Landlubber Diplomacy Won't Work in Fiji

The following article appeared in The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC :

U.S. Congressman: Landlubber diplomacy won't work in Fiji

By Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) - 01/25/12 12:01 PM ET

In Samoa, when a tauta (landman) advances an opinion about fishing or navigation, he is met with the reply "O le va’ai le tauta" – or, "that is the opinion of a landlubber."

In response to Fiji’s 2006 coup, Australia and New Zealand have advanced a policy to force Fiji back to democracy. Based on a Eurocentric mindset that fails to take into account Fiji’s colonial history, complex ethnic mix and chiefly, provincial, religious and family rivalries, Australia and New Zealand imposed a wide range of sanctions on Fiji and cut off diplomatic channels.

Having no policy of its own, the U.S. marched in time, applying section 508 sanction law which severed U.S. aid to Fiji. U.S. sanctions, however, have had no consequence because U.S. aid to Fiji was less than $3 million per year.


Of consequence is Pakistan. In 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the democratically-elected government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the U.S. waived 508 sanction law, despite the fact that for nearly ten years General Musharraf never made good on his promise to resign his military commission and hold free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan. 

The U.S., like Australia and New Zealand, cooperated with Pakistan’s regime – even providing billions in aid – because we understood then like we should understand now that engagement is vital to our interests and necessary if our long-term objectives are peace, stability and democracy.

Do Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. consider Fiji vital to our interests? If not, I believe we should given China and Iran’s growing presence in the region. If so, we need a new way forward.

The U.S. can no longer rely on landlubber diplomacy which seeks to force democracy by isolation. Every tautai (navigator) knows – democracy can’t be forced. Force is contrary to the order of democracy and contrary to our innate desire to choose.

To succeed in Fiji, we must start from the beginning. The legacy of Fiji’s colonial past has never been fully resolved since Fiji gained its independence in 1970. To date, Indians control many of the small businesses. Australia and New Zealand control major banking and commercial enterprises, and indigenous Fijians control much of the communal land and military establishment, with serious divisions existing between traditional leaders and lower-ranking Fijians.

So far, no resolutions have been established to provide balance and fairness to both Fijians and ethnic Indians. In the past 20 some years, Fiji has had four coups and three constitutions. In the two coups of 1987 and the political crisis of 2000, ethnic tensions played major roles.

Until we understand this beginning and begin to converse about it, democracy will not get underway. Having had several discussions with interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and dozens of others during my visits to Fiji, I believe U.S. leadership can help strengthen bilateral ties and improve regional conditions. 

By employing smart diplomacy in Fiji – which has been the hallmark of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy initiative even in Myanmar – I have every hope that we can achieve equal suffrage and other political, economic and social reforms targeted under the “Strategic Framework for Change,” just as the interim Prime Minister seeks.  

Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) is the Ranking Member and former Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.


Comments

Eni for President said…
Vinaka, Eni. What a clever, enlightened leader you are compared to that clown who rules the other Samoa. All along, you've grasped the reality in Fiji, of trying to bury the racist bogey once and for all. And why? Because you bothered to come to the country, talk to its leaders and come to your own, sensible conclusion about the way forward. As a consequence, US policy towards Fiji is ten times more sensible than that of the Aussies and Kiwis. Your ambassador in Suva actually talks to Bainimarama, whereas there is no contact whatsoever with the other fools. Why? Because Washington realises something that the deadheads in Canberra and Wellington don't; that having the Chinese and Russians influencing events in Fiji is bad for everyone.
Kahukiwa said…
Definitely a contrary view. Does it add value to the conversation other than the fact that it is contrary to the anti-blogs? Doesn't say anything that hasn't been said before.
Anonymous said…
"Fijians control much of the communal land and military establishment"

iTaukei have controlled government 39 of 40 years.
1 year of Labour Party control - iTaukei deputy PM and high powered iTaukei representation in Cabinet.

iTaukei out of control army

Fijian owned bank destroyed by Fijians.

Control
Civil Service ( Lower echolons ok, leaders worthless as ever )
Ports Authority
Marine Department ( Worthless)
Ship Building ( Destroyed)
Slipways ( Ineficient)
Fiji Pine ( Flat Tyres)
Mahogany ( Just got air in one trye)
Pafco
Sugar Industry ( Destroyed)
Copra Industry ( Destroyed)

iTaukei Employement;
95% Timber Industry
90% Tourism
97 % Fishing Industry
95% Gold Mine
95% Copra Industry
80% Dalo Industry
100% Army
70% Police
80%Civil Service
60% Education
70% Health
70% Cement Quarry
65% Building
15% Transport
15% Small Business

Coups are the result of surplus of iTaukei leaders and not enough room at the trough for all the snouts.

But especially snouts that have had a place in the trough, but have been shoved aside by this foreign flower called democracy.

..and of course some iTaukei are more iTaukei than others.
sara'ssista said…
Lets debunk the myth that fiji is going to start from the beginning and reform it's system of governance. What will happen is a military determined to entrench their power and inability to accept any oversight by any civilian authority, ever, even by thier own appointees. The will will open a process with an amnesty for those who currently hold power and their cronies, no matter what they have done. This at the very least will cause immense resentment. They claim to create a consitution that will rid fiji forever the menace of coups. Given military history in fiji, no constitution will guarantee anything. So far we have seen no evidence of anyone in the regime who admit to any mistakes nor willing to tolerate any alternate views or even the mildest of criticism. And this dung heap is meant to create beautiful flowers?
A Midas Muddle said…
The United States now has to play 'Catch-Up' in the South Pacific. In 1990 there was no US Ambassador stationed in Suva. Only a Charge d'Affaires latterly arrived too late to do much but replenish a library and open the odd school annexe. THe Peace Corps were removed and the US Aid Office along with them. Howzat for having a Long Term View?

It will take a lot of President Barack Obama's Smart Diplomacy and fastfootwork to redress that. An entire region has been given over to the "ShoeGate" approach and what a clear picture has emerged this week of that in play. A Folies Fiasco on the doorstep in Canberra. A single Blue Suede Shoe signifying for all time the Midas Muddle of Australia's Aboriginal Attitude. We have all been been tarred with this brush for more than twenty years. Watch out for the feathers to follow!
Gutter Press said…
Crosbie
I’m intrigued by Eni for President’s remark that having the Chinese and Russians influencing events in Fiji is bad for everyone. It’s a concern that has been repeated by many who espouse Australia and New Zealand’s re-engagement with the interim Fijian government.

Is the concern for Fiji – perhaps viewed as a pawn in a South Pacific version of ‘The Great Game’?
Is it out of concern for ANZ who, the argument goes, are losing regional influence?
Or is it for some other reason?

It’s a question not just for Eni, but for anyone who might hold that Chinese influence is ‘bad’.
Taukei. said…
All very well Rep Faleomavaega making feel good motherhood statements from the safety of his US democratic position.

Wonder what his reaction would be if this protection & privileges he currently enjoys was withdrawn by a US military led overthrow of his own goverment?

This fools sole contributing input towards formulating a coheasive US policy towards Fiji has been confusion.

Faleomavaega time somebody put this straight. You do not speak for The United States - neitheir do you speak for Samoa.
Are you aware that in their pursuit of 'democracy' these people tortured & killed their fellow citizens?
Now what part of torture & murder don't you understand? Vinaka.
Anonymous said…
@ Taukei

Isn't Falo a US Congressman and thus has a role to play in formulating government policy? You harp on about democracy but have no idea how it works...just another confused i'taukei SDL supporter who is very much unhappy with your snouts having been removed from the trough by Frank.

By the way, Falo never claimed he spoke for Samoa. Do you realise that there are two Samoa's? He represents American Samoa and that politics in the Soth Pacific falls within his ambit?

The person who led the torture of people in Fiji was an i'taukei who now lives off the charity of the King of Tonga. That i'taukei person feeds information to the buffoon who leads the other Samoa.
Anonymous said…
Geez, American Samoa has a population slightly larger than Invercargill, New Zealand, and most of its citizens live on welfare cheques from Washington. Faleomavaega is the only NON VOTING congressman in the House of Representatives, so his opinions, on just about anything, are worthless - and, fyi, the FBI seems to spend a lot of time arresting welfare frauds from American Samoa... remember what happened to the tsunami warning sytem - it was spent by Faleomavaega's mates on trips to Las Vagas and flatscreen TVs. If Frank draws comfort from this... well, he's on his own. AmSam is a bigger joke than Suva
Anonymous said…
@ Geez American Samoa

Hey, no one in Fiji is drawing comfort from either Samoa...the US version (Falo) or that of that Jenny Craig dropout, Tuilaepa(...he really should be on 'The Biggerst Loser" show).

But at least Falo is showing respect...something that Tuilepa needs to learn.

Its all a matter of class.

Falo is way above that buffoon from the other Samoa (population size does not matter, unless you ascribe to the notion that size does matter...which you obviously do by your comparisons with Invercargill...)
Taukei. said…
Suggest the only way forward right now for Viti is a Taukei brokered settlement along traditional lines.
This means all you opinionated Aussies Kiwi's Americans Samoans Indians & everybody else butt out.
Tried your way - leads nowhere.
Anonymous said…
@ Taukei

So who the do you think should lead your 'Taukei brokered settlement along traditional lines'?

The Great Council of Chiefs (Thieves)? ..many of whom are barely literate; the Methodist Church..whose numbers continue to rapidly decline and who sold their souls to the ethno-nationalists in the coups of 1987 and 2000 and thus have no credibility and respect to many in Fiji?

Who are these traditional brokers? Dont tell me that you want to bring back losers like Ratu Timoci Vesikula, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu (have the Police moved in on him yet for his impregnation of a minor ?).
Anonymous said…
Croz,

Why didn't you publish the remarks I submitted yesterday?

s/ Dakuwaqa
Croz Walsh said…
@ Anonymous ... Which remarks were they? Suggest you use your real name or a pseudonym by clicking the Name/URL button. Then it will be easier to trace.
Taukei. said…
@ Anon 11:15.

Second last & last paragraph - read again...S l o w ly....

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