Saturday, May 19, 2012

The status of Guam’s war reparations

It's time for Guam's political leadership to be frank about the status of war reparations. The $100 million being sought has an absolutely less than zero chance of being approved by Congress.

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Bordallo recently announced that her latest attempt to advance this issue has failed.

Supporters of reparations have a compelling case to make. The stories of what happened during the war are terrible and heartbreaking. The U.S. was too quick to settle with Japan. The needs of Guam weren't properly accounted for. But the politics of the issue in Washington are too impossible.

The continuing pursuit of reparations, at this point, is just political theater. Congress is not going to fund war reparations as it cuts programs for the poor, the medically uninsured, and others in desperate need.

Guam's political leadership needs to ask whether continuing pursuit of war reparations is becoming a political liability to other legislative efforts in Washington.

A better strategy may be for the island's political leadership to see if they can use to failure of war reparations as leverage on other issues. It may help them bolster the case to improve education and infrastructure on the island.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guam as a ‘strategic hub’

Takeaways from the “Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee."

“In view of the increasingly uncertain security environment in the Asia-Pacific region … 

“... the U.S. intent to rebalance defense priorities toward the Asia-Pacific region ...”

“.. support the development of Guam as a strategic hub ...”

“In order to develop Guam as a strategic hub ...”

What this means: 

-- The “increasingly uncertain security environment” is a clear reference to China’s naval development. Other than the pirates, there’s not much else going on in this region unless you look afar to Pakistan.

-- The references to Guam as a “strategic hub” is in context to Okinawa's diminishing importance, but also defines Guam's new role.

The New York Times has a forum running that ask: Are We Headed for a Cold War With China?

Among its writers is Zhu Feng, a professor in the School of International Studies and the deputy director of the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Beijing University.

Feng sees the military rebalancing in Asia-Pacific as the creation of military programs "that very specifically target China."

Another is Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University, who sees increased security competition with China but believes economic needs will keep the rivalry within bounds.

Map source: CIA analysis on China's naval capabilities, 1965