Peace Now (Spring/Summer 1994)

Special Military Conversion Issue (Vol.4, No.4/Vol.5, No.1: Spring/Summer 1994)









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1   Bringing it All Back Home

     by Congressman Ronald V. Dellums

1   Opportunity for Environmental Justice?
     by Carl Anthony

3   Taking Back Fort Lawton
     by Bernie Whitebear

7   The Indigenous Perspective on Feminism, Wlilitarism and the Environment
     by Winona LaDuke

8   Challenging U.S. Militarism in Hawaii and Okinawa
     by Roy Takumi

10 Trials of Okinawa: A Feminist Perspective
     by Suzuyo Takazato

11 Los Alamos Lab: Toxic Johannesburg of New Mexico
     by Juan Montes

12 Labs Kill
     by Marylia Kelley

13 A Vision for Livermore Lab
     by Marylia Kelley and Greg Mello

14 Reintegrating Our Communities
     by Martha Matsuoka

18 Fighting for Community Needs Through Restoration Advisory Boards
     by Jo Ann Wilkerson

21 Labor: Call to Action

22 Conversion Up Close: Labor's Agenda for Change
     by Marc Baldwin

24 Dismantling the Cold War Economy
     by Ann Markusen and Joel Yudken

31 Expanding the Rights of the Poor
     by Lauren Hallinan

37 The Wall Comes Down: Konversion in Germany
     by Birgit Neuer

45 Military Conversion Resources

Bringing It All Back Home

By U.S. Representative Ronald V. Dellums

In the summer of 1993, the President and Congress accepted the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommendation to close Alameda Naval Air Station and the Alameda Naval Aviation Depot, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Naval Station Treasure Island and the Oakland Naval Hospital among other major and minor military facilities in the Bay Area. Prior decisions had already closed Hamilton Air Field and Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard.

The challenges that these closures presented to the Bay Area community were immediate and complex. The questions to be answered were many: To what use would the land now be put? What decision-making process would be established to determine the answer to that question? What could be done to provide employment for civilian personnel and assistance to the communities adversely affected by the closure decisions? What environmental problems existed at the facilities and how would they be cleaned up?

The stakes were rightly perceived in the community to be quite high, a fact made more urgent by examples of inability or delay in dealing effectively with the effects of the earlier closure decisions. These included the possibility of significant unemployment, possible catastrophic economic losses in the Bay Area, and the potential waste of valuable land and real estate resources.

A Model for the Nation

For years, I have argued that East Bay civic leaders had an obligation to plan for the possibility that some or all of our military installations might be determined to be excess and then slated for closure. In 1992, a year before the BRAC 1993 process that recommended the most recent closures. I secured a provision in the FY 1993 Defense Authorization bill that established a four- community pilot conversion program. This program supports the conversion planning processes in four communities potentially affected by base closures, defense industrial downsizing or national laboratory closure or realignment. The information developed from these four experiences will be available to these communities, as well as collected into a usable resource for other communities which might also face these challenges.

While BRAC '93 was undertaking its assessments, the Defense Department determined that the East Bay would become one of the four pilot programs. I had hoped that we would have our community designated as one of the pilots when I conceived of the legislation, not because of any certainty that we would face an actual closure decision but because of my long standing view that prudent leadership required such planning. The circumstance that resulted in our community receiving planning money in advance of actually having to deal with an actual closure was extremely fortunate, as it allowed us to get underway prior to the closure announcement.

Who, What, When, Where, and Why

Having established the basis and resources for such a process, we needed then to answer: who should participate, what is the process and goal, when do we need to reach decision, where will the process take us and why are we proceeding?

The first question—who should participate?—provides the real key to understanding what is at stake and how we can succeed. Solving it provides confidence that the four other questions will be adequately resolved because all of the questions will be addressed and answered.

In our view it is critically important that all elements of the community fully participate in planning for what purposes these facilities will be used in the future. It is especially important to ensure that many who are traditionally outside of such processes—minority groups and the poor—be brought into the center and that the whole range of community interests be reflected—including organized labor, the base workers, business groups, environmentalists, civic leaders, etc.

A common-sense view of the impact of closure alone shows why this is so important. Communities of color, especially, face significant adverse impacts from these decisions. The bases affected have long provided significant opportunities for meaningful and well-paid jobs-both blue collar and white collar—for these communities, in part because of aggressive programs that we pursued to ensure equal employment opportunities at federal facilities. The loss of these jobs threatens to further tear the already fragile economic fabric of these communities.

The resources that these employment opportunities generate in the community are additionally significant, helping to support local businesses.
As a result, we have established a planning process that includes these communities in the vital effort of conversion. Not only does this apply with respect to the types of end-uses to which the land might be used—a vitally important question to the employment, economic and quality-of-life concerns of traditionally disenfranchised communities. But it also applies to contracts for planning, analysis, land clearance, environmental remediation or any of the other myriad problems associated with a successful conversion effort, ensuring the full and effective participation of communities traditionally absent or under-represented in such projects.

Whatever the final outcome of the decision-making process that culminates from the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, the land reuse authorities and other active agents, it is clear that it will be better made by having vigorous participation from communities of color.

Such participation will help to ensure that the employment needs of the community are fully considered. It will help to ensure that in these communities—long-afflicted as dumping grounds for environmental hazards—planning will proceed in a manner that fully takes into account the health and safety of these communities.

Although the closure decisions represent the possibility of crisis in our community, they also represent great opportunity. We must not flinch from the opportunity offered by the end of the Cold War to cut military spending and pursue social investment. My longstanding commitment to an aggressive program of economic conversion now has an opportunity to be tested at home—in a manner that can benefit both the East Bay in its immediate needs and the nation as a whole, by way of learning, guidance and experience. When coupled with a commitment to ensure social equity, full participation and the acquisition of a meaningful stake in the outcome, this process represents an opportunity to remake our communities into a better place for our children and their children.

For information write: East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, 530 Water Street, 5th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607. Tel. (510) 834- 6928; Fax (510) 834 8913.

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An Indigenous Perspective on Feminism, Militarism, and the Environment

By Winona LaDuke 

Indigenous women understand that our struggle for autonomy is related to the total need for structural change in this society. We realize that indigenous people in industrial society have always been and will always be in a relationship of war, because industrial society has declared war on indigenous peoples, on land based peoples.

To look within a bigger context, when I say indigenous peoples, I'm not only talking about Indians. All people come from land-based cultures. Some have been colonized longer than I have, which means they have got more work to do.

According to an article by Jason Clay in Cultural Survival, there are 5,000 indigenous nations in the world today, and there are one hundred and seventy-one states. Indigenous nations have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. They share common territory, common language, common history, common culture, and a common government or political organization. That is the definition of nation under international law. Nations exist in theAmericas, in Malaysia, and elsewhere in the world. The Kayapo people in Brazil are a nation; the Penan of Malaysia are a nation; the Palestinians and Kurdish people are nations.  Throughout the world, there are indigenous nations. We have come to accept more commonly that there are only 171 nations and these are states. That is because we are told to accept them by these same powers. These 171 states have, for the most part, been around since World War 11. We need to understand this context.

Most indigenous women understand that our struggle as women is integrally related to the struggle of our nations for control of our land, resources, and destinies. It is difficult for indigenous women to embrace or even relate to the progressive parts of the women's movement. It is not about civil rights for us. It is not about equal access to something. It is about "Get off my neck." From our perspective, that is what it is all about.

Yet industrial society and the military machine continue to devastate our communities. Throughout the Americas, indigenous women are speaking out against militarism. Our people, specifically our men, are being militarized by the American, Guatemalan, and other states. There were 82,000 Indians serving inVietnam from August 1964 to May 1975.

Indians had the highest rate of service for all ethnic groups. It was the same in the Persian Gulf War. I read an article in theLakota Times: five hundred Lakota men were in service in the Persian Gulf . That is a horrendous statistic considering that we are only two percent of the population. Militarism changes how men relate to women, the earth, and their communities. The process of militarizing our men causes a disruption of our order.

I understand very well that militarization has strongly influenced how men relate to women in our society. It is the cause of many problems. As a result, we are talking about hard challenges. We are talking about the fact that the system must totally change if indigenous peoples are to survive. We are talking about the fact that this is a system of conquest. That is the essence of capitalism. That is the essence of colonialism.

And conquest means destruction of peoples, which is integrally related to sexism, to racism, to all the other "isms." It is also intimately related to death, because there is no way that a society based on conquest can survive on this earth.

We've basically run out of room for conquest. There are no more frontiers. The West is an American state of mind. Nobody's going anywhere. There's no place else to go. We have to look at how we can make a systemic change in this society so there's a meaningful change—not only change in the social and political relations between people, between men and women, but also between this society and the consumption of resources.

It is within this context that I believe that indigenous women embrace other social movements, embrace them to the extent that they are interested in systemic change. The women's movement is in a good position to take on structural change. Because there are so many women in this country, the women's movement has the numbers and the potential to engage in real change. I believe that women are able to have more courage in our work and in our struggle than men exhibit. I really think that's true. It's a very difficult struggle. But I myself really don't have anything else to do with the rest of my life. The fact that we are women and we are intimately related to the forces of renewal and life means that we are much closer to an optimism in our understanding of things than are many men in this society.

The war has brought home the concept of Armageddon. Indigenous and land-based societies don't look at this time as a death. They look at it as a time of Earth Renewal, which is a much different understanding and perception of things. I think that women, because we are women, are more in touch with that way of looking at things, which is what gives us the ability to be courageous and be in there for the long struggle.

Winona LaDuke is a journalist, community organizer and president of the Indigenous Women's Network, a continental and Pacific network of native women. Reprinted fromWar After War, City Lights Review 5, Nancy J. Peters, ed. (1992).

Peace Now     |      Vol. 4 No. 4 / Vol. 5 No. 1      |      Spring/Summer 1994

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