The United States has managed the affairs of Guam since 1898 and the rest of the Micronesian islands north of the equator since 1945. 1 Yet recent government reports have confirmed systematically what journalists and critics have been saying intermittently for decades: that the Micronesians are no closer to economic self-sufficiency or social harmony than they were a half century ago. 2 Socioeconomic distortions in Micronesia have fueled factious politics and acrimonious relations with the United States. Ethnic differences have resurfaced as the competition for US largesse has sharpened. Those unable to compete have emigrated, thus removing their energy and skills from their home islands and imposing welfare burdens at their destinations.
The American official response, well-meaning but sometimes misdirected and clumsily managed, has been to provide subsidies to its Micronesian wards. American motives in the Pacific Islands have been a mixture of benign paternalism and a hard-nosed pursuit of military security. 3 The outcome for security has been satisfactory from Washington’s viewpoint inasmuch as Micronesia remains firmly in the American sphere of influence, open to US military activities and closed to foreign military penetration.