Pentagon arrogance and presuppositions

Dennis B. Chan’s June 22, 2015 article “Scher believes military has submitted ‘good range of training alternatives” demonstrates just how arrogant Pentagon officials are when it comes to making public statements about the Mariana Islands and military desires. There are many reasons why the Pentagon is arrogant and here are some examples why this is so:

Say little and just parrot:

As stated in Mr. Chan’s article, Robert M. Scher claims that the military has a “good range” of alternatives when it comes to training alternatives proposed for Tinian and Pagan. Using words like “good” deflect from what a range of alternatives is in the first place—a number that is supposed to be representative of complete thinking and complete creative problem solving for simulated war gaming in the Indo Asia Pacific region which is an area comprised of millions of square miles. Mr. Scher instead choose to parrot the Pentagon refrain by using opaque words such as ‘good” which is an attempt to redirect the conversation by assigning a value judgment that make things unclear while at the same time, really saying nothing substantive or insightful. This is hallmark “Pentagon speak” that demonstrates bureaucratic institutional arrogance because it presupposes that villagers will somehow comply and accept the notion that live firing, training, and live bombing, even a little more of it, is up for negotiation and discussion.

Mr. Scher’s use of the word “ad-hoc” represents more parroting because the use of this term does not demonstrate what specific issues are more important to anyone and it fails to provide any kind of sense of what villagers should expect from engaging in “ad-hoc” encounters. The fact that Mr. Scher uses these kinds of terms demonstrates just how little courage senior Pentagon leaders have when it comes to building a more complete and honest discussion with Chamorros and Carolinians because at the end of the day, more of the same language used by military officials means more of nothing for villagers.

Remain overly optimistic and choose sanitized words:

A second reason how Pentagon officials demonstrate arrogance is found by Mr. Scher’s remarks when he states (referencing Guam) that “were able to come up with a compromise solution where both the people on the island and the U.S. military feel like we have a good solution for pursuing what all of us want…If you look at the history of Guam, there were certain things we never thought about doing and they worked for everybody involved. I have every hope and expectation that we will get there for the CNMI.” This statement is one of hubris because it does nothing to point to the fact that military activities will not protect the land, sea, undersea, sub-terrestrial, noise and informational environments, but will instead damage and destroy our ecosystem. It is also arrogant for Mr. Scher to reference Guam because it assumes that Guam groups are somehow monolithic in how they view and interpret the NEPA process and the specific outcomes of this process. Overly optimistic statements and carefully crafted use of sanitized words by Pentagon officials doesn’t do anything to change hearts and minds of villagers when it comes to desires to damage or destroy Pagan and Tinian.

Stop presupposing anything:

If the Pentagon and its senior officials want to develop trust, specifically lasting trust with Chamorros and Carolinians, they need to first stop presupposing that if they just try hard enough and remain consistently engaged with villagers, that some how they will be able to change hearts and minds to convince Chamorros and Carolinians that plans to conduct live firing, live bombing and training are somehow not going to damage and destroy each island in question. Pentagon pressures unto villagers really expose just how badly the Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Command want the Mariana Islands. This puts villagers at a negotiating advantage because at the end of the day, the consent and approval of the community is paramount; otherwise disharmony and discord will amplify and sustain over time if Pagan is taken and if more training is conducted on Tinian.

Rick Perez
Hanover, New Hampshire

Jun Dayao Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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