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Diego Garcia: "Unsinkable Carrier" Springs a Leak

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From Dispatches From The Edge

DIEGO GARCIA. The Secret U.S. Naval Base
DIEGO GARCIA. The Secret U.S. Naval Base
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The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands -- with its huge US military base at Diego Garcia -- are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh.

For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington's "unsinkable aircraft carrier," planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India, gives the US access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge.

Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: no journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the US Congress.

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The Feb. 25 Court decision has put a dent in all that by deciding that Great Britain violated United Nations Resolution 1514 prohibiting the division of colonies before independence. The UK broke the Chagos Islands off from Mauritius, a former colony on the southeast coast of Africa that Britain decolonized in 1968. At the time, Mauritius objected, reluctantly agreeing only after Britain threatened to withdraw its offer of independence.

The Court ruled 13-1 that the UK had engaged in a "wrongful act" and must decolonize the Chagos "as rapidly as possible."

While the ruling is only "advisory," it comes at a time when the US and its allies are confronting or sanctioning countries for supposedly illegal occupations -- Russia in the Crimea and China in the South China Sea.

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The suit was brought by Mauritius and some of the 1,500 Chagos islanders, who were forcibly removed from the archipelago in 1973. The Americans, calling it "sanitizing" the islands, moved the Chogossians more than 1,000 miles to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they have languished in poverty ever since.

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Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, "A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the (more...)
 
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2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


molly cruz

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  New Content

I do believe the ultimate truth of mankind and all beasts is that we've been wandering around this planet for as long as we could walk, that none of us owns anything, and the only enemy we ever really had is a ball from the blue with enough mass to turn us all to ash, and that our only hope is to get together and thwart it.

The irony is that without the toys gleaned from all these local skirmishes over real estate, we couldn't even think about saving the planet; but we fought them, and we'll end up saving the planet with them, and that's really all there is to it.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 12, 2019 at 3:36:46 PM

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Eddy Schmid

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Reply to molly cruz:   New Content

So, Molly you really believe there will be a planet worth saving in the long run ? ? From where I sit, I'm glad I wont be around to see it, because going by the unprecidented unraveling we see today, it's going to be a very miserable place.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 13, 2019 at 6:39:27 AM

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molly cruz

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The planet's had its ups and downs, what we seem to believe is that we're somehow separate from it, exceptional as it were, instead of completely enmeshed in its agenda and its cutting edge, as enslaved by it as the earthworm, and as ignorant of our role.

We give ourselves too much credit, and too much blame by the same token. Megalomania, I believe we ourselves have leveled this description at those of ourselves lacking humility. We are Nature's darlings, getting away with murder, and simultaneously Her grunts, Her bouncer at the door, Her bus driver when things here get too hot.

And whatever you think about its savability, it's still our only planet, still bursting with exquisite life forms, and still pumping them out. Worms live near 400 degree sulfur vents in the ocean. We didn't make it, or ourselves, and we can't destroy it; but the Universe can destroy both of us, and we have the fun mission to stop it. You don't find this a delightful twist on the threadbare 'doomsday' take? In any case, we don't appear to have a choice. We're the default saviors here, and I say "Hoorah!"

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 13, 2019 at 12:03:34 PM

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