Thursday, July 27, 2006

Raymond Lloyd: An Atlantic Rim Partnership

I recently received this interesting proposal from Raymond Lloyd, of Britain's Council for Parity Democracy for an "Atlantic Rim Partnership":
An Atlantic Rim Partnership
first circulated at NATO Summit Madrid 1997 updated 10 July 2006 @ Raymond Lloyd

The end of the Cold War, and its hot war proxies, has loosened up such trading and security blocs as the OECD and NATO, but without always creating the new alliances necessary to meet the challenges of the new century. One particular challenge is that of finding a partnership with the new democracies of Africa, independent of the Lome and other European aid conventions, which grouped together all former colonies, however repressive their regimes. A new beginning might be made with an Atlantic Rim Partnership, drawing from the trading experience of the Pacific Rim and Indian Ocean Rim alliances, but now based also on shared democratic, and even religious and cultural, ideals. Indeed, with the coming bicentenary in March 2007 of Britain’s abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, there is also a moral challenge to assist those countries whose human resources were pillaged by the Western democracies, and whose descendants in both hemispheres were too often left in economic, social and political stagnation.

For over three centuries, from the early 1500s to the mid 1800s, the Atlantic Rim constituted the world's most important trading bloc, with metals and textiles going to Atlantic Africa, human cargoes being transported to the plantations of the Atlantic Americas - 15 million slaves alive, 3 million dead - and sugar, rice, coffee, tobacco and cotton coming to Atlantic Europe. For a critical period in the mid twentieth century the Atlantic also formed the oceanic lifeline of European democracy, with many troops coming also from Brazil and South Africa, the West Indies and the African colonies, to fight for Europe's freedom.

Thus, while the NATO focus is on Central and Eastern Europe, to make up for our standing by during the repressions in 1956 of Hungary, 1968 of Czechoslovakia, and 1981 of Poland, our duty should not be forgotten toward those who, between 1939 and 1945, volunteered to fight for freedom, despite their having a much poorer educational base on which to reconstruct their postwar, postcolonial world. In 1816, 1823 and 1831 it had been the British who savagely repressed their fellow Christians seeking freedom in Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica. And, with all the current concern for child labour, it was the British who put slave girls to work at age six.

The whole rich North Atlantic should now develop a free trade area with the new democracies of Africa, and with the black and aboriginal peoples of the Americas, and offer security arrangements, such as partnership-for-peace programs, to help protect their freedoms. In the last few years we have seen how fragile have been would-be democracies in the Congo and Gambia, in Haiti and Venezuela. Too often our reaction, where not one of indifference, has been of an adhoc curative nature, rather than a longterm constructive approach. The situation has been particularly tragic in Sierra Leone, created as a slave rehabilitation state, along with Liberia, whose 150th anniversary as an independent republic we remembered in 1997.

The first country to abolish the Atlantic slave trade was Denmark, by decree on 16 May 1792 and fully effective by 16 May 1802. Britain, after transporting 2.8 million blacks, abolished the slave trade on 25 March 1807, and slavery itself throughout the Empire in 1838. The movement continued for at least another fifty years, till Brazil, the recipient of 4.2 million Africans, abolished slavery in 1888. But the involvement of most of the great European powers is evidenced by the fact that Dutch, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese (though no longer Danish and Swedish) are all official languages on the Atlantic coasts of both Africa and the Americas. Slaves were also traded from non-Atlantic East Africa, by Arabs and Persians, but in nothing like the same numbers. And, while no reparations can be expected from the Middle East before it becomes democratic, it is also true that Islam absorbed the blacks more fraternally than most Christians, or Protestants, as the faces of many current Gulf rulers show.

Several Atlantic cities, from Nantes to Liverpool to Charleston, have held exhibitions or created museums dedicated to an erstwhile prosperity based on the slave trade, and there is a growing movement for black reparations. In June 1997 the US President pondered publicly on making an apology for slavery, but offered no restitution comparable to the $20 000 per person paid to all Japanese Americans sent to concentration camps during World War II, or the $60 billion paid by Germany to compensate for the nazi holocaust.

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In the 30 June 1997 issue of Time magazine, it was calculated by Jack E White, the grandson of a slave, that the 244 years of unpaid labour between 1619 and 1863 by ten million slaves, at 25 cents a day, doubled for pain and suffering, would come to $444 billion which, compounded at 3% interest over the 134 years since emancipation, would amount to some $24 000 000 000 000 ! In the 1830s, of course, it was the slave-owners who received £20 million compensation from the British Parliament, not the slaves.

In recent years, as long as African dictators bought golden bedsteads or crowned themselves emperor, and as long as an apartheid South Africa tracked the soviet navy, we could postpone our moral debt to the African people. But just as, in the nineteenth century, abolition went hand in hand with the extension of the franchise within a country, so now, with the beginnings of democracy in Atlantic Africa, we will realize that political rights and civil liberties are interdependent with the prosperity and security of all free peoples. Also, Africans are now articulating their own responsibility for the slave trade as in the 2000 epic film Andanggaman, by Ivory Coast director Roger Gnoan M’Bala. Here I have drawn up a list of some 84 states and territories which, when democracies, would be eligible to become members or associate members of an Atlantic Rim Democratic & Economic Partnership:

Possible Members of an Atlantic Rim Partnership
as rated for Political Rights (PR) and Civil Liberties (CL) in 2005-2006 by Freedom House of New York
Where 1 represents the highest degree of freedom and 7 the lowest
* inland countries dependent on Atlantic outlets

NATO Democracies PR CL African Democracies PR CL Caricom Democracies PR CL

Belgium 1 1 Benin 2 2 Antigua & Barbuda 2 2
Canada 1 1 *Botswana 2 2 Bahamas 1 1
Denmark 1 1 Cape Verde 1 1 Barbados 1 1
France 1 1 *Central African Rep 5 4 Belize 1 2
Germany 1 1 Ghana 1 2 Dominica 1 1
Iceland 1 1 Guinea Bissau 3 4 Grenada 1 2
Italy 1 1 Madagascar 3 3 Guyana 2 2
Luxembourg 1 1 *Mali 2 2 Jamaica 2 3
Netherlands 1 1 Mozambique 3 4 St Kitts Nevis 1 1
Aruba 1 2 Namibia 2 2 Saint Lucia 1 1
Neths Antilles 2 1 *Niger 3 3 St Vincent 2 1
Norway 1 1 Nigeria 4 4 Suriname 2 2
Portugal 1 1 Sao Tome & Principe 2 2 Trinidad & Tobago 3 2
Spain 1 1 Senegal 2 3
United Kingdom 1 1 South Africa 1 2 OAS Atlantic Democracies
Anguilla 2 1
Bermuda 1 1 Other AU Atlantic Members Argentina 2 2
Br Virgin Islands 1 1 Brazil 2 2
Caymans 2 1 Angola 6 5 Colombia 3 3
Falklands 2 1 *Burkina Faso 5 3 Costa Rica 1 1
Montserrat 1 1 Cameroon 6 6 Dominican Republic 2 2
St Helena 2 1 Congo Brazzaville 5 5 Guatemala 4 4
Turks & Caicos 1 1 Congo Dem Rep 6 6 Haiti 7 6
United States 1 1 Cote d'Ivoire 6 6 Honduras 3 3
Puerto Rico 1 2 Equatorial Guinea 7 6 Mexico 2 2
Gabon 6 4 Nicaragua 3 3
Other EU Atlantic Gambia 5 4 Panama 1 2
Guinea 6 5 *Paraguay 3 3
Ireland 1 1 Liberia 4 4 Uruguay 1 1
Sweden 1 1 Mauritania 6 4 Venezuela 4 4
Morocco 5 4
Sierra Leone 4 3 Other Slave Recipients
Togo 6 5 Cuba 7 7

Because of its potential size, the Partnership could have as its nucleus a new Group of Five, comprising the most populous Atlantic democracies or democratic groupings, namely Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and the European Union, supported by a rotating council of two or three members from each of the Partnership's four quarters: Africa, Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.

More immediately, we now need statespersons who will take up the challenge of a new Atlantic Rim Partnership, just as sixty years ago the challenge of the European Recovery Program was recognized by President Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall. Good opportunities to launch such a Partnership will , as stated above, occur on 25 March 2007, the 200th anniversary of the British parliament abolishing the transatlantic slave trade, and for which the UK Treasury has already announced a £2 (200 pence) coin; and 12 February 2009, the bicentenary of the birth of the Emancipator-President Abraham Lincoln.