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By DANA SMITH
PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham called for Bahamians to promote "a culture of peace" in his speech yesterday at the opening of the new headquarters of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh Day Adventists.
He said material wealth has had a "debilitating influence" on Bahamians, stating: "Far too many among us in the Bahamas have forgotten the true purpose of our lives, to love God and our neighbours as ourselves.
"We must rediscover and strengthen positive attitudes which earlier typified our people, and reinforce the spirit of volunteerism and giving among our people."
Mr Ingraham claimed the Bahamian people have a missi ...
Most Bahamians look forward to the days-on-end marathon shopping trips when they travel -- and I'm not going to lie, I do too -- but unlike most people, a quick pop into a fast food joint or a meal at the food court to keep their energy level high for the next day at the mall won't suffice for me. There are some favorite restaurants that I've simply got to hit. Better yet, if it's someplace I've never been before, I do my research to find out exactly what restaurant I have to go to and what is the not to be missed dish.
One place I've heard about for years is Legal Sea Foods, a Boston-based seafood restaurant group, but never having been to Boston -- I'd never dined at Legal Sea Foods. So when I found out I would be traveling to Boston the other day, my mind was swirling with thoughts of where I'd eat and what I'd have at the end of my workdays. I knew I had to have a steamed Maine lobster ... oysters (seeing as I would be so close to their source and all, and they would definitely be at their freshest), New England clam chowder, crab cakes made with Maryland lump crab meat ... and of course if I spotted a P.F. Chang's (one of my favorite Asian jaunts) I had to indulge in the chicken lettuce wraps, some dumplings, and whatever else struck my fancy.
In the first of two visits to Legal Sea Foods, I enjoyed the Rhode Island style calamari (crispy Montauk calamari with peppers and garlic, you can also have them served Thai style, with pineapple and peanuts), a New England clam chowder (the recipe that had been served at past presidential inaugurations), and Legal's signature crab cakes with wood-grilled shrimp and scallops.
The calamari was to die for. Their crispness and the heat from two kinds of peppers were the perfect bite. Being a true-true Bahamian, the heat was perfect.
Having made clam chowder many times before at home, the cream and tomato version, I was actually excited to sit down to a bowl in New England itself, made by a New Englander. It was good, but if you've made it before at home, don't despair your home recipe probably tastes just as good.
And I couldn't wait for the crab cakes, actually passing up the steamed Maine Lobster to have them. The cake looked absolutely delicious, and was served as a combo with grilled shrimp and scallops. Avoiding the shrimp, I dove into the crab cake. A quick flick with my fork, revealed the truth that I'd heard so much about -- that Maryland crab cakes were indeed chockfull of perfect pieces of lump crab meat and practically no filling. The sweet meat was almost a divine eating experience. The crab cake took so much of my attention that I only got a taste of the scallops and avoided the shrimp entirely.
And just because I was in Boston, I did the traditional thing of ordering a Boston cream pie for dessert. The round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate isn't one that struck me as something that I'd like, and the Legal Sea Foods version which was more flan-like in texture, proved it's something I definitely don't like.
On my second foray to Legal Sea Foods, I went with the raw oysters. With six varieties on the menu, I ordered one of each. The result was a plate with three Cape Cod oysters (Welfleet, Merry Oyster, and Big Rock Oyster); and three from New York (Naked Cowboy, Cotuit and Wianno).
Disregarding the rest of the menu -- no matter how good it sounded -- like the nutty Atlantic salmon, or the cioppino (lobster, scallops, shrimp, calamari, littleneck clams, mussels and scrod in a light tomato broth), or the lobster casserole (freshly shucked lobster baked with buttery crumbs), or the lobster bake (calm chowder, steamers, mussels, chorizo sausage lobster), I went straight up and ordered a steamed lobster. At Legal Sea Foods, these steamed lobsters range from one-and-a-quarter pounds to two-and-a-half pounds. Having seen some big boys hauled out of the kitchen, and people struggling to get through, I erred on the side of caution and got a medium one in the range of one-and-a-half pounds to one-and-a-quarter pounds, with mashed squash and asparagus. And like a "crazy" tourist I tied that plastic napkin around my neck and enjoyed. The lobster meat was sweet and buttery and just delicious. All hail the Maine lobster!
Actually that was my last meal on my final night in Boston, and if I hadn't eaten anything else, I would have been quite happy.
As you can see I had a long list, and I satisfied every craving I had going to Boston. Making the trip extra special was the opportunity to enjoy a meal at Bonfire, a steakhouse restaurant by celebrity Chef Todd English, who is one of the most decorated, respected and charismatic chefs in the world. (And that was thanks to the fact that airport dining has gone more upscale). I stumbled across Chef English's restaurant in Terminal B at Boston's Logan International Airport as I was walking to my gate, and since I had a few hours to kill before my flight, you know I made a beeline for Bonfire.
Perusing the menu I was stuck between the Kobe beef hot dog (with jalapeno slaw, Dijon mustard and Parmesan fries), portobello quesadilla (roasted corn salsa, queso blanco, chimichurri and avocado crema) and the grilled bonfire burger (garlic aioli, smoky bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and Parmesan fries). I was leaning towards the portobello quesadilla, when the waiter walked up and I asked for his recommendation. He steered me into another direction -- the brioche chicken sandwich (garlic aioli, cheddar, caramelized onions, avocado and parmesan fries) -- I was a little skeptical, but I went with it. I stuck to the advice that I usually dole out, which is that chefs and waiters won't steer you wrong.
And he certainly didn't! That first bite was an explosion of flavor so intense that when I said wow, I don't think it was just in my head. The tender grilled chicken, topped with the buttery avocado and the flavorful garlic aioli really made the sandwich. Even though I didn't have intentions of eating any of the Parmesan cheese-flecked French fries tossed with sweet roasted garlic and crisp fried sage, they were addictively good (so much for watching those calories). A cooling side of Pico de gallo, and that meal at English's Bonfire Steakhouse was the perfect way for me to end my first visit to Boston. With eating that good, I intend a return trip. And if you're ever in the area, a meal at Legal Sea Foods which has been around since 1904 is a must-do dining experience.
By RENALDO DORSETT
Another week, another dynamic performance for Demetrius Ferguson as he continues an historic season in Canada's Atlantic Football League.
Ferguson's 80-yard touchdown punt return sparked the Holland Hurricanes' 22-14 win over defending AFL champions UNB Saint John Seawolves.
Ferguson's score came just four minutes into the game to put the Hurricanes ahead early as they improved to 4-0 in the conference (5-1 overall).
He took in the punt on his own 30-yard line and then wove his way through defenders before sailing up the sidelines, leaving three Seawolves in his wake.
A failed point-after attempt left the score at 6- ...
Tropical Storm Maria is on path that will take it much farther south in the tropical Atlantic compared to Katia and could take a similar path to that of Irene.
All kidding aside, tropical storms and hurricanes with female "and" male names need to be taken seriously.
Maria will cause trouble in the Antilles and needs to be watched for impact in the Bahamas and areas northward through the Atlantic Seaboard as a result.
The world is about to see Europe linked to South America in a way that has never happened before. A bridge will link French Guiana, the last European outpost in the Americas, with Brazil, the largest country in South America and now the sixth largest economy in the world.
There are other physical links to Brazil, but none from Europe. Once the bridge between French Guiana and Brazil is opened, so too will open the opportunity for greater trade and investment between the European Union (E.U.) and Brazil, since for all administrative purposes French Guiana is as much a part of France as Paris.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is just ahead of Brazil in the rankings of the world's largest economies, will probably announce the opening of the bridge across the Oyapock River, French Guiana's border with Brazil, while he is in French Guiana as part of a campaign whipping up support for his shot at a second term as president.
His interest in the relationship between French Guiana and Brazil will go beyond the physical link between the two neighbors to the economic opportunities it can provide for France and by extension the E.U. Brazil has a population of about 200 million and its economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2010, and was forecast to grow another 3.5 percent in 2011. It is rich in natural resources and is open to European investment.
On the other side, Brazil has a vibrant manufacturing sector and, remarkably, it sells more to China than it imports. For Brazil, the link to French Guiana could lead to a direct land-crossing to the Atlantic Ocean for parts of its huge territory from which overland transportation to its own Atlantic coast is expensive.
This possibility will be additional to a border-crossing established in 2009 between Brazil and Guyana, when a bridge was built over the Takutu River that barely divides the two countries at Brazil's northern point. However, while the bridge accommodates regular traffic between Brazil's northern area, Roraima, and Guyana, there is not an all-weather road from the bridge to Guyana's coast. Until the all-weather road is constructed, Brazil still cannot use Guyana effectively for transporting exports from its northern region.
If French Guiana opens the 1,240-ft long bridge for business, it will connect the towns of Saint-Georges-de-l'Oyapock and Oiapoque on the French and Brazilian sides respectively, and the opportunities for commerce not only between the two neighbors, but between France and Brazil, will expand rapidly.
The opening of this bridge need not rival or displace the already-opened link between Guyana and Brazil, an all-weather road, estimated at US$40 million, was built from the Guyana border town, Lethem, to Guyana's Atlantic coast. Guyana's Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett recently announced that Guyana has completed a feasibility study for the Lethem Road paving project. She is reported to have said: "We would like to see this project accelerate quickly, but we also have to be very patient." While she did not say so, the minister's caution could be based on the level of concessional financing that Brazil is willing to give.
Meantime, authoritative reports show that, as a result of the Takutu Bridge, the flow of commodities from Guyana to Brazil has increased. There is also a flow of Brazilians into Guyana especially into the gold and diamond mining industries, and, increasingly, into the establishment of nightclubs and restaurants in Guyana's capital city.
The completed road would not only give Guyana an opportunity to sell commodities to northern Brazil, it would also earn Guyana revenues from Brazilian exports moving to Guyana's sea port which would have to be converted into a deep water harbor. Services to Brazilian transport vehicles would also provide new economic opportunities for Guyanese and very likely lead to new townships along the hundreds of miles of road. If the Brazilians extend their cooperation further to provide concessional financing for a deep water port in Guyana, both countries would benefit. So too would the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), whose people would find jobs in an expanded Guyana economy, and whose manufacturing industries could access Northern Brazil through Guyana.
The Guyana-Brazil relationship would have to be carefully negotiated to ensure that Guyana is not overwhelmed. While there is no tension between Guyana and Brazil, some of Brazil's other neighbors in South America - particularly Bolivia and Paraguay - have complained about Brazil flexing its newfound political and economic muscle.
Marcel Biato, Brazil's ambassador to Bolivia, said, about infrastructure financing in Bolivia and elsewhere in South America, "We want Brazil to be surrounded by prosperous, stable countries."
Other Brazilian authorities have argued that their country has access to sources of raw materials other than its immediate neighbors and that it has routes across the continent through which it can send goods to ports on the Pacific. That may be so, but it is cheaper for Brazil to secure raw materials it needs from their closest point, and the governor of Roraima has made it clear that it would be cheaper for manufacturing industries in his state to be able to ship their goods to the Atlantic through Guyana.
It is very much in Brazil's interest to allay the fears of its neighbors and to monitor carefully the behavior of some of its companies operating in nearby countries, or, over time, it could be tainted with the same image of bullying that Latin American and Caribbean countries applied to the United States. That would not be good for Brazil or its neighbors.
As the Brazilian economic ship rises in the sea of economic fortunes, it has the chance to pull along the smaller economies around it in a manner that commands respect and support.
The bridges to two of the Guianas - Guyana and French Guiana - as well as the increasing economic links to the third of the Guianas - Suriname - offer great opportunities for Brazil.
As for Guyana, the all-weather road to Brazil will be a catalyst for further economic growth and a gateway to South America for the Caribbean Community countries. As two developing countries with shared interests in the international arena, Guyana and Brazil should cement a fair, balanced and co-operative agreement to ensure mutual benefits and gains whatever happens with the connection between France and Brazil through the use of French Guiana.
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community.
A group of dancers and musicians promoting Bahamian culture abroad will be presenting their talents during a special show tonight at the National Center for the Performing Arts on Shirley Street.
Under the theme of "Three Hearts With Love", the Bahamian Dance Theater Company presents a special concert featuring troupes from the local dance community and highlighting three talented Bahamian concert dancers - Mervin Smith, Denton Gay and Mychal Bryan.
"It's very rare in our country to find concert dance - dance that focuses on modern, contemporary and jazz," points out Mervin Smith, who besides helping to form the company in 2009 also acts as its artistic director.
"Our mission and vision at BDTC is to promote arts and culture through dance. We've lost that appreciation for performance, but this is the future and this is what is going on in The Bahamas."
Indeed, these three gifted young men continue to study dance abroad, giving them a chance to perform globally as well, making them true cultural ambassadors of The Bahamas who now share their talents with the Bahamian public during the BDTC's concert season.
The highlight will be their main dance, "Primitive: Male" to the song "Oya (Primitive Fire)" by Babatunde Olatunji, where they hope to give tribute to the male dancer as an important cultural figure. As male dancers themselves, they have faced prejudice and difficulty both professionally and socially, which they hope they can help the audience replace with admiration and awe.
"It embodies the essence of the male as a dancer," says Smith. "You get to see how the male interacts on a stage with other males and own our bodies, our space, who we are, and appreciative of the fact that we are males and we can present ourselves to this form of dance."
This idea of being true to oneself and finding strength in one's identity runs throughout their three solo performances - indeed, it was the thought behind the theme of sharing what's in three hearts.
For Smith, who studies Dance and Theater at Lehman College in New York and who is an alumnus of the esteemed Alvin Ailey Dance School, his dance, "Everybody Has Got Their Something" to Nikka Costa is meant to honor individuals' special talents.
"It tells you that everyone of us in our own space and ways have something to give and offer," he says. "I want this piece to tell people to follow their heart, that they have something to say and do because they will touch lives. People need to be uplifted and inspired."
For dancer Mychal Bryan, this solo performance, "Struggles in the Dark" to the "music" of a speech by Charlie Chaplain made in the 1950s, is a time to reflect on the perseverance of the individual.
"It's about humanity and the ways we get trapped in societies and how we struggle to exist and feel and stretch beyond ourselves to open up to humanness," he explains.
His dance will also be performed at a production at his school, The Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, where he is also a part-time student at Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts. A talented individual, Bryan also performs with L'Acado, A United Caribbean Dance Force, under the artistic direction of Dr. L'Antoinette Osunide Stines.
The third solo performance by Denton Gay, "Who You Are", after the song by Jessie J., celebrates individuality despite all odds.
"It's about being true to oneself, true to who you are and not conforming to society," he says.
Besides being the rehearsal director for BDTC, Gay studies dance and business administration at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. Once he's completed his studies, he hopes to venture to New York City and eventually choreograph professionally at his own dance studio.
Indeed the night is all about helping these three young dancers to continue to achieve their goals to promote the joy of dance - all proceeds from the tickets will help them to continue on with their studies.
"Dance helps you connect with people on a spiritual level," points out Mervin Smith. "You can tell stories and express through movement what people want to say but can't."
Besides their time in the spotlight, the show will feature a variety of other dancers and routines from BDTC's repertoire: the jazzy "Suite-T Connection", the playful "Bahamian Fables: Once Upon a Time", the mini-cabaret "Stage A Blaze" and "Soul to The Caribbean" featuring mime work by the Lenelle Michelle Mime Company. Tonight's show will be a true reflection of how far dance has come and can continue to grow and challenge audiences.
Yet the evening is more than dance - indeed, BDTC is about promoting all Bahamian arts and culture and to that effect features a young and very talented musician making waves regionally and globally.
Talbert Williams will be presenting his original work, "Beautiful Soul", that interprets the poignant theme of the night.
"'Beautiful Soul' is that feeling where you see your love and you know what it is, but you can't put your finger on it," he says. "I hope the audience connects with me on that level."
Emerging on the music scene as a child prodigy in the National Children's Choir, Williams has continued on a great path of writing, composing and recording inspirational music. It has not only earned him several National Arts Competition Awards in soloist singing, but also regional Marlin Awards in Talent Gospel Search for Inspirational Recording of the Year.
Besides just finishing his studies abroad at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where he studied musical theatre, Williams has performed even as far as China.
Indeed, these young artists are making exciting waves around the globe and promise to put on a dazzling evening of song and dance when they come together. Attending the performance tonight will not only give audiences a great insight into where Bahamian modern dance and music is heading in a globalized world but also will be a show of support for these young artists who promise to make it big in their craft worldwide.
"Three Hearts With Love" premieres during a special evening performance tonight at 7 p.m. at the National Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $10. For reservations, more information or to make a donation, call 362-0622 or 436-7710.
Such is the continuing power of the United States that all over the world governments and organizations are concerned about what a U.S. presidency of either incumbent Barack Obama or hopeful Mitt Romney will mean to them.
After four years as president, the world already knows what kind of foreign policy Obama would seek to implement. It will be forceful in defense of what Obama sees as the interests of the United States and, while it will try to work with other governments and through the United Nations Security Council, it will not stop short of taking unilateral action against any country that it believes to pose a threat to the United States. It will also continue to advance a program of promoting human rights and civil liberties in countries where it is felt such rights and liberties are stifled and democracy is suppressed.
In this regard, a new Obama administration will continue to take a tough line with Iran for as long as it is convinced that the Iranian government is working toward building a nuclear capability that could be used against Israel and maybe further afield. Regrettably, it will also continue its drone warfare in Pakistan and Afghanistan where hundreds of innocent people are being killed as "collateral damage" as the U.S. government hunts persons believed to be terrorists associated with al Qaida. Syria may also be ratcheted up the foreign policy priorities as efforts intensify to bring an end to both the relentless killing of civilians in clashes between the Assad regime and opposition forces, and the burdensome flood of refugees to neighboring states.
On the global economic front, relations with China will continue to be a major preoccupation as the U.S. government tries to mitigate the challenges it faces from what it portrays as China's unfair trade advantages arising from subsidized production and an undervalued currency. The Obama administration will undoubtedly continue its strategy of negotiation with China and complaints to the dispute settlement body of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Mitt Romney has given the world a flavor of the kind of foreign policy he will pursue in several speeches he made during his campaign. There is no doubt that in the Middle East, although he says he will "recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel", he will favor Israel's interest above all others. As he said, "the world must never see any daylight between our two nations". He will also militarize the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region by restoring the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces, and he will be even tougher on Iran than Obama has been by imposing new sanctions. Further, he will challenge Russia by expanding the U.S.' military capacity and he will seek to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) so that all of its 28 members devote two percent of their GDP to security spending (only three do so now).
With regard to China, Romney has made it clear that on the trade front he will "confront China's cheating" and he will "maintain appropriate military capabilities to discourage any aggressive or coercive behavior by China against its neighbors (including Taiwan)".
The choices, therefore, appear to be between the Romney method of a more militaristic and aggressive U.S. government globally that seeks to place American power as the foundation of an international system, and the Obama approach that will use American power to defend American interests but would be willing to secure consensus as the basis for the functioning of the international order.
It would seem that the world would be a less-confrontational place under Obama than under Romney.
With regard to the Caribbean, it is already known that the Obama presidency has not been helpful to the region and in some ways it has been harmful particularly in the financial services sector, in climate change, and in a lack of responsiveness to development needs. The Caribbean's financial services have been hurt both by the labelling of many of them as "tax havens" and by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which extends U.S. jurisdiction into the Caribbean with a heavy compliance cost to Caribbean financial institutions. It is impacting government revenues and curtailing savings in banks by Caribbean nationals who are also nationals or residents of the United States. On climate change, during the Rio+20 Conference last June, the U.S. refused to affirm an earlier commitment to transfer technology to developing countries. It equally refused to reaffirm any commitment to providing new and additional financial resources.
Obama's help to the region has been primarily on curbing drug trafficking. But, this is as much - if not more - in America's interests as the region's. The focus on interdiction and not on providing resources for education, job creation, and poverty alleviation is not tackling the region's fundamental problems.
Under Romney, there is unlikely to be any change in the Obama policies toward the Caribbean - except maybe in the strictures on the financial services sector, since Romney himself is a beneficiary of financial vehicles in the Cayman Islands.
Policies toward Cuba and Venezuela would appear to be the biggest difference in policy approaches between Obama and Romney. Romney has made it clear that he will return to tight sanctions against Cuba and he will not allow Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Castro's Cuba to "lead a virulently anti-American 'Bolivarian' movement across Latin America that seeks to undermine institutions of democratic governance and economic opportunity". He has also says he wants "market-based economic relationships".
Against this background, there is not much in the presidency of Obama or Romney for the Caribbean specifically. But the world would be less contentious with America at least trying multilateral solutions before unilateral coercion.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com.
"Celebrities, premiers, prime ministers, Arab sheiks," Andrea Gray, Director of VIP Services at Atlantis' Royal Towers, rattled off yesterday.
She was describing the types of guests she and her team of 35 attend to - "discriminate guests" accustomed to receiving that "personal touch" and the highest levels of service, she said.
Working with a team of concierges, butlers and food and beverage professionals, Gray said every day is about taking care of the finest of details to ensure a seamless stay, from arrival at the airport to departure, and everything in between. "The main thing is we are in the business of getting every guest to be a repeat customer for life," she said.
Gray got her start in the hospitality industry through her first love - the food and beverage track. There, she shone in both the kitchen and the front-of-the-house taking care of restaurant guests. "I never thought I'd move out of food and beverage - that's where my schooling and certificates are," said Gray.
But her commitment to service stood out since then, leading to an offer to move from food and beverage into VIP services at Atlantis in 2002. She said she "jumped" on that opportunity, and has been able to build lasting relationships with customers the world over since. It's perhaps the favorite aspect of her career, according to Gray. "That's what I love so much," Atlantis' 2009 Leader of the Year awardee said. "I can see and touch my guests, everyday ... you can take charge and say, let me deal with this."
Anyone who has had to either manage a large staff, or deal with customers daily, will appreciate the challenge they can represent. Added to that, Gray also works closely with support staff from other areas of the resort to deliver a top-notch experience for her guests. For her, the true challenge has been understanding the different personalities and how to manage them. She overcomes the challenge with a positive attitude and some special training.
"For the most part, I don't allow things to really stress me out," she said. "There are problems everywhere, you just find the best way to work with them."
Gray has gone on to buffet her hospitality management degree with conflict resolution and similar studies at Atlantic College, Nassau. She completed her hospitality management degree at Trinidad & Tobago's hotel school - the Bahamian explaining that she moved to that twin-island nation when she was six years old.
She spent the early part of her hospitality career there, too, working at resorts in both Trinidad and Tobago.
"I always loved the hospitality industry, although nobody else in my family was in it," Gray said. "I always knew I wanted to do the hotel and restaurant business. I had an affinity to always be the outspoken person, so this is a natural fit for me."
Gray moved back to New Providence in 1994, later taking a position at the Breezes, Cable Beach resort. Three years later she moved to Atlantis in the food and beverage department.
In addition to her approach and training, Gray said she had the support of great mentors. She listed Atlantis Senior Vice President Ernie Cambridge and Coral and Beach Towers general manager and the president of the Bahamas Hotel Association Stuart Bowe as two of them.
"They really mentored and shaped my career. They pushed me to see things in me I didn't know I have," she said.
Gray now champions mentorship as well. Her department has its own informal mentorship program, she explained. It is a project she and one of her former managers launched some six years ago. Three of the first group of four mentees have moved into management positions, she said. Of the second group of four, she said one has already crested into management.
Gray shared some advice for prospects considering a guest services career. "A lot of people get into this for the wrong reason," she said. "This can't be something you get into for money, or all you'll get out of it will be money."
She said the recognition from satisfied guests booking their return trip was the motivation needed for true success in the industry.
For those governments that had been courting Muammar Gaddafi for the money that he handed out to spread his influence around the world, his fall from power in Libya is bad news. And, the news is unlikely to get better whatever regime replaces him.
As this commentary is being written, Gaddafi is being sought in and near Tripoli. If he is still in the country, it is only a matter of time before he is caught. His treatment, if he is captured alive, will depend on who catches him. In any event, his almost 42-year rule as leader of Libya, which began when he seized power in a military coup in 1969, is at an end.
Despite the recognition by several Western governments of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), it is by no means certain that as events unfold in the coming months, the Council or the persons who constitute it, will remain in charge. Indeed, confusion and chaos are likely to reign for some months to come.
There are now large groups of people throughout Libya who are armed with heavy weapons and who feel that, having confronted the Gaddafi power machine, they are entitled to share in the spoils. They are unlikely to go quietly into the night.
Perhaps it is in acknowledgement of this reality, that Western governments and commentators have been calling for no recriminations (except against Gaddafi and his sons) and to maintain in office the military and public service that served Gaddafi. They recognize that they made an error in Iraq by getting rid of the military establishment, police and public servants. There was no one in place, except the Americans and the British to take charge and they had little or no experience of Iraq. They also had to train a complete police force and rebuild military capability. In the meantime, lawlessness was rampant everywhere.
One thing is for sure, whether it is the NTC or some other body, Libya now needs a government urgently so as to bring order after months of chaos. And, whatever government it is, it will be a long time to come before it starts seeking influence and allies by spreading abroad the revenues from Libya's oil. The focus of any new government will have to be on rebuilding Libya's damaged physical infrastructure and in building a democratic society. Building such a democratic society will be much more challenging that replacing physical infrastructure.
Libya is not short of money now. Nor will it be in the future. The immediate problem confronting the NTC, which will seek to run the country, is that more than $150 billion of Libya's assets are locked up abroad, much of it frozen as part of sanctions applied against Gaddafi. No doubt the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) who backed the uprising against Gaddafi will want to release some of that money to NTC to allow it to assert its authority in the country.
Other countries, such as South Africa, where Libyan assets are also lodged, will want to be more cautious about whom the funds are released. They will want to be sure that there is a de facto government in place. South Africa President Jacob Zuma is on record as saying he wants to see a government in place in Libya and his government has criticized Nigeria for recognizing the NTC even before Gaddafi is officially no longer in any kind of authority.
At the moment, many government salaries have gone unpaid, including the police and the army. The NTC will only persuade these people to work if they are assured of being paid, and they see an early sign of it.
The NATO countries, themselves, are unlikely to release all of the frozen funds to the NTC at once. The United States, Canada and the European Union countries will be keen to see swift attempts at drafting a constitution for Libya and no doubt will expect to see it in the model of constitutions governing Western countries. They will also want plans to be put in place for general elections by which the people can choose a government from contending political parties.
The latter will not happen overnight. A country with no history of political parties and general elections will require a great deal of information and training simply to put the necessary institutions in place. Forming political parties will be even more difficult because they are bound to be fashioned first on narrow political and regional interests before those interests can be merged into bodies with a national reach, if that can be achieved.
It can also be taken for granted that the NATO countries will be pulling strings behind the scenes and openly. The NTC will clearly do business with the countries and agencies that helped them to topple Gaddafi. Those countries that remained supportive of Gaddafi or assumed a neutral stance will hardly get a look-in. The only two exceptions to that rule would be China and Russia with whom Libya would want to continue sensible relations for strategic reasons related to security.
The experts claim that Libya has Africa's highest oil reserves. But, its national production has been reduced to virtually nothing because of the conflict over the last few months. They also claim that it will take at least a year before production reaches the level it was before the conflict. All the more reason why Libya will not be opening a check book to governments around the world any time soon.
The spoils of oil are already well and truly in the hands of French, British and Italian companies and the US can be assured of supplies to meet its demands in the coming years. What is more, the price of oil is showing signs of going down. The UN Security Council in giving NATO a chit to help save lives in Libya by protecting those, who rebelled against Gaddafi from his warplanes and bombs, also unintentionally provided a license for helping with regime change. Many will rightly ponder how to guard against a similar occurrence in the future.
It appears that the majority of people inside Libya are pleased to see the back of Muammar Gaddafi and his reign of terror both inside and outside of the country, but the vacuum he has left needs to be filled. No one should expect Libya to be stable and well-ordered for some time to come - NATO countries had a role in the war; they must now play a significant role in ensuring the peace.
In the meantime, Libya's check book diplomacy is also at an end.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a former Caribbean diplomat. Re-published with the permission of Caribbeannewsnow.com