Tour D’horizon – A Bajan Optic on Foreign Policy

Submitted by Pachamama

Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Successive governments of Barbados have failed to play any significant role in world affairs. We are well aware of the historical and current environmental circumstances within which a small island state must seek to operate but our country must have the courage to properly define our own national interests, for in the final analysis our permanent interests, not friends, are most vital to our country. Is this not what independence means? Barbados could be doing much better at mobilizing nationals abroad into an army to fight the current war for economic survival at home. The country continues, with the possible exception of China, to ignore the tectonic shifts taking place elsewhere, thereby grossly misreading the new Great Game. Barbados’ foreign policy, if it exists, continues to ignore the suffering peoples of Palestine, the Rohingyas of Burma and many other groups, especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia that our country could develop some strategic ties with based on common interest, respect and a difference sense of the future. We are dismayed that few strategic development plans exist in any area of national life. It is as if the country still largely operates as little more than somebody’s colony where thinking about foreign policy is outsourced to some dying mother country somewhere, who should know better.

There must be millions of Bajans, Caribbean nationals and their descendants abroad. Yet there has never been a coherent national development strategy to harness their energies as effectively as a good general would direct her troops for battle. In fact, the absence of an understanding of how the great military generals from history saw international relations may well be a disadvantage to the foreign policy ‘experts’ in ministries across the Caribbean. For in international relations diplomacy is the means to avoid hot wars, some say it is sometimes a war of words. The war for economic survival, tactically, is little different that a hot war. We are by no means arguing that Barbados is to be engaged in any hot wars anywhere for resources or for any other reasons. The reverse is true. We however suggest that the foreign minister of Barbados does not now and will not anytime in the near future have the capacity to deliver two million emails to a target in any branch of the United States government to influence a pending decision that could be harmful to Barbados’ national interests. This is the ultimate exercise of soft power. Such ability could, in the best case, avoid hot wars and in the worst case, raise the international stature of the country so that we are really punching above our weight.

The elites in Barbados and the structures that support them have a long history of denying Bajans from abroad participation at the centre of economic activity, not the periphery, the centre. As amateur historians we all recall the Bajans who came back from Panama seeking to buy large tracts of land in Barbados, when laws were changed to curtail this activity, before it started. And there are several other examples. Very little has changed nearly a hundred years hence. These structural ‘ambiguities’ are right now severely limiting the range of options available to decision makers. But like a deer in the headlight local decision makers are caught up in their own web. For example, we have a place that calls itself a university which lacks the competences to engage thousands of financial experts within the diaspora, people who are better positioned than the likes of the Dodridge Millers or Lok Jacks of this world, who have the abilities to extract billions of US dollars from a bankrupt international financial system, especially at this time, that could be put at the disposal of that institution through some perpetual entity. This is a foreign policy failure. This foreign policy failure results in said institution exerting extreme pressures on the local government at a time when it is least able. But it is the government (successive governments) itself that has suborned this failure by continuing to promote an insidious kind of dependency at home and abroad, at all levels of society. This tactical response to current difficulties could be repeated across other areas. But, who amongst the credentialed class is seeking freedom from perpetual dependence?

The foreign policy establishment of Barbados has been overly influenced by partisan beneficiaries rather than genuine experts. Official seems to convey a nonverbal language that suggest a meeting with a foreign counterpart is about the kind of friendliness that exist between people who know each other, instead of a means to avoid hot war and further Barbados’ interests in other countries by peaceful means.  We understand the pressures for policy convergence from global players and institutions, some in not too subtle ways. We understand the nature and function of the Center for Foreign Relations (CFR) and other institutions within the pyramid of the globalist agenda. We understand the relations between the formal and informal global structures. We understand that there is very little that Barbados could do when a US ambassador is caught engaging in activities inconsistent with her ‘official’ role. We know that Barbados has long supported some things we care about like Palestine’s UN vote, Cuba, and others in defiance of US hegemonic foreign policy. But this is not enough. There is little evidence that Barbados’ foreign policy, to the extent there is one, considers the new Great Game in central Asia.

The posture of Barbados’ diplomatic missions overseas is anachronistic at best and at worst – a reflection of a uni-polar world. The geo-strategic, geo-political Great Game of the world tomorrow is being driven by the insatiable lust of the Atlanticists to control the vast resources of Central Asia, checkmating China, militarily surrounding Russia and ultimately the prolongation of a uni-polar world. As a result we see NATO fighting an illegal guerrilla war in Syria as a prelude to an attempt to decapitate the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and stop the collapse of Israel, they will fail. But where are Barbados and the Caribbean located in all this? To what extent should we choice winners and losers? And when/if we make a strategic decision to plan the next fifty years, what would that World be like? We judge that the American Empire will give way soon. We also judge that the Fourth Reich of Angela Merkel will have near total dominance over Europe within five years, in the wake of the collapse of the Euro. We are however not persuaded that the trajectory of China, though it will continue to rise, will not achieve its apogee, relative to other contenders for global dominance. The answer to the central question raised here is difficult to determine without more study for there are too many variables. However, a best guess is that the next superpower may be an old one – an ancient power from Central Asia and the Near East. Is any of this kind of thinking going on in the External Affairs Ministries in Barbados and the Caribbean? If so where are the discussion papers, the other scholarly writings and the public articulations of the ministers in charge? In these circumstances, how can we creatively re-align our foreign policy to best serve our national interests?

The USA has deceitfully used human rights to extend its hegemony. We suggest that Barbados and other Caribbean countries could use human rights as a point to further their own interests. We have never heard any minister of foreign affairs in Barbados objecting to the genocide of the Rohingya people of Myanmar (Burma). A people of 800 thousand living in Myanmar since the second century and yet the Myanmarese government, led by their new Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in the midst of a Great Power Game between the USA and China for Myanmarese resources and dominance in the South China Sea, can be the target of genocide and there is not a word in objection from one single Barbadian or Caribbean foreign relations official. It is this Barbados regime that continues to have relations with the Zionist state as similar atrocities are committed against the rightful peoples of all of Palestine for more than 60 years. Is there any space for a small island state to play a diplomatic role, in its own interest? Why do we not have closer relationship with real independent state like Bolivia, Ecuador, Russia, Venezuela and Iran? Is it at all possible that these countries will increase their power projection in the world of tomorrow?

We judge that the North Atlantic countries will start to see most of the internal dislocations that they have wrought on the rest of the world for centuries. These will be exacerbated by the physical environmental factors. In Canada there is a strong separatist movement to establish Quebec as a state. We expect the collapse of the US dollar as the means of international exchange. The Euro is unlikely to last much longer and is already tottering. Already in the USA large concentration camp facilities are being built and other laws and control measure are being put in place – as though the masters of the universe expect wide scale social unrest. Abroad America is losing its soft power and is increasing resorting to hard power (war) as the only means left to resolve global problems. There is the beginning of a mass exodus from the USA by the smart people. On the other hand, other countries are rising and presenting significant challenges to an Empire in decline. What will be the world tomorrow be like for Barbados? Who are the big brain people thinking about these issues in Barbados? Or are we just waiting to grab crumbs from somebody’s table? Tell us.

0 thoughts on “Tour D’horizon – A Bajan Optic on Foreign Policy


  1. Foreign policy is where functional cooperation between countries in our region can be of value. We have a ONE China Policy which has failed. Collectively we can make our voice sound as one.


  2. “What will be the world tomorrow be like for Barbados? Who are the big brain people thinking about these issues in Barbados? Or are we just waiting to grab crumbs from somebody’s table? Tell us.”

    We will ALWAYS be waiting with hat in hand to collect crumbs from somebody’s table. That will never change with the crop of policy and decision makers we have.


  3. We need diplomatic ambassadors as well, its not just what in the message.. who can forget Auntie Maxine McClean and Ms. Myrie fiasco…that surely needed more than a stated policy…or a max


  4. The short answer is to quote EWB “Friends of all, satellites of none”.
    No lotta long talk, Case closed.

    if perchance you run into his ghost in the great beyond, ask EWB why he did not invite his caribbean friend cuba to our Independence celebrations in 1966
    only lotta long talk, Case re-opened.

    .


  5. “What is your view of the world of diplomacy NOW and back in the day of EWB”
    None then, none now.
    We only fool ourselves into beliveving that listening to our voices is hearing our voices.
    Countries have interests but great countries have greater interests.The fact ofthe matter is that they are going to operate in their interests first and their policies change to reflect thei interests.
    Hence the difference in treatment of Cuba for instance by the Usa as opposed to China.


  6. Or are we just waiting to grab crumbs from somebody’s table? Tell us”
    you better believe it and you better pray that the USA continues to use their might to bully oil producing exporters to keep their prices in check otherwise we would be in real deep shit.


  7. Since the independence of Barbados has there been any coherent regional foreign policy? If there was or is, then Bajan manufacturers would not have such a rough time getting into the so called caricom market. Now if there is no foreign policy for our backyard and we fall for everything because we can’t stand for just one thing in this region, do you expect Barbados to have a International Foreign Policy for which they steadfastly stand for something? Nahhhhhhhhhh …dream on!!…….Barbados have selfish spineless leaders, hence if the head is sick the whole body is sick


  8. David ‘We have a ONE China Policy which has failed.”

    why not follow Canada’s lead. Talk nuf shiite bout ” human rights reform” and aggressively increase trade with China.


  9. @David

    Nothing has changed significantly in the world of diplomacy since the days of EWB. Chas DeGaulle famously said “Nations don’t have friends they have interests” and Barbados better look after its interests. Imagine starting out a piece with the following “ Successive governments of Barbados have failed to play any significant role in world affairs”. Some Bajans really have an inflated view of Barbados’ importance, a hundred years ago prior to the start of the hostilities in Europe otherwise known as WW1 another group of Bajans penned a cable to England that read “Go ahead England Barbados is behind you” Look how far we have travelled

    When Barbados speaks who listens? We can’t even get our close neighbour and CSME partner to listen to our distress over Flying Fish, (T & T looks after its interests) but we are supposed to champion the causes of people in far flung lands ( he didn’t even mention the plight of people in our ancestral continent). Superman Barbados has run into a lot of kryptonite handling our own affairs,

    Aung San Suu Kyi is quite capable of dealing with Burmese affairs, indigenous leaders will step up other countries to help themselves. .
    I trust that the author of the piece is a young person so I can attribute his thoughts to the impetuousness of youth, if he is mature well some people never get it.


  10. @Balance
    if perchance you run into his ghost in the great beyond, ask EWB why he did not invite his caribbean friend cuba to our Independence celebrations in 1966
    only lotta long talk, Case re-opened
    ******************
    You know of course that some Bajans immigrated to Cuba to work in the agricultural industry? Did you know that when they got old and wanted to return to their homeland Castro said yes but you can’t take any material possessions just the clothes on your back and whatever could fit in your valise, you can’t even take the meagre state pension.

    Perhaps EWB knew of that

    Comprende?


  11. Sargeant wrote”Chas DeGaulle famously said “Nations don’t have friends they have interests”

    He certainly had interests.

    remember “vive le Quebec libre”


  12. “Perhaps EWB knew of that”
    And why since then did he take much credit in championing the cause for the recognition and admission of the despotic regime into Regional organisations?


  13. @Balance
    You can’t be in church and synagogue too; on the one hand you are arguing that EWB was not so independent and that is why he didn’t invite Cuba to Barbados Independence celebrations and then you write that he was always championing Cuba’s entry into Regional and hemispheric bodies.

    Care to formulate your argument again?


  14. “You can’t be in church and synagogue too; on the one hand you are arguing that EWB was not so independent and that is why he didn’t invite Cuba to Barbados Independence celebrations and then you write that he was always championing Cuba’s entry into Regional and hemispheric bodies.”
    Mr Sarge, all i was trying to tell you that is that we need to be careful how we interpret comments from politicians because they not only say one thing and do another because poltical expediency is more often than not the thrust of such commentary.
    Mr Barrow’s refusal to extend an invitation to Cuba to celebrate with us in our historic first Independence Celebrations give lie to his grandiose statement at the United Nations that we were ‘friends of all, and satellites of none’
    So there he was expostulating to the world in belligerent fashion the tenets of an all embracing foreign policy whereas on the other he either forgot to or
    did not have the balls to invite his communist counterpart for one reason or the other.; only later to bask in the glory of offering vociferous support for Cuba’s admission into regional bodies.


  15. @Balance
    We know that politicians speak with “forked tongue”, perhaps Barrow was sincere in his efforts to bring Cuba into the Regional clubs or else he was trying to tweak the tail of the Tiger to the North. You also have to look at other influences i.e. the Commonwealth, with Canada’s Pierre Trudeau and Jamaica’s Norman Manley being friendly to Castro (which irritated the USA to no end) so perhaps Barrow saw himself as a member of that club.

    In fact Trudeau so annoyed the US that Nixon called him an “a..hole” after a private meeting with him, but Canada pursued an independent foreign policy ( not today) and was one of the first Western countries to recognize China in 1970.

    Anyway I digress, just my opinion of those times


  16. perhaps sarge but mr barrow was no sweet bread; he was famous for playing to the gallery by saying one thing and doing another. it was felt that he dd not want to risk fallout with the usa at such an early stage of moving to independence and though a deceitful move may very well be a master stroke for realistically it was the usa calling the shots.trudeau, manley, burbham and barrow were all students of the maverick economist harold laski.


  17. @balance
    Seems to us that your UNBALANCED comment on Laski suggests that what he came to believe was irrational, given the historic failures of capitalism, the known failure of communism and the current shambolic economic circumstances we are in. In essence, we believe that you were overly harsh on Laski while misrepresenting Barrow’s strategic intent.

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