Guam war reparations is NOT liberal boondoggle

Guam war reparations is NOT liberal boondoggle

The US House of Representatives today is debating a Democrat-sponsored bill to pay reparations to the people of the Pacific island of Guam for the crimes committed against during World War II by the Japanese Army. (Here’s the text of H.R. 1595). Yes, the American taxpayer is paying reparations for the crimes of the Imperial Japanese army. But perhaps this isn’t the liberal boondoggle some conservatives are making it out to be.

Let’s get one thing straight: The United States has already paid a heavy debt in the blood of every American soldier who was wounded or killed liberating the island from Japanese occupation.

Eric at Red State lists the name of every American fatality and the list runs on for hundreds of names. In fact, the Guam campaign claimed 7,800 casualties, of whom 2,124 died between July 21 and August 10, 1944.

It should be noted that one commenter at Red State says this bill is the result of the Guam War Claims Review Commission to investigate whether residents of Guam were shortchanged in general reparations payments made by the US to invaded protectorates and territories during WWII and it is only making up for the shortfall some six decades later. I’m still not sure that this justifies the payment of the reparations.

I will also note that the bill itself characterizes it as a “recognition of the suffering and loyalty” of the residents of Guam who were and are US citizens. This reopens the debate that arose after 9/11 whether the US taxpayer should pay reparations for the evil inflicted by foreign powers or groups upon US citizens. I think that sometimes such payments are appropriate, although I would rather see Japan pushed to pay the claims rather since that country is responsible for the damage it did to Guam.

While many on the right-side of the blogosphere are characterizing this as another expression of left-wing, blame-us, America-last, self-hatred, I’m not so sure. The people of Guam suffered intensely during 32 months of occupation by the Japanese Empire and especially so because they were and are American citizens. And if you read the commission’s report, you’ll see that other Pacific Islanders—such as those in the Philippines, Micronesia, the Aleutians and Pribilofs, Wake Island, etc.—received much more comprehensive compensation for their suffering and more comprehensive aid for rebuilding after the war.

Conservatives are mistaken if they think this is a battle worth fighting. It is not.

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  • If the US pays reparations in this instance, under what principle could we then deny them to descendants of slaves?

  • While I don’t know the specifics of this payment – though it does strike me as a bit tacky this late in the game – would it only be for those alive at the time (or their estates, families, etc.)?  Regardless, what REALLY strikes me when I read about reparation proposals (of all sorts)is that there NEVER seems to be a rising up for payment in similar situations for American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. 

    So – they deserve it because they suffered terribly for being Americans.  OK – then how about the Robert Stethem.  Do you know the name?  That would be the American Sailor who was beaten to death by the Radical Islamic terrorists during a hijacking.  His body was dumped on the tarmac.  He was killed not only for being an American but for being a sailor.  He didn’t have a passport – only a military ID card.  I’m sure his family got what every other family gets when their loved one is killed in the line of duty – $50,000 IF you paid into the Life Insurance fund, a burial, an honor guard and a flag.

    There are many, many more like that – but they aren’t eligable for this kind of raparation.  In fact, how about the soldiers, marines and sailors who fought, were wounded and/or died freeing Guam.  Any extra payment because they were American who freed them?

    Not arguing that they may have been short changed at the time – am arguing not exactly sure why we paid them to begin with.  Helped them rebuild – you bet ya.  Fought to free them – did that.  But pay them for being Americans?  Please!

  • When a soldier takes his oath he knows that he could be called to give his life, even off the battlefield as US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Stethem did. That’s part of the bargain.

    The residents of Guam were enslaved and brutalized by the Japanese army. Many women were raped. Many people were tortured.

    After the war, the US government paid to rebuild the island communities and to help the people recover from the war. Calling it reparations is to a misnomer since reparations—by defintion—must come from the perpetrator. You might as well call federal disaster assistance reparations.

    If you click through to the legislation, it lists all those eligible for payments, namely either those who were alive at that time and suffered one of a specific list of grievances or their immediate survivors—spouse, child, parent.

    These people aren’t being paid to be Americans. They’re being given the assistance of a grateful nation in recognition of their losses during a time of war.

    incidentally, the first comment’s slavery comparison is inapt on the surface since these are in fact no actually reparations as I said above.

  • I will also note that the bill itself characterizes it as a “recognition of the suffering and loyalty” of the residents of Guam who were and are US citizens.

    The people of Guam suffered intensely during 32 months of occupation by the Japanese Empire and especially so because they were and are American citizens.

    Dom – as I said in my first comments – having the government help the people get on their feet and rebuilding is one thing and I’m for it. It was done.  That is NOT done typically by handing money to a person for a payment but rather to help them do particular activities or to rebuild infrastructure.

    Additionally, the title talks about RAPARATIONS – I did assume the common definition of the word.  The two quotes at the top of this comment further my definition assumption.  “Recognition of the suffering of the residents of Guam” …  “who were and are American citizens.”

    And you are correct – soldiers and sailors and airman and Marines sign up and know exactly that they are in the cross hairs – and do it anyway to protect our freedom.  The people in Guam just happend to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (and the aggression and expansionism of Japan was in the news and was NOT a big surprise in their behavior – China had already been invaded). 

    So – we should pay them reparations 60+ years later (after the Federal assistance) for being in the wrong place at the wrong time BUT because the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines volunteer to do the hard lifting – to keep us safe and free – they shouldn’t get anything.  Sort of doesn’t make sense.

    I’m not advocating reparations for the military.  I wouldn’t have taken it when I was in and neither would most of my friends.  I do think that the people of this country owe the families of the injured, maimed and killed military folks deserve more than what they get (Walter Reed with mold on the walls, VA hospitals, and no pension if they die before they retire – commisary and medical benefits until remarriage or 18/21 years of age for the children – if they live close to a military base to be able to use them.)  I would go with equivalant treatment and benefits of members of Congress.

    However – I am opposed to this bill as raparation or as somehow they got short changed in the Federal rebuilding 60+ years ago. 

    As Americans – we have amazing freedom and properity (though it’s not perfect – it’s not heaven – there is evil here) but with that – comes the fact that lots of people want to come in and a few are just jealous and try to kill us – just because.  Don’t want the risk – change citizenship – get another passport.

  • Can you imagine the trauma and the loss of the people here during that time? Its nice to criticize from our lofty high chairs and our fancy plasma screen displays, but ignorance should not be used as a tactic for injustice.

    I was born on Guam in 1985, I’m American, I don’t know any other way. but it is disheartening to hear some of these comments about “pork” no one raises a finger over a bridge or dam…or a war… but there is an outcry when you give 25,000 dollars to someone who lost his or her entire family and life in the concentration camps, after helping an American soldier escape from his beheading.

    I’m not Jewish, but think of it in that terms. After the war the UN gave them their own country. The native people of Guam got nothing.

    the rebuild up on the island, was to benefit the influx of further military on island. for at that time, it was mostly the naitve people using buggies and dirt paths…why on earth would they need airfields?

    On another historical note, Guam is the oldest Catholic bastion in the pacific, our Church that has been rebuilt and still stands at the original spot is nearly 400 years old. the island is 95% catholic and everyone speaks English, and we are all Americans. The people here are the most kindest and generous people you can find, it is custom culture, when someone has a party, and you just drop by or discover it, that they offer you food and drink, without question.

    In closing, an article yesterday in our daily paper read ” The island is in mourning over the 10th death of an Island son in Iraq” I call for compassion and Christian understanding, how is it possible that we can question a reward, when we are spending into bankruptcy over a War we are fighting now