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DEXIA - New Approach
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Productivity and Economy
Health & the Diaspora
A Call to Action
Do You Remember When?
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Legacy of Rosie Douglas-1
THE RELEVANCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY TO ECONOMIC, POLITICAL, AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS IN DOMINICA
by Peter K. B. St. Jean, University of Chicago, Department of Sociology
"Perceived social problems in Grand Bay, and in fact, the rest of Dominica, in fact, the entire Caribbean region and other parts of the world, have their roots in problems with the equitable distribution of resources and prestige among people. Every nation and its people must pay close attention to how economic opportunities are distributed and the problems that will arise from lopsided development - problems with incivilities, corruption, and the stability of the nation as a whole. People will rise in protest when they are treated unfairly, people will build subcultures of resistance when they feel left out, people will cheat the system when it does not afford them a good and fair opportunity. A nation is begging to be under siege when it does not pay enough attention to the equitable distribution of its land, resources, and prestige." (Quote from my 1996 interview with Rosie Douglas, when I conducted research on community/police relations in Grand Bay).
This paper serves four main purposes:
Placing National Security in Context
During 1994, while still an undergraduate student at St. John's University in New York, I completed an internship with the Dominica Consulate and the Dominica Mission to the United Nations. In my capacity as the alternate representative of the Dominica Ambassador to the United Nations, I attended numerous United Nations functions in place of then Ambassador, Frank Baron. This internship was one of the most educational experiences in my life because I gained knowledge that perhaps could not have been obtained without such an insider's perspective of the world order. One of the most important insights I gained was a better understanding of the manner in which the stability of a nation impacts and reflects its prospects for economic, political, and social developments. In the interest of space I cannot share all of the lessons learned from being involved in numerous formal and informal discussions with dignitaries from other nations, particularly in the Middle East and Africa who explained how the stability of their nation(s) was both a cause and consequence of economic, political, and social developments. But one thing was certain. No developed nation in the world got to where it is without first securing itself; no developing nation gets top quality aid, and advances its people without first securing itself. That is the bottom line.
Therefore, in 2001, when directors of the Rosie Douglas Foundation were crystallizing plans for this symposium, I suggested that we include a panel that relates to enhancing and maintaining "peace of mind" in Dominica. We have used the term "national security" as a broader topic. We acknowledge the fact that national security is central to all forms of development - in both developed and developing nations.
But what do we mean by national security? What are conditions of national security in Dominica? What sorts of improvements are needed? What are some of the ways that members of the Dominica Diaspora can assist with the maintenance of a secure nation? These are some of the questions that Rayburn Blackmoore and myself will address on this panel. I will first outline our working definition of national security.
DEFINING NATIONAL SECURITY
National security refers to the capacities/capabilities of a nation to protect itself from external and internal invasions, and maintain safe communities and neighborhoods for its residents and visitors alike. Typically, when the term national security is used, reference is made to big guns and good soldiers. But this paper and panel adopt a broader (and holistic) definition of national security. For us, there are two (2) main components of national security: 1) national safety, and 2) local safety.
National safety refers to the capacity of a nation to protect itself from external invasions and internal coups. National safety often means different things to developed and developing countries. Since developed countries possess a tremendous amount of resources, they are able to invest in military technologies that are intended to guard their nations' shores and other territories. Developed nations (and some developing nations) often use their own advanced missile systems, central intelligence, and other military human power-capabilities, to protect themselves from external invasions and internal coups. For example, to the United States government, national safety means fortifying its nation with the strongest and smartest weaponry and soldiers in the world. This will allow that nation to suppress and overcome any threats of external invasion. It also provides that nation with surplus power that can be used in different ways. One of these ways is to respond to national safety issues such as peacekeeping missions, in other parts of the world. In the process (,) these countries obtain valuable information that is often used to protect their own shores.
Put simply, to most developed countries, big guns and good soldiers are paramount to national safety. Developing countries, such as those in the Caribbean, do not possess the financial resources that advanced weaponry demand/requires. Therefore, instead of developing strictly stand-alone national safety capacities, various nations in the Caribbean pool their resources to develop a combined regional system through which they can respond to external invasion or serious internal turmoil that place the security of a nation at high risk. The October 1983 Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) involvement after the Grenada invasion serves as a prime example of this regional system2. The 1994-95 Haitian crisis is another example of joint Caribbean national security efforts.
As the 1994-95 Haitian crisis also indicated, sometimes these joint national efforts even include non-Caribbean nations such as the United States. In addition, the April 27th 1981 involvement of US federal agents in arresting US and Canadian mercenaries who planned to participate in a coup d'état in Dominica is yet another example of ways other countries assist each other with national safety issues. Therefore, while developing countries such as Dominica must still develop capacities to protect themselves against external invasions and internal coups, they can also be confident that developed nations such the US are quite willing to assume the role of big brother by sharing their surplus big gun and good soldiering capacities.
Since, on the world stage, Caribbean nations such as Dominica are not expected to develop sophisticated military technologies for national safety, they are scrutinized based on their capacities for local safety. Quite often, as has been noticed in many nations in the Middle East, Africa[n], and Europe[an], local safety is an important precursor to attracting assistance for economic and social developments.
Local safety refers to the capacity/capability of a nation and its people to develop and maintain neighborhoods and communities that are practically free from harm and threats of injuries. Local safety is thus divided into two (2) components: a) neighborhood safety; and b) community safety. To understand and explain local safety as a phenomenon, an important distinction needs to be made between the terms "neighborhood" and "community". Neighborhoods are strictly geographical units. A neighborhood is a defined physical location of reference. Neighborhoods exist on many different levels that range from as small as two adjacent houses to as large as an entire nation.
It is important to remember that neighborhood boundaries are not natural in the true sense of the term but are rather constructed and defined for administrative and other purposes. A block, a section of a village, town, or city, or the entire village, town, or city may be considered a neighborhood - these definitions depend on the issues at hand. We may then use terms such as neighborhood church, neighborhood shop, and neighborhood residents, to refer the contents within that defined geographic space. A community, on the other hand, connotes something entirely different.
Community refers to patterns of relationships among specific people. Church groups, artists, internet news-group subscribers, immigrants, Rastafarians, residents of segments of a village or the entire village may be referred to as a community - if the purpose is to identify patterns of relationships. Note that since community refers to patterns of relationship, it is not confined to geographic boundaries. Communities exist within or across geographical locations. For example, the Dominica community refers to persons of Dominica extraction, their loved ones and associates, residing anywhere or everywhere.
Implicitly, there is a distinction between neighborhood safety and community safety. Neighborhood safety refers to capacities for keeping a defined geographical area free from harm and threats of injury. For example, in Trafalgar, neighborhood safety may refer to keeping Lilly Valley, Papillotte, Lower Village or the entire village safe for residents and visitors alike. Community safety, by contrast, refers to capacities for keeping members of a particular group free from harm or threats of injury. For example, Trafalgar community safety may relate specifically to safety for children, the elderly, teenagers, women, tourists, or vendors in the village. Alternatively, Trafalgar community safety issues may refer to safety for any particular subgroup of persons born or raised in Trafalgar, regardless of where they currently reside. Therefore, to understand our working definition of national security, it is important to take heed of the distinctions we make between national safety, and local safety, and furthermore between neighborhood and community safety as the two components of local safety.
Rosie Douglas' Understanding of National Security
Our definition of national security reflects Rosie Douglas's own understanding of it as evidenced by the quote at the beginning of this paper. In 1996 and 1998, while I spent extended periods of time in Dominica to conduct crime-related research in Grand Bay, Rosie Douglas thanked me for paying attention to the issues of neighborhood safety in Dominica. He said that these issues were very important to him and he believed safe neighborhoods and communities are fundamentally important to the stability of a nation. But for Rosie Douglas, safe communities are rooted in the extent to which, and the various ways that the nation allows equitable distribution of resources, prestige, and services to its people. He believed that when communities are marginalized from the core of the nation this creates motivations for angry protests and uprisings. Although such protests are often necessary, they can have negative impacts on social and economic developments of the nation as a whole. Rosie's understanding of national security then, is very close to the manner in which we conceptualize it on this panel.
Involvement of the Diaspora in Dominica's National Security
As stated earlier in this paper, we divide national security into two major components: national safety, and local safety. We further divided local safety into two components: neighborhood safety, and community safety. In this paper, I will not offer suggestions regarding the various ways that members of the Dominica Diaspora can assist with improving conditions of national safety in Dominica.
However, in this section, I will rely on findings from my ongoing research efforts on crime related issues in Dominica to suggest various ways that I believe members of the Dominica Diaspora could assist with neighborhood and community safety in Dominica. Bear in mind that neighborhoods and communities are conceptually distinct. Neighborhoods refer to strictly geographical defined spaces while communities refer to patterns of relationship among people.
Obviously, persons who reside in Dominica are the most important players in neighborhood and community safety on the island. They are the ones with day-to-day accounts of experiences that motivate criminal and other wrongful behaviors. They are the ones who have witnessed the success and failures of attempts to create safer neighborhoods and communities. They are among the ones who have the most at stake if neighborhoods and communities are not safe for themselves and their visitors. But this does not mean that they are the only ones who can offer solutions for safer neighborhoods and communities.
In fact, maximized neighborhood or community safety is most effectively obtained through the joint efforts of residents, businesspersons, local government, regional and national governmental agents. It is important that these various agents pool their resources and efforts to realize the common goal of getting to the roots of commonly perceived social problems. These neighborhood and community agents also need to make certain that they are aware of the costs of development. While development offers many advantages to neighborhoods and communities, it is often accompanied by increases in certain crimes and incivilities.
I contend that there are many ways that members of the Dominica Diaspora can assist with neighborhood and community safety issues in Dominica. However, in the interest of space, I will mention only one-way which I believe is overarching: lead productive lives in order to share information and resources.
Lead Productive Lives, Share resources and Information
As strange as this suggestion may sound, one of the most important ways that members of the Dominica Diaspora can assist with neighborhood and community safety in Dominica is by leading productive lives abroad. It is no secret that Dominicans travel overseas to obtain advancements in education, careers, and socialization that were not as readily available in Dominica.
Others have migrated with their families because they were too young to remain in Dominica by themselves Regardless, few can disagree that migration has afforded them opportunities that were not as easily accessible in Dominica. Therefore, it is important that we remember to continue to strive for individual, family, neighborhood and community advancements that will allow us to build surpluses that can be shared with our fellow countrymen and women. Few will doubt that persons who have advanced themselves in education and careers are more likely to be in better positions to assist their sending 3 neighborhoods and communities. One of the ways that such persons can assist their fellowmen and women is by sharing-with expertise and resources.
I refer here to expertise relevant to neighborhood and community safety. This includes expertise in entrepreneurship, career development, education, conflict negotiation, and more directly, social control. Social control refers to the capacity of a group to realize common values and maintain effective social control. Research has repeatedly found that crime-prone neighborhoods and communities are often rooted in high unemployment, low education, low conflict negotiation skills, and high family disruption. Members of the Dominica Diaspora can advance themselves and assist their sending locations with resources and knowledge that will counteract these variables mentioned above.
In addition, members of the Dominica Diaspora who lead productive lives may be less likely to be deported for involvement in criminal behavior. It has been observed that deportees often pose problems of social control in their sending neighborhoods and communities. For example, there are instances when Dominicans have migrated overseas, became involved in criminal activities there, and were deported to their sending villages. Upon arrival, these individuals have continued with criminal activities in sophisticated ways. As one prominent Dominican once said, "criminal deportees return to spread their venom among those who are still unsophisticated in their criminal involvements." Therefore, members of the Dominica Diaspora should do all that they can to lead productive lives so that they may be in better positions to assist their sending neighborhoods and communities in various ways that counteract disadvantage. By so doing, they are less likely to become involved in criminal behavior that may lead to deportation. This further compromises safety in already strained neighborhoods and communities in Dominica.