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Just ‘An Island in the Pacific’: How Washington Demeans Its Colonial Conquests

From Hawaii to Okinawa, Pacific islands seem relegated to serve as neverland vacation getaways — as well as outposts for US military empire.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently earned a news cycle’s worth of negative press after an interview in which he seemed to dismiss the entire state of Hawaii, where a federal judge earlier this year blocked the Trump administration’s ban on refugees and on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

“I really am amazed,” Sessions complained, “that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Sessions’ comments were widely seen as ignorant and arrogant, dismissing U.S. federal district judge Derrick Watson and the “island in the Pacific” on which he sits. Hawaii’s Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz were quick to fire back on Twitter, with Schatz reminding Sessions that that island is called Oahu, and it happens to be part of a U.S. state.

The dustup came one day after South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham made comments which received far less attention. Speaking in a Today Show interview, Graham said that a war on the Korean peninsula would be “bad for China, bad for Japan, bad for South Korea, it’d be the end of North Korea,” but quickly added, “what it would not do is hit America.”

It was as if Graham was saying: Relax! We’re only talking about destruction on a peninsula in the Pacific.

Sessions and Graham’s remarks might have been more shocking if they weren’t preceded by the U.S. president’s own steady stream of outrageous comments — including his latest ally-enraging (and inaccurate) suggestion  that Korea was once part of China, and appearing not to know the difference between three generations of North Korea’s Kim dynasty. In Washington, the intellectual and moral bar has been set so low, it’s now in danger of being run over by rats and lemmings.

Truth be told, Sessions, Graham, and Trump hardly hold a monopoly on disrespect and disconnect to the Asia-Pacific. Even those who were quick to blast Sessions’ remarks operate on their own ingrained assumptions about the region.

By their nature, Pacific islands are geographically smaller and distant from continents and have long been seen through the lens of conceit. (Henry Kissinger was famously quoted saying of the Marshall Islands, where the U.S. conducted nuclear testing from 1946 to 1958, “There are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?”)

It’s why, in part, places like Hawaii, Guam, the Marshall Islands, and Okinawa have been relegated to serve as neverland vacation getaways as well as outposts for our military empire — places to store, stage, test, and train for tomorrow’s wars.

Sessions’ dismissive island in the Pacific comment and Graham’s cavalier admission that a new Korean war would be a disaster for “them” but not “us” (sucks to be you!) cut to the heart of questions of sovereignty and servitude — and why there is so little recognition of the degree to which islands in the Pacific are commodified and militarized.

And while Jeff Sessions surely knows that Hawaii has been a U.S. state since 1959, he and others would do well to remember that the formerly independent Kingdom of Hawaii was, in fact, illegally overthrown by the United States in 1893 — and that Hawaiian legal scholars and others still dispute the validity of the U.S. annexation of Hawaii. The subsequent road to statehood and attendant impacts to Hawaiian culture and society, land rights, and the environment stand out as a glaring example of what can happen to an island in the Pacificwhen it catches the eye of a great power.

On the other side of the date line, the U.S. territory of Guam is highly valued by the U.S. military as its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Western Pacific, anchored strategically near East Asia. But most Americans would struggle to find it on a map. Guam has one of the highest military enlistment rates in the U.S. but remains divided over its political status.

There’s an effort underway to hold a plebiscite that would address the island’s political status as an “unincorporated territory.” A vote on whether Guam should pursue statehood (like Hawaii), forge a free association with the U.S. (like Micronesia’s three COFA nations), or seek full independence would be a significant step toward ending its colonial status and move toward self-governance.

Like Guam and Hawaii, the Republic of the Marshall Islands knows all too well what it means to be an island in the Pacific. The impact of the 67 nuclear weapons tests conducted by the U.S. in the northern atolls (most famously on Bikini) is measured not just in contaminated islands and devastating cancer rates, but in the profound changes to Marshallese culture and society. Entire communities were moved around like furniture to accommodate U.S. weapons tests.

Often overlooked is the Marshall Islands’ Kwajalein atoll, home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, which is so valued by the U.S. that it has negotiated a lease that runs through 2066 (with an option to extend to 2086). Much of the base’s unskilled labor force is made up of Marshallese who live in impoverished, crowded conditions, often lacking the most basic services and utilities, on a tiny sliver of sand called Ebeye island a short boat ride away from America’s sophisticated Death Star in the Pacific.

The widely accepted premise that islands in the Pacific make great military bases extends to southern Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom until it was absorbed by Japan in the 1880s. After the horrific battle of Okinawa at the end of World War II, the U.S. claimed Okinawa as its own — the spoils of war — and occupied it outright until its reversion to Japan in 1972.

Today Okinawa is fractured as its people continue to protest around the clock against the lopsided U.S. military presence there. At least 70 percent of all U.S. bases and half of U.S. troops in Japan are crowded on Okinawa into less than 1 percent of Japanese territory, with new U.S. installations being forcibly built under the heavy fists of Tokyo and Washington.

This denial of how the U.S. disrespects islands extends beyond the Pacific. It’s why Diego Garcia, where the U.S. and British expelled an entire indigenous population to build a U.S. military base, is just an island in the Indian Ocean. It’s why Puerto Rico and Cuba are just islands in the Caribbean.

When geographically and politically dominant nation-states invade, conquer, annex, or otherwise absorb smaller, distant islands, entire populations are displaced, cultures are appropriated or extinguished, and colonization and militarization are normalized.

When Jeff Sessions made his smug comment about an island in the Pacific, he was lambasted for disrespecting Hawaii. But a more subtle, far more pervasive kind of disrespect forms the basis of a narrative so widespread it transcends political boundaries, linking those on the right with those on the left in a way that never seems to make the news.

Woman Arrested Near US Base in Okinawa for Biting Police Officer

On Thursday, Japanese authorities arrested a woman and charged her with causing bodily injury and obstructing a police officer after biting an officer outside of US Marine Corps Base Camp Schwab in Okinawa.

The woman was arrested around 9:25 a.m. local time, and was one of three arrests made near US military bases in Okinawa that day, Stars and Stripes reports.

A Nago prefectural police spokesman said the officer was attempting to stop the woman from running to the highway near one of the base’s gates when she bit the officer on the arm, leaving bite marks.

Authorities have not released information on the woman, and it is not yet clear whether she belongs to protests groups that often demonstrate against the US military’s presence on Okinawa. Two people who ignored police warnings and crossed property lines at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and at Schwab were also arrested that day.

The Act on Special Measures Concerning Criminal Cases, a provision under a bilateral security treaty, prohibits anyone entering US military installations without permission.

According to police, the cases went to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Naha District on Friday.

Okinawa houses about 50,000 Defense Department employees, troops and families, and sees nearly daily protests against the American presence on the island, which holds strategic value for Washington due to its close proximity to North Korea and China.

ometimes these demonstrations grow quite large, with one June 2016 rally growing to an estimated 65.000 people. The protesters held placards that read,  “Marines, get out,” and “Our rage beyond the bounds.”

In February it was announced that the Japanese government was going to pay $265.9 million to Okinawa residents living near the Kadena Air Base in an aircraft noise settlement.

To lighten the island’s load, bases have recently been consolidated and Marines have been shipped to Guam and a number of other US bases.

Okinawa base worker to admit rape, but not intentional murder

A former U.S. base worker will admit to a charge of rape leading to the death of a Japanese woman last year, a new development in the case that rocked the tiny island prefecture and led to a surge in anti-American sentiment.

Kenneth Franklin Gadson, a former Marine who worked as a civilian at a Kadena Air Base cable and internet company, said through his attorneys that he killed Rina Shimabukuro, 20, while attempting to rape her, according to Naha District Court documents filed Friday.

“We do not dispute the charge of rape resulting in death,” the documents said, adding that Gadson admits to striking Shimabukuro on the head from behind while attempting to rape her. “As a result, the victim died … The defendant had no murderous intent, therefore we dispute the charge of murder.”

Gadson’s first pretrial conference is scheduled for March 10. The trial is expected to begin sometime around June.

The admission’s timing surprised some legal scholars, since prosecutors haven’t yet presented evidence in court. It was most likely an attempt at a lesser sentence by showing remorse, which is considered very important in the Japanese justice system.

“Generally speaking, if you do not admit anything while there is obvious evidence, the attitude is seen as atrocious, with no remorse; thereby, the sentence tends to be longer,” said Tetsumi Takara, a law professor at the University of the Ryukyus.

Takara said the death penalty cannot be discounted in this case, though it is rarely handed down in cases involving a single death.

“There is a possibility that he chose this route for a lesser sentence by giving a good impression to [the civilian] judges (similar to an American jury),” Takara said. “Having said that, it is still strange to admit the charge before trial.”

Gadson was charged with murder and rape resulting in death by Japanese prosecutors two months after Shimabukuro disappeared on April 28. He was also charged with the illegal disposal of a body.

Following interrogation, he took police to the wooded area where her remains were found. He confessed to the crime, police said, but his lawyers argued he was questioned while under the influence of sleeping pills after a suicide attempt.

The US and Japan signed a treaty that will limit Status of Forces protections for some US contractors working in Japan.

The supplementary treaty, signed January 16, goes into effect immediately, The Japan News reports.

The original Status of Forces (SOFA) agreement limits Japan’s criminal jurisdiction over workers on US bases in the country. While crimes committed by US personnel off base are still open to Japanese prosecution, in most cases the US can retain custody of offenders and in some cases can regulate their movements, as SOFA protections exempt some personnel from Japanese visa and passport regulations.

Under the supplementary agreement, the countries will establish a working group to review whether contractors meet new SOFA standards, Stripes reports. Civilians eligible for SOFA protections must “have skills or knowledge required for the accomplishment of mission requirements,” the agreement states, and private contractors now must be officially invited to Japan by the US government for official purposes to obtain a SOFA visa.

The “skills and knowledge required” for missions may by special training or licensing, a security clearance, short term need or other reasons, as the committee sees fit.

The ‘democratic’ nation

These videos show us who american military forces and servants of their government really are. They are the servants of evil forces who’s only purpose is to bring pain and suffer, to take all that their lands give, kill everybody and go to another place just like virus or desease.

Sexual assaults in the US miliary

That ugly word is rape. Both by the enemy and their own fellow soldiers and commanders. The ugly fact is that female soldiers are targets of men and their aggression and mental attitudes, that all lead to rape, murder, harassment, and abuse. The American public is worried about sending their daughters in combat zones were they could be captured and sexually assaulted by the enemy, the odd thing is that the vast majority of sexual assaults against women in the military are committed by their fellow soldiers. Originally, political leaders and military brass were worried about the effect of having young women in body bags coming home could have on public opinion about the war, now that conversation has altered. Mostly, female soldiers have to worry about their own commanders and fellow soldiers during deployment and back home. As one writer put it: “Women soldiers have to watch their back twice: once on the battlefield and again when behind the wire.” The statistics are damning: the US military has about 14% of their population being serial sexual predators that prey on both men and women in the service. Within the normal United States population that number is around 7%. In 2012, about 26,000 women and some men experienced a form of sexual  assault. This is a jump of 10,000 (or 34% increase) from 2011. Out of the 1.2 million servicemebers in the US Military, about 200,000 are women. Only about 3,000 cases are reported to the DoD, and only a few hundred of these cases receive any type of legal action. 96 resulted in court marshal. In just one branch, the overall statistic was one-in-five women in the military is a victim of sexual assault in the US Air Force. Overall, some 500,000 women in the military have been sexual assaulted since the 1st Gulf War. That is a hard number to deal with.

Okinawans Protest U.S. Military Presence

Thousands of people protested in Okinawa against the heavy U.S. military presence there. Many mourned the rape and killing of a local woman. An American contractor was arrested on suspicion of abandoning her body; He hasn’t been charged.

Thousands of Okinawa Residents Gather for Anti-U.S. Military Protest

Tens of thousands of residents of Okinawa took to the streets in protest on June 19, rallying against the presence of U.S. military bases on the Japanese island

US to Return Land on Okinawa Military Base to Japan

US to Return Land on Okinawa Military Base to Japan | Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement in Tokyo on Tuesday.
In the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, U.S. military planes and vehicles are part of daily life, and with that come noise, accidents, and crime.
Since World War II, the United States Military has held nearly 10000 acres of Japanese land and this month the land will finally be returned to Japan. The 9852 .

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