Features — 03 February 2018
The seven unsurprising friends of US & Israel

American president, Donald Trump, labeled countries that didn’t support the US decision to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel, “enemies of America.” On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump said, before the US Congress, the US nation, and the world, that America’s lawmakers should pass legislation to make sure that only countries that vote with US interests get their foreign-assistance dollars.

Effectively, only seven countries supported the US decision to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel. After Mr. Trump’s comments, it occurred to me to go and find out more about these seven countries that joined the US and Israel in this vote. Two of these countries are our neighbors in Central America, one is from West Africa, and the other four can be found in the Western Pacific, in an area called Micronesia.

Before we go there, allow me to ramble a little on some facts about our relationship with the USA. The USA, like Belize, was once a colony of the British Empire. They were never a member of the Commonwealth (British colonies that got their independence after WWII) because they broke away from British rule many years before the nations that form the Commonwealth did.

Belizean soldiers have fought alongside, never against American soldiers. Belizean soldiers have shown up alongside American soldiers in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, you name the country where America is fighting and you’ll find Belize represented there.

  Many, many Belizeans live in the USA. You can’t find a Belizean family which doesn’t have members living in the USA, and many families have more members there than here. For all those reasons listed, and more, it is stunning to hear the American president declare us an unfriendly nation.

Our only comfort is that only seven countries, and Israel, make it to the table in the new, very exclusive club. Clearly, membership is not for everybody. Today there’s a new old real about America. They have a new president and his game is to turn back the clock.

You recall how the game was played. America, having been a colony, cannot find it within itself do to other countries what was done to them. No, America doesn’t want to be a colonial master. All they asked is that we elect leaders who will bow, to the ground, to American businessmen. Make the mistake of electing a leader who doesn’t allow American businessmen to do what they want and America will brand them “communist”, and drive them out.

We were hopeful that that America was phasing out. And it was. Now it’s back to the old bad days. The American president’s strategy is pretty basic. It is called brinkmanship. He demands 100% and then with his might he forces the best deal out of you. The plan after WWII, to allow nations some dignity, is over.

There really isn’t any country in our hemisphere that wants to be at odds with America. But they make life very difficult for us sometimes, too often, really. Their decision to humiliate Palestine, effectively put an end to a two-state solution. How could Belize support that?

A number of countries in our region decided to abstain from voting. Canada, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, decided to offend neither side.

The most battered nation in our region, Haiti, decided to abstain too. Allow me. There isn’t any country the right wing in America hates more than Haiti. They hate them because they are black, and they hate them because they are not divorced from spirit religions. Note that Haiti was prominent on the US president’s mind when he made his derogatory remarks about some countries in the world.

El Salvador was very much on the US president’s mind too when he made the hurtful remarks. This is partly because of the gang called MS-13, which has been described as particularly vicious. El Salvador, whose government is described on the political landscape as left wing, didn’t cast a vote on the US Jerusalem decision.

Belize and two others in Central America voted along with the majority of UN members. As expected, Nicaragua voted with the UN position to denounce Jerusalem as capital of Israel. In Nicaragua, the US propped up the greedy Somoza family for near forty years. No surprise, Israel was a major supplier of arms to the Somozas, arms which they used to beat down opposition. The cruelty of the Somoza family resulted in a bloody revolution. The Sandinistas, who took over after the Somoza family was defeated, are naturally antipathetic toward the US for their role in supporting the Somozas.

The Nicaraguan government once accused the US of supporting rebels and mining a Nicaraguan harbor, and took them to the ICJ. The US thought the ICJ beneath them and so did not defend the case, which Nicaragua won. The US was told to make reparations for their actions, which they haven’t done.

Costa Rica, the richest Central American country, is the only one which doesn’t have an official standing army. It recently took Nicaragua to the ICJ, over rights on the San Juan River which borders the two countries. Costa Rica established diplomatic relations with Cuba earlier this century.

So, they got seven countries to support the trampling of Palestine. Two of them are our close neighbors, “Honduras” and “Guatemala”. The Guatemalan vote didn’t surprise Belizeans. They are a country that has used weapons they got from Israel and the USA to murder indigenous Guatemalans. This is a country that drove a land reformist leader into exile, and replaced him with a succession of military rulers.

Guatemala, like Israel, is an aggressive country. It maintains a claim against Belize’s land, and from time to time it has actually threatened to invade its neighbor — us.

Belize has a bit of shared history with Honduras. After the British gave up the Mosquito Coast and the Bay Islands, many Hondurans relocated to Belize. Many Hondurans of the Garinagu tribe also gave up citizenship in that country and settled down along the coast of Belize. And many Belizeans went to that country to seek work during the heyday of king banana.

Belize is not surprised by Honduras’ vote either. Honduras is a country that has always had a strong military presence among their civilians. Effectively, United Fruit, an American company, ruled Honduras for much of the 20th century. The democratic system doesn’t flourish where the military is needed by governments to support their rule. Our brothers and sisters over there have never enjoyed political stability. The story is that there is a strong US interference in the present Honduran leadership.

The United States has never used diplomatic strategies to gain its ends when establishing de facto rule in foreign countries. America, as a declared policy, mostly stayed away from using its military might to take colonies. But sin duda, it controlled, ran things in many countries, especially in our region. Oh, America prefers to overthrow leaders it considers to be not exactly under their control, and install favorable leaders, like the Somozas, and Trujillo, and Guatemalan dictators, and others.

“Togo” is the only country from Africa to support the US position. Togo is a very unstable country. The Wikipedia says that the country’s first president was elected, unopposed in 1961, and assassinated in 1963. Their next leader fell in a bloodless coup in 1967, and Eyadéma Gnassinggbé became president. From then on that country has been under the rule of that family. After Eyadéme’s death, the military installed his son, Faure.

The other four “friends” of the US – Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall islands – can all be found in an area called, Micronesia, which is comprised of thousands of mostly small islands in the Western Pacific. Those countries might all be called “former” colonies of the USA. A brief description (excerpts from the Wikipedia) follows: “Federated States of Micronesia” – Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area of approximately 702 km2 or 271 sq mi)…While the FSM’s total land area is quite small, it occupies more than 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean, giving the country the 14th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world.

In international politics, the Federated States of Micronesia has often voted with the United States with respect to United Nations General Assembly resolutions…The FSM is a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the USA, which is wholly responsible for its defense…The Compact of Free Association allows FSM citizens to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship, allows for immigration and employment for Micronesians in the U.S., and establishes economic and technical aid programs.

“Marshall Islands” – The Marshall Islands…consist of 29 low-lying atolls and 5 isolated islands, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets…a presidential republic in free association with the United States…the islands’ wealth is based on a service economy, as well as some fishing and agriculture…Bikini Atoll is an atoll in the Marshall Islands. There are 23 islands in the Bikini Atoll. The islands of Bokonijien, Aerokojlol, and Nam were vaporized during nuclear tests that occurred there.

“Nauru” – Nauru is…listed as the world’s smallest republic, covering just 21 km2 (8 sq mi). With 11,347 residents, it is the second least-populated country, after Vatican City.

“Palau” – The country contains approximately 340 islands…Palau was made a part of the United States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in 1947. Having voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands gained full sovereignty in 1994 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Under the compact, the American military was granted access to the islands for 50 years.

Politically, Palau is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, which provides defense, funding, and access to social services.

So, there we have them, the seven unsurprising friends of the US and Israel. There’s Guatemala, the country that drove Arbenz into exile, plotted to kill Fidel, committed genocide, and claims its neighbor’s land. There’s Honduras, whose government has Hillary Clinton to thank for its hold on power. There’s Togo, a near fifty-year-old dictatorship begging for the US to help them continue family rule. And there’s the four Micronesian countries, de facto colonies of the US that were given “independence” so they could swell the American vote at the UN.

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Deshawn Swasey

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