EDITOR, The Tribune
The Caribbean relationship with the US is complex but enduring as a result of the 1821 Monroe Doctrine that designates the region under US sphere of influence. During the cold war between the Soviet Union and the US, the Caribbean was both beneficiaries and victims of US power. The Caribbean basin initiative helped the Caribbean to develop while US intervention in Guyana, Grenada and Jamaica precipitated major social upheavals. Most countries have adjusted to US dominance of global affairs.
Today the world has changed. The US is not the only hegemony. China has risen to be a global leader with the second largest economy in nominal terms but the largest in terms of purchasing power, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In 2013 China launched its Belt and Road Initiative. So far, China has invested US one trillion investment in hard and soft infrastructure and has signed memorandum of understanding with 138 countries. A recent White House document states, “the CCP has chosen to exploit a free and open system and rule-based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favour”. There is a global competition between China and US for global dominance. The Covid 19 pandemic has enhanced this fight for power. This pandemic shows the world’s dependence on China for manufactured products and the wakening of US power. The US’s inability to manage the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic and its mismanagement of the George Floyd police killing has pulverised US majestic status.
I view the US Constitution as the greatest political document but if they could dutifully implement it. The foundation of US power is the US dollar being the world reserve currency. The US debt being 26.3 trillion which is 132% of its GDP. 51 cents of every dollar the US spends is borrowed. According to Peter Shift, US economist and Stephen Roach, a Yale University economist, the US dollar’s exorbitant privilege as the world’s reserve currency is coming to an end. The fact that Iran has made many shipments of fuel and food to Venezuela and the US tried to prevent this but was impotent demonstrates the US is no longer the master of the Universe. It is best to have China and US equally matched to preserve global flexibility, but China’s global power is starting to eclipse the US. The US pulling out of WHO, the Paris Agreement on Climate, the Trans Pacific Partnership and other international initiative weakens US global leadership.
Conversely, China is on the rise with her made in China 2025 and China Standards 2035, China will spend US$14 trillion on digital infrastructure in order to dominate in technologies and industries of the future. Huawei owns most of the patent on 5G technology therefore any use of 5G technology benefits Huawei and that is why the US reversed its policy on Huawei.
The Bahamas trades with both China and the US. In my view it does not matter which country dominates the world because power corrupts. Global politics is similar to local politics; leaders do what benefits them and candy coat their intentions. The Bahamas must secure its own interest because global hegemony reward is small but their extraction is large.
BRIAN E PLUMMER
June 24, 2020.