Criticism that Liberian educators and scholars make bookshelf dry of Liberian ink, meaning they hardly write books on and about Liberia, is braved and challenged by one of the country’s renowned Foreign Service experts and fiscal maestro. Mr. M. Nathaniel Barnes combined his diplomatic acumen as former Ambassador to the United Nations and macroeconomic expertise as former Finance Minister to author a book that provides deeper hindsight into, and exhilarating perspectives of Liberia’s development quagmire vis-à-vis looming international power play that impacts the country’s forward match. The book, “Left Brain…Right Brain”, explores Liberia’s social, economic and political dynamics with deliberate wit and research that makes it a ‘must read’, as The Analyst reports.
Liberia’s former Finance Minister and former Ambassador to the United States, Nat Barnes, has launched an enlightening book, which captures the intrigues of the country’s development and foreign policy challenges, amongst other things.
In his Left Brain…Right Brain, the Liberian diplomat brought to the fore issues of the proliferation of small arms, children in conflict and corruption in poor African nations. He also delved into Liberians in the Diaspora and their significance in the economic development of the country.
Amb. Barnes who is an astute public servant and university lecture wrote about Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, Globalization, Diaspora Liberia, Arms Conflict, Governance and Politics.
On Foreign Policy, the former Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations wrote that the formulation and implementation of foreign policy depend upon multiple factors, also considered, “building blocks” upon which strategic considerations are drawn in the accomplishment of vital national interests.
He wrote that in considering the national interests, three important questions must come to mind, and they are what does a given country want, what must be done to get that which is desired, and willingness and prepared do wo what must be done to get what is desired or wanted.
On the issue of globalization, Dr. Barnes wrote that the phenomenon of globalization has made the world a “smaller” place.
“While expanding the influence and reach of powerful nations, globalization has inevitably empowered smaller, poorer countries with valuable information, enhanced appreciation of their natural resources and intellectual wealth, and reinforced a keener awareness of their strategic geopolitical, social, economic and environmental values,” he wrote.
This phenomenon has placed these poor, backward countries in a significantly stronger strategic position, arming them with the option to freely and confidently say “NO” to the status quo and effectively select their own strategic direction, partners and allies, he added. “This inevitable fallout can best be described as ‘he double edged nature of Globalization’”.
The book also zoomed in on Armed Conflict and exposed why the world’s powers refuses to cater categorize small arms and light weapons as devices of mass destruction.
He said the developed world does not consider small arms weapons of mass destruction because such arms do not appear to be a real threat to the developed world.
The Liberian diplomat said this concept is unsettling because of its innate racist inclination.
“Simply put, these small arms and light weapons cannot be categorized as instruments of mass destruction as they do not ‘destroy’ the largely white populations of the developed world,” he revealed in the book. “Furthermore, the image or concept of the developed world being the producers and purveyors of weapons of mass destruction which are actively and frequently used (unlike nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) to wreak havoc on poor underdeveloped countries is unpalatable to ‘civilized western sensitivities.’”
Expounding on Development Diplomacy in his book, Dr. Barnes noted that “a clear, concise, realistic strategic development plan should be the centerpiece and driver of a developing nation state’s foreign policy.”
“A good plan should incorporate several key factors…most critically, this development plan must be strongly supported with national commitment and strong political will,” he wrote. “In the absence of these two important factors, a development plan will not be worth the paper on which it is written.”
Every informative is also the chapter on Liberian Diaspora where he noted that the demographics mirror in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, amongst other things.
“Political dynamics within institutions and associations in the Diaspora, like Liberia, are generally driven along tribal/ethnic lines and interests,” he revealed, adding: “There are as many tribal/ethnic organizations in the Liberian Diaspora in America as there are ethnic groups in Liberia.”
He wrote further: “On close observation, one could easily conclude that the Liberian Diaspora in the United States is a microcosm of Liberia from a social and political perspective. Liberians in the Diaspora continue to demonstrate unprecedented enthusiasm (to some extent anxiety) about political and social developments in Liberia. In this regard, the Liberian Diaspora has evolved socially and politically into Liberia’s sixteenth county (Liberia has fifteen administrative and geographic subdivisions called counties).
“Economically, the Diaspora has emerged as Liberia’s Middle Class. The history of Liberia is fraught with disparities which cover nearly every aspect of the Liberia experience; economically, socially and politically. This fact is historically demonstrated by the non-existence of a middle class in Liberia for many generations. Liberia has always harbored two distinct social and economic classes; a miniscule wealthy class and a huge desperately poor class.”
On governance, he first acknowledged that every country on this globe has experienced crisis and poverty, and that those that are considered successful have come to grips with the realities presented within these two paradigms and have been able to implement solutions to overcome them.
Dr. Branes indicated that the fundamental drivers behind sustained solutions to crisis and poverty have historically been a cohesive, reconciled and disciplined society that is prepared to deal with its disparities in an environment of inclusiveness and justice.
“The Liberia paradigm lacks the essentials of inclusiveness and justice which may be an indicator of its national denial,” he wrote. “Throughout its history, Liberia has encountered very difficult issues; and, unfortunately, Liberians have chosen ‘flight’ (as reflected in denial) as opposed to ‘fight’ (as reflected in confronting tough issues directly). As a result, Liberia has an axiomatic closet full of skeletons that have accumulated over generations of denial, that are now, like chickens, “coming home to roost.”
He reasoned that until Liberians come to grips with these stubborn facts, the faulty foundational pillars of our national desires, dreams and visions, will be unable to support any serious initiative for sustainable growth, development and prosperity.