US downplays DeSantis’ irresponsible remarks on The Bahamas

FILE – Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, as part of the Mandate for Leadership Series in Washington.
AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel, file

The American embassy in The Bahamas and government have been forced to downplay and attempt to calm nerves about an analogous US military attack on The Bahamas following some surprising, if not highly irresponsible, remarks by controversial Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Speaking during a presidential campaign rally in Muscatine, Iowa, last weekend, the ultra right candidate, hypothetically posited that the US would be forced to wipe the mini archipelago off the map if military rockets are ever fired at the US mainland from The Bahamas. He was commenting on the current brutal war between Israel and the Palestinians and did not appear to regard it as unwise to posit such a bizarre scenario against a friendly neighboring nation.

“What are you supposed to do?” he asked. I mean, I used to say even when they would just fire the normal rockets because they’ve been firing these rockets for years and years. And I thought to myself, like, if The Bahamas were firing rockets into Fort Lauderdale, like, we would not accept that for, like, one minute. I mean, we would just level it. We would never be willing to live like that as Americans.”

Startled by the governor’s remarks, the US mission in Nassau was forced to react saying that diplomatic notes were exchanged with the embassy and government as it expressed regret as the comments by DeSantis.

“The Bahamas and the United States enjoy an enduring and unique partnership. Charge d’Affairs Usha Pitts regrets if DeSantis’ comments suggested anything other than a close alliance between our two democratic nations,” Guardian newspaper reported. “The USS Leyte Gulf, a US navy cruiser currently in the Nassau Harbour, illustrates our strong mutual security relationship. We have been allies and friends for 50 years and are looking forward to the next 50.”

The paper was also pushed to run an editorial on the issue, noting that “there is no comparable situation in the region. We find this analogy patently bizarre and somewhat offensive.

“To begin with, The Bahamas has been friends with the United States of America for longer than the state of Israel has existed. We were quite surprised, then, to hear The Bahamas mentioned in an analogy about the conflict by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination for president. The historical ties between the state of Florida, more specifically, and The Bahamas are deep-rooted and multifaceted, shaped by centuries of interactions, trade, and cultural exchanges,” the publication said in an editorial.

Suggesting that DeSantis might not have been malicious in his remarks, the paper said his analogy was “baffling and indelicately done as “the Bahamas has no rockets to fire at anyone and has no interest with waging war with any country nor the capacity to do so, much less with our largest trading partner and greatest consumer market, which happens to have the world’s largest military.”