Archive for ‘Asia & Pacific’

12/26/2016

WHAT WILL TRUMP DO ABROAD?

China: In 1971, after the UN voted to recognize the mainland People’s Republic of China in lieu of the Nationalist Chinese government on the island of Taiwan, Nixon visited Mao Tse Tung in 1972, and agreed to withdraw 8,000 U.S. troops from Taiwan. President Carter then recognized the People’s Republic as sole legitimate government in 1979, and the U.S. severed all official ties to Taiwan. The U.S. then started doing business in China under Reagan in 1980, and in 2001, George W. Bush helped them get into the tariff-free World Trade Organization. After the 2016 election, Trump didn’t realize that by communicating with the Taiwanese leader, he would be setting off a storm. Trump’s lack of knowledge of international law and history is a great concern.

Foreign Trade: The U.S. has had trade deficits with foreign nations since 1981, when Reagan took office. Trump said he couldn’t believe how much they’ve soared. While there is some truth to the need for better balance, Trump has not seriously thought through the issue. He speaks a good nationalist populist line, but he does not demonstrate an understanding of global economics. He talks about imposing 15% to 35% tariffs on goods imported from abroad. Most Republicans oppose such taxes, arguing they’d only be passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices. Cheap clothing from abroad would suddenly cost a lot more. So would TVs, radios, and electronics. Prices for the vast majority of things purchased from abroad would increase. The bottom line is if tariffs are imposed, all American consumers will pay. When people talk about NAFTA, (which only affects 3 countries), it means they don’t understand trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the real player, since almost all nations belong. If the U.S. imposes tariffs, all WTO members will be authorized to punish the U.S. with retaliatory tariffs, and our exports to other nations will be priced out of the market. Bullies don’t get their way in trade—it’s a two-way street Donald.

Mexican Deportations: If Trump commands the army to go door-to-door to round up millions of Mexican workers, who may be in the U.S. illegally, there is a strong likelihood his order will be disobeyed. It would take an extremely long time to carry out, and the costs would be astronomical. We are a nation of laws, not dictators. Detainees would be entitled to due process before deportation. While Trump may stage some “show trials,” he would never rid the country of all illegals. Although he may continue to make verbal broadsides by calling “all” Mexicans rapists, without supporting evidence, the courts are not that abusive. The main reason nothing much will happen to illegal aliens is that the Republican business community needs them now more than ever. Certain segments of our economy would simply collapse without them.

Mexican Wall: Trump made the ridiculous assertion that he was going to build a wall from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California, a distance of 1,553 miles. He then added the absurd idea that he would make Mexico pay for it. The Great Wall of China stretches more than 1,500 miles and it is about 25 feet high. It took the Chinese literally hundreds of years to complete it. Even with modern equipment, building a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico would take an extremely long time. A baby born today would never see it. The cost of constructing such a wall would be astronomical, bankrupting the U.S. Treasury. Maintaining it with guards posted at every tenth of a mile or so, 24 hours a day, would also be extremely pricey. The smarter members of Congress laughed at Trump’s silly idea, as there is absolutely no chance of it being implemented.

Middle East: Trump has not shown any inclination to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, or the rest of the Muslim world. As a result, he will have a tough time doing anything useful in the Mideast. He talks about defeating ISIS, but how does one defeat an attitude? How does one stop an individual suicidal bomber? One has to first acquire an understanding of the enemy mind. Thus far, Trump has not shown any intellectual capacity to even begin to understand.

Military: Trump said the military could be supported for much less than we spend on it. While he’s certainly correct, the Republican Congress is not going to propose any spending reductions, so nothing will change in that regard. We will continue to waste millions. The bigger problem is Trump’s ability to draw us into a shooting war. Although Congress holds the power to declare war, Presidents with hot heads, like Trump, can force their hand. Though Trump never served in the army, he went to a military academy as a teen. My suspicion is that he was arrested for battery or sexual assault as a teen, and his father kept him out of a juvenile court reformatory by asking a sympathetic judge to send him to a military school. Trump’s background bothers me, since the best predictor of future behavior is past conduct. Have no doubt, Trump will use military force.

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was originally set up as a check against a perceived Soviet threat in Western Europe. Their mission has now morphed into areas outside Europe. While all NATO nations need to belly up to the bar to pay for the treaty organization, and efficiencies could be made, Trump was mistaken to threaten a U.S. withdrawal. I doubt the Republican Congress will end our commitment to NATO.

Russia: Godless Russian communists are seriously our best friends against the fundamentalist religious Islamic fanatics. The old Soviet Union included areas where Islam was practiced and they have people who could easily infiltrate terrorist organizations. Having said that, Putin has suppressed free speech, manipulated elections, and violated international law by invading the Ukraine, conduct an American President cannot condone. Trump and his Exxon Sec of State see nothing but an oil deal with Russia. Sadly, energy alone should not govern our relationship.

Tanzania: There are 52 independent nations in Africa. One would expect a President to have at least a minimal understanding of each. One important country is Tanzania, where our U.S. Embassy was bombed by terrorists in 1998. On April 27, 2016, Trump pronounced Tanzania “Tan-ZAY-nee-uh,” instead of the correct “Tan-zu-KNEE-uh.” This elementary school gaff was troubling, as it indicates Trump has no real working knowledge of even important African states, like Tanzania.

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11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

10/21/2012

McGovern 1972: Better Man on Vietnam

Sen. George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic candidate for President, passed away today, and he should remembered and honored now for his courageous opposition to the Vietnam War.

McGovern was a combat veteran who enlisted in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and flew 35 missions over Europe, where was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon receiving a Phd. in history from Northwestern University, he won a House seat in South Dakota, and later became a U.S. Senator.

McGovern was an intelligent man, who understood most conflict in the second half of the 20th Century was against French, British, Dutch, and Portuguese colonial rule, and not a part of some grand Communist conspiracy to conquer the world. Yes, the insurgents got their guns from the Soviets, but this was only because they couldn’t get them from their colonial masters in Western Europe.

McGovern studied French colonialism, which started in Vietnam in 1843. He knew their modern Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, was a Nationalist, who after WWI petitioned for self-determination. He followed what happened during and after WWII, and was aware Roosevelt’s Office of Strategic Services had funded and trained Ho’s forces to resist the Japanese occupation, beginning in 1944. McGovern never forgot that as Ho declared independence in 1945, U.S. Agents were with him.

The Senator knew President Truman misread the situation in 1950 when he sent aid and advisors to help colonial France in response to Ho’s declaration his government was the only legitimate one.

McGovern knew President Eisenhower and Vice-President Nixon erred as to their Vietnam policies. Following the 1952 election, Nixon advocated direct U.S. intervention to bail out the French Army, but Ike sent more aid and Air Force personnel to provide additional technical assistance. By 1953, the Eisenhower-Nixon team was subsidizing 80% of France’s war. Sec. of State John Foster Dulles ramped up the anti-Communist hysteria, saying in 1954, if Vietnam fell, the rest of Asia would fall like dominoes. After a 55-day siege at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French Army surrendered and finally withdrew from Vietnam.

McGovern knew conservatives in the U.S. misconstrued the end to colonial rule as a step towards global communism. They made the major mistake of dividing North and South Vietnam at the 17th Parallel, under the Geneva Accords of 1954, an error that would not be corrected until 1975, by the Vietnamese themselves.

McGovern correctly saw the Vietnam War as a civil war, between the North, led by Ho, and the South, ruled by Diem. He knew Diem used rigged elections to maintain power from 1955 onward.

McGovern would not have increased the number of advisors in Vietnam from 700 to 3,000 in 1961, to 11,000 in 1962, or to 16,000 in 1963, when Diem and then Kennedy were assassinated.

After American ships falsely claimed they were attacked in 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the authority to wage the American War in Vietnam (1964-73). This caused McGovern distance himself from Johnson and to become more critical. While Johnson pledged to stay until the Vietnamese were defeated, McGovern correctly accepted Ho’s statement that peace would only come when the U.S. withdrew.

McGovern heard Richard Nixon say in 1968 he had a secret plan to end the War in Vietnam. But instead of withdrawing promptly, Nixon tried to win the war, by slowly de-escalating the 543,000 men who were stationed there. His withdrawal was in fact so slow Ho would die before it was completed. Nixon still had 475,000 troops in Vietnam in 1970, when he broadened the conflict into neighboring Cambodia. In Jan. 1971, 234,000 men remained, as Nixon re-escalated into another neighbor Laos, causing the Vietnam Vets against the War, led by John Kerry, to throw their medals away at the Capitol.

McGovern ran against Nixon, because there were still 156,000 men in Vietnam on Jan. 1, 1972. That spring, as the North and the Viet Cong launched an offensive, Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor, and resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, following a 3½-year moratorium. When McGovern told the American people it was a mistake to have gone to war, or to stay, he was telling them something they didn’t want to hear. At that time, most were not even close to admitting their country had been wrong. Just before the Nov. 1972 election, Nixon’s Sec. of State announced Peace is at hand, sealing McGovern’s defeat.

Six weeks after the deceptive pre-election statement that peace was at hand, in Dec. 1972, Nixon resumed an unnecessary full-scale “Christmas Bombing” in Vietnam, before ultimately settling for the same terms they could have had years earlier, including a release of prisoners. More than two years after the Paris Peace Accords were signed on Jan. 27, 1973, the North finally sweep into Saigon in April 1975, and reunited the country, prompting President Ford to declare: “America is no longer at war.”

In the final analysis, McGovern knew there was no good reason for 58,183 Americans to die in Vietnam, or for thousands more to sustain permanent injuries. He was equally as certain there was no justification in killing roughly 2 million Vietnamese. McGovern was clearly the better candidate in 1972, and he will be missed.

04/13/2012

Close Persian Gulf Region Bases

How many military bases does the United States really need for national security purposes in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding region? The following, which excludes any lingering unclassified facilities in Iraq, is just a partial list of our presence in the area.

KUWAIT
Army: Camp Arifjan
Air Force: Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base
Air Force & Army: Ali Al-Salem Air Base (since 1991)
Army: Camp Buehring (NW)
Army: Camp Virginia
Navy: Kuwait Naval Base

BAHRAIN
Navy: Manama Naval Base
Air Force: Sheikh Isa Air Base
Air Force: Bahrain International Airport

SAUDI ARABIA
Air Force: Eskan Village

QATAR
Air Force: al-Udeid Air Base
Camp al-Saliyah

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Navy: Fujairah Naval Base
Navy: Jebel Ali Seaport
Air Force: al-Dhafra Air Base

OMAN
Air Force: Masirah Air Base
Air Force: Thumrait Air Base
Seeb International Airport (dual use)

DJIBOUTI
Navy: Camp Le Monier

TURKEY
Air Force: Incirlik Air Base

ISRAEL
Army: Dimona Radar Facility
Navy: Port of Haifa (6th Fleet)

INDIAN OCEAN
Navy: Diego Garcia

AFGHANISTAN
Marines: Camp Dwyer
Marines: Camp Leatherneck
Marines: Camp Rhino
Marines: FOB Delhi
Marines: FOB Delaram
Marines: FOB Fiddler’s Green
Marines: FOB Geronimo
Marines: PB Jaker
Air Force: Bagram Airfield
Air Force: Shindand Airbase
Air Force: Kandahar International Airport

KYRGYZSTAN
Air Force: Manas Air Base

UZBEKISTAN
Termez Air Base Khanabad

KAZAKHSTAN
U.S. military presence

TAJIKISTAN
NATO presence

04/11/2012

Korea: Time to Close Military Bases

The U.S. has roughly 39 disclosed military bases in South Korea, 57 years after an armistice put an end to the Korean War (1950-53), and the question now is whether they serve any purpose, or has our ongoing American military presence actually become an obstacle to reunification, and a roadblock to demilitarization?

A U.S. presence in Korea followed a vacuum caused by the defeat of imperial Japan in WWII. After trade started with Korea in 1875, the Japanese decided to simply take resources by force in the 20th Century, and their abuse did not stop until 1945, when the U.S. occupied South Korea, and the Soviets entered North Korea.

While the U.S. and Soviets forced Japan to grant independence, neither of the wartime allies was particularly focused on the needs of the Koreans. As the American and Russian forces withdrew in 1948, they divided Korea into a North Korean People’s Republic, north of the 38th Parallel, and the Republic of South Korea, south of it.

Two years later, the North invaded the South in an effort to reunite Korea. The United Nations, with Russia absent from the vote, found a breach of the UN Charter, and authorized the use of collective force to repel the invasion, in what became the Korean War (1950-53). Mao’s China soon entered the conflict on the side of the North, causing a stalemate, and an ultimate ceasefire. A 2½-mile Demilitarized Zone has separated two Koreas ever since.

After both North and South Korea joined the UN in 1991, train travel between the two was attempted to ease tensions, but the labeling of the North as a terrorist state, and fear of conflict, has kept both sides on edge, and has caused occasional flare-ups.

From the perspective of the North, since the Americans still have 30,000 troops stationed at various military facilities in the South along with their weapons, they must maintain a large military to repel a possible attack.

So what would really happen if the U.S. unilaterally withdrew all forces? Hawks may in a knee jerk fashion predict an invasion by the North. What is much more likely is a demolition of the barrier between North and South, and the commencement of trade. The North would gladly take the benefits of trade from the Southern economy, one of the strongest in Asia.

While a total unilateral withdrawal is largely a pipe-dream given the dysfunctional American political system, since very few American politicians would have the courage to do something so bold, progress always begins with an idea, and the idea is to unilaterally close our bases in Korea, and withdraw from their soil. Such a move would ease tensions, lead to reciprocal demilitarization, and eventual reunification.

04/10/2012

Japan: Close All Military Bases

The U.S. still has at least 22 military facilities in Japan, 67 years after the end of World War II, a conflict that transformed the Japanese government from a militaristic chain of command into a liberal democracy, such that now they pose no threat whatsoever to the U.S. So why do we still have a military presence in Japan?

While Korea is in the neighborhood, where the U.S. military has an even greater presence, Japanese bases add little to their needs. China, also nearby, is really no threat to the U.S. Since Hong Kong and Taiwan are part of sovereign China, the U.S. could not act lawfully, even if unrest developed in those enclaves. In the 1960s, we listened in on the Soviets from undisclosed bases in Northern Japan, but the Cold War ended over 20 years ago, and Russia has been our ally ever since.

While reports show some U.S. forces are now being moved to Guam, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines, the best place for them is back home in the U.S. We should work on withdrawing all of our forces from the following Japanese bases:

TOHOKO REGION (N Honshu)
Air Force: Misawa Air Base, Misawa-Aomori

KANTO REGION (SE Honshu, Tokyo)
Army: Camp Zama
Air Force: Yokota Air Base

SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE (SE Honshu)
Marines: Camp Fuji

KANAGAWA PREFECTURE (SE Honshu)
Navy: U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka
Naval Air Facility Atsugi

YAMAGUCHI PREFECTURE (SW Honshu)
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

KYUSHU ISLAND (Far SW)
Navy: U.S. Fleet Activites Sasebo

OKINAWA (Far S, Ryukru Islands,  Kyushu Region)
Army: Torii Station
Army: Fort Buckner
Marines: Camp Smedley Butler
Marines: Camp Courtney
Marines: Camp Foster
Marines: Camp Gonsalves
Marines: Camp Hansen
Marines: Camp Kinser
Marines: Camp Lester
Marines: Camp McTureous
Marines: Camp Schwab
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma
Naval Forces Japan, Okinawa
Air Force: Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

04/07/2012

Guam and Marianas: Go Independent

The Southern Marianas, whose population of 173,450 is mostly on the island of Guam; and the Northern Marianas, whose 88,662 mainly live on the island of Saipan, are two Pacific U.S. Territories, roughly 6,175 miles from San Diego, that should be consolidated and granted independence.

The Spaniards first sent explorers to the Marianas in 1521. Following the Spanish-American War (1898), Spain surrendered the Southern Marianas (Guam) to the U.S., under the Sixth Treaty of Paris (1898), and sold the Northern Marianas to Germany.

After Germany surrendered in WWI, the Northern Marianas were transferred to Japan, under a League of Nations Mandate (1920). The Japanese then used the Northern islands in WWII as a base in 1941 to invade and occupy the U.S. Southern Marianas (Guam). In 1944, Americans defeated Japanese troops in a bloody battle at Saipan, as they seized the Northern Marians, and retook Guam.

The Americans subsequently governed the Northern Marianas under a UN Trust, through 1978, when a U.S. Commonwealth was created. Meanwhile, Guam received a limited form of U.S. Citizenship in 1950, which denied them a vote for U.S. President, but gave them a Congressional Representative (since 1972), who can participates in committee, but not on the House floor.

The idea of independence should not be alarming as it would not change their military relationship with the U.S., since Guam will most certainly want to lease land for U.S. Air Force and Navy bases, as their economy heavily depends on it. Guam’s population is slated to increase through 2015, when 8,000 U.S. Marines and 10,000 dependents, currently at Okinawa, are scheduled to arrive.

It is time to end our quasi-colonial arrangement, and for the Marianas to stand up on their own. Since they are never going to become a U.S. State, they should now be granted independence.

04/06/2012

American Samoa: Reunite with Samoa

American Samoa, some 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, and nowhere near the continental U.S., is an American territory in the South Pacific, which should either become an independent free state, or be reunited with the separate island-nation of Samoa, 84 miles to the west, from which it was forcibly severed by the United States in 1899.

Western intervention in Samoa dates back to the 18th Century. After Dutch navigators first sighted Samoa (1722), French sailors arrived (1768), followed by English missionaries, who erected a permanent settlement (1830). A visit by an American Expedition in 1839, was followed by a U.S.-Samoa Friendship Treaty (1878).

In the First Samoan Civil War (1886-94), the German Navy raided the island, causing the U.S. and Britain to support the opposition in 1887. A battle between the U.S. and Germany was narrowly avoided in 1889, as a typhoon damaged both fleets. A resolution was reached, under the Treaty of Berlin (1889), which created a three-power protectorate to jointly govern the islands, but soon the deal fell apart, and fighting resumed.

In the Second Samoan Civil War (1898-99), Germany, Britain, and the U.S. finally settled the dispute, by partitioning the islands under the Tripartite Convention (1899), which transferred Fiji to the UK, Western Samoa (now Samoa) to Germany, and Eastern Samoa (now American Samoa, east of the 171st meridian) to the U.S. Republican President McKinley, an imperial expansionist, had no trouble annexing the islands, even though his conduct went against the grain of over 100 years of anti-colonial U.S. policy.

In WWI, New Zealand seized German Samoa, renamed it Western Samoa, and governed for 48 years (1914-62), under a League of Nations mandate (1921), and subsequent UN Trust (1945), until independence was granted in 1962. The name Western Samoa was later shortened to simply “Samoa” (1997).

Although the U.S. has not granted independence for American Samoa, in 1967, self-rule was allowed, and in 1981, the territory received a non-voting seat in the U.S. House. Since American Samoans are not U.S. Citizens, they cannot vote in American elections, or hold public office, but as U.S. Nationals, they may reside or work in the U.S. without restriction, and may apply for U.S. Citizenship, as resident aliens.

The colonial relationship between the U.S. and American Samoa should now come to an end. It started in 1899 when there was no Panama Canal, and ships needed to sail around the horn of South America into the South Pacific, to ultimately reach the West Coast. The reason we took American Samoa is now long gone.

American Samoa, 4,770 miles from San Diego, has no chance of becoming a U.S. state, and it should now either merge with the nation of Samoa, or gain recognition in the UN as an independent country. Their population of 65,628 could easily assimilate with the 219,998 who live on one of 14 inhabited Samoan islands, and it is time for the U.S. to let go and allow American Samoa reunite with Samoa.

02/09/2012

Maldives: Two Unconstitutional Acts

The Maldives, a small island-nation of 396,334, located 400 miles southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, was subjected to two unconstitutional acts as: 1) President Mohammed Nasheed arrested Judge Abdulla Mohamed, because he had found the detention of a government critic illegal; and as: 2) army and police officers, allegedly working for Vice-President Mohammed Hassan, responded by threatening to use firearms against Nasheed, if he refused to leave office, which he did.

In terms of legal traditions, the Maldives was governed by Dutch law for 231 years, from 1656, when the Netherlands took the islands, until 1887, when Britain seized control. English law was then used for the next 78 years, through independence in 1965.

After independence, one-party rule was imposed in 1968. One man dictated everything for 30 years, from 1978 through 2008. Upon the adoption of a democratic system in 2008, Nasheed took office, as the island’s first freely-elected leader.

From an American standpoint, with our written constitution, and respect for the rule-of-law and separation-of-powers, the act of jailing a judge, without due process, and forcing a President out, because he imprisoned the judge, are not the way to do things.

The problem is the people of the Maldives have no American-style tradition of an independent judiciary, or of using elections as a means of changing power, since they were governed by Dutch and British monarchs for 309 years.

We in the U.S. would never tolerate the jailing a judge by a President over a disagreement regarding a court ruling, nor should the Maldives. By the same token, we would not respond to a President’s illegal jailing of a judge, by threatening violence as a means of forcing him out of office. We would instead instigate impeachment proceedings, and would not remove him, until he was first given the due process of law.

Legal proceedings to formally impeach President Nasheed for jailing the judge should now be commenced, even though he is already out of office, so his removal is retroactively based on evidence, properly presented under the Maldives constitution. If for no other reason, it is not good for trade or tourism (their primary industry) to let stand the removal of leader by force.

12/19/2011

North Korea: Kim Dead; Time to Reunify

The People’s Republic of North Korea fell silent today, because their leader, 69-year-old Kim Jong II, passed away, following 17 years in command. He had assumed power when his father Kim Sung died, after ruling for 46 years, from 1948 through 1994, during a term that included the Korean War (1950-53). With the passing of Kim II, the North now has a chance to move away from a family dynasty, reunite with the South, and formally end the Korean War, which only stopped in 1953, due to an armistice.

Over the past 136 years, Korea has gone through change. As a Chinese Province, trade treaties were forced upon them by Japan in 1875, before Tokyo invaded, in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and simply seized the entire Korean Peninsula. When Russia tried to wrestle Korea away, Japan humiliated Moscow in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), and proceeded to industrialize the region, under the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty (1910).

In the last days of WWII in 1945, as U.S. troops were poised to enter South Korea, the Soviets quickly declared war on Japan, and occupied North Korea. Korea remained partitioned at the 38th Parallel in 1948, when the Soviet Army withdrew, giving rise to the North Korean People’s Rep., and the U.S. Army ended their occupation of the South, giving birth to the Rep. of South Korea.

Just two years later, the Korean War (1950-53) erupted, as troops from the North invaded the South, in what they believed was a mission to reunite their nation, artificially divided by the U.S. and Russia. The UN instead determined the conduct was a “breach of the peace,” and resolved to take collective military action.

UN forces, led by the U.S. Army, landed near Seoul, and drove a wedge through the North Korean supply lines, forcing them to withdraw from the South. As they were pushed back, nearly into China, Chinese volunteers entered the war in Nov. 1950 on the side of North, and drove the UN troops back down into the South, by March 1951. Shortly afterward, President Truman fired Gen. MacArthur for making insubordinate comments about the war. The Korean conflict then dragged on for two more years, until a ceasefire was signed in July 1953. Korea would remain divided, with a 2½-mile De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between the two states.

While the Kim family firmly controlled the North for 63 years, dictators, propped up by the U.S., ruled the South, at least initially. Following the 1987 South Korean elections, the two states started talks as to re-unification. Progress slowed in 1988, when the North was labeled a terrorist state, for allegedly selling missiles to Iran, but despite this, and speculation the North was building a nuclear bomb, both Koreas joined to the UN in 1991.

In 2000, progress towards reunification advanced when the two Korean leaders shook hands, but it slowed again in 2002, after 911, when President George W. Bush labeled the North part of an Axis of Evil. With the start of Six-Nation Talks in 2003, hope re-emerged, as some travel between South and North was allowed, and passenger trains started crossing the border in 2007, but progress slowed again, when the train travel stopped in 2008.

Now with the death of Kim II, the UN is should be poised to bring about change, particularly since Ban Ki Moon, a South Korean, has been serving as Secretary-General since 2006. The UN has the right leader to dismantle the De-Militarized Zone, and to finally end the Korean War. President Obama could help by re-deploying to other locations, the 30,000 U.S. troops we no longer need in South Korea. The time is now to reunite the two Koreas.