I wish to take issue with Tama Foa and U.S. Ambassador Larry M. Dinger (18 Feb., 2008, A Friend in need is friend indeed).
Tama Foa highlighted the ills of Ambassador Dinger’s “horny” diplomacy, 220 sailors from the USS Reuben James FFG57 presented as tokens of U.S. appreciation. But I don’t think their contribution to the local economy can be denied: Tama Foa may have visited the Great State of Nevada which has legalized prostitution and gambling and citizens are benefiting handsomely, thank you.
Additionally, the American military 5-month occupation during World War II is still considered the largest economy booster in the history of Tonga. I do not think that the overall impact of the USS Reuben James’ visit to the Tongan economy is being appreciated by Tama Foa: a dollar spent circulates in the economy several times.
But I have to agree with Tama Foa: Does Ambassador Dinger thinks that Tongans are all “Village Idiots?” A true token of America’s appreciation would be for Ambassador Dinger to use his power and authority. He could give U.S. visas to all able working Tongans to seek employment in America on a work-rotation scheme, for example.
Tonga does not need handouts such as Foreign Aids because they always come with strings attached, and very little of it trickles down to ordinary Tongans. Ambassador Dinger can show America’s true appreciation for Tonga’s sacrifice in the Iraq War by helping Tongans help themselves.
Otherwise his visit and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Timothy J. Keating’s visit last September (Re: U.S. Pacific Commander thanks Tonga, 18 September, 2007) are just “Empty Thank Yous.”
On the other hand, here is another lost opportunity for Tonga’s Parliamentary Representatives to pursue some economic opportunities for the people they represent. Has any of the People’s Representatives picked up on this hint? Either their heads are stuck in the sand, or they are the real “Village Idiots.”
Sione A. Mokofisi
samokofisi [at] yahoo [dot] com