A kingdom, if you can keep it:

WAIMANOLO, Hawaii (AP) – Native Hawaiians could be in line for federal recognition similar to many American Indian tribes. But the issue is inflaming distrust between moderates who support the idea and others who want to see the Hawaiian Kingdom restored…

The federal government is now mulling a relationship with Hawaiians that could protect more than 200 programs and secure millions in federal money. Advocates have been seeking federal recognition for more than a decade.

Hawaiian nationalists insist that the kingdom should be restored. Their dominance of the debate could threaten a proposal that could give Native Hawaiians privileges enjoyed by other native groups.

While the nationalists perhaps hold the upper hand now, I suspect that they will not succeed, at least in the short term, for two reasons. The first is that Uncle Sam has no intention of letting them go. Like Crimea for the Russians, Hawaii is too critical a base for the projection of sea power to let mere votes and policies get in the way. Hawaii could become a free nation only if the United States could no longer hold it by force, and that’s not likely to occur in the short term.

Back to the future.

But second is this: Hawaii simply cannot survive on its own. It is a tourist island that thrives as it does today only because there are lots of people who can afford to dump lots of money on warm weather and flowered shirts. It also receives massive underwriting in the form of United States military salaries and other support. Any less prosperous or peaceful future – especially one that features war in the Pacific – will likely not feature an abundance of either. A free Hawaii can expect, at least, to return economically to where it was in the ’30s or ’40s, and probably would be able to support but a fraction of the population that lives there today.

In the short term, I expect that if anything happens vis-a-vis Hawaii’s native people, it will be the ‘moderates’ who win the day – it’s always easier to vote yourself financial benefits than it is to win your independence and all the responsibility that comes therewith. The nationalists, if they are smart, will join the moderates in wringing whatever concessions they can from Uncle Sugar in the short term. Having your enemy pay as many of your bills as possible makes a much higher base from which to begin the final ascent toward independence.

But though the nationalists might win the day in the end, I suspect they’ll be very surprised at how little they actually gain. Their first order of business will be to discover, I suspect, that any base useful for a big nation to project power from America is a useful base for a big nation to project power toward it.

Perhaps they could designate their new monarch King Pyrrhus I. If the Chinese will let them, that is.