Life at ‘the tip of the spear’: defiant Guam refuses to cower to Kim |

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Life at ‘the tip of the spear’: defiant Guam refuses to cower to Kim

White sand beaches, crystal clear water, sunny blue skies and palm trees. All the hallmarks of an island getaway perfect for ignoring the problems of the world – unless that island is Guam.

This far-flung sliver of coral and greenery, which sits 9,700km from the US mainland, is in the crosshairs of North Korea. It has been singled out by Kim Jong-un for a quartet of ballistic missiles in a highly detailed battle plan meant to send a warning to his bombastic American equivalent, Donald Trump.
Why is North Korea threatening Guam?

Walking around the 50km-long island there is a mix of trepidation and defiance in the face of antagonistic rhetoric on both sides. Some residents are stockpiling essentials while others proudly boast: “If North Korea nukes us, I hope the US nukes them right back.”

In many ways Guam – a sovereign US territory – is quintessentially American, and most of the people are fiercely patriotic, despite often feeling ignored or forgotten by the rest of the country.

For decades the island has been a vital outpost of the US military, home to strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The island was occupied by Japan during the second world war and a launchpad for bombing raids during the Vietnam war.

Guam’s more recent history has seen tourism dwarf the importance of the military as a crucial economic lifeline.

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