The Sunday Leader

Fallout Of US-Sri Lanka Rapprochement

Stand not too close to the rich man lest he grabs thee and not too far away lest he forgets thee’ is the pragmatic maxim practiced by nations living in the shadows of big powers although the policy is not articulated in such terms.

Sri Lanka is far away from the United States and the West, yet it could be said that we are in the shadows of these powerful nations and its allies even in the region. Good relations with the United States and its Western allies pay dividends. Sri Lanka need not kowtow to these nations but could still maintain good relations if we restrain ourselves from thumbing our noses at them.

Sirima Bandaranaike is a good example of a leader who followed what has been termed a genuinely non-aligned policy. Her non-alignment was tilted towards India and thus towards Russia, the chief benefactor of India during the Cold War days, but she did not antagonize the West to a point of provocation although it cost Sri Lanka dearly in what may have been American foreign assistance.

Lakshman Kadirgamar, the SLFP Foreign Minister to Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, had excellent relations with the United States and other Western nations. He turned the tide against the LTTE in the West and had them proscribe it as a terrorist organisation. It will be recalled that the United States and India helped Sri Lanka to defeat the LTTE militarily by providing intelligence on arms shipments and other matters, What went wrong in relations between Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Western bloc needs in depth studies of geopolitical analysts and psychiatrists.

Rajapaksa, after his claim of having winning the war against terrorism which he said no one else in the world had achieved, appeared to consider himself in the mould of great liberators and revolutionaries – Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Gaddafi and even hob-nobbed with the Iranians. All these revolutionaries, save for Castro, had vast reserves of oil. Sri Lanka’s Sancho-Panza riding a Delft donkey had only coconut and medicinal oil, however, tilted at the windmills and earned the wrath of the West.

Apart from withdrawal of trade concessions like the GSP+, which cost Sri Lanka a packet, a much more harder line was pursued on the issue of human rights and alleged war crimes during the final phase of the civil war.

With three consecutive resolutions adopted against Sri Lanka at the annual sessions of the UNHRC, a UN report made by three – a well known statesman, a reputed judge and a well known human rights worker, was to be considered this September but postponed. They were to assist and advice the international commission on investigations.

The new government’s approach to resolution of minority rights and reconciliation appears to have convinced those who wanted Sri Lanka in the dock that their objectives of peace and reconciliation could be better achieved through ways and means promoted by the new government.

A team of international investigators inquiring into the alleged incidents during the last phase of the conflict could have torn asunder the communal rapport that is being built up and also create problems for the government that is pushing for peace and reconciliation through other means.

However, more problems lie ahead. A domestic inquiry cannot be a sham as alleged by many, particularly of the Tamil Diaspora. The question whether the domestic inquiry will initiate retributive justice or restorative justice will be a contentious issue.

The decisions of any inquiry, domestic or international, could exacerbate the differences and not help to close them up is being actively considered.

Rather than a judicial inquiry, through political and diplomatic resolutions the possibility of bringing in peace and reconciliation should be considered.

The two main parties representing the Sinhalese are now talking about peace and reconciliation, a development which did not happen before. Tamil leaders like Douglas Devananda and Anandasangari have indicated their willingness to come in and even the TNA is considering reconciliatory moves.

It’s a long way to go but perhaps the only way. Racist politicians, now out of business, should be kept out by political parties and also the national media.

4 Comments for “Fallout Of US-Sri Lanka Rapprochement”

  1. sri

    Facts are far too stubborn to be covered up with such articles and promoted by political jokers.

  2. Piranha

    Are you saying mass murderers and other criminal elements in the previous government and the military should not be punished?

    The TNA must bargain for a lasting settlement with guarantees by the UN and other world bodies before agreeing to a domestic inquiry.

  3. Jay

    Please don’t consider Douglas Devananda or Anandasangari as Tamil Leaders.
    They are there just to make noise. Anandasangari did not even win an election
    for God knows how long and I am not sure why even he is living. God sometimes
    works in mysterious ways.

    Please don’t consider them as Tamil leaders. They are not representing anyone.

  4. sri

    What a failed murderous state still racketing and creating mayhem.

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