Monday, November 12, 2012

Musings: Target Island

Rain came, in the night and again this morning, as I had hoped it would when I opened three garden beds in the orange light of yesterday's end, dismayed to find the soil so deeply dry, yet itching to get growing again. I left the beds uncovered, so the shama thrush could snack on the exposed bugs and worms and the soil could drink the rain I felt sure would fall as we move toward tomorrow's new moon in Scorpio solar eclipse.

Sure enough, it did, and as I looked this morning at the bare beds, resembling freshly-dug graves, I thought soon you will be supporting new life.

It's the long Veteran's Day weekend, a time when folks honor the soldiers who have served  and I, a student of histoy, think about how it's been nearly a century since the “war to end all wars” ended, and we're no closer to achieving world peace. I don't think that's due so much to the failings of human nature as the insatiable hunger of a war machine that feeds on destruction and death — a war machine that is becoming ever more firmly entrenched here in the Islands.

Hawaii is a casualty of, and becomes an accessory to, the militarization that extends from our shores,” Oahu peace activist Kyle Kajihiro once told me. “We become the place where the wars come from.”

And when we dispatch war from these shores, we risk having war waged upon us.

I recently got an email from a Kauai man who sent me a link to an article posted on Defense Industry Daily:

The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) is the world’s largest instrumented testing and training missile range, located on the far Hawaiian islands of Kaua’i and Ni’hau. The Barking Sands shore facility used to belong to Kekaha Sugar Company. It became Mana Airport during World War 2, and was renamed Bonham Air Force Base in 1954. The Navy has owned it since 1964, and is currently using PMRF to launch ballistic missile targets for the naval AEGIS BMD/ SM-3 missile combination, and the Army’s THAAD missile system. It will have an Aegis Ashore complex that will be used for testing purposes, but could also serve operationally, and has also been a deployment site for THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense,] in response to threatening North Korean tests that posed a risk to Hawaii.

PMRF’s size and scope make it a valuable resource beyond the US Navy, and that role will grow as global interest in naval ballistic missile defense grows.

As the man who sent me the article noted:

It says that the Aegis ashore program would be for testing but could also "serve operationally". The article also states that the THAAD launcher was made tactically operational for a supposed North Korean threat. Everyone knew this at the time but it was supposed to be a secret. I guess not any more.

These are exactly the types of things that will make Kauai a target. The Aegis ashore site will be huge. You can be sure the navy will put it to good use during and after testing.

The word needs to get out. This is worse for the island than STARS ever thought of being.”

At the end of October, the Missile Defense Agency gave us a glimpse of what's in store when it conducted the “largest ballistic missile defense flight test in history.” As regurgitated by the Star-Advertiser:
The live-fire demonstration, conducted at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, emphasized the performance of the Aegis ballistic missile defense, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and Patriot weapon systems.

Here's what it looks like, all that money and material going up in flames and smoke.

Meanwhile, a friend sent me a link to a New York Times op-ed piece that offers a different perspective on Eisenhower's 1961 warning about the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life:

Eisenhower’s least heeded warning — concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war — is more important now than ever. Our culture has militarized considerably since Eisenhower’s era, and civilians, not the armed services, have been the principal cause. From lawmakers’ constant use of “support our troops” to justify defense spending, to TV programs and video games like “NCIS,” “Homeland” and “Call of Duty,” to NBC’s shameful and unreal reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” Americans are subjected to a daily diet of stories that valorize the military while the storytellers pursue their own opportunistic political and commercial agendas. Of course, veterans should be thanked for serving their country, as should police officers, emergency workers and teachers. But no institution — particularly one financed by the taxpayers — should be immune from thoughtful criticism.

Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.

There's an ever bigger disconnect here in Hawaii, which President Obama has designated not for de-occupation, but an even greater role in the nation's military build-up. It's needed, he claims, in response to a growing Asian threat. Simultaneously, our own County Council is being asked to join Honolulu in supporting a resolution urging the State Department to relax visa requirements for the People's Republic of China. It appears their tourism dollars are welcome — until we decide to wage war upon them.

As Kyle Kajihiro so aptly observed:

Tourism serves to “sugar coat the violence and repressive history” of militarism in the Pacific region. “It's masked with aloha shirts and a paradise fantasy image, and that makes a screen so the rest of the world doesn't see the true picture."


Anonymous said...

"The word needs to get out"? A little late for that. The expansion of the the scope of operations at PMRF has long been in the works and is well underway. The largest radar facility in the world or some such crap, etc. etc. It wasn't for nothing that the Navy wanted to have oversight of the entire Mana plaine some years back and got what they wanted from the state, even though at the time the claim was to preserve the agricultural aspect of the the area. Though I guess Syngenta, Monsanto et al do go quite hand in hand with the military.
Great footage (if you like that sort of stuff) of the missile launches. The 2nd launch was Kauai, with the tree and ocean in the background. There was a time way back when, when after hours and on the weekend pretty much the whole base was accessible and one could drive up to the launch pads to check the surf around Nohili point, smoke a doob, or just enjoy the view. Ah, the times they are a changin', and have been, sadly , for a while.

Anonymous said...

Please see "Noho Hewa" Anne Keala Kelly's documentary of this military takeover of our aina and our government and the world. Until the beast is not fed we live in perpetual terror and war. USA, USA, USA.

Anonymous said...

It's never too late to "get the word out." A lot of people dont know, especially tourists and it's easy to forget.

Anonymous said...

Not too hard to tell who is mainland and who is local on this blog.

Anonymous said...

PMRF is essential to defense.
We would be having "Rising Sun" flags and be speaking Japanese if there was no military, and still be working the is easy to sit back from your government subsided air conditioned houses and decry the USA. Get a job and shut up.

Anonymous said...

Eh 11:43--you hiring?

Anonymous said...

The Mayor and his Admin needs to be impeached as well as fire Lenny Rapozo. Kauai needs a county manager and also a human resource department that will not accept nepotism. Drug test the county of Kauai employees, there are many that wouldn't pass a drug test even if they were told ahead of time. Keep the light on and remember that corruption lives on the dark.

Anonymous said...

TO: Anonymous said...

" PMRF is essential to defense.
We would be having "Rising Sun" flags and be speaking Japanese if there was no military, and still be working the is easy to sit back from your government subsided air conditioned houses and decry the USA. Get a job and shut up."November 12, 2012 11:43 AM

MY Response:
Well actually we already have that. The Japanese control the Hawaii State Government and much of the land and the so-called governor has opened the gates for China to set up business here.
Who do you think youʻre talking to?
Are you one of those bastards that wears a uniform, gets medals for human rights atrocities in other countries and then goes home to your ʻamerikaʻ to beat up your wife and kids? And also sucking our tax dollars to support your miserable ass.
OR, are you a wannabe?

I think PMRF needs to get the hell off our beach. They own - nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am sick of listening to those who defend the militarization of Hawai'i by continuing the propaganda about imperial Japan as an excuse for the U.S. miltary invasion and overthrow of a peaceful, neutral independent nation. The Kingdom of Hawaii had treaties with Japan and enjoyed a friendly relationship with their government prior to the overthrow of our Queen. Let's not forget that many Japanese had immigrated here to work on the plantations. The only reason Japan attacked Pearl Harbor was because of the U.S. military build-up here. No civilian areas were bombed, only military installations. Japan was more concerned about the imperialistic desires of the U.S. and it's continued expansion into the Pacific. Joan is right, Hawaii has been turned into a very strategic target because of our military build-up, thus the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

Dawson said...

>PMRF is essential to defense.
We would be having "Rising Sun" flags and be speaking Japanese if there was no military, and still be working the is easy to sit back from your government subsided air conditioned houses and decry the USA. Get a job and shut up.<

That's exactly the sort of mindless jingoism that diseases this country. No one is saying "no military." The issue is not the need for military as appropriate self defense in an increasingly dangerous world. The issue is the spread of unbridled, politicized military used as a colonial industry, turning huge sectors of the economy into pawns of politicians.

Anonymous said...

And the excuse that the Japanese "would have.......".

Does it make any more tolerable that the U.S. did the unspeakable act to the Nation of Hawaii as opposed to the Japanese?

I never did get that argument.
Probably because itʻs not a valid argument.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry about supporting PMRF. these blog comments have shown me that there are no threats to the USA, Pearl Harbor attacks were really OK and the US is a greedy bully.
I think I will just sit back schmoke a medical marijuana health product and allow the apertchniks run my life. Oh the world owes me a livin'
Oh by the way, I thought the State /County workers were US citizens, everyone on Kauai came from somewhere, it is just a matter of when.

Dawson said...

>I am sorry about supporting PMRF. these blog comments have shown me that there are no threats to the USA, Pearl Harbor attacks were really OK and the US is a greedy bully.
I think I will just sit back schmoke a medical marijuana health product and allow the apertchniks run my life. Oh the world owes me a livin'
Oh by the way, I thought the State /County workers were US citizens, everyone on Kauai came from somewhere, it is just a matter of when.<

Anonymous 4:21? Meet Anonymous 11:43. How are things in your mutual cave?

Besides dark, that is.

Anonymous said...

Love it, Dawson. lol.

Anonymous said...

The Kingdom of Hawaii lasted under 100 years 1795 to 1893 . Kamehameha was able to subjugate the outer islands only by the use of full blown western artillery and warships.....with western military advisers.

Anonymous said...

It is not dark in this cave, there is a lava lamp

Anonymous said...

Oh spare us the haole rewrites.

Anonymous said...

I want to start a non profit organization for Kauai against corruption. We shall model ourselves under the ICAC- international commission against corruption and may be under the CARCLE- congress against racism and corruption in law enforcement. KCAC- Kauai commission against corruption will serve all the people of Kauai. Who on Kauai is interested in enlisting their selfless service to right what is wrong on the island of Kauai? We must End the corruption by Kauai's Home Grown Terrorists- the GOBAG.

One Nation One Law 50 said...

Citizen apathy is one of the biggest reasons Kauai has many of the problems it has. That apathy is in part due to a lack of confidence in our government institutions.

The County Council has not been proactive in addressing the issues of nepotism, corruption and racism on Kauai. In fact historically they have been part of the problem.

I like the idea of a non profit commission to deal with these concerns. Local citizens need a stronger voice than they currently have and a place to go (beyond the FBI office in Honolulu) to report problems.

Anonymous said...

Is there a win-win situation here? Can we and PMRF survive in a way that will keep everyone feeling okay? PMRF employs so many people I know and without the base, they would not be able to live here. Also, shouldn't we be part of protecting our country?
What if North Korea's missles come our way-----shouldn't we shoot them down?! PMRF has the capability to do that!

Anonymous said...

The U.S. is the only country that attacks like that.
U.S. smells its own stink first and is afraid someone will do as they do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8.15 PM said...
Oh spare us the haole rewrites.

Read your own history books, look at who Kamehameha honored and why.

Allen said...

I felt sort of down today, but then a friend told me that I'd missed a PMRF post on Kauai Eclectic, and that did the trick. I was instantly buoyed by the prospect of reading not only Joan's lovely writing and imagery, but also her dependably dread-laden missives about the eeevils being perpetrated by a military-industrial complex illegally occupying crown lands and thus creating a target of Kauai. If only PMRF was not here, the only thing to sully our enjoyment of the Garden Island would be the rampant corruption in the local government which somehow keeps getting elected by all the right-thinking peoples of Kauai.

What I love about these PMRF posts and the resulting slew of conspiracies tacked on in the comments section is that they exist within a self-reinforcing reality-distortion field rivaling anything Steve Jobs and Apple ever wrapped around a hipster.

In the Hawaiian nationalist, environmental-worshipping, military-hating, history-ignoring bubble of Kauai Eclectic, PMRF is indicative of everything that has gone wrong on Kauai. Ignore the fact that no offensive strategic weapons have ever been deployed here (outside of WWII). Ignore the fact that the commenters don't apparently understand anything about STARS or what it means to deploy a defensive system for test (or operational use). Ignore the fact that the base pumps millions into the Kauai economy and gives numerous jobs, and most high tech jobs to West Side residents. Ignore the fact that they have been an outstanding advocate for the enviroment and have endeavored to be culturally sensitive in the building of new facilities and the use of current sites. Ignore the fact that the military is a benign and eager contributor here to our schools, communities, and daily lives. Ignore the fact that the major whipping point of the past 10 years, that they closed off the beaches in order to satisfy national and state concerns about security, has largely been resolved to the satisfaction of all (but the curmudgeons). Ignore the fact that the base is a vital part of our national defense in terms of training and testing of new defense systems for the nation and ALL of its citizens (even the ones on Kauai that refuse to acknowledge it).

Ignore all that and instead focus on the fact that they are here because of a war that happened before anyone currently living was born, and which has since been apologized for. Focus on the miniscule percentage of nationalist secessionists that want to reverse all of the state and US history that has occurred since then, in which Hawaii has benefitted tremendously from statehood and has produced US patriots worthy of respect the whole world round. Focus on what might have been and ignore the reality of what Imperial Japan would have done to an independent Hawaii, you know, the exact same things they did throughout Micronesia and mainland China (it wasn't pretty).

Yes, the Kauai Eclectic reality - distortion field has been in fine, laughable form here and in the comments. It indeed brought a smile to my face. Passionate irrelevancy has a way of doing that.

Joan Conrow said...

Glad we could cheer you up! And thanks for your nice words about my writing and imagery!

Anonymous said...

Allen, you don't get it. Being a test and training range does not make it a target. What does make it a target is placing tactical interceptors there to protect Oahu. Once you go tactical you become a target.