adjective / pa . cif . ic
a: tending to lesson conflict: conciliatory
b: rejecting the use of force as an instrument of policy
a: having a soothing appearance or effect
b: mild of temper
capitalized: of, relating to, bordering on, or situated near the Pacific Ocean
noun / rim . pac
a: tending to increase conflict: not conciliatory
b: using force as an instrument of policy
a: having a destructive, demeaning, demoralizing appearance or effect
b: violent in temper
capitalized: of, relating to, or in reference to the Rim of the Pacific exercise
a: in 2018, war games involving 26 nations, 25,000 personnel, 18 countries, 47 ships, 5 submarines, and more than 200 aircraft
b: war games bringing gunnery, live-fire events, missile shots, and naval strikes to Hawaiian lands and waters
c: war games said to “increase cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans” (U.S. Navy)
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Dear Reader (whoever, wherever, and whenever you may be),
I hope you will forgive the absence of a formal introduction. My name, face, and credentials do not matter as much as the fact that I, like you, have come to this letter for a reason. If you’ve stumbled upon these words, I’m going to assume it’s because of our shared concern about RIMPAC. Or, perhaps, it’s even because you support these biennial war games and therefore seek to counter my arguments. Either way, you are here (or I should say, we are here) and I’d rather spend the short amount time we have together to send an invitation to you, an invitation to stand at the rim of something revolutionary:
Real Safety. Real Security. Real Peace. Real Pacific-ness.
RIMPAC 2018 is here and it is imperative that we focus on what that means:
- It means that representatives from 26 nations will bring their ships, their weapons, and their intentions to “play” war in and around our islands.
- It means that Hawaiʻi’s lands and waters will be used (once again) as targets.
- It means that the health of Hawaiʻi’s residents (including our winged, hoofed, finned, and leafed relatives) is at risk.
- It means that thousands of soldiers will come ashore with “needs” and “demands” that turn adults and children into victims of sex trafficking.
- It means penetration.
- It means abuse in every possible way.
- It means the continued marginalization of indigenous peoples’ concerns as lands are desecrated and as conversations of the sacred are once again ignored, or worse, ridiculed.
- It means the continued prioritization of colonial agendas.
- It means more problematic military rhetoric: “It’s for the good of mankind.”
- It means attempts to disguise what is ultimately a violent, dehumanizing, and destructive exercise with themes like this year’s “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”
- It means the militarization of Hawaiʻi and the larger Pacific.
RIMPAC 2018 is here and it is therefore essential that we act upon what that means:
- It means we must resist.
- It means we must hope for change, as radical as that hope may be.
- It means we must be daring enough to stand at the rim of something revolutionary: an end to the bombing, an end to militarism, and an end to the use and abuse of our lands, our waters, and our bodies.
- It means we must call our representatives, write to our government officials, sign petitions, and stand for a halt to destruction.
- It means we must care.
- It means we must insist and be heard.
- It means we must compose songs and poetry, choreograph new histories, and continue to create love (in spite of hate).
- It means we must not let another generation believe that the presence of every tank, chopper, or war ship is “normal”.
- It means we must put an end to the sound, feel, and fear of bombs: literal and cultural.
In order to stand at the rim of something revolutionary, my dear reader, we must admit that there is nothing “pacific” about the Rim of the Pacific exercise, that peace cannot be born of destruction, that practicing “war” only brings war, that we cannot “lessen” conflict while giving it a space to thrive. In order to stand at the rim of something revolutionary, we must be revolutionary:
Revolutionary in thought. Revolutionary in action. Revolutionary in our conviction. Revolutionary in our belief that change will come.
We, each and every single one of us—regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnic make-up, level of education, economic status, country of residence, or religious belief—come from the earth. The earth is our common inheritance and therefore our common responsibility. The unfortunate reality, however, is that while we are “fully dependent on living systems,… much of humanity has disengaged from the natural world and is participating in its destruction, which is also a self-destruction” (Canty, 2018, p. 53). Therefore, RIMPAC (and every other damaging and destructive exercise) cannot claim to defend life, or to act for our safety or security, while simultaneously promoting war, while destroying lands, while polluting waters, and while playing at the rim of death.
In the end, the ability to shoot a gun or to aim and fire a missile will not matter if we have completely obliterated everything we need to survive. In the end, the egos of our politicians and so-called “leaders” who lean on military prowess like support staffs will fall and crash anyway. Ego cannot feed and fame cannot nourish. And no amount of large ships, or choppers, or tanks, or submarines will be able to reverse the impacts of too many bombs, too many shots, too many pollutants, too many chemicals, and too many deaths (of bodies birthed, hatched, planted, and created).
In order to stand at the rim of something revolutionary—at the rim of real safety, real security, real peace, and real pacific-ness—we must dream of a better world and we must move towards a better world. We must be willing to go beyond the edge, into the thick of change. We must continue to inform ourselves, we must challenge and critique structures of power, we must stand to protect our earth, we must lower our impact on our environments, we must take care of ourselves and of one another. We must put an end to violence: violence against the earth and violence against ourselves. And we must work for justice: environmental justice, cultural justice, and social justice.
We must end RIMPAC!
When it ends, we will stand at the rim, with our feet firmly planted at the edge of a truly pacific Pacific, ready to leap in.
Come with me.
Canty, J. (2018) I am a body on the body of the earth. In Oppression and the Body:
Roots, Resistance, and Resolutions. C. Caldwell & L. Leighton (eds.) Berkley: North Atlantic Books, 53-63.
U.S Navy. (2018) U.S. Navy Announces 26th Rim of the Pacific Exercise.