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The secretive Diego Garcia military base may be 1,000 miles from the nearest continent, but it has all the trappings of a modern American town.
The troops here can dine on burgers at Jake’s Place, enjoy a nine-hole golf course, go bow
ling or sink a cold beer at one of several bars. The local command has nicknamed the base the “Footprint of Freedom.”
But while cars here drive on the right side of the road, this is not
American soil: It is, in fact, a remote remnant of the British Empire.
That is because in 1965, in the middle of the Cold War, the Unite
d States signed a controversial, secret agreement with the British government to lease one of the
60 or so Indian Ocean atolls that make up the Chagos Islands to construct a military base.
That deal was secret because the UK was in the process of dec
olonizing Mauritius, of which the Chagos archipelago was a dependency.