In­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions ex­pert: Rowley should have avoided bait

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 05:15

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley should not have ven­tured in­to a tit-for-tat sit­u­a­tion with the Unit­ed States.

So said for­mer di­rec­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tion­al Re­la­tions Prof Andy Knight in re­sponse to Row­ley's at­tack last Fri­day on the US State De­part­ment for T&T's rank­ing in their 2019 Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Re­port which placed the coun­try at Tier 2.

Row­ley ac­cused the US of hypocrisy, giv­en their own strug­gles with mi­grants.

Weigh­ing in on the is­sue, Knight said it was ev­i­dent that there was ten­sion be­tween the US and T&T.

"There cer­tain­ly is ten­sion but this is not un­usu­al for the US to have ten­sions with coun­tries in the Caribbean that do not sup­port the US' po­si­tion on Venezuela."

The ten­sion, Knight said could have start­ed in Jan­u­ary when Row­ley sent a clear mes­sage on how he felt about US Am­bas­sador Joseph Mon­del­lo mak­ing a pub­lic state­ment against T&T's po­si­tion on Venezuela.

Mon­del­lo had said that this coun­try's recog­ni­tion of Nico­las Maduro as Pres­i­dent of Venezuela was "deeply con­cern­ing" which Row­ley took um­brage to

Then in March, T&T was blanked by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who in­vit­ed five Cari­com lead­ers to dis­cuss is­sues on Venezuela and Chi­na.

And last week Row­ley took the US State De­part­ment to task for its grade in the Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons 2019 Re­port.

Knight said the is­sue of traf­fick­ing was a broad­er in­ter­na­tion­al mat­ter.

"I think the way the Prime Min­is­ter re­spond­ed makes some sense but is not diplo­mat­ic enough," Knight said yes­ter­day in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

"I think the Prime Min­is­ter's un­der­stand­ing ought to be diplo­mat­ic in re­sponse to these provo­ca­tions. He can take the high­er road as Prime Min­is­ter and com­ment on things in a soft­er way."

Knight said T&T would be wise to take a lead­er­ship po­si­tion in the re­gion.

"And to do so you need to use tools at your dis­pos­al...and one of those tools is diplo­ma­cy."

While Row­ley was right to point out that the US has its own prob­lem with mi­gra­tion and should be the last per­son to talk about oth­er coun­tries "at the same time" he needs to re­mem­ber his po­si­tion of Prime Min­is­ter.

Knight said it was no se­cret that the US has been very un­hap­py with T&T over the sit­u­a­tion in Venezuela.

"The US has tak­en a po­si­tion to change Venezuela's cur­rent regime while Trinidad has tak­en a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.

I am not sur­prised by the fact that the US is try­ing to go with the Prime Min­is­ter right now on the is­sue of traf­fick­ing. I think this is some­thing that a wise Prime Min­is­ter would take in­to con­sid­er­a­tion and re­alise that it is sim­ply a strat­e­gy or tac­tic on the part of the US pres­i­dent and US ad­min­is­tra­tion and not to buy in­to that tit-for-tat."

In oth­er words, Knight said Row­ley should not have "tak­en the bait."

Reporter: Shaliza Hassanali