Guyana and the Caribbean are not in the same position as Pakistan and India
Stabroek News
September 26, 2001

Dear Editor,

The Caribbean cannot ignore the events that have unfolded in the USA since September 11 for three reasons. First, a large segment of its diaspora resides there, thus there is a direct people-to-people link. Second, given the region's economic dependence on the USA, any instability there would have serious effects on our already fragile economies. Third, the very nature of globalization suggests that any large-scale action by the world's most powerful country will affect the rest of the international community, whether they like it or not.

The key is the last phrase "whether they like it or not." Developments in the current globalized order are determined by the strong and powerful, with the weak and powerless being dragged along by remote control. The US pledge to fight and root out terrorism must be seen against this background. That country has the capacity and culture to wage war. In any case any war against terrorism must be largely a US war, for it is the US foreign and political-economic policies that have made the world much more hospitable for terrorist activity than would normally be the case. Of course the US did not set out to create terrorism; it was simply pursuing its national and international destiny. But in the politics of competition, one nation's destiny is another nation's misery.

Further, US foreign policy has led it to create and support dictatorships and terrorist organizations to fight one cause, only to abandon them when the enemy changes. It therefore leaves a trail of enemies and jilted lovers. Its economic policies, driven by runaway capitalism, have widened the gap between the weak and the strong, thus creating the conditions for global discontent. In short, the post World War II world or America's half century shaped largely by the US is a world of great wealth and power for a tiny global elite and a few countries on the one hand, and a world of poverty, discontent and disempowerment for the vast majority of people and countries.

International 'terrorism' therefore, is a given; it's a reality in today's world order. It is one of the few weapons that the weak has to fight the strong. Terrorism cannot defeat the USA and other world powers, but neither can those countries defeat terrorism. But terrorism can be contained if the US actively supports the substantive democratization of international politics and economics both among and within nation-states; serve as an honest broker in the world's conflicts; and mobilize and educate its citizenry to be purveyors of justice for all.

I say all of the above to make the central point that this current crisis has to be settled by the US and its allies in the First World. While small countries like Guyana and the Caribbean would be severely affected by this crisis, they should not extend themselves on this matter; they are on the far outer edges of the periphery. It is in this context that President Jagdeo's pledge to join the US in fighting terrorism along with similar statements from other Caribbean leaders are misguided and uninformed. Such statements betray a slavish penchant to toe the US line. In fact President Jagdeo's statement came before President Bush laid down the law - you are either with the US on this matter or against it.

The problem here is the US does not see or care to see if the Caribbean toes the line or not. The region is simply not important. Statements of shock and solidarity with the American people are in order, for almost 7,000 innocent lives were lost. The Caribbean must demonstrate humanism. But we need not join a war that we did not facilitate, know little about, and have no capacity to wage. In fact, if the Caribbean becomes bellicose on this matter, it may well invite the attention and wrath of the terrorists. The region can hardly cope with the terror of criminals, political tribalists, and state police; how can it defend itself against international terrorism?

If President Jagdeo and the PPP cannot adequately fight the terror being unleashed daily on the Guyana people, or keep the Venezuelans and Surinamese at bay, how in heavens are they going to fight world terrorism? The best contribution our government can make to the safety of the world is to guarantee the safety of its citizens in Guyana by moving to create a just society in which racial competition, economic want and disempowerment, and the tyranny of the majority and the strong disappear.

In the meantime, the government should begin to put in place emergency measures to deal with the fallout from the inevitable war. Fewer immigrants will be allowed into the US either as workers or students. Tourism will decline and exports to the US market will fall off among other economic casualties. America's foreign policy is dictated by America's intent and to be sure Congress will not be voting any bail-out funds for the Guyanese and Caribbean economies. We are not in the same position as Pakistan and India; we are irrelevant to this scenario.

Yours faithfully,

David Hinds