Tuesday, April 23, 2024

EDITORIAL: Haley’s comments lack finesse

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ONE CONSTANT about Barbados since Independence has been its pragmatic approach to international affairs. It is a policy which we believe the country should continue to pursue.

This is why the pronouncement by the newly appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that “for those [countries] that don’t have our back, we’re taking names, we will make points to respond to that accordingly” is so worrisome. It is downright stupid.

Although Haley has a reputation for not shying away from publicly bashing those with whom she disagrees, laying out a threat as she takes office is unacceptable, crass and unwarranted.

She has started out like a bully trying to get her own way, and clearly is walking in the footsteps of her boss, President Donald Trump.

Admittedly, the new United States administration had warned last year that “things will be different” at the UN following the US abstaining on a United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements in “the occupied Palestinian territory” as illegal. But the law must be followed and upheld, especially when an ally is wrong.

Unfortunately, Haley’s comments must be taken seriously not only by Barbados but by all members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) who must see the value of having a cohesive foreign policy position at the United Nations. It must not be a case of these states wanting to retain friendship with the Trump administration at the expense of their kith and kin.

History must be our guide recognising what Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad Tobago and Barbados did in 1972 when they took the unprecedented and risky position of establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba. They were then blacklisted by the US and indeed many other countries worldwide.

That principled stand by those four nations has turned out to be the right and decent thing to have been done. The members of CARICOM may be small but as a group their numbers count at the UN as they do with the Organisation of American States and other hemispheric bodies.

Ambassador Haley’s focus should be on working with nations despite any differences to make the world body stronger and better since it needs to become more efficient and effective.

Yes, the Americans are making the largest contribution to the world body, paying 22 per cent of the $5.4 billion core UN budget and 28 per cent of the billion-dollar UN peacekeeping budget while still contributing to other UN agencies. Still, it must not become an organ of any one nation.

Haley’s warning offers a renewed opportunity for CARICOM to show its relevance not only at the world body but in a world which we suspect will change under the new leadership in Washington.

The ambassador’s comments are out of place and indicate that she lacks foreign policy tact and finesse. Let us pray that we are not returning to the shameful McCarthy era.

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