Allan Douglas , Guest Columnist
Matters related to a nation's security will naturally evoke strong emotive responses, as poor national security threatens the lifeblood of every citizen, irrespective of his or her station in life or party affiliation. Jamaica is no different in that regard, and so the present ongoing national debate on security is very natural and should be encouraged.
However, there must be balance as we express our fears and even outrage at what appears to be a national security policy that fails us daily, and the apparent ineffectiveness of the agents of the State, the police, who are charged with maintaining law and order.
I am not a security expert, just a Jamaican concerned with the future of his country. It appears to me, though, that, like so many things in the life of our country, we are once again taking positions based solely on party political considerations in our discussions. We are drawing lines in the sand, so to speak, to gain political points, with the Jamaica Labour Party camp lined up on one side and the People's National Party on the other, without any possible consideration as to what is in the best long-term interests of Jamaica.
Let us be careful what arguments we advance or recommendations we make on this very important issue of national security. Above all, we must not act out of desperation with desperate, short-term measures that may placate the immediate fears of citizens but may also well see some of their rights being abused or trampled, which will serve only to undermine the long-term future of Jamaica.
I don't know what the mission or aim of the 2010 Dudus/Tivoli operation was, and, therefore, I am unable to objectively judge its failure or success. It does appear to me, though, that if there was any meaningful and sustainable reduction in crime as a result, it was, as we say, more a 'buck-up' than planned.
On the face of it, it also appears to me to be a failed military operation and not worthy of any professional military body. At this stage, therefore, we should not hold up that particular operation as a model to be used to reduce crime.
If the state of emergency associated with that operation was responsible for the claimed reduction in crime in the aftermath of the operation, are we now suggesting that a similar state of emergency be invoked to bring about the desired reduction in crime?
Finally, as difficult as it may be, let us remain calm, put aside political pointscoring, and methodically develop a sustainable national security policy and plan. We may wish to consider in our policy or strategic plan:
Reform of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, with an emphasis on leadership.
A national intelligence strategy.
Timely investigating state abuse of rights.
Ensure a workable national security council.
Allan Douglas is a retired colonel. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.