Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Caribbean may hold geopolitical significance

OF late the global political environment has taken on a reality where tensions are brewing among some of the major actors (countries) in international politics.

The tensions have surfaced both in Europe and in Asia. The decision by Russia to annex Crimea, the Ukraine peninsula and the subsequent turmoil in Eastern Ukraine has brought a swift reaction by the West (the United States and Western Europe) in the form of sanctions against Russia, which is accused of having a hand in what is now the Ukraine crisis. They have threatened more biting ones should the situation escalate and many commentators have described relations between the West and Russia as the worst since the start of the 1990 when the Cold War ended.

Many hundreds of miles away from Europe, China is said to be asserting its power in the South China Sea much to the annoyance of the Philippines and Vietnam, which claim sovereignty over part of that area. China and Japan are also at it over a group of islands which both countries have claimed as their own. The United States as the lone superpower in the meantime, while seeking not to take sides in what is taking place in Asia although it does not agree with the Chinese posturing, wants to see a peaceful solution – at least that is what it says. These events are enough to make the world nervous as what could likely happen should relations between the states involved deteriorate even further.

There are many who would say that these global events mean absolutely nothing to small states such as what we have in the Caribbean. Once thought as having some geopolitical significance, some countries of this region were brought fully in the rivalry which existed prior to and even after the second world war. They were the locations for American bases which allowed for the staging of troops and other military installations in the event hostile powers came a calling. They also benefited after the war from enormous financial aid, technical assistance, trade preference arrangements and participation in multilateral economic programmes, all with one goal in mind – to ensure the political and economic environment was such that it did not give rise to Russian influence.

However, with the cold war having ended in 1990 or thereabout and the end to East West tensions, geopolitics as far as the Caribbean goes is no longer a drawing card for the US and other great powers in terms of their foreign policy making. The world was expected to settle down and the market was now the preferred option for economic policy making including in states that were once under communism. Small countries have their own battles to fight: how to cope with global economic changes, how to reposition themselves for greater economic take off once the current crisis fully abates; and how to deal with natural disasters and in particular Hurricanes, which do cause significant negative impact on the region.

With new tensions having surfaced it remains to be seen just how far they will go and who will be seeking to exploit small countries to woo them to the side of the protagonists. It has happened before and could be so again. Interesting times are ahead and, who knows, geopolitics could again hold significance.

No comments:

Post a Comment