No Fundamental Change

One of the striking aspects of the relationship between the United States and all of its territories is the stark disconnect that exists between the desire of the United States Congress for no fundamental change to happen to the territories, most of whose organic laws spring from the 1950s or thereabouts, and the desire of the people on those islands for a changed relationship between themselves and the United States. This is not a matter of rebellion, per se. Between the fatalism and lassitude one finds in the Virgin Islands and the stark patriotism one sees in Guam, to give but two examples, there are a variety of ways in which America’s territories have responded to the lack of progress being made over the past few decades in providing for a change between the state of the islands and their rule and oversight by the United States, but one thing that connects all of the territories is a desire for change that appears to be thwarted by the lack of interest in the United States for change.

Why is this so? Why doesn’t the United States seem willing to accept a change in the status of these islands given their evident desire for change? Most of the United States has seen a fairly drastic sort of change (not all of it by any means desirable) over the course of the last seventy years, but five times the people of Virgin Islands have sought a new constitution and it has always run afoul of the unwillingness of the US Congress to accept changes just as Guam has sought for the last 40 years without success to receive the sort of commonwealth relationship that the Northern Marianas Islands have with the United States. What is it that the United States wants from these islands in the first place–with Guam there is an obvious geostrategic benefit that the island serves to the American military interests in the Asia-Pacific region, but most of the other island territories have far less obvious benefits to the United States.

We might ask why the United States government is so insistent on resisting any sort of change to the status quo in these areas when fundamental change is at the heart of what is being sought in so many other aspects of American life. Why should a set of mostly small island territories be immune from this change? It does not seem as if these territories have much of a chance of statehood given their small population and peripheral location and distinct cultural background, but all the same, why not at least open up the possibility to it happening if it should be desirable and worthwhile for both the islands themselves and the interests of the United States? Given the instability of our world and the rising conflicts with China–in an atmosphere where just today a former Japanese prime minister was assassinated–perhaps being open to a closer relationship with an island like Guam that has already expressed a willingness to fight on our behalf would be a good idea.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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