Monday, February 13, 2017

Editorial: Trump rhetoric could bring terror close to our doorstep

By the looks of President Trump’s debut on the world stage, we haven’t seen the last of his provocative statements that have so far drawn ire and could further infuriate presidents and dictators of countries that happen to be neighbors of Guam.
We’re the tip of the nation’s defense in the Asia-Pacific, so goes some military officials’ description of Guam.
If a country close to Guam were to retaliate against the United States because of Trump’s rhetoric, then the island is right close by: at the doorstep of a potential retaliatory strike.
If you think this view is too much of a military hawk’s stance, get this: This concern was brought up at a recent University of Guam forum, involving students and other local community members.

There hasn’t been a lot of public discussions on Guam, particularly among the island’s elected officials, about how Trump’s verbal shots and tweets at or about China and North Korea – and at "Muslim-dominated" countries – could endanger the island even more.
Potential impact on the island's safety
Extremists who cause terror in the name of Islam aren’t that far from Guam as some may think. 
Just last Friday, the Philippines’ Defense Secretary was quoted by international wire news agency Reuters as having said that the Philippine government is certain of "very strong" links between Islamic State and home-grown militants. The official also is concerned about regional repercussions from tension between China and the Trump administration, according to Reuters.
Citing intelligence from various sources, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, according to Reuters, Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines had been communicating with Islamic State, and funds were being transferred via money-remittance mechanisms commonly used by Filipino workers in the Middle East.
At the recent forum at UOG, Independent Guåhan media chairman Michael Bevacqua, who also teaches at the local university, drove home the point that the Trump administration’s actions do have potential impact on the safety of all who call Guam home. 
“We decided to basically have a check-in because people feel so uncertain; they’re not sure of the direction of the U.S., and they’re not sure what’s going to happen to Guam as well,” Bevacqua said in a Post report. “People really wanted us to provide information on how Guam might be affected by Trump’s presidency, so we decided to hold an event where we could kind of take stock of that.”
Public should be aware of the issue
Bevacqua said Trump’s stance on foreign policy as well as his relations with Guam’s neighboring nations could have potentially dangerous consequences of which island residents should be aware and cautious.
“This doesn’t affect people in Montana or Arkansas, but we’re on the edge of Asia, we’re the tip of America’s spear,” Bevacqua said. “It puts us into a lot of danger not thinking about the consequences of his words or actions.”
“Those of us on Guam have to take this very seriously because the more reckless (Trump’s) rhetoric is, the closer he pushes us into danger,” Bevacqua said.
Local officials need to strike a balance between supporting public discussions (rather than ignoring the elephant in the global room), and at the same time not unnecessarily causing alarm.
If certain elected officials don’t want this issue discussed for some reason, then the public can look to others, like the thinkers at UOG, to lead the community discussions on this matter.
We can’t keep our heads buried in the sand.

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