Not as good as it was. Better than it will be.
The heart of an American empire? Forty years ago, its people, the Chagossians, were unceremoniously removed from their homeland by a joint operation of the United Kingdom and the United States, and essentially left beached in Mauritius as human detritus. The reason for their expulsion was that the US and the UK had decided to use the islands as a joint military facility in the post-colonial world, as they feared being booted out or needing to repeatedly re-negotiate base facilities with non-Western governments coming to power in newly independent countries across Asia and Africa.
It was used for reconnaissance in the Arab-Israeli war and saw wartime use in the first Gulf War. It may house nuclear weapons and may be a "black site" for detaining prisoners.
It is more secretive than Guantanamo Bay - which is probably why most people have never heard of it.
The future of US military bases Now an impressively researched book that details its secret history goes even further and argues that Diego Garcia, and what happened in the Chagos Islands, lies at the heart of a global American empire that employs some 1, bases outside the United States.
To ensure that no matter who governs in Asia, Africa or around the world, the US military would be in a position to "run the planet" from its chain of strategic island bases. For several decades, the shadowy presence of Diego Garcia and a whiff of its disreputable acquisition lurked in the misty fringes of Western security studies.
I saw the production this week, it is a hard-hitting dramatisation of the duplicity, hypocrisy and complete callousness of the empire-builders - old and new - who thought nothing of breaking international laws and UN rules to stamp out a few indigenous people standing in the way of their militaristic fantasies.
In context The Island of Shame is particularly interesting as it does not stop at merely charting in painful detail the forcible and duplicitous expulsion of the Chagossians by the British in order to provide the US with the "sanitised" islands they sought.
It places the story of the couple of thousand Chagos Islanders in the context of larger global events: The people of the Chagos Islands are the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured labour from south India brought to work on the coconut plantations in the 18th century. The idea of a "strategic islands concept" was apparently dreamed up by Stuart Barber, in which American military bases would be located in remote islands under direct US or continuing Western colonial control.
Inside Story - Okinawa: Finding a compromise The role of key figures such as Paul Nitze, who towered over American strategic analysis for several decades, in successfully pushing for a hyper-military version of global dominance and a ruthless approach to Diego Garcia, is a fascinating tale in itself.
Barber himself later recanted and repented: In an unpublished letter to the Washington Post inhe wrote of "the inexcusably inhuman wrongs inflicted by the British at our insistence on the former inhabitants of Diego Garcia and other Chagos group islands".
Indeed, he did not think their eviction from the islands was necessary for having a base there. The policy was pursued through means such as exchange of notes rather than treatiesor Orders in Council, to avoid parliamentary and congressional scrutiny.
The islands were detached by the British from Mauritius prior to its independence to form the "British Indian Ocean Territory", using the archaic procedure of royal decree and violating UN rules on decolonisation.
Supply of provisions was cut and Chagossians visiting Mauritius on vacation or for medical treatment suddenly started to be told they could no longer return home. Each island family used to have a number of dogs as pets, who would go fishing. In the final forcible expulsion, hundreds of these pet dogs were shut in a shed and gassed.
Their owners were then herded into cargo boats and ditched in Mauritius and Seychelles. Vine terms this Anglo-American-Australian alliance "the coalition of the pale" and points out that it endures to the present day.
Another curious fact is that while the US and UK authorities do not allow journalists or independent observers to visit Diego Garcia, two other groups of outsiders are allowed. Dozens of people sailing in yachts are allowed to visit the other islands of Chagos, far away from the military base.
Several thousand workers from other countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka are also employed on the base. Chagossians could have been so employed instead of being expelled, but it appears "locals" are not favoured, in case they start demanding "self-determination" and "democracy".
As Vine points out, powerful groups or states have displaced "native" peoples elsewhere for a variety of reasons.Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Live.
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Because two weirdos are better than one!