Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dominica: The Caribbean’s Next “Terror Island”?

Senior Research Fellow of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (A Washington-based think tank) Nikolas Kozloff have raised the issue of whether Dominica is the next terror island? Translation, the next Grenada.

Writing under the caption Dominica: The Caribbean’s Next “Terror Island”? in COHA’s newsletter of February 28, 2008, Kozloff noted that “the possibility of Dominica emerging as a “Terror Island” for a radicalized U.S. regional policy is very real.”

He went on to say that “in the event that John McCain is elected president, the stage could be set for confrontation with the Dominica leadership.”

Kozloff warns rather ominously that “the prospect of a tough operator like McCain taking command in Washington must genuinely worry those committed to a new emphasis on regional self-determination. With the grim fate of Grenada and Chile under Salvador Allende in mind, tiny Dominica has good reason to be apprehensive over its approaching destiny, whatever that might prove to be.”

Read the entire article


At February 26, 2008 7:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but Dominica is no Grenada. Prime Minister Skeritt has made it abundantly clear that he is solely interested in the social and economic development of Dominica.

His decision to sign on to ALBA is rooted in his desire to seek to alleviate the plight of the people of Dominica who feel abandoned by Washington.

Dominica receives little or no assistance from the US, so it is logical to conclude that the US have given the Skeritt administration no choice but to get help from the likes of Cuba, Venezuela and China. Ultimately, these decisions are purely economic, not political or ideological.

At February 27, 2008 2:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's all true, but McCain believes in force as the solution to any and all problems, and like Bush, comes from the "either you're with us or you're against us" school of thought. Let's hope I'm wrong!

At February 27, 2008 2:59 PM , Anonymous Gabriel Christian said...

Dear Mr. Kozloff:

I have just read your article on the COHA website titled "Dominica Terror
Island" with dismay. I am a Dominican by birth who, in concert with other
concerned Dominicans, have worked for a lifetime promoting Dominica's development and good relations between Dominica and the US. I am familiar with your work, having read some rather balanced articles from you in the past on various on-line journals.

I must say that your article on Dominica, even where well
intended, does a disservice in this sense: the average reader will not discern
anything other than the island has now become a wretched cesspool of
anti-American sentiment and part of some sordid anti-American cabal. As you know, that is simply not true. It is simply not fair or accurate to draw a parralel with Grenada in the 80s.

Read full response

At February 27, 2008 3:59 PM , Anonymous Dr Samuel Christian said...

Dear Mr. Kozloff,

My brother, distinguished Maryland attorney, Gabriel Christian, responded fully to your "Terror Island" article. I would just like to encourage to pay close attention to it as you strive for fairness and transparency.

As a physician in Ohio, I can tell you that many of my patients would envy healthcare in Dominica at a fraction of the cost. Our island is celebrating it's 30th anniversary on November 3rd. I would like you to be my personal guest. After you have enjoyed Dominica's hospitality, I guarantee you will have a somewhat different definition of "terror."

Looking forward to some constructive dialogue.

May God richly bless you in in all your endeavors.

Sam Christian MD
Surgeon, soldier and faith-based radio host

At February 28, 2008 11:29 AM , Anonymous Michael Norris said...

It’s disheartening that this piece would have been published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a think tank that prides itself as one of America’s most respected bodies of scholars and policymakers. Nikolas Kozloff, a Senior Research Fellow at that, argues that Dominica’s relationship with Cuba and Venezuela is at odds with U.S foreign policy, and consequently this makes the island vulnerable to being labeled as a ″terror island″ and military invasion by an administration led by a hawk like John McCain.

But Mr. Kozloff does a poor job in putting forward a serious argument. He does not elaborate on what he means by ″terror island″. He does not identify American interests in the region, and he fails to show how Dominica’s pursuit of closer economic ties with Cuba and Venezuela could possibly threaten American interests. He compares Dominica to the situation in Grenada between 1979 and 1983.

The situation in Dominica is completely differently from what obtained in Grenada. There is no communist, authoritarian or military government in Dominica. There is no coup within a coup and accompanying bloodshed as was witnessed within the Grenadian revolutionary government. Dominica has stable democratic traditions in large measure.

One expected that as a scholar the author would provide a coherent and substantive account of an evolving or developing trend in Dominica’s foreign policy that would take it to a crossroad where it eventually undermines or threatens America’s interests.

Given that his analysis is generally unsatisfactory, one finds it difficult to escape the conclusion that Mr. Kozloff’s use of sensationalist rhetoric (″terror island″) has something to do with attracting media attention to himself and his organization amidst the very competitive world of think tanks in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, this could have manifold adverse consequences for Dominica, an island described by Mr. Kozloff as a tiny island with grinding poverty. Nevertheless, his inference that there are Americans who would use any situation as a pretext for projecting American arrogance is supported by history.

At February 29, 2008 10:22 AM , Anonymous Maureen Paul said...

It is not inaccurate to say that Dominica faces grinding poverty. I hate reading such things. However, the fact that I get angry at such statements does not impact on the truth. Whether I like it or not, Dominica is poor. That we have immigrants from poorer or even wealthier countries is not particularly germane to the matter of poverty. Many African nations face grinding poverty and yet they see an influx of immigrants from their neighbours. Similarly, they welcome a large number of immigrants from wealthier Western countries. Let us also be mindful of the fact that Haiti is still in a period of political and social unrest and that some see Dominica as an alternative route to the US. Their emigration should also be viewed in that context.

In addition, the article is not saying that the relationship with Venezeula is a new development and neither is it saying that the relationship is remarkable. The article has an anti-US feel to it and is simply addressing the PERCEIVED NATURE of new aspects of our relationship with Venezeula. The article appears to be a cautionary note to Dominica, advising Dominica to be aware of the past behaviour of the US towards anyone (no matter how small and harmless) pursuing a relationship of a nature that IT perceives to be threatening.

The US and its sympathisers are extremely sensitive to even the slightest hint of an anti-US stance by a foreign government. The furore over Barack's middle name is a testimony to how jumpy the US can get. The point the article is making with regards to a McCain government is that of tolerance - even less tolerance. Some people a mixing this issue (which is essentially one of diplomacy) with the issue of the freedom of a country to pursue foreign policies and relationships that are deemed necessary and in their best interest.

The US is unlikely to invade Dominica. If the US decided to flex a fraction of its muscles against Dominica, it has a lot of arsenal (apart from invasion) at its disposal.

As I have noted before, the issue is certainly not the article. The headline (though it is in a question form) is a poor reflection of the article itself. Making the article DE issue is a complete waste of time and serves no useful purpose. I imagine that this article will not be the last. Should we heed advice and engage in some diplomacy by, for instance, making soothing noises to the US and its people or do we beat ourselves with rubber hoses every time we come across such articles - articles that actually address reality; no matter how unpalatable the reality may be to us?

There are lessons to be learned here. We can either choose to move forward with greater wisdom having learned these lessons or we can "make noise" avoid the real issues and caught in a vortex of pretence.

At February 29, 2008 1:47 PM , Blogger Michael said...

Maureen Paul says we are pretending; i.e., we are not admitting to the reality of poverty in Dominica. I do not know who is pretending, but I can say with some authority that Dominica does not have grinding poverty. It has poverty but not grinding poverty. What is grinding poverty? Grinding poverty is when people are forced to eat cakes made of mud and to consume the same water in which animals wallow because they lack the means to do otherwise. This situation is not obtainable in Dominica. The Country Poverty Assessment done in 2002, with which I was intimately connected both as one of the coordiantors of the project and as a field researcher, found that poverty in Dominica is primarily employment-related. Poor people's expenditure incomes are below the defined povery line of EC$3400. aND A BIG CONTRIBUTOR to the fall in income is the collapse of the banana industry. This means that once sustainable employment opportunities are created, poverty will dramatically fall in Dominica. The assessment also found that Dominica's social indicators are very good and that there is no siginficant differential in access to social services like health and education between poor and non-poor. No one was reported to be starving. So, Mr. Kozloff is dead wrong about the nature of poverty in Dominica. And Maureen should have known better.

Michael Norris

At February 29, 2008 2:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, I can also state with authority that it is fact that Dominica faces grinding poverty. I will also point out that there are degrees of poverty. Yes, there are countries that are worse off than we are but how do you translate that into a "therefore Dominica does not face grinding poverty" or that grinding poverty refers only to the extreme points on the grinding poverty scale? That some Haitians eat mud cakes does not somehow mean that they face grinding poverty but Dominica does not. Their poverty may be more severe and may manifest itself in ways different to that witnessed in Dominica. We face grinding poverty and so does Haiti. Their poverty just happens to be further down the scale.

Perhaps you have a dictionary that describes grinding poverty as strictly "having to eat mud cakes" and nothing else?

This hoopla over whether or Dominica experiences grinding poverty is a moot debate. The fact is that it is. This article is not the first and will not be the last to make that point. It is the truth and the sooner we confront it the sooner we can deal with it. Pretence will not help.

At February 29, 2008 4:04 PM , Anonymous Adella said...

Dear Sir:
There are a number of statements in Nikolas Kozloff's recent commentary on Dominica that cry out for correction.

Firstly is his assertion that Dominica is a land of "grinding poverty".
Dominica may not have economic indicators that match those in the G8, but it's especially interesting that Dominica now has an influx of illegal immigrants from countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic who are seeking a better economic situation.

They can be found late Friday afternoons queued outside of every Western Union and Money Gram sending money back home. That said, unlike many other societies, Dominican culture doesn't place cold hard cash at the apex of its system of values.

For example, Dominicans objected to the Venezuelan refinery, as we have a number of other foreign-pushed initiatives, not just because it might interfere with ecotourism initiatives, but also because many people would simply prefer to be surrounded by natural splendour rather than a foul-smelling refinery.

That's hardly the attitude of a people living with "grinding poverty".

As for emigration, like most of the Caribbean, mobility is part of Dominican culture. We traveled to England during the 40s and 50s after the war left many jobs open there. We traveled so much that we even made a business out of it ― an entrepreneurial venture called huckstering.

We're also accustomed to traveling abroad for higher education.

Secondly, Dr Kozloff seems to believe that Dominica's relationship with Cuba and Venezuela is somehow remarkable, and is a recent development.
Neither of these is the case. Students from Dominica and many other Caribbean countries have been going to university in Cuba on scholarship for many years, and doctors from Cuba can be found on many islands throughout the region.

My cousin currently attends school in Cuba on scholarship, alongside students from St Lucia, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and several countries in Africa ― also on scholarship.

As for PetroCaribe, it's an arrangement that involves seventeen countries including St Lucia, the Bahamas and Antigua. It's true that Dominica is the first English-speaking member of ALBA, but since Nicaragua is simultaneously participating in ALBA and CAFTA that's clearly not something the Americans consider an act of war.

Thirdly is that in a McCain Administration that countries that have relationships with Cuba and Venezuela will face special difficulty from the US State Department. Since Cuba and Venezuela have been conducting dollar diplomacy (as it were) for some time, should Mr. McCain actually become president, Dominica would be just one on a long list of invasion targets, assuming he'd have any soldiers to spare during his hundred year occupation of the Middle East.

Besides, recipients of Chavez's largesse include the Northeastern US, which received shipments of Venezuelan heating oil. Does Dr Kozloff expect McCain to invade Boston as well?
Adella Toulon-Foerster
Salisbury, Dominica

At March 1, 2008 12:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...



At March 2, 2008 3:08 AM , Blogger M.R. said...

Obviously Mr. Kozloff’s scholarly piece on Dominica is extremely dogmatic and seeks to deliberately paint a negative picture of Dominica, a picture that stirs up fearfulness in the minds of American and others who are not familiar with the Dominica, which we know and love.

It is saddening to know that these ideologies exist. The idea that if you align yourself with countries, that have been good to you or exchanged mutual respect, and are not friends of the US, then that makes you a sinister country. Dominica is governed by its own constitution, and is a country with its own basic needs. We have had the misfortune of various natural disasters and have been at the mercies of other to offer some form of assistance at one point or another. I do think that it would be ludicrous of Dominica to turn down reliable economic favors from able countries, even like the US and of course Venezuela and Cuba.

Dominica has had a very long standing relationship with Venezuela, which has always been supportive to our economic needs. Why stop now because Chavez is at the helm? Personally, I have benefited from Venezuela’s presence in Dominica through its embassy initiatives. During the mid 80’s, in high school in Dominica, on a weekly basis we had someone from the embassy help us perfect our Spanish vocabulary, at the same time teaching salsa and meringue dance lessons. It would have been great to see an American embassy in Dominica reaching out to the Dominica people living in “grinding poverty”.

Obviously, Mr. Kozloff may not have visited Dominica, to witness for himself a country that is advancing baby steps by baby steps, despite our lacking banana industry, disaster ridden environment and extensive debt crisis. He did not see what I saw when I last visited Dominica a few weeks ago. I saw a country that has hope, a country that has promise, and a country that I am proud to say I grew up in. I saw people building mini mansions, and driving luxury vehicles, and investing in hotels and apartments, many to house American students who chose to go to medical school in Dominica and experience its “grinding poverty”. I saw a young Prime Minister with the enormous task of leading a country into the 21st century, by forging and maintaining relationships and aligning himself with those who are willing to help us economically, socially and academically. I saw the world’s youngest leader leading his people to unity, and establishing for this year the largest country reunion ever. I saw a Prime Minister with heart, courage and soul. I saw a Dominica no different. I saw a Dominica far from “Terror Island”, as Skerrit’s ideologies do not share any parallels to Maurice Bishop’s of Grenada. Fellow Dominicans there is no need to worry about another Grenada because the presidency belongs to Barack Obama.

At March 2, 2008 3:11 AM , Blogger M.R. said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At March 3, 2008 12:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you people. Dominicans I mean! You country is dealing with a terrorist. But the people here unfortunately are too desparate and not smart enough to realize this. Basically Chavez has purchased this Island with the money he has given. This president, whatever you want to call him needs to go, big time! I just do not get these people here. All you have to do is travel to any island nearby to understand that.

At March 3, 2008 2:58 PM , Anonymous Anthony Asthaphan said...

I suggest you do read the article very well indeed. Mr. Kosloff is a left wing advocate and I fully respect his determined defence of Chavez. Some of his articles appear on a Marxist website. But his reference to Dominica and the context in which he has done so is misleading. I intend to deal more fully with this but for now I wish to point out the following;

1. The comparison to Grenada is misleading. The invasion of Grenada has nothing to do with terror. Indeed Dame Eugenia of blessed memory and other Prime Ministers led the charge to get the invasion going. That was after the murder of Bishop and the chaos which ensured in Grenada. Bishop was Prime Minister for years and there was no threat of an invasion. Bishop was murdered because of his commitment to the Heads at the last meeting he attended to restore democracy. SSU officers from Dominica and other parts of Caricom were sent to Grenada. I will never forget one of the greatest moments in our history when Dame Eugenia brushed Reagan aside at a press conference to say that the initiative to invade came from the Prime Ministers!

2. His entire piece is premised on the hawkish ideology of Mc Cain. It has nothing to do with anything Dominica has done in relation to terror or at all. Indeed he says nothing critical of ALBA or any of our trade relations with Caracas. But how could he? The USA does business with Caracas and so does the Far East, Middle East and the European Union. Nor, could it be the substantive terms of ALBA as the Assistant Secretary General of Caricom says that Caricom sees nothing wrong with ALBA as it is no more than a functional cooperation agreement. A number of leading scholars like Professor George Girvan and Dr. Vaughn Lewis have written on ALBA whose principles were signed on to in February of 2007 by Baldwin Spencer and Ralph Gonsalves.

3. But can the mere existence of trade and functional agreements trigger sanctions or the declaration of a terror state? I say no and any suggestion to the contrary is nonsensical. We pose no economic, military or terror threat to Israel or Washington. We have no military pact with Caracas. The misinformation that ALBA was a military pact has been disposed of as dishonest fear mongering by frustrated politicians. We have no army, air force or navy and we harbour no terrorists or terror organization.

Further, not only is ALBA not subversive, neither is PetroCaribe. Significantly. Kosloff makes no mention of the fact that several Caricom countries have signed on to PetroCaribe! Nor did he mention the fact that St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Antigua signed on to the principles of ALBA since February 2007. Additionally, he makes no mention of the several grants and supply of cheap oil by Chavez to the very poor in certain urban cities in the USA. Will Mc Cain declare those Caricom Countries and urban cities right under his nose, terror states or cities too?

4. I think it unfortunate that Kosloff wrote the article the way he did. He created fear and alarm on a highly speculative basis. What if Mc Cain loses? But what if he wins, are we to assume such lunacy that a decision will be made to condemn us as a terror state without a thorough review of our agreements or diplomatic dialogue? We have diplomatic relations with Washington. We are part of the OAS.

We are not Iran, Syria or North Korea. President Bush, an ardent crusader against terror, and enemy of Chavez, has said nothing about us or our relations with Caracas. Neither has Mc Cain although he wishes Castro dead! So what does Kosloff do, he draws a comparison with Grenada and Chile. As I showed earlier the historic conditions in Grenada were exceptional and do not exist in Dominica. In Chile Allende was assassinated because he was a Socialist and posed a threat to American influence in South and Central America. Kosloff himself concedes that Skerrit is no socialist and has not sought to implement any socialist regime. Both Grenada and Chile occurred during the height of the Cold War.

I think I have said enough for the time being to give you all some food for thought! It is just a shame that Kosloff used us as a pawn in his perceived threat against Caracas from Mc Cain. Perhaps, we should now all rally around Barack Obama!

At March 7, 2008 10:43 AM , Anonymous Eddie Olauda said...

Dear Sir:

In response to Nikolas Kozloff story on Dominica, there is no story here. In many parts of his damning article you can place the word Canada and you have a potential McCain invasion. How much good would he do attempting to scare or warn the Canadian government of an impending McCain invasion?

Canada has had socialist regimes and has been doing business worth billions with both Cuba and Venezuela for years, and the US also knows that Canada has been home to many militant Muslims and terrorists. Does Nikolas have a story here too? If so, what would be the title “Canada, Axis of Evil” Will McCain invade and bomb Canada?

Dominica is a young eco-tourism destination and, as he observes, traditional means of raising funds for its development, including meager contributions from the US has only driven Dominica to continued poverty. He has done much harm in his story to this country of “grinding poverty” as he puts it. After reading the story I think Nikolas Kozloff should retract the article and apologize to the peace-loving people of Dominica.

Unlike Grenada that had a socialist government, Dominica is a full-fledged democracy. Such sarcasm is very likely ill intentioned. I don't want to sound prejudiced here as he does, but judging by his name (without proper research) I get the feeling the Kosloff guy also feels that just as it happens in his home country, that people in Dominica get hanged or their necks cut off for opposing the government or talking bad of a head of state. Not so Mr. Kosloff, Dominica has for years enjoyed all the benefits of democracy.

The title of his story is very insulting and smells of mischievous intent. Is he attempting to out-do some of his colleagues, to have ‘The next big story’ maybe? It may be a better story that McCain would target him for writing stories favorable to some countries over the years, that the US state Department thinks are a national threat, with him on their payroll (Nikolas Kozloff they can cook up anything).

Again, I urge Nikolas Kozloff to retract the article and apologize to the peace-loving people of Dominica.

Eddie Olauda
Grand Bay, Dominica

At March 16, 2008 1:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of b$$#s3ht this man is writing. Dominica is a democratic country, free and makes its own choices. Plus the fact that its natural beauty is as great as its people. They do care about being a human. Mc Cian is just likes the mc cain fries, no taste and no good!! The Dominica parrots have a higher iq than Bush or mc Cain..
I am a Dutch citizen and i want to live and do business in Dominica because the land is beautiful and the country is a free Nation. I rather have freedom in what they call poverty then being a slave to the US.

At March 28, 2008 7:28 PM , Anonymous C. James said...

We are acting as ignorant (1.lacking knowledge or education in general or in a specific subject, 2. caused by a lack of knowledge, understanding, or experience) to the world’s realities as we are claiming that the writer of the article is to Dominica’s reality. The angry responses are very similar in tone and temperament to those of Americans who are now convincing themselves that Dem. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s Pastor has made comments which are completely new to the American landscape and bears no truth. This I believe is primarily because much as is the case with Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments. Snippets, emotion and pre-conceived notions rather that context and honest judgment prevail. Note I did not say good judgment as I believe that good judgment is in fact in abundance here. The headline which includes word “terror” seems to be the primary issue, followed by the use of the remark “grinding poverty”. The catchy headline was just that, a catchy headline, which many of us cannot get passed and realize that the article makes no other suggestions that Dominica is in any way associated with terrorist actions. It does however acknowledge that Hugo Chavez, our closest donor of present is a noted detractor of the US Government and is quickly becoming one of the most watched and scrutinized individuals in the world BY the United States. What on earth is not factual about that position?
As hypocrite and heavy handed as we may want to paint the USA, these are facts. It does not make the US position correct but that is exactly what the “controversial” article states. Basically it states that as unwarranted as the US position may be it does not change the fact that recent history as well as ongoing events proves that if need be America can and will act in its perceived best interest. Even if as in the case of Grenada, as is suggested in the article a situation must be created through US covert actions an influence.
Many of the comments lamenting the article are so obviously emotional that they actually tackle issues not even dealt with in the article AT ALL. Such as the fact that Dominica is so beautiful and peaceful. Who said otherwise? Also we have decided that since no one in Dominica is “starving to death” the poverty situation is in fact in check. After all they are persons building “mini Mansions” (side note: NO home in Dominica can compare the the sprawling mansions and multi million dollar properties found in Haiti) in Dominica and driving “luxury vehicles”. Speak to ANY farmer on island and they will tell you how often locals come to ask for free provisions, bananas that have fallen in the field, breadfruit that has started to spoil, oranges and grapefruit, limes and old coconuts. Ask ANY farmer and they will tell you of this daily occurrence. This is REALITY not cartoons. It happens DAILY. But maybe we are right, this is just as a result of regular poverty not “grinding”. Point taken! However I would be Remiss if I did not mention the fact that in 2006 a GOVERNMENT report paper cited that among the kalinago people 50% of them live in poverty and of that about half are "indigent"(Definition: 1.One who is poor and cannot afford basic necessities of life like food, shelter and clothes. It also refers to a defendant who cannot afford a lawyer/attorney to fight the case. In such cases, the court authorities provides a government attorneys to try the case. 2.Lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished) and that 13% of persons in the St. Mark parish experience the same reality. The report goes on to list other areas of indigents in several areas of the island. Perhaps "indigent" poverty would have been a more charming way of conveying the same message.
I would beg that we read the article and after every completed sentence make an exacting assertion as to why we agree or disagree with that point. At the end of this exercise I would like us to look over our honestly constructed notes, free of emotion and the blinding patriotism which we criticize many US citizens for and then make an informed and definite argument as to why the very LEFT leaning CAHO organization put out an article which some here, and on other forums have described as RIGHT-WINGED. The entire tone of the article is everything that the “Right” is not. And that is another reason why I believe that this article should be revisited without deciding our reaction before we get passed the headline.
I have heard it (the article) describes as a cloak and dagger affair designed to appear friendly and informative while pushing a far right agenda. This I must say is highly unlikely as this would have been a very, very well concealed agenda seeing that CAHO for years has had an almost anti-Washington imperialism stance. Just to further place CAHO in a realistic context, here is an exert of how CAHO has spent its recent years, according to their own website; “COHA has directed a good deal of its research energies to such issues as unproductive U.S. pressure on President Aristide which eventually led to his ouster and Washington’s replacement with a hapless interim regime. COHA also has condemned Washington’s unexamined and reflexive policy towards Cuba and Venezuela, and the negative impact of neo-liberal reforms on the average Latin American”.
Like fire, Emotion is a brilliant servant but an evil and dangerous master. So are certain Agendas.


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