By The Piper
[www.inewsguyana.com] – International affairs are defined by three basic elements, namely, an anarchic state system, state sovereignty, and the interaction among states. Practically all actions are based either upon survival or aggrandizement, or somewhere in between. Two other factors are important. These are, the capabilities of individual states, and the distribution of capabilities within the system in general. All of the above should be given consideration in an analysis of the latest developments in the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute.
The first point to consider is anarchy, which in international affairs does not necessarily mean chaos, but the absence of agents that can authoritatively define and enforce rules, regardless of the actors’ preferences. Another way of saying this is that international institutions, though strong on moral grounds, have definite limits to their power. In theory, both Guyana and Venezuela can pursue their objectives regardless of who says what. The reason for this is that as sovereign states, both countries, at once, have inviolable rights and can do whatever is in its best interest.
What makes all the difference at the individual level is that Venezuela is much stronger than Guyana both in military and economic capabilities. Reports that Guyana has mobilized and deployed forces along the Linden Highway and ‘in the bush’, might please some, but in reality that kind of action is only symbolic. I do not want to go into details, but on basic military grounds, Guyana would not be able to defend itself against a determined military campaign by the Venezuelan armed forces. You may want to recall Grenada’s irresponsible bombast in the face of US threats to its sovereignty!
The capabilities of individual states, however, does not mean that Venezuela can do whatever it wants. The reason is that the current distribution of global power, combined with the interests of other actors, would provide a backstop to Venezuelan designs. President Maduro may want to recall Iraq’s foolish miscalculations against a superpower and its allies.
What all of this boils down to is that while Guyana may not be able to defend itself, it is not necessarily as vulnerable as it seems. The United States will have seemingly legitimate reasons to come to Guyana’s assistance on account of Exxon Mobil. Chances are that Venezuela know this and is just bluffing.
Bluffing, however, should not be dismissed because calling a bluff may shame an actor and force the issue in a direction that was not truly intended. Put differently, Guyana should pursue backroom diplomacy and keep its mouth shut. There is no need to whip up Guyanese nationalism, if indeed, there is such a thing. Stay calm, but act decisively; that should be the plan of action.