US’ attempt to Save Prabhakaran: India’s Menon & U.S. Book Confirm
In a strange coincidence, the United States’ ‘grand design’ to save Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran with its top leadership was disclosed simultaneously by former Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and a book published in the U.S. – Tamil Tigers’ Debt to America: US Foreign-Policy Adventurism & Sri Lanka’s Dilemma – by a former state department employee who was attached to the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Mr. Menon disclosed this in his just-released book ‘Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’.
India’s former national security adviser was very confident when he declared in his book: “Leaders of Tamil Nadu, across the political divide, privately but effectively supported the Indian government’s policy of opposing efforts by the US and Norway to rescue Velupillai Prabhakaran so that his LTTE lived to fight another day.”
In the Tamil Tigers’ Debt to America author Daya Gamage, using his knowledge of American Foreign Service officers’ developed perspective and mind-set on Sri Lanka/Tamil issues during his tenure in the 1980s and 1990s as a political specialist at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Colombo, gives an analytical explanation as “the United States very strategically combined the two issues, simultaneously, the protection and evacuation of the civilians, and moving the hierarchy of the Tigers to safety, as one of the intentions of ending the long war. Had both been fulfilled, the United States would have achieved the creation of a pressure group to influence events in Sri Lanka.”
Mr. Menon in his book says, “Knowing that victory was round the corner, Rajapaksa was in no mood to agree to Western ceasefire proposals or to any idea that the LTTE leadership might be evacuated to safety, even if that was the only certain way to prevent casualties among civilians that the LTTE had driven onto to the peninsula as their hostages and human shields.”
Shivshankar Menon, in his book ‘Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’ authoritatively states that the U.S. move to save the Tamil Tiger leadership was to allow the movement to “fight another day.”
“It is arguable that some brutality was inevitable in a war of this kind against a violent terrorist group that had shown no qualms about terrorizing its own people and physically eliminating all its potential adversaries, Tamil or Sinhala”, says Menon.
Daya Gamage, using his professional experience with American FSOs for more than two decades, and his knowledge of their developed perspective/mind-set on Tamil/Sri Lanka issues attributes in his book to Washington’s belief that the advent of the LTTE was due to unsolved Tamil issues and grievances and that this alone motivated to save Prabhakaran and his top leadership, in the words of Menon “fight for another day.”
Gamage’s book documents how Washington contemplated to save the LTTE leadership, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton using her authority to block IMF economic assistance to Sri Lanka as a means of economic pressure on the Rajapaksa administration to declare a ceasefire to facilitate Prabhakaran to leave the battle front.
Shivshankar Menon’s declaration fits well with what the former American Embassy political specialist documents in his book.
Daya Gamage’s book notes: On May 6, 2009, twelve days before the war ended, the State Department convened a special media event in Washington, presenting its deputy assistant secretary of State for South Asia to make significant announcements about the crucial developments in Sri Lanka. While announcing the measures taken by the USG toward the surrender of LTTE cadre and the protection of the unarmed civilians within the battle zone, the deputy assistant secretary Mike Owens made the following significant pronouncements:
“We, of course, have designated the LTTE as a terrorist organization, and we certainly have no sympathy for some of the things that they’ve carried out, but I think you do have to ask a very legitimate question: Why did they have a following in the beginning? And I think it’s because some in the Tamil community do have legitimate grievances, and we need to find—I think it’s imperative for Sri Lankans to find a way to give everyone in the community, all Sri Lankans a legitimate voice in their government.”
Threatening the Government of Sri Lanka Mike Owens declared: “If the government of Sri Lanka does attack the safe zone and large numbers of civilians are killed: Certainly, there would be consequences, and we’ve made it very clear to the leadership of the government of Sri Lanka there would be strong consequences if that occurred. I would not want to sort of tie our hands in terms of specifying exactly what those consequences would be, but we would certainly hold the government of Sri Lanka responsible for the death of a lot of civilians, and we’ve made that very clear to the leadership.”
Washington was contemplating ‘what to do’ with the leadership of an organization which was designated by them – under US Federal laws – a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), a move to take Prabhakaran and his top leadership to safety when Owens made the following remarks: i>“And so I think one of the big questions is what to do about the leadership, and that’s certainly not easy to answer. This is a very complex and very difficult sort of thing to orchestrate. There are many problems, and we are running out of time. We really, literally, have a matter of a couple of days maybe in which we can try to get this finalized.”
Having had access to the perspectives and mind-set of American Foreign Service officers and their counterparts in Washington, the Amazon published Tamil Tigers’ Debt to America-author Daya Gamage used Mike Owens’ May 9, 2009 statement “We, of course, have designated the LTTE as a terrorist organization, and we certainly have no sympathy for some of the things that they’ve carried out, but I think you do have to ask a very legitimate question: Why did they have a following in the beginning? And I think it’s because some in the Tamil community do have legitimate grievances, and we need to find—I think it’s imperative for Sri Lankans to find a way to give everyone in the community, all Sri Lankans a legitimate voice in their government” to give his interpretation.
Gamage writes in the book: (Quote) What Mike Owens spelled out were clear policy planks: that the LTTE clearly represented the grievances of the 11 percent minority Tamil community in Sri Lanka, and that the USG clearly believed that those grievances gave birth to the movement. Despite the USG designating it a terrorist movement, the insinuation was that it was unable to allow such an organization, which represents the Tamil voice be totally silenced. It is in this context that the GSL was warned not to use its fire power to harm the unarmed civilians; if it did, it would negate Washington’s effort to find out “what to do about the leadership of the Tigers.”
If the sole endeavor was to protect the unarmed civilians and facilitate them to move out of the battle zone, Mike Owens wouldn’t have used the above terminology. This sounded like simultaneous efforts to protect the civilians—threatening the GSL to retreat from its offensive position—and facilitate the removal of the top LTTE cadre from the battle zone.
The United States very strategically combined the two issues, simultaneously, the protection and evacuation of the civilians, and moving the hierarchy of the Tigers to safety, as one of the intentions of ending the long war. Had both been fulfilled, the United States would have achieved the creation of a pressure group to influence events in Sri Lanka.
The Washington focus was very clear: the influence of Tamil nationalists of the diaspora in the West from the time Don Camp established contacts with New York immigration lawyer Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran in the early 1980s is significant; Washington and the Colombo diplomatic mission coordinated very well when they developed policy planks on Sri Lanka’s Tamil issues and the overall outlook toward Sri Lanka; the LTTE terrorism was never a threat to American interests worldwide or in the Asian region; lives of American citizens were never in danger due to Tiger terrorism; Washington opposed the bifurcation of Sri Lanka; however, they strongly believed that the LTTE could be useful to resolve Tamil issues in Sri Lanka; they supported the February 2002 cease-fire agreement between the GSL and the Tigers, Deputy Secretary Armitage taking a major role; and Washington believed that a disarmed but politically active LTTE could be helpful to making changes in Sri Lanka. (End Quote)
It is interesting that two books, one in India authored by Indian government’s national security adviser who was knowledgeable of the machinations of the United States, and the other authored by a U.S. State Department employee who had intimate knowledge and understanding of America’s developed perspective and mind-set on Sri Lanka’s Tamil and national issues who could link to Washington’s endeavor to ‘Save Prabhakaran’.
To avenge this colossal failure, Washington created a conducive atmosphere for the operatives and organizations within the Tamil diaspora to take the annihilated LTTE’s place.
- Asian Tribune –