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Underwood: Let’s find our island identity, join Pacific Island Forum

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Robert Underwood, For Pacific Daily News USA TODAY Network

There has been a Micronesian revolt which hasn’t fully caught our attention in Guam despite our perceived status as the cross-roads of Micronesia. The FSM, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati have announced their intention to leave the Pacific Island Forum within one year.

They are justifiably unhappy that a Micronesian wasn’t selected to be secretary general even though it was Micronesia’s turn. Gerald Zackios, an experienced Marshallese diplomat, lost out to Henry Puna of the Cook Islands.

Micrexit may rival Brexit as the next international crisis, albeit on a smaller scale.

All of this could have been avoided if Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa were members of the forum. The French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia are members. We can join if we want.

President Surangel Whipps of Palau was the first regional leader to take this significant step. The new President charged a “south Pacific bias.” I spoke with him earlier this week and he said the inclusion of Guam, the CNMI and even Hawaii might entice them to come back to the forum. He said it is supposed to be a forum of Pacific islands. He was also willing to allow Australia to leave, arguing that they are a continent rather than an island.

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