The New “Pacific Pivot”:
Accelerated Militarization in the Pacific
David Vine, author, U.S.
Kyle Kajihiro, Hawaii Peace and Justice, Hawaii
Joseph Gerson, Ameircan Friends Service Committee, U.S.
Trini Torres, Chamorro, Guam
Hideki Yoshikawa, Okinawa
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons in Space, U.S.
With the startling announcement by President Obama and Secretary Clinton (2011) of “The Pacific Pivot,” the United States announced its intention to transfer 60% of its total military resources from Europe and the Middle East to the Pacific, as well as to increasing dominant trade and development plans. No longer will the U.S. soft-pedal its desires to control economic and political activity throughout the Pacific Basin. U.S. Admiral David Willard, former head of U.S. forces in the Pacific (PACOM), stated explicitly (2011) that we now view the entire Pacific “as a U.S. commons” which we will protect and control.
Since the late 1800s, the U.S. was already a primary foreign player in the region, but always shielded from scrutiny, as it seemed we were acting in a sincere effort to protect local partners. The shield seems now to be gone. Every Pacific ally has become a home-base for U.S. military might, notably including Korea, Japan and Okinawa, and Micronesia, including the Marianas Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshalls, and just lately even Australia, and the Cocos Islands off its coast. (On the Cocos, the U.S. now plans the world’s largest drone base, aimed at China.) New pressures are also being applied to the Philippines, Vietnam, as well as Myanmar. The connections to resource control, and corporate economics has never been clearer. Even tiny Yonaguni Island, south of Okinawa, has lately been proposed for U.S. missile launch facilities, only 300 miles from China. This panel will present detailed histories of these transitions, the dangers increasingly inherent to the region, and what we can do about it.