Vieques protesters, meet the law of unintended consequences

Puerto Ricans Lament Loss of Vieques Dollars

I’d like to see Al Sharpton, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Edward James Olmos, and the rest of the celebrity-protest crew explain to those Puerto Ricans who depended on that base to put food on the table why silencing the Navy’s guns was a good thing.

Aw, heck, Dewey. Don’t worry about PR. As soon as the Navy is out of there Puerto Ricans will be able to make a mint poaching green sea turtles for the Japanese.

I can’t link to it right now, but the NY Times had an article in the Saturday edition focussing on the uses of the island in the future, each of which seems to be more environmentally and socially destructive than the other.

Sometimes the demonstrators bugged me too, but I can’t believe that the future of the island didn’t come up during the demos. What did they want for it, in general? Can the Navy sell it back to the PR gummint or does it all have to be sold privately? Could wealthy Puerto Ricans or other private parties buy it?

This is the tension between economic growth and environmental responsibility that comes up repeatedly regarding the use of land, and that only a fool doesn’t have the foresight to anticipate. Where I’m from, it’s expressed as “You Can’t Eat The Scenery” – meaning, sure, it’s pretty and all, but if you keep it pristine (don’t build on it, don’t drill on it, don’t log on it, don’t allow the economic development of it), it may feed your soul but it’s not going to feed your family.

I’m not saying environmental responsibility is a bad thing – far from it – but it almost always involves some economic trade off that should be planned for. If the Vieques protesters did not foresee the loss of this revenue and plan accordingly, then they are fools.

If the Navy is no longer conducting live fire operations, are there other compelling reasons for them to maintain a base on the island? Strategic, support, resupply?

Cheaper hookers? Late-night Porn stores?

P.R. should develop the island for high-stakes casino gambling. Bets could be taken on when the next tourist stumbles onto an unexploded round.

Economic problem solved.

I seriously doubt it. The Caribbean isn’t strategic to anything except offshore banks. From a military standpoint, the only real reason to be there was for the live-fire exercises.

Surely, surely, the government of Puerto Rico has a plan in place to mitigate the economic impact of the possible base-closing.

This reminds me very little of how the Philippines “successfully” kicked out the American military from Subic and Clark, which are, of course, basically ghost towns now.

Wasn’t Clark AFB destroyed by a volcano?

I wonder if the closing of the base is really needed or if it is some sort punishment for the people asking not to be bombed any more.

If Clark hadn’t been on the ‘abandon’ list, it would have been rebuilt using the local economy to provide the resources, workers, and supporting infrastructure. Not terribly difficult, in reality, to dig out from even a heavy ash-fall. It just requires a lot of man-hours of willing labor. Labor that would have been paid-for by Unc’a Sam, and which pay would have gone into local residents pockets.

Instead, Clark’s a future archaeological site.


Shit happens.

But sometimes people are able to “eat the scenery.” The scenery attracts tourists.

I disagree. If the consequences were predictable and they did not plan accordingly, then they acted foolishly. Using your logic, it was foolish to fire bomb there because the navy should have foreseen that the citizens would rebel, complain and successfully end the fire bombing.

The question is not whether the base “needs” to be closed but rather whether there’s any reason to keep it open. Even with all the pork in government, and the military in particular, we taxpayers are still supposed to be getting at least some benefit from our bases – benefit other than propping up the local economy, that is.

If the Navy can’t use the base for its intended use, why on earth would they keep it open? To me, it’s like telling a guy he can’t sell hotdogs on the street because he doesn’t have a business license, and then wondering whether he’s “punishing” you by closing his cart.

I said “If the Vieques protesters did not foresee the loss of this revenue and plan accordingly, then they are fools.” ZOE replies:

First, I’m having trouble parsing out how your statement differs from mine, unless you are saying that we should only expect people to foresee that which is predictable – which strikes me as being obvious. But, of course, the closing of this Naval Base was totally predictable, and therefor foreseeable – the only reason the Navy was out there in the first place was to practice bombing.

Um, no. See, “take away reason base exists=base closes” is totally foreseeable, even axiomatic. “Do exercises here=citizens rebel” is not foreseeable, because the second part is not an almost inevitable consequence of the first part. (Heck, the citizens could just have easily kissed the Navy on its collective lips while chanting “Thanks for all the money!”) So I’m not sure what logic you’re using, but it sure isn’t mine.

Hey, thanks for waiting, everybody! :smiley: Home now with my Times registered-computer.

Hamlet was right about some of the proposals for Vieques, according to this Op-Ed by John Todd in the Saturday Times.

I’m surprised Gov. Calderon didn’t have a clear policy in place BEFORE the scheduled abandonment; as it is, I fear the (human) barracudas will slip in before the Commonwealth gets it act together.

Politician! [/Jack Sparrow]

Me too. That’s why I was puzzled by what you said.

Now we’re getting down to it. Can you provide a cite that indicates that the closing of the naval base was totally predictable – anything written before the bombing stopped? Why could it not have simply shifted function? Could they have predicted that the base might be closed out of spite, for example?

I absolutely cannot imagine the people you mentioned intentionally and knowingly promoting anything that would wipe out the economy.

But I will concede if you can provide evidence from reliable sources that everyone knew ahead of time.

I think I know what the proposed project is: applying for statehood.


From a 1999 Defense Department Press Briefing:

So yeah, base closure was widely known as a real possibility two years before live-fire exercises actually stopped.

At least it’ll be quiet on the unemployment line.

Other than Dewey’s cite, there is always common sense. What reason do we have for a ‘generic’ base in the Caribbean? There are not very many pirates there these days, the threat of Dominican militaristic expansion is low, the long-planned invasion of St.Kitts has been indefintely delayed, and oh ya, Florida is nearby.

It sounds like you are really stretching here, trying to pin something on The Man. The protesters got what they wanted; The problem is, they didn’t fully consider what that was. How utterly not-suprising.