(c) Copyright November 23, 2008
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
Hawaii sits in the middle of the Pacific, where foreign enemies of the U.S. are becoming increasingly active. The Hawaiian sovereignty movement has a strong anti-U.S., anti-military attitude, which has been increasingly active in undermining U.S. military strength in Hawaii. These two trends interact in ways both obvious and ominous.
Hawaiian sovereignty activists have always viewed the U.S. as an enemy oppressor who staged an armed invasion in 1893, overthrew the Queen, set up a puppet regime, stole the land, suppressed the language and culture, and now continue a 116-year belligerent military occupation. Those activists point to the apology resolution of 1993 as a confession by the U.S. of its crime against Hawaii under international law.
The activists also point to treaties between the Hawaiian Kingdom and foreign nations which, they say, legally remain in force due to the illega overthrow of the monarchy, illegal annexation to the U.S., and illegal statehood vote of 1959. Some of the activists have been attending meetings at the United Nations and in various Pacific island forums, hoping to (re)establish diplomatic relations or get help from America's enemies in ripping the 50th star off the flag.
The U.S. is suffering a major economic downturn. Some sovereignty activists cheer what they see as the imminent collapse of the American empire. They point out that when a far-flung empire collapses, its peripheral territories farthest from the center of power are the first to be cut loose. "Last star on, first star off." The Akaka bill, almost certain to pass Congress in 2009, will send land, money, and political power to all those who believe in the anti-American twisted history in the apology bill, thereby empowering the Hawaiian secessionists (they will profit greatly from the Akaka bill even though many of them actually disapprove of it).
I have written before, in Hawaii Reporter, about many of the things mentioned above. The topic that readers might find most surprising is the growing Pacific island influence of nations hostile to the U.S. In addition, it's worth briefly reviewing recent events showing the success of Hawaiian sovereignty activists in undermining U.S. military presence in Hawaii. Once those topics become clear, readers can easily connect the dots for themselves.
Recent initiatives will increase the military's consultation with Hawaiian activists, including unprecedented levels of access to military lands and training programs. Such access is supposedly for environmental protection and cultural activities, but will make it easy to engage in espionage or even sabotage if Hawaiian activists choose such methods to get help for Hawaii's secession by foreign nations hostile to the U.S. whose involvement in the Pacific islands has been increasing.
FOREIGN ENEMIES OF THE U.S. ARE ACTIVE IN THE PACIFIC ISLANDS
Five days per week a compilation of news reports from islands throughout the Pacific, plus special in-depth reports, are made available at
That website is sponsored by the federally-funded East-West Center, headquartered at the University of Hawaii, together with the UH Center for Pacific Islands Studies.
I have been reading those reports for several years, and have noticed a trend that is worrisome.
Major nations who are enemies of the U.S., or whose strategic economic and political interests seem likely to place them in conflict with the U.S., have been increasing their involvement in the affairs of independent Pacific island nations, and in islands which belong to our allies, and even islands which belong to the U.S. To verify my impression I used the website's internal archives search engine and found 288 articles from January 1 through November 16, 2008 reporting news about China's influence in the Pacific. I had read them before, but seeing them all gathered together was quite a shock.
Of course we know that for more than 50 years mainland China and Taiwan have been using diplomacy, and sometimes military force, in a struggle to establish legitimacy as the "real" China. In the Pacific that struggle takes the form of red China or Taiwan providing foreign aid to a particular island in exchange for that island's granting exclusive diplomatic recognition to one or the other China along with influence in the islands' internal affairs and foreign policy.
Communist China has been giving huge grants and loans for housing, schools, hospitals, roads, indoor sports stadiums, and economic development in dozens of Pacific islands.
Papua New Guinea now has red China as its second-largest trading partner.
In Tonga, following the anti-monarchy rioting of November 2006, red China has stepped in to provide massive funding for rebuilding. On November 13, 2008 Matangi Tonga reported "The construction of facilities for a modern Nuku'alofa Central Business District is largely funded by a 120 million pa'anga [US$58.8 million] loan from China and other loans to the Tonga government for civic works and the rebuilding of businesses." On November 22 the newspaper reported that China is giving eight trucks and an airplane to the Tonga Defence Services.
Fiji is receiving megabucks from red China. On May 17, 2008 Fijilive reported, "Just as Australia and other Western donors are trying to squeeze the rebel Fiji government, China has dramatically stepped up its aid. ... In 2005 China pledged FJ$1 million [US$669,000] in aid to Fiji. In 2007 grant and loan pledges totalled $167 million [US$111.7 million]" Fiji then announced its support for China's policy on Tibet.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is a U.S. territory with many American business interests, similar to Puerto Rico and Guam. On Feb 1 it was reported that Chinese investors were visiting Saipan for the purpose of planning to build a shopping mall. They were also building a hotel and casino on Tinian. On February 27, 2008 the Saipan Tribune reported that tourist arrivals from Russia have grown by leaps and bounds the past couple years, with an 87% spike in the current fiscal year alone.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands has a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. under which all RMI military and diplomatic affairs are under U.S. control. However, there have been problems at Kwajalein regarding missile testing, because the U.S. doesn't want to pay the local landowner chiefs more money for leasing their lands, and because the U.S. economic downturn has prompted U.S. states to seek to host the missile testing operations. A report in July said "Indeed, a new RMI leadership aligned with the landowner chiefs and their lawyers recently took office. The new president and foreign minister have publicly repudiated the RMI base-rights agreement already ratified by Congress and the RMI parliament. In addition, they are supporting demands from the chiefs for increased payments, backed by open threats that the strategic facility could be turned over to China if it is the highest bidder."
The competition between red China and Taiwan was very strong for many years. But recent hard-fought elections in Taiwan produced a President who is seeking closer, more friendly relations with the mainland. As a result, the influence of red China will increase in the Pacific due to reduced competition from Taiwan. On October 9, 2008 Radio Australia reported that "Taiwan has cancelled a summit with six Pacific island allies [Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu] originally scheduled to be held in its southern city of Kaohsiung next month. The decision appears to be an attempt by the new administration of President Ma Ying-jeou to keep the island's diplomatic activities low-profile and avoid offending China."
The Solomon Islands have a particularly worrisome relationship with Cuba and Iran. On November 12, 2008 the Solomon Star reported that a total of 50 Solomons medical students will be going to Cuba for medical school. The government of Cuba will pay all Solomon islanders' college and living expenses in Cuba, while Iran will provide airfare. The Solomons were a client of Taiwan for many years, receiving aid worth hundreds of millions. But lately red China has been knocking on the door.
In September 2008 China held $585 Billion of U.S. government bonds. China and Japan together owned nearly 20% of the entire U.S. national debt (foreign and domestic combined). Although foreign holders of U.S. debt generally have lost money because of the previously falling value of the U.S. dollar; it is also true that the recent worldwide credit crisis has caused the dollar to rise in value, even as the economies of other nations, including China, have been plunged into recession. Thus China might consider this a good time to sell its holdings, both because the dollar has recently risen in value and because China needs the money at home. Regardless whether China would gain or lose at any particular time by selling its holdings of U.S. government bonds, China certainly has the leverage of being able to threaten the U.S. that it might do so unless the U.S. changes its foreign policy and its behavior in the Pacific. Nobody should doubt that China would use its ability to create economic chaos in the U.S. as a weapon if war actually begins or is seriously threatened; and Hawaii's isolation in the Pacific would cause us to be hit harder by such economic warfare than anyplace on the continent.
HAWAIIAN SOVEREIGNTY ACTIVISTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL RECENTLY IN UNDERMINING THE U.S. MILITARY AND GAINING ACCESS TO MILITARY LANDS AND OPERATIONS.
Several years ago Hawaiian sovereignty activists protested the use of Makua Valley for live-fire training. They claimed that such training caused damage to the environment, was a desecration of a "sacred place," and prevented Hawaiians from having access for cultural and religious observances. The activists were successful in forcing a temporary halt to such training, followed by an agreement to allow limited training under restricted conditions including allowing access for Hawaiian "cultural practitioners" both to practice the culture and to monitor military activities. During the same time period there were protests and lawsuits which temporarily stopped the Navy from testing new sonar technology for detection of enemy submarines on the grounds that it caused damage to some whales. There were also protests against the Stryker brigade, which temporarily halted its being based in Hawaii.
Sovereignty activists hope that such harassment against the military might cause the U.S. to slow or stop basing troops, ships, and planes in Hawaii. The anti-military film "Noho Hewa" [illegal occupation], under development for several years, was finally released at the 2008 Hawaii International Film Festival where it won a prize (best "documentary"), got big publicity, and is now spewing its anti-American propaganda at the University and various community colleges, and on the mainland. Sovereignty activists see pushing the military out of Hawaii as the first step toward pushing the U.S. itself out of Hawaii.
Just now, in mid-November, Hawaii newspapers reported two different stories that should raise all sorts of worries about security; but instead the stories were given a spin celebrating compromise and good will.
On November 18, 2008 the Honolulu Advertiser reported "The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Army have settled OHA's 2006 federal lawsuit claiming the Army failed to protect Native Hawaiian cultural resources when it brought the Stryker brigade to the state. OHA representatives, along with an archaeologist, will be able to survey certain Stryker training areas at Schofield Barracks, Kahuku and Pohakuloa as a result of the agreement ... Col. Matthew T. Margotta, commander of U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai'i, said the Army values the 'spirit of cooperation and communication with OHA.'"
Meanwhile, newspapers announced a series of public meetings on several islands to begin implementing a broader permanent program whereby the military will respectfully consult with "Native Hawaiian organizations." The Kona and Hilo newspapers said on November 18: "Native Hawaiians are being asked to comment on a U.S. Department of Defense proposal aimed at increasing the military's sensitivity toward cultural practices, sacred sites and natural resources." While the military will be very respectful in its consultations, we can be sure that the "native Hawaiians" being consulted will not be so respectful toward the military. These are the same "usual suspects" who have staged protests at public events, including disrupting the community forums for the Environmental Impact Statements which the activists were successful in demanding.
Some environmental and cultural groups will certainly use the consultations for the intended purpose. But anti-military and sovereignty groups will use their access to military sites primarily to identify additional targets for protest, and to gather "intelligence" about military operations.
We've all seen movies about the French resistance to the Nazi occupation during World War II. Heroic French patriots infiltrated German military installations to collect information to identify what targets the Allies should bomb, the location and timing of German troop movements, etc. Heroic French women used their sexual attractiveness to seduce German officers and get valuable information through "pillow talk." The way the Hawaiian sovereignty activists see Hawaii today, their homeland is under a prolonged military occupation by the U.S. They feel a partiotic duty to undermine, disrupt, and paralyze the U.S. military, hoping eventually to push the military out of Hawaii.
Shouldn't we expect Hawaiian ethnic nationalists to form alliances and spy for nations hostile to the U.S., just as French patriots spied for their American and British allies against their Nazi occupiers? Wouldn't it be logical for Hawaiian ethnic nationalists to collaborate with China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, etc. to give them information about military operations, anti ballistic missile research; and perhaps even to engage in sabotage; in return for diplomatic and financial support for Hawaiian sovereignty?
Hawaiian nationalists have already compared the U.S. invasion and occupation of Hawaii with the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Next time the U.S. makes a protest about China's suppression of Tibetan culture or China's threats toward Taiwan, perhaps China (encouraged by Hawaiian sovereignty activists) will make a protest at the United Nations about U.S. occupation of Hawaii.
Hawaiian nationalists historically have used foreign allies to work toward their nationalistic goals both diplomatically and militarily. Activists who celebrate Queen Liliuokalani at every opportunity can look to some examples she set.
In January, 1895 the Wilcox attempted counter-revolution against the Republic of Hawaii included the use of weapons resulting in deaths. A reserve cache was found in ex-Queen Liliuokalani's flower bed at her private home. Gavan Daws, "Shoal of Time", pp. 282-283, says "The grounds of her home at Washington Place were searched, and in the garden the searchers found what they were looking for -- a regular ammunition dump; twenty-one bombs, some of them made with coconut shells; more than thirty rifles; thirty-eight cartridge belts and about a thousand rounds of ammunition; and some pistols and swords." Some historians believe the guns and ammunition were smuggled into Hawaii from San Francisco with the assistance of the U.S. Navy with the knowledge of Liliuokalani's friend President Grover Cleveland, who had been working to destabilize the Provisional Government and restore the Queen.
Regarding the revolution of 1893: In January 1893 a large group of Japanese plantation workers carrying machetes were stopped in Waialae on their way to Honolulu, and were turned back by the forces of the Provisional Government. There was some testimony under oath in the Morgan Report about a conspiracy between Liliuokalani and the Japanese consul whereby several hundred Japanese plantation workers with prior military experience in Japan's army would help Liliuokalani regain the throne in return for her pledge to give voting rights to Japanese residents of Hawaii (a major concession since Japanese were the largest ethnic group in Hawaii at the time).
** Addendum June 8, 2011
The Moscow Times, June 8, 2011
A New State's Guide to Gaining International Recognition
By Nikolaus von Twickel
It's not easy gaining recognition as an independent country.
Abkhazia, a sliver of Black Sea land recognized as sovereign by no one but Russia and three other countries, created a stir last week when it announced that it had convinced a fifth UN member country, the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, to recognize its independence from Georgia.
But then the UN ambassador of Vanuatu — home to more than 80 volcanic islands, 113 indigenous languages and tribal bungee jumping — denied the claim and insisted that his government was dealing with Georgia instead.
The plot thickened when Abkhazia retorted that it had a May 23 treaty signed by the prime ministers of both sides. To drive the point home, it released a copy of the document to Kommersant, which published it Tuesday.
The independence fiasco sheds light on efforts by Abkhazia and its handful of supporters to gain recognition — and the lengths that Georgia and its many allies are willing to go to block it. Angry words and claims of lying are common. And the magic card that all sides seem to be eagerly playing is money — much to the glee of apparently wavering countries like Vanuatu.
The independence treaty bearing the signatures of Abkhazia's Sergei Shamba and Vanuatu's Sato Kilman is genuine, Abkhaz foreign ministry spokesman Irakli Tuzhba said by telephone. He said the papers were exchanged through couriers and visits by official delegations were planned for the near future.
But Vanuatu's UN ambassador, Donald Kalpokas, stuck to his position. Reached by telephone in New York late Monday, he said the recognition decision had been withdrawn. "We are out of it," he said.
He refused to elaborate, saying all questions should be directed to the Vanuatu government. "I do not know much of what is going on there," he added, apologetically.
Attempts to contact the leadership in Port Vila, Vanuatu's capital, were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday.
But Radio New Zealand provided the latest twist Tuesday, quoting John Shing, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Kilman, as saying the recognition was definitely true. "Technically speaking, Vanuatu has agreed to Abkhazia's request, and the reasons why will be revealed soon," Shing said.
In a sign of how fractious Vanuatu's politics are, the report also quoted Interior Minister George Wells as saying that he had received Abkhazia's recognition request in April, when he was foreign minister.
Wells rejected the request "based on advice from senior officials," the report said, without elaborating.
The Georgian government said Tuesday that it was sticking with the UN ambassador's line. "We have no information other than this," said Manana Madzhgaladze, spokeswoman for President Mikheil Saakashvili, according to Georgian media.
Russia, which has remained largely silent amid the Vanuatu debate, was the first country to recognize Abkhazia and Georgia's other breakaway republic, South Ossetia, after a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Only three other UN member states — Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru — have recognized the two regions. All other countries, including staunch Moscow allies like Kazakhstan and Armenia, see them as part of Georgia.
Maya Kharibova, a spokeswoman for the South Ossetian government, could not say why South Ossetia was not part of the Vanuatu treaty. Other countries recognized both territories together or at very close intervals.
But Kharibova said South Ossetia was pursuing its goals independently. "Our foreign ministry is talking with a range of countries, and any result will be communicated only afterward," she said by telephone from Tskhinvali, the regional capital.
Media reports abounded in December 2009, when the Pacific island of Nauru recognized both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, that the decision had cost Moscow tens of millions of dollars in aid. Nauru Foreign Minister Kieren Keke admitted that his country had accepted aid from Moscow but denied that this was connected to the recognition decision.
But cash-strapped Pacific microstates seem to have developed a penchant for trading international recognition for foreign aid in recent years.
In 2002, Nauru severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China, only to switch back to Taiwan three years later.
Vanuatu made similar moves in 2004, when Prime Minister Serge Vohor was ousted in a no-confidence vote over his attempt to extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan. The country immediately switched back to recognizing Beijing, which consequently released a million-dollar aid package to Vanuatu earmarked for education.
Vohor briefly resurfaced as prime minister in April, replacing Kilman who had lost a no-confidence motion in parliament. But he was ousted after less than three weeks when Vanuatu's Court of Appeals declared the motion one vote short of the required absolute parliamentary majority.
On May 20, Kilman won another no-confidence vote, reportedly after two lawmakers switched sides in exchange for Cabinet positions. He said after the vote that the political situation remained far from stable. "You only need one or two to switch sides and we're back to square one," he told Radio Australia.
Georgia also entered the game last September when it financed a $12,000 medical shipment to Tuvalu. Just days earlier, the island state of 12,000 inhabitants voted in favor of a nonbinding UN General Assembly resolution that called for the return of displaced ethnic Georgians to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Analysts said the seesawing on Abkhazia was probably linked to outside influence more than Vanuatu's turbulent politics.
"The basic question is: How big is the pressure from the United States," said Alexander Krylov, a Caucasus expert at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations.
Krylov suggested that Abkhazia prematurely released the news about the recognition after the death of its president, Sergei Bagapsh, who died in a Moscow hospital on May 29.
Vanuatu has greatly benefited from U.S. aid. In 2006, it signed a five-year $65.69 million agreement with the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation. Part of the money was used to build a ring road on the capital island of Efate. A video of the road's opening posted on the Vanuatu government's YouTube channel features villagers waving U.S. flags while a band sings, "Thank you, U.S. government."
Religion is another factor that has strongly linked the islands to the United States in the past. Vanuatu is home to several so-called cargo cults that developed during World War II, when islanders began to revere U.S. soldiers as gods because they brought goods they had never seen before.
But on Tuesday, a pro-Abkhaz web site said Vanuatu's biggest cargo cults, the John Frum and Nagriamel movements, supported the region's independence.
"It is a historic moment for our people to recognize each other," the cults' paramount chief, Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken Goiset, said in a statement published on Abkhazworld.com.
SOME ADDITIONAL READINGS
Kenneth R. Conklin, "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State"
Hawaiis Fifth Column: Anti-Americanism in the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement
Hawaii Report for the Asia-Pacific Consultation of Movements
Against U.S. Military Bases
by Kyle Kajihiro, American Friends Service Committee - Hawaii and DMZ-Hawaii / Aloha Aina
November 6, 2006
The Akaka Bill And Secession: The Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) is seen by its supporters as a step toward total independence for all of Hawaii
The Akaka bill: Summary of reasons for opposing the bill, and links to important published documents.
The Morgan Report: 808-page official report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs from February 1894 containing testimony under oath and committee conclusions regarding the role of American peacekeepers in the revolution of January 1893 which overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.
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(c) Copyright November 23, 2008
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved