Wednesday, July 2, 2014
We have a rather stupid habit in Trinidad & Tobago of denying the truth of a given situation and criticizing and condemning anybody and everybody who dares to speak about it and tell it like it is. It's what you might call a 'shoot the messenger syndrome'.
So when a senior police officer speaks out and says in effect that the police are declaring war on the bandits in Laventille and the Minister of National Security also speaks of war with the criminals the newspapers and other persons jump up and say that this kind of language is not helpful and will not assist in making things right. In other words, calling a spade a spade is not a good idea because it might offend the very people who the society is afraid of. Or, put another way, it might offend them (the criminals) more and drive them into further and worse crimes of violence, so, don't make statements like that!
From my personal point of view this type of thinking is as wrong as Neville Chamberlain's when he tried to appease Adolf Hitler. And we all know what happened eventually in that matter! In the circumstances, I decided to look up the definition of 'war' in the dictionary in order to see if what the Minister et al.were saying was fair and accurate. This is what Webster's gives as a definition of 'war':
"Conflict carried on by force of arms as between nations or as between parties within a
nation". (emphasis mine).
Well, if what is going on in Laventille is not a conflict "between parties within a nation" then I don't know what is! A soldier gets shot ... killed ... murdered ... call it what you like ... by criminals who (if the news reports are reasonably true) shot him precisely because he was a soldier. Oh? This is not an act of war? This is not symptomatic or evidence of a conflict between parties within a nation? The police are reported to have recovered thirty (count them: thirty!) spent shells from a high powered rifle from the site of the soldier's ambush!
The sooner that we (i.e., civil society) recognize that we are indeed in a state of war the better. Because, the fight against crime is one thing ... all nations have crime at some level or another, but not all nations have a virtual civil war taking place within their borders. Some (Syria, Iraq and Somalia, for example, come to mind immediately) are obviously worse than others, but except in terms of degree what we have inside our country is a civil war where gang lords (aka gang leaders) are carving out ever increasing territories for themselves and their followers. Anybody who is not with them is against them and so they kill them, It's as plain and simple as that!
I am raising all this right now because I think that it is important that we recognize exactly what we are facing. Going to war requires an obviously different mindset from fighting crime. In fighting crime the politicians can (and do) bicker amongst themselves as to who has the better crime plan or who is better equipped to deal with the criminals. In going to war everybody basically has to pick a side and do all that he/she can to ensure that his/her side wins. The politicians need to stop the 'blame game'. Of course I would like to know who and/or what really is to blame for this terrible and absolutely deplorable state of affairs that we now find ourselves in. But what I would really like to see first and foremost are solutions to winning this war that nobody (in civil society) wants or wanted. Afterwards we can indulge in the luxury of 'it's your fault' blame game.
It is time now for a coming together of all right thinking citizens. It is time now for all of the politicians to put aside their differences (petty or otherwise) and to say that on this matter that they are absolutely united. A message needs to be sent to the rebels (note that I am not calling them criminals any more) that in this war they face a united front, that we will not accept defeat, nor will we allow our country to deteriorate into a place like Somalia where gang lords rule the roost! We must send a clear and unequivocal message to the rebels that Trinidad & Tobago is indeed a united and civilized society that adheres to the rule of law and does not and will not tolerate any alternative State within its borders. We must send a clear and unequivocal message that any attempt whatsoever to establish any different type of State within the borders of Trinidad & Tobago will simply not be tolerated and will be dealt with firmly ... and 'firmly' must by definition include the use of such force as may be necessary to eradicate the threat of disintegration of the unitary State of Trinidad & Tobago. And this message must be a united message from all sides of the political divide!! There can be no opportunity given to the rebels to exploit a 'divide and rule' strategy!
Posted by Robin Montano at 10:50 AM