Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying that diplomacy is the art of telling a man to go to hell, and you do it so nicely that he asks for directions.
Dr Rowley needs lessons in diplomacy.
Our PM is by character, temperament, personality, and practice wedded to “pavement” diplomacy.
Pavement diplomacy is about binary choices between enemies and friends with no in between.
Enemies are subject to characteristic pavement treatment. They must be persistently bullied, called imps and otherwise chastised or humiliated. It is about “machismo” and who “more bad” than whom, and who you take umbrage against.
Pavement diplomacy has no place in our diplomatic relations.
Dr Rowley needed to tread carefully, balancing our conflicting relations with our main trading partners; and on the other hand Maduro with whom we have energy agreements.
However, every time he had to thread the needle he came down heavily on the side of Maduro. He took Maduro’s side when he visited Chile early in his administration. He supported Maduro by high level attendance at his recent inauguration ceremony. He supported Maduro in the repatriation of 85 or so Venezuelans in the face of some objections. We sold them food and he refused to acknowledge a humanitarian crisis with our neighbour for fear of Maduro’s wrath.
Rowley failed to attend four UN General Assembly meetings since taking office in pursuit of our interest. Today he is at the UN seeing about Maduro’s business.
We are now wedded irrevocably, through CARICOM, to the principle of non-intervention.
And in the course of our diplomatic relations why are the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the right of assembly taking a back seat to the competing principle of non-intervention.
When we supported the establishment of the ICC, the law of the sea, or the arms trade treaty at the UN were we not circumscribing the sovereign rights of states to govern without interference? Ask Kenya about the ICC.
And if Maduro imposes his territorial ambitions in Guyanese waters, which principle takes precedence? Support for Maduro or for Guyana?
And if, given his reliance on pavement diplomacy, our war of words with the US escalates, have we calculated the many downsides? What if, God forbid, visa restrictions are applied? What if limited sanctions are put in place? What if our immensely beneficial trade agreements are rescinded? We hope it never comes to this but our actions towards the US demand not subservience to the US but serious diplomacy. What has Rowley’s expensive lobbyist in the US done to advance our interests there?
And what if the EU, Canada, Brazil and others join with the US against us? Will irresponsible “badjohn” talk help us?
Red flags should have gone up when we heard pointed questions being asked about our closeness with Venezuela at the Senate confirmation hearings of the US ambassador to TT.
We were told in the FATCA debate that the heavens would fall if the US were not appeased, yet today we are led to believe that our economic relations with the US are not so important when it comes to Venezuela.
Are we comfortable with our diplomatic isolation in the western hemisphere on this issue?
Years ago Dr Rowley as Opposition Leader chastised then PM Kamla Persad Bissessar for co-sponsoring a UN resolution on global terrorism saying that “cockroach had no place in fowl business”. Is he now comfortable being in the forefront globally in support of Maduro?
We must never be slaves to Maduro, to the US, or anybody else. We must be slaves only to our national interest.
I believe that our national interest demands that we do not escalate the war with the US, or the EU, or Canada, or Columbia, or Peru on this matter.
We should have, from day one, employed a policy within a CARICOM framework of acting as honest brokers to bring contending forces in Venezuela to the table to achieve a lasting peace.
Because of the abdication of our leadership role in CARICOM and for other reasons, CARICOM is split on Venezuela. TTs actions in support of Maduro disqualify us from being honest brokers even within CARICOM.
“Given the bad choices available to us, primarily because of Rowley’s diplomatic failures, supporting the Maduro regime is not in our national interest at this time.
As it stands events have run ahead of us and we are now reacting to fast moving developments over which we have no control,” says MP Charles. Our responses are ad hoc, tentative, acrimonious, reactive and lacking strategic vision and direction.
Pavement diplomacy in whatever form will only make things worse.
MP for Naparima.