Tony Blinken’s Tiny Island Diplomacy

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Even in the age of cyber attacks and hypersonic weapons, American strategists are discovering that old-fashioned physical geography matters in U.S.-China competition. One consequence is that sparsely populated island nations in the Pacific Ocean are getting heightened attention from the U.S. and its allies. The latest example is a joint investment by the U.S., Japan and Australia in an undersea cable connecting the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati and Nauru.

The State Department’s Saturday press release headline, “Joint Statement On Improving East Micronesia Telecommunications Activity,” may not suggest a geopolitical watershed. The countries receiving the investment have a combined population not much greater than that of Boise, Idaho, and a GDP many times lower. But they encompass 641 islands among them (mostly belonging to the FSM) in the same crucial oceanic neighborhood as U.S. bases in Guam, Hawaii and Australia.