Tsunami Warning

Will anyone be mad if I just skip this post and fly out to Tonga…..? Wait! What? A Tsunami? I don’t care, as long as nobody tells me to vote for or against Trump……

So I woke up today, actually feeling half way decent and much less tired than I normally do, and I walk (no, I didn’t stumble for a change, I actually walked) into the living room. CNN was on tv, and they were talking about an eruption on or near Tonga, and a tsunami making it’s way across the Pacific.

Not many people know this but Tonga is one of my favorite nations. I doubt I ever get to do it, but I’ve always wanted to visit, if not live, in Tonga. Not sure exactly where it is on my list….somewhere between Scotland and Tibet. The last few years have been hard on this planet, so it would not surprise me if in the Universe’s vendetta against me that Tonga may get wiped off the map. But while I wait for inspiration to make my Martin Luther King Junior post, I’m going to write a bit about one of the world’s most underrated nations. Tonga.

First of all, Tonga is the likely the only nation that held superpower status that you have likely never heard of. To quote Wikipedia: “First inhabited roughly 2,500 years ago by the Lapita civilisation, Tonga’s Polynesian settlers gradually evolved a distinct and strong ethnic identity, language, and culture as the Tongan people. They were quick to establish a powerful footing across the South Pacific, and this period of Tongan expansionism and colonisation is known as the Tuʻi Tonga Empire. From the rule of the first Tongan kingʻAhoʻeitu, Tonga grew into a regional superpower.”

That’s right Kamehameha….Tonga was a superpower….so suck it! Um….why are you chasing me with a club……?

Second, Tonga is virtually unique for being a Pacific Polynesian island that has never been colonized. It is also one of the few that joined the British Commonwealth voluntarily, and one of the few such nations that held its own monarch instead of recognizing the British crown. To again quote Wikipedia: “The United Kingdom looked after Tonga’s foreign affairs under a Treaty of Friendship, but Tonga never relinquished its sovereignty to any foreign power.” Also: “The Treaty of Friendship and Tonga’s protection status ended in 1970 under arrangements that had been established by Tonga’s Queen Salote Tupou III before her death in 1965. Owing to its British ties, Tonga joined the Commonwealth in 1970 (atypically as a country that had its own monarch, rather than being ruled by the United Kingdom’s monarch), along with MalaysiaLesotho, and Eswatini. Tonga became a member of the United Nations in September 1999.[22] While exposed to colonial pressures, Tonga has always governed itself, which makes it unique in the Pacific.”

Third, Tonga has been one of the friendliest nations to the United States. I can’t find good figures on how much of Tonga’s GNP( Gross National Product) in US foreign aid, I have heard that it is substantial, and that it used to be the practice to feast any American tourist who came to visit. According to the site BorgenProject.org: “Friendly relations between the U.S. and Tonga, as facilitated by U.S. foreign aid to Tonga, also benefit the U.S. by giving it a close ally in the Pacific, a highly important geopolitical area. The importance of Tonga as a U.S. ally was recently reinforced during the RIMPAC military exercises in the Pacific. Among 26 nations to join the exercise, Tonga was the only country from the Pacific islands to participate. The inclusion of Tonga in such an important exercise indicates its importance to the U.S., while also demonstrating how U.S. foreign aid has brought the two nations together.” And according to Wikipedia: “In March 2003, military-to-military talks began between Tonga and the United States about Tonga providing personnel for the Multinational force in Iraq. Support arrangements were finalized in May 2004. Forty-five Royal Tongan Marines, led by the Chief of Defense of the Tonga Defense Services, Colonel Tau’aika ‘Uta’atu, departed Tonga on 13 June 2004. From July 2004, the Royal Tonga Marines were augmenting the 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. The Royal Marines supported the 1st Marine Division’s security and stabilization mission at Camp Blue Diamond. Tonga first served with the 1st MEF on the Solomon Island during World War II. The Royal Tongan Marines returned from Iraq in December 2004. In December 2008, the Tonga Defense Services ended their mission in the Iraq War and returned home.”

Even more impressively, the Wikipedia page reports: “In 2010, Tongan troops began training with the RAF Regiment, in preparation for operations in Afghanistan; the first troops deployed to Afghanistan during February 2011.[4] Tonga’s military size was approximately 450 troops, half of which were sent to fight in the War in Afghanistan, serving in Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck.”

Yeah, that’s right….read that again…..Tonga sent half of their military to help America fight the war on terror…..

Is Tonga perfect? No. Like all countries they have their scandals, their corruption. Likely when/if I ever go there I’ll cause an international incident leading to war with Tonga. But I can’t help but love this feisty, friendly island nation, and I hope God will have mercy on our allies, the tiny ally with a lion’s heart, Tonga.



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