The basic American attitude is that the normal condition of the world is peaceful, so if there’s a problem, someone is causing it. If we defeat that person or country, everything will become harmonious again.
By contrast, the Chinese do not believe in permanent solutions. To Beijing, a solution is simply an admission ticket to another problem. Thus, the Chinese are more interested in trends. They ask, “Where are you going? What do you think the world will look like in 15 years?”
– Henry Kissinger in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in THE ATLANTIC (pg. 56) of December 2016
The attorney profession, while obviously a most lucrative one, can not be considered a noble profession. Attorneys say and do things which, if the rest of us were to say and do the same, would be considered self-serving, opportunistic, dishonest, and even venal. This is the license which attorneys are allowed by virtue of their esteemed profession.
The military profession, by contrast, must be considered a noble and honorable one, because soldiers have to offer their lives on the battlefield. No subtlety and sophistication of rhetoric is in play during combat. The field of battle tests soldiers’ courage, resolve, fiber, manhood, and so on and so forth.
In Belize, a nation 35 years of age, it is usually the case that the attorneys, who flock to the political arena, give instructions to our soldiers. Thus, with regards to the situation at the Sarstoon River, it is Baize’s attorney/politicians who have been calling the shots. We refer to our system of government as a parliamentary democracy. Attorneys and politicians rule.
The case in Belize is not the case in Guatemala. Guatemala is s nation-state where businessmen/industrialists and soldiers rule. In this newspaper over the years, we have sought to educate Belizeans to the societal nature of our enemy; we have published long papers discussing the famous Guatemalan military school (Escuela Politècnica), and showing how since the latter part of the nineteenth century, Guatemala’s military generals have been entering Guatemalan politics and becoming part of that republic’s business/industrial oligarchy. When the Guatemalans elect a president, the election is mostly a charade. Guatemala is not a democracy: it is an oligarchy ruled by the aforementioned generals and businessmen/industrialists.
For whatever the reason(s), Belize’s attorney/politicians have generally chosen to shy away from declaring that the Guatemalans are our enemies. It is for sure that the masses of the Guatemalan people and the masses of the Belizean people are friendly to each other. But the state of Belize cannot consider the state of Guatemala to be otherwise than our enemy when the state of Guatemala insists on claiming the territory of Belize, and when Guatemala, on various occasions, has indicated its willingness to use military force to seize Belizean territory.
The sophistry of Belize’s attorney/politicians, combined with the prevailing foreign policy position of the United States of America, has placed Belize’s soldiers in an ambivalent and unenviable position. Soldiers all over planet earth are trained and sworn to defend their country from external aggression, but in Belize our soldiers are under political pressure to be friendly with the external aggressor, which is to say, Guatemala.
After modern party politics began in Belize in 1950, the anti-colonial People’s United Party (PUP) won seven consecutive national elections, from 1954 to 1979. The first opposition to the PUP, the National Party (NP), was definitely pro-British, but when the National Party formed an alliance with the Honduran Independence Party (HIP) in 1958, the resultant National Independence Party (NIP) was less colonial than the NP, and more nationalistic, especially after one of the former PUP leaders, Philip Goldson, became NIP Leader in 1961.
It is our belief that when the NIP was absorbed by the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1973, the UDP was less nationalistic than the NIP, actually neoliberal. At the point when the UDP was formed, the ruling PUP was becoming more militantly nationalistic than it had ever been in the regional and international sense, because the PUP had become desperate in its quest for political independence. The PUP was seeking regional and international allies.
The political implications of the Opposition’s turn to neoliberalism with the birth of the UDP in 1973, became evident as the 1970s wore on. The UDP was a party with strong ties to business/industrial elements in the United States, and perhaps the most important aspect of the Guatemalan oligarchy, with respect to the Guatemalan claim to Belize and American foreign policy, is that oligarchy’s strong, traditional ties to business/industrial elements in the United States. To make the UDP even more palatable in Washington’s political and military/industrial circles, the ruling PUP, by contrast, was drawing closer to Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Omar Torrijos’ Panama in its quest for regional and international support for Belize’s independence.
The PUP succeeded in holding on to power in the 1979 general election, and achieved independence in 1981. But the masses of the Belizean people, with the gaining of independence, felt a longing to see if things could be different, if things could be better, with a change of government after three decades of PUP dominance. Thus it was that the Opposition finally came to power in 1984. Since 1984, the UDP has been elected to five different terms in office, while the PUP has formed national governments on four different occasions.
The people of Belize have learned something since 1984, and it is that there is not that much of a difference between the PUP and the UDP. The matter of Guatemala is a critical matter where the masses of the Belizean people are concerned, and we have seen that government policy with respect to the Guatemalan claim is similar regardless to whether the UDP or the PUP is in power. To be fair, we must note that when they are in office, the political parties have to pay more attention to the advice, instructions yea, coming from Washington and London. The masses of the Belizean people, however, can’t be overly concerned with Washington and London in 2017: we have a country we are trying to save. Our very human existence depends on that.
Enter the teachers of Belize. Belizean politics has changed. We are not talking about electoral politics. We are talking about existential politics. When it comes to nobility of profession, the teachers stand tall, one reason being that self-aggrandizement plays no role in the teaching profession. When the teachers emerged last year, it had become manifestly clear that self-aggrandizement was the primary aim of Belize’s electoral politicians, whether red or blue. The UDP has lost the trust of the Belizean people. But, the PUP has not gained that trust. A whole heap of national responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU). This is not fair to the BNTU. The BNTU was not designed for this. But the people of Belize had nowhere to turn.
Belize’s attorney/politicians are supposed to be the most brilliant minds we have. That may be so, but Guatemala has taken its claim to Belize to a different level, and what the Belizean people are now looking for is straight talk. It became clear a long time ago that Belize’s Foreign Minister did not know what he was dealing with when he was dealing with the Guatemalan Foreign Minister. This can happen at higher levels than the levels of Belize and Guatemala. That is the relevance of the quote from Henry Kissinger at the top of this editorial.
Later in that same interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Kissinger said much the same thing, and we quote: “It is important to understand the difference between how we and the Chinese perceive issues. Americans think that the normal condition of the world is stability and progress: If there is a problem, it can be removed by the mobilization of effort and resources, and when it is solved, America can return to isolation. The Chinese believe that no problem can ever be finally solved. Therefore, when you talk to Chinese strategists, they talk about process rather than ad hoc issues. When you talk to U.S. strategists, they generally try to look for solutions.”
At this newspaper, we have said to you that in the matter of this claim, we Belizeans cannot become too optimistic in the search for a solution. What understanding we have of the Guatemalan ruling class leads us to believe that they will never stop bullying Belizeans, no matter what. This is the reason we are skeptical about the International Court of Justice (ICJ). We have not written off the ICJ, mind you, just that we believe like the Chinese: “no problem can ever be finally solved.”
The Belizean people welcome the entry of Belize’s teachers into the arena of our existential politics. We do not trust our attorney/politicians, and we have many, many reasons to do so. 2017 is like 1798: we’re talking life and death for Belize here.
Power to the people.