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Hand them over
There is an Oliver Stone series running on Showtime. It is called The Untold History of the United States and is required viewing material for anyone who wants to truly appreciate contemporary geopolitics. The United States has been and continues to be powerful enough to shape the politics of the entire world. As my high school history teacher Mr Llewellyn McIntosh used to tell us, “...we can never understand what is happening around us today unless we understand what has happened in the past.”
So Oliver Stone reminds us that the Second World War saw the United States’ involvement being critical to Allied Forces victory both on the European and Pacific fronts. After the Second World War, the extent of US dominance is hard to exaggerate. The US emerged as the global superpower, while American citizens enjoyed a standard of living that made them the envy of the world. By 1945, the United States was the strongest, the richest, and—for the white majority at least—the freest nation in the world.
Stone’s documentary reminds us that the US then possessed nearly two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves and more than half its manufacturing capacity. In terms of value, its exports more than doubled its imports and the dollar had displaced the British pound sterling (the UK was nearly bankrupt) as the global reserve currency, making the United States the world’s money manager. Historians agree that among the world’s producers of oil, steel, airplanes, automobiles and electronics, the US was number one.
The subsequent Cold War was characterised by the Truman Doctrine which saw the US influencing and intervening in the affairs of many nations, including Caribbean nations, to ensure that American interests were served.
Where am I going with this? I am trying to understand why a tiny two-island republic appears to be openly defying the will of its extremely powerful trading partner and ally, the United States? It is doing this by refusing to hand over two financiers of the ruling political party who are being sought by US authorities for crimes allegedly committed in the United States.
If I am honest, while watching the Oliver Stone series on the Untold History of the United States, I began to get a bit worried. History tells us that the United States always tends to get what it wants and there can only be one eventual outcome to this situation. The 2010 case of Christopher “Dudus” Coke in Jamaica stands as a reminder as in that case, the Prime Minister of Jamaica also tried to prevent the accused from being extradited to the US.
In that case, the accused was also a prominent figure who enjoyed a close relationship with the ruling political party, the Prime Minister and other members of the political elite. In the end, he was not beyond the reach of the US.
As is customary, I am sure that there have been extensive private exchanges via the embassies on the matter and it suggests a breakdown in negotiations that the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain has had to resort to a public statement on the issue. Last year, on a symbolical date, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack, the US Embassy released the following statement:
“The Embassy of the United States is concerned by reports the Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson fraud case may be dropped. The two were first indicted in 2005 in a Miami Federal Court on numerous fraud and money laundering charges stemming from alleged bid rigging between 1996 and 2005 on contracts for the Piarco International Airport. The United States continues to seek their extradition despite the ruling last year by the Trinidad and Tobago High Court. They remain under indictment in the United States. Mr Galbaransingh and Mr Ferguson are accused of committing fraud involving millions of dollars. It would be highly disappointing if, after years of investigation, their case was not brought to trial.”
The US may not enjoy the unrivalled dominance that it did in the immediate post World War II period, but it still wields influence especially in the Americas. On December 20, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that the US Economy is now growing at 3.1 per cent, unemployment is down to 7.7 per cent from 9.4 per cent two years ago, and even the housing market has stabilised and is now growing in some areas.
While the T&T government’s effort to reach out to the governments of China and India is understandable, the continued disrespect shown to a long standing ally is yet another unfortunate policy stance. Perhaps it is not too late for the present administration to do the right thing and hand them over? Despite our current challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope that we will all enjoy a brighter tomorrow. Read more on derrenjoseph.blogspot.com
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