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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Asia-Pacific Journal on Okinawa & Guam: Exposing impracticality of military expansion plans & exploding the "deterrence" myth

(Half-completed military buildup housing project disrupts the skyline of a neighborhood in Guam. The contractor, Younex, is facing questions about impacts on Northern Guam water resources and its relationship with permitting agencies, including the Guam Land Use Commission, and a court decision that voided a zoning variance. The South Korean construction company halted work on these luxury condominums intended for sale to buildup carpetbaggers after the Korean government ordered banks to suspend further loans to the financially struggling main contractor, Hanil Corp., last summer. Photo: Matt Wei, Marianas Variety)

U.S. military expansion projects in Okinawa and Guam have faced nonstop local opposition; allegations of corruption between construction companies and governmental agencies; and environmental and historic preservation issues, since they were announced. Two new articles from The Asia-Pacific Journal examine the unraveling of these plans and their shaky basis.

Michiyo Yonamine's "Economic Crisis Shakes US Forces Overseas: The Price of Base Expansion in Okinawa and Guam":
While questions are raised in Washington on the roles of Marines, US and Japanese governments are proceeding with plans to build new USMC facilities in Northern Okinawa.

...the overwhelming majority of American scholars and experts I interviewed (Mike Mochizuki, George Washington Univ.; Morton Halperin, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Richard Samuels, MIT; Barry Posen, MIT; Andrew Bacevitch, Boston Univ.) believed that it was impossible to relocate to Henoko, and that the Marine Corps in Okinawa no longer plays any role in US military strategies...

Given US plans to strengthen the bases on Guam, including transferring the Okinawa Marines there, it has no resources to spare to intervene in other countries. In September the DoD announced it would postpone completion of the transfer originally planned for 2014 due to lack of preparedness on Guam. The infrastructure cannot cope with the sudden influx of the Marines, their families and construction workers...

The US military’s pattern of extending bases in accordance simply with their perceived military and strategic value, without any understanding of local circumstances, history and culture, is precisely what is happening in Okinawa. Regarding the construction of replacement facilities in Henoko, Japanese and US governments say that this is ‘not construction of a new base but relocation to the pre-existing Camp Schwab’; but since they are constructing runways where there was nothing before, extending the base in this way is the same as what is occurring on Guam. The US government’s argument that “the transfer to Guam is not progressing because the Futenma issue is stagnating” can no longer be accepted. This is a situation unique to the US. And if the delay is due to domestic circumstances in the US, packaging Guam with Futenma will not work. Four and a half years on since the 2006 announcement of the restructuring of US Forces, the agreement is coming apart at the seams.
(U.S. Marines have not engaged in any amphibious assaults since World War II (except for training). Recent disembarkment of 14 Marine amphibious assault tanks on Henoko's beach damaged coral and disturbed the feeding area of the critically endangered Okinawa dugong, angering Okinawans, who consider Marine training in Okinawa an assault on their natural environment.

Norimatsu Satoko's "Hatoyama's Confession: The Myth of Deterrence and the Failure to Move a Marine Base Outside Okinawa":
In a joint interview held in Tokyo on January 31 and February 8 with the two Okinawan papers and the Kyodo News Agency, former Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio conceded that he had just given “deterrence” as the factor necessitating retention of the US Marine Corps on Okinawa (and hence the building of a new Okinawa base for them) because he needed a pretext.

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