Archive for August, 2008

Good or bad, the RMI gets the kind of government it deserves; Adult supervision needed: Whether Tomeing is in Majuro or globe-trotting again, juvenile delinquent Tony Debrum is running the RMI government

August 24, 2008

The Marshall Islands Journal sunk to a new low this week, burying stories about RMI bungling of it position on supplementary nuclear claims compensation in the U.S. Senate (S. 1756), as well as U.S. rejection of the RMI’s prematurely confirmed appointee for RMI Ambassador to the United States.   These two stories were virtually hidden from readers in easily overlooked corners of the MIJ, but each story speaks volumes about the disarray, confusion and self-defeating policies of the deBrum administration.

Yes, there is no point in calling it the Tomeing administration, because Tony deBrum is the de facto head of government.   Tomeing is down in Niue, with Christopher Loeak, who is taking the long way home after going to the Olympics in China.  Fred Pedro is with Tomeing, so that leaves Tony in Majuro to do really weird things, like blame Ben Graham’s rejection on the U.S. and make a joke about the RMI’s failure to support S. 1756.

Tony deBrum says S. 1756 is not enough money, but he has no plan for how to get more.   So it is really juvenile and disrespectful to mock the U.S. Congress by saying he was “flattered” the Congress needs “RMI endorsement” to pass legislation.    No, Tony, the U.S. Congress does not need the RMI’s endorsement, but the U.S. Congress is not stupid.  It will not approve legislation that could cost the U.S. taxpayers and voters more than $100 million over a 15-20 year period without assurances the RMI supports the legislation.   The RMI should have supported S. 1756 without having to be asked, and the fact that the Congress had to ask shows that Tony deBrum and the Cabinet were asleep at the wheel.

For Tony to say he feels personally flattered to be asked for his endorsement shows that he thinks it is all about him, instead of about the people of 10 atolls who would benefit from and additional $5 million per year.   Instead of educating the people about this issue, the MIJ reported that RMI lawyers in Washington were being paid legal fees to work on an RMI statement regarding S. 1756, which we agree is too little too late.   Paying Tony’s lobbyists to write a statement is a waste of RMI money because all the RMI has to do is send a letter saying it is not enough but it will help and it is appreciated, and the RMI would like to consult on additional nuclear claims issues.

If those RMI lawyers want to help, they should explain to Tony deBrum that U.S. officials in Congress and the Executive Branch and even the U.S. Courts get news from all over the world, and may notice stories about the RMI. What do they think when they see Tomeing threatening to give Kwajalein not to Taiwan, but the PRC?   What do you think comes to mind when they see Tony deBrum mocking and showing his contempt for Congress because it has before it legislation with “only” $100 million?

One thing for sure, the MIJ won’t ask any of these questions.  The MIJ headline this week was about Japanese International Cooperation Agency volunteers.  The story about S. 1756 was in a little box on page 3, and the Ben Graham story was in an even smaller box on page 3, very easy to miss.  We actually did miss it, until it was pointed out to us. That’s too bad, because Ben was a victim of bad mishandling of his nomination by Tony deBrum.

It appears there is a perception in Washington that Tony deBrum was trying to pressure the U.S. to accept Ben by saying the U.S. had sent confusing signals, and that his confirmation before final U.S. agreement to receive him was a stunt by deBrum that hurt Ben more than it helped.   This is seen as more of the same adolescent tactics Tony used on the “pay more or get out” Kwajalein ultimatum.  Like his tactics on Kwajalein, the attempt to influence the U.S. position and policy by making provocative statements in the press backfired.

Clearly, Tony wants to do as much damage as he can, and Tomeing is clueless.   If the representatives of the people let this go on much longer, then they are part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.   If the people stand by a watch then they will get the kind of government they deserve.

In a democracy, you don’t stay silent and it does not show respect to let leaders do the wrong thing in the name of the people.   You show respect for your country by protesting and demanding leadership that protects the people, and serves the nation.

You may not speak up to an Iroij if you still have one because feudal rulers are intolerant, but you show respect for elected leaders by speaking up and telling them what you think.  Of course, since the MIJ does not give the people very much information, that adds to the problem.

This week the MIJ devoted a great deal of attention to the assurances of the U.S. Army that it really likes Kwajalein.  What do you expect them to say, that is their job.   The real question is what is being said in Washington by those whose job it is to decide what to do between now and December.

No doubt the U.S. will try its best to keep Kwajalein if it can do so without paying more than it has agreed to pay. The U.S. wants that option, and it may even throw deBrum a few bones to chew on, like the OTEC power purchase agreement, that may or may not mean anything.

And the U.S. may agree to keep the positive story going as long as possible, because it expects the RMI to act in the best interest of the people and the nation. Many in Washington think Tony deBrum is just another self-absorbed leader with a bad case of political narcissism.

We’ll see about that soon enough.    Many in the U.S. think the Army should find another location, and would like to see Kwajalein returned other landowners, just like the big pull out in Philippines, Puerto Rico and other locations.   But that won’t happen unless the RMI really blows it, which seems more and more possible every day under the deBrum government.

If the people let the current situation with a figure head president and a juvenile delinquent running the government, the people get the government they deserve.

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Do people of RMI [or the U.S. government] really understand RMI Foreign Minister Tony DeBrum’s real agenda?

August 18, 2008

This commentary, borrowing some material from an earlier posting on freermi.wordpress.com, was published recently on a local RMI blog site:

“To prolong the current situation (at Ebeye) for another 70 years is insane. If there is to be continued U.S. use of Kwajalein it must be under different circumstances.” Senator Tony DeBrum, Marianas Variety, 25 June 2007.

The efforts to improve conditions at Ebeye reflect the successes and failures of U.S. policy goals and the RMI national and local governments over many decades. Conditions at Ebeye also reflect the fact that some of the traditional chiefs and their lawyers who control payments and funding for Ebeye have invested more money in Hawaii than in Ebeye. Tony deBrum has gotten rich representing the feudal lords of Kwajalein at the expense of the poor in Ebeye. He is not even a true Kwajalein landowner, and he gets big fees from the chiefs, while many people from Kwajalein and born there get little or nothing.

Now Tony claims to be the shrewd, smooth-talking diplomat who is not anti-American? Let’s look at the record.

The high chiefs of Kwajalein who put Tony in power want more money, but a 2005 speech expressing his own ideological views suggest that Minister deBrum may actually want the U.S. out of Kwajalein for personal ideological reasons, which are not friendly to the USA at all. While the high chiefs also have expressed the view that the U.S. should leave Kwajalein, most people assumed that was a negotiating ploy. But the chiefs who put deBrum in parliament to get them more money may find that he is using them for his own goals, instead of vice versa.

Specifically, on May 11, 2005, as a paid lobbyist for the Kwajalein chiefs, the current RMI Foreign Minister, Mr. deBrum, called not for increased lease payments, but for an end to U.S. Army operations at Kwajalein. Speaking to an international audience at the Seventh Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, deBrum stated:

“After years of ICBM testing, the Marshall Islands now has the dubious distinction of hosting the US government’s missile shield testing program. The US government shoots Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) at the Marshall Islands. From an area leased by the US Army on Kwajalein Atoll, the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Test Site, the US launches interceptor missiles at the incoming ICBMs to test the ability of these interceptors to track and destroy incoming missiles…Efforts by the Kwajalein leadership to deal with the realities which face them when the current agreement expires in 2016 have been largely ignored as the US openly and callously discusses the uses of our lands beyond 2016 and into 2086…all without our consent…We call upon the international community to extend its hands to assist the people of the Marshall Islands to extricate themselves from the legacy of the nuclear age and the burden of providing testing grounds for weapons of mass destruction.”

Translation:

First, Tony does not recognize the RMI constitutional process for approval of the Compact and military rights agreement as consent of the governed under RMI law, and he holds the refusal of the Kwajalein chiefs to consent to an LUA over and above the consent of the people of the RMI as a nation to the Compact and MOURA.

Second, he calls on the U.N. and the international community to intervene and help the Kwajalein chiefs to end U.S. use of Kwajalein. The governments of Iran, Libya, North Korea and China know how to read, and “extricate” Kwajalein from the “burden of providing testing grounds” means U.S. out of Kwajalein.

In that context, his recent official statement as a minister quoted above is premised on the conditional terms “If there is to be continued U.S. use of Kwajalein.” This arguably is inconsistent with good faith adherence to the agreements between his government and the United States. His call for “different circumstances” as a condition to RMI recognition of the terms for continuation of U.S. military rights is aruably a de facto declaration that the RMI is not prepared to meet its existing treaty obligations.  In the press he has openly and unambiguously repudiated the base rights treaty.

That is OK, at least it is with the U.S. Congress. The U.S. looked this situation squarely in the face back in 2003, and didn’t blink. The treaty and its U.S. implementing law provide for a procedure to be triggered by RMI non-compliance.

Thus, in one sense the U.S. agrees with Tony deBrum. It really would be insane to continue use of Kwajalein under the present circumstances, in which the feudal lords neglect the needs of the poor people they classify as “commoners,” and blame their neglect on the USA. It would be insane for the U.S. to make discretionary concessions to the RMI government when it is under control of the Kwajalein chiefs, and will not meet its good faith obligations under the treaty which are not discretionary.

Tony deBrum is the paid agent of the Kwajalein chiefs, the current President of the RMI is powerless to control his own Foreign Minister. So it really is insane to continue normal relations with the RMI under the present circumstances. With deBrum in charge, the RMI is not the kind of ally the U.S. wants or needs in the new era we have entered.”

MIJ stalking horse for Tomeing administration move to silence dissent?

August 17, 2008

In its July 25 edition the Marshall Islands Journal published an anonymous article attacking U.S. Ambassador Bishop’s alleged lack of diplomatic skills.   [See the August 2 posting below “RMI PRESIDENT TOMEING EXPOSES HIS LACK OF DIPLOMATIC SKILLS…”  That August 2 blog posting details Tomeing’s collaboration with the MIJ to discredit U.S. Ambassador – including the leak of selected transcripts of meetings between Tomeing and the American Ambassador.   Also see August 4 posting “RMI-U.S. Relations:  A Case of Tomeing Poisoning?”]

 

Now in its August 15 edition the MIJ has published a satirical attack on critics of the Tomeing administration, and critics of the MIJ itself, in an article attributed to a writer with a fictitious name.   Like the anonymous article on the U.S. Ambassador, use of a fictitious name is a form of anonymity.

 

Yet, the MIJ satirical attack states that anonymous commentary on political affairs is “cowardly” and somehow less than legitimate.  How can the MIJ publish anonymous commentary attacking others for anonymous commentaries?   If anonymity is wrong for protest and dissent, then it is wrong for the MIJ in its defense of the Tomeing administration as well.    

 

Our sources suggest the writer using the name and photograph of the fictitious “Mary Robinson” may be the owner of the MIJ, Joe Murphy.   In his article under that false identity, the imposter makes a lame attempt at disinformation and confusion, by claiming to be the source of recent anonymous protests and dissent against the Tomeing administration.   The article claims the “Island Rumors” cyber network, which opposes policies of Tomeing and RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum, are all fabrications of the fictitious “Mary Robinson.”   The writer then defends deBrum and the Tomeing administration as a good and honorable leadership team.

 

The anonymous attack on anonymous dissent is cloaked in the costume of satire, but its purpose is to make a mockery of dissent and protest, and to confuse the debate in the RMI over the current direction of the government’s policies.  It makes a false claim of authorship of “Island Rumors” and then claims that network does not really exist, and that its contents are made up to as a joke and are without merit.  

Because it has been established to our satisfaction that the real sources of “Island Rumors” are legitimate and not connected to the MIJ or “Mary Robinson” deception, this MIJ “joke”constitutes a disinformation propaganda technique rather than an intellectually honest contribution to the political discourse.   The veil of satire does not conceal the malicious rather than humorous purpose of the “Mary Robinson” spoof.

 

We have no connection to “Island Rumors” but defend their right to post anonymously, as well as our own right to do so.   For the record, the right of anonymous dissent and protest is critical in a democracy, especially when protest is often punished in new democracies like the RMI, still struggling with the vestiges of undemocratic feudal traditions.   The historic Federalist Papers that began the process of open public debate in the American Revolution were anonymous.   The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that anonymous communication is a right of free speech.

 

We are told that MIJ owner Joe Murphy was a victim of intimidation himself, and that he was forced to abandon journalism for a lucrative printing business based on RMI government printing contracts.  This reportedly was after former RMI President Amata Kabua cut him off from government printing contracts due to criticism in his articles about Kabua’s policies.  

 

That is why it is surprising if it is true that Murphy now has become the surrogate of Tony deBrum and the ruling party, going after those who protest anonymously.   Murphy should know better, having been intimidated himself.    We can understand that he may have had no choice but to submit to political pressure, but why would he now help the government intimidate others.

 

Whoever she is in real life, the MIJ should be ashamed of Mary Robinson.

 

 

Tomeing administration flip-flops out of control: Foreign Minister Tony deBrum gives misleading and less than truthful explanation of administration failure to support nuclear claims compensation law (S. 1756) in U.S. Congress.

August 17, 2008
  • Misleading explanation of RMI national policy on floor of parliament exposes inability of President and Cabinet to control deBrum’s reckless actions and words on behalf of RMI.  
  • Can RMI afford to have a ceremonial figurehead President, whose strings are pulled by a Foreign Minister who serves Kwajalein first, instead of being Foreign Minister for all the people and the nation as a whole?

 

The Tomeing Administration drifts aimlessly – lost at sea

 

One-by-one the reasons Tony deBrum and his political party gave voters to put them into power are being exposed as false promises, as deBrum and the Tomeing administration back away from each failed policy experiment they have attempted.  

 

Even those who disagree with his extremist ideology and question his good character expected Tony deBrum to do a much smarter and better job of political management.   But he is running a ship of state that is not seaworthy, adrift in an ocean of confusion, and making more trouble for the RMI, like a naughty little boy who needs adult supervision.  

 

As each of the high priorities of the Tomeing-deBrum agenda collapses in failure, it is becoming clear that the agenda of the last administration was actually a more realistic and honest agenda for the people of the entire nation as a whole – not just the special interests of one atoll and its wealthy ruling class.  

 

First the Tomeing policy on Kwajalein payments collapsed, but only after deBrum caused U.S. and international friction and loss of good will, and U.S. good will is something the RMI certainly could use in dealing with the energy emergency and economic crisis.   His “pay more or get out” bluff was seen in Washington, Tokyo (even Taipei and Beijing) as a juvenile tactic by a diplomatic amateur.  It made the RMI look like a nation lost at sea without a moral compass, instead of a reliable ally of the USA.  

 

This has caused other nations to wonder if the RMI could ever be a trusted partner, especially after Tomeing and Imata Kabua talked too much and revealed secret Kwajalein ruling class plan to dump Taiwan for PRC, or any nation that was “the highest bidder.”   That is why Tony deBrum has Tomeing and Kabua on a short leash now, posing in aloha shirts with big smiles on cheap Chinese bicycles, showing the world how much time they have on their hands, while Tony and Christopher run the RMI government as a lobbying agency for the feudal lords of Kwajalein.

 

Foreign Minister deBrum tries to limit the damage of U.S. rejection of his ultimatum on Kwajalein,  pretending that he is now “demanding” OTEC for Kwajalein from the USA.   He seems to think both the U.S. and the people of the RMI are not smart enough to see through his misleading propaganda tricks.

 

What the OTEC project really means is that the U.S. Army is being requested to agree that it will purchase power from an OTEC operation if one is ever built to provide a source of energy at Kwajalein Atoll.    If agreeing to that is all the U.S. needs to do to get an LUA, the U.S. will probably be very happy to buy cheaper energy at a set price if the RMI can get an OTEC project funded and built any time in the future, but probably not for many years, if ever.

 

The real question is whether the RMI or private investors will be able to build and operate an OTEC plant in the RMI.   At this time, no one knows, it may or may not ever happen.   But if the feudal lords of Kwajalein dedicate the $20 million now in the Kwajalein escrow account to an OTEC project, that would increase the chances it might really happen.  

 

We call on “King Kabua” to show if he is really an Iroij who follows Marshallese custom and takes care of his people.   Instead of giving them electric fans, refrigerators, boom boxes or getting cheap Chinese bicycles, while he keeps so many untold millions for himself, he should help the poor people of Ebeye and give the people OTEC, using the $20 million in the escrow account.   If you want people to take your traditional leader role seriously and not laugh at you, show that you are a true Iroij under custom and tradition and take care of your people!

 

Until you do that we have to face the truth that what deBrum has brought us – in his capacity as the mastermind of the Tomeing government – mostly has been unrealistic high expectations, created by clever and shrewd words to build political support among people, even if what deBrum promised was never really possible.  Tony deBrum doesn’t hesitate to create false hopes if it means power for him, and he doesn’t mind if the people’s hopes are then dashed by political and economic reality, because he then blames his failures on the USA or others in the RMI.  

 

He pretends to be a “good faith” diplomat dealing with USA, but we all know he personally loathes the USA with contempt and disdain, and Tony would like to see the USA out of Kwajalein, even if his political bosses just want more money instead of evicting the USA.   Ask yourselves, have deBrum’s actions been more like what you would expect from someone really trying to get more money from the USA for Imata, or like you would expect from someone trying to end U.S. presence at Kwajalein, and even end free association between U.S. and RMI?

 

President Kesai Note and the leadership of his administration were not perfect, but they generally did not seek to create false hopes, make empty threats, try to bluff instead of being honest, damage RMI relations with other important nations, and they usually did not make promises that they knew they would never keep.   There is a gap between promises and performance in the Tomeing-deBrum government that reflects the troubled character and warped mentality of Tony deBrum, and it has created a “credibility gap” between RMI government policy and the political as well as economic realties that face the RMI people as a nation.

 

RMI flip-flops on S. 1756 – U.S. Senate bill  for RMI nuclear testing compensation

 

On the floor of the parliament this week RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum announced that the Tomeing administration is now flip-flopping on its position regarding U.S. Senate Bill 1756.    If that is true, it is better late than never, but supporting S.1756 now in August does not reverse or correct the damage that has been done by the Tomeing administration’s failure to support S.1756 immediately when they took power many months ago in January.  

 

The leaders of the U.S. Senate were ready to move forward on S. 1756, but before they made the effort they wanted to be sure the new RMI leaders would support the bill.   This was not a complicated issue, it was clear to everyone in Congress and everyone in the RMI who understood the issue that the new RMI government should immediately provide a clear written statement of its support for S. 1756.   The 4 atolls formally asked the new Tomeing/deBrum administration to simply say yes to the U.S. Senate.   Too much work for too many years was at stake.

 

It did not require study, research, consultation.  It was not a transitional issue.  It was an issue that clearly required continuity and consistency between the Note administration and the new leadership in the RMI.   Everyone knew the RMI would be acting in a illogical and self-defeating way if it failed to support S. 1756, and no one could believe it when the Tomeing administration refused to provide the Senate leaders with a simple written confirmation that it supported S. 1756, back when there was time to try to get it through Congress this year.

 

Contrary to the lies DeBrum told Parliament and the people on the floor of Parliament last week, in this matter inaction was a statement of policy, silence was an answer.   But the truth is that the RMI lobbyists told Congress S. 1756 was not a priority.   By denying that deBrum betrayed his oath to tell the truth.

 

The RMI could have stated that the compensation provided was welcome but would not be adequate.  The RMI could have stated that it was going to work with Senate and the House to seek additional compensation, including payment of all Nuclear Claims Tribunal awards, as Bikini lawyer Weisgall proposed.   All it needed to do was include a simple statement that it supported S. 1756 as a contribution to fulfillment of U.S. obligations for nuclear claims compensation.  

 

Many people tried to explain to Tomeing that the importance of S. 1756 is not really just about the level of compensation it provides, because it does not close the door to further compensation.   The importance of S. 1756 is that it confirms that the door is still open to additional compensation based on the record the RMI has worked so hard to create in Congress.  S. 1756 is most important as a precedent to future compensation if Congress determines to make further contributions based on the record.  

 

Knowing this, the Senate leaders who support S. 1756, and even those in Congress and the U.S. government who are not sure further compensation should be paid, were shocked and could not believe the new RMI government failed to  support S. 1756.   Tomeing just did not seem to understand the issue, making some wonder if it was just to complex for him to see the clear choice and make a decision as a leader. 

 

When asked a simple question by U.S. Senators who were willing to make the effort to get it passed, even though voters in the U.S. would not care or vote for them because they helped the RMI, the Tomeing response, through Tony, was “No” – instead of a “yes” like everyone trying to get the bill passed expected.   For Tony deBrum to suggest the RMI was neutral or needed time to decide is a lie.   The truth is he was making Kwajalein a priority over everything else, and he did not want a success story on S. 1756 to distract from his warped, delusional, grandiose “show-down” stunt over more money for the feudal lords of Kwajalein.  

 

Tony deBrum put the Kwajalein ruling class that gave him his seat in Parliament before his nation.

 

The real story on S. 1756

 

What Tony deBrum did not explain to parliament last week is that S. 1756 is legislation that was introduced by the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee that controls authorization of all funding and policy for the RMI.   Because the Democratic Party controls the U.S. Congress, the committee chairman is a Democrat, but S. 1756 is also co-sponsored by the Republican Party leader on the committee, so it is a bipartisan bill that has a better chance of being accepted by the Department of Interior and OMB so it can be approved and become law. 

 

It was introduced at the request of President Note after his personal meetings with the Senate committee leaders.   That was after the RMI embassy in Washington had been successful working with Congress staff to hold hearings on the RMI Changed Circumstances Petition.   Those hearings created a record that was strong enough to give the committee leaders a political reason to introduce S. 1756, which is real progress because RMI citizens do not vote in elections for members of Congress, and that makes it hard to get Congress to pay attention to RMI issues.

 

So S.1756 was not just a part of the Note administration agenda, it had become part of the U.S. Senate agenda.   That is hard to accomplish.   It was based on years of RMI work with the Department of the Interior and the Congress to create a record to support additional compensation for nuclear claims.  

 

After the meetings President Note had with the Senate committee leaders, the co-sponsors of S. 1756 even agreed to support amendments to the bill to increase the number of atolls recognized as eligible for compensation form 4 to 10.   The U.S. has resisted expanding eligibility beyond 4 atolls for 30 years, and including 10 atolls based on the National Cancer Institute study and other evidence developed by the RMI in the CCP was in some ways more important than any other provision of S. 1756. 

 

The committee leaders also agreed to support an increase of health care funding for the eligible atolls from $2 million annually to $4 million annually, for 15 years.   With inflation adjustment that is more than $50 million of additional health care funding to take pressure off the RMI health care budget, but the Tomeing administration failed to support it, even as a first step in seeking additional compensation.  

 

No one in Washington or Majuro familiar with the history of U.S. policy on RMI nuclear compensation could believe the new RMI leaders would be so reckless and stick their head in the sand, hiding behind the excuse that the government was new and had to study the issue more.

 

Tony deBrum’s tricks are exposed

 

But that is not all the new RMI government did.   At the same time it refused to support S. 1756, the Tomeing administration actively engaged with the leader of a U.S. Congress House of Representatives subcommittee to promote a different approach and policy on nuclear test compensation.   The interest of that subcommittee chairman was welcome, but other than making emotional speeches about the need for further compensation, that subcommittee chairman admitted that his subcommittee did not have the influence or authority to provide additional compensation.  

 

Indeed, his subcommittee is under a House of Representatives committee that since 1946 has never provided one dollar of economic assistance or funding of any kind to the Marshall Islands.   The committee on which Mr. Faleomavaega serves does not have jurisdiction to authorize funding for the RMI.   

 

So let’s get this straight.  The Tomeing administration is trying to tell us and get us to believe they did not need time to study or consult or take time as part of its transition to make the decision to coordinate RMI nuclear policy with a House of Representatives subcommittee that has no power over funding for RMI.   Right?

 

But the Tomeing administration did not have time because of the transition to work with the U.S. Senate full committee that had held hearings, established a record, and was ready to move forward with a bill providing potentially as much a $100 million to RMI over the next 15 years.   That is what deBrum is telling us now.   Does anyone believe him?

 

Let’s face reality.   The  visit of Mr. Faleomavaega to RMI to hold hearings was really for the purpose of having staged political events to make deBrum look like a real leader.   It was a propaganda program, not a serious formal U.S. Congress procedure.  

 

This was not a new tactic for Tony.   Last year Tony deBrum appointed discredited lawyer Cooper Brown to work with Faleomavaega’s staff on a staged hearing during the election campaign of 2007, and Cooper promised the 4 atolls Faleomavaega was going to introduce a $350 million nuclear compensation bill, but that was just as a way to trick the 4 atolls into spending their money sending delegations to be part of the hearing.  

 

Tony and Cooper were just using the 4 atolls to make the hearing seem real, like stage props, for the election year propaganda show, and the 4 atolls spent their money needed for the people to be part of that staged stunt.    

 

Now deBrum is the RMI Foreign Minster because of a leadership struggle in the party that actually won the elections, and Cooper Brown is Tony’s OTEC lobbyist.    Where is the $350 million Cooper promised the 4 atolls?   Where is a real OTEC project?

 

What becomes painfully obvious is that even if he sponsors a $350 million bill, Faleomavaega at least had enough sense of responsibility to tell the RMI during his one-man “field hearings” that he did not have the power as a subcommittee chairman to get funding for the RMI.   He must have looked into the faces of our people and for at least that one moment he had something Tony deBrum does not, which is enough of a conscience to realize it is cruel to create false hopes and expectations in the hearts of the people just for short term political advantage.  

 

The truth is that Faleomavaega was used by Tony deBrum to stage political events to create a political illusion that the Tomeing administration was going to do something about nuclear claims compensation.   However, it was only for show because Tony deBrum knew Faleomavaega does not have the power of the purse strings to authorize funds for the RMI.   That is why the Kesai Note administration and the professional diplomats in the Foreign Ministry under Gerald Zackios had worked for years with the U.S. Senate committee that actually has funding authority.

 

But, again, Tony did not want the first success story of the Tomeing administration to be progress on nuclear claims funding for 10 atolls, because that did not include Kwajalein.   Tony was afraid “King Kabua” would get angry if the first success was not Kwajalein, and although Tony has used Imata Kabua to gain power by promising him more money, Tony is afraid of Imata’s outbursts of anger and irrational impulses.   Tony blamed Imata’s outburst about China on Imata’s stroke, but Tony knows his job depends on Imata.   So Tony betrayed the nuclear claimants by killing RMI support for S. 1756, and making Kwajalein payments and more money for Imata the RMI top priority.

 

S. 1756 was not introduced to influence RMI election politics, it was years in the making.  It was not a propaganda stunt, it came about as a result of years of hard work.   The U.S. Senate leaders who supported it were prepared to bring it before the committee, make amendments to increase the compensation, and pass the bill in the committee.   Then it would go to the Senate floor, and if passed with strong leadership support it would go to the House of Representatives.  

 

We would not know if passage by the House of Representatives would be possible this year until we got it through the U.S. Senate first.   Only by taking the first steps in a timely way when the door was open would we find out how many steps we could take, how far we could go.   But even if the farthest we went this year was approval by the full Senate, which was a realistic goal, that would have created a much stronger record for action in the new Congress after the U.S. elections.

 

So now we will never know if we could have gone all the way to make S. 1756 law this year.   If the RMI flip-flop is for real it may mean progress in the Senate committee in the last days of this session before the U.S. elections, but passage by the Senate this year was probably killed for sure by deBrum’s deceptive tactics, and passage by the House is virtually impossible.

 

Where are Bennett and Hunter Johnston now, where is Cooper Brown?   Can they get anything done now that they finally have realized they were wrong?   Trying to get more money for Imata Kabua helps Imata more than the real landowners, and it does nothing for the rest of the nation.   Trying to get a U.S. promise to buy power from an OTEC project that may never become a reality may someday help Kwajalein, and we hope it does.  But pretending that is something new, that they got from the U.S. because it is what they demand to make the “King” of Kwajalein sign the LUA, is a propaganda lie.

 

Let’s be real.  Imata will sign the LUA because he wants the money that the RMI and U.S. agreed to in 2003, and he now knows his office boy Tony deBrum failed to get him more money.   OTEC has nothing to do with it.  If OTEC is important to Imata, he will take the $20 million in the escrow account and use it as the start up capital for OTEC.

 

We hope that no bank was willing to loan money to Imata based on the escrow account funding.   Then again, that is the kind of crazy credit risk taking that has crippled the U.S. economy right now, so maybe Imata has already spent the $20 million.   But if the banks knew Imata as well as we do, they would not take that level of risk, and if that money is not spent before it falls into the hands of Imata and his cronies, it should go to OTEC or other programs for the people. 

 

All of it, not just a few million.  All of it.  That is what a real Iroij would do.

 

The people of the RMI must take back their government to serve the nation as a whole

 

In the meantime we need to face the reality that the U.S. Congress adjourns every two years for elections and starts over again the next year.   It is too late for the RMI to support for S. 1756 now, when Congress has only a few weeks in session before adjournment.   Even if a few steps are taken now we will never know if the legislation could have made it through the Senate and House this year.

 

The RMI was successful getting a record created early in the current two year session of Congress.   It is always best to try to get Congress to act on the record during the session the record was created, because each new Congress comes back after new elections with new priorities and starting over again on old business can be difficult.  

 

In 2009 there will not only be a new Congress, but a new President in the White House.   With all the problems the U.S. is facing right now, it is clear this last year of the current Congress in 2008 was the best time to make a real effort to move S. 1756 as far forward as possible.  

 

We had U.S. Senate leaders ready, willing and able to help us, but Tony deBrum put the Kwajalein ruling class before his country.   The damage done can not be undone now.  But deBrum and his partners on the Cabinet, like Jack adding, finally realized that ministers who know and care about the real nuclear issues are smart enough to know the difference between Faleomavaega’s staged political events and the formal legitimate process in the U.S. Senate that produced S. 1756.

 

Tony deBrum figured his ministers and the people are not smart enough to figure out the game he has played for Imata  and the ruling elite that put him back in power.   But Minister Amenta Matthews and some others heard from the people at the grassroots level that they have figured out that deBrum killed a bill that meant a lot to their people.

 

Tony and Imata thought the people were not smart enough to figure it out, but they did.   Tony pretends to respect the Iroij, and he uses the respect the people want to have to influence them and trick them into giving Tony their support.   So Tony pretends to support Imata and the traditional leaders in demanding respect from the people, but they have no true respect for the people.  Instead they look down on the people and think they are not smart enough to see what is being done to them.

 

That is how feudalism works, how customary respect and traditional rights can be abused to keep the common people down, to keep them poor.   That is why feudalism is a dead political system all over the world where it was replaced by democracy.

 

Even though world events may make it hard for the USA to waste any more time playing games with Tony deBrum, those who care about RMI issues can try to develop an agenda with the Obama or McCain administration to sustain the success of free association.  But even if the new leaders at Interior, State, Defense and Energy are sympathetic once they learn the issues, RMI issue will not be a priority and it is still the Congress that must act on nuclear compensation legislation like S. 1756.    

 

Also, we need to realize the Republican leader on the Senate committee who supported S. 1756 is retiring, and even if the new highest ranking Republican supports a new bill next year, the opportunity lost this year will delay progress on health care and other human needs for the 10 atolls.  

 

Now that the U.S. has told the RMI it must comply with its treaty obligations on Kwajalein base rights or face the consequences, Imata just wants to take his money and run.   He is not wearing 2016 t-shirts and boasting about the PRC being the highest bidder any more.   Maybe now Imata will want to help all the people in the RMI now, but we doubt it.

 

Instead of being honest about the reasons for his ministry’s failure to support this legislation to provide additional compensation to RMI nuclear testing claimants, Tony deBrum lied to the parliament and the people of the RMI.  His attempt to suggest there was some requirement for a unanimous vote or some other technical procedural reason why the RMI did not think the bill would pass was a pathetic lie.  It was his failure to support he bill that killed it.

 

His statements were not just an explanation that put the Tomeing administration’s flip-flop in the best possible light, it was not just a fair debating effort.   His version of what happened on S. 1756 was dishonest propaganda that raises a real question of whether Tony deBrum knows the difference between what is true and what is not.

 

Does he really believe what he says, or does he know he is not telling the truth?   In other words, is he just assuming the people are not as smart as he is so they can be tricked, or is he a pathological liar?

 

Whatever the answer to those questions may be, what we all know is that Tony deBrum is in a political sense an indentured servant of Imata Kabua, the so-called “King of Kwajalein” under the archaic and anachronistic feudal customs of the RMI.  Custom and tradition in the RMI could be revived and revitalized in a form that is true to the spirit of communal use of wealth from the land to benefit the people and their leaders.  But deBrum has sold out his great intelligence and talents to become an instrument for the abuse of customary rights by Imata Kabua.

 

So the people are not bound by custom to tolerate abuse.  That is why they have a democratic constitutional government to protect their human rights.

 

Tony deBrum wanted back into power, Imata wanted more money.   That is what their political partnership is all about.  That is why they used Litokwa Tomeing, who was respected , as well as people we once admired like Jack Ading, to form a government and get into power.

 

They demanded that we sit in judgment and condemn the administration of President Kesai Note, but now they will be judged.    Now we have seen what they can do, and we see that Kesai was not perfect, but he and the government he led had an agenda that was truly national in scope.

 

We think Kesai and the rest of us learned from the mistakes of the past, but Tony and Imata are making the same mistakes they made in the past when they were in power before, all over again.   The RMI cannot afford that damage they are doing to the RMI standing in the U.S. and the world.

News Flash: Republic of Marshall Islands vanishes! Disappearance of island mini-state under investigation!

August 12, 2008

Reports of the disappearance of the RMI are reaching every corner of the globe.   Satellite images indicate the RMI has vanished, and is now almost completely invisible from space!

Some believe it might be due to sudden sea level rise in mid-Pacific, caused by global warming.   But observers in Washington, Tokyo, and sources from the geographic area where the RMI used to be located, have reported there is a political rather than scientific explanation for the sudden disappearance of the RMI. 

“What has happened is that Foreign Minster deBrum has in effect reduced the Republic of the Marshall Islands to a political subdivision of the Kwajalein Atoll restored feudal monarchy.   The RMI has disappeared, virtually vanished, and all that remains is Kwajalein’s feudal kingdom.   The problem is that King Kabua’s empire exists more in his mind than in the real world.  Even Tony deBrum said he was suffering from mental weakness when Kabua let the cat out of the bag about Tony’s plan to dump Taiwan for PRC.” 

Democratic constitutional government to serve all the people of the RMI has been suspended, while deBrum acts on behalf of the RMI in name only, trying to make the richest man in the RMI, “King” Imata Kabua, even richer.  There is a lot of pressure on Tony deBrum because he needs the U.S. to pay more to Kabua in the name of the landowners, to keep Imata Kabua happy, so he will let Tony keep his seat in parliament.  You see, Imata is broke and spent all the millions he already got by hoarding the land use payments of the last 15 years for himself.

As the mastermind of the current ruling regime under a figure head president, Tony’s big showdown with the U.S. backfired.  Surprise, guess what?  The U.S. does not cave in to blackmail if it can avoid it, and in this case it can.  So now Imata has lost his stomach for threats to kick the U.S. out because his $20 million in escrow will go with it.   Imata just wants that $20 million escrow money, and no one believes Tony when he pretends it is an insult.  We all  know their greed is burning in their hearts and they want the money so bad it hurts.  

So now DeBrum acts like he is holding out for OTEC, as if a Land Use Agreement -for-OTEC deal is for real, and MIJ’s Giff Johnson puts out that propaganda as if it is true.  MIJ and Giff have become the public information ministry for these guys!

But OTEC is old wine that Tony is trying to put in new bottles.   No one is fooled by this farce, this pretending.   Not about OTEC or anything else about this administration.

Let’s be honest, as the King of Kwajalein under traditional customs for private land ownership, Imata gave Tony deBrum a seat in parliament, and when UDP won the election but forfeited the government, Tony formed a coalition with weak Speaker Tomeing and made him weak President Tomeing, most recently seen smiling on a cheap bicycle given to him by the Taiwanese.

So now Tony runs RMI national constitutional government for King Kabua, to serve his master, at least that is what Imata thinks, but who is the master?   Tony is the one filling the government with his young protégés, so he will be able to run the RMI even after he leaves office, just in case there is a no confidence vote, which there will be sooner or later.   Tony will fill the government with those who owe their big break to him, and he will be de facto shadow prime minister, he wants to be the Putin of RMI.

Tony’s first move to make King Kabua think he is being loyal to Kabua was to derail every successful effort of past administration, even if it hurt the people of the RMI.  Then he made Kwajalein-Kwajalein-Kwajalein the only priority.   It looks like a little OTEC feasibility study may be all he can get.

But once Imata has his escrow money and maybe even after a vote of no confidence, Tony will show his true colors.   He thinks PRC and Taiwan and whoever else will make it worth his while are better allies than USA, and we all know that about him, don’t we?  

So all those young guys riding Tony’s coattails and hitching themselves to his star better be careful, because if he goes down you may go down with him.  Or, you might survive, he might survive, but eventually he will come around to collect on what you owe him, and that is when you better watch out.  Because the price you will pay for selling your soul may be to become one of Tony’s agents in brinbing free association with the USA to an end, and becoming part of the Chinese political culture, which is not just about eating the food.

The U.S. might be more willing to end free association that Imata and Tony think.  Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

Anyway, welcome to the brave new world of Tony deBrum, the genius who can wrap himself in the old ways to charm you, then become a sharp tongued serpent in the language of his foreign adversaries, and his new secret masters.   Welcome to the greater Kwajalein co-prosperity sphere, where there in everything but co-prosperity. 

Yes, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has vanished, disappeared, become a political subdivision of the greater Kwajalein co-prosperity sphere.   Kwajalein used to be a political subdivision of the RMI, but that has changed.   Since the RMI government has been taken over by those who serve the King of Kwajalein, there has been an inversion of governing process, and the RMI is the political subdivision.  

As a result, the needs to the rest of the RMI will be met only after the Kwajalein needs are taken care of first.    That is why the Kwajalein member of parliament who serves as Foreign Minister is making more U.S. land payments to the King he serves the highest priority of the virtual “Kwajalein National Government” that now controls RMI.  

Since it was not going well just demanding more money for the King, Foreign Minister Tony deBrum is now saying a U.S. agreement to study the OTEC concept is enough to get a land use agreement signed.   That way the $20 million in escrow account payments will go to the King.   Tony says that amount is an “insult,”   but it seems like the King will accept it anyway.

So in the end America will get what it bargained for in the RMI.   A little OTEC and the U.S. has its way with Tony deBrum, Imata Kabua, the rest of the Kava Club cronies.   So Tony deBrum and the High Chief are not making the RMI the “Mouse that Roared,”  they are more like the sharks with no teeth!

 

A Silent Coup in Majuro? Feudal Order Being Restored in RMI?

August 9, 2008

In the August 8 edition of the MIJ, RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum is quoted stating that the RMI national government policy on implementation of treaties governing U.S. base rights at Kwajalein is not being determined by the elected leadership of the nation through the constitutional process.  Instead, deBrum stated that RMI policy is being dictated by the same feudal lords of Kwajalein who gave deBrum land rights so he could run for national government office from Kwajalein.     

Specifically, deBrum stated that the Tomeing administration will base its policy on Kwajalein on the “8-Point Declaration of Demands” made by the Kwajalein High Chief and the titled landowner chiefs of Kwajalein.  In Tony’s own words about the landowner leaders and their role in controlling RMI policy, deBrum said:  “If they see movement both on the U.S. and RMI side, they will give us instructions to go talk to the U.S. government.”

This confirms that the RMI national government’s highest priority in dealing with the U.S. government is to get what the Kwajalein chiefs want as landowners, no matter what the cost is to the RMI as a nation.  It also confirms that the high chiefs under the feudal landownership system are giving the orders to Tomeing and deBrum, and that deBrum looks to High Chief Imata Kabua for his “instructions” instead of the President and Cabinet.   Has the Cabinet agreed to take its order from “King Kabua” too?

All these RMI officials took oaths of office to uphold the RMI Constitution, which recognizes traditional landowner rights, but does not give the landowners political control of national policy.   Because deBrum has confessed he is in de facto control of the feudal lords and answers to them instead of the people, it appears that deBrum and the chiefs have pulled off a silent coup and taken over the RMI national government.

By installing a weak President and giving the Foreign Ministry to Tony deBrum, who owes his seat to Imata Kabua, have the feudal lords of the RMI hijacked the national government of the RMI to make it nothing more than a lobbying project to get them more money?   Are the people of the RMI still able to exercise their sovereignty through the constitutional process if the Foreign Minster acts on behalf of his feudal masters from one atoll instead of the national as a whole?   Is OTEC for Kwaj really more important than the overall RMI-U.S. bilateral agenda?

By selling his soul to Kabua in order to get his seat in parliament, then to get the Foreign Minister’s post, has Tony in effect put “King Kabua” in control of the RMI, even though Kabua was not elected by the people?     We know Kabua was not the mastermind of this silent coup to restore feudalism in the RMI.   Clearly, Tony has used Kabua to put himself back in power, and now he is making the RMI people pay the price of his deal with Kabua, by making enrichment of Kabua the RMI national priority.

Think about it…

 

 

RMI Political Symbolism Reveals Sense of Unreality

August 8, 2008

RMI Political Symbolism Reveals Sense of Unreality

August 8, 2008 by freermi

The front page of the August 8 edition of the MIJ tells an interesting story.  

First, we see RMI President Tomeing and Kwajalein High Chief Imata Kabua smiling in flowered shirts and leis, two happy campers riding Chinese bicycles made in Taiwan.   

Then another lead story tells us ”Lights Out In Ebeye,” a different kind of tale for the people of Ebeye, who probably are not too happy.   

Then there was the really big headline, “OTEC key to Kwaj Deal” – in bold print.  

But even if it is approved OTEC won’t be a reality for the people of Ebeye for many years.  

Too bad the $20 million in the Kwaj escrow account can’t go directly to the people, or to keep the lights on at Ebeye.

Inside the MIJ the fine print tells us RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum is waiting for “instructions” from the Kwajalein landowners to negotiate further with the U.S. again, but only once there is progress, not only on OTEC, but the 8-point demands the Kwajalein landowners put on the table long ago.   

But if the headline is right, and the U.S. can get an RMI sign-off with the Kwajalein landowners just by showing “good faith” commitment to “study” the OTEC proposal, the U.S. will be very happy.

That is because the U.S. was already thinking about OTEC for Kwajalein long before any linkage was created to the LUA and U.S. use of Kwajalein after 2016.  

OTEC either will or will not happen based on U.S. Army interests, including cost cutting and development of alternate energy for the U.S. military, and U.S. national policy goals that have little or nothing to do with getting landowners to sign an LUA.

So if deBrum and Imata Kabua want to pretend that a feasibility study on OTEC that was already under consideration is the key to a Kwaj deal, that means the U.S. gets what it wants without any significant additional cost.  

Even if the U.S. gave the RMI and Kwajalein an additional amount of money, which does not seem likely right now, whatever that amount might be, the U.S. would still be getting what it wants without any significant cost above what is already committed.   

If Tony deBrum wants to declare that a “win-win” outcome has been achieved because of OTEC or additional U.S. assistance, he is hoping the U.S. does not care how he spins it in the RMI as long as the U.S. gets what it wants.   For Tony win-win means he wins politically even if the OTEC-LUA linkage is a fraud.  

The fact that the MIJ has become the news agency of the RMI Foreign Ministry is a little odd.   Why is the MIJ helping the RMI create the illusion that progress on OTEC  is some kind of “breakthrough” on Kwajalein?   

Without batting an eye the MIJ reassures us that Kwaj is still important to the USA, without really informing us about the impact of recent job cuts on the people at Ebeye.  

The USA talks about increased efficiency and becoming more economical to attract new “customers” to use the facilities at Kwajalein, but we do not see the MIJ or the RMI asking any tough questions about whether there is a budget and a commitment to re-hire those losing their jobs now.

Let’s face it, the MIJ is helping the Tomeing administration stage a public relations scenario in which it appears the U.S. caves in to the RMI’s shrewd linkage of the LUA to OTEC.   It is a farce, but who cares?   The good news is that Tony deBrum and the Kwajalein landowners are looking for a way to save face, to pretend they got something for finally signing the LUA.  

But the rest of the RMI has lost, because the current Foreign Minister has made the LUA the top priority of the RMI national government, at the expense of the rest of the RMI national bilateral and multilateral agenda.

The other big losers are the 4 atolls already recognized as nuclear affected, and the 6 additional atolls that could have been recognized if S. 1756 had passed this year.

The rest of the RMI suffered because the RMI squandered so much good will with the U.S. by staging a show-down with the U.S. over the LUA, only to now sign it and cave in, after getting nothing but U.S. token gestures like a study of OTEC and maybe some other crumbs off the table.

The RMI as a whole is losing, while the Foreign Minister’s constituents get full representation at the national level.   When will we see a national government that serves the nation as a whole?

 

 

IS TONY DEBRUM COMING UNDONE?

August 6, 2008

We all know Tony deBrum is real smart, so we expected him to learn from his mistakes last time he was in power.   Frankly, we expected him to have more ability to control events since he is the master mind of the Tomeing administration.   Right?  

 

But then early on after the UDP forfeited its election victory and Tony was back in power there was the threat by Imata Kabua and Tomeing himself to dump Taiwan and U.S. and become a client state of one of the most totalitarian governments on earth, the PRC.   Some say U.S. is in decline, China is the next superpower, and RMI should do just that, maybe that was Tony’s goal, but deBrum pulled the RMI back from that risky business when Tomeing and Kabua revealed too much too soon.   Tony made Tomeing and Kabua look weak and confused in the eyes of the world, especially when he told the press Imata was a sick old man and didn’t know what he was saying.

 

At least Tony didn’t follow them over the cliff on the China issue.   But now he seems to be on the edge himself.   The August 8 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal has Tony ranting and raving about U.S. decision to pass over Ben Graham as the RMI Ambassador.   If that is a final decision, too bad, everyone believes Ben is a great guy, but you move on.  You don’t leave the RMI without representation in what may be the most sensitive and critical time ever for RMI-U.S. relations.   It arguably is incompetent political and diplomatic mismanagement to put the personal feelings of Tony or the personal situation of Ben before the RMI national interest.      

 

But Tony is acting like a petulant child, insisting the U.S. makes exceptions, but not giving any clear examples.   We know Americans serve in foreign governments without losing their U.S. citizenship, but we also understand there are rules about what they can do diplomatically when they are in Washington.   If Tony says there are examples of U.S. citizens serving as foreign ambassadors and heads of foreign diplomatic missions, he needs to spell it out.  And ironically this might be an unusual case, because Americans in other countries may be in a slightly different position than an American representing the RMI in the USA.   That is because the U.S. exercises powers and authority equivalent in some ways to sovereignty in the RMI, powers the U.S. does not exercise in England or Israel or Ireland, for example, where there are many dual citizens.   So an American representing the RMI in Washington would be representing a foreign country to the American government, which has governmental powers in the country he represents, and there could be some unusual conflicts of interest perhaps not present in other bilateral contexts.

 

But perhaps more remarkable is that Tony is talking himself into a corner, quoted in the MIJ saying he does not want it to appear he and his foreign ministry failed to “do our homework” before sending Ben’s nomination to the parliament for confirmation.   He insists the U.S. did not indicate a problem, but he does not seem to have any evidence that the U.S. actually flip flopped or made a commitment then backed out.   So it really does look like deBrum did not do his homework, and now he is seem in Washington as belly-aching about it like a cry-baby.   In the diplomatic big leagues you don’t assume you have agreement until you have it in writing.

 

More seriously, some people in Majuro and Washington believe Tony rushed the Ben Graham nomination through parliament because he was so eager to fire respected and successful RMI Ambassador Banny deBrum.   Some say Tony wanted to consolidate his power by bringing in as many new people as fast as he could so their families and friends would have a reason to support the new administration, with Tomeing as the figure-head and Tony deBrum as the power behind the throne.   It worked with the UDP and independents who joined the AKA government, and rushing high level appointments through was also part of that tactic.

 

We are surprised by Tony’s blunders, but even more surprised by his statement in MIJ that suddenly he and the AKA are doing all they can to get a new LUA.   Last time we checked Tony was a lobbyist for the landowners who are the ones who refuse to sign the LUA.   And now he tries to play more little games with the U.S. suggesting that the landowners are not influenced by the $20 million in the escrow account that they will get if they sign the LUA.   Does he really think that anyone believes that?

 

Well, he must think the U.S. is stupid, because he went so far as to say “landowners are not attracted by the $20 million, they are insulted by it.”   Did he give the interview to Giff at the Kava Club?  

 

Then he decided to make matters worse and get personal with a highly respected member of the U.S. Senate professional staff who, as far as we can tell, does his best to get Congress to pay attention to the RMI, especially when the U.S. has a few bigger problems, and would like to be able to count on its allies like the RMI, instead of baby-sitting their Foreign Minister, who seems to have taken his diplomatic etiquette lesson form Hugo Chavez.

 

So last week Tony was blaming U.S. Chief Negotiator Al Short for everything Tony does not like about the Compact of Free Association, accusing Short of being personally responsible for the Kwajalein provisions of the free association treaty.   Short set Tony straight in a rebuttal, so now Tony has decided to blame someone else, and so as the MIJ reports it Tony told the MIJ the December 18 deadline for a land use agreement is a trick by Al Stayman, and according to Tony “Al Stayman put that in the original law and he can remove it more simply than we can change the MOURA…We’ve been very forthcoming with the US about working to get agreement with the landowners.”

 

Where do we begin?   First, Al Stayman is a member of the professional staff, influential, but last time we checked he did not have a vote.   Tony is paying $1 million dollars a year to former Senator Bennett Johnston, who did have a vote when the 1986 Kwajalein deal was done, which Tony now says was a rip off and insult too, and he says the 1986 deal Bennett Johnston voted as a Senaet leader to approve is the source of the problem with the new MOURA and LUA, but he doesn’t blame his favorite lobbyist.  No, he blames Stayman, because Tony is addicted to the politics of personal destruction, and he likes to make it personal.

 

Well, Jack Abramoff, who also practiced the politics of personal destruction, also tried to attack Stayman personally, and it backfired big time.  Tony was partners with Abramoff in a character assassination plot against the former U.S. Ambassador last time he was in power, and apparently he did not get enough, because now he is after Stayman this time.

 

Tony, do we need to send you back to high school to study civics 101?   The RMI national parliament approved the Compact, and so did the U.S. Congress.  Do you really think Stayman approved the Compact, do you really think that laws and treaties passed by the U.S. Congress are the personal work product of the staff, rather than exercises of the constitutional sovereignty of the nation?   We all know staff are important, but Tony is hardly being diplomatic by telling Congress it works for Al Stayman, instead of the other way around.   Do you really think Stayman can change U.S. law and personally “remove” a provision of a ratified treaty that has the force and effect of law? 

 

We thought you were an experienced pro, but you are acting like an amateur.

 

But the real low point of Tony’s MIJ interview was when he said “How can landowners be expected to accept an agreement that provides less than what they were getting in 1986 dollars 20 years later with no visible solution for dealing with the Ebeye-Kwajalein dichotomy?  …It escapes me how any thinking people can see that as a workable solution.”

 

Then Tony starts playing games about how OTEC for Kwajalein is really a “win-win” solution for the RMI and U.S. that will make the LUA possible.  What?    When will Tony get it, the OTEC will either happen if it is truly win-win or it won’t if it isn’t.   But holding the LUA hostage and threatening to breach a treaty unless Kwajalein gets OTEC is the best way to create a lose-lose situation.    The U.S. does not like to be blackmailed.   OTEC will happen on its own if it is a good deal, and maybe the U.S. has already decided for or against OTEC, and if it has decided in favor of at least studying OTEC for Kwajalein deBrum will claim credit for it, just like he claimed credit this week for U.S. Army generators provided to help at Ebeye.

 

And what is the Kwajalein-Ebeye dichotomy?   How is it different from the Anderson AFB-Guam dichotomy, or the U.S. federal government-Southeast Washington D.C. dichotomy?   There are people who are poor and can’t afford energy when it snows living in the shadows of the U.S. capitol.    Tony has been defining the RMI and the U.S. only by the problems we have, not to solve the problems, but to exploit problems for his own aggrandizement.  

 

If deBrum and his clients, now that he is also their senator, really want to address the Ebeye dichotomy, and they are insulted by the $20 million in the escrow account, as he claims, why don’t they just agree to give 100% of that $20 million to the people of Ebeye and the rest of the landowners of Kwajalein Atoll?  Distribute it per capita to all the people equally, not 2/3’s to the chiefs and their lobbyists.  Or, give it to the elected government to allocate under a democratic process?

 

Then deBrum tries to go back to the landowners’ eight point declaration of demands from several years ago, and says of the landowners, “if they see movement on both the US and RMI side, they will give us instructions to go talk to the US government.”   So as Foreign Minister of all the Marshallese people, Tony takes his instructions on one of the most important bilateral issue for the whole nation from a handful of landowners who put their personal interests before the RMI national interest.   THAT is pathetic.

 

 

 

RMI-U.S. Relations: A Case of Tomeing Poisoning?

August 4, 2008

Is there an RMI Foreign Ministry strategy to discredit U.S. Ambassador Clyde Bishop, by suggesting he is ineffective in the diplomatic consultation process and insensitive to Marshallese custom?   The current RMI Foreign Minister was architect of similar strategy in the past (see menu in upper right of Home page for link to “Selected Topics from Archives” on deBrum-Abramoff plan to discredit former U.S. Ambassador Plaisted), so many in Majuro and Washington are wondering:  What is behind the recent Marshall Islands Journal report of Tomeing giving a “friendly” lecture to Bishop, in a way that some observers perceived as unkind and unfair to Bishop, at least as the meeting was reported in the MIJ.  

 

If the meeting was as reported in the MIJ, is President Tomeing involved in an attempt to belittle Bishop, or is it a Foreign Ministry initiative?   Does it have anything to do with the U.S. exercise of its diplomatic discretion, by deciding not to receive the RMI’s designee for its ambassador to the U.S. because he is a U.S. citizen?   Is the goal to poison RMI-U.S. relations, in furtherance of the clumsy public threats by Tomeing and RMI High Chief Imata Kabua, reported in Pacific Islands Magazine and the Marshall Islands Journal, to turn the U.S. base at Kwajalein over to China, or the “highest bidder?”   Or, is the MIJ report, depicting a cleverly framed but politically pointed Tomeing admonition to Bishop, just for domestic consumption in RMI, in an attempt to make it appear the RMI is standing up to U.S. and being strong?  Is this damage control because the current RMI administration in Majuro has painted itself into a corner over Kwajalein base rights, the energy crisis, and other issues?  

 

All these questions come at a bad time for the Tomeing administration, following the reports that representatives of some of the world’s poorest nations in Africa and other regions, even the Pacific, were publicly supportive in a diplomatic way, but also privately less than enthusiastic, after RMI U.N. representative Phillip Muller’s speech to the General Assembly on RMI energy and economic crisis.   Some nations with per capita gross national product less than a fraction of what the RMI has enjoyed under Compact of Free Association with the USA found Muller’s speech “less than compelling.”   

 

The energy, environmental, food supply, water supply, health care, human rights and economic challenges facing dozens of other countries are so much greater than those facing the RMI that many found Muller’s speech ironic in some respects.   One African diplomat said, “If they are so unhappy with free association and military bases they should see what life after the U.S. is like.   We all have compassion for impact of nuclear testing, which still needs to be more fully addressed by the USA, especially cancer screening and diagnosis in the RMI.  But when obesity and diabetes from too much rich food and sweets are also RMI national health problems, well, let’s just say that much poorer nations with starving populations have to put RMI demands for additional energy assistance and base payments into a realistic perspective.   All small nations with limited resources and a history of colonialism have a legacy of suffering that looms large in our identity, but we all have to face current realities and make good choices for our people.”    

 

See the blog posting that appears below this posting about the July 25 Marshall Islands Journal report on Tomeing meeting with U.S. Ambassador Clyde Bishop, and the “unmistakable message about diplomacy” that the RMI president supposedly delivered to the U.S. Ambassador.   Also, here is what another blog post has to say about the Tomeing-Bishop meeting report in the MIJ:

 

“What Tomeing and/or Bishop may think about their meeting really is not as interesting as the fact that the RMI Foreign Ministry appears to have provided the MIJ with a partial verbatim transcript of the discussion.  This enabled the MIJ to use actual quotations of Tomeing’s words selected by the RMI Foreign Ministry.    

 

On that basis the MIJ published the article portraying the meeting in terms that create an appearance Tomeing was admonishing the U.S. Ambassador to do a better job consulting bilaterally, and that failure of Bishop to do so was the reason for problems and failure of cooperation between the RMI and USA.  Is this another attempt to discredit the U.S. Ambassador?  Even if Tomeing was being sincere and had good intentions, the way the material was released by the RMI Foreign Ministry, and the MIJ report based on it, had a political message that cast the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. in a bad light in the RMI political context.  

 

The MIJ article also does not reveal who wrote it.   That gives rise to the presumption that it was written by MIJ Editor Giff Johnson, and suggests that this was orchestrated by the RMI Foreign Ministry and the MIJ to put a political spin on the meeting.   

 

It leads one to wonder if there was a complete transcript or recording of the meeting given to the MIJ, or just the parts the Foreign Ministry wanted the MIJ to use?   Does the Foreign Ministry leak selected transcripts of a meeting to MIJ, or give them a complete record?   Does MIJ accept and use fragments of a meeting transcript censored by the RMI Foreign Ministry, without knowing the context of the quotations used in the published story?   Is that journalism or government propaganda?   Is that free press or press collaboration with government?

 

Are meetings between the RMI leaders and U.S. officials recorded, are transcripts made, is this done with the knowledge of all participants?   Are the authorized uses of meeting records agreed by the participants?  Is it consistent with diplomatic protocol for transcripts of a meeting to be used in the press in a selective manner?   Are such meetings and records thereof public?    Can the public get the complete record of the meeting?  Or, does the RMI Foreign Ministry release only the parts of the record that it selects?  Again, does MIJ accept that kind of government control of the information reported in the MIJ?  

 

Or, was the MIJ reporter present in the meetings to record what was said?   These are some of the questions that arise from analysis of the blog posting.”

 

 

RMI PRESIDENT LITOKWA TOMEING EXPOSES HIS OWN LACK OF DIPLOMATIC SKILLS BY SUGGESTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RMI LACKS DIPLOMATIC SKILLS TO DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH MARSHALLESE LEADERS

August 2, 2008

The July 25 edition of the Marshall Island Journal reports that RMI President Litokwa Tomeing schooled U.S. Ambassador to the RMI, Clyde Bishop, on how to conduct diplomacy with the Marshallese leadership.   The MIJ article stated that Tomeing sent an “unmistakable message about diplomacy” to Ambassador Bishop during a meeting with the Commanding Officer of U.S. Army operations at Kwajalein in the RMI.    The most senior diplomatic and military officials representing the U.S. in the RMI were there to brief Tomeing on the reduction of local and U.S. employees at Kwajalein during the current operational cycle of the base, and the prospects of recovering lost jobs in the future if Kwajalein operations continue and use of the facility increases in the future.

 

 

With Bishop’s fellow senior U.S. military counterpart present, Tomeing reportedly adopted an informal and seemingly folksy attitude and told Bishop that if he wanted to be more effective dealing with Marshallese leaders he should abandon normal diplomatic protocol and come to the President’s office without any advance notice.  “No need for an appointment…Surprise me by just walking in unannounced…see how we can help each other out…,” Tomeing is reported to have told Bishop.   According to the MIJ, the RMI President then proceeded to instruct Bishop on Marshallese custom, telling him that since he was “a university professor of sociology” he should be more sensitive to cross cultural relations by learning the meaning of the Marshallese custom of “Bwebwenato.”

 

 

According to the MIJ report, Tomeing did not explain that custom, but told Bishop to use his training as a professor to “investigate” and study “Bwebwenato” because it is the “oil that fuels friendship” in Marshallese society, and will enable Bishop to improve his performance as a diplomat in the RMI.   Bwebwenato is the Marshallese word for informal story telling and conversation about events of the day, a relaxed and random discussion ranging from important issues to gossip.   Tomeing told Bishop that he should set aside American and international rules of protocol and adapt his performance of diplomatic duties to Marshallese custom.

 

 

The MIJ did not comment on whether Tomeing’s remarks were also consistent with Marshallese customs regarding respect for guests, or whether it was Marshallese custom to criticize one distinguished guest in front of another distinguished guest, even if the criticism was expressed in the most friendly and cordial way, so that it seemed to be shrewd and yet not appear anti-social or unfriendly.   This raises a question about how it would be perceived if Bishop was hosting a meeting with Tomeing and the Marshallese High Chief, Imata Kabua, who is the “King” under Marshallese feudal customs.  What if the U.S. Ambassador told one of those Marshallese leaders in the presence of the other to perform their duties in a way that was more agreeable to American culture?   Even if it was said with a smile and with the best of heartfelt intentions, would President Tomeing and King Kabua feel that they had been embarrassed in front of the other Marshallese guest?

 

 

Upon hearing about the MIJ report one former U.S. State Department career diplomat and Foreign Service Officer who was posted in the RMI, speaking on condition of anonymity, said

 

 

“Showing cross cultural respect is an important part of diplomacy, but the rules of protocol have evolved over many centuries to ensure that official communications are delivered and received without allowing personalities and cross-cultural issues to cloud or confuse the clear communication of the formal positions of the governments concerned.   Informality and personal rapport are appropriate and can be a critical element of diplomacy, but there also are examples of situations where informal or personal communications created misunderstandings and confusion, sometimes with tragic consequences.  

 

 

Ambassador Bishop is a highly respected, experienced diplomat honored with prestigious awards by his nation, a real pro with the best professional training available in the world, so he does not really need to be treated like an absent minded professor being taught a lesson by Tomeing.  Even if Bishop insists he took no offense personally or as a diplomat, that is just the diplomatic thing for him to do.   Ambassador Bishop is doing his best to sustain free association, and he may well adopt the position that Tomeing was just being hospitable in a good natured way, and that may even be true, but someone fed the press a verbatim account of the exchange that has a less than benign and good natured meaning in the RMI.   It is a political message that the disconnect between the RMI and U.S. is because the Ambassador has not been consulting with RMI enough.  

 

 

We all know better, and that the problem is that the Foreign Ministry in this administration is doing the bidding of the feudal land barons of Kwajalein, and now they are trying to blame the friction caused by a failed “show down” with U.S. that is forcing the feudal lords of Kwajalein to back down.   So they are trying to make Bishop their scapegoat and fall guy.   Well, he has been very diplomatic because he is a pro, and this so-called  “unmistakable message about diplomacy” reported in the MIJ is another case of the Foreign Ministry using the press to negotiate with the U.S. and influence public opinion in the RMI with Orwellian falsehood.   It is subtle and heavy handed at the same time.

 

 

It is nothing less than propaganda trying to make Bishop look like the problem.  It is the same thing attempted with past Ambassadors who have been blamed and targeted to create the false impression that the U.S. is being inflexible or overbearing.   It is intended to arouse public sentiment against the U.S. in order to generate support for the current administration, and it will backfire in Washington as it always has, and it will backfire in the RMI if the public gets accurate information about U.S. policy.   It is lamentable that the MIJ would publish an account of the meeting without identifying the source of the quoted material, or even the journalist who wrote the article, if there is one, and it is not just a staged report prepared for the MIJ by the Foreign Ministry. 

 

 

Whether Tomeing is speaking as a traditional leader or as a Senator who has been appointed by the RMI parliament to serve as head of state under the RMI national constitution, he should perhaps have been a little more formal himself, instead of telling Bishop to be less formal.  Especially when the U.S. officials were there to deliver a formal and sobering message about Kwajalein that has profound implications for U.S. and RMI political, economic and security relations.   Since Tomeing was the one who publicly threatened to kick the U.S. out and turn the base over to China, perhaps a little formality and respect was in order.”           

 

 

Another former senior U.S. Department of Defense official read the MIJ report and said Tomeing’s suggestion that U.S. Ambassador stop by and chat anytime is perceived among some in Washington who help make U.S. policy on free association as an ambivalent message:

 

 

“It sends a mixed signal, and it has a double meaning.   He may think it is clever to tell Bishop he does not need an appointment, and that Bishop should study RMI culture and language, but this is not a game.   Ambassador Bishop is there to conduct official business, and right now there is a lot of RMI business with the U.S. that is not exactly in good order.   It is not the time for local political rituals, it is a time for serious business.  Tomeing is seen as pretending to be sincere, but instead being flippant trying to make it about personalities, when it is not personal at all, it is the official agenda that matters.   Everyone can be nice personally, but the question is whether the RMI wants to be taken seriously as a treaty partner.   Tomeing is still living in the past, talking about the ‘ties that bind’ the RMI and the United States, those were his words in the meeting according to the report.   But the U.S. is not bound, the RMI is not bound, the terms of free association are only binding as long as neither party decides to end it.   Litokwa Tomeing needs to realize this is not some kind of personal diplomacy exercise, and his government needs to get serious about how to remain allied with the U.S. in a dangerous world.”  

 

 

How MIJ Editor Giff Johnson got such a detailed account of the exchange quoted in the report is not clear.  In any event, perhaps someone in the RMI Foreign Ministry should provide President Tomeing with a copy of Ambassador Bishop’s official U.S. State Department biography.   Dr. Bishop is not merely an academic serving as a diplomat, he is a seasoned career diplomat who is also a distinguished scholar.   Maybe the MIJ should reprint the following information about the U.S. Chief of Diplomatic Mission in the RMI, who the MIJ refers to only as “Clyde” on its front page:

 

“Clyde Bishop, PhD, was confirmed as US Ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands on September 28, 2006 and assumed his duties on December 5, 2006.  Ambassador Bishop is a career diplomat and Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service of the United States.

 

Prior to his assignment to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Ambassador Bishop served     as the Consul General at the US Embassy Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.  He also served as Principal Officer in Naples, Italy.  His previous Foreign Service postings include Hong Kong, Bombay, Rio de Janeiro, and Korea.  He began his career as a Consular/Economic officer in Palermo, Italy. 

 

Ambassador Bishop served as Diplomat in Residence at City College New York.  After his promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, he participated in the Foreign Service Institute Senior Seminar.

 

Clyde Bishop received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Delaware State in 1964.  He received a Master of Arts in Sociology from Delaware University in 1972 and was awarded a Doctorate degree from the University of Delaware in Public Policy Analysis in 1976.  He is fluent in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.  He is a recipient of two Meritorious Honor Awards and a Superior Honor Award.”