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The nature and nurture of foreign policy
The foreign policy of T&T on any major international issue is usually dynamic, flexible and certainly not static nor cast in stone, except on certain fundamental human rights issues. It is a template of many that sets out the parameters on how that country may act both in the domestic and international settings to promote its image, reputation and economic aspirations and objectives.
A foreign policy is consultative-based and indeed evolutionary. The Prime Minister and/or his Foreign Minister, however, may create instantaneous foreign policy by their pronouncements in major fora.
It is said that foreign policies are extensions of domestic policies. The latter are considered to be its sources or its incubators. For example, the current domestic financial constraints of T&T caused it to oppose waivers of the contributions of States members of the OAS for fear that T&T’s contributions may be consequently increased even though it made enormous financial donations to the humanitarian effort in re-building Dominica post-Maria.
Geography makes a pivotal input into the foreign policy of a state. T&T’s foreign policies towards Venezuela and Caricom emerge from adjacency, historical ties, economic dependence and potential trade in energy. T&T’s Prime Minister, who is the chief architect of foreign policy determination as well as execution at times, supported Maduro when the OAS tried to censure his government because of gas expected in the pipeline.
The formulation of foreign policy is an inter-Ministerial process presided over by the Minister/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaborations with its Overseas bilateral and Multilateral Missions. Such policies gain legitimacy and finality from inclusion in the Annual Address to the UN General Assembly by the Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs, which in fact is the main reliable source of major foreign policies. The UN has adopted a General Assembly Resolution piloted by Guyana on non-interference in the foreign policies of states by other member states.
Cabinet will hardly treat with foreign policies except when the US-run Hilton Hotel refused to accommodate the President of Cuba, Mr Raul Castro during a visit. Cabinet will have played a crucial role in T&T’s policy towards South Africa in the apartheid era as well as changing and dismantling that policy when Mandela was elected President.
Day to day determination and the implementation of foreign policies such as the ill-fated disastrous OAS Dominica vote will not have been considered by Cabinet but the widespread negative fall out that the vote evoked locally will be a matter for Cabinet/PM that quite possibly may lead to the dismissal of the line Minister Moses.
It is to be noted that although a JSC on Foreign Affairs had been appointed it is stillborn and virtually non-functional keeping foreign policy matters outside of the reach of Parliament so far.
I give credit to the ordinary folk for having adopted such a high profile condemnatory response of T&T’s conduct on a foreign policy matter at the OAS in Washington because it violated Caricom solidarity and was inconsistent with T&T’s well-known humanitarian response to Dominica’s plight from Hurricane Maria that is in fact our foreign policy acted out on the ground.
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