Sun | Jan 17, 2021

Letter of the Day | Ambassador Tapia should depart on a good note

Published:Monday | November 30, 2020 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The Boy Scouts have a constructive maxim that is applicable to life: Always leave the campground you used cleaner than how you found it. And while my late mother constantly reminded her children that you “never get a second chance to make a good first impression”, she also taught us to make our exit from an occasion gracious, and be grateful to have been included.

In Ambassador Donald Tapia’s waning days as the United States’ envoy to Jamaica, and from his Arizona home 3,800 miles away from the island, he cannot resist one more lecture representing the Trump administration, which was summarily repudiated by the American voters. There are two axioms in politics (and foreign policy) that Mr Tapia has failed to learn: people can love you, or hate you, but never be viewed as a fool; second, when you lose power, bow out graciously.

Mr Tapia, once again, had to admonish the Jamaican people to not deal with China. If he really cared about Jamaica, and acted like a real diplomat, he would consider what US foreign policy towards China looks like going forward, and not what it has been the last four years under Trump:

• It is President Xi who charted the path for China’s expansionist foreign policy in Jamaica and elsewhere. Trump made the engagement more confrontational instead of enlisting our previous allies to make it competitively harder for China to establish itself with Xi’s Belt & Road Initiative.

• Tapia might have advised Jamaica: “You think that China wants to be your friend, look at how Xi treats dissidents, or has thrown Uighurs into camps, or how he has decimated the Asian financial capital of Hong Kong with his repressive moves. Why would China care about Jamaica or Jamaicans unless it serves their military and financial interests?”

• Finally, President-elect Joe Biden’s number one foreign policy priority is to get the COVID-19 under control in the US, and then help our allies to do so in their countries – especially with Jamaica, where the pandemic has taken a terrible toll health-wise and its negative impact on the economy.

Mark Twain once advised a hapless individual, “People may think you are a fool, but don’t open your mouth to confirm it.” Ambassador Tapia might want his exit to be more gracious, and grateful for the opportunity to represent the American people.

NED BROWN

Charleston

South Caroline