Lalin’s Column : Absolutely Foreign Affairs (final3) 8 Sep 2015)
SL’s Foreign Minister (FM) is taking giant strides to make a good impression with the West that looks for weaknesses in ‘unfriendly’ (to the Western ‘World’) governments like SL’s last one. He seems to be succeeding. After the Presidential Election (Jan 2015) he together with the Justice Minister said there had been an attempted Coup. Large numbers believed them. The PM said nothing. Nothing happened.
Then speaking about Foreign Policy (Mirror; 24 Apr 15) the FM said SL was connecting with the main power centers of the world being New Delhi, (naturally first now) Brussels, Washington (slightly hidden) London and China-4 cities and one huge country. That China too had a capital city Beijing may have skipped him. Somehow he forgot Russia the biggest country in the world, with its capital named Moscow. The friendly West SL’s latest good friends that until very recently were determined to hang and quarter it in Geneva must have been elated. “Good boy old chap” they must have said of SL’ FM. China and Russia were always SL’s very good friend but not now. How very odd.
When the US Assistant Secretary Nisha Biswal of American East Indian origin arrived in SL she had another really rousing and warm experience. “We did it” must have been the ‘battle cry for freedom’. USA and tiny SL were suddenly great friends. Up Yahapalana. The Chinese string of pearls is damned. Chennai got another periodical fit and protested that an Indian (Gujarati) born American was promoting SL.
“Kiss me quick before I shoot” (Anon-song)
‘This kiss, this kiss, its criminal” (Faith Hill-song)
The FM galloped up to her and – ooh, ooh, ooh, kissed her gallantly, ardently and fervently on both cheeks. Onlookers on TV included, noted this was without the slightest ‘by your leave’. Maybe he was trying to impress whoever is impressed by a man making the first move in polite society, not just to shake hands but to kiss a woman in public. And this when on state duty. Biswal was diplomatic. With aplomb that may pass at St James, (who knows) she rose to the occasion. She had experienced these SL photo catching forays by people who have not played cricket- the gentleman’s game, before. Diplomats must not only lie for their country. After all sending a BEAH (Brown East Asian Hindu pron: BEAR) instead of a white eyed WASP was a canny move when trapping LIONs.
If SL’s President still talks about shaking hands with the ungloved hands of the Queen of England, whatever must our FM be boasting about. Lucky him. Imagine if it was the other way round.
Some SL ministers are going full steam ahead trying to outdo each other to show their familiarity with what they consider the heights of western sophistication. They should be told that there was a time when the Japanese who had worn Confucian garb for hundreds of years, and were called upstarts by China, discarded it for coat and tails. The first time they did so, the story goes, and they wore the coat with the tails in front! China, considered for centuries as the center of the world in the Far East including Korea, was horrified. The Japanese had become the obedient ally of the USA but were called dwarfs by China. Pearl Harbour, ‘comfort’ women and the A bomb were followed by the Korean War. Why?
Biswal’s visit was followed by Blair’s speech at the Lakshman Kadirigamar (LK) Memorial lecture on 25 Aug 15. Few knew he was already in SL on holiday with his wife and their child with a friend. She promotes her business when she is not falling into ponds in hotels. Many would have liked to know who spent on them.
Some say it was the Brit tax payer, some say not. The irrepressible FM then out did the Queen. He ‘knighted’ Tony Blair during his welcome speech.
Many in UK are calling for Blair’s blood. He was PM and ordered British troops to take part in a widely alleged criminal war on a cooked up WMD charge against Saddam’s Iraq on the insistence of the USA’s Bush. Blair by supporting Bush’s fibs is held responsible by several retired Generals of the Brit army for the deaths of 179 British troops. Blair, an expert spin doctor, is referred to in Dublin’s famous O’Connell street, (where about 100 years ago British Army elements called Black and Tans massacred the Irish Catholics by machine gunning them) as ‘war criminal‘. It was exactly 200 years ago that Blair’s countrymen attempted genocide in Uva Wellasa. Was this knowledge foreign to the FM when the call went out to Blair to speak about one of SL’s contemporary heroes?
Why then was he called to deliver the guest speech? Why was he ‘knighted’ by the FM? Blair himself must have wondered why he had even been invited when he was a being ‘accused’ by his own people of war crimes.
Obviously the FM thought Blair was a fit person to do so when he called Blair ‘Sir’? There a contradiction when the FM who urged ‘democracies should fight this scourge’ (terrorism) “less we lose those values, principles and freedoms we cherish most” still invited Blair to be guest speaker to honour LK, knowing his reputation regarding the criminal war against Iraq.
Blair’s successor Cameron too is being held responsible by his former Army Chief, General Sir David Richards and his MI 6 Chief John Sawyers for the rise of ISIL. Experts blamed the migrant crisis to UK attacking Libya, leading to the fall of Gaddafi. Will Cameron, who abused his guest status in SL in 2013 be invited next-just because he too is a ‘friendly Westerner' who will also not hesitate to wage war on non Westerners?
Is there any clue as to why Blair was invited in the FM’s speech? He said: “He (LK) always believed in a political solution and the importance of addressing the grievances of the Tamil community. Had he been alive in 2009… he would have prevailed on the government not to squander away the opportunity for durable peace by adopting a triumphalist (sic) approach. He urged that the democracies of the world must stand to fight this scourge, lest we lose the values, principles and freedom that we cherish most ….It was during his (Blair’s) tenure as FM that the funding for the LTTE in western countries including in the UK when you were PM “Sir”, was stopped through effective legislation. That in fact was the beginning of the end for the LTTE”.
Why does this shameless colonial attitude of calling any western VIP ‘Sir’, persist after nearly 70 years of Independence, following 500 years of evil and often brutal colonization by the formidable ‘friendly’ West? Or does the FM call every Tom, David and Tony ‘Sir’? Did he call the Gujarati American Biswal ‘ma’am’ after kissing her?
The beginning of the end, Blair ‘Sir’ (arise), was definitely not when the UK stopped Diaspora funding for the LTTE. This is utter and blatant hypocrisy. It was 7 years after, at Mavil Aru, in the East. The peace accord was deservedly thrown into the canal waters that had been denied the farmers by the terrorists.
This was a futile and also reprehensible way of taking away the recognition and honour due to the victorious forces that made it happen.
The FM in praise of Blair made out that UK with the USA banned the LTTE but he failed to mention that while the USA did so in 1997, the UK under Blair kicked its heels until 2001. He did not ask what delayed Tony ‘Sir’ who was UK PM from 1994 (to 2007). Was it not Diaspora support for the UK elections that made Blair take his time?
Yet the FM even ‘knighted’ Blair.
The FM tied himself in knots trying to impress Blair ‘Sir’ and the others about what should have been the solution to the SL conflict. He attempted to award an accolade to LK on an inspiration that had taken 10 silent years to develop.
The FM, profoundly no doubt, said that LK, (who died in Aug 2005),”never believed in a military solution to the national problem. However at times he has been misunderstood by some who claim that he believed in a military solution. This is far from the truth……. In fact he was the first person in the world in 1963 to conduct an Amnesty International (AI) investigation in a country, which was Vietnam”.
Now what’s all this about Amnesty International (AI) and LK going to Vietnam in 1963? Is it a bit of ’koheda yanne, malle pol’ or ‘spinning around the mulberry bush’ story? Vietnam had just overthrown Diem a dictator who being a Catholic had suppressed by force, the majority Buddhists. The relevance is difficult to understand unless the FM thought that mention of Vietnam would serve as a red herring. The USA had not yet come to the aid of South Vietnam at the time. When it did General Giap did not seek political solutions. He won decisively on the battle field. Maybe if he did as the FM promotes, the conflict would still have been raging with Giap, like LK in SL, among millions more, dead, buried and forgotten.
The FM opines that LK who died in Aug 2005 really wanted a political solution as though it remained solution after 26 years of bitter and brutal conflict. In that case LK, like the FM, CBK and the present PM and SL would have been the losers. In fact if SL had followed that path, the conflict would have been raging yet. Tens of thousands of innocents on both sides would have been dying. Does the FM want LK to join him in that VVIP sin bin, but posthumously? Had LK been as accommodative and naïve if not foolish as the FM vouches, would he have been assassinated by the terrorists?
LK was never ‘misunderstood’ on this issue except possibly by the FM himself. LK risked his life bring in peace with honour to SL. Some racists, green with envy at the accolades he received worldwide, called him names and even rejoiced in Colombo 7 when he was murdered by a terrorist assassin. He carried no private agenda or ‘friendly countries’ baggage to serve his country.
The terrorists protected themselves with a human shield of 300,000 Tamil hostages. They knew and wanted little else other than bloodletting right up to their very last day on earth. What sort of political solution could have been given?
This is what the USA DOD released in its Law of War manual in June 2015.It states “The party that employs human shields in an attempt to shield military objectives from attack assumes responsibility for their injury”. It goes on to clarify ”If a proportionality rule were interpreted to permit use of hostages to prohibit attacks such an interpretation could perversely encourage the use of human shields”. This is what SL has been saying for the last 5 years. Who ‘encouraged’ it before? It took a long time for the USA that can control the UN, to wake up after making uninvited guest appearances at Geneva.
Blair himself emphasized that for reconciliation to work there must be peace first. That is what happened after the collapse of the terrorists at Puthukkudirippu on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon in May 2009. There was complete peace, for ever, everywhere in SL.
So why is the FM harping about political solutions? The world has acknowledged and in many places rejoiced that a military solution did bring peace to SL in May 2009.
Is the FM decrying SL’s victory over the terrorists that brought peace, after 26 years of bitter conflict, 21,000 troop deaths and possibly another 80,000 civilians killed in the North and South?
What will the horse deal for US support be this time? SL had some time between 2001 and 2004 permitted rendition flights for captured Islamist terrorists who were allowed to transit Colombo. This time the price may be higher.
Maybe the FM does not want to know how many times political solutions were offered to the terrorists from the Timpu talks in 1987, to the sell out PTOMS and notorious CFA (2001) - that has no known originator.
The FM could tell Blair, Blake and Biswal with Cameron seeking refuge thrown in how the political party he is in now, won the 1989/90 insurgent battle with the JVP. Was it a ‘political solution’ that destroyed 60,000 youth in about a year? Was the political solution then to torture without compunction, remorse or pity, defence lawyers like Liyanaarachchi and journalists like Richard de Soyza among thousands of others and kill them after? Was there freedom of expression in 1998/9? Was the murder of captured leader of the JVP, Wijeweera, a political solution? He was shot but did not die. He was then tossed alive into the incinerator at the Borella crematorium after being grilled by politicians and on their orders. Most of the youth who were murdered were from Southern families eking out a desperate living. Is there a time bar to such crimes that could have led to genocide of the Sinhalese? Reconciliation needs to come to the South too. Who will head that ‘Commission’?
Who in the ‘friendly’ West and in the then ruling party cried for them and talked of ‘white flags’, reconciliation and political solutions then? The Southern youth were just taken from their homes at night. They did not have bed sheets white or green to hang out. They slept on mats on the floor and were shot and burned and put into unknown graves or left on the streets to drive fear into the people.
Did NATO have a political solution for Iraq (reportedly over one million killed) and Afghanistan? Does the FM believe the USA, NATO or its ally the UN have a political solution for the ISIL which is seriously threatening Europe?
It is very true and clear that the last government lost its morality and its way after hostilities ended. Its greatest failure was its loss of integrity and credibility. Finally even its legitimacy was challenged.
But it did not “squander” opportunities to bring about reconciliation. After all 12,000 former cadres, something from 30% to 50% of the terrorist battle strength, after capture or having surrendered, were rehabilitated and released. It did however squander the national wealth in an unparalleled and shocking way.
If LK was alive his character and personality would surely have influenced the former President to respond to the post conflict challenges better. But those who enjoyed life with him for 5-10 years and kept their mouths well corked are also to blame for the reckless and greedy ‘squandering’ of the true benefits of peace.
LK’s memorial lecture should however not have been taken as an opportunity to publicize rejected theories on how to ‘fight scourges’ in ‘democracies’ in order to criticize SL’s unique and stunning victory against the world’s most ruthless terror group. Especially after inviting Blair. This was simply to camouflage and conceal rejected policies supported by appeasers who would have divided the country if they had power.
Meanwhile beware Greeks bearing goods who ‘come to do well but stay to do well’. And watch out for incorrigibles who wanted political solutions that never existed for a problem that was so well solved by an extraordinary display of military effort that won the confidence of the 300,000 ‘human shield’ Tamil hostages. If saving 300,000 Tamil lives means anything it is best to dump ‘political solutions’ into the Walawe and watch how the Mahaveli, Kelani, Kalu gangas flow peacefully today
Let the kissing however continue, more Blairs be invited and knighted and Camerons be blighted. If that is what inspires FMs and traps SL into the sly Imperial web of ‘friendly’ western countries, let the people be warned.
“A one year budget of the USA of $ 330 billion. This has now (2014) gone past a trillion dollars, equal to more than $50,000 an hour for every citizen for every hour since Jesus Christ was born, enough to provide every American with completely free medical care no matter the ailment, and completely free education all the way to their PhDs (this would allow the US to reach the level of Cuba.) Think of the numerous kinds of suffering the American people have to bear their entire life which could be avoided if the military budget were used for peaceful purposes”.(Preface- ‘The Rouge State’ -William Blum – 2014 edition)
- Asian Tribune -