From an email received from a fellow Sea Wolf:
Another lesson learned the hard way! Always be careful what you ask for, you
just may get it!
One of the many headaches that George W. Bush inherited from his predecessor
was the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. In the waning years of the Clinton
administration, protesters demanded that the U.S. Navy abandon bombing and
naval gun fire exercises that had taken place on the largely uninhabited
island for nearly seventy years. It became a leftist cause. Liberal icons
bumped into one another to fly to Puerto Rico, boat over to the island,
trespass (but never on a day that there was an exercise scheduled) and get
arrested for the benefit of the New York Times or Newsweek. They included
the Reverend Al Sharpton, Mrs. Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, Robert F.
Kennedy,Jr., Edward Olomos, Michael Moore and Ramsey Clark, just to name a
few. Hillary Clinton, then running for the U.S. Senate in New York,
chastised the U.S. Navy for not bowing to the “will of the citizens of
Puerto Rico”, until her husband, a week before the election, issued an
executive order to phase out the facility by 2003, despite pleas from his
own Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations.
In 2002, the bombing exercises were transferred to an Air Force bombing
range in central Florida, not far from the Jacksonville and Pensacola Naval
Air Stations. In January, many of the protesters were back in Puerto Rico,
celebrating the final bombing exercise on Vieques and waved Puerto Rican
flags and placards that read “U.S. Navy, get out of Puerto Rico.”
On February 21, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the U.S.
Navy will close the Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station in Puerto Rico in
2004, eliminating 1200 civilian jobs as well as 700 military positions.
This naval facility is estimated to put nearly $300 million annually into
the local economy. The next day a stunned Governor Sila Calderon, held a
news conference in San Juan, protesting the base closure as a serious blow
to Commonwealth’s fragile economy. The governor stated that “The people of
Puerto Rico don’t now or never did have an interest in closing the Vieques
bombing range or the Roosevelt Roads naval base. We are interested in both
staying in Puerto Rico.” When asked, the Commander-in Chief, Western
Atlantic Command, said, “Without Vieques, I see no further need for the
facility at Roosevelt Roads. None.” So, Yanqui go home? Fine. But we’ll take
our dollars with us. Hasta la vista . . . baby!
On February 21, the Secretary of Defense also announced that starting this
year, the U.S. European Command would begin moving most if not all of its
active combat and support units from bases in Germany to others being
established in Poland, The Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey to “better
position them for rapid deployment to likely hot spots in those parts of the
world”. Immediately the business and government leaders in the German states
of Hesse, Rhineland and Wurttemburg, protested the loss of nearly $6 billion
in revenue each year from the bases and manpower to be displaced. A
spokesman for the Foreign Ministry speculated that the move may be “what the
Americans call ‘payback’ for the actions of this movernment in opposing
military action in Iraq.” Whatever. Does anyone know the German translation
for “Hasta la vista . . . baby?”
Oh ain’t it nice to see a government with guts (and a good memory)