This post started as a remark on a weird little news story that I happened across this morning and evolved into something more serious and substantial, raising the issue of whether the Guam Zoning Board is taking the US Military's ban on facilitating human trafficking at all seriously.
One of the things I love about blogging strange goings on in far-flung places is that when you start following their news-feeds you encounter the most bizarre stuff. This morning's special is a zoning proposal in Guam that I know is never, ever, going to come to my neighborhood. From Pacific Magazine: GUAM: Red Light District Plan Still On
Tourism officials and executives from the hotel and restaurant sectors in Guam are moving ahead with plans to rezone the Tumon tourist district and establish a “red light district” that would group all adult entertainment outlets in one area.
Bart Jackson, Guam Hotel and Restaurants Association chairman, said yesterday that the organization is moving ahead with its plan to rid Tumon of adult entertainment businesses that may destroy the island’s image as a family destination.
“Right now, we are moving forward. We have been researching legislation in other jurisdictions like Los Angeles, New York, St. Paul, and Philadelphia, which have all launched this kind of rezoning legislation in their locales,” Jackson said. . . .
The government of Guam is considering the establishment of a red light district to ensure that adult-oriented establishments are not mixed with the predominantly family-oriented establishments catering to the island’s visitors. The establishment of a red light district that would host the island’s massage parlors, strip joints, and other adult entertainment fare was already discussed by a joint task force composed of representatives from the Guam Visitors Bureau, Department of Public Health and Social Services, Guam Police Department, and Department of Revenue and Taxation.
Hmm. Love the justification of comparing this proposal with zoning in large American cities, but based on the superficial details available in the article, this sounds like it has more in common with zoning in San Francisco in the 1870s than with that of twenty-first century NYC.
Guam's problem is not the kind of problems with adult entertainment establishment encountered by big cities. Why might there be some kind of plausible need for this rezoning? Well, I gather the US Military is considering explaining their presence there by a lot. From the Washington Times: Guam seen as pivotal U.S. base
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The U.S. Pacific Command is moving forward with plans to recast the posture of its military forces in the western Pacific and Asia with the new pivot point to be a robust base on the island of Guam.
"Look at a map," said the command's leader, Adm. William J. Fallon, as he flew toward Guam after a weeklong trek through Southeast Asia. He pointed to the relatively short distances from Guam to South Korea; the Taiwan Strait, across which China and Taiwan confront each other; and Southeast Asia, the frontier of terror in Asia.
U.S. officers often talk about the "tyranny of distance" in the Pacific Command's area of operations, which runs from the west coast of North America to the east coast of Africa. Guam, when it is fully operational, will provide a base for land, naval and air forces closer to targets than for forces on the U.S. mainland or Hawaii. Guam was a major air base during the war in Vietnam.
The fly in this ointment is as of January 30th, 2004, "U.S. troops, government civilians and defense contractors worldwide now are expressly forbidden from involvement with people illegally trafficked across borders, most often for illicit sex." From the Navy Times in 2004:
Wolfowitz orders moves to halt human trafficking
By William H. McMichael
Times staff writer
U.S. troops, government civilians and defense contractors worldwide now are expressly forbidden from involvement with people illegally trafficked across borders, most often for illicit sex.
The decree comes in a Jan. 30 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stating that trafficking in persons “will not be facilitated in any way by the activities of our service members, civilian employees, indirect hires or DoD contract personnel.”
Trafficking involves criminal efforts to lure or kidnap people, usually young women, across borders, entrapping them and forcing them into prostitution. It is practiced in many countries, including the United States.
Trafficking in persons “is a violation of human rights; it is cruel and demeaning; it is linked to organized crime; it undermines our peacekeeping efforts; and it is incompatible with military core values,” Wolfowitz said.
The memo, sparked by a national security directive signed by President Bush on Feb. 25, 2003, that mandated a “zero tolerance” for trafficking, was sent to all military service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, combatant commanders and Defense Department inspectors and legal specialists. Pentagon officials confirmed Feb. 12 that it carries the “full weight and authority” of a directive.
There is a much more detailed discussion of the meaning of this policy in Keith J. Allred's article Human Trafficking: Breaking the Military Link.
In another remarkable innovation, on 15 September 2004 the Department of Defense's Joint Service Committee on Military Justice proposed several changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a federal criminal code that applies to active duty military personnel worldwide, at all hours of the day, regardless of their deployment status.23 Under the UCMJ, U.S. military personnel can be tried for military offenses such as disrespect and failure to obey orders, as well as the more traditional criminal offenses.24 Among the proposals was a suggested new criminal offense of "patronizing a prostitute," intended to completely eliminate U.S. forces from the equation of demand for paid sexual services anywhere worldwide. Under the proposed legislation, patronizing a prostitute would become a crime for all military personnel after 1 July 2005.25 The new offense would punish the soldier-customer even if the sex act is consensual and prostitution is legal in the country where the act occurs.26
SO. What, then, is going to happen in Guam if the US Military expands its presence and the proposed Red-Light rezoning takes place? Will US military personnel etc. be strictly forbidden from setting foot there? Will the rules on not facilitating human trafficking be enforced? Or not? How is this going to work?
Perhaps those in charge of making the prohibition on facilitating human trafficking ought to have a little talk with the Guam zoning board before Guam sets up their little Red Light theme park, yes?