Coups in the Kremlin
What the History of Russia’s Power Struggles Says About Putin’s Future
What area of the world has given the Western nations the least trouble since World War II? What is the only large geographic area of the world without significant Communist penetration? What is the only underdeveloped area of the world in which the Western nations have the active sympathetic support of the native populations? What large area of the world having great strategic value for the weapons systems on which the Western nations now rely is under Western control and wants to remain so? What area of the world receives the least monetary aid from the United States in relation to size or American interest?
The answer to all these questions is the Pacific Ocean islands and surrounding waters which are represented internationally in the South Pacific Commission. Embracing 20 percent of the earth's surface and about one-ninth of 1 percent of its population, the area ranges from Norfolk Island just north of New Zealand to the Marianas, which extend to within 1,000 miles of Japan; and from Palau, about 500 miles from the Philippines, eastward across the international date line nearly 7,000 miles to the little island of Ducie, which has approximately the same longitude as San Francisco. These islands are in varying stages of economic and cultural development, from completely primitive life in the interior of Australian New Guinea to the sophisticated resort economy of Tahiti and the space-age military bases in Guam. The inhabitants include illiterate tribesmen who have not learned how to use the wheel and graduates of the best universities of France, England, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. They are intelligent, sincere and sensible. The majority of them have a lively appreciation of the complexities of the world in which they live, and perhaps because they dwell in an area accustomed to air and ocean travel of all types, they are generally alert to world developments.
The present auspicious political climate in Pacific Oceania is the more surprising because most of the mistakes that were made in Africa and Asia during the colonial era were duplicated in the Pacific Islands. Labor was recruited, transferred to strange lands under indentures and used as property. Lands were seized. Europeans, particularly in the British, American and Dutch colonies, formed tight little communities of expatriates; the white planter in the white linen suit with gin and tonic in hand was not merely a stereotype of fiction. The colonial services told the "natives" what was good for them and facilitated exploitation of agricultural and commercial resources by absentee owners. Additionally, the missionaries considered this the most fertile and safest field for their ministries and they changed customs, habits and family life without regard for the consequences; they even established absolute theocracies. Yet, with all this upending of island living patterns there was enough good will on the part of Western peoples and enough understanding and appreciation by the islanders of Western standards and achievements that the peoples of the area are today sympathetic to the West and look to it alone for the help they need.
Here one finds little of the attitude so prevalent elsewhere that independence will miraculously build new houses for everyone and provide a clean water supply, electric lights and a big automobile. Instead, one finds a mixture of doubt and hope, and a questioning as to how they can get, keep and maintain the things they want, such as schools, good houses, electric lights and running water. Political development, while strongly influenced by tribal organization, is surprisingly sophisticated. Democratic institutions are well planted; elected councils, legislative bodies, courts of law, secret ballots and universal suffrage are well established in most areas. While these islands are almost all defined as "non-self-governing"-the criterion for the coverage of the South Pacific Commission-most of them manage their own affairs and have a degree of self- government substantially in excess of that of many countries in the United Nations.
Perhaps the earliest to come under Western influence were Guam and the Marianas, which received Catholic priests and Spanish soldiers in the 1600s. Others like New Caledonia were not under European influence until the late 1800s. Both the Germans and the Spanish were active for long periods but were driven out by war and purchase. The Japanese, who succeeded the Germans, were ousted in World War II. The present grouping of responsibility is roughly:
UNITED STATES-Guam, American Samoa and, as a trusteeship under agreement with the U.N. Security Council, the Marshall, Caroline and Northern Mariana Islands.
GREAT BRITAIN-Fiji, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Solomon Islands, Pitcairn Island, a condominium in the New Hebrides with the French, and a protective alliance with the independent Kingdom of Tonga.
FRANCE-New Caledonia, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Wallis and Futuna Islands.
AUSTRALIA-the eastern half of New Guinea, Nauru and Ocean Islands.
NEW ZEALAND-Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau Islands and some continuing economic responsibility for the now independent state of Western Samoa.
From 1900, when the international competitive acquisition of Pacific islands ended, until 1940, the area was of no moment in international affairs. True, during the late twenties and thirties, there were rumors that Japan was fortifying some of its mandated islands in the Marshalls, Carolines and Marianas, and the development of trans-Pacific aviation led to final acquisition of some uninhabited islands by the United States and Britain. But with the bitter, costly battles to push the Japanese forces back through the islands it became generally recognized among the Western nations that the Pacific Islands were both strategically vital and a potential political, economic and social problem. The United States, France, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand then arrived at the conclusion that some instrument must be created to advance economic and social welfare and improve health conditions in the islands. Australian Prime Minister Menzies took the lead in 1947 and called a conference of these nations plus The Netherlands, which until last year administered West New Guinea.
This conference produced the Canberra Agreement establishing the South Pacific Commission "to encourage and strengthen international coöperation in promoting the economic and social welfare and advancement of the peoples of the non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific administered by them." In 1951, the area was extended to include Guam and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, both of which lie north of the equator, and in 1963 it was automatically reduced to exclude the territory which The Netherlands transferred through the U.N. to Indonesia. The Commission is headquartered in Nouméa, New Caledonia, and has a full-time staff of 59. Its work is modest, practical, and supplements regionally the work that metropolitan governments are doing in their own territories. It operates particularly in fields of common interest, when more than one territory can benefit from the same professional advice or when an exchange of knowledge and skills between territories can have value.
The Commission has a health section which does unusual and excellent work in nutrition, environmental sanitation, toxicity of fish, and research in diseases such as elephantiasis. Of greatest importance is the health education program carried out at the village level. The economic development program of the Commission is largely based on agriculture, the mainstay of the Pacific economies. The islanders can get seedlings and cuttings and receive technical advice on plant and animal quarantine, eradication of plant pests, agricultural marketing, credit unions and capital formation. During the last two years, the Commission has operated two highly successful schools of boat building, one conducted in English and one in French.
The social development section gives technical advice on inexpensive methods of producing printed reading material, literacy campaigns, coöperatives, community education and on the organization of women's groups to help in community development. It conducts population studies and research in problems of growing urbanization, holds conferences on social and labor problems and this autumn is sponsoring the first South Pacific Games, in Fiji. In an area where there are few libraries, research facilities and institutions of higher learning, the South Pacific Commission acts as a channel for the flow of new ideas, techniques and practices into the area. All of these activities result in productive intellectual contact between administrative, technical and professional people in the different territories. There are conferences, seminars, study tours, etc., all of which broaden horizons, deepen knowledge and spread understanding of developments under similar conditions elsewhere.
The Commission has two auxiliary bodies. One is the South Pacific Conference, which consists of delegates from each of the territories meeting every three years to discuss common problems and recommend activities to the Commission. The other is the Research Council, composed of technical and scientific experts who review and suggest projects for the Commission.
The Commission itself comprises two commissioners appointed by each of the five participating governments. It meets once a year at commission headquarters to fix and approve a budget and to authorize programs in the three fields of economic development, social development and health. It appoints a secretary-general for a five-year term and approves the appointment of principal staff officers under him. In sharp contrast to most other international organizations of which the United States is a member, the total annual expenditure of the Commission and its auxiliary bodies is about $700,000. Of this, the United States currently pays 14.7 percent, or about $88,000.[i]
This sum is probably the best investment the United States has made since it traded 50 old destroyers for bases. The strategic value of the vast Pacific in a day when our defense relies heavily on Polaris submarines is obvious. The Pacific missile range runs down the center of this area; tracking stations can easily be located here; and, prior to the test-ban agreement, high-altitude nuclear explosions could be conducted and monitored here.
Clearly, friendly political administrations in the area are indispensable. More subtle, but of perhaps greater importance and value to the United States and its allies, is the demonstration continuously conducted since 1947 that undeveloped and underdeveloped areas do not have to embrace a chimera of independence to gain self-government and economic and social advancement; that self-government without independence is better than independence without self-government; that colonial peoples can graduate to a political status which allows them to control their own destinies while retaining the economic and defense strength that comes from a close tie to a major power.
In Guam, the people have full United States citizenship and a legislature elected by secret ballot under universal suffrage and having full territorial legislative powers. American Samoa has an elected legislature with somewhat lesser powers. The people of French Polynesia and New Caledonia are French citizens who freely and secretly elect their own legislatures as well as representatives to the French Senate and Assembly. The Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens and also have an elected council. The situation in other islands and areas varies to meet local requirements and the state of educational, social and political development. All have personal freedom and the right of free political expression far beyond that of many ex-colonial areas which have taken on the status of independent nations. The people of the Pacific Islands are as eager for advancement, for education, for improved standards of living, for security, for opportunity as any other of the world's peoples. They have made great progress. But they have far to go before their personal and community income can support the kind of education and opportunity which they want and need.
There is an obnoxious, insulting and inaccurate phrase which has in the past been used to justify neglect of economic, social and political advancement. It is "happy native people." Administrators in many cases imposed a do-nothing program, ostensibly so that the "happy native people" would not change. This is more properly known as the "zoo" theory of colonial administration. It was a theory which professed to guarantee that native cultures would not be blurred or extinguished. It required that native peoples should be kept exactly as they were when first discovered. It would have provided endless doctoral theses. It took no account of human desires and justified hopes and ambitions. It ignored the practical condition that once a land is entered by trade, traffic, exploration or naval or military bases, change is inevitable; the question is what kind and to what end. The peoples of the Pacific Islands rapidly acquired respect and desire for machines, roads, electric lights, medical care, schools, libraries, piers, motorboats, tractors, trucks and pumps. Equally they wanted the education and skills to operate them.
A variation of the "zoo" theory of island administration is to restrict social development to that which can be supported by the resources found on the islands when the Westerners came there. This is the attempt to limit islanders to the social and educational level of a banana, copra and taro- root economy. It is equally contrary to our ideals and principles. If we believe both in the equality of man and in the dignity of man, it follows that a man must be allowed and encouraged to develop to the limit of his own capacity. This does not mean that universities and centers for the performing arts should be built on remote islands. It does mean that the young men and women of these islands must have channels of growth, development and training open to them. If we of the Western nations see to it that there are means and opportunities for personal advancement, we will build in the enormous Pacific Ocean area a stable political economy and society which will strengthen us both internally and externally. We will have demonstrated to the people of the non-aligned nations (as well as the unhappy peoples of the Eastern alliance) that they can fulfill their legitimate aspirations for freedom, self-government and a better life for their children without flirting with Communism or venturing on the tightrope of independence unsupported by economic, educational or national- defense viability.
As the few remaining colonies in Africa become independent and as the last trusteeships are terminated, there will be little for the United Nations Committee of 24 and for the Trusteeship Council to do. It is reasonable to expect that these bodies will take a more active interest in the island territories of the Pacific, and that the Communist countries will do everything possible to make trouble by painting us as a colonial power. The Soviet Union has for some time been critical of the one trusteeship which she can do nothing about-the United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands-as it is a strategic trust area created by agreement with the Security Council; alteration or revocation of this trust assignment would be subject to a veto in that body. It is clear, then, that the quiet Pacific, in which we have been progressing slowly but surely, will soon be a major focus of international attention and potential trouble. In this situation, the Western powers must show increased concern for the development of economically, socially and politically self-reliant communities in the South Pacific. The case for this must rest not on the need to combat Communist activity in the area, which as yet is very slight, but on what we as partisans of democracy and believers in individual responsibility have determined is sound and proper.
Additionally, however, the provisions of Articles 73 and 74 of the United Nations Charter impose heavy obligations. Under Article 73, members of the U.N. responsible for the administration of territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government accept as a "sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost ... the well-being of the inhabitants," ensuring political, economic, social and educational advancement, and to assist them in the progressive development of free political institutions. Under Article 74 members agree to base their policy for territories on the "general principle of good-neighborliness, due account being taken of the interests and well-being of the rest of the world, in social, economic, and commercial matters."
Specifically, what fields of development and aid need to be stepped up to make the Pacific Ocean areas an effective part of the Western world? First, education. Every child born in a Pacific Island should have access to as good an education as he can absorb, even to advanced training for the exceptionally qualified on the same basis as their counterparts in the metropolitan country. There must be rooted out promptly and unmistakably the philosophy that second-rate is good enough for "native peoples." Elementary schooling must be maintained at metropolitan standards. The same quality of secondary schools and colleges should be available either in the islands or in the metropolitan country, and financial aid must be available for travel across the great distances of the Pacific.
There will be a substantial temporary cost for construction of school facilities, and qualified teachers will have to be brought in until higher academic standards produce enough teachers in the area. The foundation is already there, particularly with inter-territorial use of secondary schools and colleges. New Zealand and Australia have freely opened their schools and universities to island residents and many travel and tuition scholarships have been extended. The Philippine universities have been used, particularly by the Marshall and Caroline Islanders. The East-West Center in Hawaii can take many students from this, its own front yard. The French territories send students to metropolitan France for university and professional training. American Samoa has a teacher-training school. Guam has a college which is accredited by the United States Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and others are available in Fiji and Tahiti. Professional education can be provided in metropolitan countries.
Economic development projects can be simple and directly tailored to the resources and the facilities that are locally available. Moreover, the five Western powers can often make one dollar, one pound or one franc do the work of five through internationalizing their economic development work and allowing the territories of all five nations to benefit from the technical advice, demonstration and instruction provided by a central body-the South Pacific Commission.
A first-class economic development program can be created at modest cost. Instead of aid programs running to eight and nine figures for areas smaller in size and of less strategic importance, the South Pacific islands could digest in international assistance something on the order of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 a year. Even this amount could be used effectively only after several years of businesslike preparation. Still, it would represent a fourfold increase in the present expenditure of the South Pacific Commission. That is a modest enough sum for five nations to invest each year to strengthen the communities which sit astride 20 percent of the earth's surface. The United States, which now provides an equitable proportion of the Commission's budget, could increase its share to 30 or 35 percent of the new total, and it would still enjoy one of the greatest bargains in the international assistance field. Surely, it is worthwhile to demonstrate that an area of the world for which Western nations have direct responsibility can advance politically, economically and socially more rapidly than areas which attack, belittle, harass and even intimidate the West.
The Canberra Agreement has become outdated and needs revision. One of the original members, The Netherlands, has withdrawn. Western Samoa has been granted independence by New Zealand and has applied for membership in the South Pacific Commission. The Kingdom of Tonga has participated in the Commission's activities, and may wish to become affiliated. Other territories may become independent and wish to affiliate. They should not be put to the expense or the sham of joining the United Nations when by neither population, wealth nor defense capability can they afford the burdens of that type of independence.
When the Canberra Agreement was written, a triennial conference of territorial representatives was enough. Now, discussion without action is frustrating, is degrading to them as qualified representatives of their people and, if continued much longer, is likely to induce political irresponsibility. It has been suggested that a device be written into a new agreement to allow the representatives of the various Pacific territories, elected or selected according to the laws of each territory, to determine the economic and social program to be administered by the South Pacific Commission within the cost limitations of the budget which the five member nations will support. This would in itself be another step in the direction of increased self-government.
What is the future for the three to four million people of this vast region? The choice is between continued political and economic progress in association with the Western powers on one hand and, on the other, fragile, uncertain "independence" without the economic, military or political means of protecting it. If the Western powers do the necessary, both in their own territorial programs and internationally, the island territories will grow slowly closer together until they comprise a regional grouping of peoples with a common ecological pattern, but integrated politically with their separate metropolitan countries. No basis exists for a separate nation of Pacifica or for a Pacific Island Federation. There is every sign that the people are proud to be Americans, Britishers, Frenchmen, Australians and New Zealanders. What better way to demonstrate the superiority of Western freedom than to keep them feeling that way?
[i] It should be made clear that the principal part of the costs of local government and government aid come through the administrative channels of each of the five countries individually. Under both the Anglo-Saxon and the French governmental systems, offshore territories spend the revenues which are collected locally. Thus, for instance, Guam this year will spend some $12,000,000 collected locally for all functions of government. However, Samoa and the Trust Territory of Micronesia will each get subventions from the U.S. Federal Government in the neighborhood of $13,000,000. While total figures are obscured by differing currencies and differing systems of advances, it is probable that the five nations will, in the discharge of their regular obligations, allocate some $35,000,000 to $45,000,000 to supplement local revenues in the area.