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The Politics of a 'Failing State'
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

The theory of a "failing state" tabled by UWI Principal Dr. B. Tiwari at the recent Conference held on The Eight Principles of Fairness to describe the contemporary state of T&T is a literal distortion ( Express July 31, p 5). It is also a politically motivated, non sequitur derivative of the concept of failed states. The former concept conjures up the negative images associated with the extreme anarchic even terrorist elements that characterise a failed state. "Failing state" is geared to over state and deliberately exaggerates the sporadic eruptions of a sub-culture of drug-related crime and lawlessness that appear to be challenging the resourcefulness of the protective services. It also panders to and is indeed intended to give momentum to the growing tide of an anti-crime public opinion. That opinion is being fueled by an increasingly popular outrage directed against the pathological ineptitude of the Manning Administration to govern T&T effectively in the face of a whirlpool that is driving economic optimism, mushrooming prosperity, a world class energy industry and a well-endowed human resource potential base.

Less than 10% of our 1.3m may be actively involved in lawlessness and drug-related crime but yet we brand the other 90% plus as having failed. More than 95 % of our parents are fulfilling their obligations to their children in a loving caring manner and yet we say parenting has failed the society to lay the blame on the innocent for the crime wave. A mushrooming print and electronic media that acts as an effective guiardian of our democracy by providing fora for articulating and mobilising widespread public opinion and even dissent is omnipresent and vigilant. How then a failing state?

Dr. Tiwari failed to distinguish between a transient PNM five-year governance on the one hand and the permanent State of T&T on the other. In fact he appears to commit the Principal's Office of UWI to effecting/introducing political change/leadership in T&T instead of facilitating detached academic scenarios and proposals for enlightened governance.

A careful content analysis of the embedded and coded political electioneering language and intonations in his presentation on achieving justice and fairness leads one to conclude that he was telegraphing his potential willingness to demit the principal-ship in exchange for exploring brighter prospects in the bi-polarised political gayelle.

By no stretch of the political imagination can T&T be classified as a failing state or a state on the verge of failure. We have succeeded in becoming the industrial, financial and diplomatic Caribbean epi-centre. I will readily admit of the existence of the onerous burden of a congenital failing government headed by equally failing Prime Minister. But a failing government has not translated itself into or resulted in the failing state of T&T. There are no widespread destabilising forces of anarchy and internal convulsions that are dislocating our socio-economic landscape.

Accordingly Dr. Tiwari's thesis circumvents the critical contribution of a private sector driven economy characterised by range of healthy and positive economic fundamentals that place us in the developed category. Our socio-economic and even political stability is protected by an enlightened and discriminating electorate/ omnipresent media that seem to lavish the self-destructing Manning Administration and his creeping, some say galloping dictatorship with a wide berth to commit political hara kiri a la 1986.

The resilience endemic in the State of T&T transcended the insurrections of 1970 and 1990 with ease.

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