How the U.S. Snagged All These Islands

How bird poop expanded the borders of the United States
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Johnny Harris is a filmmaker and journalist. He currently is based in Washington, DC, reporting on interesting trends and stories domestically and around the globe. Johnny’s visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways. He holds a BA in international relations from Brigham Young University and an MA in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

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Comment (38)

  1. I have spent a while contemplating making this video, rotating between laughing at the ridiculous concept, and contemplating the immensely substantive historical, innovative, and imperialistic impact.. of bird poop. Creating this video was a whirlwind for me, and I hope that you get a similar "What?!" feeling when watching. From now on, I will be occasionally highlighting some of my favorite comments within the first hour of a new video being live . Today, I am both laughing and mourning with BK's Bullets over this comment: "Bites into sandwich, cue the montage of animals pooping!" Sorry dude.

    Thank you EVERYONE for supporting this channel!

  2. 6:46 Not weird at all. Its your goddamn nature to steal and sack the world.
    The day may come where USA pays for what it did to the world and we are glad to see it happening by you own citizen's selfishness.
    Is like your own capitalist minset ended eating your own.

  3. Everybody in my country hates whole America because of what America did in middle east. My parents regularly say interesting things about the U.S like 'They want to invade our country, they are not reliable, don't get married with an American when you grow up…'. And naturally when I see American people who critisize (I'm not sure about how to write 'critisize'. I hope I wrote correctly.) their own country I am really surprised because you know that we have grown up in a country which witnessed the invasion of Iraq by the U.S, I just gave an example. Yes, I did not see invasion of Iraq, I'm 20 yet, so the fact is stories of my parents for me. However, I got that American people and American government are not same. I hope we can see a less emperialist America in the future. By the way I am from Turkey.

  4. A bit deceitful, sir! It said in the document you posted with highlights, just above the highlights: "not belonging to other countries" , That was not worth mentioning?

  5. The U.S. government really pulled a fast one on the world with UNCLOS. They never signed it, so they claim that they aren't limited to its framework, but they still claim all the benefits of it – such as EEZs. There is really no way that you should legally be able to obtain the benefits of an international treaty without being willing to sign and ratify it, but they U.S. government pull it off. It makes you wonder just how often this happens, as the U.S. government is famous for signing international treaties but then simply not ratifying them. All the benefits of a treaty with none of the drawbacks.

  6. Mr. Harris, you should read the book "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States" by historian Daniel Immerwahr. He makes an interesting point in his book where, like you said, the U.S. government doesn't have good records of all these guano islands. However, the U.S. also makes a blanket claim that, wherever such islands exist in the Pacfic Ocean, that they belong to the U.S. In other words, the U.S. doesn't even really bother with claims to such islands; they simply make a blanket claim, similar to China's 9-dash line in the South China Sea. If the U.S. isn't able to contain China in the first or second "island chains" in order to keep the Chinese military out of the Pacific Ocean, then the U.S. will need to make public its claim to basically the entire Pacific Ocean in a more formal manner. This will show just how at odds U.S. foreign policy is with UNCLOS, and why the U.S. government refuses to ratify it. At the present time, the U.S. government, as you pointed out, obtains all the benefits of UNCLOS, such as massive EEZs, but it also has none of the limitations of it as it hasn't signed it.


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