EDITORIAL: Say it like it is

- Advertisement -

Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently called out the United States for their foreign policy and defended China from the comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo had leveled criticism against the aid provided by China to developing nations and warned that when China comes calling, it’s not always to the good of small island states and their citizens. That did not sit well with PM Browne and it does not sit well with us.
We have lamented the illogical foreign policy of the United States for many, many years. We cannot reconcile how our long time ally has turned its back on the region and decided that war is the solution to their global, political and other problems. What ever happened to the old adage that ‘you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?’ We are literally on the United States doorstep. Other than Canada and Mexico, the Caribbean countries are its closest neighbours. We recognise that, the world recognises that, and for a long time, the United States seemed to recognise that. Then something happened and our neighbour and long-time ally seemed only concerned about money and the drugs in the region. The feeling of the U.S. being our ‘big brother’ changed in its meaning.
We are not going to get into our theories of what changed the relationship, but it is worth looking back and noting that Antigua and Barbuda and the United States had an extremely close relationship, which was evidenced by our hosting of both a naval and an air force base for many years. But like the aid to the region, the bases eventually pulled out.
What replaced that friendly, mutually supportive relationship was a far more aggressive tone. We went from being the playground to the hood. Our countries were labeled as drug pushers, money launders, and all sorts of negativity were attached to anything we attempted to do to help develop our economies. The U.S. weaponised the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to decimate our region’s puny banana industry, and when the shoe was on the other foot, and the WTO declared that they had violated trade agreements regarding Internet gaming, they ignored the decision. Then to add insult to injury, they threatened that if we implemented the remedy provided to us by the WTO, they would impose sanctions and brand us a rogue nation that does not respect intellectual property rights. It does not take a genius to figure out the rogue nation in this context.
Now, like a jealous ex-lover, the United States seems uneasy with the fact that China has picked up where it has left off. Pompeo’s statements will naturally cause countries that do business with China, and receive aid, to react. What kind of relationship would it be, if they could not and would not defend it? That is not to say that we have any less love for the United States, it is just that we cannot be expected to pine away, waiting for the U.S. to return our love, while a new suitor is at our doorstep with a bouquet of fresh flowers. Pompeo has said that when China comes calling, it’s not always to the good of small island states, but what does he say about nations that do not come calling at all, or take actions that amplify our plight?
The PM said that the U.S. should learn from China and stop wasting resources on useless wars, and we agree. All this talk by President Donald Trump of being a “nationalist” while blasting “globalists” and insisting that America must always be on top causes everyone to wonder why they would even care about which countries befriend each other, when they are so busy caring only for themselves?
The PM also made the point that there is no superior alternative to assisting human advancement globally than by helping underprivileged peoples globally, and he is so right. The greatness of a person or a country is not in the wealth that they are able to accumulate while others live in poverty. Greatness is measured in how you treat your fellow man and how you use your resources to assist others in overcoming the challenges in life. Living in opulence while others live in squalor is not a characteristic of greatness.
Relationships between countries are something that must be handled with care and that is the responsibility of the leaders we elect. They must ensure that we do not exhibit desperation, thereby becoming victims of economic colonisation and that we do not fall victim to those ‘too good to be true’ opportunities. Those types of warnings are to be heeded, but the United States must be overly naive if they believe that desperate nations will not accept assistance when offered. 
It would do the United States some good to look into the mirror and examine the road that they are travelling; have a look at the numbers as well, because they do not lie. And speaking of numbers, it is worth noting that in 2015, military spending, at almost US$600 billion, accounted for approximately 54 percent of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. That same year saw approximately US$41 billion set aside for international affairs – interestingly, close to one third of that international affairs budget was military assistance.  Latin America and the Caribbean got about US$1.6 billion.  
We are extremely thankful for any aid that we receive, but the numbers demonstrate a greater love for war than peace and stability. Some will say that is harsh criticism, but the evidence is in the spending priorities and the rhetoric. What else is the conclusion when we hear about more billions for walls and bombs against the backdrop of threats of cutting aid because of refugees looking for a better life?
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

twelve + seven =