Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Musings: Weapons of Mass Aloha

The rain arrived very early again this morning, unbidden, but always welcome — one of those rare friends I’m happy to see drop by, unannounced, at any time of the night or day. Its presence overwhelmed the brightness of the moon, which is full tomorrow, and the interior mountains entirely disappeared behind masses of clouds.

The sun, now rising a bit later each morning, never did make a proper appearance, though it seems likely to poke its head out before the day is through. A friend from Hanalei called to saying he'd been up in the mountains for a couple of days, hooking `o`opu, which are heading downstream in preparation for spawning, while another friend offered to drop off a bag of mangos — the first of the season. Yum!

It’s not officially the solstice until Friday, but summer, for all intents and purposes, is already here.

And so, it seems, is the time of reckoning for the Hawaiian independence movement. With the Akaka bill, which would quash the dream of sovereignty forever, still alive and kicking, and the state pressing forward in its legal attempts to gain authority to dispose of the so-called “ceded lands,” things are starting to heat up.

I was interested to read a comment that Katy Rose, who has her own blog now, left on yesterday’s post. She stated:

Liberation has never been won in courts controlled by the imperialists, but in the battlefields and the streets.

Just as I was wondering why a progressive thinker would advocate the same old tired approach of armed conflict and violence, she added a second comment to clarify:

I don't necessarily think liberation must be achieved with blood-shed, but that the struggle must be intense and based on a mass movement.

Her remarks made me think of a statement made by Nelson Armitage Jr., the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation’s minister of foreign affairs, at the Nation’s convention this past weekend.

“We don’t have weapons of mass destruction," he said, "but we do have weapons of mass aloha.”

In the face of occupation by the most heavily armed nation on the planet, the kanaka maoli will never be able to achieve their independence through violence or armed conflict.

So they have the choice of either giving up, which doesn’t seem likely, or taking another approach. And that’s what the Nation is doing through its decision to wage its campaign to gain independence through the courts and the arena of public opinion.

Prime Minister Henry Noa said he has approached other nations “about recognizing us, but unfortunately, American dollars are stronger than what’s right. In talking with other nations America’s influence on them is really strong.”

Armitage also said that when he and Noa traveled to Venezuela to seek support for the Nation, there was much discussion about President Hugo Chavez’s famous speech to the United Nations, where he said the U.S. was on its way down and remarked, in reference to President Bush, “The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today."

“We live in the sulfur,” Armitage said, “yet we are still surviving.”

No empire lasts forever. We’re already starting to see the United States flounder economically, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are eroding both its resources and standing in the world, while leaving its military forces overextended. The players on the world stage do change. Just look at Latin America.

No doubt, the success of the Hawaiian independence effort ultimately will depend on mass international support. But it doesn’t seem that support will be gained primarily in the streets, but through political, legal, philosophical, moral and even religious avenues.

“Public ignorance is your greatest enemy,” Dan Hempey, attorney to the Nation, told those assembled at the convention. “Influence public opinion.”

Added Armitage: “We don’t need to be aggressive. We’ve just got to be humble and stick to the protocol.”

It’s a model that many are quick to dismiss in a world that operates on the maxim of “might is right.” But then, Hawaii isn’t like any place else on Earth. Shouldn’t its model for achieving independence be different, too?


Anonymous said...

Oh, Great! Henry Noa is buddies with Hugo Chavez! How embarrassing for his family.

Katy said...

There's no indication that he's "buddies" with Chavez, but if he is, that's good news, in my book. Those who believe in the US propaganda against the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela should do a little more research.

Larry said...

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.

--Paulo Freire
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Anonymous said...

Chavez is just using the tried and true technique of authoritarian governments which keep their own people ignorant and distracted by a made-up enemy. It helps Chavez keep them fearful while he robs them blind and pads his foreign bank accounts. A good crowd for Noa and Armitage to hang with. Maybe they should go ask Kim Jong-il for recognition and support.

Anonymous said...

anonymous wrote -- Chavez is just using the tried and true technique of authoritarian governments which keep their own people ignorant and distracted by a made-up enemy. It helps Chavez keep them fearful while he robs them blind and pads his foreign bank accounts.

Sounds like the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton model.

Anonymous said...

If Anon. 3:24 PM an't see what happening, then he/she is blind and blissfully ignorant.

Ed Coll said...

Regarding Hugo Chávez - In a speech Barack Obama gave in Flint, MI, called "Renewing American Competitiveness" on Jun 16th, 2008 he said;

"Oil money pays for the bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut, and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran."

Clearly Barack Obama agreeing with President Bush is calling President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela a dictator. Historical facts indicate otherwise. Chávez won the 1998 presidential election on December 6, 1998 with 56% of the votes (the largest margin in 40 years). In 2000 Chávez was reelected by 59.76% of the popular votes. Chávez survived a failed coup attempt in 2002 that tried to install the Chamber of Commerce president Pedro Carmona and in 2006 Chávez again won the OAS and Carter Center certification of the national election on December 3, 2006 with 63 percent of the popular vote.

Compare this to the United States 2004 election of George H.W. Bush by only 50.73% percent of the popular vote in a highly controversial election. The only international organization allowed to monitor the election, The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) Election Observation Mission Final Report said this;

"In keeping with its OSCE commitments, the United States invited the OSCE/ODIHR to observe these elections. OSCE observers were granted access to polling stations in a number of states, although sometimes only in specific counties. However, in other states, access was not possible or was limited. This was a result of state law, either because international observers were not included in the statutory categories of persons permitted to be in polling places, or because the lack of reference to international observers in state law was deemed to constitute an obstacle to their presence in polling places. Lack of observer access to the election process, both international and domestic, including at polling station level, is contrary to OSCE commitments, and limited the possibility of the OSCE EOM to comment more fully on the election process."

Instead of pandering to popular ignorance of world affairs and U.S. propaganda by the current administration perhaps Barack Obama should look a bit closer to home if he wants to call someone a dictator.

Katy said...

Thank you, Ed, for the facts about the repeated and democratic elections of Chavez.

Those interested in more information about Venezuela can easily check out a documentary entitled "Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out." It is available from Netflix.

I recently listened to an interview with the filmmaker, who I felt had a very refreshing, critical view of Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution. His account was very realistic and not fawning, although it was clear he was analyzing the situation from a left perspective. The interview can be accessed here:http://againstthegrain.org/. Look for the program entitled "Social Movements in Venezuela," which aired on June 3.

Anonymous said...

All this still doesn't mean that Chavez isn't ripping his country off and creating demons where there are none so he'll be popular. Hitler did that pretty well with the Jews and he was "elected".

Anonymous said...

Hitler was not a dictator, he was a democratically elected mass murderer. Chávez has not committed mass murder. In fact didn't Chávez provide cheap oil to the poor of Boston and New York City a few winters ago?

Katy said...

Yes, Venezuela did commit cheap heating oil to poor communities.

In fact, rather than "ripping his country off," the reforms of the Bolivarian revolution have been directed toward spreading the country's massive oil wealth out to meet dire social needs, instead of hoarding it in the hands of an elite, which is what happened before Chavez, with US approval.

Why is it so difficult for some people to imagine that positive social change is possible?

Laura Christine said...

I think Gandhi is the world's greatest example of how to fight and win without violence. From Wikipedia: "Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, firmly founded upon ahimsa or total non-violence—which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Anonymous said...

Ah...you Socialists should all go move in with your idol. You're naive. Cute, but dumb and entertaining. No, Chavez is a crook, a fact that will come out sooner or later and when it does you'll all distance yourselves from him and say, "Well, he did so much good for the proletariat that he must be forgiven the methods he used to keep them down and ignorant. That's the way it happens in 3rd world countries where there's no free media to expose his corruption.

Ed Coll said...

I did not defend Chavez except to note the historical fact that Chavez is not a dictator, as he was elected in 3 internationally observed and accepted elections, a fact that name calling does not negate. By your logic Bernie Sanders a socialist US Rep elected by the citizens of VT must also be a dictator (or a crook). Funny how this fact has not become common knowledge since we do have "free" media here in the US of A.

Katy said...

While Hugo Chavez enjoys tremendous popularity in Venezuela, there is also an endogenous social transformation occurring wherein local communities are exercising power in decisions which affect them. While I am troubled by any hierarchical system, including that of the US, I have to admit I am impressed by the way the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is more grass-roots centered than one would be led to believe by the US media. The government is supportive of the horizontal decision-making processes developing throughout the country in the cooperatives and the consejos comunales. In many ways, power is being de-centralized in Venezuela.

In my opinion, it would be a good idea to actually read beyond the mainstream US press for information about Venezuela before arguing that Chavez is a crook and a dictator, or even basing your argument on the idea that Chavez himself embodies Venezuela's social transformation.