In the ongoing attempt to contain China’s rise, the U.S. recently announced to build a naval build with Australia on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Lombrum Naval Base is portrayed as a joint initiative, but its a playbook is straight out of U.S. geopolitics.
The naval base started its life during the second world war and it has become a trading port ever since. China has shown interest in the region as of late and in an effort to prevent any Chinese influence or use of the port, the U.S. wants to transform it into a U.S.-Australia naval base.
The U.S. is spouting off the same rhetoric: protecting sovereign rights, preserving maritime trade routes, and working with other nations to protect freedom and democracy. In the end, this move is to challenge China’s rise and the people of Manus Island are stuck in the middle of this fight.
In addition, the U.S. strategy of building these bases always has the same theme: not consulting the local communities. The governor of Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island Charlie Benjamin said he had not been consulted on the construction of the navy base. Manus Island is the smallest province in PNG with a population of 50,000 people.
This is an all-too-common story in recent decades. The U.S. is known of militarizing islands, just think of Hawaii. But in recent times, places like Okinawa, Jeju Island, along with several other islands continue to become more militarized with U.S. bases, troops, and weapons. These islands have transformed from tropical tourist sites into enemy targets.
A few years ago, the U.S. completed the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea. The U.S. is currently building two new military bases in Okinawa. Now they want Manus Island to be littered with U.S. troops and weapons. Learning from previous examples, it is a sure thing that the environment will be destroyed in Manus Island, unemployment will flourish, sexual violence will increase, and military training exercises will overwhelm the locals on a continual basis.
Islands known to be travel destinations are usually known for the three S words: the sun, the sea, and sex. Today, they are known for a fourth S word: soldiers. When soldiers arrive in your town, nothing really good ever happens. Sending young men filled with testosterone backed up with a toxic ideology and a fabricated claim of ‘sacrificing themselves to save the locals’ creates only a lethal cocktail. It’s called ‘U.S. militarism’ and its plaguing the planet.
The U.S. maintains 800 or so military bases in around 80 countries around the globe. American Exceptionalism allows for this structure to be acceptable. As American bases creep towards nations the U.S. deems unacceptable in some way or another, it threatens the national security of states like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and others. We know if any of these countries attempted to build just one military base near the U.S., say in Mexico or Canada, then the Pentagon would declare that an act of war. So always keep in mind how other nations react to U.S. military bases compared to how the U.S. would react to the same situations. The U.S. is the bully of the world, walking around with a letterman jacket while stomping on smaller kids in the playground area.