Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ann Wright Visits Guam

Ex-envoy warns against US plan for Guam
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 00:51 by Jude Lizama
Marianas Variety News Staff

A FORMER U.S. diplomat turned peace activist advised Guam residents to be
wary of the American government’s military buildup plan for the
island.Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright speaks against war and
militarization during a presentation held Monday at the University of Guam.

“We need to be looking very carefully at what our federal government does
to us,” said Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel who spoke to a small
crowd on the implications of the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from
Okinawa to Guam during a presentation held Monday night at the University of

“While we all want to be safe and secure in the world, sometimes our federal
government uses this issue of national security to do things to us that we
normally wouldn’t put up with,” she added.

Wright accompanied members of the Code Pink Japan, a peace activist group,
who visited Guam to discuss the impact of the military buildup with local
activists. The group left Guam yesterday.

“Our delegation is here in solidarity with the people of Guam in terms of
the movement of 8,000 marines from Okinawa. The people of Japan,
particularly the people on Okinawa, have been working very hard to remove
some of the extensive military forces. Now, they seem to be coming to your
lovely island,” said Wright, a native of Arkansas.

“The [Okinawans] certainly understand that whenever the U.S. military lands
somewhere, it leaves a very large footprint. You all know it very well,
because much of your land is already occupied by the U.S. military,” the
former U.S. envoy told the audience.

Wright is a former U.S. deputy ambassador who was assigned in Sierra Leone,
Afghanistan, Mongolia and Micronesia. She joined the military at the time
when the U.S. military was invading Vietnam.

On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wright cabled a
letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that
without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and
occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a isaster. Since
then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace and is now a resident
of Honolulu.

“It has been deeply emotional for all of us. Here we are in war again. The
United States has started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said. “When you
look at the number of civilians who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Guam, it brings home to us all what we should be working on.”

“The history of the United States is not a peaceful history,” said Wright,
who added that the U.S. has, “a history of invading other countries.”

Land grabbing
With regard to the local military buildup, Wright told the audience that,
“You have been seeing your own lands being taken from you,” adding that,
“The federal government builds without your agreement. They build enormous
facilities that have disastrous effects on your environment.”
The retired colonel suggested that people weigh the importance of their own
lands, and whether or not it is worth it to lose those lands for an increase
in short term values such as trade and business.
“Once the federal government gets its hands into something it never
gets it out. With the Obama administration I certainly hope that we will all
join together to throw out many of the provisions of the Patriot Act that
are really curtailing our own civil liberties,” she said.

Japanese parliamentarian and Code Pink member Sumi Fujita said that because
of the long military presence and all of the rape cases in Okinawa, “women
[there] now feel threatened.”

“All of the military promises to help the Okinawan economy have been a big
lie,” Fujita said, through interpreter Hisae Ogawa.

As for the rape issue, Wright said, “This is a failure in leadership that is
coming to you, that will allow this to continue.”

“Sometimes being an activist leads to things that you’d never thought you’d
be doing,” said Wright.

The former U.S. diplomat also stated that we should all be aware of the
“isms” created by policy makers. “Our government has been very good, meaning
very bad, in using the ‘isms’ like communism, terrorism, and fascism to
frighten and scare the American public so that they can do things that
normally we would protest,” she said. “It something we should always be very
wary of, when there’s another ‘ism’ coming up.”

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