sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Vanuatu Vacation

For those of you who are not familiar with the island nation of Vanuatu, you may recall that the island of Espiritu Santo played a role in the Second World War as a place to stage operations from and as a home to various US Marine Corps fighter squadrons.

It's not all that far from Guadalcanal and "The Slot".

My first trip there took place on-duty  (in the '80's) and I took an Air Vanuatu flight to Port Vila. Upon landing I noticed the only other Air Vanuatu aircraft crashed and destroyed to one side of the runway. The airplane that I flew in on disappeared with all passengers and crew in the ensuing week. I was  eventually extracted by a US Navy P-3C that faked a transponder failure. But enough of my experiences. Who cares?

This week, Vanuatu pledged 'full understanding and support' for China's position in the South China Sea dispute. The Chinese assert that they own the entirety of the South China Sea and they are building islands to secure their claim. China anticipates a negative outcome from international arbitration proceedings. To date Vanuatu is the only Pacific Island country out of the eight that have diplomatic relations with China to commit to China's South China Sea position.

Vanuatu exports copra (coconut husks). Their only source of national funding is tourism and foreign aid payments from --- well it's going to be only China now --- unless Hillary wins the US election. If that happens we shall deficit spend to help keep them afloat. If Trump wins, the money will likely not be poured down that rat hole. The government is hopelessly corrupt and had a love affair with the Soviets in the late 1980's. Today that love has shifted to the Chinese and will remain so long as China pays for that love. The US has no diplomatic mission to Vanuatu (US interests are managed from New Guinea).

Bauerfield International Airport at Port Vila has a runway that is so dangerous that all flights in and out were canceled as airlines declined to fly there.  Air Vanuatu can fly there, but it needs aircraft (they go through quite a few due to crashes mid-Pacific and on landing). The government agreed to grant the national airline $3.5M. Quantus agreed to fly into Santos airport on Espiritu Santo...which remains in much the same condition as the US left it following the Second World War.

There is a British Ex-Servicemen's Club at Port Vila. If you go there, you need to know about the club --- just because you need to know it's there.

To me, the place is a nasty bit of Pacific Island real estate with unfriendly African-Vanuatu residents who would beat you to death for your shoes. But they do want tourism dollars.

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Shifting gears slightly, If I ever find a 500 year old shipwreck full of gold coins (link),  I doubt that it would make news. I would not be inclined to call a press conference. None of you would hear of me again. However a year or three later, I may reach out and fly you all my mansion in Bora Bora. (definitely NOT Vanuatu)

Prior to that, LSP may end up as parson and fishing boat captain in Bora Bora.  

But who am I kidding?  Still and all, it's the thought that counts.



24 comments:

  1. Funny. On our bolthole searches over the past few years, Vanuatu was one of the candidates. The people and gov't ended up driving it off the list, but perhaps it could be ripe for, er, change of management? Like Pitcairn, it needs some fresh blood. Desperately. Count us in if you ever consider anything along those lines.

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    1. Oh, that P-3C probably came from Moffet Field, and I might have known some of the crew. Small world.

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    2. This crew came from Barber's Point, HI. I don't recall the squadron. There is a back story, of course.

      Change of management? It could be done on the cheap there but the best way to manage Vanuatu would be a neutron warhead airburst. You want a total flush on the occupants. It may sound cruel, but that would solve the problem in a fraction of a second and you could repopulate the place -- a new 'face lift'.

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    3. Some of those populations are total losses, for sure. Fiji's pretty Marxist now and bound for venezuela-land soon. Still, I hate to take the Neutron approach. Like with Scotland, which has pretty much become hardcore socialist, I still think it would be a shame to kill off every last highlander and mongoose. I'd miss some of 'em. Maybe just pull a Douglas Adams trick? Lure all the stupid freeloaders onto a ship to Pleasure Island and let the seized bilge pumps do the job at sea for you? Then the more responsible ones can keep their property.

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  2. I never heard of Vanuatu, because I went to public school. I am guessing that I am not worse off because of my lack of education in this regard?

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    1. When WW2 began and the islands were in play, nobody had ever heard of them. When WW2 ended, people went about their lives and the islands became insignificant again. I mention the situation because China has essentially bought Vanuatu/New Hebrides as a puppet state. I don't expect that it cost them much, and it helps anchor their claim on the entire South China Sea.

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  3. While Vanuatu may be very pretty and a nice place to splash in the water, nothing else about the place is very appetizing.

    I suggest that we depopulate the place and have Trump build a few resorts. We could import workers who would be on a rotating schedule of maybe 4-6 months at a time.

    We could have cruises to there so we wouldn't have to risk landing a plane.

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    1. The neutron warhead solution would mean that you can build and maintain a proper runway without having to double the cost because of graft. But I think that your idea is sound.

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  4. Nah, no need for neutron bombs to get rid of those pesky Vanuatans. Just get rid of all the local food and then send my Aunt Sally over there with a vat of her spaghetti sauce, and in a day or two those Vanuatans will be vacating the place like rats off a sinking ship.

    Trust me on this one.

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    1. Your humane approach (killing them off by peaceful means) warms my heart.

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    2. I dunno about how peaceful Aunt Sally's spaghetti sauce will do in those doomed Vanuatans. If we give them the option of hemlock or water boarding instead of facing a plate of Aunt Sally's putrid spaghetti, those results would be interesting. Aunt Sally is pretty rough on one's gastro-intestinal tract.

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    3. Aunt Sally's hemmoragic spaghetti...

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  5. Whatever happened to the good old days of empire, with its ideals of conquer and control? My opinion of China as a serious imperial contender went down a notch when I heard they were building islands to spread their influence. And now they claim Vanuatu? Claiming Vanuatu as part of the Chinese empire is like Hillary claiming she has accomplishments.

    They're there, but you need a magnifying glass and tweezers to find them.

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    1. It's the value of the ocean floor between the islands that they're after. Soon the Chinese will claim the entire Pacific and Barack will pay them rent to sail on it.

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    2. Some of my Hawaiian friends are pretty worried about that. The second Pearl Harbor will make the first look like spilt coconut milk. China could be a tough Pacific Empire to push back.

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    3. Hold on there Grunt! HOLD THE TRAIN! Every time I go to Hawaii, I'm bombarded by signs to evict the white people and turn the island over to the Hawaiians.

      In principle, I'm ok with that. We demo everything we built, leave them what's left and the Chinese can use the native Hawaiians as slave labor to rebuild it.

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    4. Heh! My buddies are calabashed (mixed) Hawaiian & Haole, so they get the bigger view, maybe, better than others. But the royalist sentiment is strong, for sure. You've met Gruntessa, so you can imagine me and her accidentally grabbing a little pork & poi in a hole-in-the-wall cafe in Kaunakakai on Molokai that turned out to be a radical hang-out. The old Filippino owners were visibly nervous as they served us because the whole place was giving us the stink-eye and were loudly grumbling, but we escaped without anti-aloha being manifested.

      The Hawaiian situation is complicated, and the United States were not really the bad guys, but the Hawaiians were cheated out of a perfectly legitimate and popular monarchy just the same. It was the Congregationalist elite that pulled the coupe, but the US got the booty, so I'm a little sympathetic.

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    5. I get it - however - I see no need to "give it back" unless we demo everything. They hate tourists - and they love tourist's money.

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  6. I'm looking forward to a new life as Bora Bora's Chaplain and to the fishing, of course.

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    1. You'd miss the Texas Hill Country, but the fish are larger and the congregations are more in need of salvation.

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    2. It makes a lot of sense.

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    3. If you set up shop there, Rev, I might even go Anglican for a while and be happy to do so! ;)

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  7. I could wish to find a shipwreck full of gold. I agree that I would definitely not tell anyone.
    The South China Sea situation definitely is one that obama could only embarrass us further on.
    Be safe and God bless.

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