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