Here we go. America has lost the Solomon Islands

Source: Hot Air

We saw this breakdown coming well over a year ago. America’s relationship with the leadership of the Solomon Islands was already beginning to decline by then, despite the longstanding partnership we had previously established with them and our naval presence in the region. But China has been pushing hard to disrupt America’s ties to the Indo-Pacific region and they have been courting the Solomon Islands as part of their bid to control the Pacific. Not even a month ago, China was structuring a bid to purchase a deepwater port in the islands, clearly planning to develop their own naval military presence there under the guise of looking for some new forestry lands. Now, in the clearest signal yet of how badly the situation has deteriorated, the Solomon Islands has refused a routine request by a US Coast Guard vessel to dock for refueling. And they said that any future requests will need to be “reviewed” in advance. (Bloomberg)

The US government said it’s disappointed by the Solomon Islands’ decision to ignore a “routine” request by a coast guard vessel to dock, as relations continue to deteriorate between Washington and the Pacific nation.

A US Coast Guard cutter received no response from Solomon Islands authorities when it requested permission to stop and refuel at the Pacific nation on Aug. 23, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby confirmed on Monday.

The American embassy was informed that there is now a “moratorium” on visits by United States naval forces. A British naval vessel was similarly denied permission to dock. Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare is playing this off as some sort of procedural move while they “review” their policies and claims that the moratorium applies to naval vessels from all countries. But China doesn’t seem to be having any difficulties obtaining approvals. In fact, they still have a delegation on the island reviewing the potential deep water port purchase.

How did we let this relationship deteriorate so quickly and to such likely catastrophic results? The Solomon Islands have been registering complaints about our relationship for a while now. Has nobody from the White House or the State Department conducted any serious outreach to see what we might have been able to offer them to patch things up? The Solomon Islands are located in a very strategically important part of the Pacific and China has made no secret of the fact that they want to be the dominant naval force in that region. They also want to see America locked out.

It may simply be too late to salvage this relationship. If our former allies in the Pacific see us as weak partners and fear the might of China if they don’t play ball, of course they will side with Beijing. Losing the ability to conveniently dock and refuel our ships is only the tip of the iceberg here.

This isn’t the only Indo-Pacific nation where America’s partnerships are on the rocks. We still haven’t sorted out the mess we have with the Marshall Islands. They have been asking for more help in cleaning up their waters and eliminating nuclear waste from American weapons testing in the 50s. It’s not an unreasonable request, but they definitely feel ignored by the current administration in Washington. Perhaps we can reach out a helping hand and salvage the relationship now that the Marshall Islands has suffered its first massive outbreak of COVID. Or maybe we’ll just lose them to China also.