By Alex J. Rhowuniong
Compact III on the horizon
The upcoming renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association between the Federated States of Micronesia and the United States is being anticipated by FSM citizens at home and those living abroad including those on Guam. This process will tremendously impact our island community on Guam as well.
At the moment, FSM leaders are gearing up for this renegotiation. Amid all this, a special visit to Guam has been planned by the Chuuk state leadership. They are coming to meet with GovGuam leaders to talk about, among others, issues related to FSM migrants on Guam, specifically those from the state of Chuuk.
Now, just so we’re clear, Chuuk is not renegotiating with Guam. Both are not sovereign nations, just parts of FSM and the U.S., respectively. But both have a very special and unique relationship with each other, a tie-in into this whole renegotiation business with the FSM and the U.S.
One clause that is up for discussion involves the U.S. grants that end in 2023. It’s going to be interesting because migration and travel to U.S. jurisdictions, though not part of the financial deal, are likely to be on the table, too.
These two issues have been major thorns for Hawaii and Guam. Both jurisdictions have accommodated migrants from FSM in their soils per the Compact conditions. And both jurisdictions have cried foul because of two major areas of concern: 1) Not enough Compact impact funding promised to offset the cost of hosting FAS citizens; 2) The unforeseen consequences such as increased crime rate.
At the helm of FSM is the new president, David W. Panuelo, who assumed the top political post a few months ago. At the White House, Donald Trump is seeking re-election. These two leaders met in May and Panuelo indicated earlier the visit with Trump was positive.
Now, many of us may be looking at this whole scene, curious as to what the FSM will get out of the renegotiation.
Behind the political landscape in the White House, the U.S. military may be wondering what politicians will screw up next. I am a U.S. Army veteran and while in service I heard such worries from Army generals during the Desert Storm in 1991. And I suspect the U.S. military will be all eyes and ears when this meeting kicks off, possibly ushering in Compact III very soon.
Sitting just below Guam and the playground for the U.S. Navy in the waters of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Island is FSM, a vast air and water space the U.S. military has been enjoying since WWII. This might be at stake in the renegotiation as well.
Now China has already gained a foot in the door, especially in the state of Chuuk, where talks of breaking away from the FSM has been brewing for some time.
Former University of Guam president, Robert Underwood, who has written about security in the region, said that in terms of regional security, any amount of money given to FSM would be insignificant when the militarily security of our area is at stake.
I totally agree.
So, not only is it interesting to watch what FSM will get out of this, but also what the U.S. will walk away with as well. Especially, with regards to the U.S. military and its ability to retain total dominance in FSM waters.
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Alex J. Rhowuniong is a freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit his website: www.rhowuniong.com.