RMI Political Symbolism Reveals Sense of Unreality

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?




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