A National Security System for Hawai’i Built on Aloha


Pōkā Laenui – TRANSCEND Media Service

Aloha is a cultural foundation of Hawaii, an expression of kindness, inclusiveness, comforting attitude, and loving relationship.

Here is a national security system for the Hawaiian nation to replace the current U.S. military system which now exist in Hawaii, a plan for not merely a military force for armed combat, but a total system of national security including addressing the effects on climate change including the harsher weather which brings in multiple hurricanes in one season, dry seasons which make us susceptible to wild fires, rising ocean levels, hunger in our streets, homelessness, etc.  This is a proposal to take place as we move to an independent nation free of U.S. colonialism.

Many in Hawaii are continually haunted by an unexplored fear of foreign attack and believe that the safest place to be is under the armpit of the biggest of all bullies, the United States of America.  This is partly the result of propaganda during the pre-Statehood period following the Japan attack of the U.S. in Hawaii in 1941.  As a result, we have failed to really understand the structure of national security and the appropriate role and possibilities of a military force.  This fear is part of the fear of freedom and of decolonization.

Let us step away from that old paradigm of national security being big guns, large number of soldiers, huge ships, and ABC weapons (Atomic, Biological and Chemical).  Let us keep an open mind and drop the stumbling blocks of false loyalties to a rogue state which is in constant violation of international law.

We really do not need the U.S. military.  In fact, we are far better off without them in Hawaii.  What does the U.S. military represent?  A target.  A bait in the Pacific for others to look at with disdain.

The U.S. military has used Hawaii to fulfill its tactic of “out basing”, i.e. find bases outside its internal borders to place troops and to attract an attack, or as an early warning system.  Perfect example, Japan’s attack on Dec. 7, 1941! (Japan attacked the U.S. military stationed in Hawaii and not the American West Coast.)

For the sake of Hawaii’s security, it would be far better that we had no U.S. military in Hawaii.  We can survive in a defensive defense mode with the Hawaii National Guard and by adopting policies of simply protecting Hawaii from aggression but having no capability to aggress against another.  We could beef-up our system by adding three other components, inner strength, world usefulness and non-alignment.

Queen Liliuokalani, the latest Hawaiian queen, was deposed by US marines and died under house arrest at her Iolani Palace in Honolulu on 11 Nov 1917.

A Brief Review of Security, Economic and Environmental Implications of U.S. Military in Hawaii

While we move to a different system of national security, what happens with the U.S. Military?  We have always approached this question with a split mind, one focusing on military protection and the other on the economic advantage we are told we get from the U.S. military presence.  Let’s look at those issues first.

Under an independent nation status, the U.S. military would exist in Hawaii, if at all, upon Hawaii’s terms.  That is not the case today.  Presently the U.S. military has taken up such a gigantic portion of our lands and pay almost nothing for it.  ($1 for 65 years for the Valleys of Makua and Kahanahaiki, nothing for Kaho`olawe, nothing for Lualualei, Schofield, Wheeler, Hickam-Pearl Harbor, Ka`ena, Pohakuloa, etc.)  They have been polluting our waters and land such that Lualualei ammunition depot was listed as the most polluted of the U.S. military lands in the world, followed soon after by Pearl Harbor!  Now they also pollute our aquifer at Red Hill, in flagrant disregard to our Board of Water Supply!  How is this protecting us, or does it mean protecting the U.S. and to hell with the Hawaiian people?

The U.S. military is said to bring in lots of Federal spending into Hawai, but the numbers are manipulated by politicians and bankers tied into the military propaganda.  The measure used is the amount of Federal taxes paid by Hawaii residents compared to the amount spent by the Federal government in Hawaii, to a large extent for military service.

This is a bogus equation.  All Federal dollars spent by the military, including for civilian services, goes for goods and services for the military.  Those transaction cancel each other out!  It’s a “quid pro quo.”  They pay for services or goods and they receive them.  It is never a gift or a hand-out.

Federal spending for highways should also consider the fuel taxes paid by Hawaii highway users, and by Hawaii residents paying in Federal tax dollars.  In return, the U.S. government can use Hawaii’s airports, road systems and seaports and lanes as part of the U.S. national defense system.  There’s no gift or windfall here from the Federal government!

U.S. military personnel spend a lot of money in Hawaii.  True.  But they get the goods and services they pay for.  Meanwhile, they also avoid State income taxes, avoid State General Excise Tax when they purchase from the military commissaries. They contribute to the cost of educating military dependents, true.  But the cost of such contribution is between 40-60% of the true cost for the State to educate them.  And they bring in the brown tree snake and the Covid 19 Virus while Hawaii has no oversight!

The U.S. colonizers, including the Federal and State governments, politicians, bankers, real estate developers, economists who works for them, and major business entities have been feeding the Hawaii public with a bogus equation of value received by the Federal government compared with costs to Hawaii.  But they are the folks with the sharp pencil and calculators.  More important, they design the economic equations to spew out their colonial tainted results.

What should a balanced equation look like?

It would include the value of the stolen lands currently used by the U.S. and State governments, originally the property owned by the Hawaiian Nation and its citizens.  These are the lands considered “ceded” by those governments and which many Hawaiian considered “stolen.”  These include the ocean waters between these islands and should be considered to include the 200 miles designated exclusive economic zone by the Law of the Seas Convention.  This would also include the land and sea area around other islands along the Hawaiian archipelago as well as Kalama atoll, Christmas islands and all other territories considered part of the Hawaiian nation prior to the U.S. invasion in 1893.

Into that equation should be added the past usage of these lands and waters since 1898 in which Hawaii was declared by the U.S. an American territory.  Those many years in which Hawaiian assets were in the hands of the U.S. or its colonial place holders, the Territory of Hawaii and the State of Hawai, should be accounted for and a payment plan should be drawn up so that within 1 generation (about 25 years), the back debt would be caught up.  The rent is overdue.

That equation should also consider the hijack cost assessed against the people of Hawaii.  That is the cost of Federal taxation and State taxation, called a “voluntary system” but followed by threats of imprisonment, confiscation of various properties, and limited liberties should one choose not to volunteer parts of their assets to the government trough.  These were payments wrought out of the hands or the accounts of the people of Hawaii, largely unwillingly, and paid over to the U.S. or its colonial creation.

But what of the benefits and values one received in return by the U.S. presence in Hawaii, one would ask?  Was there no value there?  There may have been value while the U.S. remained colonizers, but it cannot be properly accounted for because such “values” were part and parcel of the U.S. colonization.  It is remarkably like a comparison to slavery and the argument by the slave owner that the slave received value while under slavery!  Slavery and colonization are so grand a violation of human rights that there should be no counter-weighed value to benefit the slave owner or the colonizer..

A people under colonization, like a people under slavery, cannot be charged for “value” they received if these people had no control over their colonization or their slavery.  As long as the colonizer or the slave master controlled the equation, and held the pencil and computer to account for the “value” received, there will be no accurate accounting and the only response is to treat the colonizer/slave owner’s account as a trustee who co-mingled his assets with that of the beneficiary under his trust.  (Note that the U.S. undertook a “sacred trust” obligation to bring the people of Hawaii to self-government under U.N. Charter Chapter XI, Article 73 with respect to non-self- governing territories.)  The trustee is to lose the full amount of his claimed benefit!

Hawaiian National Security Plan

What is National Security?   National Security is a nation secure against foreign military attacks.   But security is far more than foreign military defense.  Our national security is also demeaned by a loss of the necessities of life through its many means, such as the lack of adequate housing, clothing, food, and education.  It also means environmental degradation causing desertification, loss of aquifers, and poisoning of our streams and still waters and the effects of ocean rise. National Security is protection of the nation’s identification and core values against extremist acts and attempts at violent overthrow of the society’s established order.  It is the protection of our National Sovereignty from both external and internal forces.  National Security should incorporate both civil and martial aspects at the same time.

How would we implement such a plan of National Security?  First, the National Security system should be based on peace by peaceful means, an Aloha security plan built on respect for ourselves and others, on life affirming attitudes, on cultural strength, on openness, and on friendship building.

The Four corners of Hawaii’s National Security:

  • Defensive Defense,
  • Outer Usefulness,
  • Inner Strength, and
  • Non-Alliance with international “defense” pacts. [i]
  1. DEFENSIVE DEFENSE:  Hawaii’s military posture should be one of strictly Defensive Defense.  Our position should be, WE WILL NOT ATTACK ANY OTHER COUNTRY.  WE WILL ONLY DEFEND OUR TERRITORY FROM ALL ATTACKS. We should build up a limited National Guard with the same high efficiency as the current National Guard to effectuate this policy.

In the area of military operations, there are a variety of postures a military can take.  They should be divided into two general categories: Offense and Defense.  To undertake a defensive posture, a country would be neither the aggressor nor the instigator of a war.  Its posture should essentially be one of defending its borders and territories if attacked: Defensive – Defense.

A second posture is to keep our enemies at bay and assure that the enemies will not aggress against us.  This is to be pro-active in our defense.  To be effective, we would go into other territories surreptitiously, to be certain that no other country is preparing to aggress against us.   If we even think another country is thinking about aggressing against us, we can be ‘pro-active’ by striking first!  This posture unwinds into that “slippery slope” of aggression under a concept of offensive defense.   A “sneak attack” now changes into a “pre-emptive strike.”   Very rapidly, this type of “silly talk” gets out of hand and we end up in a clearly offensive posture claiming that this is really defense!

Under the US’ offensive “defense” posture, we find a plethora (over 600 overseas, over 5,000 total) of U.S. military bases across the world threatening every corner of the world not only with troops and spies but with the delivery capacity of ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) weapons.

This type of military in Hawaii does not give us any greater assurance of security.  It only increases the tension simply because other nations can act in kind.  They develop approaches of being offensive to the U.S. and its military bases in Hawaii.  They too can turn their ABC weapons toward Hawaii as their “defensive measure”.  Who wins?  There are no winners but the bombs.   Who loses?  The people.

As part of this defensive posture, our lead policy should be,

WE WILL REMOVE ALL STRIKE CAPACITY BEYOND A PROTECTIVE UMBRELLA OF 200 MILES FROM OUR SHORES (the same distance as the Law of the Seas Treaty defining national Economic territorial waters).


We should have a standing invitation to all nations to visit and verify our weapons capability.  We could expect not only verification but the turning away of other countries weapons pointed at Hawaii.

Such program of verification can itself turn into an economic boon and a fulfillment of the other three corners of the Hawaiian National Security plan.  This corner of National Security will not only reduce tensions with other countries but will decrease costs to maintain an American style offensive posture, contribute to the Hawaiian economy, and help to build better relationships with other countries.

  1. OUTER USEFULNESS: As a central aspect of Hawaii’s national security, Hawaii should create itself into a place of usefulness to the rest of the world, a special or even a sacred place where other nations would not want to attack Hawaii.  Just as Switzerland, a tiny nation, has demonstrated its world usefulness by acting as the hub of international financial transactions as well as the home of international organizations such as the WTO, WHO, ILO, World Council of Churches, International Red Crescent/Cross, and the United Nations, fulfilling an essential aspect of its National Security plan.

For Hawaii, world usefulness could be achieved through these and other initiatives:

  • Education centers in peace development, cultural understanding, science, technology, medicine, oceanography, navigation, astronomy, and so on to the world’s future leaders. We could showcase the extensive cultures of Asia, the Middle East, of Europe, of Africa, of the Pacific and the indigenous culture of Hawai. We could also create a Hawaiian traditional Medicine research and laboratory of plants and animals on land and in the sea, which would reflect on how each population should care for the resources in their environment, encouraging not only Hawaii’s denizens but people throughout the world to appreciate the health and sustenance value of the world around us.
  • Entertainment/Culture centers in which the exhibitions of cultures of the world could be showcased here in Hawaii catering to an international audience, a safe space away from divisive politics and extremism, offering a place of dignity and high intellectual treatment to the variety of world cultures. Hawaii’s population with its intermixture of cultures from throughout the world would serve as a great supportive audience for this program.
  • Food/agriculture production of high quality and nutritious food, which carry the distinction of being made in Hawaii, such as Hawaii’s poi, so nutritious that it can be used to feed babies when unable to take their mother’s milk, and other products from a wide variety of fruits, colorful and fragrant flowers, and special and controlled sea products.  The specialty foods should be aimed at targeted audiences so that we do not simply enter an agriculture production to be overrun by large industrial- agricultural products competing through cheap labor and corporate financing.  Hawaiian products should be uniquely Hawaiian either in its raw state or through the impact of culture, such as the blossoms and other materials of Hawaii turned into beautiful leis which enhances the wearer’s attraction.
  • Center for religious tolerance, a society practicing the acceptance of all religious faiths, as well as a wide variety of cultural practices within a religion and the practice of multiple religions within a person, family or cultural group. An example, a family multiple generational family whose mother is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest while daughter is a lay minister of a Pentecostal church and grand-father who tolerates all but follows no preferred practice.  Yet the family remains whole, functional, supportive of one-another and thriving.

There could be many other aspects of Hawaii’s “outer usefulness” characteristic.  (See Climate Force under Inner Strength description) The purpose here is not to define how the Hawaii society is to operate but how it may demonstrate to the world its usefulness as an example of world peace.  Through such demonstration, Hawaii would build its “strength” around its moral-cultural-tolerance character and becomes highly respected by other nations, far more than if it attempts to develop into an aggressive militarized nation.

  1. INNER STRENGTH: Hawaii’s highly efficient, technologically proficient, and effective National Guard will be bolstered by the broader society’s understanding of civil service. In the event of military invasion or threats from groups or individuals to the health or welfare of the society, civilians would be prepared to form an efficient operational defense force. Very similar to Switzerland, each household and each able-bodied person would be trained physically, mentally, and emotionally to participate in the community’s self-defense.

Hawaii’s inner strength is built on cultural pride among diverse people melded into a common core of identity. One example is the role Hula plays – an especially important expression of spirituality that reaches far into Hawaii’s past. Hula today is a unifying identity for Hawaiians of all ethnicities, religious beliefs, cultural practices, economic levels, or educational training. That cultural pride supports individual discipline and mental development, and creates a foundation for organized self-defense, prepared to act against an invading force.

There is a wealth of forms of cultural expressions that contain ingredients similar to those of Hula. Lua, huna, karate, jujitsu, tai chi, hopkido, boxing, wrestling, swimming, aikido and a multitude of other forms are practiced in families of mixed ethnicity, building pride and willingness to defend the integrity of these inheritances.

As one’s age or interest changes or matures, the art form may also change or mature.  But the period of engagement would be extended throughout one’s life.  The “book end” generations, the elders and the incredibly young would also be actively engaged, each interacting with the other to assure an exchange of generational conversation and preservation of knowledge in these arts and in life.

Economic and resource strength will form a fundamental part of Hawaii’s national security.  Hawaii would have a strong and self-sufficient economy, founded on the protection, preservation, reclamation and increase of its agriculture, forestry, fisheries, ocean resources and conversion of its natural energy.  Hawaii’s economy would meet all its essential needs such as food, clothing, health care, energy power and building resources from within.  This will protect Hawaii from economic embargoes or other trade pressures by other nations, often a form of invasion, tactics deployed by foreign nations and corporations to undermine Hawaii to accept unacceptable encroachment into Hawaii.

A Climate Force for quick response to climate impacts upon Hawaii with an umbrella extension stretching 2,000 miles to assist neighboring countries facing climate disasters, including ocean rise.  This force could participate in building up the Hawaiian Red Cross/Crescent to provide emergency relief in rebuilding and providing supplies, shelter, clothing, food, medical care, education, etc.  This force would face the challenge of soil run-off and depletion due to drought and windstorms, protecting freshwater resources and preventing the depletion and destruction of aquifers, proper maintenance and protection of agriculture lands and ocean waters.

When not addressing disasters it would turn its attention to cleaning rivers and streams to allow the continuing flow of water, building up river banks, creating safe roadways and cutting down trees which may imperil communication and transportation lines and the electrical grid in the event of high winds and rain.  It could also assist in the burying of electrical and fiber optic lines to avoid breakage during high winds or other interruptions during storms.  It would clear forests of dying vegetation and engage in reforestation programs.  This force could also beef up emergency shelters for the immediate homeless created soon after major disasters, assure the availability of fresh water and emergency beds, of continuing health care, and of reuniting families following a climate disaster.

  1. NON-ALLIANCE IN DEFENSIVE PACTS: Forms the final corner of the plan, recognizing that such “defense” pacts tie and lock nations into “security” agreements resulting in giving away one’s control over one’s security.

NATO is an example of such war pacts.  In the Pacific, there is RIMPAC, a gathering of military forces from various nations in coordinated exercises around the Rim of the Pacific, supposedly acting as defense training but actually working its way into threatening the waters of other countries, such as in the China Seas, the North Korean waters, etc.  These trainings have flooded small nations including Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa, and other places, using these islands as bombing targets and other abuse of local cultures and historic sites. By conducting war scenarios close to North Korea and China, they have antagonized those nations which have retaliated by posturing in a likewise manner.

A far better policy would be to join no military alliance which commits Hawaii to engage in a war to help an “ally”.  Such alliance can become that slippery slope which pulls us into a fight rather than keep us out.  The only alliances we should join are in trade or assistance in natural disasters or in the exporting of medical aid, food, and education.


Hawaii’s national security plan should be a four-part wall consisting of Defensive Defense (and a promise of non-aggression), Outer Usefulness in which Hawaii shows itself useful and worthy of the good graces of other nation, Inner Strength in the development of a civil society which will commit to the protection of our shores, with a strong economy, healthy environment, and a pride in self, and Non-alignment pacts to keep out of other countries’ wars.

The benefits of this converted system of national security will reward Hawaii not only by a measure of its security, but would enrich our natural environment, increase our economic value for all of our lands and oceans, uplift the cultural and education treasures that still persist in Hawaii, and return a sense of self-control over our future of Hawaii.

The first step toward this vision is to question our self-doubt about the need for the U.S. military in Hawaii and begin the planning and structuring of this four-part national security system that is far more representative of our character and more inclusive in all sectors of Hawaii.  This is our Aloha national security plan for Hawai`i.

National Security Sensibly Based in a Hawaiian Deep Culture[ii]

The Aloha culture is a Hawaiian counterpoint to the deep cultures found in many parts of the world based on Domination, Individualism, and Exclusion (D.I.E.) The DIE culture is the driving force behind the U.S., Russian, Chinese, Korean and many other countries military.  It forms the force behind destructive environmental policies, unjust economic relationships, social norms, educational system, and even judicial practices.

This society of Aloha comes from a deep culture of:

  • `Olu`olu (compatibility, comforting, respectful and acceptance of differences),
  • Lokahi (we rather than I, a consciousness of the needs of a larger group, of the “commons”), and
  • Aloha (inclusion with a sense of compassion, humanity, affection, and love in contrast to exclusion).

Those three concepts define the culture of OLA which, when used in the Hawaiian and many other Polynesian languages, means life and health. The OLA culture would be the driving force in the formal and informal systems of Hawaii.  It should serve as the backbone of Hawaii’s National Security Plan.

Similarities of Aloha and OLA can be found in other expressions, in the Christian Golden Rule, Islamic principle of Zakat, Ubuntu in the South African/Zimbabwean culture, and many other softer-gentler expressions of humanity around the world. It can also be found in an earlier generation’s call among youths in America and many other parts of the world, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” 

Aloha `Aina


[i] I thank Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies, Johan Galtung, for introducing this approach of national security to me.  He has been a scholar in the field and has consulted with many countries as well as the United Nations.  He had been a guest on my radio shows both at Hawaii Public Radio (A Second Glance) and KWAI (Hawaiian Potpourri) as well as on several of my `Olelo T.V. programs.  We both taught together at the University of Hawaii in International Relations.

[ii] More writings on the concept of Deep Cultures can be found at www.hawaiianperspectives.org/documents/ under the resource “Culture”.


First Draft: 8 Sep 2020
Revised: 11 Apr 2021

Pōkā Laenui is an attorney, founding member of the TRANSCEND Network, and lives in Hawai’i. He is Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Hawaiian Affairs and is regarded as the father of the modern Hawaiian Sovereignty movement having brought the issue in the Hawaii and Federal Courts since 1977 and taken that case to the UN via the Indigenous People’s hearing.  He was the primary spokesperson for the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Pacific Asia Council of Indigenous Peoples from 1984 to 1992.  He was noted as one of five pioneers of the development of Indigenous People’s Rights at the UN General Assembly.  He is the latest chairperson of the Native Hawaiian Convention, an elected body of native Hawaiians to develop models of Hawaiian sovereignty to propose to the native Hawaiian constituents.  This convention has been de-funded by the State of Hawaii and its domestic entity, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, while the convention was considering a proposal for a model of independence from the USA.  He has been associated with Professor Emeritus Johan Galtung as a co-instructor at the University of Hawaii and has conducted extensive interviews with him on public radio, commercial radio and community television.  He continues to practice law in Hawaii.  His email is plaenui@hawaiianperspectives.org  and website at www.hawaiianperspectives.org which contains most of his writings.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 12 Apr 2021.

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2 Responses to “A National Security System for Hawai’i Built on Aloha”

  1. Interesting article, but I don’t understand it. All this talk about ‘Security” whilst at the same time talking about Militarism. Two enemies.

    Militarism, Armed Forces equals INSECURITY.


    • Poka Laenui says:

      Aloha Alberto. Thank you for your critique. May I invite you to read the article again and what you should find is a system of security based on an alternative to militarism.