At Our Western Doors

Many a man whose prewar picture of life on a South Sea island came from looking at Dorothy Lamour knows better now. It didn’t take him very long after wading ashore to learn that the Hollywood version of life in the South Seas does not fit the facts.

Let’s be fair to the movies, however, and admit that for at least two hundred years the same kind of romantic idea of life upon the islands of the Pacific has been standard in America. Until this war these islands have been distant paradises—dream worlds of coral lagoons and coconut palms, hula girls and hurricanes.

War in the Pacific has forced us into better acquaintance with them. Under grim circumstances obscure names such as Guadalcanal, Buna, Tarawa, and Saipan are being woven into our national history. We have had to realize that in the new air age these far-away islands lie right at our western doors.

What do these seas and islands mean to Americans? What of their resources, their peoples, their governments? What role are they likely to play in the postwar world?

From EM 45: What Future for the Islands of the Pacific? (1944)