Sep 19, 2020 Editorial
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has come and gone, continuing on his South American pro-democracy tour, currently in Brazil. His visit marks the highest level of any serving American executive to visit this country, even as our history, particularly from the immediate pre-independence era has been defined by American assistance and intervention, from the Cold War to the present day.
There has been a great deal of speculation concerning the primary purpose of Pompeo’s visit here, particularly the idea that his trip was somehow to set up Guyana as a staging ground for an American invasion of Venezuela to remove the Nicolas Maduro regime and replace it with that of one headed by Juan Guiado, part of some ploy by the Donald Trump regime to use a war to boost its chances in the upcoming November elections.
This mindset betrays a poor understanding of military operations, geopolitics and Mike Pompeo. Firstly, no successful mobilization and resolution of a military campaign would be completed before November, and that does not include concerns of legal sanction from the international community with regard to America establishing and promoting a legitimate casus belli. As is, Maduro barely presents an existential threat to Guyana, despite claiming two-thirds of our territory, much less to America.
Mike Pompeo is not a factotum of the Trump machinery, but a dyed-in-the-wool, Heritage Foundation, true believer in American exceptionalism and global scale Manifest Destiny, an ideologue whose vision for America extends beyond and likely primarily stands apart from the myopic, narcissism that is Donald Trump’s partisan politics and its short-term goals of reelection to avoid charges of corruption. With Attorney General Bill Barr increasingly caught up in Trump’s web, and with Vice President Mike Pence more of a cardboard cutout than the man of substance he projects, Pompeo is the last proverbial adult in the room of a faltering American executive, but which makes the primary part of an ecosystem of conservative Republican ideology that has long been establishing itself and will easily survive Trump.
Over the past two years, Pompeo, apart from and despite the grand, macabre circus that has been the first term of the Trump presidency, has been slowly establishing a track record of American foreign policy realignment that might, if Trump prevails, see him at the very least leaving a legacy.
Indeed, Pompeo, a three-term congressman before moving quickly to the position of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and then replacing former Exxon executive, Rex Tillerson, is a prime Republican candidate for 2024. Christian, pro-Israel, an exemplary military and legal background, he is every bit the Presidential figure that Donald Trump is not and the latter’s campaign going up in flames might as well be the booster rocket for a Pompeo campaign, win or lose.
For now, simply, the Secretary of State’s visit – outside of its potential long-term purpose in relation to US politics and foreign policy – serves two basic purposes: pushback against China’s influence in the region, particular its expanding Belt and Road Initiative, and of course lend some muscle to America’s economic interests in the country, particularly Exxon, despite disclaimers that the company’s venture here was not on the agenda for the meeting with Guyanese officials. As Pompeo tweeted yesterday, along with a picture of him meeting company executives in Guyana, “Given the recent discoveries of oil in Guyana, today presented an important opportunity to express our support for U.S. energy sector businesses and to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the responsible extraction and management of natural resources.”
Whatever the machinations of American politics, we in Guyana have to develop the capacity to see beyond the immediacy of individual overtures and actions by the global superpowers and act accordingly. In the wake of Pompeo’s visit, we need to establish a clear, well-defined foreign policy that focuses a bit less on rhetoric and more on a long-term vision of our place in the world.
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