Sunday, June 12, 2011

Musings: Irreparable Harm

It was the kind of quiet — as in no human noise — darkish, drippy Sunday morning that made it easy to sleep in — yes, I sometimes do — though I was aware the birds were performing their usual loud and splendidly melodic dawn chorus as I drifted in and out of dreams. When the dogs and I finally went out into the green, wet world, Makaleha still had her curtains drawn, her waterfalls and craggy slopes hidden behind gray and white lace as another round of fine, light showers blew through, dampening us and drenching her.

Enjoying nature’s marvels from my spacious screened porch —I love my new house! — I scanned the news on my laptop and spotted on Yahoo headlines an AFP story that isn’t given much — heck, any — coverage in Hawaii: Guam’s quest for self-determination. The issue is gaining momentum in light of plans to move 8,000 soldiers from Okinawa to the American colony. The $10.3 billion military buildup is expected to swell the island’s population by about 79,000 people, or 45 percent of its population.

Just to make sure my perception was correct that the Star-Advertiser has pretty much ignored that topic, I searched its website and found nothing. Though I did find numerous stories and guest commentaries about how important it is for the U.S. to maintain a strong military presence in the Pacific and Asia. The most recent was a fawning lap dog piece by that old hack Richard Borreca giving Inouye a chance to deliver “a sober warning of the dangers America faces and Hawaii's century-long role as ‘the hub of American military strength that keeps the peace and deters aggression to the farthest reaches of our region.’”

Or in other words, beat the drum for a war against China and remind us how lucky we are that military spending accounts for 18 percent of Hawaii’s economy. Yeah, just keep on shilling, Richard.

But getting back to Guam, the people there, like many Native Hawaiians, want a chance to vote on their political future before they’re entirely inundated by outsiders, AFP reports:

Governor Edward Calvo successfully campaigned on the issue in a January election and pursued it in his State of the Island address in March.

"I highly doubt the 1,744 Marines and soldiers who gave their lives in the Battle of Guam died so that the people they liberated could be colonised for eternity," he said.

And their homeland trashed in the process. As The Washington Post reported last year:

The Environmental Protection Agency said last month that the military buildup, as described in Pentagon documents, could trigger island-wide water shortages that would "fall disproportionately on a low income medically underserved population." It also said the buildup would overload sewage-treatment systems in a way that "may result in significant adverse public health impacts."

Besides a new Marine base and airfield, the buildup includes port dredging for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a project that would cause what the EPA describes as an "unacceptable" impact on 71 acres of a vibrant coral reef. The military, which owns 27 percent of the island, also wants to build a Marine firing range on land that includes one of the last undeveloped beachfront forests on Guam.

It was so bad the EPA actually said “no, don’t do it.” Yet the U.S. never even consulted Guam on its decision to transfer the troops.

As The Huffington Post observed in its own article last year:

The possibility that Guam's indigenous residents may suffer irreparable harm from this planned military buildup without ever having had any effective say about it heightens the responsibility of Americans who do have voting representation in Washington to know something about the military buildup and its historical background.

Sound familiar? Only here in Hawaii, because we're a fake state, we're not totally shut out. Instead, we're given the chance to attend tightly controlled scoping meetings, respond to bogus Environmental Impact Statements and spend years in court suing the military over its many egregious actions, some of them decades old. But in the end, the military does pretty much whatever it wants, just as in the other nations it occupies.

And just as it has since it helped promote the overthrow, the Honolulu paper dutifully ignores the crux of the issue — the irreparable harm done to the land and its people by a military buildup — even though it employs a fulltime writer to cover military affairs in the Islands. Or at least, to report on the military’s version of its affairs in the Islands. Because there most decidedly is a difference.


Anonymous said...

" lucky we are that military spending accounts for 18 percent of Hawaii’s economy."

You want to lose 18% of an already fragile economic engine???

And replace it with what? The thread discussing a "diversified economy" has shown that it's virtually impossible.

We need tourism and military spending (plus a strong mil presence in this part of the world).

"Fake state"?? Puulll...eeese!!

Don't start that crap again. We are de-facto a legit state. Nobody cares how it got that way, really...nobody important, anyway. And it will never change.

Damn treehugger environmentalist liberal turn-back-the clock wackos.

Anonymous said...

Damn Joan you attract some haters here. I'm with you all the way on this one. 18% of the economy is not worth the environmental devastation that military occupation does to a place. Kahoolawe is one example, Waikane valley another. Both places uninhabitable from military training. Too difficult to clean up so pack up and leave our precious limited aina only to destroy another. Makua valley, Pohakuloa, Lihue (Schofield) and Mokapu come to mind. Majestic sand dune Nohili a place revered in chant & song today a site of missile launches. Once the land and sea is contaminated by DU and other by products of the military complex, there is no turning back.

For someone who has made his riches off his clients not so smart. When the water you drink and the air you breathe is contaminated and people are dying of cancers wtf is your money going to do for you? Get you the hell out of here?
Typical take what you can get and than leave a place worst than when you got here and fuck the rest of us who will never leave because it is home.

Do you expect the boat to keep bringing all the goods you'll ever want or need indefinitely? At what cost? Our forefathers have much to teach us and we need to look to the past for solutions to our current challenges. I refuse to accept that there are no alternaticves to tourism, military and gmo ag.

Thanks Joan for your valued mana'o.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the big's ok here, but for the vog.

My catchment water is fantastic to drink, after filtration and occasional treatment with baking soda to counteract the acid rain from the vog.

I do think the boats will continue to arrive, at least for the 25-30 years I have left.

Anonymous said...

You refuse to accept that there are no alternatives to tourism, military and gmo ag...yet you offer no viable alternatives.

Quite a state of denial you're in.