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The Daily / – The Sunday Read: ‘The America That Americans Forget’

The Daily – The Sunday Read: ‘The America That Americans Forget’

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In this episode of “The Daily,” researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies developed a war game to explore the potential consequences of a conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan in 2026. The war game revealed that in every scenario, China’s first attack on US soil was directed at Guam, an unincorporated US territory in the Pacific. This episode delves into the history and current situation of Guam, highlighting the complex issues faced by its indigenous people, the Chamorro, as well as the strategic importance of the island in the context of US-China relations.

Main Takeaways

Guam’s History and Indigenous People

  • Guam is an internationally recognized American colony that has been colonized for over 350 years, and its people, the Chamorro, have had the least say in their situation.
  • The Chamorro people of Guam have a complicated history of colonization and military service, and many hope for the return of their land.
  • After World War II, Chamorro people lost their property and were denied US citizenship.
  • The indigenous people of Guam, the Chamorro, only obtained US citizenship in 1950, and they cannot vote for president or have a senator.

Guam’s Strategic Importance and Military Presence

  • Guam has a strategic location and is home to military bases, including the first Marine Corps base camp built since 1952.
  • Guam plays a central role in homeland defense but is often forgotten by most Americans and missing from many lists.
  • China’s growing regional assertiveness has led to rising brinkmanship between China and the US, threatening the islands caught in between.
  • Guam is facing threats from both China and North Korea, with North Korea test-launching a missile capable of reaching Guam in January 2022.

Challenges Faced by Guam and Veterans Services

  • Guam ranks at the very bottom for the number of veterans services it offers, despite having one of the highest rates of veterans per capita in the country.
  • Guam’s economy is largely split between tourism and the military, with limited public services outside of resorts and military presence.
  • Guam receives less federal funding compared to a state and has limited access to disability benefits and Medicaid.
  • The construction of Marine Corps base camp laws will bring 5,000 Marines and their families to Guam, exacerbating the island-wide housing crisis.

The Political Status of Guam and US-China Relations

  • Guam has been waiting for a resolution to its political status for nearly eight decades since being placed on the UN’s decolonization list.
  • The United States lacks the ability to acknowledge Guam’s colonization problem and often tries to fix it by bringing them closer to the US.
  • The US military’s presence on Guam is seen as a strategic asset in the context of US-China relations.
  • China’s growing influence in the Pacific Islands has challenged the US’s position, leading to increased competition for hearts and minds in the region.


Guam’s Complex History and Struggle for Recognition

Guam, an internationally recognized American colony, has a long history of colonization and military service. The indigenous people of Guam, the Chamorro, have faced land dispossession and denial of US citizenship. Despite having a strategic location and being home to military bases, Guam is often overlooked and lacks adequate veterans services. The construction of Marine Corps base camp laws will exacerbate the island’s housing crisis. Guam’s political status remains unresolved, and the US-China rivalry adds complexity to the situation.

The Importance of Guam in US-China Relations

Guam’s strategic location and military presence make it a focal point in the US’s defense strategy in the Pacific. China’s growing assertiveness in the region poses threats to Guam, along with North Korea. The US-China competition for influence in the Pacific Islands has implications for Guam’s future. The Biden administration has promised increased economic support and climate change mitigation in the region, but challenges remain in addressing the legacy of US nuclear testing and ensuring fair treatment of indigenous communities.


The episode sheds light on the often overlooked territory of Guam and the challenges faced by its indigenous people, the Chamorro. It highlights the strategic importance of Guam in the context of US-China relations and the need for improved veterans services and political recognition. Guam’s complex history and ongoing struggle for self-determination require attention and action from both the US government and the international community.

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