Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 17:56:47 -0600 (CST)
From: "C. G. Estabrook"
The following is a translation of last night's speech by the Prime Minister of Japan, explaining why the Japanese air force bombed military bases and command-and-control installations in the American Southwest:
"My fellow citizens: Today our armed forces joined our allies in the Pacific Rim Organization for National Treaty Observance in air strikes against American forces responsible for the brutality in New Mexico. We have acted with resolve for several reasons. We act to protect thousands of innocent people in New Mexico from a mounting military offensive by the `border patrol.' We act to defuse a powder keg at the heart of North America that has exploded twice before in the last century and a half with catastrophic results, when the US invaded Mexico in 1846 and 1916. We act to stand united with our allies for peace. By acting now, we are upholding our values, protecting our interests, and advancing the cause of peace. Tonight I want to speak with you about the tragedy in New Mexico and why it matters to Japan that we work with our allies to end it.
First, let me explain what it is we are responding to. New Mexico is a state of the United States, in the middle of southwestern North America, about 1500 miles west of Cuba -- that's less than the distance from Hokkaido to Okinawa -- and only about 1000 miles north of Mexico City. Its people are mostly ethnic Latino and mostly Catholic.
In recent years America's leader, Bill Clinton, the same leader who started the wars in Iraq and Colombia and attacked Sudan and Afghanistan in the last decade, increased the authority of the federal secret police, the `INS'; Mexicans are denied their right to speak their language, run their schools, shape their daily lives. For years, Latinos struggled peacefully to get their rights back. When President Clinton sent his troops and police to crush them, the struggle grew violent.
The American leaders refuse even to discuss key elements of the Japanese peace proposal. America has stationed Marines along the border in preparation for a major offensive. We've seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt and sprayed with bullets; Mexican men dragged from their families, fathers and sons together lined up and shot in cold blood. This is not war in the traditional sense. It is an attack by armored vehicles and high-tech weapons on a largely defenseless people whose leaders speak only of peace.
Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative. It is also important to Japan's national interests. Take a look at the map. New Mexico is a small place, but it sits on a major fault line between North America, Latin America, and the Pacific, at the meeting place of Catholicism and both the liberal and evangelical branches of Protestantism. To the South are our allies, Peru (whose president is of Japanese descent) and Venezuela (which produces oil); to the north our increasingly important trading partner, Canada. And all around New Mexico there are other states struggling with their own economic and political challenges, states that could be overwhelmed by a large new wave of refugees from New Mexico -- California, Texas, Arizona. All the ingredients for a major war are there: Ancient grievances, struggling democracies, and in the center of it all, a president in America of highly questionable personal character who has done nothing since the Cold War ended but start new wars and pour gasoline on the flames of ethnic and religious division.
In neighboring Guatemala President Clinton recently acknowledged that American support for torture and murder cost 200,000 lives. Earlier, World War II engulfed the Pacific. In both wars, the world was slow to recognize the dangers, and Japan held back from entering these conflicts. Just imagine if leaders back then had acted wisely and early enough. How many lives could have been saved? How many Japanese would not have had to die?
We learned some of the same lessons in Nicaragua and El Salvador a decade ago. The world did not act early enough to stop those wars, either. And let's not forget what happened: Innocent people herded into concentration camps; children gunned down by snipers on their way to school; soccer fields and parks turned into cemeteries; a quarter of a million people killed not because of anything they had done but because of who they were. Two million Central Americans became refugees.
This was genocide in the heart of the Americas, not in 1945 but in 1985, not in some grainy newsreel from our parents' and grandparents' time, but in our own time, testing our humanity and our resolve.
At the time, many people believed nothing could be done to end the bloodshed in Central America, They said, `Well, that's just the way those people in the Americas are.' But when we and our allies in the UN joined with courageous Central Americans to stand up to the aggressors, we helped end the wars. We learned that in the Americas inaction in the face of brutality simply invites more brutality, but firmness can stop armies and save lives. We must apply that lesson in New Mexico, before what happened in Central America happens there too.
Today we and our PRONTO allies agreed to do what we must do to restore the peace. Our mission is clear: to demonstrate the seriousness of PRONTO's purpose so that the American leaders understand the imperative of reversing course; to deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in New Mexico; and if necessary, to seriously damage the American military's capacity to harm the people of New Mexico. In short, if President Clinton will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war.
Now, I want to be clear with you, there are risks in this military action -- risk to our pilots and the people on the ground. America's air defenses are strong. It could decide to intensify its assault on New Mexico or to seek to harm us or our allies elsewhere. If it does, we will deliver a forceful response. Hopefully Mr. Clinton will realize his present course is self-destructive and unsustainable.
If he decides to accept our peace proposal and demilitarize New Mexico, PRONTO has agreed to help to implement it with a peacekeeping force. If PRONTO is invited to do so, our troops should take part in that mission to keep the peace. But I do not intend to put our troops in New Mexico to fight a war.
Do our interests in New Mexico justify the dangers to our armed forces? I thought long and hard about that question. I am convinced that the dangers of acting are far outweighed by the dangers of not acting -- dangers to defenseless people and to our national interests. If we and our allies were to allow this war to continue with no response, President Clinton would read our hesitation as a license to kill. There would be many more massacres -- tens of thousands more refugees, more victims crying out for revenge. Right now our firmness is the only hope the people of New Mexico have to be able to live in their own country without having to fear for their own lives.
Imagine what would happen if we and our allies decided just to look the other way as these people were massacred on PRONTO's doorstep. That would discredit PRONTO, the cornerstone on which our Pacific security rests.
We must also remember that this is a conflict with no natural national boundaries. Let me ask you to look again at a map. The arrows show the movement of refugees -- north, east, and west. Already this movement is threatening the unstable democracy in Texas, which has its own Mexican minority and an Indian minority. Already American forces have made forays into Mexico, from which New Mexicans have drawn support. Mexico has a Mayan minority. Let a fire burn here in this area, and the flames will spread. Eventually key Japanese allies could be drawn into a wider conflict, which we would be forced to confront later only at far greater risk and greater cost.
I have a responsibility as Prime Minister to deal with problems such as this before they do permanent harm to out national interests. Japan has a responsibility to stand with our allies when they are trying to save innocent lives and preserve peace, freedom, and stability in North America. That is what we are doing in New Mexico. If we have learned anything form the century drawing to a close, it is that if Japan is going to be prosperous and secure we need a North America that is prosperous, secure, united, and free. We need a North America that is coming together, not falling apart, a North America that shares our values and shares the burdens of leadership. That is the foundation on which the security or our children will depend. That is why I have supported NAFTA and the economic unification of North America.
Now, what are the challenges to that vision of a peaceful, secure, united, stable North America? The challenge of strengthening a three-way partnership with the EU, that despite our disagreements is a constructive partner in the work of building peace. The challenge of resolving the tension between Latin and indigenous peoples, and building bridges with the Christian world. And finally the challenge of ending instability in the United States so that these bitter ethnic problems are resolved by the force of argument, not the force of arms, so that future generations of Japanese do not have to cross the Pacific to fight another terrible war. It is this challenge that we and our allies are facing in New Mexico. That is why we have acted now, because we care about saving innocent lives, because we have an interest in avoiding an even crueler and costlier war, and because our children need and deserve a peaceful, stable, free North America.
Our thoughts and prayers tonight must be with the men and women of our armed forces who are undertaking this mission for the sake of our values and our children's future. May God bless them, and may God bless Japan."