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    Sunday, December 8, 2019-11:45:50P.M.






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Asia-Pacific Journal article critical of military plans for Marianas

THE commonwealth government’s response to the proposed military activities on Pagan must combine political, social and legal strategies and tactics, Northern Islands Mayor’s office program manager Jerome Aldan said yesterday.

“No one strategy being of a higher order than the other, but considered equally and strategically employed and applied for high impact that transcends any ‘sweeteners’ that may be offered by proponents,” he said.

Aldan did not elaborate, but he issued the statement in light of an article published on July 8 by the Asia-Pacific Journal.

Written by Leevin Camacho and Daniel Broudy, the article is titled “Sweetening’ the Pentagon’s Deal in the Marianas: From Guam to Pagan.”

It states that “Chamorro families on Guam have personally witnessed Department of Defense taking their land and converting these stolen tracts into airfields, roadways, and ammunition storage facilities.”

It also mentioned ret. General David Bice’s suggestion that “DoD would need to offer local leaders (i.e Guam’s Legislature) ‘sweeteners’ so as to gain their support has hardly been sweet for the wider populace of Guam — where the community already contends with military forces occupying nearly 30 percent of the surface area.”

Aldan said the Pagan proposal is different from those for Guam, Tinian or Farallon de Medinilla.

“This will reveal itself in due time,” he said.

According to Aldan, “it is best to practice transparency by reaching out to the community and educating them about the proposal, and in like manner, those neutral parties should inform CNMI leaders about the proposal and not fall into being a captive audience and the malaise of group think.”

The Asia-Pacific Journal stated that Bice and his cohort have attempted to cast the “Pagat issue” on Guam as solely being about access to a tiny area it called “Pagat Village” while the community has viewed this as a “blatant DoD attempt to take more land and externalize the negative impacts to the local populace outside the boundaries of the barbed-wire fence.”

It added, “DoD has had its own provincial champions — the local business people and politicians who directly profit from military construction projects and environmental mitigation measures.”

According to the article, “This privileged group of local collaborators represents one front of DoD’s two-pronged campaign to expand the scope of the military in the face of resistance from civil society. The second front, in the face of warnings of environmental destruction, is the strong media insistence that failure to give DoD carte blanche control will spell economic ruin for the region.”

Aldan said the article educates the public about “the tactics and strategies employed by others in imposing their end goals on the residents.”

“The article is an attempt to un-condition ourselves as indigenous   residents as lacking and casually blind-sided in seeing anything that comes from somewhere else as being inherently better, an inclination that perhaps comes from years of colonial experience, where we were educated to devalue our own experiences and histories and privilege outside significant others instead.”