Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM responds to Washington Post article

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): April 1, 2003 - The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia through its Embassy in Washington has issued a response to the Washington Post's article of March 25, 2003.

The Washington Post had published an article that derided the Freely Associated States' support of the United States led coalition of nations in "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

The article suggested the Pacific Nations of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau "cannot contribute [...] military support" to the coalition to disarm Iraq.

In response to the article, the FSM Ambassador to the United States, Jesse B. Marehalau, wrote the following letter to the Washington Post with a similar letter addressed to the Chicago Tribune:

"Recent articles published by your newspaper and others [Dana Milbank: "Many Willing, but Only a Few Are Able"] cross over the line in their zest for ridiculing the Administration. Most importantly, they missed the point concerning the contribution made by the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and other small nations to the coalition to disarm Iraq. With smugness and arrogance, they mock the small nations' role in the coalition, concluding that a nation that is only a "speck in the Pacific" (Chicago Tribune) has nothing of value to offer. The point is not whether small nations can contribute troops in sufficient number to turn the tide of battle. Rather, it is that as our sons and daughters place their lives on the line, they show their commitment, and that of our country, to the ideals of Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights.

Under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia, our citizens volunteer and currently serve in all branches of the U.S. armed forces alongside other U.S. servicemen and women. The son of FSM President Leo A. Falcam was recently selected for promotion to full Colonel in the US Marine Corps. At this time, an estimated four-to-six hundred Micronesian citizens are serving on active duty with the US military. Some have died in that service, and others now stand in harm's way.

This is nothing new. Our citizens have been serving in the US military for decades, and have engaged in combat in every major US engagement since the Korean War. At the conclusion of the first Gulf War, then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney wrote to express appreciation to the FSM, stating that no nation's people had participated in greater numbers proportionate to population than the FSM.

Service by our citizens in the US military is indicative of the special relationship of Micronesians with the "American Family." Extension of formal ties that bind our two countries, in the form of an amended Compact of Free Association, will be considered by the US Congress during its current session. Regardless of political views or your editorial policy, it is mean-spirited to ignore or trivialize our people's service to your nation at this critical time."

Jesse B. Marehalau
FSM Ambassador to the United States

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356