I hereby respond to Mr Kads Khan’s missive in Monday’s edition of SN, in which he accused me of writing an ill-informed letter on Sir Ronald Sanders’s suitability to be Secretary-General of the Common-wealth Secretariat (‘Sir Ronald Sanders has considerable international experience’).
Let me be pellucid so there can be absolutely no grey areas. I never questioned the suitability of Sir Ronald outside of the comparative context. On the basis of the curriculum vitae provided by Mr Khan, Sir Ronald is eligible. It is another thing when you compare his international experience with that of others. In this case, it is my opinion that Baroness Scotland’s résumé stands way above that of Sanders.
It is for this reason I advanced the candidacy of the lady from Dominica. The conceptual framework I used was power and influence in international relations. In my letter I stated that I stood unapologetically when I asserted that the Antiguan High Commissioner to the UK is not someone who would have any substantial influence on global transactions. This was not a moral argument but one of pragmatism.
The entire group of Caricom nations does not occupy even one per cent of world trade. What influence then would the Antiguan High Commissioner have on global affairs? I mentioned the Ambassador of Pakistan as an example of a powerful Commonwealth country. I would like to repeat that example.
Pakistan is one of the most important countries in the world. It is one of the most strategically placed territories in the world. Pakistan is a nuclear power. It is the neighbour of India, another nuclear country, and the two states had violent clashes in the past over border issues. Pakistan is neighbour to Afghanistan. The role of terrorism in international affairs and efforts to eradicate it place Pakistan at the centre of global interests.
Surely, it is more than naïve to think the Maltese ambassador to Tanzania would be more eligible to be the head of an international organization than the former Pakistani envoy to the US. Compare the two experiences and the contacts each would have accumulated in their travels abroad. It is for this reason I think the Baroness would be more helpful to countries in the Commonwealth than Sir Ronald. She knows far more influential players than Sir Ronald. This woman was a senior cabinet minister in one of the top five countries in the world during which time she build up associations and friendships with some of the most powerful former leaders of some of the mightiest states in the world
Mr Khan described the diplomatic assignments of Sir Ronald, but again I stress, the weakness in that argument is obvious. Let me just give one example. Mr Khan tells us that Sir Ronald has been the Antiguan envoy to the UN, World Trade Organization, European Union, UK, France, Germany, Unesco. I am sorry if I come across as brutal but the reality is if the entire Caricom region occupies less than one per cent of world trade then how important was the presence of Antiguan diplomacy in those countries and international organizations? My answer would be, hardly any, and the reason is the reality of international relations. In typing this item here, I went to Google and it puts Antigua as having a population of 80,000 persons
I could understand if one is using moral arguments to define Antigua’s place in world affairs but surely not the concept of practical politics.
Finally, I am not going to enumerate the diplomatic and international achievements in the career of Baroness Scotland. To do so would take space I don’t have. But this I can say; it is characterized by involvements with world leaders and powerful governments.
I will conclude with a piece of reality that students of international relations may need to keep in mind. The Government of Kazakhstan has employed former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as its political consultant. This is almost a commonsensical move on the part of Kazakhstan. This oil rich state is a brutal dictatorship. It needs Blair’s contacts to stave off criticism from powerful countries of its horrible human right records. Who could do a better job for Kazakhstan – Blair or the former Prime Minister of a small island state of 100,000 citizens?