Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It's Friday, I'm Insane

I know in national politics, Fridays are supposed to be quiet days where the media is preparing for the weekend, and so a story that you want to receive far less attention than normal, you release on a Friday afternoon or evening. Hopefully by Monday the country has moved on from your potentially negative story. Under the Trump administration it seems like the President doesn't understand this dynamic and somehow imagines that if news is released on a Friday it will get more coverage, because it is an exciting night of partying. Last week Trump once again redefined political wisdom or convention by, in the middle of hurricane preparations, released a huge number of news, that left the media gasping to figure out how to cover it all. Here are some snippets of that epic Friday news dump.


Trump Under Fire Over Epic Friday News Dump
by Josh Dawsey

It was a Friday night news dump like rarely seen before: President Donald Trump's administration announced a series of polarizing decisions that had been under discussions for weeks, just as a hurricane bore down on the Texas coast.

Trump privately had signaled for weeks he would pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, praising the sheriff's loyalty and telling at least one adviser that his base wanted it badly.

Seb Gorka, a national security aide, was on the outs with Chief of Staff John Kelly after criticizing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on TV earlier in August. Kelly had told others Gorka had no future in the White House, and Gorka had aligned himself closely with now ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon.

And Trump's top advisers had scrambled to write implementation orders for the military transgender ban for several weeks, after Trump startled lawyers and advisers with tweets they considered ill-advised and had warned against.

The pardon, the exit and the guidelines all came on Friday evening, as a ferocious hurricane barreled down the Texas coastline, dizzying chyron operators and buzzing phones across Washington. White House aides and advisers said it was coordinated to handle polarizing decisions that were sure to alienate various constituencies.

"With a natural disaster on the horizon, you have one shot at the public seeing the news and then they quickly move on to more important issues," said Mark Corallo, a veteran consultant who briefly worked for Trump's White House. "It is Washington PR 101."

The Arpaio pardon was the most contentious within Trump's White House. More moderate advisers and aides had tried to talk Trump out of pardoning the convicted ex-sheriff, who ran sweltering, punishing jails where inmates died and was accused of targeting Latino residents. Trump had floated announcing the pardon at a rally in Arizona Tuesday night, but was persuaded to hold off.
One White House adviser said that it wasn't a "matter of if he was going to do it, it was a matter of when." So it was announced Friday evening even though sentencing was months away.

The move surprised top officials at the Justice Department, this adviser said, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to describe private discussions. 

The pardon was met with swift and widespread condemnation, drawing comparisons to Bill Clinton's infamous pardon of Marc Rich. The two Republican senators from Arpaio's home state of Arizona, John McCain and Jeff Flake, suggested the move showed a lack of respect by Trump for law and order.

"The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions," McCain said in a statement.

Democrats were harsher.

"Joe Arpaio ignored the courts of law in order to systemically target Latinos in AZ. Definition of racism and bigotry," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter, who added he "ran to Camp David" to "use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to avoid scrutiny." 

"So sad, so weak," Schumer added, parroting some of Trump's favorite put-downs.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Saturday that the Justice Department "found that for years Sheriff Arpaio systematically violated the civil rights of the people he was charged with serving and protecting. President Trump indicates that he approves of that behavior with last night’s decision, which will only serve to deepen the divisions in our country.”

Republican strategist Alex Conant, a former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), said that while "there are a lot of Republicans that want to support the president," the pardon "goes against a lot of what Republicans have traditionally stood for."

Trump knew the move would rankle Flake and McCain and be popular with his base, said one adviser who speaks with him often. And the president often saw the sheriff on TV defending the president and himself, and came to believe the conviction was unfair. 

Corallo said that those who hated Trump would hate him regardless, but the pardon would energize many in the base — and that the president acted well within his authority.

"It was a politicized persecution by the Obama Justice Department," said Tom Fitton, who leads the conservative group Judicial Watch. "The president has a very different understanding than the establishment class. He creates absolute hysteria in his opponents. Absolute hysteria."

Gorka's dismissal had been simmering for weeks, and several officials said it essentially had to happen at some point. He was increasingly isolated in the White House, with many officials unsure what he did other than go on TV to praise the president.

Gorka issued a resignation letter that criticized the White House for taking a new direction and installing too many aides who didn't align with the president's "Make America Great Again" vision, imploring Trump to shift direction. But the White House quickly disputed that he resigned, even sending a note to surrogates so they would spread the message that the exit was not voluntary.
"Hopefully no one remembers Seb Gorka by this time next week," one White House official said Saturday morning. But others close to the White House noted that Gorka was well-liked by the president and is popular among the nationalists who propelled his victory.

Gorka did not respond to a phone call seeking comment. 

The announcement likely to have the widest impact are the guidelines for his ban on transgender people in the military. It was another issue the White House knew it had to address but would create a firestorm when it landed. Trump had tweeted out his decision to issue the ban in July without any policy guidance, and it caught even some top White House officials by surprise.

There was no clear word on whether transgender troops already in the military could continue to serve or how the ban would be enforced. 

The president was convinced to leave transgender troops serving in the military alone in discussions after his declaration, but the guidelines once again alighted a firestorm over a social issue.

Conant said that with the changing direction of news, it is unclear whether dumping news on Friday evening — a longtime strategy — would blunt its impact like it once did. There may be some residual effect from news they hoped would wash away with the hurricane, he said. 

"Controversies build over time," Conant said. "The announcements you made on Friday night, you can still be dealing with next week." 

Emily Goldberg contributed to this report.


President Trump's flagrant Friday night news dump
by Amber Phillip
The Independent (UK)

It's Friday night. A Category 4 hurricane is about to slam the Texas coastline, and President Donald Trump just directed the Pentagon to ban transgender people from joining the military and pardoned a politically radioactive convicted former sheriff. News also broke that one of his more controversial advisers, Sebastian Gorka is leaving the White House.
This isn't your average sleepy Friday news dump - a trick newsmakers use to bury unpopular news by releasing it when most people aren't reading news. This is a flagrant attempt to hide a series of politically fraught (but base-pleasing) moves under the cover of an August Friday night hurricane.
In other words, it's transparent that Trump is doing controversial things he knows are controversial, and he and the White House would prefer the public and the media not focus on it.

Of course, the irony for Trump is that the exact opposite is happening. In so obviously trying to downplay this news, he's framing it in neon flashing signs.

The contrast of a president making not one but two major decisions - and suffering more White House staffing turmoil - as the strongest hurricane to hit the US in more than a decade is making landfall is stark. Oh, and North Korea just fired short-range missiles. Oh, and NBC News reports that special counsel Robert Mueller III and his team have issued subpoenas for officials with ties to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to testify to a grand jury.

That's news to fill an entire week, let alone the span of a few hours on a weather-dominated Friday night.

Is it possible Trump and his team had always planned to formalise a major policy change to military recruits and pardon former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio after the president had dinner on Friday 25 August? Maybe. Trump hinted both were coming over the past month. (Arpaio was convicted in 2017 of contempt of court for failing to stop racially profiling illegal immigrants after a judge ordered him to stop.)

"Do people in this room like Sheriff Joe?" Trump asked at a Phoenix rally on Tuesday. "I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine, okay?"

But that doesn't explain why Trump went ahead and signed those orders as a massive, news-dominating hurricane is about to make landfall. Why the urgency?

Pouring unpopular news out like this is an extremely politically risky decision for Trump. Hurricane Harvey is his first major test as emergency-commander-in-chief. Earlier in the day, top Republicans had urged him to stop tweeting insults to them and focus on keeping people safe in Texas and Louisiana.

Trump risks looking like he's using this potentially deadly hurricane as political cover.
As GOP strategist Alex Conant pointed out, by breaking all this news now, Trump also risks fomenting outrage by giving even the appearance of hiding this underneath a hurricane. And he catches any potential supporters flat-footed.

Sure enough, Democrats in Congress quickly jumped on Twitter and called up reporters to express their outrage.

"President Trump is a coward," said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who represents much of the area where Arpaio was sheriff, told The Post's David Weigel. "He waited until a Friday evening, as a hurricane hits, to pardon a racist ex-sheriff. Trump should at least have the decency to explain to the American public why he is undermining our justice system."

Arizona Republican congressmen Trent Franks and Andy Biggs issued statements supporting Trump's decision.

Franks tweeted: The president did the right thing -- Joe Arpaio lived an honourable life serving our country, and he deserves an honourable retirement.

While Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted: Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.

Here's Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer's, D-N.Y., tweet: "Then he ran to Camp David. The only reason to do these right now is to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to avoid scrutiny 4."
This hurricane Friday night news dump is bold, even for Trump. And if he hoped to keep backlash to a minimum, his plan is already backfiring.


 Trump gives new meaning to the Friday night news dump, enraging his critics
by Abby Phillip
August 26, 2017
Washington Post

As a monster hurricane not seen on American shores in over a decade bore down on Texas on Friday night, a tsunami of news out of Washington was also on its way.

President Trump, in the space of four hours, made official a ban on transgender people serving in the military, pardoned a controversial sheriff accused of racial profiling and parted ways with polarizing aide and conservative media darling Sebastian Gorka.

The announcements were made in the evening hours as the nation focused on Hurricane Harvey, which threatened catastrophic damage to areas along the Gulf Coast, giving new meaning to the Friday night news dump strategy that has long been a staple for Washington politicians looking to bury controversial decisions.

“It was very risky, because if the hurricane is as bad as the experts were predicting, then he’s opening himself up to a lot of potential criticism,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former aide to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “But very little that Trump does surprises me any longer. He’s proven to be very unpredictable and to not act within the norms of other politicians.”

Like most aspects of Trump’s presidency, the perceived news dump enraged his detractors and buoyed his most ardent supporters, while leaving open the question of how it will be received by voters who don’t fit neatly into either camp.

Some Republicans said the timing of the announcements reflected the current state of the White House — new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly trying to instill more order even as the president remains the most disruptive force.

One Republican close to the White House said Kelly appeared to be trying to quietly clean up Trump’s policy move on transgender troops, which had been left in limbo for weeks after the president announced his decision on Twitter to the surprise of the military and with no formal plan ready to be released. While the policy was formally released Friday, it did not provide certainty on the most pressing question: the fate of transgender people currently serving. The presidential memorandum left it to the Pentagon to commission a report on how to deal with the service members’ fate, keeping open the possibility they may be permitted to remain on active duty.

Gorka’s ouster had been expected for weeks following Kelly’s hiring, especially after the departure of his ally, former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, despite Trump’s fondness for Gorka’s willingness to go on television and criticize the media. Gorka’s credentials as a counterterrorism expert have long been in question, and he was criticized inside and outside the White House for having no concrete responsibilities beyond serving as a surrogate for Trump on the airwaves. But the move was still expected to draw criticism from Trump’s allies, who view it as the death knell for the populist wing in the White House, making the leak of the news late Friday advantageous for the administration.

Kelly was probably aware there was little he could do to stop Trump from pardoning Arpaio despite — and perhaps because of — the likely backlash.

“Kelly is really strong right now,” said the Republican close to the White House. “He gives his best advice, but he wasn’t going to stop the Sheriff Joe thing. Everything else was textbook what a really good chief of staff would do: dump a whole bunch of stuff when there’s a hurricane coming.”

Democrats and activist groups saw a cynical motive and play, and accused Trump of using a natural disaster as cover for unpalatable moves that were aimed mostly at rousing his base and that sent clear messages to the LGBT community and Hispanic Americans that he condoned discrimination.

“As millions of people in TX and LA are prepping for the hurricane, the President is using the cover of the storm to pardon a man who violated a court’s order to stop discriminating against Latinos and ban courageous transgender men and women from serving our nation’s Armed Forces,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) posted on Twitter. “So sad, so weak.”

The Arpaio pardon, which Trump foreshadowed at a raucous rally in Phoenix days earlier, was aimed squarely at satisfying his base by rewarding a political loyalist on an issue, illegal immigration, that was central to Trump’s political appeal.

“The President brought justice to a situation where the Obama administration had attempted to destroy a political opponent,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). “Sheriff Joe Arpaio made many enemies in the judicial system, the media and the left because he enforced laws that the federal government ignored. He did right by the law even as the political consequences continued to mount.”

But among legal experts, the pardon raised disturbing questions about Trump’s willingness to flout long-standing tradition and Department of Justice procedures in a way that undermined the judicial system, said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.

“Certainly the pardon seemed principally political and without much thought about the history of that or the procedures used,” Tobias said. “It’s a bigger piece of Trump’s contempt for the judiciary. Every federal judge in the country knows you can’t have those orders violated, otherwise the federal court system won’t work. So that’s very disturbing.”

The White House’s balancing act was evident in the president’s own social media feed. Hours after the Arpaio pardon was announced, Trump tweeted confirmation that the federal government had approved a disaster declaration for Texas. Fifteen minutes later, he congratulated Arpaio.

“I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” Trump said. “He kept Arizona safe!”

Some Republicans, including Arizona’s two Republican senators, who have both recently been in Trump’s crosshairs, questioned the decision to circumvent the judicial process. Arpaio was scheduled to be sentenced in October after being convicted of defying a court order to end the practice of detaining people merely on suspicion of their immigration status.

Sen. John McCain decried the message Trump sent by pardoning Arpaio, who had been accused of continuing to “illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status.”

“The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions,” McCain added.
As Trump’s approval ratings have fallen to historic lows, however, most analysts expect him to continue making moves that will please his base even if they draw criticism from others.

“The president has great political instincts. He can read the temperature of the public better than almost anyone else,” Conant said. “He is very well aware that his base is shrinking, and in a way, that explains almost everything he’s done over the last month.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Independence Meetings for August

Independent Guåhan’s educational outreach continues in Dededo and with their monthly General Assembly returning to Hagåtña

For Immediate Release, August 25, 2017 – 

Independent Guåhan (IG) continues their efforts to educate the island community about the possibilities for Guåhan should it become an independent country, with two educational outreach opportunities in the last week of August. The first, a village meeting, will take place at the Dededo Senior Citizens’ Center on Wednesday, August 30th from 6:00 -7:30 p.m. The second, the latest in their monthly General Assemblies (GA) will be held on Thursday, August 31st from 6:00 -7:30 p.m. at the main pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Over the summer, IG held a series of successful village meetings in Malesso’, Chalan Pågo and Toto, drawing more than 150 people total. Under the leadership of Melvin Won Pat-Borja, IG will continue this village-based outreach in Dededo on the 30th. These village meetings are meant to provide a faninåyan space, where attendees are able to ask basic questions and receive an introduction to decolonization and independence as a possibility for Guåhan.  

On the last Thursday of each month IG holds its monthly GA, which features news about group activities and educational presentations. This month’s GA will focus on how an independent Guåhan can establish sustainable retirement planning for its residents by looking at models from other countries. IG will also honor the late Senator Paul Bordallo as our monthly Maga’taotao or outstanding person. Bordallo was a strong supporter of independence for Guåhan and also instrumental in passing laws such as the Chamorro Land Trust and defeating the US military’s efforts to militarize Sella Bay in the 1970s.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Meggai malago' yu' bei sångan put si Donald Trump yan i sinangån-ña (yan håfa ti ha sångan lokkue') put i nina'triste giya Charlottesville. 

Fihu ilek-hu na ti hongge'on i bidadå-ña si Trump. Ya siempre ti siña ha ikak este na malabida pat este na eskareng. Lao atan ha', kulang un chatpago yan sen mutong na fafa'tinas milagro este na taotao. Sigi ha' ha na'långga yan na'manman yu', kada simåna. 

 Meggai malago' yu' na bai hu sångan, lao ti nahong i ora på'go, guaha meggai otro cho'cho'. 

Lao este ha' malago' yu' na bei ensima gi kombetsasion. 

Gof na'chalek yan "ironic" na i manapå'ka, ko'lo'lo'ña i manracist, fihu ma såsangna na manchenglong i manminorities gi i manma'pos na tiempo. Gi fino' Ingles, "they are stuck in the past." Ma sångan este, sa' i manAfrican Amerikanu par otr ti apå'ka na råsa siha, guaha ma keketulaika gi halom i Estådos Unidos pi'ot put i taimanu na manhinekse gi åntes na tiempo. 

Lao anggan ta atan i sinangån-ña si Trump yan i mambåba na taotao ha aguguiguiyi, gi minagahet siha manchenglong gi manma'pos na tiempo. Atan taimanu na ti siña ma sotta un hagas måkpo' na gera yan i butto' siha ni' rumepresesenta ayu. Gof na'ma'ase taimanu na ma gu'gu'ot ha' ayu siha. 


"Trump doesn't seem to like being President. So why doesn't he quit?"
by David Von Drehle
Washington Post
August 18, 2017

Evidence is piling up that Donald Trump does not really want to be president of the United States.
He certainly doesn’t look happy in the job. In his previous life, Trump met whomever he wanted to meet and said whatever he wanted to say. But like all presidents, he finds himself ever more isolated, and his displeasure shows on his face. The loneliness of the job — which so many of his predecessors have ruefully reported — is wearing on him.

And it’s more than that. Past presidents also tell us that no one can fully appreciate the dimensions of the job in advance. With no previous political experience, Trump’s learning curve has been even steeper than usual, and the more he sees of the job, the less he wants to do it. He balks at the briefings, the talking points, the follow-through.

He was drawn to the fame of it, as he once told me aboard his private jet. “It’s the ratings . . . that gives you power,” then-candidate Trump explained. “It’s not the polls. It’s the ratings.” He loves being the most talked-about man on Earth.

But unlike reality TV stars, presidents aren’t famous for being famous. They command the world’s attention because they are the temporary embodiments of America’s strength, aspirations and responsibilities.

It is a paradoxically self-effacing fame. The job demands that hugely competitive, driven, ambitious individuals — for that’s what it takes to win the job — inhabit a role that requires them to be something other than nakedly themselves.

As some Trump associates tell it, he never intended to be elected. But having won the part, he doesn’t want to play it, a fact irrefutable after Charlottesville. Rather than speak for the nation — the president’s job — he spoke for Trump. Rather than apply shared values, he apportioned blame.
The presidency calls for care and cunning. All successful presidents have known when to say less rather than more. George Washington’s second inaugural address was 135 words long. President Abraham Lincoln often disappointed clamoring crowds, telling them that the risk of a wrong word made it too dangerous for him to deliver a speech. President Ronald Reagan was famous for cupping his ear and shrugging as he pretended not to hear an untimely question.

Did these men ever itch to win an argument, as Trump did in his Tuesday news conference, with such disastrous results? Of course they did. But a president can’t indulge such impulses.

Discipline in thought and speech is the machinery by which a president leads a free people. He hasn’t the power to purge his enemies or censor the press. His strength rests on his ability to persuade. His power grows through a record of hard-won results. He seeks friends and respect, not enemies and outrage. Between fired aides (strategist Stephen K. Bannon got the boot Friday) and fleeing allies, Trump is losing friends faster than a bully at a birthday party.

Reflecting more and reacting less: That’s how a president gets through all seven days of a week supposedly focused on infrastructure without having his advisory council on infrastructure implode. With enough of that focus and discipline, a president might eventually foster an infrastructure bill — an actual law with real money behind it, something more than bluster — that creates jobs and feeds progress and raises spirits.

It’s hard work. As shareholders in this enterprise, Americans are asking what disciplined, focused labor Trump performed to pass a health-care bill. What hard ground has he plowed, what water has he carried, to grow the seeds of tax reform?

The president’s job is to understand that the world has plenty of troubles in store for this nation. His role is not to add to their number. There will be moments when the president must stir us up, so in the meantime, his task is to keep us calm.

If Trump were still in private business, he would have no trouble diagnosing this situation. A serial entrepreneur like Trump learns to recognize when a venture isn’t panning out. Over the years, he splashed, then crashed, in businesses as diverse as casinos, an airline and for-profit seminars. His willingness to fish has always been matched by a willingness to cut bait.

Or, as a veteran boss, he might see his predicament as a personnel move that hasn’t clicked. Trump has made many, many hires over his career, and some (as recently as Bannon’s) don’t work out. “Not a good fit,” the saying goes.

The presidency is not a good fit for Trump. It’s a scripted role; he’s an improviser. It’s an accountable position; he’s a free spirit. Yes, the employment contract normally runs four years. But at his age and station, what’s the point of staying in a job he doesn’t want?


 "History will remember the Republicans who stick around"
by Eugene Robinson
Washington Post
August 17, 2017

President Trump has dropped all pretense and proudly raised the banner of white racial grievance. The time has come for Republicans in Congress to decide whether this is what they signed up for.
Business leaders decided Wednesday that they’d had enough, quitting two presidential advisory councils before Trump quickly dissolved the panels. Military leaders made their call as well, issuing statements — in the wake of Charlottesville — making clear that they embrace diversity and reject bigotry.

With only a few exceptions, however, GOP political leaders have been too timid to denounce the president and the reprehensible game of racial politics he’s playing. I think the corporate chief executives who bailed are making the right bet: History will remember who spoke out, who was complicit and who stood idly by.
On Twitter (where else?), Trump poured salt in the nation’s wounds Thursday by coming out firmly against the removal of public monuments to the Confederacy — the issue that brought white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to Charlottesville and led to the death of Heather Heyer.

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he wrote. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” 

Some slippery-slope arguments are valid, but the one Trump makes is absurd. He can’t possibly be so dense that he doesn’t see a clear distinction between the men who founded this nation and those who tried to rip it apart.

Trump may indeed not know that most of those Confederate monuments were erected not in the years right after the Civil War but around the turn of the 20th century, when the Jim Crow system of state-enforced racial oppression was being established. They symbolize not history but the defiance of history; they celebrate not defeat on the battlefield but victory in putting uppity African Americans back in their place.

But even if someone explained all of this to Trump — perhaps in a one-page memo with lots of pictures — he wouldn’t care. For him, the important thing is to tell the white voters who constitute his base that they are being disrespected and dispossessed. It’s a cynical and dangerous ploy.

We know this is Trump’s game because White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon told us so. In an interview with journalist Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect, published Wednesday, Bannon is quoted as saying: “The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

But Trump’s base won’t identify with Nazis and the KKK. That’s why Trump maintained — falsely — that among the torch-bearing Charlottesville white supremacists there were also plenty of “very fine people.” And it’s why he now seeks to broaden the issue to encompass Confederate monuments nationwide, abandoning his earlier position that the question should be left to local jurisdictions.

That’s probably also why Bannon, in the interview with Kuttner, referred to the white-power clowns as, well, “clowns.” He’s smart enough to reassure Trump supporters that they’re not like those racists and that all the racial game-playing is on the other side.

Trump’s desperation is palpable. His approval ratings have slid perilously close to the danger zone where Republican officeholders no longer fear crossing him.

For titans of the business community, the tipping point came Wednesday. The chief executives of General Electric, Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson and 3M decided they could no longer serve on Trump’s advisory Manufacturing Council or his Strategy & Policy Forum.

Why stick around? Prospects that Trump can actually follow through on a business-friendly agenda, including tax reform, look increasingly dim. And Trump’s “many sides” reaction to Charlottesville wasn’t going over at all well with employees, customers or the executives themselves.

“Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country,” JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon wrote in a message to his employees. “It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart.”

The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard also publicly condemned hate groups in the wake of Charlottesville. They, of course, could not mention the commander in chief by name.

But politicians can. And they must.


"Trump just hit a new low"
by Dana Milbank
Washington Post
August 15, 2017

It’s a case of being careful what you wish for.

Critics left, right and center panned President Trump for his initial refusal to denounce the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, one of whom allegedly drove his car into counter-demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19. When Trump finally gave a canned and grudging disavowal of white supremacists, he was urged anew to say more, to be presidential, to bring the nation together.

Well, late Tuesday, Trump said more and told the nation what he really thought. It was downright ugly.

There, from Trump Tower in New York, was the president of the United States declaring that those protesting against Nazis were . . . the same as Nazis. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that,” said Trump.

Nobody wants to say that because there is — and there can be — no moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis. But Trump saw them as equal. He said the anti-Nazi demonstrators didn’t have a permit and “were very, very violent.” Trump maintained that those marching with the white supremacists have been treated “absolutely unfairly” by the press, and there “were very fine people, on both sides.”

Trump was not done with his apology for white supremacists. He went on to endorse the cause that brought these racists, David Duke among them, to Charlottesville: the Confederacy. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” the president said. “But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.” 

Right. The man who led an army against the United States. “So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down,” Trump went on. “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?”

Thus did Trump, after putting Nazis on the same moral plane as anti-Nazis, put the father of our country and the author of the Declaration of Independence on the same moral plane as two men who made war on America. Duke and white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer applauded Trump’s performance.

The nationalist-turned-presidential-adviser Stephen K. Bannon used to say that the publishing outfit he led, Breitbart, was a “platform for the alt-right,” a euphemism for white nationalists and related far-right extremists. But now there is a new platform for the alt-right in America: the White House.
It looks more and more like the White Nationalist House.

Trump, who this week retweeted an “alt-right” conspiracy theorist and ally of white supremacists, continues to employ in his White House not just Bannon and Stephen Miller, two darlings of the alt-right, but also Sebastian Gorka, who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man.

“ ‘It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t,” Gorka said in an interview with Breitbart days before the Charlottesville mayhem. “Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today.” At an inaugural ball in January, Gorka wore a medal from the Hungarian nationalist organization Vitezi Rend, a longtime anti-Semitic group that claimed Gorka as one of its own. (He denies it.)

It’s more than words. The administration proposed eliminating the “Countering Violent Extremism” program; officials argued that the effort should target only Islamist radicalization, not right-wing extremism. In June, the Trump administration canceled a grant to a group called Life After Hate, which rehabilitates neo-Nazis. “At a time when this is the biggest threat in our country, to pull funding from the only organization in the United States helping people disengage from this is pretty suspect to me,” the group’s co-founder Christian Picciolini told me.

And now we have the spectacle of the president, in response to reporters’ questions, defending the character and motives of the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville.

Trump, who has issued scores of tweets without benefit of accurate information, explained his initial unwillingness to single out the white supremacist who drove into a crowd of demonstrators: “Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

Trump, who has criticized others for failing to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” declined to call the incident terrorism, dismissing the question as “legal semantics.”

Asked about the culpability of the “alt-right” in the Charlottesville attack, Trump replied: “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging them?”

Political violence, by anybody, is wrong. But to equate neo-Nazis with those who oppose them is, even for our alt-right president, a new low.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

America's Afterthought

Guam gets its 15 mins of national or international media fame refreshed every few years, sometimes because of a typhoon or earthquake. Sometimes because of snake epidemics. Over the past few years, North Korea has had alot to do with Guam getting a little extra attention. Usually these periods are frustrating to analyze in media terms because Guam, even if it is mentioned as the focus of a story, still remains at the periphery of it. But this most recent North Korea scare led to a series of well-written and insightful articles that didn't shy away from Guam's colonial status, but engaged with it. Here below is probably my favorite piece to come out from all the drama.


"Guam: A colonized island nation where 160,000 American lives are not only at risk but often forgotten"
by Gene Park
Washington Post
August 11, 2017

“Total Americans affected: 3,831.”

Fox News ran a video explainer this week on the affect of North Korea’s missiles on Guam. There are more than 160,000 American-born citizens in the U.S. territory of Guam, but the network initially counted only 3,881 lives on the two military bases there.

The video was later updated, labeling them as active-duty U.S. troops. The other lives? Ignored. But at least the video is a bit more honest about the focus.

It’s not just Fox News. The Associated Press had a story from its Pyongyang reporter with an alarming headline: “Should U.S. shoot Kim’s missiles down?” It weighed the pros and cons of defending against a North Korean missile test from Guam. Again, it initially only counted the “7,000 U.S. troops” who would be affected, until the story was later amended to include the total population.
Lots of people are asking “What is Guam?” My colleague and fellow Guamanian Michelle Ye Hee Lee wrote an explainer that should cover most of your questions.

But nobody is asking, “Who is Guam?” Guam is a nation of Chamorros, indigenous people whose culture has been ravaged and lost through almost 400 years of colonization, from Spain to the U.S. to Japan and back to the U.S.

“We inhabited the land for thousands of years before any new country came along … the land was central to most indigenous cultures, an important aspect often deemed insignificant by colonialists,” said Toni Marie Brooks, a biracial Chamorro native and Air Force veteran. “Even without thinking about it, biases have been revealed by overlooking the local population, focusing just on service members.”

I am also from Guam. I am not native, but like Brooks told me, growing up on Guam means hearing threats from North Korea since you were young. That guidance about “Do not look at the flash or fireball, it can blind you”? It’s scary stuff. Children of Guam know. We were taught in school that we are at perpetual risk of war. And considering our home town was a World War II battlefield, this fear is generational.

“While I don’t fear anything from North Korea, my family who lived as prisoners to Japanese occupying forces during World War II are fearful,” said Zachary Taimanglo, a Chamorro native and attorney, father of two and descendant of captives of the Japanese. “I know I’d appreciate it if all those who can affect the outcome of this latest threat remember that we are fellow citizens and should be factored into the equation.”

That Japanese occupation lasted for three years, starting when U.S. forces surrendered in 1941 after two days of battle. Many elders are still alive, and still remember the rape and pillaging that occurred.
The U.S. retook Guam in 1944, and its bases now occupy almost a third of the tiny island. In the 1980s growing up, us nonmilitary children thought going “on base” was like going to Disneyland. It felt like a privilege knowing a military family who would invite us in. It was clean. They even had a Popeye’s there.

Military spending makes up a full third of Guam’s economy, the rest being tourism. Many on Guam love America. Many Chamorros are Christian (more than 85 percent of the island is Catholic), flag-waving patriots who love guns and pickup trucks (“Guam bombs,” as we always referred to them, in a knowing reference to ever-present danger). They sign up for military service in droves, and they lose their lives in battle at a higher rate per capita than residents of most states, as John Oliver famously noted last year.

For decades, there has been talk about the decolonization of Guam. That talk has only grown louder in recent years, with the government-created Commission on Decolonization. Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo favors statehood, but there has been no huge consensus. That lack of consensus speaks to the identity lost throughout centuries, a people struggling to define their sovereignty.

“Yes, there are people in Guam who want independence from (America). But there are also people in Guam who hear these threats of bombs and cower to the hype, start to believe that we need your mighty military bases and beg for more, because then we wouldn’t be bombed right?” asked Chamorro activist Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero in a viral Facebook post penned as an open letter to America. “But you have been the source of all our bomb problems.”

The people of Guam have done nothing to attract the attention of North Korea. They have been victims throughout history, a culture and language lost through time.

So who is Guam? This week, the media has been sketching a caricature of sorts describing the people of Guam. They’re “keeping their cool,” says an NPR story. “Island cool,” writes the Los Angeles Times.

It’s a fair portrait. After all, they are powerless. Their voices are only heard whenever North Korea rattles its sword. What else could they do but embrace their current fate as a hot spot military destination, America’s “tip of the spear” in the Asia Pacific? They even had a multimillion-dollar tourism campaign with the famous slogan, “Where America’s Day Begins.” It was an international campaign that spanned Asia and even the West Coast. There was so much money and time spent for attention, for validation. I grew up around T-shirts, commercials, ads and bumper stickers. For me, it said, “We are Americans not just by force, but by choice. We are proud Americans.”

This week, there was a huge spike in U.S. Google searches for “What is Guam?” The top results are from news organizations with that exact phrasing, with many reports forgetting the number of American lives affected.

Who is Guam? America’s afterthought.

Friday, August 18, 2017

North Korea Threatens Guam

The past few days have been quite hectic due to the threat to Guam by North Korea and President Trump's shocking response. I am trying to catch up on my posts on this blog, and so we'll see if I'll be able this month. Here are a few articles on the initial threat from North Korea to Guam. 


North Korea Claims It’s Planning to Fire Missiles Near Guam

SEOUL/GUAM (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in an unusually detailed threat that further heightened tensions with the United States.

North Korea’s army will complete the plans in mid-August, when they will be ready for leader Kim Jong Un’s order, state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army. The plans called for the missiles to land in the sea only 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam.

The reclusive communist country, technically still at war with the United States and South Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty, is known for making bellicose threats.

But experts in the United States and South Korea said North Korea’s plans ratcheted up risks significantly, since Washington was likely to view any missile aimed at its territory as a provocation, even if launched as a test. North Korea has carried out a series of missile and nuclear bomb tests in defiance of the international community.

North Korea announced the plans following U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Tuesday that any threats by Pyongyang would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” remarks that KCNA called “a load of nonsense.”

North Korea’s apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fueled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week, unnerving regional powers and global investors.

World stocks fell for a third day, with shares in Seoul slumping to a seven-week low.

The rising tensions between North Korea and the United States ― the biggest foreign policy crisis Trump has faced in his six-month-old presidency ― spurred a broad market sell-off in U.S. stocks. By midday, the benchmark S&P 500 stock index; fell 1 percent. The index has had just two days so far this year where it has closed with losses of more than 1 percent.

If Pyongyang carries out its threat and launches missiles toward Guam, it would represent an unprecedented milestone in the already fraught relations between the United States and North Korea.

As announced by North Korea, which added detail to a plan first unveiled on Wednesday, the planned path of the missiles would cross some of the world’s busiest sea and air traffic routes.

Guam, a tropical island more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea, is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. air base, Navy installation that includes a submarine squadron, a Coast Guard group and roughly 6,000 U.S. military service members.

“The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People’s Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan,” the North Korean report said. “They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away fromGuam.” The report did not mention any threat of the use of nuclear missiles near Guam.

“Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” KCNA said of Trump.

Speaking to reporters in to New Jersey, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that “certainly nothing has changed in the president’s thinking” on North Korea given the latest developments. The White House said Trump would receive a security briefing later in the day.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a key Republican voice on foreign policy, said that based on his conversations with Trump he believes the president would be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike to prevent Pyongyang from launching a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland.

“If negotiations fail, he is willing to abandon ‘strategic patience’ and use pre-emption,” Graham said of Trump during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I think he’s there mentally. He has told me this.”

“So I’m 100 percent confident that if President Trump had to use military force to deny the North Koreans the capability to strike America with a nuclear-tipped missile, he would do that,” Graham added.

Korea expert and former CIA analyst Robert Carlin, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said announcing a specific target was unusual for North Korea, although it had previously mentioned targeting specific South Korean military facilities.

“We’ve seen them talk in specific terms before, just not something as sensitive ... as an American military base,” Carlin said.


Visitors and residents on Guam appeared to be taking things in their stride. The main beach front on the island was packed with tourists dozing under trees or on the sun loungers of five-star hotels lined up before a calm sea.

Governor Eddie Calvo said Guam had experienced a Japanese invasion in World War Two and countless earthquakes and super-typhoons, and there was no U.S. community better prepared to meet the North Korean threat.

“We are concerned about these threats but at the same time we also want to make sure people don’t panic and go on with their lives. Enjoy the beaches,” Calvo said.

Major airlines that fly over the region said they had so far made no plans to change flight paths.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet currently has six Aegis ballistic missile defense ships in the region capable of targeting North Korean missiles, and Japan has a further four. Guam also has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, similar to one recently installed in South Korea.

Japan could legally intercept a North Korean missile headed towards Guam, its defense minister said on Thursday, but experts believe Japan does not currently have the capability to do so.

Angered as the United States and its allies ignore Chinese calls to calm tensions over North Korea, and distracted by domestic concerns, China is largely sitting out the crisis.

Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and the intercontinental missile tests, all in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump has said he will not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.

Washington has warned it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action. The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Bases in New York, David Brunnstrom in Washington, Soyoung Kim in Seoul, William Mallard, Tim Kelly, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in Beijing, Jamie Freed in Singapore and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Will Dunham; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alistair Bell)


Why Trump’s North Korea warnings were ‘unnecessary, scary, irresponsible’
By Herman Wong
Washington Post

The warning was heard around the world.

Speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., President Trump told North Korea on Tuesday that it would be “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” if the country did not stop threatening the United States.

“North Korea best not make any more threats,” Trump told reporters.

(In response, North Korean state media said the Hermit Kingdom is reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets in Guam.)

The president's comments came after a report in The Washington Post that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could fit inside its ballistic missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

Trump's harsh language against North Korea was interpreted by some foreign policy analysts as a break from the ineffective diplomatic language that has governed Washington-Pyongyang interactions for years.

One North Korea expert, Robert E. Kelly, called Trump's threats “unnecessary, scary, irresponsible.”

A professor at Pusan National University — who gained viral Internet fame in March when his young daughter crashed his televised interview with BBC — Kelly spoke to The Post about what he meant, and what to expect going forward.

POST: Let’s address Trump’s comments. Your tweet said they were “unnecessary, scary, irresponsible.” How so?

KELLY: “Unnecessary” in the sense that the North Koreans already know that we dislike them, that we want them to act differently and so on and so on. And just a few days before, Secretary Tillerson was on TV saying “we’re not your enemy” and Trump goes off and says this.
He just undercut his own secretary of state. So that’s what I meant by unnecessary.

“Scary” because what he said sounds like Old Testament-style rhetoric. “Fire and fury.” He’s like some prophet from the Old Testament talking about fire and brimstone.

And “irresponsible” because it sounds like Trump shooting his mouth off again. Maybe his national security team approved of that kind of language, but it sounds a lot like what Trump does on Twitter, which is shooting his mouth off and saying stuff and his national security people have to walk it back in the next couple of days.

Now the whole world is talking about it. People like you and me have been spending the last five or six hours trying to figure out if Donald Trump is trying to start a nuclear war. And that’s what people are asking me. People are calling me up: Oh this isn’t just a war, Donald Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, fire and fury.

POST: You’ve said before that “much of the overheated rhetoric coming from Trump administration about North Korea” is actually to pressure China. Who is the audience for Trump’s warnings?

KELLY: My sense is that there are two ways to read these things.

The optimistic one is that Trump got this cleared by his national security staff and he’s sounding a little unhinged or angry because he’s playing the madman role. And the point of this role — not that he’s actually a madman, but to pressure the Chinese into coming around.
He plays this sort of game and the Chinese are like: “Oh, my God, he might actually start a war and kill us all; let’s go pressure North Korea.”

This is a way of Trump signaling to China to get serious about North Korea — which, to defend the president, is not necessarily a bad idea because I do think China still has a lot of leverage over North Korea. The best way to resolve the North Korean issue peacefully is to get the Chinese to push the North Koreans harder. I know that’s pretty disputed today. A lot of people just don’t think the Chinese have that weight. But I do.

The negative interpretation is that Trump just shot his mouth off. And now the whole world is like: “Oh, my God, Trump is as unpredictable as Kim Jong Un, and we’re going to have nuclear conflict between these two schoolyard bullies who don’t know how to back down.”
North Koreans didn’t waste any time at all. One hour after that comment they were talking about nuking Guam.

This is just bickering. This is all rhetoric. This is not going to happen.

North Koreans are not going to nuke the Americans out of the blue. The North Koreans don’t have offensive intentions. Attacking the United States would be suicidal. The Americans would respond with so much force, North Korea would just be wiped off the map. We know this.

The North Koreans know this. They’re not apocalyptic ideologues like Osama bin Laden, willing to risk everything on some suicide gamble. The North Koreans are pretty rational. They are pretty tactical. They’ve been smart over the years. It would be very out of character for the North Koreans to suddenly launch a weapon at San Francisco. So I don’t buy that at all.

POST: Trump’s “fire and fury” statement echoes North Korea’s own threats, and some supporters have suggested that nuanced statements in the past have been ineffective and Trump is speaking in a way the North Koreans would understand. What do you make of that?

KELLY: The thing I don’t like about that though is that the United States isn’t some pesky, rogue country with a history of doing crazy stuff and dealing drugs and counterfeiting like North Korea.

North Korea has a reputation as a rogue. We don’t expect it to act any better and it’s a small part of the global economy that’s not really that relevant for global rules.

When the Americans act that way, when the Americans start talking like that, it sends signals to everybody. The center isn’t holding. The Americans are expected to be better than this. We don’t talk this way, in the same way we don’t expect the South Koreans to talk the same was as the North Koreans do. We expect more from democracies, we expect more from liberal countries.
I think it’s one of the reasons people like you and I are having this conversation, because it’s so uncharacteristic for American leaders to talk like this. Maybe it’s going to work. Honestly I haven’t thought that far. But it’s risky, it’s really risky. Because it sends a signal to everybody else out there that: Hey, you can’t trust the Americans, they might launch a nuclear war.

POST: How do you think Trump’s comments will be received in North Korea? How about in Japan or South Korea?

KELLY: We already know how North Koreans are going to take it. An hour or two later they threatened Guam. That’s how North Koreans always respond to threats. They always reach for the most outlandish rhetoric: Really aggressive, personal insults against the president of South Korea and the United States, the racism and all that.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that the North Koreans immediately went over the top by threatening a nuclear strike on American territory. That’s why we shouldn’t get into these kinds of war of words with the North Koreans. It’s not going to work. It’s not going to lead us anywhere.

The South Koreans and the Japanese will sort of roll their eyes and say “what is going on over there.” This is just Trump the unhinged. That’s what I’m really worried about — that our allies in Asia are increasingly thinking we are unreliable because the president’s kind of off his rocker.

POST: You tweeted Tuesday, in all-caps, “WE DON'T HAVE TO BOMB NORTH KOREA.” What are America’s options? How likely are China and Russia to stick to sanctions?

KELLY: Sanctions are the most likely, peaceful way to resolve this. Chinese economic pressure through sanctions, enforcement that leads to pressure on the elite bottom line in North Korea, not the popular bottom line. When you get factions in North Korea to start fighting over diminishing resources, that’s the kind of pressure we’re looking for. That can only come around if China plays ball.

If that doesn’t happen, and that hasn’t happened for 15 years, then my sense is missile defense. But you get a lot of push back on this, too. A lot of tech people say missile defense is a boondoggle, it doesn’t work, THAAD is overrated. My own sense from the briefings I’ve seen over the years about missile defense is that THAAD is at least reasonably effective. It’s a start.

POST: What next?

KELLY: I think the North Koreans will not stop the missile testing program. The Americans will slowly adapt to that in the same way it adapted to the Russia, China and Pakistani nuclear weapons. We’ve learned to adapt and live with those, and we’ll do the same with the North Korean ones as well. We will adapt even if Trump doesn’t admit it.

In the next three or four days, my guess is that the Trump national security staff will go out and clean up the remark and say we didn't exactly mean this. We want to have talks, go to the U.N. etc.

POST: What should people who are paying attention to the North Korea situation for the first time know?

KELLY: I would say two things.

Consider that for 70 years, North Korea has had the opportunity to do major damage to South Korea, later Japan, eventually the United States, both against American forces in the region and now against the American homeland. It’s had opportunities for a long time and has never gone after them.

North Korea now has a long history of restraint, actually. It has a long history of tactical provocation. But North Korea has never gone over the edge. It has always pulled back.

And that leads a lot of us in the analyst community to believe that the North Koreans do not intend to use nuclear weapons. So all of this hysteria, this “World War III is around the corner” kind of stuff, is highly unlikely because the North Koreans have had the opportunity for a while. Look at North Korea’s past behavior as a predictor of future behavior.

The second thing I would say is that if there really is war coming, the big reveal for that would be an evacuation or call for evacuation of Americans living in South Korea. That is the big red flag. So if you see the Americans are told to get on a ship at Busan and go to Japan, you know the American airstrike is coming.


North Korea threatens strike on Guam
By Zachary Cohen and Euan McKirdy

(CNN) North Korea's military is "examining the operational plan" to strike areas around the US territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles, state-run news agency KCNA said early Wednesday local time.

Specifically, the statement mentioned a potential strike on Andersen Air Force Base designed "to send a serious warning signal to the US." 

The base is one of two on the Pacific island, which are the closest bases on US soil to North Korea, and represent the westernmost tip of the country's military might.

The North Korea comments were published after US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang that if it continued to threaten the US, it would "face fire and fury like the world has never seen."

‘No threat to our island’

Guam's governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, released a video address Wednesday, reassuring the island's residents that there was no change in the threat level resulting from North Korea.

"I want to reassure the people of Guam that currently there is no threat to our island or the Marianas," he said.

"I also want to remind national media that Guam is American soil and we have 200,000 Americans in Guam and the Marianas. We are not just a military installation," he added.

Speaking from Guam, journalist Robert Santos said local reaction to the threats was mixed.

"Some people are who are confident we are safe with the US bases here and others who are not so sure," he said.

"Some people believe (Trump and Kim) are clashing personalities and they speak recklessly. But here are some people who believe... that we are completely safe regardless of what happens."

However, he added that an attack on Guam "won't just be against the US military, it will be against the people."

“Key Military Installation”

Dubbed the "tip of the spear," Guam is a key to the US military's forward deployed presence in the Pacific and is home to thousands of American service members and their families.

Its importance has declined since the Second World War, given the creation of military bases in Japan and South Korea, says Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center. Now it is essentially a staging area, which sees rotations of bomber groups coming through.

"Guam is the western most US territory that has major military bases. If you (were to) pull (the US) out of Japan and South Korea it's the next best location in the Pacific," says Schuster.

While it is around 1,500 miles further out from the Korean peninsula than its next closest base in Japan, it's "still strategic because of its location" and its ability to host long-range bombers.

There are, however, political complications in launching attacks from US bases hosted by allies closer to Pyongyang, should the US retaliate to Kim's latest threats. 
Should US allies refuse to let the military to launch strikes from their territory, Guam would be the most likely place from which to launch airstrikes on North Korea, Schuster says, adding that this is how Kim will regard it.

A US attack using its bases on Japan's main islands or Okinawa, for example, would bring Japan into any conflict, says Schuster.

However, "Guam's importance is reliant on the behavior of our allies. If South Korea and Japan say we could (launch attacks) out of there, taking out Guam becomes almost meaningless."

Defensive Shield

Guam's Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros told CNN that despite Guam's strategic importance and the North Korean threats to strike it, he remains confident of the island's defenses.

"They've slowly developed their capabilities but we stand in high confidence with the US (Defense Department's) ability to not only defend Guam and the surrounding areas but also the continental US... There are several layers of ballistic missile defense."

One of these systems, he said, is THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles.

"Two years ago a permanent deployment of that missile system was placed on Guam," he said.

He added that the US "routinely uses" Aegis-equipped warships around the island chain of the Marianas, of which Guam is the largest.

The US Department of Defense reiterated its capability to counter North Korean aggression.

"We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea," spokesman Johnny Michael told CNN.

Escalating Tensions

North Korea ramped up the rhetoric in a new statement issued Wednesday, sourced to a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA), which said a "preemptive strike is no longer the monopoly of the US."

Pyongyang's initial threat to Guam came after the US flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula on Tuesday local time.

The bombers flew out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of the US Air Force's "continuous bomber presence," according to an Pacific Air Forces spokesman. The bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean aircraft during their mission.

"In the morning of August 8 the air pirates of Guam again appeared in the sky above South Korea to stage a mad-cap drill simulating an actual war," the KCNA statement read.

Pyongyang did not develop its nuclear capability to be the aggressor in a war with the US, says CNN Military Analyst Rick Francona.

However, its most recent statements suggest that North Korea is taking a more aggressive stance -- suggesting that it might attack before the US has a chance to strike.

"The North Koreans did not develop their nuclear weapons to drop on the US," Francona told CNN. "They developed these weapons to prevent an attack from the US. Or at least that's the rhetoric coming from Pyongyang.

"Now you're looking at a possible strike on American territory (like) Guam, and also the mainland of the US."

Monday, August 14, 2017

People for Peace Rally

For Immediate Release
August 13, 2017

People for Peace Rally: Monday, August 14
Guam Groups Organizing A Community Call for Peace

Hagåtña, Guåhan — In a call for peace amid dangerous talks of war, two Guam community groups are organizing a “People for Peace” rally at the Maga’låhi Kepuha loop in Hagåtña on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 5 p.m. Independent Guåhan and the Prutehi Litekyan/Save Ritidian organization are inviting the local community to join them with peaceful signs and positive messages they’d like to share with the world. 

This past week, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un exchanged aggressive threats of attack that included plans for a North Korean missile strike near Guam in mid-August. Historically, Guam has been forced in the middle of other nations’ conflicts, particularly as an unincorporated territory of the United States. As a result, many of Guam’s people know the painful and horrific effects of war as World II survivors and as veterans. Thus, the members of Independent Guåhan and Prutehi Litekyan, both organizations dedicated to the decolonization and demilitarization of Guam, feel it is imperative for the community to stand together in a call for peace.

“What’s happening in Guam is a global issue, because if our island is attacked, it could be the catalyst for a global catastrophe,” says Independent Guåhan spokesperson Kenneth Gofigan Kuper. “Peace on Guam means peace for the rest of the world.” 

“Peace also begins in our homelands,” says Prutehi Litekyan/Save/Ritidian spokesperson Sabina Flores Perez.

“The trajectory of US hyper-militarization of Guam and the ‘Pacific’ Ocean has largely gone unnoticed and is greatly responsible for the destabilization of our region. The world’s attention must be focused on demilitarizing our lands that includes immediately halting the construction, which can take place in a matter of days, of a live-fire training range complex near Ritidian, a sacred place where we can connect to our ancestors and the location of the Guam Wildlife Refuge established on stolen native lands.” 


Independent Guåhan empowers the Chamoru people to reclaim our sovereignty as a nation. Inspired by the strength of our ancestors and with love for future generations, we educate and unify all who call our island home to build a sustainable and prosperous independent future.

Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian, a direct action group dedicated to the protection of natural and cultural resources in all sites identified for DOD live-fire training on Guam, opposes the establishment of any military firing range, stands in solidarity with Guardians of Gani’, PaganWatch, Tinian Women’s Association, and Alternative Zero Coalition by preventing environmental degradation and destruction on sacred and native lands, and promotes the continued pursuit for return of ancestral lands.


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