is an ideological tool meant to curb speech and control speech. We should all support the troops and so if someone claims you exist on the other side of that ideological rift, then you have basically been positioned as something that shouldn’t exist. In terms of the buildup many people felt they couldn’t express themselves or be wary of it because of that aura of not wanting to be the thing that weakens the resolve of “the troops.”

Over the past few years I have had very interesting conversations with people serving in the military, and had some express their own concerns about the buildup and its effect on the island. “The troops” after all are made up of millions of different people with different opinions and beliefs. To speak of them in such a simple way doesn’t do them and their diversity justice. The most touching of these moments was when I took a group of National Guardsmen on a tour of the Pagat area. The intent in going there was to give the troops a greater understanding of the place and history. Their commanding officer told his troops that while in the military they are curbed in terms of their ability to speak freely, this doesn’t mean that soldiers are mindless grunts. They should know and understand what they are fighting for.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Torture and Zero Dark Thirty
 David Bromwich

 Zero Dark Thirty is a spy thriller about the tracking and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Good police work did it, the film says, and it aims to show what (in the extraordinary circumstances) good police work amounts to. Action movies have been the director Kathryn Bigelow's métier, and Zero Dark Thirty is tense and well-paced. It has the kind of proficiency one associates with, say, The Hunt for Red October. It does not mean to compete with a film like The Battle of Algiers. There is no question here of taking up a complex historical subject and exploring it with a semblance of human depth. Rather, the movie accepts the ready prejudices and fears of its American audience, and builds up pressure for two hours to prepare the thrill and relief at the raid on Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. The first two hours skip forward selectively to cover the trajectory of ten years. The final twenty-five minutes of action are portrayed almost in real time.

Until Americans stop indulging our elected officials in their appetite for secrecy, we will not know exactly what orders the Navy Seals carried into Abbottabad. Pretty clearly, it was a kill mission and not "Capture or Kill." Zero Dark Thirty makes killing the personal preference of its heroine, Maya, a CIA agent who begins the hunt in September 2001 and whose relentless pursuit is clinched by success. When she talks to the Navy Seals team, she says she wants them to "kill him for me." The "me" element in the international hunt, and its reflexive connection to revenge, is emphasized more than once. This overtly simplifies an area of moral doubt which the film in other ways simplifies covertly. Maya's stamina, force, and drive somehow place her beyond challenge. By the end, her superiors at CIA are intimidated, and we feel they ought to be. Maya has no friends, and no life outside the hunt, but her determination is itself a sort of passion. It is, in fact, the only passion that is represented in the film.

How was Bin Laden found? Zero Dark Thirty tells us that it was done by the torture of detainees; by the collection and deduction of evidence from dossiers, videos, recorded phone calls and intercepted emails; and by tailing couriers. All of these methods the movie dispassionately records, and it affirms the efficacy of all. The narrative lacks the patience and tightness to illustrate many convincing particulars of the detective work. That it leaves us in the dark, however, is also part of the point. We Americans, the film is saying, must put ourselves in the hands of the experts who have mastered the darkness. In the early minutes, agents are heard speaking fast and very allusively, using names and references no viewer can possibly track, and this works as both a hint and an apology. We watch from the outside, we join the chase in the middle, we should not expect to follow the logic of authorities who are already far advanced.

The routine use of torture is the subject of much of the first half of Zero Dark Thirty. Before writing those parts, the screenwriter Mark Boal evidently picked up some knowledge of the methods the CIA was accused of having employed -- methods it denied having incorporated but which the film (in a tone that cannot be mistaken for accusation) depicts as standard practice. The master technique for destruction of the personalities of the captured was "learned helplessness": a therapy-of-harm first broached in experiments on dogs by the psychologist Martin Seligman. Two freelance entrepreneurs of behavior modification, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, persuaded the CIA to let them instruct agents in how to adapt the technique of learned helplessness for use on the detainees in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. This history was recounted in impressive detail by Jane Mayer in The Dark Side and by Alfred McCoy in A Question of Torture, and Boal's screenplay catches some shadows of the truth that will be read differently by people who know those books. "He has to learn how helpless he is," Maya is told by the agent whose brutal interrogation of a detainee she has just witnessed. "Everybody breaks in the end," the same agent tells a detainee later on. "It's biology." We hear him say to another: "I will break you." One detainee, asked to give up names and addresses to the agents, answers with pained compliance: "I do not want to be tortured again." He confesses, and his information is shown to assist the hunt.

Bigelow and Boal have denied that they meant to show that torture produces the desired information. No viewer of the film, without being primed by that evasion, would suppose the film has a complex attitude here. It suggests that torture is regrettable but necessary (the agent who says he will break his victim also says he needs a rest after months and "100 naked bodies"), and that torture works. Zero Dark Thirty portrays the torture-agents as essentially good people: technicians, working at a grim but unavoidable job. Nowhere do we catch a whiff of sadism or racism or, with the exception of Maya, strong feeling of any kind. Her passion, however, is not for violence as such but for violence (including torture) as a means to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. Among the methods that we see and that, if we identify with Maya, we must countenance as she does, the following are notable: slapping and punching in the face; being hung spread-eagled from the ceiling in wrist stirrups; being shackled in a dog collar and pressed down to the ground on all fours; the water torture ("waterboarding"); being stripped naked below the waist for exposure to the eyes of a woman; confinement in a box the size of a coffin; prolonged sleep-deprivation.

The agents get their first big break when they pull a detainee out of confinement. They give him something decent to eat and talk with him after he has gone 96 hours without sleep. They have realized that in his exhausted and hallucinatory state, they can make him believe that he has already given up information that they want. Once they break his spirit by inducing him to think he betrayed himself, he may soften and be tricked into giving them what they really want. It works. We are made to see a triumph for torture by its long-term effect. Boal, strangely, has defended this moment as a deliberate irony, saying that the information only comes when the agents share with the prisoner "a civilized lunch." Look again at the summary. A civilized lunch? The remark by Boal is a callous flippancy, of a sort the agents themselves in Zero Dark Thirty are never heard to utter. The truth is that they torture him, deprive him of sleep for four days and four nights, threaten him with further torture but convince him he has already confessed much of what they are looking for -- and then he comes over. The method, to repeat, is felt to justify itself by the result. This success is referred to later in the film: "We got it from the detainee."

While watching Zero Dark Thirty in the mood of acceptance it promotes, one can barely recall the emotions that so many felt when the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo first emerged. We saw photographs of the prison guards Lynndie England and Charles Grainer using several of the methods listed above. The shock, at the time, was immediate and universal. The defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was compelled to formulate the tactical response that such practices were an awful aberration. President Bush said that he was horrified but the offenders were a few bad apples. These denials were not altogether believed, but they were allowed to throw a decent cover over the extent of the crimes. Practices that most Americans would not accept, in 2004, Zero Dark Thirty allows us to ratify in 2013 as spectators in the theater.

Maya's reactions to the spectacle of torture are central to that effect. She is present in most of the film. Her responses shape our own -- she is a "reflector" for the audience. When Maya first sees a detainee being tortured, she shrinks a little, pulls back into herself, hugs her elbows to her chest and looks sidelong at the action, rather than face it directly. She takes no pleasure in the brutality; nor do any of the agents. All this part of the movie is airbrushed, half-unreal, even though the scenes are recurrent. Nothing is seen or said about the subsequent fate of the prisoners. It is implied that those who cooperate fare relatively well and those who refuse will be sorry that they refused. Maya, early on, deciding whether to wear a mask while witnessing a torture, asks about the detainee, "Will he ever get out?" The interrogator assures her: "Never." So she looks on with the mask removed, and eventually he is stripped below the waist, for her to look at if she pleases.

Maya's respect for torture, in view of the results it brings, sets a "smart" example for the audience. (She is the cleverest person in the movie.) Meanwhile, the actual brutality that we witness is not especially harsh by the standards of current Hollywood films. We are given to understand that most of the violence against detainees has taken place off camera. The welts may not be pretty, but there are a minimum of shouts and groans, the wrong man is never slapped or beaten. No American speaks for a stance different from Maya's. And yet the history, as recounted by Philippe Sands in The Torture Team, for example, shows that there were such people, both in the CIA and among the military legal counselors who sought to exclude evidence based on torture. Morris Davis, Stephen Abraham, and Alberto Mora are the names of some of them. They ought to be better known, and the president who officially abolished torture should have cared enough to speak such names with gratitude. Perhaps silence is halfway to forgetting. We have come a long road since 2004 to achieve the acceptance that Zero Dark Thirty at once registers and contributes to foster.

Complicity by non-aesthetic sources was required for the success of this film. There was the political complicity of President Obama, along with CIA director Panetta, in 2009, when they assured agents there would be no prosecutions for crimes committed in the previous administration; and the parallel exertions of officials like David Margolis at the justice department's Office of Professional Responsibility, whose 2010 report downgraded the assessment against the torture lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee from violation of professional obligation to "poor judgment." What does this have to do with the making of Zero Dark Thirty? "The sad truth," writes Karen Greenberg in a disturbing analysis, "is that Zero Dark Thirty could not have been produced in its present form if any of the officials who created and implemented U.S. torture policy had been held accountable for what happened, or any genuine sunshine had been thrown upon it." In that case it would have been like making a film about a gangland murder as viewed by the police -- a crime that in real life the police went after -- but showing it in the film as if all the police on the scene had watched and done nothing. Such a film would stand exposed, and the falseness would draw general comment.

Yet regarding the American torture of prisoners, our leading officials said it was wrong, but then did nothing to back their saying so, nothing to prove that we believed it was wrong. The movie if anything endorses an attitude akin to the new president's: acceptance (with distaste) of a new policy of official ban supported by no accountability. For that is the status quo, and Zero Dark Thirty has this curious contradiction at its heart. Whatever can be absorbed into the story of the successful killing now qualifies as a necessary step toward the killing. The mood of self-protective abridgment and untruth was best captured by Barack Obama when he said -- as he often did before and during the 2012 election campaign -- that "we delivered justice to Bin Laden." Delivered justice. The neutralizing abstraction of the phrase, so dear to the president, hovers like a bad angel over the entire length of Zero Dark Thirty.

Another sort of complicity has been observable among the mainstream reviewers of the film. Manohla Dargis, David Denby, Joe Morgenstern, Richard Corliss, A.O. Scott, and others have admired Zero Dark Thirty exorbitantly but have also spoken of finding it "troubling" or "twisted." They wrote as if the twist and trouble were a secondary matter, and aesthetic approval could somehow be passed separately from all that extraneous information. "A seamless weave of truth and drama," Dargis called the movie in the New York Times, in a phrase that is itself a seamless weave of judgment and refusal to judge. She added: "It is hard to imagine anyone watching [the scenes of torture] without feeling shaken or repulsed," but you do not have to imagine such persons: they are all over the comments the film has drawn online. Dargis credits the filmmakers with having shown respect for viewers who are "capable of filling in the blanks"; but was this omission of inconvenient facts a sign of respect, or rather of opportunism mixed with contempt? David Denby in the New Yorker wrote that the film "combines ruthlessness and humanity in a manner that is paradoxical and disconcerting yet satisfying as art." A sporting sentence, but cloudy. You could equally say that the movie "combines gentleness and inhumanity in a manner that is disconcerting yet simple and somehow satisfying as art." A.O. Scott, in counting the "brutal geopolitical thriller" among his top-rated films of 2012, said it was "an attempt to grapple honestly with the moral complexities of the war on terror"; but honest is just what the film is not, if honesty implies candor, completeness, and an educated judgment; and Zero Dark Thirty does not grapple with complexities so much as it submits to convention and myth. The mainstream reviewers were all influenced by the patina of prestige of Kathryn Bigelow, and the knowledge that her last film, The Hurt Locker, another thriller of the war on terror which bears a topical similarity to Zero Dark Thirty, won her an Oscar as best director.
The aesthetic apology signaled by these reviewers, "Nobody here but us artists!", is part of a larger tendency in the entertainment culture. Bigelow herself in defending the movie at first took an aesthetic exemption. An op-ed that she recently wrote for the Los Angeles Times was more elaborate and confused: she now declares that her film is "rigorous" (historically rigorous? logically? morally?) and avows that she is a "lifelong pacifist" who supports "all protests against the use of torture." An interesting profession of faith, and very timely, but she soon goes on to other themes, and speaks for the freedom of the artist, as if someone had threatened to censor her movie. Her column ends by asserting that Bin Laden was "defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines." What Americans could this mean? Anyway the gambit about being a lifelong pacifist is a wild piece of delusion. People who work as entertainers must consent to be judged by their entertainments, since that is how they have their impact, and nobody would mistake Bigelow's oeuvre for the work of a lifelong pacifist. Zero Dark Thirty adds glamour to the push toward counterterrorism, the new form of the war on terror that many in the CIA opposed. Oliver Stone's Salvador and Platoon showed far more anti-war sentiment than The Hurt Locker or Zero Dark Thirty, but if Stone ever begged credit for being a "lifelong pacifist" in the privacy of his mind, people would rightly laugh. Bigelow has elsewhere invoked the neutrality of the I-am-a-camera aesthetic: "depiction," she has said of the scenes of torture witnessed by Maya, "is not endorsement." That is false in many circumstances. If you depict actions once thought to be monstrous, and you do so in a manner that renders them thinkable and even justified, you are going a long way to endorse what you have depicted.

The propaganda value of the female protagonist in a film like this should not be neglected. When Bigelow won her academy award, it was widely treated not only as a feminist triumph but as a special and "gendered" sort of vindication. After all, the director's chosen subject was the male subject of war. She had beaten the men at their own game. And that is what Maya is seen to do in the hunt for Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty. There are four white women who have a noticeable presence in the film, and they are all pictured as quick, intelligent, and watchful. By contrast, the CIA higher-ups who slow Maya's progress or block her path are timeservers; and they are all men. Average officials, half asleep on the job, often glimpsed leaning back in a swivel chair or practicing their golf putts in their office, and treating her fanatical dedication with weary skepticism, the most these men seem capable of is a bureaucratic tantrum now and then. Though this contrast lies a little under the surface, it has doubtless been an element in the reception of Zero Dark Thirty. Maya, as a female agent in the field, is an underdog who can do what others could not do without reproach. Her quality is plain in the first half hour. And the process by which we acquit her runs oddly parallel to the process by which we have spared from blame a young idealistic president who chose to continue many of the same policies that were unconditionally denounced under George W. Bush. It is felt to be different, somehow, when a woman does it, just as it is different when our first black president does it.

The answers given by Bigelow and Boal to justify the normalizing of torture in Zero Dark Thirty have been vain, wheedling, and dodgy. They are a clever pair of filmmakers, without political or moral depth, but here, perhaps more than they realized, they were playing with fire. Zero Dark Thirty integrates torture into the war on terror. It arranges our view of the success of torture in a way that aborts thought. It omits all evidence that after September 11 there were courageous Americans with a conscience who worked against terrorism even as they protested against torture. The filmmakers have said that their approach is "journalistic," and by that they seem to mean that the film imitates what journalism has become. Unfortunately this is true. In fact, the film resembles much of the journalism of the war on terror: cool, wised-up, sure that there are many points of view out there, but "embedded" with American troops because what choice do we have? The film betrays a weak control of its historical materials, but it loves Americans for what we suffered twelve years ago. That will be enough for many. But the deadpan narrative of extrajudicial killings is not going to be experienced in the same way everywhere. It will play differently in Pakistan.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chamorro Sentence Email List

I have a Chamorro Sentence email list. Every day or so I send out an email to everyone on the list featuring a basic sentence in Chamorro. You are encouraged to email back a reply to the sentence to either myself or the entire email list. If is entirely up to you how you want to use the list. You can ask yourself the question and then say your response out loud. You can write it down. You can send it to myself or to others and share your response. Hagu la'mon taimanu na mausa este na lista. 

Here is the sentence that was sent out today. Chamorro Sentence #99:

Hafa i mas ya-mu na fañochuyan Chamorro?

or in English: "What is your favorite Chamorro restaurant?"

If you are interested in joining the list, please send me your email at

Otro fino'-ta: For those interested, Chamorro classes at Java Junction will be starting again this Friday,  January 25th at 12 pm. Classes are free and open to everyone and of all skill levels. The more students we have the more interactive it can be. If enough show up I may divide people into different groups based on their existing learning level.

Si Yu'us Ma'ase.

Resistance in Okinawa

The_Target_Village by LemmyCautionTK

 Please watch this video above. It is subtitled and discusses Okinawan resistance to US bases there, most recently protests about the use of the Osprey in the northern forests.

I will be heading back to Okinawa in March for another study and solidarity tour. I'll be speaking at a Island Language symposium at Ryuku University and visiting programs dedicated to revitalizing the Okinawan language. I'll also be meeting again with anti-base and independence advocates there. I'm also hoping to see more of the museums and cultural areas while I was there. During my last trip I was limited in terms of what I could see because my schedule was so packed. This time I'm hoping there will be more room to negotiate.

For those who want to see my thoughts on my previous two trips to Okinawan please check out the links below:

Occupied Okinawa: My trip in May 2012.
Okinawa Dreams: My trip in November 2011.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Panetta Urges New Focus for NATO

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Jan. 18, 2013 – As the International Security Assistance Force transitions to a sustaining role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, will NATO retreat from its responsibilities, or innovate to develop and share the capabilities needed to meet growing, global security challenges?

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta delivered a speech at King's College here today, built around that question. The audience included students and faculty members of the school's Department of War Studies and the secretary noted it was "especially these young leaders" he wished to address.

The more than 60-year-old NATO alliance "remains the bedrock of America’s global ... partnerships," Panetta said. "But today, after over 11 years of war, I believe we are at another turning point in the history of the transatlantic alliance."
NATO nations came together in 1949 to form a common defense against the monolithic Soviet superpower. Now, Panetta noted, the alliance -- if it is to remain an effective, capable, enduring multilateral security alliance -- must prepare to quickly respond to a wide range of security threats even as member nations, under budget pressures, spend less on their militaries.

"The bottom line is that no one nation can confront the threats ... alone," the secretary said. "We have got to build an innovative, flexible, and rotational model for forward-deployed presence and training.”

In transforming its capabilities, NATO must develop innovative alliance cooperation, invest in new frontiers, and build regional partnerships, he said.

Innovative cooperation, Panetta said, involves positioning and equipping forces so they can respond to threats rapidly and effectively. For example, he noted, the Defense Department has moved two heavy Army brigades out of Europe.

"But ... this effort is not primarily about cuts," he said. "We will be supporting new rotational deployments, enhanced training and exercises, and other new initiatives that bolster the readiness of our forces and build their capacity to seamlessly work together."

The secretary listed some of those U.S. initiatives: deploying ballistic missile defense-equipped [Aegis] destroyers to Rota, Spain; establishing a new U.S. aviation detachment in Poland; and deploying U.S. Army battalions on a rotational basis to participate in the NATO Response Force.
"We are making tangible investments in these new forms of cooperation to make the alliance more responsive and more agile," the secretary said. "And we are doing so in a cost-effective way that meets our fiscal responsibilities."

Turning to "new frontiers," Panetta urged NATO commitment to cyber defense.

"For years, I have been deeply concerned by intellectual property theft, by attacks against private sector institutions, and the continued probing of military and critical infrastructure networks," he said. Panetta said cyber- attacks could "paralyze our economies" and potentially destroy national power grids, government systems, financial and banking networks.

"That technology is real and threatening today," Panetta said. "As societies that rely on cyberspace, Europe and the United States have more to gain from stronger cyber security than anyone else. And our economies are so interdependent; failing to act together could leave all of us dangerously exposed."

NATO must consider what its role should be in defending member nations from cyber attacks, the secretary said.

"We must begin to take the necessary steps to develop additional alliance cyber defense capabilities," he said. "To that end, I urge that in the coming year [that] NATO ministers hold a session to closely examine how the alliance can bolster its defensive cyber operational capabilities."

Other key capabilities for the future that require investment, Panetta said, include unmanned systems, surveillance and intelligence platforms, space defense and special operations forces.

"The time has come when nations can share critical capabilities ... that enhance [our common] ability to ... respond to common threats," he said.

Panetta said the third pillar for building the transatlantic alliance of the 21st century "must be a determined and proactive effort to build strong partnerships with nations and security organizations in other regions of the world."

The purpose of such an approach would not be to build a global NATO, Panetta said, but to help other regions provide for their own security and become more capable of partnering with NATO to meet global challenges.

"We see this every day in Afghanistan, where more than 20 non-NATO countries -- Australia, Jordan, others -- work alongside NATO countries in ISAF," he said. "And we saw the benefits of this approach in our Libya [operation] as well, where the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council partnered with Europe and North America under a NATO umbrella to protect the Libyan people. The presence of these regional partners has added credibility and capability to the alliance effort, and laid the groundwork for continued cooperation in the future."

And as NATO confronts other security challenges in Africa and the Middle East, Panetta recommended the establishment of "deeper partnerships with the Arab League [and] the Gulf Cooperation Council and build regular dialogue, exchanges and exercises with African organizations such as the African Union and ECOWAS in Western Africa."

NATO also must broaden the scope of alliance security discussions beyond European and regional issues, the secretary said.

"In particular, I strongly believe that Europe should join the United States in increasing and deepening our defense engagement with the Asia-Pacific region," Panetta said.

The U.S. "pivot" to Asia has caused concern in Europe, he acknowledged.

"But today those concerns should be put to rest," Panetta said. "Global security is not a zero-sum game, but neither are the security commitments of the United States. More importantly, Europe’s economic and security future is -- much like the United States' -- increasingly tied to Asia. After all, the European Union is China’s largest trading partner, [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations'] second-largest trading partner, and ranks third and fourth with Japan and South Korea."

It is in the interests of both the United States and Europe, the secretary said, for NATO to become more outwardly focused and engaged in strengthening Asian security institutions such as ASEAN.
"It is also in our interest to expand defense dialogue and exchanges with a full range of nations including China, where defense spending, according to one estimate, is projected to exceed the largest eight European nations combined, by 2015," the secretary said.

NATO member nations have a responsibility to demonstrate global leadership and to advance the ideals of peace and prosperity, he said.

"To that end, the United States and Europe should work together and ensure our efforts are coordinated through regular consultations between European and U.S. defense officials focused on Asia-Pacific security issues," Panetta said. "The bottom line is that Europe should not fear our rebalance to Asia, Europe should join it."

In NATO, the world has a model for how nations can come together to advance global peace and prosperity, he said, but the alliance "must be strong enough and bold enough to change."

The secretary said after spending this week in Southern Europe, and continuing to deal with budget uncertainty at home, "I am very clear-eyed about the fiscal pressures nations are facing."

NATO nations are facing a crisis, Panetta said. "But we must never allow any crisis to undermine our collective resolve," he said.

As he prepares to retire from a career in public service, the secretary said he recognizes a generational shift is underway.

"There will probably not be another U.S. secretary of defense with direct memories of World War II," he said. "Many of those entering military service today -- and many of the young students here in this audience -- were born years after the fall of the Berlin wall. Yet across the generations, the transatlantic alliance remains the rock upon which we will build our future security and our future prosperity."

Panetta said his generation's mission was to secure a better and safer life for their children.

"That is now your mission and your responsibility," he told the students in the audience. "History will ultimately define our legacy, for better or for worse. Your job is now to make your own legacy. The future security of nations in the 21st century rests on whether you decide to fight together or fight separately. That decision rests with all of you."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Remembering Russell Means

Remembering Russell Means

October 31, 2012
By Tom Hayden
26 October, 2012
The Nation
Russell Means, who died on Tuesday, kept a place here in Santa Monica in recent years, with his wife, Pearl. Once my wife Barbara and I took our son Liam for a visit to meet this man we described as having fought a real war against the government. Still in good health a couple of years ago, Russell took great interest in our 10-year-old, as he did in all kids trying to understand the actual history of our country.

Russell was a strong, imposing figure. It wasn’t only his braided hair or the beads around his neck; his clear eyes gazed as if it was 1873. He had Liam’s attention. When they shook hands, Russell told Liam that his grip needed to be firmer, he should stand up straight, and that he always should look the other person straight in the eye. Our son will not forget the quiet authority this man quietly commanded.

Russell had that effect on people, the presence of a nineteenth-century warrior still alive as a force in the here and now. He touched millions.

I therefore was quite shocked to see Russell with Pearl in a local restaurant a few months later, gaunt and frail from cancer. I didn’t quite recognize him. He told me the diagnosis was terminal, and that he was living on tribal remedies and prayer. His face should have been on Mr. Rushmore. The great law of mortality would prevail where the Great White Father had failed, and Russell soon would enter the spirit world. He knew his time on earth was ending, eating eggs in an Ocean Park cafe.

My wife, a descendant of the Oglala Nation, and our son, were blessed to know him even briefly. My old friends Bill Zimmerman and Larry Levin were touched enough to fly a plane with supplies into Wounded Knee when the fight was on. Governor Jerry Brown was courageous enough to harbor Russell in California when South Dakota wanted him extradited. Tim Carpenter, now of PDA, was inspired enough in 1971 to march across the United States on the latter-day Trail of Tears. Russell, the imprisoned Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement led many to try repealing the past. “No More Broken Treaties” was the slogan of the Indochina Peace Campaign at the time of the Paris Peace Agreement, a reminder of the 371 solemn pacts violated by the US government during the earlier Indian Wars. One of the most momentous violations was that of the 1868 Treaty of Laramie guaranteeing Sioux Nation ownership of the Black Hills, now the center of a vast corporate energy domain. That violation aroused a new generation of native American warriors.

The fundamental difference between a truthful, radical interpretation of US history and a merely progressive or liberal one is how deeply one understands that our permanent original sin, even preceding slavery, was a genocide against native people that underlay the the later growth of democratic rights. That truth is what is “buried at Wounded Knee”, what Russell Means’ war for recognition was all about, and why he will be long remembered by my son.

Until we in America finally accept and redeem the moral debasement of a Conquest that still underlies the achievement of democracy, our blindness will lead us into one war after another against indigenous tribes and clans in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Asia, Africa and Latin America, all stemming from a denial of our own blood-stained origins.

Russell was a reminder that the wars against indigenous people, and the conquest of their resources, are far from over, and that we cannot be fully human until remorse with our eyes wide open allows the possibility of reconciliation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ancient Chamorro Cameos

Have you ever watched a movie or a television show where the main characters, the regular cast who you are supposed to digest aren't that interesting or engaging? Is it ever the case where minor characters, even those who maybe appear for just a scene or two, with simple cameos are more enticing? Even though they only appear for the briefest of moments, they are more interesting and draw your gaze more than those who lounge about on the screen seemingly without purpose.

If you want to experience that feeling alot I suggest you start to read up on the early days of Spanish colonization of Guam. We know about those days through the accounts of Spanish missionaries and military officers. They wrote about their day to day activities, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and the lives of Chamorros around them. They were not anthropologists, they were not journalists and they were all incredibly racist and imperialistic. They did not see Chamorros through clear eyes, nor did they write about them with clear eyes. They saw Chamorros as mostly devil, the only thing of value was the tiny dot of their soul. So long as that was saved the flesh could be poisoned, tortured, mutilated or anything else. Needless to say the way they treated Chamorros was not fair, and this extended to the way they wrote about them.

In those early days, the Spanish wrote about themselves as if they were super heroes, all doing Herculean tasks in terms of fighting the devil. They propose themselves as the epic stalwart heroes, but in truth they are boring and pretty uninteresting. They are completely oblivious to the culture they are ravaging, completely detached from the pain and misery they are causing. It is almost nauseating to pore through their cluelessness and imagine how some people, especially historians take these sources seriously. They may have some facts, but the amount of commentary and prejudice literally drips from the pages.

The treatment of Chamorros is very inconsistent. For those close to the new church, they get the treated like royal tokens. They get praised and given fancy nicknames. They are placed as minor lights that shine in these lands of devilish darkness. For others whom the missionaries hated, pages and pages are devoted to them and to decrying and defaming them. But for most Chamorros, they are given a cameo in the story. A single, simple detail of their existence, and rarely a name, but usually just a village is given to identify them. It may be a random Chamorro who attacks a soldier. Or a random Chamorro who brings their child forth to be baptized. A Chamorro who had a vision and came to be converted. A Chamorro who spat upon the priests and is later executed.

This period is filled with Ancient Chamorro cameos. People who play crucial roles in the telling and re-telling of how Catholicism comes to Guam, but are denied any real substantive existence. They come and they go. They are pushed onto stage and then yanked away after they have served their purpose and muttered their lines. They are, because of their stolen glory, their muted aura, far more interesting than the priests and soldiers that are paraded about as the heroes of the time.

As I was thinking about this cameo like nature that Chamorros were condemned too, one name popped into my mind, that of Maga'lahi Aghao. Aghao's claim to fame is his attendance at a meeting with Maga'lahi Hurao in 1672. The Catholic priests called this meeting in order to discuss peace. Just the year before Hurao had formed a coalition that attacked the Spanish and laid siege to them in Hagatna, almost wiping them out. During the meeting the Spanish soldiers opened fire shooting Hurao and another unnamed elder in the back. Ahgao pulled out his gachai or adze and fought off the Spanish soldiers until he made it to the river in Hagatna, where he dove in a swam away. The Spanish accounts don't give us any further information on Ahgao, as to what happened before this moment and what happened after.

For those who would like to learn more about Maga'lahi Ahgao, here is a passage from Maga'lahi Ed Benavente's book, I Manmanaina-ta: I Manmaga'lahi yan i Manma'gas ; Geran Chamoru yan Espanot. 


Matatnga na må’gas Si Ahgao. Sesso di mumu kontra I Españot gi manmaloffan na tiempo. Ma nota gi 13 gi Måyu gi 1672 na såkkan na sumaonao humunta para u fanakonfotma pas ya mandaña’ Si Ahgao, Si Hurao yan un bachet åmko’, yan noskuantos na påle’ yan 27 na sindalun Españot. Manhuhunta gi halom guma’ påle’ pues gotpe ha’ sin hafa rason manmanugon I sindalon Españot ya ma tutuhun manmamamaki. Ma paki Si Hurao yan I bachet na åmko’ gi tatalo’-ñiha. Achapoddong ha’ I dos ya matai. Guihi ha’ na momento ha laknos I gachai-ña Si Ahgao ya ha difende gui’ kontra I sindålu siha. Sigi di sumeha Si Ahgao esta ki humihot gui’ guatu gi saddok Hagatña ya ayu nai ha yute’ gui’ pappa’ gi halom I hanom yan muñangu para I otro banda. Tåya’ mas madokumenta put hafa humuyong-ña Si Maga’låhi Ahgao gi duranten I Geran Chamoru yan Españot.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Blame the Local

Karlo Dizon had a column in the PDN yesterday that disappointed me.

I was told by so many people during the election last year that Karlo Dizon is smart and someone with a real future in Guam politics. When I heard him speak during the campaign I found his emphasis on data and statistic to be interesting and in a way refreshing, but also worried that this would make him too "wonky." The eternal debate that takes place within voters is whether to vote for someone who is 1. better/smarter than they are, 2. someone they see as their equals, 3. someone that they see as being inferior to them and therefore makes themselves feel superior. For someone like Barack Obama, many people vote for him because of that feeling that he is more intelligent and articulate than they are and that is the way a leader should be. For someone like George W. Bush, alot of his popularity comes from the feeling of him being equal to or inferior to voters. Bush was safe, he didn't make you feel stupid, but actually made you feel good about yourself, in a very twisted and strange way.

To portray yourself as capable and intelligent means to walk a very thin line. Voters may feel inspired by you and see you as a leader, or they may feel alienated by you. I saw this dynamic very much at play in how Dizon interacted with the public.

I was disappointed because while I have been told so much about the intelligence of Dizon, his column in the PDN didn't illustrate this. In fact, this column seemed to indicate the opposite.

The column, as I'll paste below, is titled "Many Away Military Relocation." It talks about the responses to the military buildup during the most recent scoping meetings held over the summer. He divides the comments that were provided into different groups, and argues that clearly the majority of Guam's people support the military buildup and that it is only a small minority who actually oppose it. As he writes, "the [military buildup] has been held up because of the reservations of a vocal few."

He goes on to provide an economic portrait in relation to the United States and proposes that the buildup be a good way to shore up the island economically. It would have brought in new demand, new jobs, new spending and helped diversify the local markets. He even throws in a line about patriotism and concludes in a customary way by invoking the durability of Guam's people, who have been capable of surviving so much in the past. Your are meant to infer that the buildup, in its negative conceptualizations, is just one of those things the people here have shown they are adept at accepting and enduring.

I will grant that Dizon's article is much more intelligent than most who have written similar sort of "let's get the buildup up started and stop messing around!" pieces. Others have written columns or letters which are simply embarrassing. Their inability to recognize basic facts about the universe when they are attempting to articulate their position makes you wonder if someone has to help them brush their teeth in the morning. Dizon isn't in that camp, but there is an intellectual weakness in this column, an accepting of a certain ideological narrative about the buildup that has long since been disproven and is almost pointless to even ground your argument upon. It is one thing that make an argument that the buildup will be good for Guam. That is something you can assert and it can be debated and different sides can bring in their points. It is not something where my side or any other side can claim the definitive truth on the matter. Even if I feel that the negatives of the buildup far outweigh the positives, I have to admit there are positives and so there is alot of room in this discussion for many sides to air their concerns or push their ideological positions.

What is problematic about Dizon's column and so many others is the way they incorporate the local aspects into their analysis of the military buildup and the way it was proposed and the way it was protested and the reasons why it has stalled and sputtered in terms of happening. I have written about this extensively on my blog and in my Marianas Variety column.

The way some people talk about the buildup and how if only we hadn't protested so much, and if only we had appeared more appreciative and not listened to that crazy minority, then so many of our problems right now would be solved and we'd be so much happier. This sounds like so many family stories about the one chance that they had. That piece of land they sold. That opportunity they didn't take. These personal counterfactuals always haunt us, but they are rarely true. It is true things could have been different, but how does your obsessiveness over that missed opportunity prevent you from recognizing the reality around you? Or dealing with it? How do these lamentations over how Guam shouldn't have been against the buildup or was never really against the buildup prevent people today from seeing things as they are, and instead trap them in a ridiculous fantasy where they feel like they should take responsibility for mistakes that don't really exist?

That may have been incredibly abstract, but this is the nature of the fantasy. It is akin to the way that people on Guam blamed Angel Santos and Nasion Chamoru for "chasing away" the US Navy and leading them to downsize and close NAS in central Guam. This belief has very little to do with the historical reality, but it gave people something to think about and talk about, that they felt was real in a visceral way, it was just unfortunately a massive waste of time if you were actually trying to understand why the bases were closed. The same goes for the military buildup. In a colonial situation it is natural to see the stain of negativity, the source of societal breakdown as always originating in a local context. We are predisposed to blaming ourselves for things, even if the truth is spitting in our face and showing us otherwise.

Here are some points to consider when discussing the military buildup and its local aspects. If someone is attempting to circumvent these points then they are not accepting the truth of things, plain and simple. 

1. The breakdowns or "hold up" in terms of the military buildup have little or nothing to do with what people on Guam feel or want. They are all related to problems elsewhere. Even if the island had offered lap dances to every Marine that was supposed to be transferred, the breakdown in the process still would have happened because the ultimate decisions are made based on factors of which Guam is a minute part, just simply territory that can be utilized.

2. This is a problem in and of itself, and one reason people began to become critical about the buildup. How could you support something so massive happening to the island and we not having any real say or power in the process?

3. Whether people support or the buildup or not is irrelevant in terms of whether or not it is good for the island. These are seperate issues.

4. The majority of concerns and critiques that were raised by those questioning the buildup have been vindicated over and over again. Whether or not they are a majority or minority, the critics of the buildup were absolutely right. The buildup was unworkable and terribly planned. Proponents of the buildup attempted to pretend otherwise or that there was nothing to worry about. The critics said it wouldn't work and would cause problems and they have been right.


"Many await military relocation"
 by Karlo Dizon

The July 2012 Public Scoping Summary Report released for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the military relocation categorized the concerns of 355 individuals who attended the scoping meeting at the University of Guam field house.

Eighty-four of the comments were on preferred alternatives by the respective speakers. Fifty-six, comprising the second highest category, expressed dissatisfaction with the appropriation of land near Route 15, currently being occupied by a race track. These commenters indicated that street racing would increase should the race track be taken away, and 151 others expressed their reservations via e-mail or post.

In sum, roughly 500 individuals, or about 0.3 percent of our community of 180,000, felt compelled to attend the meeting or express their opinion despite widespread invitation by the Department of Defense. Of those solicited, 10 percent indicated recreational concerns.

The level of public participation at the scoping meeting reflects the recurring truth that, empirically speaking, the people of Guam have mostly been supportive of the relocation. The project has been held up because of the reservations of a vocal few.

With half the GDP per capita of the continental United States, Guam has long been burdened by lower quality of life compared to the mainland despite prices that are high in comparison. Most middle-class families across the island have viewed the relocation not with animosity but with curiosity because of its possibility of a break from the norm.

Primarily, many anticipated its promise of job creation and industrial growth.

Whether directly or not, the initial projected relocation of over 20,000 servicemen and their families -- an injection of 20,000 new middle- to upper-middle-class consumers -- would have jump-started the expansion of new markets, from retail to finance. Although concerns over environmental harm and cultural preservation remain valid, those in the community witnessed firsthand instead companies setting up local branches of mainland corporations who would otherwise not have invested in an economy that has stagnated beyond tourism and customer service.

While news of tourist highs and unemployment lows in fiscal year 2012 are certainly welcome, growth nevertheless is still constrained within few sectors. Young people seeking professions beyond retail, service or GovGuam still must pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Rapid market expansion as expected by the initial relocation plans would have shaken up established economic bases of power. New demand would have demanded new supply, sparking new sources of competition that would have cracked the island's oligopolies, from health care to consumer retail. As in any other context, significant economic change would have lead to significant political change as well.

Despite the cuts, many in the community remain in silent anticipation of the relocation. We have always been an island proud of our military service and our tradition of patriotic loyalty to the United States.

Time will tell whether the recent election, encompassing the legislative to the congressional races, was a referendum on our leaders' approach to the relocation. But if Guam's varied history has proven anything, it is our people's capacity to embrace and eventually inculcate transformative change.

Karlo Dizon serves as committee director for the Committee on U.S. Military Relocation, Homeland Security, Veterans' Affairs and the Judiciary under Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. and was a candidate for delegate to Congress. He holds a B.A. in political science from Yale University and a master's in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.

Friday, January 11, 2013


For a person of any ethnicity undergoing an identity crisis, there are various stages that you must go through in your search for answers. Some of these stages you may move through quickly, others you may spent more time in, you may find your way to a new space and then decide you don't like it and then turn around and return to a previous point in your journey.

For those who feel that they have been deprived of a cultural identity one stage that they must pass through, but which can be fairly dangerous, is the "uniku" stage, or unique stage. Their feelings of loss can come from many sources. They can be from the diaspora and feel like this barrier of oceans or continents stands between them and their identity. It can be an issue of dominant society blocking cultural expression and making them, their parents or their community feel like their cultural has to be neutralized or sterilized before it can be passed on. It can even be a railing and rallying against history itself. A angry sort of tirade at how history has cursed you and deprived you for your culture where as so many others get to enjoy their culture freely and happily. The particularities for how you interpret your loss aren't really that important. What matters is that you feel a need to fill yourself and then represent not just yourself, but the larger cultural collective that you feel you need to belong to.

As you seek to collect whatever fragments of your culture that you can, whatever pieces that are appropriate and seem to fit, one of the first instincts that you'll feel is towards hunting uniqueness. You are looking for answers to hayi mismo hao? yan ginnen manu hao mismo? Who you are and where you really come from? The answers you are searching for must of such an intimate quality, that they must feel as if they are special to you, made solely for you, made only for you and the community you are a part of. As a result your search will often be based on levels of acceptable purity. You will look for things that are strictly Chamorro. Things that are unique to Guam, to the Marianas, to Chamorros, that no one else can justly claim to be theirs. You will hunt for that which no one can claim to be "maayao" or "mestiso" or "ti magahet" or "ti mismo." You will sift through whatever you find for the fragments that carry the most purity, the most ability to represent who you are supposed to be with as little stain of any other culture or any other history as possible.

Part of that initial exploration of external and internal discovery is finding something to be proud of that is iyo-mu ha', yours alone. But what unfortunately gets conflated in this endeavor is the notion that what is yours must be unique or must be pure. At this stage what you find couldn't be shared with any others or couldn't belong to anyone else as well.

This stage is natural, but it is not healthy to remain at this stage. It is something that is necessary early on in order to start seeing things associated with your culture as being valuable, but treading too deep into ideas of purity and uniqueness will end up hurting you in the long run. If you remain in that position too long, you are not longer a native searching for your identity, you become a native trapped in the gaze of the anthropologist. You aren't searching for what is true to you anymore, but you are instead searching for something that is true to a long disproven notion of cultural purity.

Anthropologists traveled the world looking for primitive, backwards and different cultures, they searched and wrote about things based not simply on what they found, but what they found that was “unique” to this culture. One of the reasons that Chamorros have been largely left out of the history of the Pacific (made by both native peoples and non-native peoples) is because anthropologists and historians deemed them (because of colonization and change in culture and language) as not existing anymore, and not possessing anything which would either make them unique or make them Chamorro.

For Chamorros and for other indigenous groups, it is important that we do not continue this colonial game by only embracing the things which “make us unique” but rather confront all aspects of Chamorro culture, and then make decisions based on what should stay, what should be changed, what should be fought for and defended, and what should be rejected. You shouldn't stay at this stage of cultural purity because it is something that reflects in very limited ways your history or your experience. Cultures, even those that are "isolated" are still very diverse. There are no cultures where everyone does the same thing, believes the same thing and so on. To restrict your search in such ways means that you may only "discover" a tiny fraction of yourself or where you come from. To be enamored by such purity you will also end up creating the identity you seek as being a very fragile and weak brand. Because it is only comprised of things that are pure or unique, it means that the potentiality or the possibility for Chamorros are limited as well. When confronting the challenges of life or seeking ways to express yourself or articulate yourself, can you only use those things that are unique? Does that meant the Chamorro is prohibited from learning, growing, adapting?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

We Do Not Support the Troops

I Do Not Support the Troops

Why those who say "I Support the Troops" really don't

I don't support the troops, America, and neither do you. I am tired of the ruse we are playing on these brave citizens in our armed forces. And guess what -- a lot of these soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines see right through the bull**** of those words, "I support the troops!," spoken by Americans with such false sincerity -- false because our actions don't match our words. These young men and women sign up to risk their very lives to protect us -- and this is what they get in return:1. They get sent off to wars that have NOTHING to do with defending America or saving our lives. They are used as pawns so that the military-industrial complex can make billions of dollars and the rich here can expand their empire. By "supporting the troops," that means I'm supposed to shut up, don't ask questions, do nothing to stop the madness, and sit by and watch thousands of them die? Well, I've done an awful lot to try and end this. But the only way you can honestly say you support the troops is to work night and day to get them out of these hell holes they've been sent to. And what have I done this week to bring the troops home? Nothing. So if I say "I support the troops," don't believe me -- I clearly don't support the troops because I've got more important things to do today, like return an iPhone that doesn't work and take my car in for a tune up.

2. While the troops we claim to "support" are serving their country, bankers who say they too "support the troops," foreclose on the actual homes of these soldiers and evict their families while they are overseas! Have I gone and stood in front of the sheriff's deputy as he is throwing a military family out of their home? No. And there's your proof that I don't "support the troops," because if I did, I would organize mass sit-ins to block the doors of these homes. Instead, I'm having Chilean sea bass tonight.

3. How many of you who say you "support the troops" have visited a VA hospital to bring aid and comfort to the sick and wounded? I haven't. How many of you have any clue what it's like to deal with the VA? I don't. Therefore, you would be safe to say that I don't "support the troops," and neither do you.

4. Who amongst you big enthusiastic "supporters of the troops" can tell me the approximate number of service women who have been raped while in the military? Answer: 19,000 (mostly) female troops are raped or sexually assaulted every year by fellow American troops. What have you or I done to bring these criminals to justice? What's that you say -- out of sight, out of mind? These women have suffered, and I've done nothing. So don't ever let me get away with telling you I "support the troops" because, sadly, I don't. And neither do you.

5. Help a homeless vet today? How 'bout yesterday? Last week? Last year? Ever? But I thought you "support the troops!"? The number of homeless veterans is staggering -- on any given night, at least 60,000 veterans are sleeping on the streets of the country that proudly "supports the troops." This is disgraceful and shameful, isn't it? And it exposes all those "troop supporters" who always vote against social programs that would help these veterans. Tonight there are at least 12,700 Iraq/Afghanistan veterans homeless and sleeping on the street. I've never lent a helping hand to one of the many vets I've seen sleeping on the street. I can't bear to look, and I walk past them very quickly. That's called not "supporting the troops," which, I guess, I don't -- and neither do you.

6. And you know, the beautiful thing about all this "support" you and I have been giving the troops -- they feel this love and support so much, a record number of them are killing themselves every single week. In fact, there are now more soldiers killing themselves than soldiers being killed in combat (323 suicides in 2012 through November vs. about 210 combat deaths). Yes, you are more likely to die by your own hand in the United States military than by al Qaeda or the Taliban. And an estimated eighteen veterans kill themselves each day, or one in five of all U.S. suicides -- though no one really knows because we don't bother to keep track. Now, that's what I call support! These troops are really feeling the love, people! Lemme hear you say it again: "I support the troops!" Louder! "I SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!" There, that's better. I'm sure they heard us. Don't forget to fly our flag, wear your flag lapel pin, and never, ever let a service member pass you by without saying, "Thank you for your service!" I'm sure that's all they need to keep from putting a bullet in their heads. Do your best to keep your "support" up for the troops because, God knows, I certainly can't any longer.

I don't "support the troops" or any of those other hollow and hypocritical platitudes uttered by Republicans and frightened Democrats. Here's what I do support: I support them coming home. I support them being treated well. I support peace, and I beg any young person reading this who's thinking of joining the armed forces to please reconsider. Our war department has done little to show you they won't recklessly put your young life in harm's way for a cause that has nothing to do with what you signed up for. They will not help you once they've used you and spit you back into society. If you're a woman, they will not protect you from rapists in their ranks. And because you have a conscience and you know right from wrong, you do not want yourself being used to kill civilians in other countries who never did anything to hurt us. We are currently involved in at least a half-dozen military actions around the world. Don't become the next statistic so that General Electric can post another record profit -- while paying no taxes -- taxes that otherwise would be paying for the artificial leg that they've kept you waiting for months to receive.

I support you, and will try to do more to be there for you. And the best way you can support me -- and the ideals our country says it believes in -- is to get out of the military as soon as you can and never look back.

And please, next time some "supporter of the troops" says to you with that concerned look on their face, "I thank you for your service," you have my permission to punch their lights out (figuratively speaking, of course).

(There is something I've done to support the troops -- other than help lead the effort to stop these senseless wars. At the movie theater I run in Michigan, I became the first person in town to institute an affirmative action plan for hiring returning Iraq/Afghanistan vets. I am working to get more businesses in town to join with me in this effort to find jobs for these returning soldiers. I also let all service members in to the movies for free, everyday.)

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker.  See more of his work at his website

Monday, January 07, 2013

A Song for Tupac Amaru

Today in class will be learning about the Wars Against Spain in the early 19th century. It is a period where Spain loses all of its colonies in Latin American (except for the Caribbean) in less than 30 years. In order to understand the roots of those anti-colonial wars we need to understand the indigenous forms of resistance that continued for centuries even after Spain had colonized, converted and enslaved most of Latin America.

We'll be learning today about Tupac Amaru II who led an uprising against the Spanish in 1780. Below is a song written by Alejandro Romualdo that I sometimes share with my students.

And hunggan, kumayu Si Tupac Amaru yan Si Tupac Shakur. Tupac Shakur was named after Tupac Amaru. 


By Alejandro Romualdo Valle

Lo harán volar con dinamita.
En masa, lo cargarán, lo arrastrarán.
A golpes le llenarán de pólvora la boca.
Lo volarán:
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

They will blow him with dynamite.
As one mass, they will lift him, they will drag him.
As they beat him, will fill his mouth with gunpowder.
They will blow him up:
And they won't be able to kill him!

Le pondrán de cabeza
Le quitarán sus deseos, sus dientes y gritos.
Lo patearán a toda furia. Luego,
lo sangrarán:
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

They will place him upside down.
Will take away his desires, his teeth and his cries.

They will kick him with all fury.
Then, will have him bleeding:
And they will not be able to kill him!

Coronarán con sangre su cabeza;
sus pómulos con golpes. Y con clavos sus costillas.
Le harán morder el polvo.
Lo golpearán:
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

They will crown his head with blood,

his cheekbones, with beatings. And his ribs with nails.
They will make him bite the ground.
They will beat him:
And they won't be able to kill him!

Le sacarán los sueños y los ojos.
Querrán descuartizarlo grito a grito.
Lo escupirán. Y a golpe de matanza,
lo clavarán:
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

They will pull out his dreams and eyes.
They will want to massacre him cry after cry.
They will spit on him. Attempting to murder him,
they will crucify him.
And they won't be able to kill him!

Lo pondrán en el centro de la plaza,
boca arriba mirando el infinito.
Le amarrarán los miembros. A la mala,
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

They will bring him to the center of the square,
his face up looking to the infinity.

They will tight his arms and legs up. Badly,

they will pull them apart:
And they won't be able to kill him!

Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo.
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo.
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo.

They will want to blow him apart and they won't be able to blow him apart.
They will want to tear him up and they they won't be able to tear him up.

They will want to kill him and they won't be able to kill him.

Querrán descuartizarlo, triturarlo,
mancharlo, pisotearlo, desalmarlo.

They will want to dismember him, crush him,
stain him, step on him, take his soul away.

Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo.
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo.
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo.

They will want to blow him apart and they won't be able to blow him apart.
They will want to tear him up and they they won't be able to tear him up.

They will want to kill him and they won't be able to kill him.

Al tercer día de sus sufrimientos,
cuando se crea todo consumado,
gritando ¡LIBERTAD! sobre la tierra,
ha de volver:
¡Y no podrán matarlo!

At the third day of suffering,
when everything is believed to be consummated,
shouting: Freedom! above groun,
he must return:

And they won't be able to kill him!

Invasion of Guam

Found this picture on Tumblr of all places.

It is of the USS New Mexico preparing for the Invasion of Guam in 1944.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Finacebook Yu'

Guaha iyo-ku Facebook pa'go.

Pues an malago' hao sina un "add" yu' guihi.

Estaba guaha iyo-ku Facebook, lao meggai matulaika desde ayu na tiempo.

Meggai nuebu na patte, ya siempre bei linemlem ni ayu.

Para kuatro anos ilek-hu, "mungga yu' Facebook!"

Buente un faisen maimaisa hao, "Hafa tumulaika i hinasso-mu?"

Ti siguru yu'.

I nobia-hu guaha iyo-na Facebook ya ya-na mampost litratu guihi.

I meggaina na atungo'-hu siha esta manggaige siha gi Facebook.

Guaha na biahi ti ma na'saonao yu' gi i diniskuti gi i dinana' put i tinaigue-ku guihi.

Estaba na'bubu este yan lalalo yu' yan desganao.

Lao pa'go na'triste ha' este.

Puede ha' mohon na sina manachetton ham ta'lo yan i manatungo'-hu siha. 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Hell on Earth

In my World History class recently we discussed the Congo Free State.

In my Guam History and World History classes I often create strange lists for students in order to understand the ways in which I see the history that I'm teaching. For Guam History I have two main lists, "The Most Heroic Chamorros That You've Never Heard Of" which features figures Chamorros from Guam History who were heroic and brave and accomplished great things, but don't fit into the usual historical narratives and are either accidentally or intentionally erased. I also have a list "The Assholes of Guam History" which has you might guess is a list of all the jerks in Guam's History. The people who have oppressed Chamorros, slaughtered them, held them back and just caused all sorts of problems. Some of them are Chamorro but most of them are non-Chamorros.

These lists evolve as my understanding and knowledge evolve. For example many years ago if I was coming up with an Asshole of Guam History list I might have placed Magellan high on the list. He was the first European to find Guam and it is because of him that the island got the label "Island of Thieves." He did "put Guam on the map" as everyone and their cousin and uncle and achakma' is fond of saying, but in truth other than killing some Chamorros and burning down a village his impact was relatively minor. Even though Magellan found Guam the Spanish did not colonized for another 147 years and they only colonized it because one man, Diego San Vitores was insist that the Chamorros there not be allowed to live in simplicity and savage freedom, but be forcibly converted to Christianity. Although Magellan is far more notorious, San Vitores did much more objective harm to the people. The history whereby Chamorros eventually accept Catholicism is irrelevant in determining level of assholeness here. You cannot justify actions because they created you or you don't want the alternative that might exist if they did not, you have to think of them in that context and whether they were right or whether they were the actions of racist, immoral jerks.

For the heroes I have a list of "hipster" options for those interested in Guam History, but would like to invest themselves in things that make them look different, cool or unique. People like Hurao and Mata'pang are already too well known. Choosing them as your heroes is like naming your kid Tasi or Ha'ani. It may have been cool when the only Ancient Chamorro people knew was Kepuha and when having a Chamorro name meant naming your kid "Maria" or "Inocencia" but things have changed quite a bit since then. These are figures who are so heroic that they might have even defied conventional wisdom at the time and been banished from history. They are those who may not fit in with the typical historical narratives that historians use to tell Guam's history and so they are edited out in order to keep things nice and tidy.

A figure who often tops my list of Chamorro heroes that no one knows about is Jose Salas. He was a Chamorro serving in the Spanish military who participated in an alleged overthrow of the Spanish government in 1884. He and several others allegedly plotted to overthrow the Spanish government on island by assassinating key figures over the course of a single night. Different soldiers had different targets, apparently Jose Salas, whose target with the Spanish Governor himself, went through with the plan. Him and four others were executed by firing squad in Hagatna after being put on trial in the Philippines. Despite Salas going so far to kill the chief executive in Guam in an attempt to overthrow the Spanish and assert Chamorro sovereignty, he is barely discussed in Guam History.

For my world history classes my lists are naturally different. I treat world history with less intimacy since we travel around the globe visiting different locales, some of which my students know little to nothing about. I used to provide a list of "Messiahs" from world history. These were people who offered visions of a different, better world, which became attractive to suffering masses or people hungry for change that they eventually developed huge followings and sometimes even had their own armies and conquered lands. Some of the figures we discuss are Wovoka, Hong Xiuquan and Nat Turner.

These are important figures in the way they animate the obscene dimensions of certain historical periods. They may have been futures that were not allowed to exist, but because of the way they were sometimes very brutally destroyed, they can help us understand the historical better. There are never just two sides to a story. There are always multiple public versions of a story and then you have the obscene aspects that most don't want to address.

Since the way I teach about recent world history is centered around "colonization" and "liberation" we focus alot on violence and the ways in which colonization allowed different peoples to be treated in subhuman ways, and how this was rationalized in social, political, religious, cultural and even scientific ways. This led naturalized systems of oppression, but in some instance it also lead to the places you could call "hell on earth." Inhuman zones where the barriers that men put between different races allowed them to go beyond sort of rational forms of violence and tread into the darkest and sickest parts of human possibility. The Holocaust is often presented as the prime example of this, but this is just one of many instances, and the amount of attention that the Holocaust receives can be critiqued since most other hells on earth were targeted primarily at non-white groups.

In class last week I presented my candidate for spot #1 in the Top 10 List of Hells on Earth: The Congo Free State.

The Congo Free State was the private colony of King Leopold II of Belgium. It was created in the late 19th century and existed until the early 20th century. It was created in order to be a model for European civilizing in Africa. The people of the Congo Free State were to be educated, converted to Christianity and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of being colonized by Europeans. Leopold was fantastic at marketing himself and portrayed himself as a friend to the Africans and a defender of freedom against slavery and ignorance. He marketed himself very well, but the truth was almost the complete opposite.

King Leopold claimed he was fighting against slavery as he enslaved millions in his personal colony. He treated human beings in such ways that you cannot even call it inhuman. Humans were less than human. They were not even at the level of animals or objects. The people of the Congro Free State were forced to work for Leopold and were given quotas. In order to motivate people to meet their quotas, the police for the Congo Free State would rape, slaughter and torture. Those who did not meet their quotas had to pay Leopold back with their own hands in order to be motivated to meet their next quota.

While preparing for class I came across a list of atrocities that were committed in the Congo Free State. They came from this website:
  • The use of Tippu Tip, a slave trader from Zanzibar, and his slaves (which constituted the Force Publique) , to enslave the rest of the Congo populace.
  • The severing of the hand of any person, be they man, woman or child, who did not fulfil the task required of them.
  • The forced separation of children from their parents, after which they were organised into three children’s colonies where they were indoctrinated, being taught Christianity and trained as soldiers.
  • The stipulation by the Belgian missionaries that only orphans were to be appropriated, so the  parents were summarily executed.
  • The kidnapping of black women so as to force their husbands to work on the Belgian rubber plantations in the Congo.
  • These women were kept as hostages until their men had provided the required quota of rubber.
  • The wife of any man refusing to collect rubber would then be killed, and his children would in all likelihood also be killed. .
  • These atrocities were not just the transgressions of an isolated bunch of rebellious soldiers, as the official manuals handed out by the Belgian authorities actually recommended and endorsed these methods. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of men were conscripted in this manner to work on the Belgian rubber plantations, and had to carry their heavy load of rubber for many a mile, many dying along the way. 
  • Villages that did not meet the quota of rubber stipulated were then required to pay the outstanding amount in the form of a severed hand, each hand representing a “kill”.
  • This often resulted in wars between the different tribes and many deaths, as the quotas were not at all realistic, and the only recourse was to then “harvest” the necessary hands in order to avoid any punitive measures on the part of the Belgian authorities.
  • Whenever a village resisted in anyway, the Force Publique  would then be ordered to terrorise them.
  • Their methods included tying up ten hostages in a tent with large stones attached, and then pushing the poor victims into a river.
  • Another method of oppression was to rape the women
  • Or they just simply shot as many people as it would take to intimidate the rest.
  • However, for every bullet expended, the soldiers would have to return one right hand.
  • The Belgians also resorted to beheading any recalcitrant tribes people.
  • In addition, the soldiers were told that the more severed hands they could collect the less time they would have to serve in the Force Publique, and thus this incentive also served to further fuel the “orgy” of  killing and bloodletting.
  • Entire villages and towns were destroyed, and it is surmised that as many as 10 million native Congolese died as a result of King Leopold’s Tyranny! 
 For me what is instructive about the Congo Free State is the way it expresses how pure colonialism and capitalism are truly inhuman and beyond revolting. That both of these ideas are fundamentally anti-human and the more that they are expressed and unrestrained, the more potentially dangerous they are to living beings.


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