I’VE just finished writing another letter to Sen. John McCain, a pretty frustrating activity since like some of his colleagues in the U.S. Congress, Sen. McCain no longer bothers to reply to such letters, regardless of how intelligent, clever or respectful they might be.
If you’ve heard about the subjects of these letters, such as questions about the wisdom of abruptly throwing the Guam military buildup into “pause mode,” thank your local news media for presenting them to the affected public, because you’re unlikely to hear anything directly from Sen. McCain on the subject.
Now – with a dead North Korean dictator laid out for viewing in Pyongyang – might be a good time for some serious rethinking of our dilatory progress in defending American interests in the Pacific and Asia generally. Now we will be presented with a regime that is to be headed by a barely post-adolescent boy armed with ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.
And what are we in Guam worrying about? That we’re within missile range of this loony and now dramatically more destabilized regime? No! We’re afraid that Sen. McCain is going to be mad at Guam and take revenge on us because Delegate Madeleine Bordallo had the legislative skills and presence of mind to salvage $33 million that had been appropriated for several Guam civilian projects.
Somehow in Sen. McCain’s mind, Guam has emerged as the villain in this piece and any spending to offset impacts of the buildup is an abuse of the U.S. taxpayer; it’s the truly outdated notion that the only legitimate military expenditures are for “beans and bullets.” As Delegate Bordallo has pointed out, this mini-crusade against a miniscule portion of a trillion dollar budget act seems designed to punish Guam rather than to solve problems that have been identified as needing mitigation in order to carry out the buildup.
In Washington terms, Sen. McCain has spent a lot of political capital vilifying a place that has been extremely generous to the American military since 1898, both in human service and civilian land turned over for military purposes. It’s safe to say that many of us don’t understand why.
Lately, Sen. McCain has taken to comparing these Guam civilian projects to Alaska’s infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ which connected an island with 50 residents to the Alaska mainland, an embarrassment to his former running mate, Sarah Palin, who supported it. Does Sen. McCain consider the Guam military buildup – in whatever final form it assumes – a worthless project in the defense of our region and American interests?
What concerns me most is that these ill-considered positions adopted by a man with the experience and influence of Sen. McCain will lead astray a generation of junior politicians in the U.S. Congress. Already we’ve seen such figures as Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn call for shipping Marines presently in the Pacific back to California as a deficit-cutting measure. Instead of educating such Tea Party legislators as to why the isolationism prior to World War II was abandoned, figures such as Sen. McCain seem instead to be courting their favor.
This does not bode well for Guam or for the long-term interests of the United States, but rest assured I will certainly continue all possible efforts to clarify the concerns of Sen. McCain and other federal officials who need to learn more about our island and its people. I won’t give up advocating what is right for Guam.