‘Love your neighbour but put up a fence’
Dear editor,
In an attempt probably to make sense of the recent motion adopted by the National Assembly of The Gambia to join the Francophone community in an observer capacity, the “Major” [Yusupha Bojang] from Brikama sounded alarmist, well, almost and I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, then I read your opinion column in which a left-wing, anti-military establishment ivy league academic postulated that “drafting a national security policy will not lead to reforms in the sector”, and by implication, therefore he doubts and trivialises the utility of a national security policy and a standing national army. As if that wasn’t enough, he unashamedly lampooned the National Security Adviser to the President of the Republic and abused willy-nilly generalities which allude to professional incompetence within the security high command. Furthermore this left-wing academic went on to suggest that national development objectives can be attained without any sector specific roadmap or strategic policy framework on the premise that such sector policies invariably serve no purpose other than gathering dust on shelves where they are lost and forgotten due to bureaucratic red tape and rigmarole. This sounds a bit to me like the post hoc ergo propter hoc [Latin: “after this, therefore because of this] logical fallacy.

So it may be worth the while to conjecture from which perspective this dressing-down of the security sector is coming, but let me without much ado though ask the following question rhetorically: Is the Republic of The Gambia a viable sovereign state? It goes without saying that because it is a sovereign state, whether big or small, its territory is indivisible. Is there any perceived threat to our territorial integrity, not to mention national security? The left-wing anti-military establishment academic does not think so because as he puts it, “there is no credible threat assessment for The Gambia that would highlight external security threats”. So because there is no threat assessment, therefore there are no threats, and again therefore “the military serves no useful function”. To my mind this is a reflection of poor reasoning.

I for one, do not want to sound alarmist like the aforementioned Major from Brikama, but suffice it to say that all nations, whether big or small with abundant or limited resources appropriate a variety of tools (diplomatic, economic, and military) which they use to achieve their security objectives and national interests, the latter being central to the arena of international politics. I believe that the chicken-and-egg debate is irrelevant here; so defining the nature and content of the national interest precedes and informs the process of shaping and building a standing army. The same principle is a fundamental first step in formulating a national security policy. How one could therefore ascribe as futile both the processes leading to a national security policy framework and its implementation subsequently beats my comprehension. What is central to my submission here is the state’s ability, when required, to employ one of its tools of power such as a standing national army to avoid any attempt at breaching our territorial integrity, and consequently the survival of The Gambia as a sovereign state.

In conclusion, let me if I may, allay the misgivings of the Major from Brikama by submitting that we should remain amenable, free and unrestrained to whatever will turn out in our advantage. I speak here of the move to join the Francophonie, because of the truism that “of all the social differences of race, religion, culture, and philosophy that divide people, language presents a unique obstacle to integration”. To the left-wing anti-military establishment academic, I submit that integration and cooperation, while advantageous to our national interest and bilateral relations with Senegal, does not and should not detract from our patriotic duty to defend our country, military means not ruled out by any measure. Therefore let’s all be wary of the “wood for the trees” syndrome, where threats that are obvious are either not noticed or ignored with catastrophic consequences. Herein lies the significance of my choice of the Russian maxim: love you neighbour but put up a fence!
Joseph P Jassey
Retired Captain
Gambia National Army

Re: Madi blasts gov’t over ‘lack of transparency’
Dear editor,
We all love our country and we are progressing. Where we came from in the Jammeh era and where we are now in less than two year is a huge difference. Like other commentators have pointed out, Rome was not built in a day. So people like Madi Jobarteh should take it easy and allow change to happen gradually. We will get there.
Only if you believe you can do it fast without causing more damage then you go do it yourself. No one is stopping you to put yourself forward to do the job. That is democracy. Every one has the chance to do it his way provided the majority accepts your ideas. No one likes corruption but don’t accuse people of issues you don’t know. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So stop the accusations.
Criticism should be constructive but Madi’s is different. Go check his job role. He is not doing it because he has a bigger heart for The Gambia than us. He is just talking on ID cards that it should be free because it is taxpayers’ money. Is everything the government spends not taxpayers’ money? You see that is not constructive criticism but foolishness.
How many countries do you know issue ID cards free of charge to their citizens? We all accept the cost is too high for the poor Gambians.

Europe and the US are among the most corrupt states but they are developed. Do you remember the corruption that led to the financial crisis of 2008 or the LIBOR scandal in UK and US or the UK’s MPs expense scandal? Not to mention China. My friend corruption is everywhere, the organisations sponsoring Madi’s organisation are from the West yet they cannot stop that in their own backyards.
We all want a corruption-free society and steady and mature democracy but it took European countries and the US hundreds of years to be where they are today and still they are far from perfect.
All we are saying is be reasonable and realistic in your criticism and be constructive. Madi keeps ranting about everything and anything. We know that’s what he is paid for but the country is not his alone. We have same rights as him and most of the time want different things from his crazy ideas.

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