Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Editorial :: Apathy

Editorial :: Apathy

Tuesday, 15 December 2009 00:17
Marianas Variety

GUAM has been out of the loop since the United States and Japan began planning the relocation of Marines from Okinawa. The community depends on trickles of information that usually come from international wires or the Japanese media. The latest of these shrouded pieces of information has to do with the possibility of transferring the entire Marine Corp in Futenma Station to Guam.

During a courtesy call with Camacho in Adelup, Japanese Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa confirmed that a proposal to shut down Futenma and move all U.S. military installations to Guam had been presented as an option but no solid decision has been reached.

Guam is a tiny island and the possibility of 20,000 more troops, plus their dependents, moving into our small and generally quiet community is beyond imaginable. We are not talking about the landmass issue; we are talking about the very limited capacity for a population overgrowth.

In one of the rare instances in which he actually took a position on a critical issue, the typically neutral governor indicated he would oppose any relocation plan bigger than what was originally planned.

As Camacho clearly pointed out during his meeting with Kitazawa, “We are already challenged with the present numbers of the relocation of 8,000 Marines, and moving the entire Futenma base would not be possible due to our limited resources.”

We can’t dispute that argument, which even Kitazawa agreed with. Economists and social scientists agree that every community’s capacity for growth has its own bounds.

Those who have interests in the military expansion—which includes the government and the business community—happily sought the deployment of 8,000 Marines to Guam.

For Guam, the deepening deadlock in the negotiations between the United States and Japan is cliffhanger that leaves us wondering what’s in store for us.

What is even more unfortunate is the apparent apathy and resignation the community has thus far exhibited. Most people fence-sit, without even bothering to read—or at least try to do so—the draft environmental impact statement and assess how the military buildup would affect the quality of life on Guam.

On Saturday, the Bureau of Plans and Statistics hosted the Natural Resources Expo at the GPO to offer information and provide a venue for the public to express their concerns. Not even 10 people showed up, prompting organizers to halt the event an hour earlier.

One person interviewed by Variety expressed an utter lack of interest, saying “They pay people lots of money to worry about it, so I am not going to.”

Another person said, “They gave us an 11,000-page document which we cannot read; so there is no point because the military buildup is a done deal.”

Apparently, many in the community have resigned themselves to the notion that Guam is nothing but a mere pawn in a game between powerful governments. But by refusing to participate in charting our fate, we are turning such presumption into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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