By Ryhaan ShahThe idea of a “third force” that would act as a balance of power between the two major political parties, the PPP and PNC, is still being floated as the best way to help us transcend ethnic politics and graduate to a national issue-based agenda. The feeling is that this would introduce the kind of political maturity needed for progress.However, despite the appearance of several new political parties over the years and the emergence of two coalition governments formed by the PNC with one respective “third force”, the UF and now the AFC, the “third force” idea has failed to deliver.The Burnham Government’s coalition with the UF lasted little over two years and, despite all the protestations from the AFC leadership, it is evident that the current coalition is in tatters. In both instances, it appears that the PNC simply used the “third force” to leverage itself into power.The emergence of the WPA under the leadership of Dr Walter Rodney did present a formidable third force alternative to the Burnham dictatorship and what was seen as an ineffectual PPP opposition and we all know how tragically that story ended.The unresolved issues arising from Guyana’s recent political history continue to paralyse the electorate into the tried and true patterns of ethnic voting, so, while third force parties come and go, the two behemoths are still standing.Notwithstanding the continued efforts to break this mould, there has always been a third force at work in Guyana’s politics. We know them as the ABC countries: America, Britain and Canada.Canada might not have much standing as a world power but they have a keen interest in Guyana’s domestic affairs since they provide much aid to the country and continue to welcome Guyanese immigrants to their shores.More than any political group, it is this third force that continues to determine Guyana’s political fate. In every sense, colonialism never ended; it just changed colours to suit our supposedly independent status. Our dependence on aid and the goodwill of the world powers make us vulnerable to their interests. We are hardly in charge of our destiny.The story of how Premier Cheddi Jagan was ousted from office in the 1960s through CIA-funded violence is well documented as is the resultant destruction from near three decades of a PNC dictatorship. But that was just so much collateral damage in the West’s Cold War with Russia.The US did invest much in restoring democracy to Guyana in 1992 after the Cold War ended and we must hope that America and its allies would not want to squander that investment and the gains made by having Guyana slide back into economic stagnation and even more political turmoil.It is no secret that the US and its allies helped forge the current alliance between the PNC and AFC. That they worked to create the partnership certainly gave them a vested interest in the Coalition’s success at the polls and many still hold the results of the last general elections suspect.However, the diplomatic community must be disappointed, as is every single Guyanese, with the conduct of the Coalition Government as we all watch the serial corruptions unfold and the economy grind to a halt. They cannot be at all happy with this outcome.The PPP/C in its 23-year reign did, however, give everyone good reason to want change. They had become arrogant and were seen as corrupt, and it was probably out of a bloated sense of inviolability that they felt untouchable. Their infamous “feral blast” probably sealed their fate.For the sake of their future success, the PPP/C must throw off the gauche and even uncouth behaviour that marred their past efforts at diplomacy and seek some guidance in gaining good diplomatic skills.Practising the art of diplomacy is not weakness and any good government must be able to walk the fine line between honouring Guyana’s sovereignty and being cognizant of the interests of the diplomatic community especially if Guyana is to benefit from both Western and Asian investments.In Guyana’s racially divided state, it is probably good to have a third force in effect that would help check the excesses of power of any one side.Whereas the ABC countries were openly critical of the PPP/C Administration, the Granger Government’s continued bumbling incompetence and wanton wastage of state funds have drawn no fire although any assurances of their continuance in government would surely have been reassessed by now.Given this scenario, the PPP/C must be aware that their diplomatic skills – or lack thereof – could well determine their future.