Micronesia in Modern Geopolitics
After the Second World War, the United States established full strategic control over the South Pacific region of Micronesia. Under a United Nations agreement, America held Micronesia as a “Strategic Trust Territory” during the Cold War, eventually acceding to the islanders’ demands for political self-determination. Throughout this period, the US failed to maintain coherent policy priorities and treated the islanders as second-class negotiating partners. Today, Micronesia is comprised of three states in “free association” with the United States: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, as well as the American territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Micronesia lies geographically in the heart of the Asia-Pacific and continues to be of great strategic importance to the United States. In the coming decades, the rise of China will significantly alter the geopolitical status quo in Micronesia. The potential loss of Micronesia to China would be a substantial blow to America’s strategic position in the Asia-Pacific, and would be deeply damaging to American interests. US policymakers should consider the nature of this threat and create policy that meets the Chinese challenge in the Micronesia region. This thesis will provide a political history of Micronesia to the present day, describe the unique relationship between America and the freely associated states, and discuss the geopolitical issues currently facing the region. Overall, I intend for this thesis to provide a basic primer on Micronesia, and a broader look at the region’s role in global geopolitics.