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USS Carl Vinson sailor charged while APEC agent seeks immunity from murder charges

May 18, 2012 

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports “USS Carl Vinson sailor charged with burglary and criminal property damage” (May 18, 2012):

A sailor from the visiting aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is charged with burglary and two counts of criminal property damage after he allegedly broke into an occupied Waikiki apartment early Wednesday morning.

Bail for Christopher Rico, 20, was set at $11,000 Thursday night.

Courtesy: Honolulu Police

The USS Carl Vinson has a perfect record in the last two port visits:

This is the second time in two visits that a sailor from the carrier has gotten in trouble with the law. Police were called in June of last year  when a 22-year-old Navy man ended up naked in the bedroom of a McCully apartment. The resident of the apartment decided not to press charges in that case.

Meanwhile, Christopher Deedy, the State Department security agent assigned to the APEC summit in Honolulu who is accused of murdering Kollin Elderts in a McDonaldʻs restaurant, sought immunity from the charges against him. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports “Agent claims immunity in shooting” (May 17, 2012):

The State Department special agent accused of fatally shooting a man at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waikiki in November claims he was performing his duties as a federal law enforcement officer and is therefore immune from prosecution under state law, according to records filed in the case this week.

Christopher Deedy, 28, is scheduled to stand trial in state court for murder in September.

However, his lawyer, Brook Hart, filed legal papers seeking to dismiss the case or to at least delay his trial. Hart filed the documents Monday detailing Deedy’s version of the events that culminated in the Nov. 5 fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts, 23, and the reasons Deedy believes he should not be prosecuted.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn, who is presiding over the case, is not releasing the documents.

Hart says Deedy was in Honolulu as a federal law enforcement officer on an official State Department assignment with the power of arrest and the right to carry a firearm.

The State Department said Deedy was in Hawaii as a member of its Bureau of Diplomatic Security to provide security for leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

The judge did not release the motion to dismiss the case at the request of the prosecution.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser wrote “Seal motion, prosecutors ask” (May 18, 2012):

City prosecutors are asking a state judge to keep sealed a request to dismiss a murder charge against a State Department special agent and its supporting exhibits, which include surveillance videotapes of the fatal shooting at a McDonald’s Waikiki restaurant last year.

The defense for special agent Christopher Deedy this week filed the dismissal motion and supporting exhibits that include McDonald’s videotapes at the Kuhio Avenue restaurant.

The dismissal request is based on the contention that Deedy was performing his duties as a federal law enforcement officer and is immune from prosecution under state law.

City Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa said the defense documents and exhibits include arguments related to the merits of the case against Deedy but not the dismissal motion.

She said publicity about the request and supporting exhibits might taint potential jurors and harm the trial proceedings.

[. . . ]

Honolulu attorney Jeffrey Portnoy, who will ask to participate in the case for the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser to argue against the prosecution’s request, said keeping information confidential is “woefully inadequate” for a case of such local and national importance.

Ahn is scheduled to hear the prosecution’s request to keep information sealed on Thursday. The hearing on the dismissal request is scheduled for July.

Deedy, 28, is scheduled to stand trial in September on the charge of murdering Kollin Elderts, 23, on Nov. 5. The special agent was here to provide security for leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Will this APEC killing be another Massie incident?

Moana Nui 2011 conference videos are online!

December 8, 2011 

Videos of the Moana Nui 2011 conference are now online.   Of particular interest for the DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina site is the panel on Militarization and Resistance in the Pacific.

Walden Bello, keynote speech

NATIVE RIGHTS, ECONOMIES, GOVERNANCE–RESISTING GLOBAL POWERS

Passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), coupled with advancing decolonization movements among Pacific Islands peoples, has altered the political geography of Moana Nui. Nonetheless, Pacific Rim economic powers and multi-national corporations continue to dominate our regions. Global trade negotiations in APEC/TPP bring new dangers, as “economic integration” among powerful nations threatens to crush indigenous and small island peoples’ work toward strengthened control. This panel features key leaders from Oceania who have worked to restore Native peoples’ control and management of local resources and economies. They discuss strategies for defending our rights and resources from exploitation.

Moderator: Jon Osorio (O‘ahu, Hawai‘i) Kamakak‘okalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
Nalani Minton (Kanaka Maoli Tribunal Komike, Hawai‘i)
Santi Hitorangi (Practitioner, Hitorangi Clan, Rapa Nui)
Joshua Cooper – (Hawai‘i) UN Human Rights
Mililani Trask – (Hawai‘i) Vice Chair, General Assembly of Nations, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organizations (UNPO)
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot, Tebtebba Foundation, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Philippines)
Julian Aguan (Guahan, Guam) Indigenous Chamoru Activist, Attorney, and Author
Public 1,2, Public 3, Public 4-6, Public 7,8

MILITARIZATION & RESISTANCE IN THE PACIFIC

The Pacific basin has been a frequent victim of military domination by global powers, fighting for regional political and economic control. 66 years after the end of World War II hundreds of U.S. military bases still spread from Hawaii across the Pacific to Guam, and many other Pacific islands, with dozens more in South Korea and Japan, and one on Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean), all directed at presumed threats from China. Local peoples are outraged. Popular resistance in Guam, Okinawa-Japan, Jeju Island-South Korea, and elsewhere demands removal of U.S. occupying forces. Similar movements exist in Hawaii, where about 25% of total land area is devoted to military purposes, from nuclear ports to training areas to missile sites.

Moderator: Ikaika Hussey
Poetry: Craig Santos Perez: (Chamorro, poet, author, activist, Guahan, Guam)
Bruce Gagnon: (Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space)
Christine Ahn: (San Francisco, California) Executive Director, Korea Policy Institute; Policy Analyst, Global Fund for Women
Dr.Lisa Natividad: (Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice)
Suzuyo Takazato: (Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence)
Kyle Kajihiro: (O‘ahu, Hawai‘i) Hawai‘i Peace and Justice, DMZ Hawai‘i/Aloha ‘?ina
Mayumi Oda: (Japan/Hawai‘i) Artist/Activist
Public 1, Public 2, Public 3

GLOBALIZATION, DEVELOPMENT & GEOPOLITICS

Economic globalization seeks to homogenize (globalize) diverse regional economies within a unified vision of how we should all live; a vision that suits global corporate purposes, rather than local needs, traditions, visions, cultures, workers and environments. Negotiations like APEC/TPP intend for Pacific Rim and Pacific Island nations to merge within one integrated economic machine. NAFTA of the Pacific! It’s our challenge to learn the full details of what’s at stake, how life will change, how our economies will change—-The role of resource, military, tourist and energy development. What is gained, what is lost? And if we don’t want it, how do we organize to protect ourselves, our lands, resources, and local sovereignties.

Moderator: Jerry Mander (Int’l Forum on Globalization);
Joseph Gerson (American Friends Service Committee);
Dale Wen (IFG China Scholar, Beijing-Hamburg)
Anuradha Mittal (Oakland Institute, India/US);
Adam Wolfenden (Pacific Network on Globalization, PANG, Australia);
Ray Catania (Labor organizer/Hawai‘i Gov’t. Employees Association, Kauai)
Yumi Kikuchi (Peace activist, author, Japan);
Public

PACIFIC RESOURCES, LANDS & ECONOMIES

As elsewhere on Earth, the Pacific faces environmental crises from overdevelopment, resource scarcities, climate change, rising seas, destruction of coral reefs (for military ports and mining), loss of arable soils, and other challenges, threatening local communities. Powerful nations of the Asia-Pacific are fiercely competing for regional resources: oil and gas in Indonesia, fish stocks and minerals from the seas, “rare earths” from China, while diminishing fresh water and agricultural lands are torn between local needs, industrial biotechnology, military dominance, and tourism.  Trade and investment negotiations like Apec/TPP further threaten the already tenuous hold of small island nations and peoples on their economic and cultural viability. How do we organize together to resist this and regain control?

Moderator: Arnie Saiki (Coordinator, Moana Nui 2011, and ‘Imi Pono Projects, Hawai‘i);
Peter Apo (Office of Hawaiian Affairs);
Jamie Tanquay (Well-being indicators, Vanuatu )
Galina Angarova (Pacific Environment, Russia/Siberia/Mongolia);
Albie Miles (environmental indicators)
Walter Ritte (Anti GMO/Hawaiian Rights activist, Molokai);
Richard Heinberg (Post Carbon Institute, author The End of Growth)
Public

APEC & TPP: WHAT WE MUST KNOW; WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Local sovereignty, militarization and colonization, forms of development, control and ultimate  ownership of resources, worker rights, investment protocols, energy and resource battles are all implicated in the grand bargain sought by great powers and their corporations.  We need to learn every detail of these agreements, and their import. And we need to determine what, exactly, we can do about it.

Moderator: Victor Menotti (International Forum on Globalization);
Jane Kelsey ((Aotearoa/New Zealand)?Prof. of Law, Univ. of Auckland; Author of “TPPA – No Ordinary Deal: Unmasking the Trans-Pacific partnership free Trade Agreement”;
Lori Wallach (Public Citizen, Wash. DC);
Yasuo Konda (People’s Action Against TPP, JAPAN);
Walden Bello (Philippine Legislature, Focus on Global South)
Public 1, Public 2

The winds of trade

December 7, 2011 

UHM prof, Craig Santos Perez wrote this powerful letter to the editor of the Marianas Variety. Also see Craig’s poem at the Moana Nui conference:

The winds of trade

Thursday, 08 December 2011 00:16 Letter to the Editor

THE northeast trade winds brought Magellan to Guåhan on his quest to trade with China (for silk, tea and porcelain). We became a fueling stop on the Manila Galleon trade route between Acapulco and Manila. With Spanish missionization, our souls were also traded.

To protect these material and spiritual trade routes from other European traders, the Spanish militarized Guåhan, building 14 military structures between 1671 and 1835. The Chamorro-Spanish War began in 1671. U.S. corporate trade interests in the Caribbean, Pacific, and Asia spurred the Spanish-American War of 1898. After the war, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines were annexed by the United States, traded from one colonizer to another.

The “Insular Cases” that decided our fate also involved trade. In DeLima v Bidwell (1901), the DeLima Sugar Company sued New York City for charging tariffs on sugar from Puerto Rico. In Downes v Bidwell (1901), S.B. Downes & Company sued New York City for charging tariffs on oranges from Puerto Rico. Goetze v United States (1901) challenged tariff law on goods from Hawai’i (annexed after the Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown by U.S. military-backed corporations). In Fourteen Diamond Rings v United States (1901), an American who purchased 14 diamond rings from the Philippines refused to pay tariffs. The plaintiffs in these cases argued tariffs were illegal since all the countries they imported from were annexed, hence they were no longer “foreign countries.”

Annexation was a free trade strategy, orchestrated by U.S. corporations and protected by the U.S. military. While the Spanish traded crucifixes for Chamorro souls, the U.S. traded flags for Chamorro bodies. More than 600 Chamorro men enlisted as mess attendants during the U.S. Naval period. Of course, our bodies were inspected and vaccinated first.

After World War I, Japan gained control over trade in other parts of Micronesia. When Japan occupied Guåhan during World War II, we were incorporated into the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Again, we were traded from one colonizer to another.

When the U.S. re-occupied Guahan, we were traded once again. Then the Guam Organic Act of 1950 traded U.S. citizenship for more Chamorro bodies. Approximately 3,700 Chamorros enlisted by 1971. The children of the Organic Act became the soldiers of the Vietnam War. Their children are now exported by a new breed of traders: military recruiters.

It is not a coincidence the military buildup on Guåhan was announced in 2005/2006. It was the same time the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) – a group of world leaders and global CEOs (Big Sweatshops, Big Pharmaceutical, Big Military Contractors, Big Oil, Big Agriculture, Big Mining, Big Banking) – began pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a NAFTA-like free trade agreement for our region. Of course, “free trade” means eliminating tariffs, labor unions, fair wages, health benefits, job security, safety standards, and environmental regulations.

It is not a coincidence the military buildup on Guåhan was approved before the 2011 APEC meeting was held here in Honolulu.

Will we trade our children to the military recruiters? Will we trade our economic sovereignty for commissary privileges? Will we trade our ancestral burial grounds for a museum? Will we trade the innocence of a 12-year-old Chamorro girl for the sexual violence of 8,000 U.S. Marines?

Will we trade our culture for tourists from Russia and China? Will they trade our “Native Inhabitant Vote” for a “Haole-Always Vote?”

Will we trade the scent of the ocean for the scent of U.S. dollar bills?

Corporate trade and military interests have been controlling our destiny since the 16th century. Will we continue to trade away our future?

Craig Santos Perez,
poet, professor
Honolulu, Hawai’i

The Militarization of Police

December 6, 2011 

The recent APEC summit in Honolulu brought an unprecedented level of security which locked down entire parts of the city.  For the first time since the martial law years of World War II, we saw military patrolling and securing areas of Waikiki.

The police also loaded up on military style weapons, which raised concerns about the militarization of the police.

Although the police did not use any of their new toys against the peaceful protests that occurred, they are now armed to the teeth for future contingencies, such as…it’s not clear.  The recent police attacks on the Occupy movement across the U.S. has raised concerns about the militarization of police in the U.S.

Marine Corps veteran Scott Olsen was seriously injured when a tear gas canister struck him in the head.

In the New York Times, Al Baker asks what it means When the Police Go Military:

RIOT police officers tear-gassing protesters at the Occupy movement in Oakland. The surprising nighttime invasion of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, carried out with D-Day-like secrecy by officers deploying klieg lights and a military-style sound machine. And campus police officers in helmets and face shields dousing demonstrators at the University of California, Davis with pepper spray.

Is this the militarization of the American police?

[...]

The more the police fail to defuse confrontations but instead help create them — be it with their equipment, tactics or demeanor — the more ties with community members are burned, he said. The effect is a loss of civility, and an erosion of constitutional rights, rather than a building of good will.

“What is most worrisome to us is that the line that has traditionally separated the military from civilian policing is fading away,” Mr. Lynch said. “We see it as one of the most disturbing trends in the criminal justice area — the militarization of police tactics.”

Of course for many poor communities and communities of color, this kind of violent, oppressive militarized police presence is nothing new.  Former Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates was infamous for his extreme brutality in his war against the poor communities of Los Angeles.  At one point he even offered President Carter a LAPD SWAT unit to liberate hostages in Tehran.

But another disturbing bit of news is a little known program called the  “1033 Program” under which the military gives surplus weapons to local law enforcement.  In Battlefield Main Street, Benjamin Carlson reports in The Daily, this program is turning Main Street into a battlefield:

In today’s Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could be using grenade launchers and a tank to keep the peace. A rapidly expanding Pentagon program that distributes used military equipment to local police departments — many of them small-town forces — puts battlefield-grade weaponry in the hands of cops at an unprecedented rate.

Through its little-known “1033 program,” the Department of Defense gave away nearly $500 million worth of leftover military gear to law enforcement in fiscal year 2011 — a new record for the program and a dramatic rise over past years’ totals, including the $212 million in equipment distributed in 2010.

The surplus equipment includes grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles.

And the program’s recent expansion shows no sign of slackening: Orders in fiscal year 2012 are up 400 percent over the same period in 2011, according to data provided to The Daily by the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency.

Passed by Congress in 1997, the 1033 program was created to provide law-enforcement agencies with tools to fight drugs and terrorism. Since then, more than 17,000 agencies have taken in $2.6 billion worth of equipment for nearly free, paying only the cost of delivery.

Experts say the recent surge is simply the continuation of a decades-long trend: the increasing use of military techniques and equipment by local police departments, tactics seen most recently in the crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country. But critics of the program say that the recent expansion of 1033 distributions should be setting off alarm bells.

 

Moana Nui Conference air dates on ‘Olelo

December 1, 2011 

Mahalo to Scotty Wong and the crew at ‘Olelo for documenting the Moana Nui peoples’ conference as well as the happenings within the ‘official’ APEC summit. Below are the airdates for the first installment of Moana Nui programs.  The programs stream live during their scheduled air date/time at www.olelo.org.   The shows will also be available online on demand on olelonet.

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference: Ep – 1

12/1/11            Thu       2:30 pm            VIEW 54

12/2/11            Fri         2:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/6/11            Tue       9:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/11/11           Sun      1:30 pm            VIEW 54

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference: Ep – 2

12/1/11            Thu       3:30 pm            VIEW 54

12/2/11            Fri         6:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/9/11            Fri         2:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/11/11           Sun      11:00 pm          VIEW 54

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference: Ep – 3

12/1/11            Thu       4:30 pm            VIEW 54

12/2/11            Fri         8:30 pm            VIEW 54

12/7/11            Wed     10:30 pm          FOCUS 49

12/10/11           Sat       4:30 pm            VIEW 54

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference 2011: Ep – 4

12/1/11            Thu       6:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/3/11            Sat       2:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/9/11            Fri         10:00 pm          FOCUS 49

12/12/11           Mon     11:30 am          FOCUS 49

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference 2011 Ep 5

12/1/11            Thu       10:00 am          FOCUS 49

12/2/11            Fri         7:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/9/11            Fri         11:00 pm          FOCUS 49

12/14/11           Wed     9:30 am            FOCUS 49

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference 2011 Ep 6

12/1/11            Thu       11:00 am          FOCUS 49

12/3/11            Sat       5:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/8/11            Thu       6:00 pm            VIEW 54

12/14/11           Wed     11:00 pm          FOCUS 49

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference 2011: Ep 7

12/1/11            Thu       6:30 pm            FOCUS 49

12/4/11            Sun      11:00 pm          VIEW 54

12/9/11            Fri         5:00 pm            FOCUS 49

12/17/11           Sat       2:00 pm            VIEW 54

APEC: Moana Nui: Alternative APEC Conference 2011: Ep – 8

12/1/11            Thu       7:30 pm            FOCUS 49

12/6/11            Tue       11:00 pm          FOCUS 49

12/11/11           Sun      12:30 pm          VIEW 54

12/18/11           Sun      11:00 pm          VIEW 54

If you checked the ‘OleloNet box on your Playback Request, your show will be available on the Internet at www.olelo.org/olelonet two to three days after the first airdate.

Just search for your program (using “quote marks” helps narrow down the choices) and distribute the link.

 

Rivals under the same heaven

December 1, 2011 

President Obama used the backdrop of the November 2011 APEC summit in Honolulu to unveil his foreign policy ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific region, then traveled to Australia where he announced the expansion of U.S. military exercises and bases there.  Recently, Secretary of State Clinton wrote an article in Foreign Policy entitled “America’s Pacific Century”, where she articulated the same policy.

At the Moana Nui peoples’ conference in Honolulu and at the Japan Peace Conference in Okinawa, many speakers discussed the U.S. pivot as a policy of simultaneously containing and engaging China. It is a tango of ‘competitive interdependence’.

Dr Jian Junbo, an assistant professor of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, China, and an academic visitor at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, echoed this theme in an op ed in the Asia Times “Rivals Under the Same Heaven”.   However, Professor Jian sees recent U.S. moves as a shift towards a more aggressive containment of China, which could have dire consequences for peace and prosperity:

US policy toward China in past three decades could be summarized as seeking a balance between containment and engagement.

The diplomatic offensives launched by the administration of US President Barack Obama in past weeks are evidence that Washington is quickly tipping the balance in favor of containing China, frustrated by its failure to engage that country into US-led international order.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Hawaii in mid-November, Obama demanded that China play by international rules, and be more responsible in the international community, since it had grown up. He said China should continue to revalue its currency against the US dollar, narrow the Sino-US trade deficit and better protect intellectual-property rights. Even more aggressively, Obama has kicked off negotiations on forming a Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific area that would exclude China – the second-largest economy in the world.

Right after the APEC Summit, Obama visited Australia, a political and military ally of the US, where he declared that 2,500 American troops would be stationed in Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. This is widely viewed as a new deterrence to China’s navy.

[...]

Taking into consideration all of this and other actions by the US administration in East Asia in recent years after Obama proclaimed the ”return to Asia” strategic shift, it’s easy to see that a new containment policy toward China is in formation, although Obama and his top officials have publicly denied it.

And U.S. bases play a key role in this strategy now that America’s ‘tender trap’ failed to capture China in a U.S. dominated world system:

All this is not to mention that the US has many military bases in countries and regions neighboring China – South Korea, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – and it has military cooperation with Mongolia, Indonesia, Malaysia and others.

All in all, it seems Washington is now seeking comprehensively to contain China with both hard and soft approaches after its adoption of the ”return to Asia” strategy and its failure to frame China in the US-led international system despite the efforts of each US administration in the past three decades. When Obama visited China in 2009, he tried to sell the new idea of a Group of Two – a US-China convergence in geopolitical interests – but Premier Wen Jiabao straightforwardly told Obama that Beijing didn’t like such an idea.

Originally, Obama hoped in this way to ”tame” China – not by containment or engagement alone but with what some called a ”tender trap”. But he failed. After that, we can see Washington has been readjusting its policy toward China, and the readjustment should not be considered only as temporary ”election rhetoric” by Obama to please the Republicans and common voters. Rather, this is a systemic and strategic readjustment of China policy, in coordination with Washington’s ”return to Asia” strategic shift.

China’s response has been subdued. This has puzzled some Asia watchers including Richard Halloran, a contributor to the Civil Beat and former columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser, who writes:

Surprisingly, China’s response to President Obama’s plan to “pivot” American attention and military power from the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan to East Asia has been remarkably mild.

Dr. Jian attributes China’s restraint to “domestic affairs”, such as preparations for the 18th National Congress next year to reshuffle the Chinese Communist Party’s top leadership, as well as China’s culture and history and its national strategy of “peaceful rise”.   Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to follow the script of western imperialism, as expressed by Joseph Nye, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.   He asserts that the two world wars were the result of the failure by the dominant powers to integrate a rising power into the existing order.   Therefore, he counsels applying greater pressure on China to conform to and integrate into the U.S. dominated order:

The Pentagon’s East Asia Strategy Review that has guided our policy since 1995 offered China integration into the international system through trade and exchanges, but we hedged our bet by simultaneously strengthening our alliance with Japan. Our military forces did not aspire to “contain” China in a cold war fashion, but they helped to shape the environment in which China makes its choices.

So it is a policy of containment, not ‘Containment’.  However, Jian advises:

It is important that the US should not treat China like those rising powers in history, and Beijing should seek more flexible and functional ways to deal with Washington’s challenges.

[...]

Containment is the worst and stupidest way to deal with or manage China’s rise.

APEC “Hawaii’s biggest media event since Pearl Harbor”?

November 20, 2011 

Calling APEC  “a game changer for Hawaii,” (11/19/2011) Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang gushed that “This was Hawaii’s biggest media event since Pearl Harbor.”   And to him, “good press” included headlines like “Leaders’ close call with grass skirts and coconut bras.”  Or APEC agent Christopher Deedy fatally shooting local Kollin Elderts in a 3 AM altercation in a Waikīkī McDonalds.

Seriously?   You can’t make this stuff up.   Calling “Pearl Harbor” a “media event” trivializes the tragedy and horror of World War II..   But if APEC, and militarization in Hawai’i are only about the money, which is how these events are seen by many government and private sector leaders, then why not link APEC to Pearl Harbor?   After all, “Pearl Harbor” is a myth that sells.

However, digging deeper into the comparison between Pearl Harbor and APEC, more profound similarities emerge.  Both represent the policies of powerful countries vying for dominance in the world system.  During WWII, the U.S. and western powers prevented Japan, a rising power from effectively and peacefully integrating into the world economic system.   The rules of the game were also set by the ruling powers to reward countries that behaved in an imperialist manner, and Japan, ever the diligent student, was happy to oblige.  The Pacific War was the collision of American and Japanese imperialisms vying for dominance in the Pacific.

APEC was the backdrop for President Obama to announce his new ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific region. He pushed hard for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which would create a U.S. dominated economic bloc without China.  Obama then announced that he was increasing the U.S. military troops and activities in Australia.  These more aggressive moves signal a shift to a more containment-oriented strategy towards China.  These moves will increase tensions with China, a rising power that the U.S. wants to contain.

In the prelude to World War II, Japan sought to ensure its economic growth by creating a Japanese-dominated economic bloc called the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.  Today, the U.S. wants to ensure its economic recovery by creating a U.S.-dominated Asian economic bloc through the Trans Pacific Partnership.  As Michel Foucault observed, inverting the Clausewitzian maxim, policy and economics has become a form of war by other means.  But will it turn into guns and bombs?   In the Pacific, we know what the consequences would be of such a turn.  Quoting Philippines anti-bases scholar/activist Herbert Docena, Joseph Gerson noted at the Moana Nui Conference, “When elephants battle or make love, it is the ants who are crushed.”

 

 

 

Occupy APEC with Aloha

November 18, 2011 

Christine Ahn wrote an brilliant article in FPIF on the Moana Nui conference and peoples’ resistance to the APEC neoliberal – militarization agenda.   I quote liberally from the article below.  You should read the full article here.

“The time has come for us to voice our rage,” the Hawaiian artist Makana sang as he gently strummed his slack-key guitar. “Against the ones who’ve trapped us in a cage, to steal from us the value of our wage.”

Makana wasn’t serenading the Occupy movement; rather his audience included over a dozen of the world’s most powerful leaders, including President Obama and China’s Premier Hu Jintao, at the world’s most secure, policed, and fortified event: the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) dinner in Hawaii.

[...]

Makana, however, wasn’t the only one voicing his outrage during the APEC summit. As government and corporate leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific economies plotted how to expand a global free trade agenda, civil society activists from throughout the Asia Pacific gathered across town at the Moana Nui (the Great Pacific Ocean) conference to discuss pressing issues facing people and the planet, such as climate change, income inequality, and militarization of the region.

Organized by Pua Mohala I Ka Po and the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), scholars, activists, policy analysts, lawyers, labor union leaders, practitioners, and artists traveled from Guam, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tonga, Fiji, Micronesia, New Zealand, Australia, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Japan, Siberia, Okinawa, Philippines, South Korea, Vanuatu, and the United States.

[...]

What’s significant is what preceded and then followed Obama’s China bashing. Ahead of the summit, both State Secretary Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined the United States’ expanded role in the Asia-Pacific. In “America’s Pacific Century,” an article in Foreign Affairs, Secretary Clinton writes that the United States will “substantially increase investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also echoed Clinton on his last trip to Asia, where he promised greater U.S. military presence throughout the Asia-Pacific—that is, more than the 300-plus U.S. bases that have already been there for over half a century.

After APEC, President Obama visited Australia to announce the arrival of 250 U.S. marines to northern Australia next year, with the eventual buildup to reach 2,500. “The goal, though administration officials are loath to say it publicly,” writes Mark Landler of the New York Times, “is to assemble a coalition to counterbalance China’s growing power.” Although Washington is posing China as a military threat, the reality is that in 2010, the United States spent $720 billion on its military, compared with China’s $116 billion, and it’s the United States that has over 300 military bases in the Asia-Pacific, whereas China has none.

Moana Nui: The Alternative to APEC

Moana Nui brought together several social movements—the indigenous and native communities fighting for sovereignty with activists working to stop corporate globalization and militarism. It was significant to be gathering in Hawai’i, a once-sovereign nation whose Queen Lili’uokalani was overthrown by American gunboat “diplomacy” in 1893. Moana Nui opened with a daylong conversation among indigenous and native communities from throughout the Pacific. This was an important reminder of the United States’ long history of stealing indigenous peoples’ lands, without treaties, without democratic process. Moana Nui participants also reframed the Pacific in aquatic terms as the “liquid continent” instead of the continental approach used by hegemonic powers.

Their voices were soon joined by those who have been organizing and resisting against the onslaught of trade liberalization and militarization, the new and more subtle face of colonialism. Moana Nui participants shared how transnational corporations, empowered by free trade and structural adjustment policies, have destroyed local economies, cultural properties, natural resources, and ultimately the sovereignty and self-sufficiency of communities. Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, warned that the TPP will further impact domestic policy and regulation and “give more ammunition to corporations to challenge governments,” by granting foreign investors stronger intellectual property rights and further facilitating corporate global supply chains.

The corporate-led free trade agenda, however, needs the military to secure its profits. Kyle Kajihiro of Hawaii Peace and Justice reminded the audience of Thomas Friedman’s classic quote, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist—McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” The military has gone hand-in-hand with free trade by forcing open new markets for investment and new natural resources for exploitation (let’s not forget Iraq). Although it may allow for the safe and secure transport of vital natural resources such as oil and natural gas, the military is there to project force, a lethal force that could intervene militarily if U.S. interests were compromised.

[...]What was clear during Moana Nui was that the peoples of the Asia-Pacific refuse to fall victim to the growing arms race between the United States and China. Echoing a proverb widely known in the Pacific, Gerson warned, “When the elephants are battling or making love, it’s the ants that get squashed.” Activists from Guam and Okinawa shared how the decades-long presence of U.S. military bases had destroyed their livelihoods, culture, and sovereignty, but also how their organizing has led to victories, such as delaying the transfer of 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa to Guam, and mass protests that brought nearly 100,000 Okinawans to the streets to protest the transfer of U.S. bases within Okinawa.

[...]

The final sessions of Moana Nui carried a clear message: the only way to address these challenges to sovereignty is to fundamentally roll back the conditions and laws imposed by FTAs, the WTO, and structural adjustment. As Walden Bello put it, “We need to de-globalize economies instead of being subordinated to free trade and global markets if we want to achieve food security, human livelihoods and ecological sustainability.”

[...]

The final declaration that emerged out of Moana Nui united the struggles of those who traveled across the great Pacific Ocean. “We invoke our rights to free, prior and informed consent. We choose cooperative trans-Pacific dialogue, action, advocacy, and solidarity between and amongst the peoples of the Pacific, rooted in traditional cultural practices and wisdom.”

The declaration also included a Native Hawaiian prophesy which echoes the principles of the Occupy movement: E iho ana o luna, E pi’i ana o lalo, E hui ana na moku, E ku ana ka paia. “That which is above shall be brought down, that which is below shall rise up, the islands shall unite, the walls of our foundation shall stand.” E mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. “Forever we will uphold the life and sovereignty of the land in righteousness.”

America’s Pacific Century?

November 16, 2011 

Mahalo to Noelani Arista for pointing out this article by Tina Gerhardt, “America’s Pacific Century?”, which explains many of the trade issues surrounding the APEC, Trans-Pacific Partnership and related trade agreements in the Asia Pacific region.  It gives a good explanation of the impacts of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement:

A Harbinger of Things to Come: The Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA)

On February 10, 2011, the United States and South Korea signed two agreements — amendments to the Korea U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) ratified on June 30, 2007.

The agreements — the most significant the U.S. has signed in over 16 years, since the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — reduce Korean tariffs on U.S. goods exported to Korea.

They were approved last month by Congress on October 12, 2011 and await the decision of the Korean National Assembly.

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative stated that “under the FTA, nearly 95% of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products will become duty free within five years… and most remaining tariffs would be eliminated within 10 years.”

Additionally, the KORUS FTA will also allow greater access to the Korean financial market.

“As the first U.S. FTA with a North Asian partner,” the Office of U.S. Trade Representative stated, “the KORUS FTA is a model for trade agreements for the rest of the region, and underscores the U.S. commitment to, and engagement in, the Asia-Pacific region.”

In other words, the KORUS FTA is a harbinger of possible things to come.

Christine Ahn, Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute, stated that “the proposed KORUS FTA undermines South Korean democracy in significant ways: it undermines approximately 180 South Korean laws.”

“In particular,” Ahn continued, “the KORUS FTA has two really negative effects: first in the pharmaceutical industry and second in the agricultural arena. Korea has a universal health care system. While it is not like Sweden’s healthcare system, it does provide basic care for everybody. As part of it, Korea has a strong generic pharmaceutical industry. Concerns abound that the KORUS FTA would drive up costs so much, that universal healthcare would be untenable and Korean health care would essentially be privatized.”

“The FTA would also negatively impact agriculture,” Ahn stated, “As anyone who has been following the World Trade Organization knows, Korean farmers have already been intensely affected by their policies.” At the 2003 WTO meeting in Cancún, Korean farmer Lee Kyung-Hae committed suicide at the frontline barricades to underscore the desperate situation of Korean farmers.

“The KORUS FTA would deepen this impact,” Ahn stated. “According to the Korean government’s own figures, 45% of Korean farmers would be displaced from their farms because they would not be able to compete with the U.S. subsidized agricultural industry. We have already seen this type of effect of FTAs in Mexico under NAFTA.”

If the KORUS FTA is a sign of possible things to come, so, too, are the uprisings against it. Historian and political scientist George Katsiaficas states in his forthcoming book Asia’s Unknown Uprisings: “massive protests took place against the [KORUS] FTA in December 2006″ and “polls showed over half of all Koreans opposed the agreement.”

The AFL-CIO opposed the KORUS FTA.  In August, I submitted an op ed that corrected inaccurate information put forth by some proponents of the agreement.  Representative Hanabusa was the only member of the Hawai’i Congressional delegation to vote for the KORUS FTA.

U.S. pivot to Asia makes China nervous

November 16, 2011 

The Washington Postpublished an informative article on China’s reaction to President Obama’s “pivot” toward Asia:

With the Obama administration’s high-profile pivot toward Asia this week — pushing for a new free-trade agreement with at least eight other countries and securing military basing rights in Australia — China is feeling at once isolated, criticized, encircled and increasingly like a taret of U.S. moves.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which was the major policy issue at the APEC summit in Honolulu, will raise tensions between China and the U.S. and spill over from the realm of economics into the realm of security concerns:

Among the friction points between the United States and China, a particular source of tension is the U.S. push for a new free-trade pact, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which pointedly does not include China. Beijing sees the development of the TPP as a political move, to create a U.S.-dominated counterweight to a rival trade bloc of Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, known by the acronym ASEAN Plus Three.

[...]

“President Obama wants to intensely push on all fronts,” said Zhu Feng, a professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies. “It’s very, very depressing. Of course, it’s targeting China. It’s a new East Asian strategy.”

Zhu said he feared that the Chinese government would react to feeling isolated — particularly if the United States pursues the TPP free-trade agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and, perhaps, Japan, without China being invited to join. And the one area where Beijing could react is the economic arena, where the United States and China had lately been acting more cooperatively, even as they continued to disagree on the issue of currency valuation.

“What worries me for the moment is, economically China’s backlash could be very serious,” Zhu said. “Economics has turned out to be common ground for both sides. Now I have to say security elements will complicate China’s view of economic engagement.”

[...]

But, analysts here said, China expects to be taken seriously as a player in the East Asian region. And the analysts feared that any U.S. moves seen as provocative might only push a nervous China to take defensive measures.

“If the U.S. tries to be provocative . . . and treat China as a rival, it will definitely trigger an arms race and put East Asia in a tight spot,” said Sun Zhe, an international relations professor at Tsinghua University. “This is what alarms me most.”

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