Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Monday, August 08, 2011

SELLING GUAM



Because the U.S. is doubling its military presence in the Asia-Pacific it needs more places for bases....Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force.

The people of Okinawa are trying to get rid of U.S. bases so the Chamber of Commerce in Guam wants to slide the relocated Marines to their already heavily occupied island.

The available land for expanding U.S. bases on Guam is sacred to the indigenous Chamorros people. So a conflict is brewing. The way to sell the deal to the people of Guam is to pump up fear of China.

Michael Lujan Bevacqua, an activist and educator on Guam, in a recent blog entry wrote:

These members of Guam's economic elite had many meetings with Washington officials, and at each meeting according to them, the message was the same, Guam is strategically important, Guam needs to be built up militarily and the reason why is because of CHINA. China is growing in power both economically and militarily and has plenty of disposable income which it is spreading around the world to places where it both have current interests and has potential future interests (whether resource based or strategy based). So on the one hand, these titans of local industry head to Washington with prophecies of possible doom in the Asia-Pacific region with the rise of the Kraken that is China, being unleashed across the world. They argue in the most polite terms possible (which is characteristic of American ambivalence towards China) that China is dangerous and must be kept in check and Guam is the best place to do the checking from.

So according to the first face of Janus, China is a gathering threat to the United States and Guam can play a key role in keeping it from becoming too threatening.

Yet at the same time as representatives of Guam spell doom and gloom for the Pacific over China, they are also going to Washington talking about getting Visa Waivers for guess which country? It certainly wouldn't be China since as we all know, China is such a huge threat to the United States and cannot be trusted and Guam has to be built up in order to contain China. Oh, wait, lana, maleffa yu', it is China!

That's right, such is the life on the tip of the spear, where your economic engines are in their essence contradictory. Guam as a strategic military location needs to be kept secure, it needs to have its points of entry carefully checked and watched to ensure that whatever strategic assets that are placed here not unnecessarily put at risk. But Guam is also a tourist hub, and tourism actually does generate more money than military spending on Guam, but there are moments where the business of militarization conflicts with the business of tourism. The Guam Visitor's Bureau's report on how the military buildup will affect tourism argued that there will be a further decline because of the perception of Guam being too military, and that is something which already hurts Okinawa's tourism from mainland Japan, and so it would also be a stigma that Guam would end up shouldering as well. For the tourism industry you need markets and you need people who want to come to Guam and who will have money in their pockets to spend when they get here. China is the prize which everyone lusts after, with it's emerging middle class who are all looking for ways to spend their money overseas.

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