My last article on Barbados’ vote against the US received sufficient feedback to justify a further explanation. Some felt that it was simply a case of the US bullying another country, and Barbados’ courageous stand against the US’ offensive threats of retaliation against countries that dared not vote with it. Is this true?
In assessing claims of truth, we should evaluate evidence. The US decided to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Israel did not object. However, the UN objected and tried to force the US to change its decision. It did this by crafting a non-binding resolution to condemn the US before all nations at the UN General Assembly.
This type of targeted sanction is normally reserved for nations committing highly offensive actions. The US objected to being singled out for this type of sanction, and responded by taking note of those who voted to condemn it, to re-evaluate their friendship agreements. This is not bullying, rather, it is a response to being bullied.
What is Barbados’ bullying experience with voting against US interests in Israel? I have found no evidence that Barbados has ever been bullied into voting the way that the US votes. Every year, it is typical that 100 per cent of our votes are against the way that the US and Israel votes, and this has never put our friendship with the US at any risk. So why are some claiming that the US bullies us when there is no evidence to support such a claim? Perhaps we are being manipulated.
Let us now address this last UN vote. This vote was unlike anything that we have ever done as an independent nation. It was not the typical vote that targeted an issue favourable to Israel or the Palestinians; this was a massive vote directly targeting the US for international condemnation. That is why the US ambassador issued her unprecedented warning. This is the first and only time since our independence that we have ever put our friendship with the US in such jeopardy.
Some claimed that we have no beneficial relationship with the US, and therefore, nothing to lose by our actions. This is simply not true. Barbados is a highly favoured trading partner with the US. Barbados does not just have a very good trading (double-taxation) agreement with the US, like that of Trinidad and Tobago who had an active US military base at the time. We have an exceptionally favourable (to Barbados) trading agreement with the US. It is almost unheard of internationally and it is the envy or every country that learns of it.
We are currently on the brink of economic ruin. The main thing that may keep Barbadians from losing their mortgaged homes, and out of dire poverty if we are surrendered to the IMF, is that favourable trade agreement. Why did we treat our friendship with the US with reckless indifference? We appeared to have simply misread the UN vote.
Our representatives’ excuse that we were just voting on principle, in support of international law, seems to confirm that our representatives simply misread the UN vote as just another typical vote against Israel’s interests. The US ambassador’s uncharacteristic warnings should have prompted them to take a closer look.
Most Barbadians are unaware of the grave danger that our representatives have now placed us in. If we actually misread the vote as I am charitably assuming, then the damage can be repaired. However, if it was intentional, then they should have at least warned us to brace for the likely consequences.