Sunday, October 26, 2008

NOT IMPORTANT - Seaga says Jamaica not high on Obama or McCain's agenda

From: The Jamaica Gleaner

Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter

BARACK OBAMA or John McCain, who would be better for developing countries like Jamaica? Neither, says former prime minister Edward Seaga.

Obama, an African American, and McCain are both seeking to replace George W. Bush as president of the United States when America votes on November 4.

"I don't know that there is that much commitment to this region anymore from Washington by either party. The Cold War is over, so the political interest that was there has waned," Seaga tells The Sunday Gleaner.

The Cold War refers to the post-World War II period up to 1991, when the Berlin Wall fell. During that period, United States - a capitalist superpower - and communist Soviet Union maintained hostile relations as they competed for world supremacy.

Suffered in Cold War

Richard Crawford, lecturer of political science at the University of the West Indies, Mona, says Jamaica suffered during the Cold War for two reasons. The first was its relationship with communist Cuba, and second, support for the liberation of South Africa from white minority rule along racial lines.

"The United States was able to use Edward Seaga's government, which was ideologically opposed to the People's National Party policy of democratic socialism, as an organisation that opposed that policy," Crawford recounts.

He adds that the US had an interest in Jamaica not heading down the road of democratic socialism, and this was evident when President Ronald Reagan invited Seaga to the White House after the 1980 election to offer his congratulations.

No political interest

Now that the Cold War is over, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Seaga says the United States no longer has an active political interest in Jamaica.

"I don't see any other interest replacing that original strong political commitment. It seems to me that there will be a modicum of continuing assistance with the policy directives coming from Washington as to how they should assist, but I really don't see any sizeable increase in that interest from whoever wins," Seaga says.

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