Are they really considering this?

A US congressional decision to not renew funding for the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) would severely undermine American and Taiwanese national security in the Pacific. These COFAs govern the United States’ relationship with Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands while also granting the United States extensive military access throughout their territories. The United States renewed COFAs with Palau and Micronesia in May. It then did so with the Marshall Islands in October. The signed agreements are now before Congress for funding consideration. Congress previously funded the COFAs for a twenty-year period in 2003. The total cost for all three of the twenty-year agreements would be roughly $7 billion USD spread over the period 2024 to 2043, according to the Congressional Research Service.

These three island countries control key sea-lanes that provide a secure route connecting American allies and partners, such as the Philippines and Taiwan, to the United States territory of Guam and state of Hawaii. Palau and the Marshall Islands are two of the 13 countries that maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. This international diplomatic recognition is critical to demonstrating the false nature of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. The loss of COFA funding would present an opportunity for the CCP to expand its economic influence with these strategically vital countries in the Pacific.–taiwan-weekly-update-november-30-2023

Comment: I’m not sure if this is just the ISW ringing the alarm bells over a potential congressional decision or if this is something that is actively being discussed. Now that the immediate fate of Kitara Ravache has been decided, how will those congress critters occupy their time? With all the tut-tuting and harumphing about China being out to get us, this would be a supremely short-sighted and idiotic move. Are Mike Johnson’s compatriots that intent on going full on sakoku?


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50 Responses to Are they really considering this?

  1. F&L says:

    Supremely off topic but sort of interesting. Very dramatic footage. You guys would know more about what realistically might have caused this if we assume it’s just a normal abnormal domestic US cops v criminals dustup. Wide range of possibilities. But with such a violent explosion, which is very unusual absent gas and fuel ignition which it might have been, one is allowed to wonder if it’s related to terrorism or more likely a desire on the part of authorities to inflame fears of terrorism in the home populace for nefarious purposes. That it happened in Arlington is eye-catching.

    House explosion rocks neighborhood near Washington, D.C., as police try to serve search warrant.
    Police in Arlington County, Virginia, said someone fired a flare gun from inside his home and then fired other rounds before the blast.

  2. F&L says:

    TTG –
    Is the committee here taking up collections for participants who can’t afford to display a portrait of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in their apartments, houses or places of residence?
    A resident of Yekaterinburg was fined for refusing to receive a portrait of Putin for free.
    As we announced, the “Putin in Every Family” campaign is gradually starting across Russia, during which Russians’ apartments will be checked for the presence of a portrait of Vladimir Vladimirovich. An interesting incident occurred on Saturday in Yekaterinburg.

  3. elkern says:

    Just another example of how the political chaos in the USA (and the GOP in particular) makes it impossible for us to do smart Foreign Policy.

    The ISW is a Neocon outfit (Kagan & Kristol), so I don’t trust them at all, but I agree that the USA should maintain good relations with those island nations (though I’m deeply suspicious of ISW’s attempts to paint China as our Enemy).

    I found an article with more details about the holdup in Congress:

    It’s a few months old, but the problem they describe still pertains (Short-Term Continuing Resolution shouldn’t include long-term stuff like this). Some interesting details in there, like the total population of the islands involved is about 200,000. So, $7B works out to $35K per person (across 10 [or 20?] years). That would be easy to turn into an attack ad: “My opponent wants to give your tax dollars to people living on islands you could never afford to visit!”.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • F&L says:

      Elkern –
      Imagine how well the Pacific theater of WW2 would have gone for us with Kagan and Kristol in charge during the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea. A good plot for a horror movie.

  4. walrus says:

    This is lunacy by congress. If America doesn’t fund these agreements it will drive the islands into the arms of the Chinese. Then where will we be?

    Do you really want, for example, large Chinese drones patrolling the edges of American airspace 24/7?

    • Fred says:

      Australia can always raise taxes and fund these programs themselves.

    • Yeah, Right says:

      “Then where will we be?”

      Well, we’ll have the amusing sight of Fat Freddie Kagan’s head exploding at the mere thought that three of the titans of world affairs have withdrawn their recognition of Taiwan.

      So that would be one positive.

    • jim.. says:

      I Agree With You Walrus…We Are Way Beyond The Viet Nam Domino State..The is Staging For WW3..

    • leith says:

      Got to agree with Walrus and Jim. And it has little or nothing to do with Taiwan recognition. I suspect ISW put the magic word Taiwan in there just to get Congress excited about it. This is about the US Indo-Pacific Strategy.

      We’ve had a special relationship with these COFA islands plus the CNMI Northern Marianas dating back to WW2. The US considers them part of US strategy in the Pacific. Palau, furthest west, is a geostrategic location and is called the anchor of the ‘Second Island Chain’ nations and territories. Under the COFA, the United States is responsible for their defense and security. The US Coast Guard enforces maritime law within the exclusive economic zones of those islands.

      Their citizens do get visa free travel to the US and many other benefits it is true. But that’s a small price to pay for them being in the line of fire and serving as a trip wire against Chinese aggression. Many also have dual citizenship and serve in American uniform. Palau especially, it has a small population butif you consider percentages: “Palauan’s serve in the U.S. military at a higher rate than any U.S. state or territory”.

      PS – we’ve been courting the Philippines lately, love-bombing they call it in Manila. Just got full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with them. It designates four new strategic areas of the country for joint training and facilities such as runways, fuel storage and troop housing; plus the substantial completion of projects in the previously existing five. I’ve also heard rumors that the Philippines wants to welcome port visits of the US Navy back to Subic Bay.

  5. ked says:

    of course they are considering it. I am surprised these moves are a surprise to anyone at this point (the Hunter Hearings, Biden Impeachment… hilarity unending!). our Neo-MAGA Party’s political reps in DC are self-righteous pricks for whom Jesus Justifies Any & All … IF you are on the right team.
    wailing about the China Threat while defunding programs & alliances that aid in support for the Ukraines of the S China Sea makes perfect sense.
    ends justify means & creative anarchy is the most effective means to keep the rube-choir yammering (while ostensibly under control – what a blast to be Steve Bannon) and the $$$s flowing in from private fortunes & certain corporate enterprises (who knew Jesus was so ardent about low taxes on the very very rich?) is the good word of the day. Christo-nationalist theocracy so richly deserves its shot at ruining things.

  6. scott s. says:

    COFA passport holders are allowed entry into the US, so Hawaii is a destination of choice. COFA migrants tend to be consumers of social services, and the state is always looking to the feds to offset the cost. Not sure if it comes out of this appropriation.

  7. Yeah, Right says:

    ISW: “Palau and the Marshall Islands are two of the 13 countries that maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.[19] This international diplomatic recognition is critical to demonstrating the false nature of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China.”

    You know, it is statements like that which just demonstrates to me that the Kaganate nutters that run ISW are living in a make-believe world of their own creation.

    They really do seem to believe that recognition of Taiwan by Belize, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, Vatican City, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Tuvalu actually is “critical” to, well, anything.


    Those countries maintain diplomatic recognition with Taiwan precisely BECAUSE they are so utterly and completely unimportant that Washington can get away with strong-arming them into such recognition without triggering any pushback from Beijing.

    They are the very dictionary-definition of “non-critical”.

    Neocons, honestly, could they actually point to Planet Earth even if you held up a globe in front of them?

    NOTE: that’s not to say that this Free Association agreement isn’t strategically advantageous to the USA. One look at the map would explain why.

    I’m not arguing against that.

    What I am arguing against is this neocon fantasy that Taiwan is not a province of China, which is a claim that can only end in war between China and the USA.

    Taiwan is a province of China. A REBEL province, sure, but a province nonetheless.

    ISW is just infested with extraordinarily dangerous nutcases with zero grounding in reality, I have no idea why you insist on giving them the time of day.

    • d74 says:

      Why care about ISW?
      It’s always good to know what the enemy has in his (empty) mind.

      Okay for the rest. Congress is playing with fire.

    • Fred says:

      Palau is a NATION and boy they’ve just got to be equal to Monaco, or Mexico for that matter. Equal at the UN anyway. ‘equal’ in the usual sense.

  8. Yeah, Right says:

    ISW: “These three island countries control key sea-lanes that provide a secure route connecting American allies and partners, such as the Philippines and Taiwan, to the United States territory of Guam and state of Hawaii.”

    Hmm. I’m no navy man, but I would have thought that control of these three island countries have much more importance securing the routes between Australia and Guam/Hawaii than they do about securing the routes our of the Philippines and Taiwan.

    After all, in the event of a shooting war Taiwan (and to a lesser extent the Philippines) are going to have far more important worries than what PLA assets happen to be based out of those islands.

    After all, they are going to be within range of PLA assets on the Chinese mainland.

    Australia, on the other hand….

    Still, if you are a neocon think-tank that is dedicated to spruiking for war with China then I guess putting the word “Taiwan” in there pushes many more buttons than the word “Australia”.

    Not for me, mind you. But in Washington I could imagine the knee-jerking.

    • F&L says:

      “NEOCON” would go well as a diagnostic category in DSM-5, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 5th edition. It fits nicely in alphabetical order between “Necrophiliac” and “Nutcase.” Neoconservative, Neonatal psychosis, Neurosis, Neurocognitive disorder, … , Nincompoop,

  9. F&L says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha! A five Ha rating is rare from me. Now you know why he’s all Gaga for Israeli genocide and outright and ongoing mass murder of little kids (and their moms).
    A real true blue white supremacist (Zionist) bastard. Do you need help folks with exactly how compromised RFK Jr actually is?

    Here’s your hints for the day.

    A) Have you seen photographs of him with his shirt off, or maybe doing pushups without a shirt or t-shirt? He is the definition of “a Hunk.”
    B) Do rich middle aged women go for that?
    C) Do young horny teenage girls go for it?
    D) Is he handsome?

    So, to oppose “dictator” Donny, the line-up is Genocide Joe and this buff eminence.
    Presidential candidate RFK Jr. admits he flew on Jeffrey Epstein’s jet TWICE and went ‘fossil hunting’ with him in South Dakota – then says ‘My wife had some kind of a relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell’.

    • Laura Wilson says:

      Well, no, he is not handsome. Looks like an “over-the-hill” sailor to me! And as my mother always warned me, “Pretty is as pretty does.”

  10. English Outsider says:

    “Neocons, honestly, could they actually point to Planet Earth even if you held up a globe in front of them?”

    Dunno, Yeah Right. But that comment’s funny every time I think of it. Not so funny of course when one considers what they’ve been up to.

    The European would be neocons are facing that question right now. Assuming that any of the Europoodles read the Washington Post.

  11. Laura Wilson says:

    When you seriously believe that a great disruption of the world and military chaos will bring Jesus back, you are willing to help in any way possible. The Founders really understood (they remembered Cromwell and Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VIII) EXACTLY why separation of church and state was blindingly obviously necessary.

    Our democracy and our national interest may not survive this next “teachable moment.”

    • Fred says:

      When you seriously believe that calling for the genocide the of jews does not violate the ‘code of conduct’ at Harvard, MIT, and Penn because it did not yet become actual genocide you definitely have something wrong with you. That’s why you’re (those three who testified to same in Congress) University Presidents.

      Teachable Moments on Elite campuses, every single day. De-humanities 101.

      • TTG says:


        Maybe there was more to the Harvard professor’s speech than a call for intifada and revolution. Did he actually call for genocide against
        Jews or is that the words of Stefanik alone? I don’t see how calling for intifada and revolution or speaking out against the continuing slaughter of civilians in Gaza calls for any action against that professor or anyone else on campus. I find the tearing down of Israeli hostage posters, besides being exceedingly stupid and counterproductive, and making excuses for Hamas atrocities offensive just as I find making excuses for the continuing slaughter of Gazans by the IDF offensive. Does Stefanik condemn that kind of speech? But being offensive is not reason enough for censorship.

  12. Mark Logan says:

    Congress these days tends to knee-jerk to oppose everything Biden wants, so ISW may be being preemptive here.

    Under the heading of “Are they really considering this?” Venezuela is considering annexing a significant chuck of Guyana, and hardly any US press is paying attention to that, including ISW. The referendum (of course) passed with nearly all respondents approving this insane action, and Maduro seems to be getting ideas. A war might be viewed by him as a way to unite his messed up country. This oil reserves there have been judged as perhaps on par with those of Kuwait, so everybody should know how this would go.

    • leith says:

      Maduro was undoubtedly put up to this by the Kremlin. Trying to establish a third front for his war against Ukraine. Guyana is still in the British Commonwealth and Putin is hoping to start a shooting war over this land dispute, where Britain will come to the rescue and dilute their support to Kyiv. And perhaps Uncle Sam will jump in also as Maduro is a well known boogeyman in the US Congress, second only to China and Iran.

      • Mark Logan says:


        Perhaps. My nose tells me it’s a bluff, but it’s been wrong before.

        The only road from Venezuela to Guyana goes through Brazil, and Brazil is not going to cooperate. The entire shared border between Venezuela and Guyana is a very broad band of roadless and very wet jungle. The oil is offshore, taking the land will not grant access to the oil. What the hell is Maduro thinking?

        What’s Maduro thinking?

        • F&L says:

          I know nothing about the roads but the map at this link shows a large western portion of Esequiba being contiguous (bordering) Venezuela. The areas where Brazilian territory juts into Guyana (and the disputed section west of the Esequibo river) are in the south. I’ve read that the oil is in the north off shore. If so, is Brazil really a factor?

        • leith says:

          Mark –

          Maduro’s Navy is not in any shape to challenge offshore drilling rigs. One of their coastal patrol boats sunk when they rammed a cruise ship. The cruise ship survived.

        • different clue says:

          If Maduro bore a “conservative” label, left-wing analysts would note that seeking a foreign adventure is a unify-the-public diversion often pursued by authoritarian rulers concerned about a possible shakiness of their hold on power within their own country.

          Since Maduro bears a “socialist” label, left-wing analysts will not point this out as an obvious possible motivation. Instead, they will make beautifully argued excuses about why Maduro has the right to conquer Essequibo, about “national liberation”, and so forth.

    • ked says:

      let’s just leave it up to the Texas Nazi Oil Party.
      they’ll take care of them summabitch commies.

    • leith says:

      Maduro was undoubtedly put up to this by the Kremlin. Trying to establish a third front for his war against Ukraine. Guyana is still in the British Commonwealth and Putin is hoping to start a shooting war over this land dispute, where Britain will come to the rescue and dilute their support to Kyiv. And perhaps Uncle Sam will jump in also as Maduro is a well known boogeyman in the US Congress, second only to China and Iran or maybe first because he is so much closer.

    • Yeah, Right says:

      Perhaps Maduro is just engaging in a massive troll of the West with this referendum?

  13. F&L says:

    If you can find someone or something more nauseatingly and frighteningly psychotic than Nikki Haley here – please stay far away from whatever it is. Now you absolutely know why Trump will be the Republican nominee. And I’m not one of his fans. For anyone who watched the GOP debate last night who read a comment of mine that was in some small part positive regarding Chris Christie — please accept my apology and retraction, he proved to be a disaster too. This is where you are, America, it’s actually this bad. I also have to retract and apologize for any negative statements I made regarding Vivek, who proved himself to be head and shoulders above everyone on that stage last night, much as it pains me to say so. We have to rename her from Nikki Haley to Hickie Nailhead. Sorry, Hicks and Hickies, nothing personal.

    • TTG says:


      Ramaswamy doesn’t strike me as a serious candidate, but he’s placing himself well to become one of Trump’s minions. He’s articulate, but uses those skills to push every conspiracy theory and lie that he can get his hands on.

      • F&L says:

        In a sane world of course you’re right. But this is America, Erica.

        America means “Morning, Erica” or “Am Erica?” I can’t tell.

        In number theory there is modular arithmetic. You write:

        27 = 6 mod 7, (modulo 7) because after division by 7, 27 leaves a remainder 6.
        Or 8 = 2 mod 3.
        In the present time, and it may be universal, not only our country, we need every statement’s truth value to be evaluated “modulo Nutcase.” Which means “would a Nutcase consider this true?”

        “Trump should be the gop nominee” is True, modulo Nutcase. Just like 8 = 2, even though it 4 times as large as 2, but modulo 3, 8 does equal 2. Of course it’s ridiculous, you can simply say “if the choice is limited to DeSantis, Christie, Haley, Ramaswamy and Trump then the choice should be Trump.” Maybe it’s kind of like saying if you’re going to play crazy tiddlywinks then choose the craziest tiddlywinker to tiddlywink.

      • ked says:

        pretty obvious. another shallow state wannabe player. amateur bully… working toward becoming a pro pol bro, auditioning for the Dictator. made his $ & fame as a finance scammer in pharma. is there no more entertaining talent in the gqp?

        • F&L says:

          I just now read Trump’s proposed list of cabinet members. And then realized that everything I said above was wrong and ridiculous. The people on the list are so awful that the American people should be thankful for our deep state, awful unconstitutional and illegal thing that it is. The republican party of recent vintage needs to be chained in manacles and marooned on Devil’s island. What happened to old Billy Roche? He understood that well.

  14. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Something worth noting:

    I’ll play it safe and not try to comment, as I am commenting using my real name.
    As they say, “You make the call.”

    As to BG Wells, best wishes.

    • TTG says:

      Keith Harbaugh,

      Wells was relieved of his duties “based on a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead.” Given the nature of his assigned duties, I think it was appropriate. From the article, Wells seems to agree. He wasn’t the right officer for that particular job or at least gave the appearance of not being the right officer for that job.

      • Keith Harbaugh says:

        From the article:

        Wells, who was a lieutenant colonel and the Army’s defense counsel for the Great Plains region in Kansas at the time,
        told his staff that
        “you and your teams are now the ONLY line of defense against false allegations and sobriety regret.”
        He told them
        they now were the only defenders of troops no one will defend,
        “even when all signs indicate innocence.”

        It seems to me those statements of his were and are entirely consistent with the job of a defense counsel.
        I.e., he was just doing his job.
        Of course those statements are not consistent with the job of a prosecutor,
        but that wasn’t his job back then.
        (Although the notion of “sobriety regret” has definitely changed in acceptability over the years.)

        As to his meek current statement,
        I can certainly understand the desire not to get into an argument with your boss.

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