Archive for September, 2008

Tomeing-deBrum sells out nuclear test survivors compensation for Kwajalein, but get nothing for either nuclear or Kwajalein: A lose-lose result from lose-lose leadership

September 10, 2008

In the U.S. political system, when a Congress nears the end of its term at the same time a Presidential term is ending, that can be a good time to get certain business done that is a low priority in a new Congress and President have so many competing demands and priorities.   That is especially true when there is a record before Congress to support action.   Even in an election year, the last session of Congress before its term ends is when an issue that does not have importance in the U.S. elections can be addressed.

In the case of S. 1756, there was a strong record of hearing in the House and the Senate on the RMI Changed Circumstances Petition and the nuclear claims.   In the Senate the RMI government had been successful getting a bill introduced, having a hearing, and having the Senate committee leadership agree to approve the bill with amendments that benefit the RMI.   If the bill had passed in the Senate back when the committee leadership and staff told the RMI it was ready to move, there was a realistic chance that the Senate and RMI together could get the House to act, and that the Department of the Interior and OMB might not oppose the bill too strongly.   That is how Bikini got its $90 million resettlement funding in 1987, when OMB decided not to object.

Since the Senate had introduced S. 1756 by request of President Note, when it was ready to pass the bill in January it needed to confirm that there was stability and continuity in the RMI government, and that the new leadership would continue to support the bill.   But Tony deBrum was afraid to let anything good happen if the Note Administration might get credit for it, so he refused to answer the Senate, and in this case silence meant the answer was “No” just as clearly as if the RMI was saying “No” to the Senate.   Also, deBrum did not want a success for the RMI nuclear claims policy unless he first had success for the Kwajalein ruling class based on deBrum’s demands that  the U.S. pay them more or get out.  That juvenile delinquent strategy backfired big time.

So S. 1756 was in limbo, even though the four atolls testified in the “hearing” deBrum staged for U.S. Congress member from American Samoa, Eni Faleomavaega, that the RMI must make S. 1756 a top priority.   The four atolls wrote and spoke to the RMI and asked that the RMI take quick and clear action to support he bill, because this was not a transition issue, it did not need to be studied for more than a day or two to understand that it would be a mistake not to say “Yes’ loud and clear to Congress.

The four atolls reminded the Tomeing-deBrum administration that even if the bill does not go all the way through, the further it gets in this Congress the better the hope it will get back on the agenda next year in a new Congress and with a new President.   But Tony deBrum was too angry at RMI Ambassador Banny deBrum, and fired the Ambassador and embassy staff before he had a new Ambassador and so he did not maintain stability and continuity.   Tony mismanaged the transition and we can now put a price tag on the cost of his incompetence:  $100 million.

It may be that the Bill can be re-introduced next year, but then it will be in competition with so many other issue that are a higher priory for the new Congress and a new President.  Also, the funding for the RMI bill will have to come from somewhere in the budget, and in a new Congress it will be much harder to find the money because there will be so many new budget priorities in a new Congress.

As forecast yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources placed S. 1756 on its agenda now that the RMI government has ended its opposition by silence, as well as its secret behind the scenes opposition.   The committee approved S. 1756 with favorable amendments that in creased the additional funding for health from $2 million annually for 4 island to $4 million annually for 10 islands recognized as having been affected by the U.S. nuclear testing program in recent U.S. Government health studies.   Under S. 1756 that $4 million annual health care funding would continue for 20 years and be adjusted upward each year for inflation.

Unfortunately,  approval of the S. 1756 this late in the Congress is more like a death march than a celebration of a new beginning.   Since S. 1756 did not pass, instead of $4 million for health care for 20 years to benefit 10 atolls, there reportedly will be as little as $1 million for just 1 year, with no reliable commitment to future funding.

All the RMI had to do was say “Yes.”   It could have been a one sentence diplomatic note.   Since no one on any continent trusts anything that comes out of Tony deBrum’s mouth, it had to be in writing to be accepted by the U.S. and relied upon by Congress.   But it could have accepted the $100 million package as an additional U.S. contribution to compensation, without waiving past, present or future claims in the U.S. courts, Congress or through diplomatic channels seeking additional compensation.   No one was demanding that the RMI espouse and settle claims or waive claims that U.S. compensation under the Section 177 Agreement was inadequate.   All the RMI had to do was say “Yes” that $100 million more is better than nothing, it is good, but it is still not adequate.

But that would have meant $100 million for 10 atolls over 20 years would be approved by the U.S. Senate without also getting more U.S. funding for Imata Kabua.   That is why Tony deBrum told his lobbyist, Mr. Johnston, to take a pass on S. 1756.   Tony used his position as Foreign Minister of the RMI to make more, more and more money for Imata and the ruling land barons of Kwajalein the top priority.   As the Senator from Kwajalein he did not want the nuclear claims compensation funding to compete with Kwajalein funding.  He did not even want both S. 1756 and the RMI demands for the U.S. to pay more or get out of Kwajalein to move forward at the same time.

The problem is that when you are a minister you have to act on behalf of the nation.  If you want to act only as the senator from your place of election, then you resign as minister, or you recuse yourself on an issue if you can not be fair to all the people and free of conflict of interest.    Try explaining that to Tony.  Yeah, right.

So Tony quietly killed S. 1756.   He then used RMI money to pay a reported $1 million that belonged to all the people to his lobbyist to get more money for just a few people.  That includes Imata Kabua and Tony!

As the months went by and the chance for approval by the full Senate slipped away, and the chance for approval by the House of Representatives slipped away, Tony returned to the scene of the crime and tried to play word games to deny that he did it.

He blamed it on everyone but himself, even though he prevented anyone but himself form controlling the agenda and blocked the bill. Now he says there was opposition by 1 Senator, but obviously that did not stop the bill once the RMI supported it. He said the statement in the report of the committee on the bill that Bikini and Enewetak wanted might be used against the RMI in seeking more funding in the future, but that could have been dropped from the report or easily changed to ensure it does not cause any problem in the future.

Tony deBrum killed S. 1756 because he sold out the nuclear victims for Kwajalein. Do not be surprised if Tony has the arrogant pridefulness to now take credit for getting the bill passed out of committee.   Do not be fooled.   Yes, the committee acted because the RMI finally supported S. 1756.   But that only shows that the Senate committee was ready to act and did what it promised.

We will never know how far the bill would have gotten if the RMI had supported it when asked to say “Yes” in January, but we do know that Tony deBrum’s flip flop decision to support S. 1756 in September was TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!


Tony deBrum statements on Kwajalein land use agreement assume U.S. shares RMI interest in preventing reversion of escrowed base rights payments: How does agreement to prevent reversion serve U.S. national interest if it does not secure binding base rights as mandated by Congress in 2003?

September 6, 2008

Kabua-deBrum view of reality from the Kwajalein Kava Club

For more than 25 years Tony deBrum and Imata Kabua have demanded that the U.S. negotiate directly with feudal lords of Kwajalein to secure U.S. Army land use rights at Kwajalein, rather than on a government-to-government basis with the RMI national government. Now deBrum is telling Kabua that it will finally happen, because the RMI government is controlled by the feudal landed ruling class of Kwajalein and the U.S. will be forced to deal with Kabua and his political allies in the RMI ruling party.

For more than 25 years Tony deBrum and Imata Kabua have demanded that U.S. base rights payments be managed by the Kwajalein land barons. Now they think that will happen because the local organization known as KADA has been re-established to manage U.S. base payments, and with Kwajalein land barons in control the RMI government will facilitate KADA role in administration of Kwajalein funding.

For 5 years Tony deBrum and Imata Kabua have insisted that the date of December 17, 2008, is a vague target, a goal, a flexible schedule for RMI steps to secure agreement by the land barons for U.S. government on use of Kwajalein by the U.S. military after 2016. Now they believe that – unless the RMI and U.S. accept terms Kabua demands before then – December 17 of this year will be just another day in on-going negotiations for a new land use agreement.

Kabua and deBrum believe they can ignore the December 17 deadline set by Congress because the RMI government is controlled by the Kwajalein land barons, and the RMI government is prepared to facilitate but not exercise sovereign control or responsibility for the land use negotiations.

Indeed, as we reported back on August 9, 2008:

“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…instead of rule of law under the constitutional process 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 orders from ‘King Kabua’ too?”

Thus, in essence deBrum is demanding that the U.S. deal directly with Imata Kabua as a sort of RMI domestic tribal leader in the ruling oligarchy that controls land use in the RMI, while the elected leadership of the constitutional government who owe their official positions to Kabua act as glorified errand boys and office clerks for Kabua.

The current edition of the Marshall Islands Journal quotes deBrum extensively on the negotiation process he envisions. As Tony sees it, the provision of U.S. law making December 17 the end of the period allowed for securing a land use agreement (LUA) represents an “exploding deadline concept…first and foremost in the minds of any who want to use that language to coerce an LUA.”

Instead of meeting a deadline to fulfill obligations of a treaty ratified by both governments through their respective constitutional processes, deBrum calls for “postponement of the drop dead date,” and an “alternate use…as the landowners might suggest” for land payment increases held in escrow until the LUA is in effect.

In the alternative, deBrum argues it would be “better yet” for the U.S. to waive the deadline altogether and pay the funds in the escrow account “while the LUA is being negotiated,” even after December 17 has come and gone. Yet, the U.S. law provides for the escrow funds to revert to the U.S. “unless otherwise mutually agreed,” but without an LUA reversion may be more attractive to the U.S. than agreement to some other use without securing the base rights agreed to in 2003.

The option of mutual agreement to provide for use of the escrow funds exists only to enable the governments to prevent reversion on terms that include securing the LUA. But deBrum appears to believe the U.S. can or will enter into mutual agreement to prevent reversion even if the RMI is in breach of its obligations and fails to secure an LUA or any binding and enforceable agreement with the rulers of Kwajalein the terms of which ensure with certainty an LUA.

Tony deBrum sees breach and abrogation of RMI treaty obligations as somehow allowed under the law and justified so long as there are “bona fide” and “good faith” negotiations going on. Of course, that is absurd. A party that fails to meet it obligations can not claim to be acting in good faith once a breach is on-going, and the RMI is a matter of just weeks away from being in breach of the bilateral base rights treaty for U.S. use of Kwajalein.

The U.S. federal statute increasing payments, but putting the increase in escrow pending a new LUA, states that the U.S. and RMI can “mutually agree” to another use of the funds, but it would have to be consistent with the purposes for which the funds were appropriated. Specifically, the U.S. can not mutually agree to a reprogramming, reallocation or alternate use of funds unless it is linked to a land use agreement securing U.S. base rights at Kwajalein.

Why would Congress reward the RMI by changing the rules of the road at this point? Indeed, Congress would need to act to authorize any use “the landowners might suggest,” unless it is one that secures the land use rights as required by the applicable treaty provisions and current law. It is too late for Congress to address this issue before it adjourns for the year, so the deadline stands, time has run out.

That means the RMI and the land barons need to sign an agreement that secures land use rights, or the deadline will come and go. The Congress said what it meant and meant what it said. As discussed further below, after December 17, a process will be set in motion for winding up operations at Kwajalein by 2016.

Once that process is triggered, the RMI and rulers of Kwajalein will have no legal right or political powers to reverse it, the options and choices will belong to the U.S. and not the RMI or the land barons of Kwajalein. Their options exist before the deadline, not after it.

The Washington/Majuro real-world view of reality

Since 2003 the U.S. and the RMI have been parties to the Compact of Free Association (CFA), and a Military Use and Operating Rights Agreement MUORA) creating mutual obligations regarding U.S. use of its base at Kwajalein after 2016, when the previous lease expires.

The U.S. views as an internal sovereign matter for the RMI those national legal and political steps required to secure under its domestic law the land use rights the RMI government agreed to provide to the U.S. Army at Kwajalein. Because the RMI and the Kwajalein land barons had not completed those internal steps at the time Congress approved the new Compact of Free Association in 2003, Congress allowed a 5 year period for those steps to be competed.

Before doing so, the U.S. Congress held hearings, listened to the testimony of the elected and traditional leaders of Kwajalein regarding land use issues, listened to RMI national government leaders, and U.S. negotiators. As an incentive to an agreement Congress increased payments between 2003 and 2016 over and above the amounts the U.S. was obligated to pay under the existing lease that does not expires until 2016. Congress then continued increases for payments throughout the period of any extension of the lease after 2016.

At the same time, Congress decided it should treat failure of the RMI and the land barons to reach an agreement before the five year deadline as an indication that the amounts the U.S. Congress was willing to pay for Kwajalein base rights was insufficient for the RMI to secure those rights. Congress did not authorize further increases in that event, but rather provided for termination of the Kwajalein lease after 2016.

So the remedy Congress provided for is the opposite of what deBrum espouses. Instead of negotiating how much more funding the U.S. should give to the RMI to secure Kwajalein, the solution Congress prescribed is for U.S. use of Kwajalein to cease in 2016.

Thus, in the absence of a land use agreement by the deadline of December 17, 2008, all escrowed amounts over and above the amounts already being paid under the existing lease for the 2003-20016 period would revert to the U.S. treasury, and the President would report to Congress on plans for termination of U.S. operations at Kwajalein.

Contrary to deBrum’s most recent statements to the press, this was not a “drop dead concept” that was something to be “used to coerce” a land use agreement. It is not what deBrum calls an “exploding deadline” to pressure the land barons into an agreement.

Rather, it was an act of patience to create a grace period. But the grace period had to have an ending. It could not go on indefinitely or remain open ended if an agreement was not reached within the allowed period.

That is not coercion, that was accommodation. That was patient forbearance with fair warning putting all parties on notice of the U.S. policy and intentions.

U.S. Congress and President accepted possible loss of Kwajalein in 2003

In the business world we use contracts that define the binding terms for commercial partnership. In government we use laws which are binding based on democratic consent of the governed. In international relations we use treaties that define the obligations of nations that exercise their sovereignty by ratifying treaty provisions.

In 2003 the process for negotiating and ratifying a new Compact of Free Association between the RMI and the USA was coming to an end. The first 15 year CFA had expired, been extended, and the extension was expiring.

The U.S. did not agree to further extension, and the U.S. was prepared for the consequences if a new CFA could not be agreed upon. Thus, the U.S. was prepared to negotiate instead a winding up of free association, including whatever transitional arrangements might be agreed up for U.S. use of Kwajalein.

The RMI was not prepared for the end of free association, but it had not completed its internal process for securing land use rights for the U.S. military pursuant to applicable base rights agreements. That is why the U.S. required a 5 year grace period for the RMI to secure an LUA for the period after 20016, giving the U.S. an eight year period to adapt to the impending loss of Kwajalein if the RMI failed to secure an LUA.

Now as the end of the grace period approaches the Marshall Islands Journal is reporting that Tony deBrum has escalated his bizarre ideology of confrontation, by suggesting that the five years Congress granted for the RMI and Kwajalein chiefs to secure land rights was not long enough. But the people know the 5 year deadline was plenty of time to work something out.

The five year grace period Congress adopted was more than adequate. The 9 months deBrum has been in power has been more than enough. Why would the U.S. agree to postpone the deadline? Why would the U.S. reward bad faith by agreeing to an alternative use of the escrow funding?

The negotiation of U.S. payments ended in 2003, there is no U.S. number and an RMI number based on demands of the land barons that can now be compromised, no payment proposals on the table to be compromised by some splitting of the difference. The difference between the U.S. and RMI agreed amount and what the Kwajalein propertied oligarchy demanded was already split when increased payments were secured from 2003 to 2016, and fro the period after 2016.

Rather than “postponement” or mutual agreement to some “alternate use” that does not secure the base rights for which the escrow funding was provided, the only question now is whether the RMI can propose some other use for the escrow funds that would be more agreeable to the U.S. than reversion. But agreement to such other use would be of no value to the U.S. if it does not also secure the LUA.

Why would some other use be more attractive to the U.S. than recovery of the escrowed amount if it does not secure base rights? If deBrum assumes the U.S. officials with the authority to “otherwise mutually agree” to another use of the escrow funds share an over-riding interest in preventing reversion, he may be mistaken and surprised to find out that is not the case.

Simply stated, if the land barons and the RMI are able to secure an LUA after the deadline, based on U.S. agreement to a use of the escrow funds to prevent reversion, then logically the RMI and Kwajalein rulers could also secure the LUA before the deadline and prevent reversion. If deBrum has some political or ideological compulsion to force the resolution of this matter into the period after the deadline to prove some sort of point, the question is whether the U.S. can or will accommodate that compulsion in light of the current U.S. law ending the process of negotiation.

The answer to that question will come based not on the U.S. reaction to deBrum’s personal negotiating style, but based on whether the U.S. determines that mutual agreement to another use of the escrow funds will secure the LUA on terms agreed to by the two governments in the 2003 base rights treaty. Again, if that can be done after the deadline it can be done before it, and if it is not done before the deadline then the U.S. national interest may be served best by reversion rather than agreement to another use.

If the U.S. agrees to another use to prevent reversion without securing the LUA, and then enters into the kind of negotiations deBrum envisions, there will have been no purpose in the five year grace period and the deadline, which is certainly how deBrum views the entire matter.

If the U.S. views the five year grace period as a meaningful statement of U.S. purpose and intentions, then reversion of the escrowed funds may well be more consistent with U.S. national interests than mutual agreement to an alternate use that does not secure the base rights that are the purpose for which the escrowed funds were appropriated from the treasury, and hence the people, of the United States.

To allow those funds to be released form escrow for some other purpose without securing U.S. rights would be a breach not only of the RMI base rights agreement with U.S. government, but a breach of the U.S. government’s duty to American taxpayers. By December 17 the current Congress will be adjourned forever, a new President-elect will be preparing to take office after a new Congress has convened in 2009, when the issue of a government that failed to meet its obligations to secure base rights fro the U.S. Army will have to compete with thousands of more important issues for special consideration.

If the LUA deadline “explodes,” as deBrum put it, by early 2009 it will be clear to all in Majuro and Washington that it was not because the fuse on the process was too short, or because Congress sought to “coerce” an LUA, as deBrum claims. It will be because deBrum tried to stage a dramatic end-game that has long been a fantasy in his mind, a fantasy in which it is the U.S. that is coerced into paying more for Kwajalein than Congress had provided based on agreements ratified by both governments pursuant to their respective constitutional processes.

That kind of brinkmanship by deBrum reflects something that not even his political bosses may fully understand. Given the tendency of the U.S. not to stay where it is not wanted, given the reluctance of the U.S. to set the precedent of being blackmailed by a supposed ally, Tony’s actions seem crazy only if you assume he actually wants the U.S. to stay at Kwajalein. If you assume he wants the U.S. to leave, his actions make perfect sense.

Thus, the ultimate question is whether his actions faithfully represent the people of the RMI and the members of the national parliament. The terms of the 5 year grace period provided by Congress were not a game or a trick by Congress, but rather a necessary and transparent test of whether the RMI-U.S. alliance is sound and based on true mutuality of interest between our nations.

If the differences between the U.S. view of the alliance and that of the current RMI government is greater than what we have in common after decades of shared history, that will be very apparent on December 17.

Pirates at the helm of the RMI ship of state

September 6, 2008

The predictions this website has made concerning the consequences of failed RMI government policies are coming true one-by-one. The list of bad choices made by the current ruling junta of the RMI government gets longer every day. The people will pay for these bad choices long after the current ruling regime is gone. The RMI government is broken and needs to be fixed.

Because the RMI is a small country that is poor despite large U.S. grants, there will always be hardships and challenges typical of the developing world. But the RMI’s problems are made worse by a government that has been hijacked to serve the feudal lords of Kwajalein, rather than the people of the nation as a whole.

The current ruling party is not a national party, it is the Kwajalein feudalism party. So it can not provide national leadership to advance the cause of the nation, it only provides leadership for the cause of Kwajalein ruling elite. That gives rise to a comparison between the RMI ruling party and a mafia sting operation, in which organized corruption infiltrates legitimate institutions.

The mafia takes over and appears to be doing business as usual, but instead they are really just raiding the treasury for their own enrichment. Once they suck out as much money as they can, they will be gone. That is, unless they are stopped before they can get away with it.

On internal domestic issues as well as bilateral and multilateral issues, the RMI government is, as we predicted months ago, a ship of state captured by pirates and now lost at sea. Let’s look at the trail of folly left in their wake.

RMI Broadcast Dispute

The current edition of the Marshall Islands Journal reports that the Board of Directors of the RMI National Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has rejected a directive by the RMI President and Cabinet to cease development of wireless television broadcasting in the RMI. Since the national government provides many services in the RMI that are provided by the private sector in more developed nations, the Cabinet order to terminate NTA development of broadcasting capabilities was so clearly selective and arbitrary that the NTA refused to comply.

Now it is reported that Tony deBrum and others acting as his surrogates want the NTA to refrain from providing certain broadcast services, so that the “Marshalls Broadcast Company” (MBC) will have a monopoly over wireless television services in the RMI. Yet, it is also reported that Tony deBrum may have a conflict of interest due to a personal financial interest in MBC. In addition, it is not known if MBC has the capability of providing the service, meeting demand, or developing the private sector market for the services to be provided by NTA.

Also, giving a monopoly for the next generation of wireless television in the RMI to a company that deBrum may be able to control raises other concerns that the NTA may want to consider in carrying out its regulatory function to protect democracy and public interest in the use of public broadcasting in the RMI. Using control of the political and legal process to get control of private sector business, and vice versa, is the model Larry Hillbloom was following to become the richest most powerful man in the Northern Mariana Islands, and he reportedly had plans well underway to duplicate that model throughout the Pacific.

Tony deBrum reportedly was Hillbloom’s understudy, and his business as well as political partner in UMDA, through which deBrum now seeks to control MBC.  We also recently learned that deBrum may have been working with Hillbloom in connection with deBrum’s plan to establish an RMI embassy in Vietnam, and have deBrum or maybe even Hillbloom serve there as the RMI ambassador. Given Hillbloom’s controversial political, legal, business and personal lifestyle history, before he was lost at sea in Saipan, and possibly eaten by sharks, it makes one wonder what lessons Tony deBrum learned from Hillbloom that he is now putting into practice in the RMI.

Maybe private sector wireless television broadcasting has promise and should be developed, but instead of establishing an RMI national policy on privatization of this and other government services, the Cabinet has been like puppets, with their strings pulled by the de facto head of state – you guessed it – Tony deBrum. Instead of a fair and impartial policy opening the market to competition in those sectors ready for conversion to private ownership, the Cabinet targeted NTA under pressure from deBrum.

There is concern that many RMI laws and policies adopted while Tony is pulling the strings are all about Tony. As we reported recently, Tony or his surrogates reportedly may have land rights adjacent to certain public landfill projects that may result in government payments that could benefit Tony, and his demands as Foreign Minister for increased U.S. payments for Kwajalein directly benefit Tony by enriching his political godfather Imata Kabua.

Nuclear Claims Compensation

The elected leaders of Bikini, Rongelap and Utirik testified in what they were told were “field hearings” of the U.S. Congress chaired by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega when he visited the RMI at the invitation of Tony deBrum early in 2008. In that testimony the leaders of those atolls urged the RMI ruling party and the U.S. Congress to support passage of S. 1756. Neither Faleomavaega nor deBrum and the RMI ruling party he controls did anything anyone knows about to support S. 1756.

Now RMI Foreign Minister deBrum is trying to blame his ministry’s failure to support S. 1756, the nuclear claims compensation project of the U.S. Senate, on the nuclear test victims. He even singled out Rongelap and Bikini for not signing a letter that the leaders of those atolls thought was not an accurate or smart way to address the S. 1756 problem Tony created by not giving the proposed legislation timely support.

Since the public in the RMI knows that the RMI’s flip-flop support for S. 1756 is too little too late, Tony deBrum is looking around for someone to blame instead of him. He also is using his well-known tactic of confusing the issues and the public so he does not have to answer for his mistakes and bad choices on behalf of the people.

Unfortunately, the Marshall Islands Journal has become the public relations arm of the Foreign Ministry under DeBrum, and so the MIJ just gets Tony’s spin on events and lets the confusion and misinformation erode public understanding. Thus, the MIJ quotes Tony as saying he was “surprised” that the Rongelap Senator wanted the bill and the Senate committee report on it to make it clear the Senate was not committed to further funding beyond S. 1756 in response to the RMI Changed Circumstances Petition.

According to deBrum this would “close the door” to further compensation for nuclear testing claims. That shows how lame and weak deBrum is as a Foreign Minister, and how empty his excuses for failing to lead have become.

The truth is that Bikini and Enewetak requested that language to strengthen their appeal in the federal courts, and RMI should have helped the atolls with NCT award legal cases, because if they win their appeal that would have opened the doors to negotiations for further compensation based on awards of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal. Because the Senate did not move S. 1756 and its committee report forward, any benefit from the committee report statement that Congress has no commitment to further response to the CCP was lost, and the chances of Bikini and Enewetak wining have been reduced.

In addition, if the RMI had sat down with 4 atolls early this year to develop a sound policy and strategy on S. 1756, a statement on the approach by Congress to the CCP could easily have been proposed to limit the scope of such a statement of Congressional intent to the scope of the NCT land awards for Bikini, Enewetak, Utirik and Rongelap. Instead of giving up without a fight like the Tomeign administration has done under Tony’s control, the RMI should have worked with the four atolls to support Bikini and Enewetak.

While such a statement is not binding as a matter of law or policy, it might have helped the four atolls in federal court and it would not have closed the door on anything. Just like Tony’s dishonest claim that the RMI did not support the bill because one Senator opposed in, his claim that the committee report language requested by Bikini and Enewetak and supported by the Rongelap Senator would “close the door” on future compensation is simply dishonest.

Any additional U.S. assistance or compensation under the CCP is ex gratia and discretionary, not a legal obligation, in the view of the U.S. Congress, so unless and until Bikini and Enewetak win their cases, there was nothing to lose by supporting S. 1756. For Tony to make his dishonest excuses shows that he uses misinformation and confusion to mislead and lie to the people, and he must think that the issues are too complicated for the people to know he is lying to them. This reveals that while he pretends to be a man of the people he really views himself as superior, and sees the people as not smart enough to realize that he is tricking them to keep himself in power and make Imata Kabua even more rich and greedy.

Also, it is ironic that the deBrum controlled RMI government refused to work with the four atolls and the additional six atolls that could benefit under S. 1756, because the Kabua-deBrum-Tomeing AKA political party platform promised to empower the local governments in the RMI. That promise has been broken by the RMI ruling party’s refusal to support S. 1756, which would improve the quality of life for 10 atolls.

RMI Land Use Law Issues

As we recently reported, in addition to the RMI ruling party’s failed effort to blackmail the U.S. on Kwajalein land use, we recently disclosed reported expressions of concern from sources within the RMI government about a new land use law that reportedly will require the U.S. and RMI to use public funds for the equivalent of impact “lease” payments to landowners adjacent to public land fill projects. The concern of some familiar with this issue is that Tony deBrum reportedly pushed modifications to the laws through that will benefit him as the owner of adjacent land next to public land fill projects, including the Majuro airport improvement project.

Not only does that need to be investigated by the U.S. and RMI, apparently the FAA and Department of the Interior are already aware of this possible problem. If the land use law deBrum reportedly proposed is another scheme to use RMI land law to force costly long-term leases on the U.S. and RMI, that could be a rip off public funding which might better go to education and health care. Clearly, the entire practice of leasing land in the RMI for public projects may need to be re-examined.

Just as the current RMI ruling party tried to blackmail the U.S. into paying more lease fees to Kwajalien’s feudal lords, the attempt by deBrum’s political party bosses to raid the Rongelap Atoll Resettlement Trust Fund, by demanding lease payments for projects requested by the community, is another example of the abuse of feudal powers over land in the RMI. It also demonstrates how the Kabua-deBrum-Tomeing junta is trying to get rich quick before their corrupt regime collapses.


September 4, 2008

Free association and relations between the RMI and U.S. should always be a bipartisan issue in the U.S. Congress, so the RMI can work in a constructive way with both major U.S. political parties to strengthen the alliance and ensure its success for both countries.  That is why having some recognition of free association as a national interest of the USA in the platforms of both parties would have been very important.

U.S. political party conventions are attended by representatives of other nations, who participate in programs to educate and involve the international community in understanding the U.S. two party political process.  In addition, close allies like Israel and Japan or member nations of the European Union often have U.S. based representatives or organizations seek to ensure that the political party platforms recognize shared bilateral or multilateral interests and goals.

Given enactment of the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act by the U.S. Congress and the process of its implementation since the last U.S. national party conventions in 2004, this year was a good opportunity for the RMI and the other FAS to seek recognition of the alliance in the U.S. political party platforms.  Maybe that can be achieved in 2012, now that RMI lobbyist Johnston failed to accomplish it in the 2008 platform of the Democratic Party, even though he is a former Senator in the Democratic Party.

Once again, that was probably because Tony deBrum was at the Kwajalein Kava Club and did not ask Johnston to get the job done in Denver.  Tony was too busy making sure more money for the RMI from the U.S. will go to Imata Kabua, which is the RMI’s top priority with Tony as the de facto head of state.  That is because, as everyone knows, Tony serves at the pleasure of “King Kabua,”  who expects more money if Tony wants to keep his seat in parliament.


The current RMI administration has paid former U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston and his son Hunter a $90,000. bonus, and $1 million to promote RMI interests in the U.S. political process.   Shouldn’t a bonus using RMI funds come after the lobbyist at least gets some results?

According to reports from the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver, the retired Democratic Party leader and his son either failed or didn’t try to have inserted in the 2008 Platform of the Democratic Party any policy statement on free association, Kwajalein, nuclear claims or recognizing issues related to RMI citizens living in the USA.

In contrast, the Republican Party convention held in Minnesota adopted language in its platform, under the Asia & Pacific section of the National Security chapter, that identifies relations with the associated states as a national priority.  It reads:

“We cherish our bonds with our freely associated states in the Pacific Islands.”

Even a simple statement like that can be historical in a U.S. national party platform, which is a road map that can be pursued with a new President or members of Congress from that political party.

Why it even matters:   A background analysis for RMI readers on U.S. national political party platforms

As the people of the RMI, the USA and the world know, the Democratic Party held its convention in Denver last week, and the Republicans are holding their convention this week. The conventions are attended by delegates who represent the members of the party from all over America. Every four years the two major national politics parties hold national conventions for two reasons.

First, the party delegates adopt a platform which is a statement of the principles, policies and goals that each party will follow for four years. The platform is what the party will ask the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to do over the next four years, no matter which party is in power.

The second thing the Republican Party and the Democratic Party delegates do at the national convention is choose their party’s candidate for President and Vice-President. The candidates chosen by the delegates are nominated to be elected in the U.S. national elections to be held on November 4, 2008.

The candidates nominated by the convention become the leaders of their parties, and the candidate who gets elected President will be the leader of his or her political party while serving as President. As President he or she will also be responsible for acting in the best interests of the whole nation, not just his or her political party, and the policies of the USA are defined by the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws, not by the party platforms.

However, the party platforms are very important, because the political parties and the platforms they adopt are what the candidate promised to their political party and the nation. So the platforms can be very influential on Congress and the President. Each political party holds the President from their party and the members of Congress from their party to the promises in the platform, and if those promises are broken without trying very hard to keep them, then the members of the party may not support the President or members of Congress who did not keep those promises in the next convention and next election.

RMI-U.S. relations take another turn for the worse: Tomeing-deBrum government slowly spins out of control, buffeted by failure-after-failure

September 3, 2008

Reports from within RMI government indicate low morale and confusion as failures add up to a record of gross incompetence:

  • RMI Foreign Minister’s ultimatum to U.S. on Kwajalein base rights payments backfired, U.S. stands firm on Compact law provisions, and landowners want the new level of payments held in the escrow account, even though deBrum called increased payments approved by Congress an “insult.”
  • Minister Tony deBrum’s bungled attempt to impose its ambassadorial appointment on U.S. backfired, leaving embassy top post unmanned at critical moment in bilateral relations.
  • Tony’s incompetent handling of potential $100 million nuclear claims legislation in U.S. Congress (S. 1756) was followed by dishonest explanation to the RMI parliament, and his sloppy attempt to correct his mistake after 9 months of do-nothing attitude, also backfires after deBrum disrespectfully taunts Congress with weak endorsement of bill, seen by all as too little too late.
  • Desperate deBrum attempt to make OTEC alternative energy project for Kwajalein a condition for Kwajalein land use agreement backfires, because OTEC requires private investment that may or may not happen, making U.S. agreement to buy power from OTEC project virtually irrelevant to Kwajalein land use issue.

Now we have reports from sources in RMI government that deBrum pushed new land use law through RMI parliament, reportedly giving adjacent landowners property right over land fill for public works projects and requiring additional compensation. Details are still sketchy, but apparently the FAA and Department of Interior have informed RMI that U.S. will not release funds for public works projects under lease terms that are a rip off, including the much needed FAA project to improve the Majuro international airport.

Apparently the U.S. finally has figured out that land lease system in RMI for public works projects is a rip off of the RMI treasury and the U.S. Treasury. There are even reports that deBrum or someone acting on his behalf may own land adjacent to the airport expansion project site.

Like the Kwajalein land use lease that makes the feudal lords the wealthiest men throughout the entire Micronesian region, and also like the attempt by Imata Kabua and his foreign partners to invade Rongelap resettlement trust fund to pay the feudal lords for use of Rongelap land to benefit the community, the new land fill lease rights law reportedly appears that it may be part of a scheme to use public projects on public lands as a “cash cow” to be milked in order to make the richest men in the RMI even more wealthy.

The U.S. may finally be realizing that the feudal lords under Marshallese do not take care of the “commoners” in a fair way as traditionally required under Marshallese custom, and keep most of the wealth concentrated in the ruling class.

In addition, sources in the RMI government indicate that the U.S. has told the RMI that the recent law to restore the powers of the Kwajalein Atoll local development entity known as KADA does not mean the U.S. will deal with that entity on Kwajalein funding and base rights agreement implementation. The U.S. instead intends to deal with the RMI, and views KADA as the surrogate of the feudal lords who have abused the commoners in the past.

An in depth report on the deBrum role in these matters will appear at this site soon. The failures in RMI policy toward the U.S. under deBrum are exposing the flaws in U.S. and RMI practices deBrum seeks to exploit, and that require reform if free association is to be sustained as a successful alliance.