American Colonialism

From the current Wikipedia article:  Currently, the United States has 16 territories, five of which are permanently inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, United States Virgin Islands and American Samoa. The 11 uninhabited territories administered by the Interior Department are Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, and Midway Islands. While claimed by the US, Navassa Island, Wake Island, Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank are disputed.[5][6] describes each territory in detail.

Wikipedia provides additional information on present AND historical colonialism.

The United States also has an excessive number of military bases overseas:
Wikipedia List of United States Military Bases (Domestic and Abroad)
Wikipedia List of Countries with Overseas Military Bases

In the countries where we’ve stationed military in large numbers, we are often unwelcome.  We claim large swathes of real estate, usually of the best land, and make it inaccessible to that country’s citizens.  When our soldiers commit crimes, they are exempt from the local justice system and are often rotated out without ever being prosecuted or even disciplined.  We are particularly unwelcome in Japan (Okinawa) and Turkey.  In most cases, we established our presence as allies or post-war occupiers.  That is somewhat understandable.  We hoped to provide defense and stability, to discourage or prevent further hostilities.

None of that explains the many “territories” currently under American ownership or occupation.  The largest populated territory is Puerto Rico.  The results of non-binding referendums there swing back and forth between statehood and independence, but very few want to remain a territory paying taxes (Social Security and Medicare) and receiving less federal aid than states.  Fleeing 12% unemployment, millions of Puerto Ricans have fled to the US where they are considered citizens but not allowed to vote in presidential elections.  The United Nations’ Special Committee has often referred to Puerto Rico as a nation in its reports, because, internationally, the people of Puerto Rico are often considered to be a Caribbean nation with their own national identity though now in a colonial relationship with the US.

Finally, the eleven other territories are small islands, atolls and reefs, spread across the Caribbean and Pacific, with no native or permanent populations.  Some of these islands are also in dispute.  These “territories” should either be returned to their original (native) people or declared to be international territories (just like we have international waters) where everyone can visit but not establish permanent structures or populations.

When looking at the budget for our military bases, foreign wars, or territorial occupations; I can only wonder why a proclaimed conservative government espousing “America First” is not bringing those troops home, closing overseas bases, and releasing territories/colonies.  Unless we have a defense agreement through an organization such as NATO or a treaty specifying our responsibilities, we need to divest and divert those dollars into infrastructure, innovation and social services. (And those countries need to have legitimate governments that weren’t brought about by outside regime change.)

We are creating circumstances within those territories (and overseas bases) similar to the colonialism we fought a revolutionary war to escape ourselves.