Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sign Petition – Halt the Guam Build Up
CLICK HERE TO SIGN PETITION!
The President of the United States,
Michael Block (White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs ),
Cecilia Munoz (Director of White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs),
Nancy Sutley (Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality)
On Earth Day, April 22, 2010, we – the undersigned environmentalists, scholars, clergy, community leaders, and concerned citizens — call attention to the severe long-term impacts of preparations for war on the physical environment and, in turn, on human health.
We are extremely concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed military expansion and build-up in the U.S. territory of Guam, noting the following points:
History of US Militarism in Guam:
* The people of Guam have lived under U.S. administration since 1898. Guam remains a U.S. colony, one of 16 non-self-governing territories listed by the United Nations, and represented by one non-voting delegate in the U.S. Congress. Local communities are highly constrained in their ability to influence the political process and were not consulted when the expansion plans were drawn up.
* For the indigenous Chamorro people, the long legacy of U.S. and Navy military control includes major land takings beginning in the early 20th century; radiation exposure; poor health; and the restriction of traditional practices such as fishing.
* In 1954, the entire island was affected by toxic contamination following the “Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in the Marshall Islands. In the 1970s, Guam’s Cocos Island lagoon was used to wash down ships contaminated with radiation en route from the Marshall Islands where they were part of an attempted clean up. From 1968 to 1974, Guam had higher yearly rainfall measures of strontium 90 than Majuro (Marshall Islands).
* As a corollary, the incidence of cancer in Guam is high. Cancer mortality rates from 1998 to 2002 showed that nasopharyngeal cancer was 48 times higher for Chamorros than among the general U.S. population. Cervical and uterine cancer mortality rates were 3 times higher. Chamorro deaths from cancer of the mouth and pharynx, the lungs, stomach, prostate, liver, breast, and thyroid were all higher than overall U.S. rates.
* Andersen AFB is a continuing source of toxic contamination through dumpsites and possible leaching of chemicals into the underground aquifer beneath the base. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency found antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, manganese, dioxin, deteriorated ordnance and explosives, and PCBs at two dumpsites just outside the base at Urunao, Guam. Other areas have been affected by Vietnam-war era use of the defoliants Agent Orange and Agent Purple, as planes used for aerial spraying were cleaned in Guam. While there are some clean-up efforts currently underway, it has not resulted in the cumulative clean-up of the island. Instead, multiple toxic sites continue to exist, thereby impacting the health status of the island’s people.
Current Build-up Plans:
* Currently, Guam’s military significance is being redefined as part of a major realignment and restructuring of U.S. forces and operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Thirty miles long and eight miles wide, Guam houses the largest Air Force fuel supply in the United States and the largest supply of weapons in the Pacific. The military controls one-third of the island and intends for Guam to become a power projection hub.
* The proposed military build-up of Guam involves the transfer of 8,600 Marines currently based at Futenma Marine Air Station (Okinawa, Japan); the acquisition of 2,200 additional acres for military use, including additional live-fire ranges; and the dredging of 71 acres of vibrant coral reef in Apra Harbor to create berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier for just 64 days a year. Also planned: a missile defense system and expansion of Andersen AFB. This proposal will increase the population of 173,456 by nearly 47% — or nearly 80,000 people, including U.S. Marines, support staff, military contractors, family members, and construction workers.
Inadequacies and Objections to the Current Plan:
* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given its worst rating to the DOD Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding the proposed build-up. The EPA emphasizes the lack of a specific plan to address the wastewater treatment and water supply needs of the increased population, which will overstretch the already inadequate infrastructure and may result in “significant adverse public health impacts.” Low water pressure could lead to increased exposure to water borne disease from sewage stormwater infiltration into drinking water. Also, it could result in saltwater intrusion into Guam’s aquifer. The planned expansion will result in an increase in spills of raw sewage, exposing people to raw sewage in their drinking water supply, through the shellfish they eat, and during ocean recreation. Moreover, the EPA report argues that the build-up “will result in unacceptable impacts to 71 acres of high quality coral reef ecosystem in Apra harbor” and concludes that, “These impacts are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the action should not proceed as proposed.”
* Despite its inordinate length (9 volumes totaling 11,000 pages), the DEIS is vague in places, contains significant contradictions, and scarcely addresses social and cultural impacts to the island.
* Even though the public comment period was far too short — a mere 90 days to absorb the implications of the 11,000 page report — there has been an outpouring of pubic testimony, concern, and opposition to the build up expressed at town hall meetings, public hearings, community events, on the internet, and in media reports.
Many public comments on the DEIS focused on unequal amenities and opportunities inside and outside the military fencelines. As proposed, the build-up plan will exacerbate the reality of two Guams: one inside and one outside the bases.
Several Guam Senators, including Speaker Judith Won Pat, have questioned the build-up. Congressional Representative Bordallo and Governor Felix Camacho have greatly moderated their earlier support after seeing the detailed proposals and hearing the strength of community concern.
* The planned military expansion has serious implications for the Chamorro people’s right to self-determination: military-related personnel could outnumber the Chamorro population, who currently make up 37% of the total. Chamorro leaders have taken this issue to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and urged this committee to send representatives to Guam to conduct an assessment of the current situation on the island’s people.
We urge you to:
1) Halt the current plans for the military build up in Guam;
2) Demand the DOD rewrite the DEIS to include socio-economic and cultural impacts and mitigation, clearly outlined environmental impacts and mitigation, address the impacts to self-determination, complete cost-benefit analysis, and federal accountability for impacts on local communities;
3) Require the DOD to clean up existing contamination and toxic sites, on and off-base, caused by military operations on Guam, before any base expansion projects are considered;
4) Limit the military’s use of land on Guam to its current “footprint”;
5) Recommend federal funding to strengthen Guam’s inadequate infrastructure.
The White House press statement, issued mid-March 2010, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to “One Guam, Green Guam,” balancing the military’s needs with local concerns, promoting renewable energy, and reducing fuel and energy costs on the island does not address people’s core concerns. These goals cannot be achieved without addressing the inadequacies and concerns raised about the current build-up proposal.
We look forward to working with you on these matters.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The new Guam doctrine will mark a significant stepping-stone in the creation of Asia's concert of powers. This ranks as a 'brave' prediction, because we don't yet have an Asian concert, and Barack Obama hasn't yet set foot on Guam to unveil a new doctrine. But both are approaching.
If Obama had not tarried in Washington to deliver the health centrepiece of his first presidential term, we would by now have the new Guam doctrine on display. But for Obamacare, the president would have made his tour last month � Guam, Indonesia and Australia. That trip is now scheduled for June.
The Guam stopover will underline the point that the US is spending billions on the island as a fresh assertion of its continuing role as Asia's military guarantor. A previous column offered this translation of the doctrine that will be blessed when Obama makes his Guam touchdown: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet.'
But my translation sentence is deficient because it reflects only the military dimension of the new doctrine. The beauty of what Obama will offer is that it will have a second, multilateral (Concert of Powers) dimension, building on the military framework of the US bilateral alliance system in Asia.
A translation of both dimensions of the Obama doctrine would look like this: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet, but we are certainly ready to talk about new ways to run the neighbourhood.' Or to put it more formally: the new doctrine will link a continuing assertion of US military capability to a willingness to think new thoughts about Asia's security architecture and a concert of powers.
A new Guam doctrine resonates in Canberra because Nixon's original version had such a profound impact on Australian defence thinking. Heading for the Vietnam exit door, Nixon used a stop-over press conference in Guam on 25 July, 1969, to float a thought bubble about US allies needing to take care of themselves. In dealing with non-nuclear threats, Nixon said, the US would 'look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for defence.'
The rough translation of that at the time in Asia and Australia went like this: We're getting out of Vietnam. Good luck, everybody. We suggest a Do It Yourself kit for defence.'
Sitting back in Washington, Kissinger later wrote of his 'amazement' that what had been private White House musings had suddenly been unveiled in an unscripted, impromptu pronouncement on Guam. The off-the-cuff announcement meant there'd been no briefing, consultation or forewarning for allies.
The strategic shift via press conference caused all sorts of frissons across the region, not least in Canberra. It didn't equal the magnitude of the Nixon-goes-to-China shock, but it certainly made an impression. Indeed, it was the reaction of allies as much as Nixon's words that turned the Guam presser into the Guam doctrine.
After Guam, Australia was on notice that forward defence and reliance on the great and powerful ally did not amount to a defence policy. And as the US exit from Vietnam gathered pace, the Guam doctrine grew in significance. Every Australian Defence White Paper since 1976 has been, in part, a post-Guam document. The argument ricochets, rebounds and recurs: How much weight for the alliance versus spending on self reliance? Defend the continent or help the neighbourhood? Is it a regional capability or an expeditionary force?
The affirmation of the US commitment to its role as an Asian power has been a standard couple of paragraphs in most post-Cold War speeches by visiting US presidents and secretaries of State or Defence. Guam puts fresh dollars behind those words. The new superbase is a military statement of intent expressed in concrete.
What Obama can do is define the meaning of a new Guam doctrine in ways that reach beyond the military dimension. The Obama version of the Guam doctrine can be about conversation as well as concrete.
Indonesia and Australia stand equal in the number of US presidential touchdowns on their soil over the last 50 years � each has six. More on those mixed half dozens in a moment.
Popes kiss the ground when their plane lands. US Presidents lay their hands on the shoulder of the leader they meet. The Pope offers a blessing. The President sends political and diplomatic messages.
The coming Obama visit to Guam, Indonesia and Australia is somewhat curtailed but the intended messages are coming into view. Stopping in Guam is, plain and simple, a nod to the Defence Department. Going to Indonesia is an expression of Obama's own life. Mark it as a White House personal-and-policy must, building on a lot of other compelling reasons for giving Indonesia more prominence.
And Australia? Perhaps Kevin Rudd's magnetism has captured Obama during their various interactions over Afghanistan, climate change and the G20. Or, more likely, the State Department and Hillary Clinton won with an argument that was part geography and part politeness. You're going all the way to Indonesia, why snub the Australians when they are virtually next door?
The first leg of the trip will give us a new Guam doctrine on the US's continuing military presence in Asia. Richard Nixon did his doctrinal dance in Guam as the US extricated itself from Vietnam. Nixon's Guam doctrine was about allies henceforth taking primary responsibility for their own defence.
The Guam doctrine that Obama will bless is made flesh in the creation of a new multi-billion dollar US military superbase. The message can be encapsulated as: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet.' Given the politics of Japan at the moment, the message could be aimed as much at Tokyo as Beijing.
Beyond the personal history of Obama in Indonesia, the White House is briefing on the visit as an expression of the view that 'America has been somewhat absent from the region over the last several years and we are committed to re-establishing that leadership.' It's a two-part US call to Asia: our attention may have wandered but we know about our interests.
Reading that briefing, I was struck by the joining of Australia and Indonesia as twin 'middle powers' and the description of the journey as another expression of 'the changing global governance' of the 21st century. You can use phrases like that when you brief in the White House.
For both Australia and Indonesia, the Obama trip will be the seventh visit by a US President in the past 50 years. That figure suggests Australia has been doing pretty well with presidential touchdowns while Indonesia continues to strive to get due recognition for its significance. Indeed (warning: incoming clich�) Australia may well have been 'punching above its weight' in gaining presidential attention. The figures are contained here at the US State Department accounting of presidential trips.
Australia got off to a 'flying' start with two visits by LBJ; one in 1966 to express his friendship for Prime Minister Holt and one the following year to mourn Holt's disappearance in the surf. Then there was a 25-year gap, after which Australia scored repeatedly: George H Bush in 1992, Bill Clinton in 1996, and George W Bush in both 2003 and 2007. Obama's trip to Canberra means Australia will have enjoyed a touchdown by four US presidents in a row. In the touchdown stakes, that is close to the gold standard for 'middle powers'.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Kahulu I Taotao Tasi
A PARTNERSHIP FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PACIFIC STUDIES
4th Annual Chamoru & Micronesian Research Conference
University of Washington, Seattle
April 14-17, 2010
THEME: “Health, Environment, and Human Rights in Micronesia”
“FAMOKSAIYAN” can be understood as the time to paddle forward or to nurture.
In April 2006, a group of Chamorro & Micronesian scholars, organizers and workers held the first annual Famoksaiyan conference at the Sons and Daughters of Guam in San Diego, California. The conference focused on the issues of self determination, education and militarism in the Marianas. In April 2007, a follow up conference was held in Oakland and at the University of California Berkeley. The 3rd conference returned to San Diego in 2008. In November 2009, a youth focused version of Famoksaiyan was held in Seattle, Washington.
We are pleased to announce that the April 14-17 conference will be held at the University of Washington and Seattle University. We welcome participants to attend workshops on Micronesian knowledge, health, education, employment, housing and any other related issue. Presenters have the option of writing and presenting papers in Micronesian languages or English. Presentations in a Micronesian language will also have a short summary available in English.
We invite partners with an interest in Pacific communities to attend a conference in Seattle in April 2010. The conference focuses on the construction and maintenance of identities in the Pacific region from political, economic, and socio-cultural perspectives. How has the emergence of such Pacific worlds in motion affected the construction, maintenance, and imagination of identities in the Pacific region? This four day conference will include performing arts celebrations and educational workshops. Our hope is to begin and continue a discussion on these Pacific issues from a variety of perspectives as we seek to understand more fully our present experience of Pacific Islanders in the US.
Some of the major issues that will be examined within the context of a Pacific world include:
Visual and performing arts
Communications & Media
Michael Tun`cap, Doctoral Candidate, University of California Berkeley
Natalie Santos, UW Micronesian Islands Club President
Jaynina Smith-Prince, Graduate Student Researcher, UW School of Social Work
Ray Duenas, Micronesian 2010 Chair & Chair of the HITA Language Project
Brian San Nicolas, Tacoma Community College, Nasion Chamoru Committee
Chasmon Tarimel, UW Pacific Islander Studies undergraduate & PIPE member
Benjamin Lealofi, Director of the Pacific Islander Commission
Deborah Tugaga, Director of the PIONEER Pre-College Program
Nestor Enguerra, Polynesian Student Alliance President & McNair Scholar
Sponsored by the University of Washington ASUW PISC, PIONEER & Micronesian
Islands Club, the University of California Berkeley Pacific Islands
Studies Group, Mariana’s Taotao Tano Club at Seattle University and the
2010 Guam Delegation to the United Nations
April 14, 2010 PASIFIK VOICES Performing Arts Celebration 7:00-10:00pm
University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Theater
April 15, 2010 Pacific Islanders and the Non-Profit Movement 6:00-8:00pm
Evening Event-NAPA, YMCA, & WORLD VISION
UW Ethnic Cultural Center Black Room
April 16, 2010 Brown Bag lunch screening The Marines Are Landing 12-1:30
April 17, 2010 Traditional Knowledge and Culture 10:00-11:00am
Gender, Identity and Social Change 11:00-12:00pm
Breaking Bread & Building Community 12:00-12:30pm
Race, Health and Education 1:00-2:00pm
Micronesians and the Media 2:00-3:00pm
GBLT struggles in the Diaspora 3:00-4:00pm
*Annual Marianas Fiesta & UW Micronesia 5:00-9:00pm
Marianas Taotao Tano Club & MIC
*Campion Ballroom, Seattle University
Saturday, April 10, 2010
We met up with Doloris Cogan at the Cultural Fest. She continues to be a valuable ally for the people of Guahan.
Guam Pacific Daily News
Author: Move Troops Back to US
By Doloris Cogan • April 9, 2010
Guam book for Obama: Doloris Cogan, author of "We Fought the Navy and Won: Guam's Quest for Democracy," gives President Obama, then a U.S. senator, a copy of her book during a campaign stop in Indiana. (Photo courtesy of Doloris Cogan)
It's time to start thinking outside the box. I have read the Region IX EPA comments on the proposed move to Guam of U.S. troops on Okinawa. My conclusion is that both the environmental impact and the cost would be absolutely devastating.
Therefore, I think it's time to start moving those troops and their families back to the United States, where there are plenty of empty barracks and unemployed workers to build whatever may be lacking. In this space age of the Internet, the Predator, fast fighters and cargo planes, security no longer depends on large forward bases. There is no need for a heavier military footprint on Guam than the island already has.
There is no need to train American pilots on foreign soil or on the Pacific islands. Our National Guard forces from all 50 states serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved that.
Many entrepreneurs on Guam will say this idea would deprive them of economic opportunities desperately needed on the island. To them I say, go after federal appropriations for improved roads, schools, trash removal, toxic waste cleanup, land surveys and outstanding reparations for land confiscated by the military decades ago. All that would provide jobs.
You now have the attention of President Barack Obama and Congress. Strike while the iron is hot! The Organic Act of Guam is almost 60 years old, and your infrastructure could use some repairs. Some of the money saved by not making that expensive move from Okinawa to Guam could be used for the above purposes.
Blaine Harden raised the proposed move of the Marines above the radar by writing what became a front-page story in The Washington Post on March 22. I was delighted to see Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz quoted in Harden's news story, along with many sons and daughters of the heroes in my book, "We Fought the Navy and Won: Guam's Quest for Democracy." I met Cruz and many of those sons and daughters in July of 2008 when my book was brand new and I went to Guam for the celebration of Liberation Day.
Guam is at another real crossroads of its history. Decisions should not be made quickly or without full discussion. Saving the island for future generations is up to you.
I met Obama twice at public rallies when he was campaigning for the presidency in Indiana and had an opportunity to ask questions, as well as give him my book, which he later acknowledged with a short personal letter. I'm proud of the picture I have of the two of us and my book, which I used as my 2008 Christmas card. His decision to visit Guam tells me he knows a lot about the island and the implications of moving more troops there.
(Recently) I was in San Diego, signing copies of my book at the Chamorro Cultural Fest. I was thrilled to meet so many Chamorros who are well-educated and holding responsible positions in the Navy and private industry. Guam's young people are specialists in the high technologies and communications. I'm convinced they can turn those skills into new professions and industries on Guam, supplementing the military economy and tourism.
What's more, they understand and practice democracy. They could be USAID workers and ambassadors to Third-World countries, and would know better than to try to impose their (or our) culture on their hosts.
This is a great time to be alive and meet the challenges ahead. My interest in Guam is as strong now as it was 60 years ago when I wrote and edited the Guam Echo, airmailed monthly from Washington to 500 Guam members of the Institute of Ethnic Affairs. We wrote in the Guam Echo about "self-determination" for indigenous inhabitants all over the world, and in San Diego I met a few Chamorro leaders hoping and searching for more of that and and less "military domination" for Guam. Self-determination is an "ideal" still discussed at the United Nations, and in the context of the proposed move and the the civil rights of the local Chamorros, it could come up again.
Now is the time to work together to find solutions to whatever serious problems exist. I tend to agree with Theodore Parker, who said, "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one ... and from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."
As writer/editor of the Guam Echo from 1947 to 1950, Doloris Cogan helped get the Organic Act of Guam through Congress, and from 1951 to 1955, she served as Pacific Island Assistant in the Department of the Interior, implementing the act.