Among my random possessions is an antique globe. It’s one of my favorite things. Parts of it are battered and illegible. There’s a dimple off the west coast of Mexico and its axis gets stuck when I rotate to the southern hemisphere.
I don’t know when it was made, but it was sometime between 1898, the end of the Spanish-American War, and 1945, the end of World War II. There is a Palestine but no Israel, and one Korea. The Caroline, Marshall and Marianas Islands are Japanese territories; the Philippines is part of the U.S. In between them all is a small dot, another U.S. holding: the island of Guam.
Hawaii captures the American imagination. Guam confuses it. As does Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas and U.S. Virgin Islands. American Samoa is trickier, but I’ll get to that.
America owns islands that are not states, with a long history of legislative determinations and decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court.
And more than an occasional eyebrow-raising remark from members of Congress.
“My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” uttered Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson over a decade ago during a committee hearing about the proposal to relocate 8,000 Marines to Guam.
His office later clarified that he was “obviously” joking and e