Micronesian Dependency

by John Connell, is a great overview of the core issues facing the Pacific.

You can download the 34 page PDF file here.

He deals with the specific delimmas of the outer islands starting on page 27:

In every state there is now an enormous difference between the center and the outer islands; in Palau these differences occur no more than a few miles from Koror. The term “outer islands” has become a Marshallese phrase; in historic times there was no need for such a distinction. In contemporary times the distinctions are enormous and a United Nations mission to the TTPI area commented that “throughout Micronesia the outer islands have been almost totally neglected in the development process, causing serious problems for the people living there” (United Nations 1980:63).

In his conclusion he alludes to the core problem of incongruity; namely western systems (bureaucracy, liberal representative government, free market economics) which are not functionally underpinned by the value systems and perspectives that evolved to support or perpetuate them in the west (Micronesians tend to value consensus, proprietary, and communalism).

Micronesian societies are characterized by rank and there are intense local and regional rivalries, including tensions between high islands and atolls; and, thirdly, by the overlay of an American colonial system(within the UN trusteeship).

This system has resulted in an orientation of values... which limits the possibility for regulating such issues as population movement, access to employment, and the structure of education. These conditions have contributed to an exceptionally poor growth record concurrent with rapidly and continuously rising expectations, contributing to problems of urban unemployment and reinforcing the orientation eastwards, to what is still widely referred to as the “mainland.”