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."