Us Pacific Islanders, especially us Chamorros from Guam have grown up with all kinds of phrases produced by the military and Pacific Islanders alike or maybe just by the military. Who really knows.
Our umko as we all know, had various phrases which ranged from “marine scout” to “tan marian combat boot,” all cherished phrases that have been produced from our entire Pacific Islander civilization experiencing the horrors of war firsthand without the war being the making of their own actions.
One phrase that I’ve heard all my life which still doesn’t make sense is this idea that our Pacific Island home is the Pentagon’s “tip of the spear.”
For starters, it is insulting for any organization, especially large bureaucratic ones, to objectify our Pacific Islander civilization by suggesting that Guam is someone else’s spear. As far as I am concerned, the Pentagon has been engaging in unjust and unilateral policies on our island that have not been blessed by our people, formally and informally, past and present.
But on a different level, the phrase still doesn’t make much sense to me for a variety of reasons. First, the military has a global defense posture and is stretched far and wide throughout the Pacific Ocean and Asia and beyond. Second, the military doesn’t have spears let alone one spear. Third, Guam has been speared by the unjust practices, policies and actions sponsored by the Navy for the past 118 years, so the last thing Pacific Islanders really need is to now have the word “spear” define our Pacific Island home moving forward.
Guam is a part of the Pacific-wide network that is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and controlled by the federal regime and the Pentagon. In effect, this so called spear is code for control and power and Guam represents one of several access points established by the military throughout the region.
The significance of this is that terms such as “spear” are historically bound to World War II when the United States beat Japan, which by all accounts was a horrific experience for not only the warring parties, but for Pacific Islanders, most especially, the Chamorro people of Guam, and the Chamorros in Saipan, despite loyalties to differing powers at the time.
If and when the Pentagon decides to come up with yet another label for our island, it may be that using the phrase “access point” or “logistical hub” is good enough because our island, based on available landmass, existing resources, location and political power, is in fact a priceless prized Pacific Island colony exploited at many levels, and damaged at many levels, by the Pentagon for its wider use in distributed, networked, multi-lateral operations supporting military centric theater cooperation efforts.
In short Guam is a Pentagon and intelligence wonderland located in the Western Pacific and that won’t change even if Guam or the NMI turned a page in its political status with the United States.
If we had to take the term “tip of the spear” I would put that label on South Korea which has been tremendously affected by the much larger military presence of military and intelligence resources located south of Seoul and everything these days is pointed to North Korea or beyond.
Or I would apply “tip of the spear” to Okinawa which is much closer to the Asian mainland and acts as another key access point for the Pentagon to project military power on a limited basis.
One day, and it may be after I’m long gone, the Pentagon will refer to our Pacific Island paradise of Guam as the “forefront of practiced democracy” not just a point of someone else’s spear.