Games In Geneva And A Series Of Own Goals By The MEA

rajiva w       There is a very strange game being played out in Geneva, the implications of which decision makers in Colombo have not understood – or else, having understood, they simply do not care.

Though the motivations of those attacking us vary, their aim is clear, namely to undermine national sovereignty. The mandarins, or perhaps I should say the rickshaw pullers, in our Ministry of External were sanguine earlier about what they saw as a bland US resolution. The fact that it requires monitoring of our activities, in particular with regard to accountability, should worry them, but I suspect they no longer understand the basic principles on which the UN should operate.

How should we be dealing with the threat to the country and its government? Firstly, we should look at the motivations of those now acting against us, and try to assuage those worries that are reasonable. After all, many of those supportive of the resolution genuinely think that we have behaved badly. If we believe they are wrong, as I do with regard to the matters on which they seek to condemn us, we must convince them otherwise. This should not be difficult, now that at last we are beginning to get our act together with regard to the LLRC Action Plan, but there too I was informed that the Foreign Ministry thinks the President’s Secretary is not able to deliver, and wants to take over the responsibility.

In addition to moving on Reconciliation, and showing that we are doing so, we should also do more about the empowerment that will help the Indian government to alleviate the pressures to which they are now being subjected. However our key decision makers seem to believe that attacks on India will help us. Unfortunately this is not due to stupidity alone. Last year, when India had pledged to support us, we violated their trust by publicizing this when we had specifically been requested not to do so. This gave politicians in Tamilnadu a handle with which to pressurize Delhi, and we added fuel to this fire when we accused them of being LTTE supporters.

Given then that we also have to contend with hostility at home, it will be even more difficult to defeat what I would describe as the nasty motivations in Geneva. These include efforts to control up politically, as well as efforts to win electoral success by playing to the former LTTE gallery.

With regard to the first, the cheering squads that danced last March on the graves of Dayan Jayatilleka and Tamara Kunanayagam, and claimed that their influence was now over and we would once more become the lapdogs of the West, need to be reined in. While we must obviously convince the West that we are not going to be drawn into hostility towards them in the oppositional games that the West specializes in, we do not need to enter into opposition with other countries for this purpose.

Conversely, claiming that we can rely on China if the West opposes us is also absurd, and unfair too on China, which can well do without such intensification of perceptions. And in this game of poodle snap, with conflicting interests that do not care about Sri Lankan sovereignty deciding that we must plump for one side or the other, we totally ignore India, which as our closest neighbor will clearly exercise the greatest influence on the perceptions others have about us and our strategic importance. Most alarmingly, we ignore the advice the Americans gave us in the days when J R Jayewardene thought the West would back us willy-nilly against India, and we ignore the advice the Chinese ambassador gave us in Geneva when they were supporting us against the Miliband led efforts in 2009 to do us down. Both said that we must maintain good relations with India, and the latter pointed out how important it was to receive Indian advice.

Meanwhile we have completely ignored the clear and simple and easily actionable recommendation in the LLRC Report that we should build good relations with the diaspora.

So we have little to report that will catch the imagination of those concerned about the areas affected by the conflict. We will bumble on, hoping to get away with the minimum, some perhaps hoping we will fail, so their own vision of Sri Lanka’s place in the world, a demeaning one, will be fulfilled.

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