Diplomacy in an increasingly turbulent world is a vital artery in the role of government. Diplomacy assumes crucial importance in two areas – trading relations and aggressive foreign policy behaviour of other states.
A country needs an astute ambassador to wrest trade concessions and to procure lucrative contracts from wealthy states.
A government must have a learned and skillful negotiator as an ambassador in territories that are not on enduringly good terms with it.
What this means is that in some countries, you choose a run-of the-mill ambassador while in other lands, a gifted envoy becomes very crucial.
The US diplomatic missionaries in Israel, Russia, Lebanon, Pakistan, India and China are careerists who operate in highly sensitive environments.
On the other hand, it is doubtful that the Americans will pick the best of the crop to go to Belgium, Italy, Guatemala, etc. The American Ambassador to Canada is never a person in demand because Canada and the US are extremely close friends.
In poor Third World countries, High Commissioners and Ambassadors have to be picked after extensive scrutiny. Aid and trade factors are of immense importance to small countries. We come now to Guyana.
Is this country’s vital area of need, its diplomatic market, being used as a graveyard? Brazil will be in the group of the world’s ten most important global actors in the coming years. A British Treasury report says India, China and Brazil will become the leading economies in the not too distant future.
Brazil should be a priority for the Guyana Government. It is our giant neighbour that represents a huge market for us. The Office of the President has relieved Mr. Ronnie Nawbatt of his Cabinet portfolio of Housing and will be sending him to Brazil. Mr. Nawbatt’s name does not travel well.
The IDB was not comfortable with working with him and he was shifted away from SIMAP where he was in charge. He became the first casualty of the 2006 Cabinet composition. Why would such a performer be sent to a country with which we need to have a more than intimate relationship?
I hope Mr. Nawbatt’s Portuguese is better than Habeeb Khan’s. My opinion is that this is a placement that should not take place. I grew up with Nawbatt in Wortmanville.
We lived a block apart. He was never a person to show higher qualities in politics. He didn’t prove me wrong as we can see from his ouster from the Cabinet.
Ministry Jeffrey indicated that he wants to leave the Cabinet but not Guyana, so Suriname has been chosen. Suriname is a difficult posting. I am strongly advising President Jagdeo not to transport Minister Jeffrey there.
Suriname is the main transshipment point for drugs into Europe. It is a large drug fuelled economy that the DEA monitors closely. Drugs and guns from Suriname are pouring into this country.
It is also a non-Anglo-Saxon polity that lacks the philosophical culture that came down from the Enlightenment and with which the former British colonies were imbued.
Therefore, it will not resort to diplomacy as easily as our Caricom partners as we saw on two occasions when it chose aggression over negotiations. Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname needs to be a highly finessed diplomat. Dr. Jeffrey does not qualify in the least for this assignment.
There is talk of a Cabinet reshuffle after the Attorney-General retires on December 31. One suspects that Mr. Kellawan Lall may follow Nawbatt and Jeffrey into the diplomatic service. Is Mr. Lall going to the USA?
So it seems that when you leave the Cabinet, your uselessness is transported to the diplomatic service. This is a huge self-destructive act because Guyana’s economy needs successful diplomacy in places that are important to this country.
I urge President Jagdeo to read the November 12 issue of the Jamaica Observer. It is an insightful essay on the extreme importance of the right diplomats that the Caribbean needs for it to get onto the global agenda.
I could never forgive Cheddi Jagan after he came to power in 1992 for posting Brindley Benn to Canada as our High Commissioner. The more I study the career of Cheddi Jagan, the more I see this man as one of the worst blunderers in the history of government.
I have known Mr. Benn since I was sixteen and if anyone told me he understood trade and diplomatic issues, I would tell them that Adolf Hitler was an angel.
Finally, I hope no one is that stupid to suggest poor Guyana retain a separate Ministry of International Trade. I hope it is returned under the rubric of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But with this Government any and every absurdity is possible.
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