The campaign comes to Guam

This weekend, the US presidential campaign comes to Guam, the island territory closer to Japan than the continental US that will soon be home to a vastly expanded US military presence, if all goes according to plan.

Guam will be holding a Democratic caucus, and with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton struggling for every delegate, the two have given some attention to the island, thanks to its four delegates. (NPR provides a handy guide for the perplexed here.)

With Guam on the receiving end of the realignment of US forces in Japan, this might be the closest the US-Japan alliance gets to the presidential campaign all year. Both candidates have prepared statements on the relocation of US forces to Guam. Senator Obama promises to balance economic needs with social needs in the planning for the expanded military presence; Senator Clinton emphasizes a federal funding commitment and the appointment of a Guam liaison in the Pentagon. Both recognize that the relocation of US forces involves far more than building new facilities for military personnel.

Neither, however, mentions the bilateral dimension. Neither acknowledges that with Japan footing part of the bill, the process will be more complicated than it already is within the federal government.

In short, Guam’s caucus will come and go, and the US-Japan alliance will remain invisible in the campaign.

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