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Ann Wright Goes to Guam, Chips Away at Empire


Ex-envoy warns against US plan for Guam

A FORMER U.S. diplomat turned peace activist advised Guam residents to be wary of the American government’s military buildup plan for the island.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright speaks against war and militarization during a presentation held Monday at the University of Guam. Photo by Jude Lizama/Variety

 “We need to be looking very carefully at what our federal government does to us,”  said Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel who spoke to a small crowd on the implications of the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam during a presentation held Monday night at the University of Guam.

“While we all want to be safe and secure in the world, sometimes our federal government uses this issue of national security to do things to us that we normally wouldn’t put up with,” she added.

Wright accompanied members of the Code Pink Japan, a peace activist group, who visited Guam to discuss the impact of the military buildup with local activists. The group left Guam yesterday.

 “Our delegation is here in solidarity with the people of Guam in terms of the movement of 8,000 marines from Okinawa. The people of Japan, particularly the people on Okinawa, have been working very hard to remove some of the extensive military forces. Now, they seem to be coming to your lovely island,” said Wright, a native of Arkansas.

“The [Okinawans] certainly understand that whenever the U.S. military lands somewhere, it leaves a very large footprint. You all know it very well, because much of your land is already occupied by the U.S. military,” the former U.S. envoy told the audience.

Anti-war

Wright is a former U.S. deputy ambassador who was assigned in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Micronesia. She joined the military at the time when the U.S. military was invading Vietnam.

On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a isaster. Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace and is now a resident of Honolulu.

“It has been deeply emotional for all of us. Here we are in war again. The United States has started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said. “When you look at the number of civilians who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guam, it brings home to us all what we should be working on.”

“The history of the United States is not a peaceful history,” said Wright, who added that the U.S. has, “a history of invading other countries.”

Land grabbing

With regard to the local military buildup, Wright told the audience that, “You have been seeing your own lands being taken from you,” adding that, “The federal government builds without your agreement. They build enormous facilities that have disastrous effects on your environment.”
The retired colonel suggested that people weigh the importance of their own lands, and whether or not it is worth it to lose those lands for an increase in short term values such as trade and business.
     “Once the federal government gets its hands into something it never gets it out. With the Obama administration I certainly hope that we will all join together to throw out many of the provisions of the Patriot Act that are really curtailing our own civil liberties,” she said.

Threatened

Japanese parliamentarian and Code Pink member Sumi Fujita said that because of the long military presence and all of the rape cases in Okinawa, “women [there] now feel threatened.”

“All of the military promises to help the Okinawan economy have been a big lie,” Fujita said, through interpreter Hisae Ogawa.

As for the rape issue, Wright said, “This is a failure in leadership that is coming to you, that will allow this to continue.”

“Sometimes being an activist leads to things that you’d never thought you’d be doing,” said Wright.

The former U.S. diplomat also stated that we should all be aware of the “isms” created by policy makers. “Our government has been very good, meaning very bad, in using the ‘isms’ like communism, terrorism, and fascism to frighten and scare the American public so that they can do things that normally we would protest,” she said. “It something we should always be very wary of, when there’s another ‘ism’ coming up.”
 

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Retired Army officer, Japan peace delegation tour Guam

 

A peace delegation from Osaka, Japan is on island to study and tour Guam and to hear from the locals on their thoughts about the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to Guam. Joining them is a retired U.S. Army colonel who says the move won't be good for Guam. 
 
During the eve of Liberation Day, a peace delegation from Osaka took a tour around the island today to visit the many sites where Chamorros suffered the atrocities of war. The group toured various locations and memorials, to include here at the Tinta caves, where they paid respect to those Chamorros who died during the Japanese occupation of Guam.  Joining them is retired Colonel Anne Wright, who says their mission is to study the impact Guam will have on the move. 
 
In fact, Wright says there will be a negative impact, noting, "I'm very concerned about the militarization of Guam.  Of course, it is a dilemma. Where does the U.S. put its military forces, but to put it in such small islands that are going to be negatively impacted by such a large increase in population. Plus, the weapons that are going to be used, the toxic materials that are used as a part of war, fighting and practicing the exercise training areas that will be used here on Guam."
 
Wright was once a diplomat in Micronesia and visited Guam in the past. She says Guam's pristine lands will be greatly impacted by the increase of Marines and their dependents.  "I would urge our military to take our military to other places and put it in an area that has the capability of absorbing so many people and so many war-fighting materials," she said.
 
Wright will be speaking at several conferences as she joins the peace delegation back to Japan.
 
Meanwhile, trip organizer Ako Miamoto from Osaka says her group currently promotes peace in a nuclear-free world. She says the trip will give them insight on what happened during World War II and what could happen once the Marines move to Guam.  "Today we're traveling all around Guam to study what our Japanese military did during the Second World War and now the relocation issues," she said.  "They are already so many concerns about it. So that's why we invited 18 people."  She also said, "It's our common issue. We're all against the relocation of U.S. Marines."
 
The group also met with native rights groups. They will leave the island tomorrow.
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