"It is difficult," pontificated the Times of London two years ago, "to imagine either extreme nationalism or a scrupulous addiction to neutrality arising seriously in the Maldives." Seldom has the Times been more wrong.

Unceremoniously kicked out of their sea-air bases by newly independent and neutralist Ceylon, the British decided to set up new bases farther south on the placid island of Gan in the Maldives, a splatter of palm-fringed dots in the Indian Ocean 400 miles from Ceylon. There are only 93,000 Maldivians—nut-brown, peaceable folk who have been under the wing of the British Empire since 1802. The world has...

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