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Reciprocity in Nigeria-United States relations (2)

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THAT the majority of the states that are poor and weak do often have their options but the few powerful ones have often had their way in international politics. Certainly, international politics and international behaviour cannot but be the direct function of national capability, where capabilities and constraints dominate rational decision-making among nations, as well as their status or position in the hierarchy of nations.

Reciprocity In Nigeria-U.S. Relations
There has been serious concern among scholars on the nature of behaviour of states in international relations. Thus in the light of this uncertainty, states have been urged to act in accordance with certain principles in their dealing with one another.

The proposition is that states certainly should, consistently engage in principled behaviour in their international relations. This, according to Inis Claude, is to ensure intellectual tidiness, regularity and uniformity that permit generalisation. This would also enable social scientist to develop impressive systematic descriptions of the various relationships among states in the conducts of their respective foreign policies. In fact, adherence to some basic principles lies at the heart of all reform movements in international relations. However, for the United States of America, the application or adherence to some of these basic principles is based on pragmatism.

For the Pragmatist any principle or theory is true in so far as it works or pays, that is, it leads to the achievement of a set of stated objectives. The pragmatist also has a strong prejudice in favour of whatever is concrete and particular, as against whatever is abstract, speculative and general. Hence, tension between principle and pragmatism is a permanent aspect of the task of managing the participation of states in international relations.

For the United States in particular, pragmatism is almost obsessive, they hardly fancy too much philosophy or history when they seek solutions that have “bearings” on their interest. Unlike the philosophers, U.S. policy-makers are not enigmatic and unlike historians, they are not glued to the past. Thus they are like Napoleon Bonaparte in war, “motion forward, don’t let them capture you alive, move to the target no more no less, the end will inevitably justify the means”.

Consequently for Nigeria as for many other countries, reciprocity is a non-issue for the USA except as determined by existing power equation or power hierarchy or specific national interest at any given moment. Nigerians must understand that reciprocity in international politics is in practice a privilege and not a right as international law and diplomacy tend to imply.

Hence it is an ideal selectively implemented by states in accordance with their own national interests. Hence, the general attitude of either the United States or other powerful countries with the principle of Reciprocity towards Nigeria should be seen and understood as a clear demonstration of the critical elements of the present international system with its characteristic features of selective morality, outrageous paradox and double standard; where, to win, you must continuously and tenaciously hold on to your own national interests and protect them with ruthless courage.

Indeed, frankly speaking, the issue of reciprocity in Nigeria – United States Relations has been grossly misunderstood, and controversial. Those who approach this problem on the basis of international law, equality of nations, sovereignty etc will continue to be disappointed as these issues are not in conflict. At the centre of reciprocity is power, no matter how defined.

The United States may and perhaps do observe, reciprocity in their relation with Russia, China, Japan, Germany, Britain and France for obvious reasons of military, strategic, economic, and political diplomatic interests.

However, it is also obvious that the United States has interests in other countries in Europe and Asia mentioned above. The United States strictly responds to power not sentiment and reciprocity is a game among equals as it has both a deterrent, defensive, economic and other beneficiary attributes states confer on one another as a privilege and recognition of special relationship and not a right.

India, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa are gradually but steadily working towards inclusion into the world’s privileged list of counties. Nigeria can as well do so and sooner rather than later, we shall have reciprocity conferred upon us.

Reciprocity is not given on demand or on request, it is conferred on merit and after verifiable evidence of power, whether defined in political, economic, social or diplomatic basis. For us in Nigeria, all we need to do now and most urgently is to put our house in order, politically and economically as well as scientifically.

The world of international relations is like a mirror; it reflects what you represent. Our foreign policy can only reflect our domestic political conditions.

The United States, Nigeria and South Africa are getting closer than ever in our respective histories as a nation and continent.

At independence, a little over 50years ago, many African counties were only closer to their former European colonial masters than to the United States.

This is no longer true today, for many Nigerians and Africans, all roads lead to the United States. The United States/Nigeria relations may seem complex but nonetheless a vital relationship that recognizes Nigeria’s vital role in Africa and the world.

However, the United States true to its origin and history, has, in the past, achieved its foreign policy objectives using a mixture of authority and charm. And like Sir Robert Walpole. “Those who crossed him or who failed to deliver were ruthlessly discarded”.

In this context, Nigeria receives priority attention when a critical role is open for her in Africa’s crises areas and the necessity to deploy Nigerian troops to contain the conflicts. This has been happening since, the Congo crisis in 1960, Tanganyika, 1964, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Darfur in the Sudan etc and other areas the United Nations was compelled to deploy forces.

The United States’ appreciation of Nigerian political leaders in our 50 years of relationship have been sporadic and principally on the basis of inter-personal variables and not institutionally grounded. Hence, every leader in Nigeria is compelled to find his way to the United States to renew or reaffirm the relationship between our two countries.

• Concluded
• Professor Obiozor is former Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States of America.



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