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AdvertisementThe recent eruption of civil unrest in the Solomon Islands has prompted extensive commentary in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand seeking to understand the causes of the violence. While some of this commentary has captured the myriad issues generating dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, including discontent with his 2019 switch of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Beijing’s corrupting role in the Solomon Islands, less attention has been paid to the larger lessons for U.S. policy in the Pacific.The current crisis offers an opportunity for Washington to reimagine the scope of its engagement with the Pacific Islands – and understand why it will be a critical element in any policy trying to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.Since World War II, the United States has adhered to an artificial, informal division of “strategic oversight” of the Pacific Islands between Washington and its two regional Five Eyes partners, Australia and New Zealand. The vast region is broadly divided into three zones – Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia – each containing several independent countries.The three independent countries comprising the North Pacific Micronesian region (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau) are tied closely to the …

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