Playing …both sides?

While the Cold War that emerged between the US and the USSR  is widely conceded to’ve created plenty of hot wars in the Third World where they competed for influence, it did offer some flexibility to countries that tried to play both sides against the middle. For instance, if the US and the West could build the Volta dam to generate electricity in Ghana…hey!! then the USSR would do the same for Egypt with the Aswan Dam!! And so on and so forth!!
Now that we seem to be entering a new Cold War – this time between the US and China – what are some lessons our leaders might learn from the first go-around? Well, one can be gleaned from our own entanglement in the 1960s. While Burnham had originally served the US’s interest to oust Cheddi – who couldn’t bring himself to declare he wasn’t a communist – he promptly embarked on his “co-operative socialist” path and befriended Fidel Castro and Cuba!! He received all sorts of help from Cuba including medical doctors. The latter, of course, was America’s bête noir ‘cause he flagrantly declared himself an ally of the USSR and thumbed his nose at the US from just 90 miles away!!
So, how did Burnham get away with courting the Cubans – and even offering them refuelling facilities for their troops fighting US-backed forces in Angola?? Well…simple: he had Cheddi – who by then had openly declared the PPP as a Communist Party – to point to as the alternative if he was removed!! So, the lesson for our present politicians?? Ensure that your opponents are unacceptable – or unpalatable – to the more significant power in our neck of the woods!! Which is the USA! So, right now when not ideology but economic alliance is the dividing line between the two rivals, the PNC under Aubrey Norton seems to’ve hobbled themselves as the party that signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative!!
The Americans consider the latter to be a Trojan Horse to let the Chinese Dragon into their spheres of influence – especially in their Monroe Doctrine-defined “backyard” of Latin America and South America. As even the PPP discovered, the Chinese keep on making offers that countries can’t refuse – so we’ll just have to wait and see who can play the game more adroitly!! A second lesson is that where the US has economic interests, they wanna ensure there’s the least turmoil – so that their businesses can keep on extracting profits.
Sadly, the PNC with its provocative and divisive strategy to fan racial fears –- which have led in the past to ethnic conflict – seems to’ve lost the plot once again!!
Those who forget the lessons of history…

…musical chairs?
During Cold War I, we found out to our cost that the big powers – both of them – worked behind the scenes to oust Governments inimical to their interests. Sometimes they didn’t bother to stay under cover: like when the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956!  And to show it can happen today  and invasions had nothing to do with “ideology” – look how they just invaded Ukraine. A big power’s gonna do what a big power’s gonna do – and deal with the consequences!!
But they don’t normally admit these behind-the-scenes manoeuvres – even when they’ve been confirmed by declassified files, etc!! When asked – “Don’t Tell!” is the rule!! In this, they’re aided in the cover-ups by survivors from their first ousters. Just read David Granger’s writings about that era and you’d never guess that the US and the CIA played the pivotal role to create ethnic conflict to ensconce Burnham in power!!
So, let us accept that right now, there are wheels within wheels turning – by one or the other wanna-be hegemon!!

…Gulag Politics?
One of Putin’s opposition leaders – 47-year-old Alexei Navalny – just died while in prison. Some have quickly concluded he must’ve been killed on Putin’s orders. But with no base, Putin had nothing to fear. Shouldn’t have arrested him!!