Posts Tagged ‘Felix P. Camacho’

Do you know under what rules USA military troops abide when they go overseas and interact with locals? It’s in the Status Force Agreements.

I don’t know if you have been following this, but there has been quiet a bit of ongoing diplomacy and negotiation over USAn agreements with other nations for military installations.

A case in point is the Marine Corps Airbase in Okinawa. In 2006 an agreement was made between the US and Japan to move a portion of US troops, numbering 8000, from Japan to Guam. Since the election of Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, that agreement is coming under scrutiny. Part of the agreement was to move US troops stationed at Futenma to Kadena Air Base. (Both bases are in Okinawa.) Japan is rethinking whether they want the also want the airbase removed and are negotiating for the idea that the Futenma troops will be completely removed to Guam.

Local sentiment in Okinawa is growing over this dispute. Part of the mix is the Japan- US Status of Forces Agreement. The recent incident of an alleged hit and run accident by an Army sergeant has brought the issue to the front. The man has been detained by the US military, to be handed over to Japanese authorities upon indictment. However, local officials are calling for him to be handed over now.

Air force bases are not easy to move. While in Guam recently, Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa to Guam, met with Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho. Camacho said he was confident the stand-off between Washington and Tokyo would be resolved. However, during their meeting Camacho stated that the island did not have the capacity to provide a new home for the Futenma airbase as well.

There are other concerns. As a territory of the US, Guam has representatives in the US House. However, those representatives are unable to vote. This places them in a similar position to Washington DC, and constitutes taxation without representation. The have legitimate concerns over the additional damage that dredging to expand the current military facilities would cause to coral reefs and what is left of their fishing industry. Their economy depends on the US military and tourism, mostly from Japan. Unemployment of the native population, poor structure and educational deficits are all locked into the system.

Upon that textural ground then, walks Ellen Tauscher, until recently, my District’s elected member of the US House of Representatives. She was appointed to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, by Barack Obama and some ways is very like Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom she supported in the presidential election primary.

Last week she and her team concluded an agreement with officials in Poland to install a missile defense system there. While it remains to be ratified by the Polish government it is likely that it will. This will allow certain commitments, agreed to under the Bush presidency to be met.

Alluded to as being a reduced plan that will mollify Russian concerns, of particular interest to the Polish government was the nature of the Status Force Agreement. As the CS Monitor reports, Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski said:

“It was virtually the most important provision that we wanted to obtain. The American side expected us to drop this claim, but finally, we’ve established that in every case, the Polish justice system will be given the priority of jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. troops on Polish soil,” Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski told the Rzeczpospolita daily. “However, on the US government’s special request and in extraordinary circumstances, we may decide not to use this power,” he added.

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