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I will never forget the one time in my life when I was convincingly duped and felt like a complete novice on US foreign policy. The year was 2009 and the first African American President, Barack Hussain Obama, delivered his ‘New Beginning Speech’ at the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University. In his effortless oratorical excellence, the new President promised a tectonic shift in US foreign policy in the Middle East.
The promised implications for the cause of human rights made global progressives excited with goosebumps because, in our high idealism, we felt Obama could actually forego US interests in the region and champion the cause of the Egyptian people in their struggle for human rights. In short, it never happened and the quid pro quo (something for something) foreign policy arrangement between Egypt and the US where Egypt protects Israel and the US turns a blind eye to the domestic excesses of their governments seems to be as fixed as the northern star with constant dangers for the people.
GUYANA’S SOMETHING FOR SOMETHING FOREIGN POLICY
When the 70thUnited States Secretary of State, Michael Richard Pompeo mounted the US State Department podium for his weekly press conference on Wednesday, July 15th 2020 and called for the Granger government to ‘step aside’ coupled with visa restrictions, it sent shockwaves through Georgetown. At that moment, some felt it was the usual response to evidence of electoral fraud and rigged elections. But subsequently, there was his unprecedented visit to Georgetown and public display of affection for a regime which he exerted pressure to install. Then there was the signing of the ‘Growth in the Americas Imitative MOU’. Then came the Ship rider Agreement and then there was Guyana’s letter to the government of Morocco on November 10th signaling its intention to no longer support the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara. Then came Guyana’s vote at the OAS rejecting Venezuela’s parliamentary elections and then there was the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco, orchestrated by Pompeo. All of these combined to lend irrefutable credence to the theory of the existence of a quid pro quo (something for something) foreign policy arrangement between the government of Guyana and the Trump administration.
Be that as it may, some may want to suggest that politics is foreign policy and foreign policy is politics and this development is normal. No, it is not normal. This level of unprecedented kowtowing to the foreign policy objectives of another country confirms the existence of some agreed transaction and insofar as this is true, it teems with much danger. Anyone with any basic knowledge on these matters would caution about what this means for the domestic affairs in the weaker state. It is elementary: you give me blind support to pursue my foreign policy objectives and I will turn a Nelson’s eye or a blind eye to your excesses. In this, there is a crackdown on the political opposition, the silencing of critical voices, banishing of civil society, stifling of the free press, nullifying of legislative assemblies and frankly, Putin-like disappearances of opponents. Luckily, Guyana may have dodged the bullet due to Biden’s victory on November 3rd.
If Trump had secured a second term, it would have been hell to Helsinki for anyone who is seen as opposing the government.
Therein lies the danger of a something for something foreign policy.