Sunday, November 7, 2010

The three phases of Guam’s buildup

I loved the headline in the Guam NewsWatch. “Hillary Clinton Spends ‘Productive' Hour on Guam.” Delightful sarcasm, I hope.

The buildup is now is entering several phases. 

One: The first is the babble phase

Guam isn’t registering with the news media and President Obama has crossed it off his list. There’s no interest in the Guam buildup in Washington and the Pentagon knows it.  It’s all done now and the Pentagon has sent out a new team to supervise the buildup.
“We’re not going to build a new Marine Corps base ... and the Marines are going to move here and we have Guam and then we have Marines. We’re going to build a next village on Guam. We want to have a Marine Corps village on Guam and blend into the local culture.” – Marine Corps Times,  comments by the director of the Pacific Division Headquarters Marine Corps.
"You know, people keep saying...'can't you put any of these ranges somewhere else?'" Wood said. "I don't want to be cynical, but sure, you could put the ranges in downtown Agana -- what good would that do for the Marine Corps or the people of Guam? We tried to find the place that has the least impact on the entire island, on the culture, on the people of Guam. The EIS has for the most part identified the Route 15 area. –  Guam NewsWatch.
The babble phase is where the U.S. has what it wants from Guam and officials no longer feel they are under any obligation to say anything that makes the least amount of sense.

Two: The philosophical phase.

This is the phase where Guam’s leaders, such as Gov. Camacho, see the buildup as an overwhelming and indefinable problem and leave the task, as Keats wrote, to the poet “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

Third:  The paranoid phase.

With the troops, military and the aircraft carrier parked in the harbor, comes the third phase,  the paranoid phase.

As Guam's military profile increases, so does the fear that something may happen. They go hand-in-hand. At some point, the fear will be processed, buried deep, and become a rarely noticed part of the psychological landscape. But it is still there.
Pacific Daily News:  Guthertz welcomes missile defense system for Guam, Oct. 28, 2010
Sen. Judith Guthertz says she welcomes word that a missile defense system for Guam is in the works.
 “To residents of the continental United States, the possibility of a ballistic missile strike anywhere near them is a pretty remote possibility," Guthertz stated in a press release. But on Guam, "a trigger-happy and nuclear armed regime in nearby North Korea" has already demonstrated that this American territory in Asia is within its range, according to Guthertz, who is seeking re-election. 
Since the announcement of the $15 billion Guam military buildup, those living within the potential bulls eye have wondered how they are supposed to be protected in the event of a shooting war, said Guthertz. 
The buildup isn't about North Korea and a random missile launch. It's about China. It's always been about China, the country no one wants to name (because they own our banks and manufacturing production capability).

Robert D. Kaplan, a frequent and influential writer in DC on global security issues explains why Guam should feel paranoid in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
We underestimate the importance of what is occurring between China and Taiwan, at the northern end of the South China Sea. With 270 flights per week between the countries, and hundreds of missiles on the mainland targeting the island, China is quietly incorporating Taiwan into its dominion. Once it becomes clear, a few years or a decade hence, that the United States cannot credibly defend Taiwan, China will be able to redirect its naval energies beyond the first island chain in the Pacific (from Japan south to Australia) to the second island chain (Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) and in the opposite direction, to the Indian Ocean. [emphasis added]

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