Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kyle Kajihiro on Jeju Island as South Korea's proposed Pearl Harbor (bomb target; military contamination site; war memorial)

Last year Kyle Kajihiro of DMZ Hawai'i shared some advice with art teacher and peace blogger Sung-Hee Choi (now imprisoned in Jeju Island for holding a banner saying "Do not touch a stone, a flower" in protest of the destruction of farm land and coast to make way for a naval base; she is standing trial on June 10):
Aloha Sung Hee,

The Korean government's argument that militarization has been good for Hawai'i and would be good for Jeju is dead wrong.

Militarization led to the loss of Hawai'i's independence as a country; it led to the destruction of the environment and disintegration of Hawaiian culture; it made Hawai'i a target during World War II and the Cold War; it brought the most virulent forms of racism and martial law to the islands; it provided America the platform from which to expand its empire;  it continues to distort our development in ways that serve the interests of Empire and not the security of Hawai'i or the region. 

In Hawai'i, Ke Awalau o Pu'uloa (Pearl Harbor) was once one of the most productive fisheries for Native Hawaiian people. There was an extensive agriculture-aquaculture complex that fed many thousands on O'ahu island. Ke Awalau o Pu'uloa was the reason America invaded and occupied the Kingdom of Hawai'i, but for its strategic location, not the abundance of its resources.   The Navy took this resource and turned the area into a toxic superfund site. There are approximately 749 contaminated sites that the Navy has identified within the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex. There are now signs warning not to eat fish, crabs or shellfish from the waters at Ke Awalau o Pu'uloa.  The waters are all off-limits to the public because of military security measures.

There are hundreds of other military contaminated sites.  Contamination includes PCB, perchloroethylene, jet fuel and diesel, mercury, lead, radioactive Cobalt 60, unexploded ordance, perchlorate, depleted uranium...  

It is partially true that the military has become a major source of revenue in Hawai'i, but at a very high price.  The military economy is artificial. It is largely a result of the corrupt processes of the military-industrial-political complex and the game of earmarking defense appropriations for projects in the islands.  This is the source of Senator Daniel Inouye's power, his ability to direct federal monies to Hawai'i, even at the expense of the environment, Hawaiian rights and sovereignty and peace in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Also, Pearl Harbor has become a major tourist attraction because of its mythical significance in the American psyche. 

The questions that we must always ask about the alleged economic benefits of the military in Hawai'i are:

"Who gets paid?  Who pays the price? What are the real social, cultural and environmental costs of such a dependent economy?"  

The native people of the land are the ones whose lands are always stolen and destroyed by the military.  They live in the toxic shadow of the bases.  Other productive capacities wither away as Hawai'i has grown completely dependent on imports (90% of food is imported) and federal spending.

Meanwhile those who benefit most from the military economy are the contractors (many who flock to Hawai'i when new appropriations flow in) who feed on the destruction wrought by all this so-called "prosperity."   Many of these same contractors are lining up to feed on the destruction of Guahan (Guam).

1 comment:

maggiestew said...

Sung-Hee's trial continues June 22. If you are on facebook see the open group Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island (yes her name is wrong but that is name of group). Also information at: