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Why Guam?

A fisherman catching 'goat fish' off a beach at Tumon Bay in Guam.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – During the Obama years, there was a noticeable “pivot to Asia” that concluded that while our focus for three decades has been the Middle East, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attitude now is that the focus must be on the Pacific region and Oceania, as the “dominant issues of the 21st century “will be decided in that region.

With a dangerous North Korea, and neighbors including China and Japan, we are already seeing a focus on this region of the world.

But there are smaller players being caught up in the “game” on the “grand chessboard.” Places like the island of Guam, a U.S. territory since the late 19th century and the Spanish-American War.

And since those days, native Pacific Islanders have had to put up with the neverending wars and battles and disagreements that take place in their portion of the world.

And now it is Guam, where America greets a new day, every day. And with North Korea threatening Guam – which has two large U.S. military bases and 6,000 military personnel -with a nuclear strike, President Donald Trump has offered some heated and dangerous rhetoric which has some support among leading Guamanian politicians. 

As Guam Sen. Michael San Nicolas told the Boston Globe this week, “the people of Guam have nothing to worry about.”

San Nicolas continued: "“The North Koreans really have to start understanding that this is a global issue. They can try to make it be about Guam, but we already have other countries stepping up to the plate saying they are not going to tolerate any aggression toward the territory.”

Dr. Michael Crawford is an Oklahoma City-based family physcian who lived in Guam four decades ago and is familiar with life there and the U.S. military presence.

As Crawford told Red Dirt Report his past week, Guam has long played a role in global politics and the machinations of military movement under different colonial powers in recent centuries.

"Guam is a 12 hr flight southwest from Los Angeles.  While a small 35 X 7 mile wide island, it has always carried strategic importance dating back to Magellan. Now a U.S. territory, it had been occupied by Spain, Germany, and Japan previously.  There is both a strong Air Force and Navy presence there. 

When I lived there in the 1970s, there were upwards of 60,000 military and support personnel.  It is a 3 hour jet ride from Japan, so I do not consider Guam particularly close to Korea.

Why would North Korea pick this?  Here are my thoughts:

·         Concentrated military bases

·         To prove their missiles have more regional reach

·          To hurt the southern rim of Southeast Asia protection sphere.

And Crawford would be correct in all respects. 

Meanwhile, another American who is quite familiar with Pacific politics, particularly the U.S. military machine and its use of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, where he has lived for nearly four decades is author and filmmaker Jack Niedenthal, who commented in a previous Red Dirt Report piece, "Drums of war?"

Said Niedenthal: “I believe that the people of Micronesia have already done their fair share for mankind. The idea that Guam is ‘where America's day begins,’ and therefore puts them is harms way when it comes to North Korea is terrifying for all of us who live out here.  

I am also stunned to read so many reports about the ‘7000 US military personnel’ that are in Guam without even mentioning the fact that there are 175,000 civilians who are all US citizens and just the same as someone from Oklahoma or California.

Red Dirt Report will continue to monitor this tense situation in the Pacific in coming days and weeks. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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