Unable to rebut the message, Jamaican government attacks the messenger
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
Sir Walter Scott, 1808
(20 August 2022) – An interpretation ascribed to this verse from Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion”, is “when you lie or act dishonestly, you are initiating problems and a domino structure of complications which eventually run out of control.”
A major problem with some governments is that they fail to realize that there are no long-term gains from lying and obfuscations. There is another popular quote, “You can run with a lie, but you can’t hide from the truth. It will catch you.” While this is true, sometimes significant damages are done and many are deceived before the lie is exposed and the liar is held accountable.
We have seen this scenario play out in American politics over the past few years. A tremendous amount of damage has been done, and the repair will take years, and perhaps decades. Are we seeing a replay in Jamaica?
We should be very concerned, as Jamaica’s institutions are weak, there is great public apathy, and the few who are brave enough to expose the lies and demand integrity and transparency in governance and accountability, become targets of scurrilous attacks. Being a recent victim of targeted scurrilous attacks by the Jamaican government, I can speak from a position of reality.
With each attack, I become stronger and firmer in my core beliefs and advocacy for truth, good governance, transparency, and integrity in government.
Timing and process gone awry
Over the past few years, I have written several articles in The Ward Post in defense and advocacy of these core principles globally, in the Caribbean, and as appropriate, related specifically to Jamaica.
The recent debacle in Jamaica’s mis-timed and ill-advised nomination by the prime minister of the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister for the position of Commonwealth Secretary General was an example of government’s lack of transparency. I was careful not to question the foreign minister’s qualifications, and I have stated specifically in my writings, and on radio and television that her qualifications were not in question. I questioned the timing and process.
Foreign policy unworthy of Jamaica’s history
I have also been critical of several foreign policy decisions taken by the current Jamaican government in recent years. I have questioned the current government’s lack of adherence, or its abandonment of the core principles which guided Jamaica’s foreign policy, and which earned the country an enviable high level of global respect and admiration. These foreign policy principles and practices have earned the country special treatment by donor countries; and which, among numerous other direct and collateral benefits in regional and international organizations and institutions, have elevated Jamaicans globally to service in regional and international organizations.
In this context, I have also criticized Jamaica’s lack of leadership in CARICOM, and actions by the Jamaican government which not only alarmed Caribbean leaders but have contributed to disunity within the region.
Grossly false accusations
Included in the recent attacks against me by the Jamaican government is falsely accusing me of writing several articles criticizing the Jamaican foreign minister. My articles and commentaries raising questions about the process of her nomination for CSG and transparency in the funding of the campaign were described by the minister in the prime minister’s office responsible for information as a continuation of my opposition to the foreign minister. By mis-characterizing the government’s cabinet-approved foreign policy, which has been the target of my analyses and criticisms, the information minister chose to falsely describe my criticisms as opposition of the foreign affairs minister personally. That’s far from the truth. He inadvertently, unwittingly, or deliberately blamed the foreign minister for Jamaica’s foreign policy debacle. I didn’t.
Blaming me is yet another lie by this political opportunist! My articles criticizing the government’s foreign policy were not or intended to be attacks against the foreign minister who presents the foreign policy of prime minister Andrew Holness’s entire government. Perhaps the minister of information by his lies and obfuscations intend to deliberately scapegoat the foreign minister – throw her under the bus. In a recent radio interview, on the same radio station used by the minister of information to attack me broadly, I responded directly and refuted the attacks levelled at me. I suggested that the foreign minister would be best served should the information minister cease his attempts to explain the issues surrounding her candidacy. Every time he speaks, he opens new avenues for questions and criticisms. She should ask the prime minister to zip his mouth.
Attacking the messenger
Unable to rebut the message, the Holness government attacks the messenger. I have heard from some Caribbean friends that this is a growing trend in their own countries and among Caribbean governments.
Among the attempts to denigrate me, the minister of information (often referred to as “minister of misinformation”) exposed his lack of knowledge of diplomacy, and the structure of the Jamaican diplomatic corps, and certainly lacked knowledge of my services representing Jamaica on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He was grossly uninformed, or he deliberately chose to lie about my role and service.
I never thought I would have to explain my exemplary service on the UNSC, and there is no need for me to do so now. A simple Google search of “Ambassador Curtis Ward”, or a simple call to the Jamaican ministry of foreign affairs may have served to inform or persuaded this woefully misinformed minister from his clumsy approach and dismal failure.
Jamaica’s proud foreign policy record
As former prime minister the Most Honorable P. J. Patterson recorded for posterity in his book, My Political Journey, “Ambassador Curtis Ward was appointed to strengthen the Permanent Representative Office team in New York” then led by the late ambassador Patricia Durant.
At the time of my appointment in November 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade issued a Press Release which described my position as “Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative with Special Responsibility for Security Council Affairs”. My portfolio was specifically focused on Jamaica’s representation on the Security Council during Jamaica’s term from January 1st, 2000, to December 31st, 2001.
According to Mr. Patterson, “This was a rather challenging period for the Security Council, as it was involved in many critical issues of peace and security, including the scourge of ethnic cleansing.”
Mr. Patterson also wrote, “The catastrophic acts of terrorism on 9/11 marked a defining moment in human history. We were members of the Security Council at that time, and chairman when the most far-reaching decisions were made in the fight against terrorism. Jamaica’s dominance among non-permanent members on the Security Council on these issues established new precedents and created new dynamics for the council vis-á-vis permanent and non-permanent members.”
Mr. Patterson further wrote, “During Jamaica’s membership of the Security Council, principled and steadfast, sometimes uncompromising, defense of justice, gender equity, human rights, the right to self-determination, and the end to impunity for crimes against humanity emboldened other non-permanent members to stand.”
That is the foreign policy of which Jamaicans all over the world can be proud. That is the foreign policy I was first exposed to firsthand during my service as a member of Jamaica’s delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1976. That is the foreign policy I am eternally grateful and proud to have been a part of and continue to be a strong proponent of on the global stage. And that is why I criticize the shambolic foreign policy of the current government of Jamaica.
© Curtis A. Ward/The Ward Post