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Opinion

Rather than keep us safe, U.S. militarism puts Hawaiʻi in the crosshairs

The very security forces stationed here, ostensibly, to protect Hawaiʻi from potential aggression across the dateline are, in fact, the reason we are still a target for nuclear strike.

in Militarism

The Hawaii Independent Editorial Board


President Trump recently responded to North Korean aggression by boasting that the Kim regime didn’t have weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland. After the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea failed to launch a missile on April 15, the “Day of the Sun,” the LA Times and Washington Post repeated Trump’s retort, reassuring Americans that North Korea could not reach the U.S. mainland and, in so doing, crassly implied that threatened strikes on Hawaiʻi were of no concern.

The reaction here in Hawaiʻi has been that of a battered spouse: Hawaiʻi State Representatives have convened a panel to reactivate Cold War nuclear shelters. One that was listed as being capable of housing 14,000 was not a bunker at all, but a parking structure. Rather than addressing the real problem—U.S. militarism in Hawaiʻi, which puts us all in harm’s way—our “leaders” seek the protection of their battering spouse (protection that consists, at present, of a very unreliable missile defense system).

The problem is that no marriage was ever performed. A fully recognized nation-state in 1898, Hawaiʻi was “annexed” without a treaty, by means of a Joint Resolution of Congress, a domestic law having no effect in foreign territory. The vast majority of Native Hawaiians and citizens of Hawaiʻi signed petitions opposing annexation. Congress is on record as ensuring that no vote on annexation would occur, as all parties knew such a vote would be “overwhelmingly defeated.” Many in Congress at the time saw the illegality of this situation. Congressman Thomas Ball of Texas, to name only one, called the Joint Resolution “a deliberate attempt to do unlawfully that which can not be done lawfully.”

As explained in an article in The Nation, “Is Hawaiʻi an Occupied State?” (January 16, 2015), this means that the situation in Hawaiʻi is the world’s longest-running military occupation disguised as the 50th State of the U.S. This was accomplished by suppressing Hawaiian history through distortion, at times, and through mere omission. The illegality of the 1893 overthrow that preceded the annexation is not a matter of debate, but rather consensus. President Clinton signed a resolution in 1993, Public Law 103-150, apologizing for the overthrow. This year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague has taken up a case involving Hawaiʻi, Larsen vs. Hawaiian Kingdom, which strongly suggests that this revised conception of Hawaiʻi’s history is no mere academic exercise.

More than 100 years after illegally seizing Hawaiʻi and using it as a strategic military instillation, U.S. leadership, with media complicity, is now willing to sacrifice Hawaiʻi without comment. This shows Hawaiʻi’s relationship to the U.S. as it truly is: a buffer for Eastern aggression. This was the point of “annexing” Hawaiʻi in the first place. General John Schofield, who reconnoitered the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi for military purposes, testified before Congress that “pre-occupying” and fortifying Hawaiʻi would prevent foreign operations against the U.S. Pacific coast.

This is not the first time Hawaiʻi has been targeted for potential nuclear strikes. In the 1980s, we were targeted by the Soviet Union and China. At stake is not only the lives of 1.3 million people, but a culture which gave English the word aloha, and which possessed the most advanced celestial navigation in history. Even as this piece is written, a three-year circumnavigation of the Earth by the canoe Hokuleʻa, without instruments, is nearing completion. If the U.S. military cannot protect Hawaiʻi, as it has all but admitted, it should unilaterally withdraw and end the occupation. Many questions would arise should this happen, but one thing is clear: Trump’s bellicose threats of attacking North Korea do nothing to stop a nuclear missile that can reach us in 20 minutes. In fact, his ill-conceived boasts invite it.

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