There have been widespread comments on the role of the US before and after 2020; they range from Opposition elements accusing the US of “installing the illegal PPP cabal in office” to Government supporters calling for the erection of a statue of Ambassador Sara-Ann Lynch for “saving democracy in Guyana”.
The US has long played an outsized role in Guyana, starting with establishing the Arbitral Panel of 1899 that conclusively established the Guyana-Venezuelan Border. The rationale of the US has been to remind Britain of their 1923 Monroe Doctrine, which declared their preeminence in this hemisphere against European ambitions and established a precedent for their interventions.
We fast-forward to the 1960s, when the US intervened here for strategic ideological reasons in their Cold War against the USSR. Both powers have used the poorer countries as proxies for their competition. That ended in 1988, and left the US as the sole superpower left standing, but not for long.
By then the Middle East had become a new flashpoint over oil, which morphed into a “clash of civilizations”, with interventions from North Africa to Afghanistan, even as they turned to China as a source of cheap labour and transformed them into a contending economic and military competitor.
After spending several trillion dollars, and suffering tens of thousands of deaths while inflicting hundreds of thousands on “others”, the string of failures in those theatres precipitated some intense soul-searching within the US Government. A new strategy abjuring the previous reactive approach was conceptualized by 2018 for “projecting US soft power”. The enabling legislation – The Global Fragility Act – was passed with bipartisan support in late 2019 by the outgoing Trump Administration and adopted by the incoming Biden Administration in 2020. It defines “fragile states” as those “where state weakness or failure would magnify threats to the American homeland.” The Biden Administration then submitted to Congress “the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability (which) conceives an integrated, evidence-based, prevention-focused, coherent and field-driven approach to address drivers of fragility that can threaten U.S. national security and ultimately cost millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”
The administration was supposed to identify five “fragile” countries to launch the strategy over a ten-year period with an annual US$230 million funding. They would serve as templates for “prevention-focused” and “field driven” (read the local Ambassador) activities in other countries.
Finally, in April of this year, it named Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and a grouping of five Coastal West African countries (Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo). Pres Biden issued a letter on the implementation:
“Our diplomats, officers, and experts in the State Department, USAID, Department of Defence, Department of the Treasury, and others across Government, as well as members of the Foreign Service and Armed Forces, will work in close cooperation with multilateral organizations and a wide variety of local partners in each nation where these efforts will be pursued — including civil society organizations, community leaders, businesses, and Government officials. Those who are closest and most vulnerable to these challenges know best where the opportunities for peace and stability lie…and we must support their strength and resilience.”
We note the coordination of all the US institutions that used to work separately, and the stress on working with “local partners” in target nations, which would necessarily involve the local Ambassador and the open desiderata for action. There is presently a delay in implementation in the identified countries because two key Congressmen disagree with Haiti and Libya being placed on top of the list of five. They argue that the leadership there is too “fragile” for successful interventions. In the Alliance for Peacebuilding “Fragile State index”, the five fragile countries are in the red “alert” category, while Guyana is in yellow “warning”.
We should now understand the US Ambassador’s wide local engagements, and her and Secretary of State Blinken’s caution for “transparency, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility”.
In her July 4th remarks, she said, “So, we’re encouraging them (the Government) to focus on efforts that will create sustainable growth for the entire country, no matter ethnicity, no matter race, no matter gender, and no matter geography.” Her remarks invoke the “evidence-based” approach that demands empirical data such as the “ethnic impact statements” we have called for since 1990, which address our most salient cleavage. While some may want to avoid race and ethnicity, the US doesn’t. “If men define their situation as real; they are real in their consequences”.