The end of Micronesia

The bonds that used to bind Micronesians are weakening. Micronesia as we know will be little more than a description of a part of the island Pacific.

Micronesian leaders join CNMI Gov. Ralph and Lt. Gov, Arnold Palacios during their inauguration in Koblerville, Saipan on Jan. 14, 2019. Photo by Jonathan Perez

In the latter part of the 20th century, the Eastern Communist bloc fell apart. In this century, the European Union is falling apart. Under President Trump, America’s role in the world is shrinking due to a leadership that dislikes immigrants and foreigners. Micronesia is undergoing a substantial re-formulation as an area with meaning and a role in the future. We may be facing the end of Micronesia.

Micronesia used to be a coherent concept. Historically, it has been used to cover the geographic expanse that we live in and includes Micronesian indigenous cultures. This includes Nauru and Kiribati, island nations with which we have limited contact. It also includes Palau, Yap (main island) and the Marianas which are culturally not “true Micronesians.” The origins of the latter three island groups are not in the same migration that populated the rest of Micronesia.

Micronesia also had colonial meaning as when it was part of the “Spanish lake” centuries ago and in the 20th century, when Japan and the U.S. carried out their imperial designs. In the 21st century, colonialism is passé’ although imperial urges are not. There will always be interest by Pacific powers like the U.S. and China in exerting coercive influence (when necessary) over these islands. Outright colonialism cannot be defended so we are inventing new relationships (covenants, compacts) and funding packages (domestic programs, trust funds) in order to accommodate what previously would have been achieved with a couple of war ships and some paperwork signed by the “head” man under duress.

For most of my life, Micronesia had a coheren