Difficult Conversations – Ceremonial Governor General?
We are approximately five months away from when Barbados is scheduled to become a Republic. The news media are doing Barbados a grave disservice by not allowing fair discussion of this now critical issue. They are also misleading the public by claiming that the Governor General’s role is only ceremonial.
Barbados cannot afford the luxury of maintaining expensive ceremonial posts, while our debts are over 150% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For context, the unsustainable debt threshold is 60% of GDP. Therefore, if the Governor General’s post is only ceremonial, then the Prime Minister should call a referendum, get the consent of the people, and make us a Republic already.
The fact is that despite the media’s disinformation campaign, the Governor General is not a ceremonial position. The Governor General is supposed to protect Barbadians from sustained economic and physical harm.
Since a political public service is not based on merit, it normally ruins an economy through unsustainable debts. This forces the public to live in hand-to-mouth or pay-cheque to pay-cheque poverty. To avoid this nightmare, the Constitution gives the Governor General the authority to hire, fire, and discipline public workers (Section 94.1).
END THE FARCE.
Unfortunately for us, past administrations recommended aged persons (close to or past their three score and ten allotment) to the post of Governor General, burdened them with tiresome ceremonial duties, and appointed intermediate bodies to manage our public services.
The result of those actions made the Governor General’s function of protecting the public from economic harm, de facto ceremonial – and ineffective. Since our Independence, none of our Governor Generals asserted their authority to stop the politization of our public services. Therefore, the public must rely on Prime Ministerial benevolence.
If the Prime Minister is not willing to relinquish the power that a Prime Minister was never Constitutionally intended to have, then whether we become a Republic, or remain as is, will not make any difference to us. Therefore, if this was the Governor General’s only role, then we should become a Republic, and end this farce of a de facto ceremonial Governor General already.
INSURED VS UNINSURED.
The fact is that the Governor General’s most important role is to protect citizens from sustained physical harm. Since our Independence, we managed our affairs, secure in the
knowledge that we were insured against aggressors.
There are only two types of countries on Earth – those whose citizens are insured, and those whose citizens are not. An uninsured nation normally attracts the attention of an aggressor nation, that tries to destabilize the government, including through internal strife. The historical record is full of examples in South America, Africa, and Asia.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THE UN.
Historically, nations negotiated trade and military alliances with other nations. It is because of these military alliances that the world experienced the two World Wars, which culminated with nuclear weapons and the United Nations (UN) in 1945.
Larger nations now self-insure against aggressors, by investing in nuclear weapons. There are currently nine countries with nuclear weapons, but only five of them have enough to strike every nation, namely: Russia, USA, France, UK, and China, who are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The other nuclear-weapon countries are: Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea.
The only countries with the capability to deter aggressor nations, are those with nuclear weapons. As a Constitutional Monarchy, we are automatically insured through the UK, as are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, and eight other Caribbean countries.
Since aggressors do not dare threaten insured countries, we have taken our insurance for granted. We are oblivious to the risks that uninsured countries face, and wonder, in child-like ignorance, why uninsured countries tend to be in conflict.
If we are planning to become a Republic, and have not started to negotiate international insurance, then our Prime Minister is being very badly advised. If the advice is to insure us through the United Nations, then we are sunk.
The United Nations is willing to accept any amount of collateral damage, to prevent war between nations. Therefore, UN insurance is an illusion for citizens. This was proven during the murder of at least 800,000 uninsured Rwandans in 1994, when the UN was present in the country and allowed the genocide.
Today, the citizens of countries in conflict, who their political leaders tricked into cancelling their international insurance, desperately plead with the UN for help. The most that they can hope for, is a useless UN Security Council resolution, asking all parties to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Insured citizens have a realistic hope of help.
In 1982, Argentina seized the Falkland Islands. Despite the population of the Islands being approximately 2,000 persons, they were insured. Three days later, the UK sent a naval force which defeated the Argentine military.
A RELIABLE INSURER.
Venezuela had territorial disputes with Guyana, Dominica, and Trinidad & Tobago, and has threatened military action against Guyana and Dominica. The US has threatened military action against Cuba and Haiti. The targets are all uninsured Republics.
The Governor General is the only person in Barbados who can activate our insurance, to which the UK is obligated to respond. Before we become a Republic, the public deserves to know who will have standing to activate our international insurance, and the name of the reliable insurer. The public also deserves to know whether the intention is to leave Barbadians uninsured with the UN.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com