Why do some South Pacific islands vote with the US & Israel?

Recently in the United Nations General Assembly, there was a non binding censure of the US Embargo of Cuba.

  • . . overwhelmingly passed a resolution on the need to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

By the resolution, adopted by a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 1 abstention (Federated States of Micronesia),*

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10529.doc.htm (added the boldface myself)

So why do these scattered islands vote for the US against the entire world? I also notice that in the past at least, these islands sometimes vote against resolutions critical of Israel, of which again the entire world support.

I can imagine perhaps we give those islands foreign aid, but we give foreign aid to many, many, countries, including desperately poor ones, as well as sharing technology, and none of those vote with our government. Now that I think about it, why didn’t our “man in Baghdad” and Afghanistan, who ever our allied leaders are there, vote for their sugar daddy in the UN? Or for example, is the US-supported dictator of say, Blahblah-stan going to risk annoying the US in favor of Castro?

So why no respect?

Well, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Microneia are “independent nations in a state of free association” with the U.S.A. Exactly what that means in terms of U.S. influence on their foreign policy is grist for debate, but one can simplify it by saying that in matters not directly impacting them, they find it wise to not bite the hand that feeds them, so to speak.

Israel has, over the years, made some diplomatic efforts to win these countries over. It’s become a bit of a joke around here:

“Hey, the world may be against us, but at least we’ve got Micronesia!”

But what’s Israel’s beef with Cuba?

Well, Cuba likes to pitch itself and its brand of communism as championing the cause of “oppressed peoples” - and in that vein, they’ve traditionally had a lot of harsh things to say about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and role as a US puppet (or, depending on the mood of the day, the secret masters of the US).

It plays well among folks predisposed to believe that sort of thing, and there’s a grain of truth to it - I mean, Israel probably doesn’t have any better alternatives right now, but the West Bank and Gaza are bad places to be, and Israel has some responsibility for that. (As, of course, does the PA, Fatah, Hamas, et al)

Interesting. Why does Israel bother? I mean, it makes sense for the US to do it, even though these aren’t big players - they’re in our sphere of influence. Few places aren’t, for that matter - we’re a world power. And while Israel certainly punches far above its weight economically, culturally, and militarily - it isn’t exactly a great power in the Pacific Ocean. Is a favorable General Assembly vote really that valuable?

Hey, a vote’s a vote.

Besides, how much does it cost? Israeli support has been mainly in the form of sending over various experts in the fields of agriculture, medicine and communications, and I doubt the Foreign Ministry spends more than a million dollars a year on that kind of stuff. Mainly, it’s just a matter of being nice - having the Prime Minister meet with the President of Micronesia when he stops by for a visit, for instance - and being nice doesn’t cost a thing.

As for why Israel voted with the U.S… well, friends got to stick together, right?

Well a large segment of the population in Blahblah-stan don’t trust the U.S. and don’t have much love for Israel either. Therefore their leaders don’t want to appear to be puppets (even if the U.S. is primarily responsible for propping up their regimes), and so just vote however everyone else in the region is voting. The U.S. government is aware of how precarious said leaders positions may be and since the vote is so lopsided anyway, they don’t make a stink about it.
Most Pacific Islanders, however, probably don’t give a damn one way or another about Israel or most other issues important to U.S. foreign policy and thus don’t care how leaders vote. That and they’re probably under no illusion about just how dependent they are on U.S. foreign aid, so see no point in poking the Americans in the eye on these matters.