Providing leadership and support for a strong and conscientious movement toward global peace and the dismantling of all nuclear weaponry must be Hawaii’s response to the events of this past Saturday morning.
To be clear, I believe in having a strong national defense. I know there are bad people in the world who want to hurt us, and we need to protect ourselves from those threats.
But hosting a vast nuclear arsenal is not the answer. And neither is it necessary for the United States to be the largest exporter of guns, tanks, bombs and military weapons in the world, supplying our enemies as well as our friends.
My father was a career Navy man and I grew up on military bases. Members of my family currently serve in the military, and I am proud and thankful for their service. But our national conversation needs to shift from investing in guns, bullets and missiles toward investing in diplomacy, human rights and the alleviation of poverty.
The ballistic missile attack that did not happen should be our call to action. Knowing we are personally vulnerable to the narcissistic and delusional games played by our obviously unstable so-called world leaders is more than sufficient justification to at least try to take away their ballistic nuclear missiles.
Hawaii can lead the world conversation by starting here at home with an honest and open discussion about the large military presence in our islands and its impact on the environment, on our economy, and on our core value systems.
As the military presence in Hawaii grows, so does our attraction as a target. When the testing and tracking of missiles transitions into the establishment of a launching site for missiles, our risk factor jumps exponentially.
This is our 6,000-pound gorilla in the room, and this is a conversation that must occur.
As Ikaika Hussey tweeted on the day the missiles were not launched, “The world should remember that we’re not a target because of our unique history or cultures, but because of the way that the US has turned our islands into the command center for the Pacific fleet. Militarism is reducing, not enhancing, our security.”
Hawaii must seize this moment.
The launching of the ballistic missile that never happened can, bizarrely enough, be the catalyst needed to propel our state forward as a leader in the effort to bring sanity and peace to the world.
Both local and global conversations must occur, and Hawaii can play a unique and important role in hosting and convening those discussions. If we are serious about pulling our planet back from the edge we only recently had a taste of, we must embrace an active and leadership role toward peace.
Hawaii’s leaders at all levels must immediately and loudly proclaim their resolute support for a diplomatic resolution to the situation in North Korea. Our voices in Hawaii must unite with a message to all who hold the levers of global power to “stand down,” cease their military bluster and posturing, and come to the table of diplomacy and reason.
Hawaii as a “Geneva of the Pacific” is not a new idea, and it is time now to breathe fresh life into it.
The University of Hawaii Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution was established in 1986. This body has the potential to convene and host both local and global conversations to promote peace and the ultimate dismantling of nuclear weapons throughout the world.
This really is the only answer to the madness that engulfed us this past Saturday morning.
We can demand the firing, transfer, or forced retirement of all responsible for the debacle that occurred that day, and we should, for the mismanagement is inexcusable.
We can redesign the early warning systems and policies, and we should, as they were clearly inadequate.
We can blast President Trump for his irresponsible actions and comments that have exacerbated and unnecessarily inflamed the tension between North Korea and the United States, and yes, we absolutely should, as his conduct is also inexcusable.
But at the end of the day, we must work toward ending the constant escalation of conflict in the world, and certainly we must strive to rid the planet of nuclear weapons.
While it might sound pollyanna-ish to some, think about it for a moment. What else are we going to do? There are not enough storm drains in Hawaii to hold all of us.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.