Thucydides and Vice President Harris “come” to Guyana

WITH the arrival of the internet, there is so much information available that one’s brain simply cannot process even half of it. But all you need to know can be had on the net instead of leaving your home to go to a bookstore to buy a book or magazine to further your knowledge about something that caught your eyes.

I wonder how that famous magazine, TIME, still publishes. It is a weekly publication that is printed days after an event occurred. What can TIME offer you that you would not get from thousands of daily newspapers, daily television newscasts, daily blogs by educated people, daily social media outpourings etc?

By the time, TIME comes out you know everything you wanted to know about the incident. This is what the internet has done for the pursuit of knowledge. You don’t have to read a voluminous book on international relations if you want to find out what the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides said about the inevitability of inter-state warfare. Just go on the internet.

Thucydides’ book, “The Peloponnesian Wars” remains the first book in the evolution of Western civilization to instruct humans that war among countries is inevitable because countries will always want to have a geostrategic, geopolitical and trade advantages over others.

For the generation that grew up after 1950, it was told that the Cold War was a zero sum fight between two halves of the world that opposed each other’s ideological make-up. One was capitalism, a free-market world where individual pursuit to get wealth should be sacrosanct.

The other was communism where people’s rights and liberties were contexualized in the need of the state to share the wealth of the nation equally. The collapse of the USSR and global communism after 1989 showed the post 1990 generation the power of the thinking of Thucydides. There was no longer the USSR. Russia had become a very successful capitalist country. And you thought there would have been an enduring friendship between former rivals after the Cold War.

That was not to be. The Americans and Russians continued their “Peloponnesian” competition. In the 21st century, the prediction is that Russia will fade as an international powerhouse, and the new cold war will be between the US and China.

Thucydides wrote his famous text thousands of years ago and did not live to see that one day the world will not have ten countries but hundreds. Today, there are over 200 sovereign nations. Thucydides did not live long enough to see that his core theory about competition among huge states will have complications because some nations will not join the fight.

The birth of the Non-Aligned Movement in the late 1950s did complicate Thucydides’ theory and will continue to do so. In the 20th century, some nations chose not to take sides in the Cold War because they wanted to beg both sides for things. So they would ask the Americans to build a road and they would ask the USSR for a tractor. This is the way international relations stand today.

There was no new Cold War when Bill Clinton became president and met with all the leaders of CARICOM. Nothing came out of that meeting and here is the proof as provided by Sir Ron Sanders. He wrote: “The 14-nation independent states of the Caribbean Community have been at the bottom of US official development assistance for decades. In 2019, for instance, total US foreign assistance globally was US$47 billion, of which collectively, CARICOM countries received US$338 million or 0.7 percent. For emphasis, that is less than one percent of the global total. Haiti alone received US$268 million of that US$338 million intended for all 14 CARICOM states, leaving the other 13 to share US$70 million only. For 9 of the 13 countries, the sum provided did not amount to US$1 million.”

Now a new Cold War is shaping up and the Americans are coming to Guyana. An unusually large congressional team came here in March recently and here are the exact words of the leader of the group, Congressman, Jason Smith: “America must be committed to outcompeting China around the world….”

Vice President Kamala Harris will be meeting all the CARICOM Heads in the Bahamas shortly. No doubt China will be on the top of the agenda. That is the American agenda. What will be on the top of the CARICOM agenda?

Guyana’s Ambassador to the US, Samuel Hinds, recently appeared on the Freddie Kissoon Gildarie Show and asserted that Guyana needs all types of friends in the world. Why? Because you can ask different friends for the things you want.



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