There have always been injustices in the world. There have always been national leaders who have treated their citizens as their personal property, to torture and murder at their pleasure. During my lifetime, a handful of despots have been responsible for the deaths of approximately 10 million civilians. During the past century these tyrants have been responsible for the deaths of approximately 100 million civilians.
These are not war-time dead. They are the consequences of leaders who generally believed that the only way to remain in control was to kill anyone whom they interpreted as political threats. In most cases, other national leaders simply watched the slaughter and did nothing useful to help the oppressed – since it was not in their national interest to intervene. The killings normally stopped upon the death of the national despotic leader.
Perhaps it is useful to note that in the last century, approximately 40 million soldiers have been marched to their deaths on the orders of a few individuals. This action has resulted in the consequential deaths of approximately 20 million civilians. Therefore, war appears to have had a lesser impact on civilian misery than a despot or tyrannical government. What appears to restrain a national leader with despotic tendencies is the threat of armed resistance.
In Barbados, there are four categories of armed personnel: the military, the police, a few private citizens, and criminals. When the Grenadian military executed the civilian leadership, murdered civilians, and assumed power, the police did not stop them. They were stopped by the US military, with a coalition of willing Caribbean countries. Why was there this departure of nations simply observing the oppression from afar, and offering nothing but the token and meaningless UN resolutions for an end to the conflict? The difference was that the Governor General requested help.
To whom can the citizens of the republics of Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago appeal to should a despotic leader emerge? The sad truth is that they can call on no-one but their tyrannical government. They have disposed of the only person with standing, who could have appealed to other countries for military intervention to remove their despot.
We do not know when our turn will come. Most developing countries are only one election-cycle away from electing a despot. Caribbean civilians are generally unarmed and therefore vulnerable to being oppressed by a tyrant. However, like Grenada, most English speaking countries in the Caribbean can be assured of a realistic hope of military relief. Barbados, like Grenada, still maintains a Governor General who has standing to legally request outside military assistance.
History has shown that this critical ‘hope of the oppressed’ is generally futile for citizens living in countries that have chosen a republic type of government. With this knowledge, why would a nation’s citizens, who have everything to lose, and nothing to gain from such a change, choose to take away from their children the one thing that can restrain a future despot – the realistic threat of force?
If the citizens of Barbados choose to replace their current constitutional monarchical system with a republic type of Government, then let us not choose a model that leaves our children vulnerable to a despot. Rather, let us choose a model like the USA, where its citizens are given the constitutional right to bear arms in order to resist a tyrannical leader.