Militarization in the Pacific – Teresia Teaiwa

November 3, 2012 

Church of the Crossroads, United Church of Christ

A Just Peace and Open and Affirming Congregation

The Watada Lectures 2012

November 8-11

Militarization in the Pacific


Dr. Teresia Teaiwa

Thurs. Nov. 8, 5:30 – 7:00 pm   UH Manoa Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies 

“Fiji, Women, Soldiers, And Poetry”

Sponsors: Center for Pacific Island Studies, the Women’s Studies Program, the Brandt Chair Fund, and the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

Saturday, November 10, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, Church of the Crossroads

“The Military Cultural Complex”

 Sunday, November 11, Church of the Crossroads

9:00 am – Adult Education conversation with Dr. Teaiwa

10:30 am – Morning Worship “Religions and Militarization”

Noon – Lunch

Afternoon – Veterans’ Day Forum with Veterans and Dr. Teaiwa







9000 Marines to move off Okinawa to Hawaiʻi, Guam, Australia, etc.

May 1, 2012 

As reported in the Washington Post, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. will move 9000 Marines off Okinawa to other locations in the Pacific. While this may have sidestepped a politically volatile issue in its relations with Japan, the problem of the Futenma Base still remains, and the expansi0n of troops and bases in other locations in the Pacific may be spreading the seeds of opposition:

The U.S. and Japanese governments said Thursday that they will move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, in a bid to remove a persistent irritant in the relationship between the two allies.

The Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa has been seen by both sides as essential to deterring Chinese military aggression in the region. But the noisy air base’s location in a crowded urban area has long angered Okinawa residents, and some viewed the Marines as rowdy and potentially violent.

This plan will relocate 2700 Marines from Japan to Hawaiʻi.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Hawaii must prepare for move of up to 2,700 Marines, Inouye says”:

The U.S. will move as many as 2,700 Marines from Japan to Hawaii as the Pentagon scales back a $21.1 billion blueprint for Guam, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye confirmed today.

“This troop movement will occur after extensive discussions with the leaders of Japan and it highlights Hawaii’s importance as the focus of our national defense shifts to the Asia-Pacific region,” Inouye said.

The Pentagon is expected to announce as soon as tomorrow that it intends to send about 4,700 U.S. Marines now stationed in Japan to Guam, as previously reported, as well as the contingent going to Hawaii, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hasn’t been made public.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done (in Hawaii) to prepare for their arrival,” Inouye said. “We must build more housing, secure more training areas and improve and expand infrastructure while working with the counties and the state to make certain the Marines transition easily into their new duty station in Hawaii.”

This decision is being leaked in advance of a formal announcement. However, no environmental/social/cultural impact analysis has been done to address securing “more training areas” and develoment to “improve and expand infrastructure”.  This is typical of the military decisions in Hawaiʻi: plans are made, studies (when they are done) are written to order to justify the decision, and political bosses make pronouncements as if they were commandments from God.  And, just in case anyone had objections or doubts about these plans, Senator Inouye made clear how the people of Hawaiʻi are supposed to respond:

The one thing I am confident of, is that the people of Hawaii will welcome these brave men and women and their families with Aloha,” said Inouye.

In other words, the profoundly sacred Kanaka Maoli concept of “aloha” has been hijacked and turned into a kitsch tourist slogan, whose flip-side is a weapon to silence dissent and suppress political protest.

Jon Letman’s latest article, “Without question: US military expansion in the Asia-Pacific” discussed the U.S. military’s Pacific ‘pivot’:

As Noam Chomsky wrote in this two-part essay, America’s “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region is in response to what it calls “classic security dilemmas” posed by the rising influence of China and Russia. Reacting with military programmes and strategies it says are “defensive”, this US “pivot” is perceived as bullying, threats and intrusion - in other words more of the same - by those most impacted by America’s foreign military presence.

The “classic security dilemma makes sense”, Chomsky argues, if one operates under the assumption that the US has “the right to control most of the world, and that US security requires something approaching absolute global control”.

As Letman noted:

Hawaii’s role in all this is enormous. Hawaii represents a fraction of one per cent of the United States’ land area and has just 1.37 million people, but is home to 119 total military sites, making Hawaii effectively a giant floating military garrison from which troops and military hardware are dispatched around the world.

Not a dozen miles from tourist-packed Waikiki Beach is Camp HM Smith, headquarters of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) which oversees military operations in roughly half the world from the Bering Sea to the Antarctic and across the entirety of the Pacific Ocean as far west as Central Asia, Pakistan and the southern Indian Ocean. Over half the world lives within USPACOM’s “area of responsibility” including China, India, Indonesia, Japan and 32 other countries.

The military bases in Hawaiʻi and the bloated U.S. defense budget has been justified as a jobs creation program: military Keynesianism.  But it is a myth that military spending is the best way to create jobs. Letman explored this contradiction:

Rather than question an economy based on weapons, violence and control, the American public largely forfeits any protest in favour of the holy four-lettered word, JOBS. But the argument that the military and defence industry is an indispensable source of jobs is deflated when one reads a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst which finds that $1 billion spent on military production creates 8,600 direct and indirect jobs. But that same amount of money invested in clean energy, health care or education could produce between 12,000 and 19,000 jobs.

This, however, is not a debate that is being waged by the wider American public. In fact, like the subjects of our foreign bases, drone warfare and the US military’s impact on people in the Asia-Pacific, it’s largely overlooked. In general, Americans spend little or no time considering the plight of people in other nations - especially small islands - whose land, sea, ports and resources are used to test, train and store US military hardware and personnel. Whatever the costs may be to local populations in terms of environmental damage, social disruption, economic coercion and an increased danger simply by hosting US bases goes undiscussed.

Curiously, despite the fact that in 2011 the US defence budget was well over $700 billion - far exceeding the combined defence budgets for China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the UK and Japan - a recent Rasmussen telephone survey reveals one in four Americans believe the US is still not spending enough of its military.

But as the Asia-Pacific “pivot” brings more testing, training and deployments to accommodate weapons and warriors fanning out across half the world, Americans would do well to pay closer attention to the vast human and financial resources its government demands. The time is long overdue to consider that what we call “defensive” is to so many around the world seen as offensive.

As Bruce Gagnon said just prior to going to Jeju island, “This has nothing to do with defending the United States or its people against attack. It has everything to do with corporate profits and power.”

Relocating U.S. bases and troops is like BP spraying chemical dispersants on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: it only makes the problem sink, spread out and persist. As peoples movements of Ka Moana Nui (the Vast Ocean) have demanded, we demand a reduction of U.S. military foces, the removal of bases and the restoration of people to military-occupied lands.

“The Pacific Blue Continent: Militarized Experiences in Hawai’i, the Marshall Islands and Guahan”

November 29, 2011 

November 30, 2011

5:30 pm

University of Guam CLASS Public Lecture Hall

Featured Speakers:

Kyle Kajihiro, Hawai’i Peace and Justice

Abacca Anjain-Maddison, Former Senator, Rongelap Island,

Ken Kuper, FITE Club

Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice

Sponsored by the Division of Social Work and Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice

Koohan Paik/Nation: Living at the ‘Tip of the Spear’

April 15, 2010

Living at the ‘Tip of the Spear’

By Koohan Paik

This article appeared in the May 3, 2010 edition of The Nation.

April 15, 2010

I was born in Pasadena in 1961 but raised in South Korea and other Pacific Rim locales, finally settling in Hawaii. During my coming-of-age years, between 1971 and 1982, my family lived on a beautiful small island in the western Pacific: lush jungles, remote waterfalls and mysterious freshwater caves. I remember riding horses through abandoned coconut groves and balmy nighttime spearfishing in some of the most abundant reefs in the world.

That place was Guam, at the southern tip of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US colony. Many people think of Guam only as a giant military base, the nexus of US forward operations in the Pacific islands–”the tip of the spear,” as the Pentagon calls it. That has certainly become its primary fate. The base occupies fully a third of the island and is off-limits to civilians, including the indigenous Chamorro people, who claim the oldest civilization in the Pacific. Even during my childhood, though I barely noticed it at the time, there was the constant background drone of B-52s roaring overhead to and from Vietnam, and submarines cruising the coasts. Such is the island’s current trauma, after an agonized history that has included repeated invasions and four occupations of varying degrees of brutality over four centuries–by Spain, Japan and twice by the United States.

Despite these serial humiliations, the Chamorros–a unique mélange of Micronesian, Spanish and Asian bloodlines–have always maintained optimism, courage and a resilient sense of humor. So far, they have successfully navigated their delicate existence as traditional peoples on a Pacific island, while also trying to play supportive roles–as nonvoting “citizens” in a US colony, even patriotic active soldiers–for their current master. But now they’re going to need all the resiliency they can muster to deal with the next blow the United States has in store.

I returned to Guam for a monthlong visit with old friends this past November. I was stunned to find the forests of my childhood being replaced by tarmac at an alarming rate; the remaining wild beaches and valleys being surveyed as potential live-fire shooting ranges; and an enormous, magnificently rich coral reef slated for dredging in order to build a port for the Navy’s largest aircraft carrier. I witnessed the rage and hurt, exploding suddenly–and so unexpectedly–from the Chamorro people and other island residents, who have had no say in the planning of cataclysmic changes that will turn their homeland into an overcrowded waste dump for the creation of the hemisphere’s pre-eminent military fortress. My friends told me it’s all part of what’s called the Guam Buildup.

Though technically Americans, people born in Guam have few American rights if they choose to live in their homeland. They can’t vote for president; they have only one, nonvoting representative in Congress, and Congress can overturn any law passed by Guam’s legislature. The island remains one of only sixteen UN-designated “non-self-governing territories”–in other words, colonies. As such, its people have no legal route to appeal any decisions made in Washington. A burgeoning resistance movement is under way, which the military is well aware of. They have hopes that a visit by President Obama, twice postponed and now set for June, will help ease the growing agitation. Given the mood of the people, I doubt Obama can calm anything.

The upcoming changes are all aimed at fulfilling a Pentagon vision set forth in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. The “Guam Buildup [will] transform Guam,” says the report, “the westernmost sovereign [sic] territory of the United States, into a hub for security activities in the region,” intended to “deter and defeat” regional aggressors. Guam will be ground zero for mega-militarization in the Pacific and beyond. John Pike of, a Washington-based think tank, hypothesizes that the military’s goal is to be able “to run the planet from Guam and Diego Garcia [an Indian Ocean atoll owned by Britain] by 2015,” “even if the entire Eastern Hemisphere has drop-kicked” the United States from every other base on their territory.

The swell of US military activity in the Pacific is not confined to Guam. All across the hemisphere, island communities are inflamed over a quiet, swift rearrangement and expansion of US bases throughout the Pacific–on Okinawa (Japan); on Jeju (a joint US-South Korea effort); on Tinian (in the same archipelago as Guam, but part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); on Kwajalein and the rest of Micronesia; and on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Big Island and Kauai. The US Pacific Command calls it an Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy. These imperial intentions have barely registered in the American media, despite gargantuan expenditures and plans. Nonetheless, this projection of American colonial assumptions and aggression is taking its toll throughout the Pacific Rim.

The centerpiece of the Guam Buildup is the transfer of about 8,600 marines from Okinawa. When you add their families and construction teams, including entire low-wage crews from the Philippines and Micronesia–there goes the “jobs bonanza” locals were promised–the expected influx will be 80,000 more people on Guam. The island, about half the size of Cape Cod, has a population of about 178,000. The people of Guam, whose largest ethnic group are Chamorro (37 percent of the population), followed by Filipino (25 percent) and then statesiders (10 percent), doubt their island has the carrying capacity to absorb a 50 percent population surge.

In November the Defense Department released a mandatory Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) assessing the buildup’s effects. It elicited the most blistering responses ever to come from the Environmental Protection Agency, newly resuscitated after the Bush years. The EPA gave the DEIS its lowest possible ranking for proposing entirely ineffective mitigation actions. The agency further enumerated a litany of ecological catastrophes. Hundreds of acres of jungle and wetlands habitat will be covered with concrete and tract developments in order to house tens of thousands of newcomers. There will be massive raw-sewage spills and a shortage of drinking water. The Navy’s plans include the destruction of seventy-one acres of an exquisitely healthy coral reef, home to at least 110 unique coral species, in order to build a berth for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which transports eighty-five fighter jets and 5,600 people.

Meanwhile, the Army wants to turn a pristine limestone forest that stretches from the hills to the sea–site of a prehistoric village that is listed with the National Registry of Historic Places–into a shooting range. In addition, it wants to build ammunition storage bunkers in wetlands areas. The Air Force hopes to build a missile defense shield, as well as hangars, airstrips and helicopter pads, turning Guam into the planet’s premier parking lot for billion-dollar fighter jets, helicopters and drones.

The DEIS provided no adequate alternative actions to any of these problems. Nor did it mention that dredging the reef will dislodge radioactive sediment that accumulated during the 1960s and ’70s when ships traveling from atomic test sites in the Marshall Islands came to Guam to be washed down at Apra Harbor.

The DEIS was written as if Guam’s people, land and culture counted for nothing. The vice speaker of the Guam legislature, Benjamin Cruz, charged that the “problem you had with the original DEIS is that it was done virtually.” Cruz pointed out that the report, prepared at a staggering cost of $87 million, was written by consultants who had never been to Guam and who had simply cobbled together the 11,000-page document based on Internet research and phone calls to Guam government agencies.

The EPA’s excoriating response to the DEIS has prompted lawmakers to question not only the cost of the buildup but also the costs of mitigating the project’s environmental, social and cultural impacts. The governor of Guam estimates that $3 billion will be needed to upgrade infrastructure before any military construction begins. Military construction is already priced at more than $10 billion, assuming that Japan fulfills its promise to kick in $6 billion to help remove US troops from Okinawa. If Japan begs off, the price tag for US taxpayers will soar to more than $13 billion. Surprisingly, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas sharply criticized Pentagon officials at a Senate appropriations hearing in March about the unexpected exorbitant costs of current Asia-Pacific basing strategies. She suggested that the best solution might be permanent bases on the US mainland, “where you don’t have training constraints and you don’t have urban buildup, and it is a more stable environment for our families.”

By contrast, Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who has advocated for an increased military presence in the Marianas since the 1970s, is intent on seeing the buildup through. He supports two solutions: pouring billions into massive infrastructure development (highways, waste facilities, power plants, etc.) and moving all the live-fire training to the gemlike island of nearby Tinian. However, many Guam residents feel that infrastructure spending misses the true cultural and environmental dangers of the population spike; and on Tinian, local farmers, who would be forced off their land (à la Bikini Atoll, circa 1946), are aghast that live-fire training would mark the end of agrarian culture there.

The incident that set these plans for the Guam Buildup in motion was the 1995 gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by US marines stationed at the Futenma Air Base in Okinawa, one of several shocking incidents involving assaults on local girls by marines. Outraged residents pressured the conservative government to reduce or eliminate the American military presence in Japan. Protests culminated in a 2006 realignment agreement between Japan and the Bush administration to close the air base and send half of its troops to a new air base on Henoko Bay, on Okinawa’s east coast, with the other half going to Guam by 2014.

But fierce resistance in Okinawa has derailed the move. Japan’s new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, who was swept into power in September on his promise to reduce the number of US troops, caught military planners off guard by refusing to allow base construction at Henoko. In October, Hatoyama incensed Defense Secretary Robert Gates by putting the Marines’ move on hold until he determines an alternative to the Henoko site. The relocation of Futenma remains stalemated.

The people of Guam have never before opposed military plans for their island. In fact, the Chamorros and Filipinos from Guam are arguably the most patriotic people in the nation; more soldiers from the Marianas have fought and died in American wars since 1950, per capita, than those from any other region in the country. However, the sheer magnitude of destruction proposed by the Guam Buildup is unprecedented and has pushed these patriots to their limit. For the first time in the island’s history, they are uncharacteristically speaking out against the military. At a recent public hearing, Chamorro veteran soldier Janet Aguon, who fought in two wars, said, “I’m truly sick and tired of the United States of America and the Department of Defense treating the people of Guam as if they were trash. So my message to President Obama, the DoD, the secretary of the Navy: take the military and put them in your own country and not on our tiny little island.”

Military planners are worried. The Hawaii-based commander of Marine forces in the Pacific, Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, told the Washington Post in March, “I see a rising level of concern about how we are going to manage this.”

Meanwhile, demilitarization activists have begun networking. The goal: a Pacific for the people. Those from Guam are allying themselves not only with those from Tinian and other Mariana Islands but also with all their Pacific Rim cousins, particularly on Okinawa, in Hawaii and on Jeju Island. These three locations, with Guam, will be sites for the nation’s most advanced missile technology–the ultimate geopolitical “Kick Me” sign. As an example of this pan-Pacific concordance, retired Col. Ann Wright recently joined Pacific Islanders outside the gates of Pacific Command Headquarters on Oahu to protest the Guam Buildup.

“We want Admiral Willard [head of the Pacific Command] to hear this: No means No!” said Wright. “When you force yourself on someone against their will, it’s called rape–rape of the people, the culture and the land. We Americans must stop our government’s military expansion in the Pacific.”

Carmen Artero Kasperbauer, a Chamorro elder whose family’s land is now part of an air base, told the military daily Stars and Stripes, “We hate being possessions to the federal government. That’s why people are angry.” But Kasperbauer, like most Chamorros, doesn’t direct her anger at the troops. “I’m not talking about the uniformed military. We love the uniformed military. Our son…helped liberate the Kuwaitis. But he can’t help liberate me.”

Increasingly, Guam residents are discussing the urgency of political self-determination. “We’re being moved back and forth across a chessboard by two countries: one that once occupied us [Japan] and one that currently does,” pointed out university instructor Desiree Ventura, author of the popular blog The Drowning Mermaid. Clearly, the need for sovereignty is more dire than ever, exposing the real question at hand: is President Obama ready to release Guam’s people from their colonized status?

About Koohan Paik

Koohan Paik is an Hawaii filmmaker and co-author, with Jerry Mander, of The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii’s Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism and the Desecration of the Earth (Koa). more…

Women’s Vigil for Peace and Solidarity

September 17, 2009 

In Solidarity with the 7th International Network of Women against Militarism (INWAM) Meeting: Guahan

Hafa Adai, my name is Angela T. Hoppe-Cruz. I am a Chamoru woman born and raised on the island of Guahan, now residing in Makaha. The INWAM formed in the mid 1990′s in response to the rape of a young Okinawan woman by a U.S. Marine. In 2004 women from Hawaii represented DMZ Hawaii Aloha Aina at th 5th INWAM Meeting held in the Phillipies. American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is part of the alliance that makes up DMZ. Hawaii’s participation continued, followed by the 2007 delegation in San Francisco, and this year Guahan. This year Hawaii is represented at the Guahan conference by Auntie Terri and Melanie Medalle. The meeting location is strategically selected based on the current militarism efforts against the people. In 2006 the U.S. military announced the transfer of U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guahan. The influx will result in 50,000 more people and immense development of the land for military use.

The 7th INWAM Meeting kicked off early this week, as I followed in spirit and prayer our sisters and brothers, there is an ache to be part of such a historic event, especially at this moment in time. Many sisters from the Micronesian region, here on Oahu have expressed that same ache and desire. I was moved and inspired by them to organize a gathering for our sisters living on Oahu, who cannot be in attendance at the INMW. On the final day of the conference there will be a community vigil to “honor the past and heal for the future “Fuetsan I Lina’la’: Famalao’an I Tano’ Strength of Life: Women of the Land”. Detailed information regarding the conference is at this site:

In solidarity with the INWM Guahan conference, we ask that you join us for a community vigil to be held on Oahu, to honor the past and heal for the future. This is a call for solidarity and sisterhood and that our connection brings hopeful collectivity. Militarism and empire building has wrought upon indigenous peoples’ across the globe a deep trauma and loss. The INWM is a collective of women standing up against the continued injustices and desecration of our lands, and communities. This is the thrust of the Gathering, women collectively overcoming militarism and putting forth a new vision of security. We ask for your full participation, this is not a performance. It is a space for us to gather, to re-member. Please call with questions Angela at 366-5777 or e-mail

When: Sunday, September 20th at 4:00p.m.

Where: Makua Beach, Ku la`i la`i

  • Hi`uwai (water cleansing ceremony). Procession to Papa Wai Ola cared for by Auntie Leandra.
  • Oli by Auntie Leandra
  • Song from our Sisters’ (open to all)
    • Chamoru, Chuukese, Palauan
  • Resilience and Healing across Oceania
    • Sharing our stories of struggle and hope
  • Potluck and drinks

**Please bring a potluck dish and drink to share. Also, please bring kukui nuts they will be used to represent the hurt you wish to be transformed.

The following is a timeline of military rule and impact in the Micronesian Islands and Hawaii. There are not words to describe the history of oppression and hurt that connects us. Nor are there words to describe our inherent power to heal and move beyond. We take with us not spears, but the power of our voice, love and ancestors collectively to challenge and resist the continued rape of our tano/aina.

The Transgressions: A timeline of militarism in our islands. (this is not a comprehensive list)

  • 1893: The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown and placed under U.S. rule, annexed as a territory.
  • 1898: The islands of Micronesia, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Isalnds and the Republic of Palau were divvied up as spoils of war after the Spanish American war.
  • Guam was ceded to the United States of America while the rest of the islands were awarded to Germany.
  • 1919: The Japanese through the Treaty of Versailles took control of the islands, except for Guam, which continued to be ruled by the U.S.A.
  • 1920: Guam is forced to follow: English Only Law.
  • 1941: Guam was under U.S. rule, until the Japanese Occupation, which lasted until 1944
  • 1944: Guam was ‘liberated’ from Japanese Occupation by the United States of America.
  • 1944: Following WWII the FSM, RMI, ROP and CNMI became Trust Territories of the Pacific, through the UN administered by the USA.
  • 1950: Through the Organic Act of 1950, Guam became a United States Territory.
  • 1954: In the name of Humanity, Marshall Islands are used as testing site of BRAVO an HBOMB, the equivalent of 10000 Hiroshima bombs.
  • 1959: Hawai`i nei annexed into statehood.
  • 1979: Four of the trust territory islands ratified the constitution to become the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Ponepei, Kosrae, Yap). RMI, ROP and CNMI chose not to participate.
  • 1986: Compact of Free Association took effect, for the FSM and RMI entities.
  • 1993: President Clinton issued an apology to the Kanaka Maoli for the overthrow of their Kingdom.
  • 1996: Compact of Free Association took effect. The conflict which this contract brought to the people of Palau was devastating. Their first President was assassinated and the 2nd committed suicide as a result of the pressure to get the people to agree to this. From the perspective of an elder, the third President gave in.
  • 1996: Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act, distinguishes Micronesians as aliens and ineligible for Medquest, based on “alienage” Sect 412, 431.
  • 2006: US announced transfer of Okinawan base to Guam, influx of 50,000 people and development as result. No community consultation.
  • 2009: Linda Lingle attempts to alter healthcare coverage to migrants from Micronesia, possibly endangering lives of individuals in need of chemo and dialysis.

As I write this my heart is heavy…the connections that have severed us are many and have been brutal. I ask you to join us; sisters in solidarity, to relieve ourselves of the cultural historical trauma…if not relieve, to ask for the strength to continue fighting for our people, our land. What we shed will flow out into the ocean and become one with the current.