Congress needs somewhere to dump the steaming piles of "guano" they squeeze out on a daily basis.
Not just fertilizer: back in those days, guano was important as a source of gunpowder (specifically, the saltpeter part). Which makes a lot more sense out of why the US would fight for the stuff.
any o those disputed south china seas islands covered in enough guano to qualify?
Perfect. The CIA will infiltrate with double agent boobies and albatrosses and inundate the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands with ever increasing acres of precious bird shit...Pacific Fleet moves in, takes control, scrapes the crap off and builds a casino or two.
No, the real question is why somebody would claim an island on behalf of the United States when they could claim it for themselves and end up with their own freakin' island.
It's easy to claim an unpopulated island, the tricky part is keeping said island if there's anything there worth exploiting. How many people have a private navy capable of withstanding a foreign invasion?
I assume becoming king of Bird Poop Island would entitle me to some sort of mental control over seabirds. Surely they'd fight on my behalf!
Would you take orders from the rat who declared himself king of Human Poop Island? I think not.
Foreign invasion? How are you going to stop Somali pirates from taking over your private video arcade and undersea glass domes? Or those Scientology guys with the sailor hats?
By sitting on a stinky island full of crap? That itself should repel any wannabe invader.
A talking rat? I'd at least listen.
It was a military asset. Add to that the value of having a lot of coaling stations scattered across the seven seas, and it becomes a significant factor in force projection, which you need if you're building an empire.
Because they don't want to pay for the military to defend their claim. That's some other sap's job.
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