This is part 3 of our story trilogy presenting a recent video interview with the fascinating – and controversial – political scientist, Dr. David Keanu Sai.
HAWAII – President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office have been a whirlwind of executive action and controversy. From the Oval Office, Trump’s social media tweets – once seen as inconsequential entertainment – can now carry international ramifications. How the new president handles it all remains to be seen. But he hasn’t minced words about the situation his administration is dealing with.
“To be honest, I inherited a mess,” President Trump said during a recent press conference. “It’s a mess, at home and abroad. A mess.”
Dr. Keanu Sai agrees with him, to some extent.
“They’ve inherited war crimes,” Sai said during a recent interview with Big Island Video News. “He did. He inherited it. And he is the successor of presidents since 1893 who have inherited war crimes committed in Hawaiʻi. Violations of international law of unimaginable proportions.”
Sai earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii for his work on proving the continued existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Following the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1893, there was never a legal treaty of annexation, Sai says. According to the political scientist, Hawaii is under a prolonged and illegal occupation, under international humanitarian law. Since the U.S. has not upheld the laws of the occupied state, the issue of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions comes into play.
Sai understands why many people don’t see it that way.
The fact that people in Hawaiʻi are clueless as to what Hawaiʻi was in the 19th century is the evidence of the crime. My great-grandparents were born in the Kingdom in 1880. I know nothing about the Kingdom. That wasn’t because I just didn’t know it. It’s because no one taught me. People did not teach anything because everything had to be Americanized. So, we’re the evidence of the crime. For Donald Trump and his administration, he really has nothing to do with Hawaiʻi. Nothing. Because he’s a president in America. The entities that have everything to do with our situation is the United States Pacific Command and the military here, boots on the ground. Because we’re in a sovereign country. We’re a separate country. Donald Trump is in another separate country. But he is responsible – as the president – for how the military operates here. But he also inherited all the liability of the previous presidents.”
Sai and Trump once shared similar, highly controversial positions on another presidential topic, although they arrived at their conclusions for different reasons. At the same time Donald Trump was trying to prove his predecessor in the White House was not born in the United States, Dr. Sai was lecturing on his own version of the “birther” movement.
Donald Trump, he was the birther man, right? I smiled when he first came out with ‘Barack Obama was not born in the United States’. I actually gave a presentation at NYU – also at Harvard – and it was titled ‘Why the birthers are right for all the wrong reasons.’ Barack Obama was born in Hawaiʻi. He was born at Kapiolani Hospital just about three years before I was born there. I was born in 1964. I believe he was born in 1961. He was not born in the United States, period. But I’m not saying he’s not an American. His mom was an American, so he’s an American citizen. There’s no doubt there. But he’s not natural born. Now, not being natural-born affects your status as a president, because under Article 2 of the United States Constitution the president and vice president have to be natural-born citizens. He wasn’t natural born. If he wasn’t natural-born, then he wasn’t president. If he wasn’t president, what was his administration for eight years? But see, that’s not my problem. That’s the United States’ problem.”
Does Sai believe President Trump has been fully apprised of the political situation in Hawaiʻi? He can only guess.
I would think (Trump’s administration) might want to keep this from (Trump), because he might use that to say he was correct against Barack Obama. The intelligence agencies fully apprised, I know, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. No doubt. Because there were international proceedings were taking place. Now, whether or not the intelligence group is advising Donald Trump about this? I don’t know. I would think they wouldn’t want to tell them because he’s going to take it out of context. Because, you’re talking about a powder keg here that can blow; economically, politically and criminally.”
Sai has been trying to educate the public on this subject for years, chronicling his work on the Hawaiian Kingdom blog. His has traveled the world, lecturing on this topic at the University of Cambridge, filing complaints and entering into proceedings at The Hague. He has recently initiated fact finding Commission of Inquiry as provided for by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which arose out of the Larsen v Hawaiian Kingdom case.
My job is to fix this problem. There is no doubt that the (U.S.) State of Hawaii – although they’re illegal – they’re in control. To use a metaphor: I’m not about to have this plane called “Hawaiian” airlines, who’s flying high in the sky, disguised as if it’s “American” airlines, painted red white and blue. That paint is chipping off … This is Hawaiian airlines. We are still not in control of our plane but it is our plane. The Kingdom’s still exists. We’re not in control of it. I have to be careful that this plane doesn’t take a nosedive – economically, legally and politically – by people who are incompetent. So, I take every step very seriously to address this problem.”
Sai’s attempt to avoid a “nosedive” was recently thrust into the media spotlight. With the spending practises of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs under scrutiny, Sai’s contract to produce a manuscript on land tenure in Hawaii has become a controversy. The manuscript was never submitted for publication, although Sai was still paid $70,000 by OHA.
Sai even called one of the news stories on the controversial contract “fake news”. Something else he has in common with the Donald.
That goes to the heart as to why I refused – at this stage – to submit this manuscript that implicates all these people for war crimes, until I take the necessary steps to ensure that this plane doesn’t crash. That’s what’s important to me. Whether people believe it or not, it doesn’t matter. Can you falsify it? I’m not asking you to agree. And that’s my background. This is my approach as to how I do things. I take a very practical approach. I’m a retired (military captain). I still am an officer. These are some very hard issues and not everybody can grasp it. But there is no doubt that i know it and I’m responsible for it, because I know it. And that that’s what’s important.”