Eisenhower Understood The Importance Of Highways To Interstate Commerce, Holness Understands The Need For Jamaican Roadways…


Over the last two days, in two sep­a­rate arti­cles, we spoke to what appears to be a brew­ing ide­o­log­i­cal strug­gle between the Powerful United States and its emerg­ing counter-weight, the People’s Republic of China.
As I argued in the first arti­cle, this is a sense of déjà vu for the tiny Island Nation of Jamaica which saw, it’s pro­duc­tive sec­tor destroyed, an incred­i­ble brain-drain occur, and her econ­o­my evis­cer­at­ed in the 1970s as the United States and the Soviet Union bat­tled for world dom­i­na­tion.

As the ide­o­log­i­cal war­fare raged between America’s cap­i­tal­ist agen­da and the Soviet’s com­mu­nist push, small­er nations found them­selves at the cen­ter of proxy wars between the two hege­mon­ic pow­ers as they com­pet­ed, not just for real estate but for their doc­trine to be the defin­ing doc­trine world­wide.
Despite the immea­sur­able dam­age done to Jamaica in the 1970s, the Island was arguably luck­i­er than oth­er small nations that found them­selves at the cen­ter of the fight between the two giants in what became known as the cold war.
Tragically for Cuba, anoth­er Carribean Island just 90 miles from Jamaica’s west­er­ly shore, events in the 1960s brought America’s force down on the Cuban peo­ple. A force that has sti­fled and brought untold suf­fer­ing to the Cuban peo­ple.
The counter-argu­ments that Communism has been respon­si­ble for the dev­as­ta­tion of Cuba is worth dis­cussing. However, Several nations, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Eastern Europe were gob­bled up into the Soviet Empire, after the fall of com­mu­nism, those coun­tries have done remark­ably well for them­selves.
Cuba has not, and can­not do the same eco­nom­i­cal­ly. America’s embar­go, and the stran­gle­hold it has placed on the Cuban econ­o­my, crip­pling sanc­tions, and oth­er means, makes it impos­si­ble for the Cuban econ­o­my to grow, regard­less of Cuba’s domes­tic pol­i­tics.

In what appears to be the sec­ond iter­a­tion of what hap­pened to Jamaica in the ’70s, there are some omi­nous clouds devel­op­ing which ought to be of grave con­cern to Jamaicans regard­less of where they live.
In two sep­a­rate inter­views giv­en to local media enti­ties, both the American ambas­sador to Jamaica and the head of the United States Southern mil­i­tary com­mand found it nec­es­sary to lec­ture Jamaica about her rela­tion­ship with China.
In both instances Admiral Craig S. Faller head of Southern Command and US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia gave inter­views, and in those inter­views seem to have for­got­ten that Jamaica was not one of America’s Colonial out­posts but a sov­er­eign inde­pen­dent nation.
The text and temer­i­ty of both offi­cials seemed to sug­gest that Jamaicans (a) were inca­pable of under­stand­ing the unfore­seen con­se­quences of Jamaica’s rela­tion­ship with China, (b) Jamaican offi­cials were inca­pable of mak­ing deci­sions in Jamaicas best strate­gic inter­est.
Interestingly, the U.S. itself is indebt­ed to the People’s Republic of China to the tune of $1.11 tril­lion as of May 2019.
It is safe to say that the US is ful­ly con­ver­sant with China’s moti­va­tions when they invest in America’s trea­sury bonds. So too should we assume that Jamaica under­stands what’s at stake when it bor­rows from China?

In the United States sys­tem of Justice, there is a term in law that deter­mines whether a par­ty wish­ing to sue in Federal court has the right to do so.
That term is called ‘standing”. Before that case can progress in the sys­tem, the sys­tem has to deter­mine whether the plain­tiff has the right to make the case in the first place.
Accordingly, the argu­ments of both American offi­cial may be on point as it relates to the need for Jamaica to be extreme­ly cau­tious about her deal­ings with the People’s Republic of China, the ques­tion is whether either or both offi­cials have the “stand­ing” to make those admon­ish­ments to Jamaica.
It was Mark Twain who said; “Nothing so needs reform­ing as oth­er peo­ple’s habits”. It goes with­out say­ing that the United States has no stand­ing to dic­tate to Jamaica how to con­duct her affairs.
Sure, Jamaica needs to be clear-eyed about China’s strate­gic inten­tions, which are tied to their loans, so too does the United States need to change its approach to inde­pen­dent sov­er­eign nations.

What Jamaicans do not need are lec­tures and a talk­ing to, like an errant child. Jamaicans are not unciv­i­lized, une­d­u­cat­ed lit­tle out­post natives. What Jamaica needs is respect, low-inter­est loans, tech­ni­cal exper­tise and invest­ments which will help to lift the small nation’s econ­o­my to a place where her peo­ple will have no need to leave out of eco­nom­ic anx­i­ety.
Regardless of China’s long-term strate­gic inter­est, it is dif­fi­cult to turn down low-inter­est loans and infra­struc­tur­al expan­sion which are crit­i­cal to the ulti­mate devel­op­ment of the coun­try.

The United States has assist­ed Jamaica in numer­ous ways that have been help­ful. Many Jamaicans will read­i­ly point to some­thing which they have indi­vid­u­al­ly ben­e­fit­ted from. To those Jamaicans, it is dif­fi­cult to make the case that there are larg­er more con­se­quen­tial con­sid­er­a­tions out­side those minor ben­e­fits.
Others talk about the fact that there are prob­a­bly hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jamaicans liv­ing and work­ing in the United States.
What they fail to rec­og­nize is the ease with which Americans can vis­it and live in Jamaica, much unlike the reverse.
The pol­i­cy that Americans must have a pass­port to trav­el out­side the coun­try is of the mak­ing of the United States, it has noth­ing to do with oth­er nations.
Previously Americans could trav­el to Jamaica with only a dri­ver’s license.
Jamaica has no way of know­ing whether or not Americans trav­el­ing to the Island have crim­i­nal records. In fact, many do have crim­i­nal records and many do com­mit crimes while vis­it­ing. Many com­mit crimes while liv­ing in Jamaica.
In these instances, there is no reci­procity of respect in the Jamaica-America rela­tion­ship.

So yes, there have been much that the Americans have done as a large pow­er to assist Jamaica, hur­ri­cane and oth­er dis­as­ter relief, and a gen­er­al slate of across the board assis­tance, none of which can change Jamaica or pro­pel her into the 21st cen­tu­ry.
Low-inter­est loans and tech­ni­cal assis­tance does give the Island the abil­i­ty to move for­ward. They allow for much-need­ed high­ways link­ing all sec­tions of the coun­try togeth­er, much the same way that President Dwight Eisenhower embarked on a mas­sive high­way build­ing project across the United States dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy.
Eisenhower under­stood that inter­state com­merce was crit­i­cal to expand­ing and grow­ing the American econ­o­my.
Andrew Holness also under­stands that cre­at­ing road­ways across the Island is crit­i­cal to island devel­op­ment.

Jamaicans love the United States of America, giv­en a chance, Jamaicans would unan­i­mous­ly opt to trav­el and live in the United States, more so than they would, the People’s Republic of China or any oth­er nation.
Nevertheless, those same Jamaicans will get rather defen­sive when their coun­try’s sov­er­eign­ty is not respect­ed.
They are quite aware of what China is doing, but at the same time, they are mes­mer­ized at the high­ways being built across their own coun­try.
Those infra­struc­ture projects are a source of pride, and no amount of lec­ture will damp­en that pride.
The United States may have missed a gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty to ful­ly solid­i­fy its rela­tion­ship with an all-impor­tant strate­gi­cal­ly placed ally.
Maybe a lit­tle more respect would have result­ed in some bet­ter loan agree­ments, grants, and tech­ni­cal sup­port.
Jamaica has done a lot of heavy lift­ing try­ing to live up to American demands. On a per­son­al note, I have risked my own life for years in the fight against illic­it drugs, because the Americans want­ed us to.
The for­mer [Air Jamaica] was forced to pay enor­mous fines to the United States for the sins of inge­nious mar­i­jua­na smug­glers.
Today Jamaica is flood­ed with ille­gal American made guns. Instead of help­ing to bol­ster the crime-fight­ing efforts of the Islands law enforce­ment, the United States seeks to attach puni­tive mea­sures to those who come down hard on the Islands crim­i­nals.
Maybe a change of atti­tude will go a long way, instead of a lec­ture.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police Detective cor­po­ral, a busi­ness own­er, avid researcher, and blog­ger. 
He is a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. 
He’s also a con­trib­u­tor to sev­er­al web­sites.
You may sub­scribe to his blogs free of charge, or sub­scribe to his Youtube chan­nel @chatt-a-box, for the lat­est pod­cast all free to you of course.