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Time for strategic co-operation and competition

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Dear Editor,

Competitive trade is a sublime form of warfare. From 2018 the United States (US) and China have been engaged in a trade war. The US's defence strategies list China and Russia as its top concern. In regard to China, the report declares the relationship has changed from strategic cooperation to strategic competition.

The current US-dominated world order has been in place since after World War II, re-enforced by the 1944 Bretton Wood Agreement and the US military superiority. Whether it is the US-China trade war, Iran nuclear deal, North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons, US's unsuccessful attempts to have regime change in Syria and Venezuela, or a vote at the UN to not support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US's power is ineffective.

The question is: Can Jamaica and Caricom countries come out unscathed when their most important trading partner and international reserve supplier is in decline and refuses to strategically adapt.

Since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, the US has effectively categorised the Caribbean as an imperial interest and all of Caricom is historically, financially and militarily tied to the US.

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the US was a rising power, but now it is a declining power with a national debt of US$22.5 trillion, an annual deficit of at least US$1.2 billion, and many countries moving away from the US dollar. During the 1970s US President Richard Nixon engaged China to ensure China and Russia did not unite. Russia is now in the US's league militarily, and China is a match economically, and they are working together and creating a new international order. China has the Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 152 countries and over US$1 trillion. Russia has demonstrated it can regulate US global hegemony; for example, it controls a portion of Ukraine, part of Georgia, and intervened in matters concerning Syria and Venezuela.

I personally see the US, China and Russia as international predators, and countries like Jamaica are potential prey in the international arena (jungle). If we do not become willing subordinates we have to manipulate their predatory tendencies to our advantage and strategically use them to act as a counter-balance to get what we want and need, at minimal cost.

I have never seen in history any powerful country do any significant action without something being in it for them. “Massa days done!” It is time to put our national interest first with a combination of strategic co-operation and strategic competition.


Brian E Plummer