Barbados Foreign Policy Should be Based on ‘Ínterest’
Submitted by Caleb M. Pilgrim
Time was when a foundational principle of Barbados’ foreign policy was that we were “friends of all and satellites of none”. The idea carried, then as now, a certain charming naïveté about it. For me, however, even as a Temporary Foreign Service Officer in the Barbados Foreign Ministry eons ago, the idea seemed slightly preposterous.
Curious that Sir James Cameron Tudor, (Keble College, 43), Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, P.R UN, and H.C UK should have embraced such intellectual nonsense. He was, after all, a contemporary student of World War II. In such context, could any one seriously imagine Churchill, filled with constant rage and his natural bile at Nazi aggression and even subsequent anti-colonial developments, ever declaring that Britain was a “friend of all and satellite of none”?
Ditto any number of other states on the world stage, e.g the US, France, the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Israel, Cuba, North and South Korea, and a ton of others, more or less powerful and influential? Not one of them would have predicated their foreign policy on a foundational principle of universal friendship that makes no sense, even at the rhetorical, aspirational and declaratory level.
Logically, adherence to such a foundational principle would also have meant that The Barbados Government would be “friends” with the Apartheid white minority Government of the Republic of South Africa (RSA), which preached as a cardinal principle the innate inferiority of the black man. Similarly, Rhodesia under Ian Smith post 1965 and their system dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of white minority rule. Did the architects of Barbados’s foreign policy intend such strange friendships?
By analogy, even at the individual level, we may ask any ordinary, reasonable, prudent reader, whether growing up he or she was “friends” with everyone in their neighbourhood? Or, whether he or she was “friends” with everyone in their individual class or school? Or, yet again, whether he or she was “friends” with everyone in their place of employment?
As Aristotle reminded us long ago “a friend of all is a friend of none”.
At the empirical, existential level, this notion of “friends of all”, therefore makes no practical sense. Rather, it seemed a superficial, empty meretricious, sorely misplaced idea, naturally inimical to Barbados’s best national interests. It has clearly outlived any usefulness.
Rather, Barbados’s foreign policy should be at all times closely aligned, if not inextricably intertwined with advancing the goals articulated in its National Development Plan(s), dealing with various sectors, e.g trade, industry, banking and finance, international business, technology, security, law and order, tourism, agriculture. education, energy, infrastructure, human rights, etc, etc.
Let us therefore re-state the argument. Properly understood, any Barbados Government should not boast a foreign policy based on some erstwhile ethereal, unaudited bogus hocus pocus about being “friends of all and satellites of none”.
Rather, Barbados, as a small developing country of limited resources and facing serious political, economic and social challenges, has only interests (interests underlined, not “friends”) to be protected as a matter of its foreign policy, more than 50 years after independence, and various allies to be cultivated and maintained.