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Foolish Consistency

Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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You would guess that an agreement between the United States and Japan to move a Marine air base from one location to another on Okinawa would be good news. And it is, for three reasons. First, because there has been opposition to relocating the base on the island, and negotiations had stalemated. And second, because the move is endorsed by Okinawa’s governor, who had initially opposed it. That endorsement came at a price, of course: Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, offered Okinawa (in the words of the Washington Post) “a major spending package aimed at infrastructure and development projects on the island.”



But it’s money well spent, in The Scrapbook’s opinion, because of reason number three, described again by the Post: “The relocation .  .  . is a key piece of a broader U.S. realignment of troops and resources in the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama administration is seeking to augment its presence in the region to counterbalance China’s military rise and anticipate threats from a volatile North Korea.”

Sounds sensible, prudent, vigilant, responsible, and entirely consistent with our historic responsibility to defend freedom, protect our allies, and keep the peace—yes? Well, not if you’re one of the “international scholars, peace advocates, and artists” who issued a statement last week condemning the agreement, supporting (in their words), “the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights, and protection of the environment.” To be sure, there’s no evidence that the people of Okinawa have solicited the support of the aforementioned international scholars, peace advocates, and artists; but a closer look at the list of signatories tells a tale.

There are the predictable left-wing historians and political scientists—Norman Birnbaum of Georgetown, Catherine Lutz of Brown—and professional opponents of American foreign policy: Richard Falk of Princeton, Noam Chomsky of MIT, Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee. There are celebrity cranks (Daniel Ellsberg, filmmakers Michael Moore and Oliver Stone), enablers of tyranny (Rev. Lois Wilson of the World Council of Churches), even Canadian conspiracy theorists (Naomi Klein). Oliver Stone’s documentary colleague, Peter Kuznick of American University, is famous for blaming the Cold War exclusively on the United States.

Which is precisely the point. This comparatively trivial issue—the relocation of a single Marine base on Okinawa—has brought together a constellation of names whose careers have been almost exclusively dedicated to loudly opposing American postwar policy, undermining efforts to preserve national security, defending our enemies, excoriating our allies, and blaming the United States for the world’s ills. Even when the Obama administration gets it right, they cannot break the nasty habits of a lifetime. Some would call them foolish, some might say misguided, others might even consider them dangerous. 

The Scrapbook is not quite sure on that point. But one word nicely sums them up over the decades: wrong.

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