A Land Use Plan for Governors Island in New York Harbor
Sun Sep 17, 2006 23:57
 

METRO's 14 September 2006 report (page 4, by Amy Zimmer amy.zimmer@metro.us) that the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation plans to toss out the 10 bids it has been considering because of spiraling costs is a welcome opportunity to consider a much better option more in keeping with current events as well as the rich history and military tradition of Governors Island.

This island in New York harbor, within sight of Ground Zero from a distance of 1.2 miles, is a national treasure that has been – and can continue to be – a vibrant symbol of our nation's evolutionary growth and remarkable destiny. This is where the colonial Dutch governors once lived long before there was any lively sentiment among the people to cut ties with European monarchs; hence its name, Governors Island. Later, of course, a whole line of English governors took occupancy after a land swap that resulted in the establishment of Dutch Guyana, which was carved from British Guyana and is now the free and independent state of Suriname.

Then came the birth of our nation, when Governors Island attained strategic importance in the defense of New York harbor and, later, in Abraham Lincoln's marshaling of northern forces so as to preserve the Union, a military course of action which paralleled a diplomacy that was a precursor of the principles enumerated in the first chapter of the Charter of the United Nations.

Two young lieutenants once lived on Governors Island, clueless of the fame that awaited them: Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Grant was the magnanimous victor at Appomattox over General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia and later became President of the USA. Sherman, famous for his utterance that "war is hell," is not so famous for his adamant opposition to land mines as inhumane and barbaric and cowardly instruments of mayhem. He wrote this in his Memoirs in the part covering the approaches to Moultrie in his march through Georgia to the sea. Believe it or not, Princess Diana had something very much in common with a fierce warrior a century before her time!

And now, a century after the emergence of the USA as a world power, Governors Island is a closed down US Coast Guard installation the disposition of which is still fully open to debate.

As the USA seeks to maintain its leadership role among the nations of the earth and tries better to anticipate the challenges ahead in a truly global economy, serious thought should be given to making Governors Island available to the United Nations for dual use as the formal headquarters of the United Nations Military Staff Committee and as a campus for an International Military Academy, both of which will be devoted to the study and promulgation of protocols and procedures in support of peacekeeping and of decisions taken by the Security Council and requiring international enforcement action per Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.

This arrangement would not disturb the Military Staff Committee's presence at the midtown Manhattan campus of the United Nations and it would provide a secure location for military professionals from around the world to gather and to learn and become acquainted. Moreover, the formal headquarters of the Military Staff Committee and the International Military Academy together can easily coexist with the Fort Jay and Castle William national monuments and even a Globe Theatre in tribute to Shakespeare and our nation's Anglo roots.

Most importantly, providing Governors Island to raise the prestige and profile of the United Nations Military Staff Committee – and indeed the United Nations itself – will not only be a sorely needed demonstration of a renewed commitment by the USA to its most important constitutionally mandated treaty obligation ever undertaken, but a better way to formulate and coordinate the practice – and state of readiness – of peace keeping and Chapter 7 enforcement actions, and to distribute the burdens thereof among all the states members of the United Nations.

Governors Island is quite like a university campus on summer vacation. The infrastructure is already there; one just needs to turn on the electricity and water pass out the keys and operations could commence. Of course a program of preservation and development of the infrastructure would also be appropriate, but does not have to come first.

Herein lies a unique opportunity for New Yorkers to leave a lasting legacy consistent with our nation's historic destiny to lead other nations but only as a sovereign equal among sovereign equals and in counsel with them and according to international law. Such a program to make Governors Island available to the United Nations as formal headquarters of its Military Staff Committee and campus for an International Military Academy would also be consistent with our constitutionally mandated treaty obligation to support to the best of our ability a cherished institution dedicated to the maintenance and furtherance of world peace and prosperity – the United Nations.

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