1945 secret memo reveals US real intention for Guam
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
June 19, 2007
IF THE U.S. government is making military decisions based on its post-war policy for Guam, then the civilian population might not expect too much help from the federal government when 8,000 Marines arrive from Okinawa because the island’s economic development was the least of its concern.
In a secret memo issued on Nov. 21, 1945, Vice Adm. G.D. Murray, then commander of the Marianas Navy Force, stated that “the economic development and administration of relatively few native inhabitants should be subordinate to the real purpose for which those islands are held.”
“Military control of these islands is essential as their military value far outweighs their economic value,” Murray stated in the three-page memo that recommended the Navy’s control of Guam and other western Pacific islands, including American Samoa.
While recognizing Guam’s strategic importance, Murray said the island’s commercial or industrial value and its resources were “of little or no relative importance to the welfare of the United States.”
“From the military stand point,” Murray said, “a contented healthy and loyal native population contributes a strong link in the strength of those lands as bases.”
Murray described the island natives as “simple people, requiring few of our modern luxuries for their welfare and happiness.”
“The characteristics and nature of the majority of inhabitants on these islands are such that the artificial or forced raising of their standard of living to one approaching that of the United States would be detrimental to their best interest and would contribute little to the safety and welfare of the United States,” Murray said.
The U.S. military government on Guam began on June 21, 1898, with the surrender of Spanish troops. By virtue of the Treaty of Peace signed in Paris on Dec. 10, 1898, Spain ceded Guam, along with the Philippines and Puerto Rico, to the U.S.
Guam was invaded by Japan in 1941, and recaptured by the U.S. on July 21, 1944, which is yearly celebrated on island as “Liberation Day.”
Guam’s strategic location, long recognized by the military, remains to be valuable to the U.S. defense system, hence the unabated military expansion on island.
The business sector welcomes the military buildup, which is touted to generate a construction boom, spur business activities and generate thousands of jobs.
With limited infrastructure on Guam, however, local leaders acknowledge that the island is not prepared to accommodate the influx of population that will be transferred from Okinawa.
Local leaders have not received assurance of federal assistance to aid the civilian population with the need for infrastructure developments and increased supply of water and power.
The 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act passed by the House of Representatives last week appropriates $345 million only for military construction projects that would accommodate the needs of military personnel stationed on Guam.
The 2008 construction budget only covers projects within the Navy base such as the Kilo Wharf extension, the improvement of security of electrical systems, housing and fitness for Navy personnel, upgrade of the Naval Base Guam wastewater treatment plant, and infrastructure development at Northwest Field.
But just the same, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo expects the military construction activities to “go a long way in stimulating our economy and new tax revenues from these federal projects will be a significant help to our island once the projects are undertaken.”