Saturday, December 14, 2019

Other than snobbery, what else is at stake?

Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said, “I sincerely hope that our efforts during the early decades of the 21st century will help to create a new world order”. 

My immediate thought was of the accepted wisdom of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, as enunciated by St Paul; the four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, courage and justice; and the seven heavenly virtues: faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence.

But that was not to be. What unfolded was a tale of rhetorical belligerence, rather than outlining policy or convictions focusing on the necessity of building good relations with the West, particularly with America, an ally that Saint Lucia depends on in the international arena. 

Prime Minister Chastanet later said: “There is therefore no need to continue to create a world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another,” clearly oblivious that “as a transactional, trans-colonial leader [he] will have a deleterious effect on the psyche of Saint Lucians.” 

In contradictory fashion, Prime Minister Chastanet’s UN speech read:

“We are mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history, and we are determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity, at home and abroad. At home, we have given our people a commitment to build a prosperous and progressive Saint Lucia… for the benefit of all citizens. We are fully aware that we can only succeed in this mission with the support of those nations with which we interact.”


It’s is worth noting that this precept promotes democratic ideals on the basis of which Saint Lucians elect a “leader” and not a ruler, prone to temperamental attitudes, forcing him to complain, “I don’t get no respect.” 

In opposition, Chastanet decried the violation of free speech, freedom of the press and human rights. However the real “trans-colonial leader” has emerged, believing that he is somehow deserving of and demanding respect and that it is worth spending an undue amount of time, money and effort trying to influence a model of his own “free press”.

A model to push shameless propaganda and distract the public from lies. Hence the attempt to intimidate Rehani Isidore, a journalist with HTS Television in Saint Lucia.  

This further suggests that pretenders to the virtues as defined by St Paul and their electoral misrepresentations have left the truth in abeyance. 

The UN platform is an idea setting for fate and opportunity to play more of a role towards normalization and what better opportunity to have placed Saint Lucia’s foreign and national security policy, especially given that, according to Chastanet, “A prime minister can open doors faster… expedite the process because it tells you there’s a priority with the country.”

Instead Prime Minister Chastanet’s jerky delivery and non-diplomatic statements included:

“We say our destinies are interlinked as we have all adopted a universal approach to sustainable development through the Sustainable Development Goals; but we still think in terms of the zero sum game. The truth is that we have been endowed with abundant natural resources, which, if put to proper use, could wipe out poverty throughout the world. 

“In this hall we come from many places, but we share a common future. The magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our actions. 

“The United Nations was founded on the belief that the nations of the world could solve their problems together. It was rooted in the hard lessons of war; and rooted in the wisdom that nations could advance their interests by acting together instead of holding steadfast to our insular policies.”


By now, it is well known that Prime Minister Chastanet does not understand much of what he is given to read, or think clearly with judgment, as evidenced by his assertion: “The G20 also has a serious legitimacy problem.” [Apparently, without looking at the “man in the mirror” to borrow Michael Jackson’s lyrics.]

He continued: “The time has come for the world to move in a new direction,” but again unable to elaborate, which is of no surprise.

However, this bold declaration must draw on personal credibility and merit, and given that Prime Minister Chastanet has no direction either on the home front or abroad, he is unable to walk the talk with gravitas and influence.


“Every single member state of the UN should be honest in shouldering our responsibilities. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. True leadership in this new world order demands much more. We must bring ourselves in tune with the call of the times.

“We must decide to put less focus on what drives us apart and more emphasis on what brings us together. We must decide to give renewed meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the UNITED Nations.”


No paragon of truth-telling, Prime Minister Chastanet’s UN address and, later that evening, at a town hall meeting in New York with nationals, were clearly just empty posturing,


Chastanet’s difficulty in providing straightforward answers to simple questions is unbefitting a mature statesman, unless of course it is a devious reincarnation of what former US president Richard Nixon called “the Madman Theory”, in which he and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile. According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response.

The inherent flaw in such a strategy is that the prospect of an unpredictable Saint Lucian response is not going to scare anyone.

Chastanet’s actual strategy seems to be simply to talk, in order to cover up discrepancies, the lack of policy substance, the absence of future plans and far too frequent inaccuracies, which generate a diminishing level of trust. And the value of his utterances thereby becomes worthless and useless.

In the absence of a convincing strategy, this creates, for any rational person, a perilous obstacle to credibility and integrity.


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