Top

The Great Pacific Shuffle – US Troops to Move from Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, Australia

June 29, 2012 

Discussing the so-called Pacific ʻpivotʻ of U.S. policy, Cara Flores Mays (We Are Guahan), Terri Kekoʻolani and Kyle Kajihiro (both with Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice and DMZ-Hawaiʻi / Aloha ʻAina) were guests on the Asia Pacific Forum radio program on WBAI (New York) with host Hyun Lee. Listen to the program here:

The Great Pacific Shuffle – US Troops to Move from Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, Australia

The US military is playing a game of shuffle in Asia Pacific – planning to withdraw 9000 troops from Okinawa and transfer them to Guam, Hawaii, and Australia – according to a deal reached at the US-Japan summit last month. The plan reflects “US’ attempt to save its long-standing alliance with Japan in the face of unrelenting resistance by the Okinawan people” against the presence of US marines there, according to Kyle Kajihiro of DMZ Hawaii. What does this sudden announcement mean for the people of Guam and Hawaii? How much will the move cost US taxpayers, and will the minority but growing voices of concern in Washington about unlimited military spending check the planned troop transfer? APF talks with Kyle Kajihiro, as well as Terri Keko’olani of the Hawaii Peace and Justice Center and Cara Flores-Mays of We are Guahan.

Guests

  • Cara Flores-Mays is an indigenous Chamorro small-business owner specializing in creative media. She is an organizer for the grassroots organization “We Are Guåhan”, which has played a significant role in educating the Guam community about the potential impacts of the proposed military buildup. She provides strategy and resource development for the group’s initiatives, including “Prutehi yan Difendi”, a campaign to increase public awareness and support for a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for which We Are Guåhan was a filing party.
  • Kyle Kajihiro is a fourth generation Japanese in Hawaiʻi and was born and raised in Honolulu. He has worked on peace and demilitarization issues since 1996, first as staff with the American Friends Service Committee, and now with its successor organization, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice. He writes and speaks about the demilitarization movement in Hawaiʻi and has traveled internationally to build solidarity on these issues. In the past, he has been active in anti-racist/anti-fascist issues, immigrant worker organizing, Central America solidarity, and community mural, radio and video projects.
  • Terri Keko’olani is a native Hawaiian and sovereignty activist/community organizer with DMZ Hawai’i Aloha Aina and the Hawaii Peace and Justice Center.

Listen to the program by downloading the MP3: http://www.asiapacificforum.org/downloads/audio/APF20120604_743_TheGreatPa.mp3

Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base

May 8, 2012 

With the U.S. changing its distribution of troops moving from Okinawa, Hawai’i is expected to get up to 2700 Marines, while Guam will get less than originally projected.   USA Today Reported that “Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base” (May 2, 2012):

The federal government is rethinking where to put a Marine base on Guam now that fewer Marines will be moving to the U.S. territory from Okinawa, Japan.

With fewer troops and families to house, a local Marine base could be smaller than previously thought, Joe Ludovici, the executive director of the military’s Joint Guam Program Office, said Wednesday.

New environmental impact reviews will have to be done:

New draft and final environmental impact statements will be released in 2014. A decision on where to put the base and firing range would come the following year.

And the ancient Chamorro village site in Pagat may yet dodge the bullet(s):

The changes could also lead to a new proposed location for a firing range.

Under the new plan, 5,000 Marines and 1,300 dependents will move to Guam. The old plan included 8,600 Marines and as many as 12,000 dependents.

The military had been planning to build the Marine base on about 680 acres of civilian land in Dededo, in northern Guam.

The firing range was to go on the site of an ancient village, Pagat, also in northern Guam. The Navy began reevaluating this idea last year after a lawsuit alleged it had failed to adequately consider other locations that would affect the environment and historical sites less.

Army won’t shrink force level in Pacific region, general says

January 18, 2012 

William Cole reported in the Honolulu Star Advertiser that according to Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno, the Army will maintain force levels in the Asia Pacific despite recent proposed defense cuts:

The Army will keep its force level about the same in Asia and the Pacific as the service looks to make cuts elsewhere, the chief of staff of the Army said.

In addition, it will rotate extra soldiers through the region from the mainland for training, engagement and deployments as needed.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who became the 38th Army chief of staff on Sept. 7, made the comment Tuesday during a stop in Hawaii and as he prepared to head to South Korea and Japan.

“I think the number of soldiers assigned to the Pacific will be generally the same,” Odierno said. “You won’t see a significant decrease here, and the additional thing you’ll see … as we reduce our commitments now that we’re out of Iraq, and now that we’re reducing our structure in Afghanistan, you’ll see more of the (continental)-based force who will be available to conduct operations in support of any of the combatant commanders, but also to support what’s going on here in the Pacific.”

The Army maintains about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, 23,000 in Hawaii, 2,700 in Japan and 13,000 in Alaska, according to U.S. Army Pacific.

Hawaii is “critical” to the Army, Odierno said repeatedly, and “the plan right now” is to maintain Stryker armored vehicles, infantry and aviation brigades at Schofield Barracks. The three units make up about 10,300 soldiers.

Hawaii is used to “engage throughout the Pacific region, so it’s critical to what we do,” Odierno said. “It enables us to have forces forward-stationed, and it enables us to deploy forces even farther forward if necessary, so it will be critical.”

As part of a Pentagon effort to cut $487 billion in spending over the next 10 years, the Army and Marines will shrink.

Some have predicted the Army will drop in size to 490,000 from about 570,000 soldiers. Odierno declined to reveal what he thinks is the absolute minimum force needed.

 

Panetta: Two combat brigades to be withdrawn from Europe

January 14, 2012 

The realignment of U.S. military troops will mean a reduction of troops in Europe, but an increase in the Asia-Pacific region. This will pose a threat of military expansion in Hawaiʻi and countries in the Asia Pacific reigon.  But the military, corporate and political special interests that benefit from the military industrial complex in Hawaiʻi are celebrating these developments.

The Pacific Business News reported “Panetta’s announcement renews military optimism in Hawaii”:

Military contractors and top commanders may have even more reason to be excited about all the talk of increasing the focus of U.S. military might the Pacific — it could translate to new construction work and additional troops in Hawaii.

The reason for the optimism is Secretary of Defense Leon Panettaʻs statement Friday that the U.S. was withdrawing two combat brigades from Europe as part of the Pentagonʻs new military strategy.  The AP reported:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday the Army will withdraw two combat brigades from Europe as part of a broad reorienting of U.S. forces and instead rotate units in and out of the region, presumably from U.S. bases.

Panetta made the comment to a Defense Department news service whose representative was traveling with him to Fort Bliss.

[...]

Last week, the Pentagon announced a new defense strategy to accommodate hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts over the coming decade. At the time, Panetta said that the military will get smaller and that its presence in Europe would “evolve.” But he declined then to discuss what that would mean for the long-standing U.S. presence in Europe.

A combat brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers.

Obama Channels Teddy Roosevelt

December 12, 2011 

Last week, President Obama delivered a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, the same town where Theodore Roosevelt gave his “New Nationalism” speech in 1910.   New Yorker columnist John Cassidy described this speech as Obama finding his voice and defining his theme for the 2012 election:

This is Obama seeking to define the themes he intends to run on next year, to energize his disillusioned base, and to capitalize on a big change in the political climate. Teddy Roosevelt, whose famous “New Nationalism” speech in 1910 called upon the three branches of the federal government to put the public welfare before the interests of money and property, merely provided a convenient framing device.

Obama even appropriated the 99% vs 1% language of the Occupy movement.
Edward-Isaac Dovere and Jennifer Epstein wrote in Politico that “Barack Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt”:
Yet the Roosevelt that Obama attached himself to in Osawatomie is the one who unveiled the radical anti-corporate philosophy that broke him from the Republican Party. Roosevelt famously declared, “Our public men must be genuinely progressive.”

However, for those of us who are still struggling to remove the colonial yoke placed upon us by Roosevelt, Obama’s new fondness for Roosevelt is not a positive sign.

Roosevelt held to lifelong beliefs in Aryan supremacy. This ideology informed his outlook on the duty of the U.S. to occupy and “civilize” places like Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, Guam and the Philippines. When he was Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt advocated for the occupation of Hawai’i in order for the U.S. to acquire a military base with which to traverse the Pacific ocean. Steeped in the writings of Frederick Jackson Turner and Capt. Afred Thayer Mahan, Roosevelt sought to win domestic peace and prosperity through an imperialist strategy. It seems that Obama is attempting the same.

Obama’s recent high profile foreign policy ‘pivot’ to the Pacific and emphasis on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement are reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Imperial Cruise” of 1905. In that year he wrote: “Our future history will be more determined by our position on the Pacific facing China than by our position on the Atlantic facing Europe.”

Roosevelt believed that Japanese people were sufficiently similar to Europeans in intelligence and character that they could be considered ‘honorary’ Aryans. He negotiated a secret Taft-Katsura agreement with the Empire of Japan allowing Japan to invade and annex Korea and north eastern China while the U.S. annexed Hawai’i, Guam and the Philippines. Roosevelt’s policy decisions set off a chain of historical events that led to a number of catastrophic consequences, one of them was World War II.

Let’s not be distracted by Obama’s populist rhetoric so that we fail to challenge his imperialist foreign policies that are increasing the level of danger and negative impacts for peoples in the Asia and Pacific region.

Of Bases and Budgets

October 21, 2011 

Christine Ahn and Hyun Lee have written an excellent article in Foreign Policy in Focus tying together the social and environmental impacts of U.S. bases on the host countries with the social cost to the U.S. public and the critical developments in the Asia Pacific region.  In the article they mention the  “Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Militarization” conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend.  Ikaika Hussey will be a speaker at this event to discuss the situation in Hawai’i and efforts to build solidarity against the militiarization of Hawai’i and the region.  The article also mentions Moana Nui: Pacific Peoples, Lands and Economies to coincide with the APEC summit as a peoples’ alternative, in which DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina will participate.  On Thursday, November 10, 2011, a panel discussion of militarization and resistance in the Asia Pacific region will be part of the Moana Nui conference.  The panel will feature Christine Ahn, Suzuyo Takazato (a leader in the Okinawan women’s anti-bases movement), Lisa Natividad (a Chamoru anti-bases activist from Guam), Kyle Kajihiro (Hawai’i Peace and Justice and DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina), Chamoru poet Craig Santos Perez, and peace activist and artist Mayumi Oda.
Of Bases and Budgets
By Christine Ahn and Hyun Lee, October 6, 2011
At 4 am on September 24, an intoxicated U.S. soldierbased at Camp Casey in South Korea broke into the dorm of a high school student, threatened her with a weapon and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Due to the extraterritoriality of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the South Korean and U.S. governments, Seoul must issue an arrest warrant to the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) to transfer the soldier to face Korea’s criminal system.This tragic incident presents a critical opportunity to question why, after 66 years, 28,500 U.S. troops still remain on 87 bases and installations on the Korean peninsula and whose security they are safeguarding. The same questions are being raised in Okinawa and Guam, islands in the Asia Pacific with large U.S. bases.Although the economic crisis facing America has called into question the bloated military budget, it is the first time in U.S. history that Congress is discussing the prohibitive costs of U.S. bases. Given growing popular opposition throughout the Asia Pacific to the ongoing presence of U.S. bases, the time is now to seize this rare political window to close down U.S. bases worldwide.

High Cost of U.S. Bases to People of Asia Pacific

As in the past, the USFK will attempt to call the rape another case of a bad apple, when in fact U.S. troops in Korea have a long history of committing heinous crimes against Korea’s civilian population.

In 1994, South Korean civil society began to mobilize after U.S. soldier Kenneth Markle brutally murdered 27-year old Yoon Keum E. whose bloody body covered with white laundry detergent was found dead with an umbrella shoved up her anus and two beer bottles in her womb. This unspeakable violence forced the Korean people to question the so-called protection provided by the U.S. military and the unequal SOFA arrangements, which enables soldiers to act in impunity.

According to the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea, U.S. soldiers have committed tens of thousands of crimes against South Korean civilians since the beginning of its military occupation in 1945. According to South Korean National Assembly member Kim Tae-won, 377 U.S. soldiers were arrested for committing crimes in 2011 alone. Since 2008, the number of rapes doubled, and thefts and assaults tripled.

But it’s not just interpersonal violence Koreans endure. U.S. bases have also borne significant social and environmental costs. In 2006, after nearly a 1,000-day long struggle, the South Korean government demolished the homes and fertile farmland of elderly rice farmers in Pyeongtaek for the expansion of Camp Humphreys. This past May, three U.S. veterans confessed to dumping barrels full of Agent Orange in an area the size of a football field at Camp Carroll. Today, Gangjeong farmers and fishermen on Jeju Island are fighting to save their village from becoming a naval base that will stage Aegis destroyers linked to the U.S. missile defense system.

Unfortunately, sexual violence and crimes committed by U.S. troops against civilians haven’t been restricted to South Korea. Okinawa, a prefecture of Japan, has also borne similar costs due to the ongoing presence of U.S. military bases. Although Okinawa accounts for only 0.6 percent of the entire land area in Japan, it is home to 74 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan. Women for Genuine Security estimates that 37 U.S. bases and installations in Okinawa house 23,842 troops and 21,512 family members.

According to Suzuyo Takazato of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, from 1972 to 2005, U.S. soldiers committed over 5,500 crimes against civilians, although many Okinawans say the number is actually much higher because women and girls rarely report crimes such as sexual violence. Only some 700 U.S. soldiers have been arrested. Since U.S. troops first landed on the island, Okinawans have been demanding their removal. In 1995, the resistance gained steam after three U.S. servicemen abducted and raped a 12-year-old girl.

In 1996, Tokyo and Washington agreed that the United States would return the land used by the Futenma Air Force base and build a replacement facility in Nago City’s Henoko Bay. But Okinawans have opposed this plan through every democratic means—elections, referenda, rallies, and public opinion polls. In 1997, Nago citizens voted in a referendum opposing the construction of the new U.S. base. In a May 2010 poll, 84 percent of respondents opposed this move, which would destroy Henoko’s ecological preserve. And recently, Nago’s 60,000 people elected a mayor who strongly opposes the base.

Given the fierce opposition to the base relocation, the Japanese government signed a deal in 2006 with Washington to transfer 8,000 U.S. marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam, or Guahan in its native language Chamoru, at a price of $27 billion. According to Lisa Natividad of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, the infusion of these additional marines, their families, and support workers to Guam’s population of 170,000 would grow the island population by 30 percent. “It will double the existing military presence on the island and will eclipse the Chamoru population,” says Natividad.

Since the announcement of the military build-up, Guahans actively led grassroots public education campaigns on the consequences to their culture and environment. Their organizing has begun to pay off. According to Natividad, the Pentagon received an unprecedented 10,000 comments of concern in 2009—6.5 percent of Guahan’s total population—about the planned Guam military build-up. Two civil society organizations—We Are Guahan and the Guam Preservation and Historic Trust—have filed a lawsuit to prevent the use of Pagat village as a live firing range.

Cost of U.S. Bases to America

For the first time in history, the call for closing bases and shifting priorities may actually have the ear of lawmakers on Capitol Hill as they cope with the nation’s intensifying budget crisis and take the unprecedented step of putting the Pentagon budget on the chopping block. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) proposes to save $69.5 billion by reducing military personnel overseas in Europe and Asia. This recommendation, originally made by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, is aimed at reducing “the military personnel stationed at overseas bases in Europe and Asia by one-third.” Senator Coburn also recommends canceling the deployment of 8,600 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam from Okinawa. To realign U.S. troops in Japan, Okinawa, and Guam would cost $27 billion.

The Sustainable Defense Task Force also proposes to cut military personnel and bases by one third in Europe and Asia and projects savings of up to $80 billion. “On the Korean peninsula, the gap between adversary and friendly conventional capabilities has grown much more favorable,” it states in Debt, Defense, and Deficits – A Way Forward, released June 2010. “Also, U.S. capacities for long-range strike and for effective rapid deployment of forces have grown greater, reducing the crisis response requirements for troops on the spot.” The Task Force does not view China as a military threat to the United States. Rather, it says, China’s integration into the regional economy means “Beijing does not seek to fracture its relationship with the United States.” It also sees Taiwan and the Mainland as “strongly interdependent economically.”

In May, three ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee—Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Jim Webb (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ)—called on the Pentagon to “re-examine plans to restructure U.S. military forces in East Asia” because they were “unrealistic” and “simply unaffordable in today’s increasingly constrained fiscal environment.” Their recommendations include putting on hold plans to expand Camp Humphreys in Pyongtaek, South Korea to support tour normalization, scrapping the relocation of Futenma in Okinawa, and scaling back plans for base expansion in Guam. “The proposals would save billions in taxpayer dollars,” stated the letter from the Senators. Last month, during Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s confirmation hearing, Senator Levin asked whether the closure of some bases and bringing home U.S. troops was on the table. Carter responded that indeed, it was “on the table.”

Time to Link Arms

The struggle of farmers and indigenous people against U.S. bases in Guam, Okinawa, South Korea, and elsewhere, and the struggle of working people for jobs, healthcare, and education here at home are opposite sides of the same coin. The vibrant energy and creative talents of our nation’s youth are needed here to build hospitals and schools and revitalize local communities, not on unpopular bases abroad that displace indigenous populations.

It’s time to link up our demands – shut down bases abroad and create jobs here at home. Although oceans apart, we have more at stake in each other’s struggles than we may think. And Washington’s budget debate provides an opening for us to link arms and demand a change in the nation’s priorities.

Movements for peace and economic justice across the Asia Pacific are strengthening their ties by organizing two important convenings: “Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Militarization conference in Washington, DC on October 21-22; and Moana Nui: Pacific Peoples, Lands and Economies gathering from November 9-11 timed with the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In the long term, the U.S. peace and social justice movement must press to change the fundamental mission of the U.S. military around the world. For now, we can start by impressing on the U.S. public and policymakers the urgency of people’s struggles against U.S. bases abroad as well as the high cost of maintaining them and what that means for the American people.

Whose Pacific?

October 18, 2011 

Secretary of State Clinton lays out the US policy in the Pacific.   As the subtitle states, “The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.”   This will mean more militarization in our region despite the social and environmental costs, increased military tensions, and a high price tag in a time of fiscal crisis.  This is the real APEC agenda: maintaining the Pacific as an “American Lake”

But there is a different agenda rising up from the peoples of the Asia Pacific for peace, security and economic justice based on cooperation, sustainability and self-determination.  Those in Washington, D.C. on October 21-22, 2011 can attend the “Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization” conference, which features leading activists and scholars from around the Asia Pacific region, including a rare opportunity to hear the head of a leading Chinese peace organization and Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Congress.  Ikaika Hussey will represent DMZ-Hawaiʻi / Aloha ʻAina.  Julian Aguon will be a representative from Guahan (Guam).

In Honolulu, November 9-11, 2011, peoples movements from around the region will be meeting apart from APEC to discuss a peoplesʻ agenda for peace, justice and the environment.  Moana Nui 2011 will feature renowned international activists and scholars.   There will be a panel discussion on Thursday, November 10 on militarization and resistance in the Asia Pacific Region.  Speakers will include: Suzuyo Takazato, Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence, Lisa Natividad, Guahan Coalition for Justice and Peace, Christine Ahn, Korea Policy Institute, Kyle Kajihiro, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice and DMZ-Hawaiʻi /Aloha ʻAina, Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Mayumi Oda, artist and peace activist, Craig Santos Perez, Chamoru poet and professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  Ikaika Hussey will be the moderator.

Here is Hillary Clinton’s article as posted on the State Department website:

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/10/175215.htm

America’s Pacific Century

Op-Ed

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Foreign Policy Magazine
October 11, 2011

The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans — the Pacific and the Indian — that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world’s population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia.

At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential. It will help build that architecture and pay dividends for continued American leadership well into this century, just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions and relationships has paid off many times over — and continues to do so. The time has come for the United States to make similar investments as a Pacific power, a strategic course set by President Barack Obama from the outset of his administration and one that is already yielding benefits.

With Iraq and Afghanistan still in transition and serious economic challenges in our own country, there are those on the American political scene who are calling for us not to reposition, but to come home. They seek a downsizing of our foreign engagement in favor of our pressing domestic priorities. These impulses are understandable, but they are misguided. Those who say that we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward — we cannot afford not to. From opening new markets for American businesses to curbing nuclear proliferation to keeping the sea lanes free for commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home. For more than six decades, the United States has resisted the gravitational pull of these “come home” debates and the implicit zero-sum logic of these arguments. We must do so again.

Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America’s intentions — our willingness to remain engaged and to lead. In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make — and keep — credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action. The answer is: We can, and we will.

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.

Just as Asia is critical to America’s future, an engaged America is vital to Asia’s future. The region is eager for our leadership and our business — perhaps more so than at any time in modern history. We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good. Along with our allies, we have underwritten regional security for decades — patrolling Asia’s sea lanes and preserving stability — and that in turn has helped create the conditions for growth. We have helped integrate billions of people across the region into the global economy by spurring economic productivity, social empowerment, and greater people-to-people links. We are a major trade and investment partner, a source of innovation that benefits workers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific, a host to 350,000 Asian students every year, a champion of open markets, and an advocate for universal human rights.

President Obama has led a multifaceted and persistent effort to embrace fully our irreplaceable role in the Pacific, spanning the entire U.S. Government. It has often been a quiet effort. A lot of our work has not been on the front pages, both because of its nature — long-term investment is less exciting than immediate crises — and because of competing headlines in other parts of the world.

As Secretary of State, I broke with tradition and embarked on my first official overseas trip to Asia. In my seven trips since, I have had the privilege to see firsthand the rapid transformations taking place in the region, underscoring how much the future of the United States is intimately intertwined with the future of the Asia-Pacific. A strategic turn to the region fits logically into our overall global effort to secure and sustain America’s global leadership. The success of this turn requires maintaining and advancing a bipartisan consensus on the importance of the Asia-Pacific to our national interests; we seek to build upon a strong tradition of engagement by presidents and secretaries of state of both parties across many decades. It also requires smart execution of a coherent regional strategy that accounts for the global implications of our choices.

What does that regional strategy look like? For starters, it calls for a sustained commitment to what I have called “forward-deployed” diplomacy. That means continuing to dispatch the full range of our diplomatic assets — including our highest-ranking officials, our development experts, our interagency teams, and our permanent assets — to every country and corner of the Asia-Pacific region. Our strategy will have to keep accounting for and adapting to the rapid and dramatic shifts playing out across Asia. With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

By virtue of our unique geography, the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power. We are proud of our European partnerships and all that they deliver. Our challenge now is to build a web of partnerships and institutions across the Pacific that is as durable and as consistent with American interests and values as the web we have built across the Atlantic. That is the touchstone of our efforts in all these areas.

Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific. They have underwritten regional peace and security for more than half a century, shaping the environment for the region’s remarkable economic ascent. They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges.

As successful as these alliances have been, we can’t afford simply to sustain them — we need to update them for a changing world. In this effort, the Obama Administration is guided by three core principles. First, we have to maintain political consensus on the core objectives of our alliances. Second, we have to ensure that our alliances are nimble and adaptive so that they can successfully address new challenges and seize new opportunities. Third, we have to guarantee that the defense capabilities and communications infrastructure of our alliances are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and nonstate actors.

The alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region, demonstrates how the Obama Administration is giving these principles life. We share a common vision of a stable regional order with clear rules of the road — from freedom of navigation to open markets and fair competition. We have agreed to a new arrangement, including a contribution from the Japanese Government of more than $5 billion, to ensure the continued enduring presence of American forces in Japan, while expanding joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities to deter and react quickly to regional security challenges, as well as information sharing to address cyberthreats. We have concluded an Open Skies Agreement that will enhance access for businesses and people-to-people ties, launched a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific, and been working hand in hand as the two largest donor countries in Afghanistan.

Similarly, our alliance with South Korea has become stronger and more operationally integrated, and we continue to develop our combined capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean provocations. We have agreed on a plan to ensure successful transition of operational control during wartime and anticipate successful passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And our alliance has gone global, through our work together in the G-20 and the Nuclear Security Summit and through our common efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan.

We are also expanding our alliance with Australia from a Pacific partnership to an Indo-Pacific one, and indeed a global partnership. From cybersecurity to Afghanistan to the Arab Awakening to strengthening regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, Australia’s counsel and commitment have been indispensable. And in Southeast Asia, we are renewing and strengthening our alliances with the Philippines and Thailand, increasing, for example, the number of ship visits to the Philippines and working to ensure the successful training of Filipino counterterrorism forces through our Joint Special Operations Task Force in Mindanao. In Thailand — our oldest treaty partner in Asia — we are working to establish a hub of regional humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the region.

As we update our alliances for new demands, we are also building new partnerships to help solve shared problems. Our outreach to China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Pacific Island countries is all part of a broader effort to ensure a more comprehensive approach to American strategy and engagement in the region. We are asking these emerging partners to join us in shaping and participating in a rules-based regional and global order.

One of the most prominent of these emerging partners is, of course, China. Like so many other countries before it, China has prospered as part of the open and rules-based system that the United States helped to build and works to sustain. And today, China represents one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage. This calls for careful, steady, dynamic stewardship, an approach to China on our part that is grounded in reality, focused on results, and true to our principles and interests.

We all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both those views. The fact is that a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. But you cannot build a relationship on aspirations alone. It is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation — and, crucially, to meet our respective global responsibilities and obligations. These are the things that will determine whether our relationship delivers on its potential in the years to come. We also have to be honest about our differences. We will address them firmly and decisively as we pursue the urgent work we have to do together. And we have to avoid unrealistic expectations.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, one of my top priorities has been to identify and expand areas of common interest, to work with China to build mutual trust, and to encourage China’s active efforts in global problem-solving. This is why Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and I launched the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the most intensive and expansive talks ever between our governments, bringing together dozens of agencies from both sides to discuss our most pressing bilateral issues, from security to energy to human rights.

We are also working to increase transparency and reduce the risk of miscalculation or miscues between our militaries. The United States and the international community have watched China’s efforts to modernize and expand its military, and we have sought clarity as to its intentions. Both sides would benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. So we look to Beijing to overcome its reluctance at times and join us in forging a durable military-to-military dialogue. And we need to work together to strengthen the Strategic Security Dialogue, which brings together military and civilian leaders to discuss sensitive issues like maritime security and cybersecurity.

As we build trust together, we are committed to working with China to address critical regional and global security issues. This is why I have met so frequently — often in informal settings — with my Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, for candid discussions about important challenges like North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and developments in the South China Sea.

On the economic front, the United States and China need to work together to ensure strong, sustained, and balanced future global growth. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the United States and China worked effectively through the G-20 to help pull the global economy back from the brink. We have to build on that cooperation. U.S. firms want fair opportunities to export to China’s growing markets, which can be important sources of jobs here in the United States, as well as assurances that the $50 billion of American capital invested in China will create a strong foundation for new market and investment opportunities that will support global competitiveness. At the same time, Chinese firms want to be able to buy more high-tech products from the United States, make more investments here, and be accorded the same terms of access that market economies enjoy. We can work together on these objectives, but China still needs to take important steps toward reform. In particular, we are working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies or against their innovative technologies, remove preferences for domestic firms, and end measures that disadvantage or appropriate foreign intellectual property. And we look to China to take steps to allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly, both against the dollar and against the currencies of its other major trading partners. Such reforms, we believe, would not only benefit both our countries (indeed, they would support the goals of China’s own five-year plan, which calls for more domestic-led growth), but also contribute to global economic balance, predictability, and broader prosperity.

Of course, we have made very clear, publicly and privately, our serious concerns about human rights. And when we see reports of public-interest lawyers, writers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up, both publicly and privately, with our concerns about human rights. We make the case to our Chinese colleagues that a deep respect for international law and a more open political system would provide China with a foundation for far greater stability and growth — and increase the confidence of China’s partners. Without them, China is placing unnecessary limitations on its own development.

At the end of the day, there is no handbook for the evolving U.S.-China relationship. But the stakes are much too high for us to fail. As we proceed, we will continue to embed our relationship with China in a broader regional framework of security alliances, economic networks, and social connections.

Among key emerging powers with which we will work closely are India and Indonesia, two of the most dynamic and significant democratic powers of Asia, and both countries with which the Obama administration has pursued broader, deeper, and more purposeful relationships. The stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca to the Pacific contains the world’s most vibrant trade and energy routes. Together, India and Indonesia already account for almost a quarter of the world’s population. They are key drivers of the global economy, important partners for the United States, and increasingly central contributors to peace and security in the region. And their importance is likely to grow in the years ahead.

President Obama told the Indian parliament last year that the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests. There are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but the United States is making a strategic bet on India’s future — that India’s greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India’s markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India’s vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance. So the Obama administration has expanded our bilateral partnership; actively supported India’s Look East efforts, including through a new trilateral dialogue with India and Japan; and outlined a new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia, with India as a linchpin.

We are also forging a new partnership with Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and a member of the G-20. We have resumed joint training of Indonesian special forces units and signed a number of agreements on health, educational exchanges, science and technology, and defense. And this year, at the invitation of the Indonesian government, President Obama will inaugurate American participation in the East Asia Summit. But there is still some distance to travel — we have to work together to overcome bureaucratic impediments, lingering historical suspicions, and some gaps in understanding each other’s perspectives and interests.

Even as we strengthen these bilateral relationships, we have emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation, for we believe that addressing complex transnational challenges of the sort now faced by Asia requires a set of institutions capable of mustering collective action. And a more robust and coherent regional architecture in Asia would reinforce the system of rules and responsibilities, from protecting intellectual property to ensuring freedom of navigation, that form the basis of an effective international order. In multilateral settings, responsible behavior is rewarded with legitimacy and respect, and we can work together to hold accountable those who undermine peace, stability, and prosperity.

So the United States has moved to fully engage the region’s multilateral institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, mindful that our work with regional institutions supplements and does not supplant our bilateral ties. There is a demand from the region that America play an active role in the agenda-setting of these institutions — and it is in our interests as well that they be effective and responsive.

That is why President Obama will participate in the East Asia Summit for the first time in November. To pave the way, the United States has opened a new U.S. Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. Our focus on developing a more results-oriented agenda has been instrumental in efforts to address disputes in the South China Sea. In 2010, at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, the United States helped shape a regionwide effort to protect unfettered access to and passage through the South China Sea, and to uphold the key international rules for defining territorial claims in the South China Sea’s waters. Given that half the world’s merchant tonnage flows through this body of water, this was a consequential undertaking. And over the past year, we have made strides in protecting our vital interests in stability and freedom of navigation and have paved the way for sustained multilateral diplomacy among the many parties with claims in the South China Sea, seeking to ensure disputes are settled peacefully and in accordance with established principles of international law.

We have also worked to strengthen APEC as a serious leaders-level institution focused on advancing economic integration and trade linkages across the Pacific. After last year’s bold call by the group for a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, President Obama will host the 2011 APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Hawaii this November. We are committed to cementing APEC as the Asia-Pacific’s premier regional economic institution, setting the economic agenda in a way that brings together advanced and emerging economies to promote open trade and investment, as well as to build capacity and enhance regulatory regimes. APEC and its work help expand U.S. exports and create and support high-quality jobs in the United States, while fostering growth throughout the region. APEC also provides a key vehicle to drive a broad agenda to unlock the economic growth potential that women represent. In this regard, the United States is committed to working with our partners on ambitious steps to accelerate the arrival of the Participation Age, where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, is a contributing and valued member of the global marketplace.

In addition to our commitment to these broader multilateral institutions, we have worked hard to create and launch a number of “minilateral” meetings, small groupings of interested states to tackle specific challenges, such as the Lower Mekong Initiative we launched to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands Forum, where we are working to support its members as they confront challenges from climate change to overfishing to freedom of navigation. We are also starting to pursue new trilateral opportunities with countries as diverse as Mongolia, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and South Korea. And we are setting our sights as well on enhancing coordination and engagement among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India, and the United States.

In all these different ways, we are seeking to shape and participate in a responsive, flexible, and effective regional architecture — and ensure it connects to a broader global architecture that not only protects international stability and commerce but also advances our values.

Our emphasis on the economic work of APEC is in keeping with our broader commitment to elevate economic statecraft as a pillar of American foreign policy. Increasingly, economic progress depends on strong diplomatic ties, and diplomatic progress depends on strong economic ties. And naturally, a focus on promoting American prosperity means a greater focus on trade and economic openness in the Asia-Pacific. The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia. Last year, American exports to the Pacific Rim totaled $320 billion, supporting 850,000 American jobs. So there is much that favors us as we think through this repositioning.

When I talk to my Asian counterparts, one theme consistently stands out: They still want America to be an engaged and creative partner in the region’s flourishing trade and financial interactions. And as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.

Last March in APEC meetings in Washington, and again in Hong Kong in July, I laid out four attributes that I believe characterize healthy economic competition: open, free, transparent, and fair. Through our engagement in the Asia-Pacific, we are helping to give shape to these principles and showing the world their value.

We are pursuing new cutting-edge trade deals that raise the standards for fair competition even as they open new markets. For instance, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports within five years and support an estimated 70,000 American jobs. Its tariff reductions alone could increase exports of American goods by more than $10 billion and help South Korea’s economy grow by 6 percent. It will level the playing field for U.S. auto companies and workers. So, whether you are an American manufacturer of machinery or a South Korean chemicals exporter, this deal lowers the barriers that keep you from reaching new customers.

We are also making progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will bring together economies from across the Pacific — developed and developing alike — into a single trading community. Our goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth. We believe trade agreements need to include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovation. They should also promote the free flow of information technology and the spread of green technology, as well as the coherence of our regulatory system and the efficiency of supply chains. Ultimately, our progress will be measured by the quality of people’s lives — whether men and women can work in dignity, earn a decent wage, raise healthy families, educate their children, and take hold of the opportunities to improve their own and the next generation’s fortunes. Our hope is that a TPP agreement with high standards can serve as a benchmark for future agreements — and grow to serve as a platform for broader regional interaction and eventually a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific.

Achieving balance in our trade relationships requires a two-way commitment. That’s the nature of balance — it can’t be unilaterally imposed. So we are working through APEC, the G-20, and our bilateral relationships to advocate for more open markets, fewer restrictions on exports, more transparency, and an overall commitment to fairness. American businesses and workers need to have confidence that they are operating on a level playing field, with predictable rules on everything from intellectual property to indigenous innovation.

Asia’s remarkable economic growth over the past decade and its potential for continued growth in the future depend on the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military, including more than 50,000 American servicemen and servicewomen serving in Japan and South Korea. The challenges of today’s rapidly changing region — from territorial and maritime disputes to new threats to freedom of navigation to the heightened impact of natural disasters — require that the United States pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture.

We are modernizing our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia — and our commitment on this is rock solid — while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean. For example, the United States will be deploying littoral combat ships to Singapore, and we are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together. And the United States and Australia agreed this year to explore a greater American military presence in Australia to enhance opportunities for more joint training and exercises. We are also looking at how we can increase our operational access in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region and deepen our contacts with allies and partners.

How we translate the growing connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans into an operational concept is a question that we need to answer if we are to adapt to new challenges in the region. Against this backdrop, a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages. The United States will be better positioned to support humanitarian missions; equally important, working with more allies and partners will provide a more robust bulwark against threats or efforts to undermine regional peace and stability.

But even more than our military might or the size of our economy, our most potent asset as a nation is the power of our values — in particular, our steadfast support for democracy and human rights. This speaks to our deepest national character and is at the heart of our foreign policy, including our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific region.

As we deepen our engagement with partners with whom we disagree on these issues, we will continue to urge them to embrace reforms that would improve governance, protect human rights, and advance political freedoms. We have made it clear, for example, to Vietnam that our ambition to develop a strategic partnership requires that it take steps to further protect human rights and advance political freedoms. Or consider Burma, where we are determined to seek accountability for human rights violations. We are closely following developments in Nay Pyi Taw and the increasing interactions between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government leadership. We have underscored to the government that it must release political prisoners, advance political freedoms and human rights, and break from the policies of the past. As for North Korea, the regime in Pyongyang has shown persistent disregard for the rights of its people, and we continue to speak out forcefully against the threats it poses to the region and beyond.

We cannot and do not aspire to impose our system on other countries, but we do believe that certain values are universal — that people in every nation in the world, including in Asia, cherish them — and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Asia to pursue their own rights and aspirations, just as we have seen people do all over the world.

In the last decade, our foreign policy has transitioned from dealing with the post-Cold War peace dividend to demanding commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down, we will need to accelerate efforts to pivot to new global realities.

We know that these new realities require us to innovate, to compete, and to lead in new ways. Rather than pull back from the world, we need to press forward and renew our leadership. In a time of scarce resources, there’s no question that we need to invest them wisely where they will yield the biggest returns, which is why the Asia-Pacific represents such a real 21st-century opportunity for us.

Other regions remain vitally important, of course. Europe, home to most of our traditional allies, is still a partner of first resort, working alongside the United States on nearly every urgent global challenge, and we are investing in updating the structures of our alliance. The people of the Middle East and North Africa are charting a new path that is already having profound global consequences, and the United States is committed to active and sustained partnerships as the region transforms. Africa holds enormous untapped potential for economic and political development in the years ahead. And our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere are not just our biggest export partners; they are also playing a growing role in global political and economic affairs. Each of these regions demands American engagement and leadership.

And we are prepared to lead. Now, I’m well aware that there are those who question our staying power around the world. We’ve heard this talk before. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was a thriving industry of global commentators promoting the idea that America was in retreat, and it is a theme that repeats itself every few decades. But whenever the United States has experienced setbacks, we’ve overcome them through reinvention and innovation. Our capacity to come back stronger is unmatched in modern history. It flows from our model of free democracy and free enterprise, a model that remains the most powerful source of prosperity and progress known to humankind. I hear everywhere I go that the world still looks to the United States for leadership. Our military is by far the strongest, and our economy is by far the largest in the world. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities are renowned the world over. So there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last.

As we move forward to set the stage for engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the next 60 years, we are mindful of the bipartisan legacy that has shaped our engagement for the past 60. And we are focused on the steps we have to take at home — increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing, overcoming partisan division — to secure and sustain our leadership abroad.

This kind of pivot is not easy, but we have paved the way for it over the past two-and-a-half years, and we are committed to seeing it through as among the most important diplomatic efforts of our time.

MOANA NUI: PACIFIC PEOPLES, LANDS AND ECONOMIES, November 9-11, 2011

October 1, 2011 

Moana Nui 2011 – Pacific voices against the APEC agenda.

There will be a Panel on “MILITARIZATION AND RESISTANCE IN THE PACIFIC”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2-5:30 PM,

CHURCH OF THE CROSSROADS

featuring Suzuyo Takazato(Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence), Christine Ahn (Korea Policy Institute), Lisa Natividad (Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice), Kyle Kajihiro (DMZ-Hawaii/ALoha AIna and Hawaii Peace and Justice), Bruce Gagnon (Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space), Mayumi Oda (Artist and activist), Craig Santos Perez (Chamorro Poet), Ikaika Hussey (Hawaii Independent, Moderator)

Making Waves:  “APEC: The Real Deal”

Pua Mohala I Ka Po
in collaboration with the

International Forum on Globalization

presents

MOANA NUI: PACIFIC PEOPLES, LANDS AND ECONOMIES

[ NOVEMBER 9-11, 2011 HONOLULU, HAWAII]

The Asia-Pacific region; nations of the Pacific rim which include Australia and the American and Asian nations, including Pacific Island nations are an increasing focus of geopolitical competition and economic stresses. Struggles for national sovereignty and cultural viability bring about rapidly expanding campaigns toward economic self-sufficiency. These campaigns challenge the legacies of colonialism, continued militarism in the region, growing trade and development conflicts, and corresponding environmental degradations. Whose interests are advanced in these struggles? Whose views are served? What are the dominant economic interests in play? How do we take control of our future? Which is the best way forward—convergence or resistance?

Organized by a partnership of scholars, community and political activists and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultural practitioners, Moana Nui is intended to provide a voice and possible direction for the economies of Pacific Islands in the era of powerful transnational corporations, global industrial expansion and global climate change. This conference will issue a challenge to Pacific Island nations and communities to look for cooperative ways to strengthen subsistence and to protect cultural properties and natural resources. The timing of this conference is intended to overlap the next meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Honolulu, and hopes to call public attention to the critical importance of maintaining sound and productive local economies in the Pacific Islands both for their own sake and food security in the world. Invited speakers will include Native economists, farm and fishery practitioners, advocates for political and economic sovereignty, specialists in media, public education, environmental studies and law. The conference will be open to the public and the conveners will seek to facilitate the attendance of practitioners from other Pacific Islands. All of the proceedings will be documented by video and a published collection of the presentations is anticipated.

For further discussion and information, find us on facebook at Moana Nui 2011 or contact admin@moananui2011.org

 

As the U.S. military shifts toward the Asia Pacific, budget cuts make Hawai’i expansion plans uncertain

September 20, 2011 

William Cole reports for the Honolulu Star Advertiser that budget cuts may affect military expansion in Hawai’i and the Pacific:

Defense planning — at least for now — points to additional troops, families and firepower arriving on Hawaii’s shores, with the state viewed as an important mid-Pacific beachhead for the United States as the balance of world economic power continues to shift from the West to the East.

How those plans will change with looming budget cuts remains to be seen. Among the examples of Hawaii’s continued military growth is the plan by Naval Special Warfare to move its mainland “undersea enterprise” units to Pearl Harbor, which has been home to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 since 1994. The consolidation over the next five years would more than double the undersea component at Pearl from 374 to 900 personnel, with 700 added dependents, the Navy said.

Navy officials said there are already more than 100 SEAL commandos based here.

“The U.S. military is shifting towards the Pacific” consistent with the global shift in trade — which already resulted in the Navy moving 60 percent of its attack submarine force to the Pacific and keeping six aircraft carriers in the region, a Navy planning document for the move states.

One thing that is certain is the shift in concentration of U.S. military strategy from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. As Senator Inouye sums up:

“As far as I’m concerned, the military is in Hawaii because of its strategic placement on this planet, and it’s now being, I think, widely concluded that the area of major concern is no longer Europe and the Atlantic — it’s Asia and the Pacific,” said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.

Inouye said he believes that due to Hawaii’s strategic importance, the military here “will either increase or it will stay as it is for maybe a decade or so.”

“It’s real estate that we can depend on,” Inouye said. “It’s part of the United States. We can’t insist that the Philippines do our bidding or the Japanese or the Koreans. The closest we have is Guam and Hawaii.”

So there you have it.  The purpose of Hawai’i and Guam, the reason the U.S. has colonized both nations, is to do the bidding of the United States.

In an accompanying article, Cole outlines some of the military expansion plans underway in Hawai’i:

The Naval Special Warfare Group 3 headquarters, a training detachment, a logistics and support unit, and the Naval Special Warfare Center Advanced Training Command’s undersea training detachment are being moved here, the Navy said.

A consolidation of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 with Team 1 in Hawaii has already occurred.

[...]

Staffing levels are expected to increase to 900 from 400. Those 500 additional personnel are expected to bring with them 700 dependents

Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay will add 600 active-duty members and 400 dependents and is going through a building frenzy:

The Kaneohe Bay base is adding a new multistory bachelor enlisted quarters, renovating other quarters, adding a new command facility and multilevel parking structure, and demolishing five old command post buildings.

The Navy recently awarded a $52.4 million contract for the work.

[...]

Additional growth is projected with a Marine Corps plan to add significantly to its air power at Kaneohe Bay with up to 24 MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft and 18 attack and nine utility helicopters. That plan is estimated to add 1,000 more active-duty personnel and 1,106 dependents, according to an environmental report.

Fort Shafter has grown as the Army consolidated a number of its command functions in Hawai’i:

In 2001, Fort Shafter had 1,194 soldier “billets,” or positions, and a total population of 4,077, including families and civilian workers.

That population now stands at 6,306 military members, with a total Fort Shafter census of 13,172.

[...]

In May 2010, a $21.5 million design contract was awarded for a new 330,000-square-foot command center.

At the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the Navy is expanding its “Aegis ashore” program:

A fiscal 2010 military estimate for the Aegis Ashore program placed the cost at $278 million for a complex that would include a Mark 41 launcher, a four-story building with a SPY-1 radar and three 125-foot test towers.

The Army plans to expand the Wheeler Army Airfield:

The Army wants to build the new “combat aviation complex” at Wheeler with a parallel taxiway, new control tower, four new hangars, and new operations and headquarters facilities, among other projects.

[...]

Plans call for the new complex to be built in 17 phases over five years. The potential price tag is $1 billion, officials said.

Growth and restructuring within the Army have added new personnel at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler, adding up to 1,700 more soldiers expected through 2013, according to an environmental planning report for the aviation improvements.

Pearl Harbor Shipyard avoided the Base Realignment And Closure ax several years ago and is now expanding:

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in July for a $15.85 million, 37,000-square-foot production services support building that the shipyard said will improve efficiency and shave six weeks off submarine overhauls.

[...]

The shipyard embarked last year on a decadelong, $1.86 billion warship modernization program to extend the life of the fleet. All three cruisers at Pearl Harbor, and its six destroyers, will undergo upgrades.

And at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam:

F-22 improvement projects at Hickam totaling $156 million are expected to be completed over the next four to five years, officials said.

Pentagon Takes Aim at Asia-Pacific, and deploys mercenary social scientists

March 14, 2011 

Recently, versions of the same op ed piece appeared in both Guam and Hawai’i newspapers by James A. Kent and and Eric Casino.  Kent describes himself as “an analyst of geographic-focused social and economic development in Pacific Rim countries; he is president of the JKA Group (www.jkagroup.com).”  Eric Casino is “a social anthropologist and freelance consultant on international business and development in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.”

The authors argue that Guam and Hawai’i should capitalize on the U.S. militarization of the Pacific and remake our island societies into “convergence zones” to counter China’s growing power and influence in the region.   They write:

Because of their critically important geographic positions at the heart of the Pacific, Hawaii and Guam are historically poised to become beneficial centers to the nations of the Western Pacific, the way Singapore serves countries around the South China Sea. In the 19th century, Hawaii was the “gas and go” center for whalers. In the 20th century it was the mobilization center for the war in the Pacific.

The writers even invoke the uprisings in the Arab world to encourage Guam and Hawai’i citizens to step up and take the reins of history:

Citizen action has shown itself as a critical component in the amazing political transformation sweeping the Middle East. It is time to change the old world of dominance and control by the few — to the participation and freedom for the many. The people of Hawaii and Guam will need to navigate these historic shifts with bold and creative rethinking.

“Change the old world dominance and control by the few – to the participation and freedom for the many”?   You would think that they were preaching revolution.  But its quite the opposite.   In the Guam version of the article, they attempt to repackage the subjugation of the peoples of Guam and Hawai’i as liberation, part of the neoliberal agenda of the upcoming APEC summit:

The opportunity to capitalize on these trends is aligned with the choice of Hawaii as the host of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November.

Furthermore they encourage the people of Guam and Hawai’i to partake in and feed off of the militarization of our island nations while denigrating grassroots resistance:

The planned move of a part of the Marine Corps base must take place in a manner that builds Guam into a full social and economic participant in the power realignments and not just a military outpost for repositioning of American forces. Citizen unrest in Guam would sap U.S. energy to remain strategic and undermine its forward defense security.

So, while they exhort the people of Hawai’i and Guam “to navigate these historic shifts with bold and creative rethinking,” in the end, they are just selling the same old imperial and neoliberal arrangements imposed by foreign powers that the people of Hawai’i and Guam have had to contend with for centuries.

So what is the point of the op ed?  It makes more sense when you understand the history and context of the authors.  Both Kent and Casino are part of James Kent Associates, a consulting firm that has worked extensively with the Bureau of Land Management to manage the community concerns regarding development of natural resources in a number of western states.  In 1997, the Marine Corps hired JKA Group to help counter resistance from the Wai’anae community to proposed amphibious assault training at Makua Beach, or as they put it to help “sustain its training options at Makua Beach in a cooperative manner with the community, and to be sure that community impacts and environmental justice issues were adequately addressed. JKA engaged in informal community contact and description by entering the routines of the local communities.”

They were essentially ‘hired gun’ social scientists helping the military manipulate the community through anthropological techniques:

Prior to JKA’s involvement, the NEPA process was being “captured” by organized militants from the urban zones of Hawaii. The strategy of the militants was to disrupt NEPA by advocating for the importance of Makua as a sacred beach. As community workers identified elders in the local communities, the elders did not support the notion of a sacred beach-”What, you think we didn’t walk on our beaches?” They pointed to specific sites on the beach that were culturally important and could not be disturbed by any civilian or military activity. As this level of detail was injected into the EA process, the militants were less able to dominate the process and to bring forward their ideological agenda. They had to be more responsible or lose standing in the informal community because the latter understood: “how the training activity, through enhancements to the culture, can directly benefit community members. Therefore, the training becomes a mutual benefit, with the community networks standing between the military and the activists.”

So community members active in the Native Hawaiian, environmental and peace movements are “organized militants from urban zones of Hawaii”?   The military uses similar language to describe the resistance fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.   In a way, their methods anticipated the use of anthropologists in the battlefield in the “Human Terrain System” program.

What they don’t report on their website is that they failed to win over the community. Opposition to the Marine amphibious exercises was so strong that PACOM hosted an unprecedented meeting between Wai’anae community leaders on the one hand and CINCPAC, the Governor, and other public officials on the other.  As preparations were made for nonviolent civil resistance, CINCPAC canceled the exercise in Makua and moved the amphibious landing to Waimanalo, where the community also protested.

It seems as though JKA Group has been contracted by the Marines once again to help manage the community resistance to the military invasion planned for Guam and Hawai’i.  So the people of Hawai’i and Guam will have to resist this assault “with bold and creative rethinking.”  One such initiative is the Moana Nui conference planned to coincide with APEC in Hawai’i in which the peoples of the Asia Pacific region can chart our own course for development, environmental protection, peace and security in a ways that “change the old world dominance and control by the few – to the participation and freedom for the many.”

On the topic of the militarization of the Asia-Pacific region, I recently spoke with Korean solidarity and human rights activist Hyun Lee and community organizer Irene Tung on their radio program Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI in New York City.

http://www.asiapacificforum.org/show-detail.php?show_id=221#610

Pentagon Takes Aim at Asia-Pacific

Listen to this segment (Download MP3)
Last month, the Pentagon unveiled the first revision of the National Military Strategy since 2004, declaring, “the Nation’s strategic priorities and interests will increasingly emanate from the Asia-Pacific region.” Join APF as we discuss the implications of the new document.

Guests

  • KYLE KAJIHIRO is Director of DMZ Hawaii and Program Director of the American Friends Service Committee in Hawaii.

Next Page »