The Inouye Legacy
What he’s doing now to ensure Hawaii’s future
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When Inouye runs for his ninth senatorial term next year, he can point to the deep-draft harbor at Barbers Point, the Pacific Missile Range, the Maui supercomputer, Camp Smith and many other projects that have propelled one of the nation’s smallest states into an important post for the military and a national model for a sustainable energy future.
In his Honolulu office, Inouye is both assured and almost self-deprecating about his role in Hawaii’s economic future.
“I assure you my decisions are not haphazard,” he says. “They are part of a plan, if you can put it that way.”
“Many of my projects are not just for the next 10 to 20 years,” he says, but for the very long term.
When Inouye steps down, Dods says, “there will be a significant impact on Hawaii.” He mentions a recent meeting where the senator gathered people to discuss the next 50 years. The meeting was private and its results have not been published, but Dods says it is typical of Inouye’s long-range thinking.
“He doesn’t have the quarter-to-quarter mentality of most Americans,” Dods observes.
While he appears politically invincible, Inouye is keenly aware that his age could play a role in the coming campaign. He noted that he will turn 86 on Sept. 7, just days before next year’s primary election. “I can see my opponent buying up time on the TV stations just to say: ‘Happy Birthday, Dan! You made 86,’ ” he says with a laugh.
A test missile blasts off from Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range and is
While many of Inouye’s appropriations are focused on the military, it would be a mistake, he says, to see his efforts only through that lens. Still, there is no doubt that military spending is the foundation of the money (“pork” to his critics) he has secured for the Islands. And make no mistake: Those in the Armed Services here are more than grateful.
“Sen. Inouye has been a consistent, staunch supporter of initiatives to keep the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard active, serving the Pacific Fleet, and to support the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, whose invaluable presence sustained Kauai following Hurricane Iniki in 1992,” noted Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii.
Although Inouye hasn’t always spoken about long-range goals, over 47 years in the Senate he has carefully and relentlessly built the infrastructure to solidly establish, for decades to come, two visions for his home state.
First, he has worked to establish Hawaii as a place of national importance – as indispensable as it can be. Without such attention, he points out, these small and remote islands could easily be overlooked. Or worse – ignored.
Take the new Pacific Command Center at Camp Smith overlooking Pearl Harbor. No question there was a need to replace the antiquated facilities housed in a former hospital. But the push to build the new Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center was about far more than simply keeping the military happy, Inouye says.
“The (White House) was not too keen about building a massive state-of-the-art Pacific Command building,” Inouye said. “But I made that one of my major goals.
“It demonstrates the importance of Hawaii as the command center of our security activities in the Asia-Pacific region.” Once the building was completed and staffed, Inouye chuckles, “it would be difficult for succeeding CINCPACs to give it up.” In short, the physical facility cements Hawaii’s importance to the military and virtually guarantees its presence here for a long time.
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