Sri Lanka’s Dilemma under Hillary Clinton presidency
Posted on October 16th, 2016

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Foreign Affairs Note

Washington, D.C. 12 October (Asiantribune.com):

Two weeks before the total defeat of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers on 18 May, 2009, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was forcing the hand of the IMF and cabinet office of US Treasury Department to suspend all monetary assistance to Sri Lanka, revealed in a sensitive e-mail that went through her (illegally-kept) private server.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Sri Lanka foreign minister G.L. Pieris May 2012

Her action was to twist the arm of the GSL to declare a ceasefire to let the Tiger leaders go scot-free to use the LTTE a pressure group to effect changes in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka learned a bitter lesson in July 1987 during the Vadamaratchi Offensive when GSL military was nearing the total defeat of the Tigers India’s intervention gave a lease of life to the outfit.

Clinton’s endeavor corresponded well with what state department deputy assistant secretary Mike Owens declared on 6 May 2009 at a special media gathering in Washington that the LTTE was the result of Tamil grievances and that Washington was working ‘behind-the-scene’ to work-out a ceasefire, when he went on to say Washington was contemplating ‘what to do with the leadership of the LTTE.”

In an interview given to The Guardian 23 October 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton who was seeking Democratic nomination for president, reiterated – signaling Tamil Tigers- that one can’t lump all terrorists together. And I think we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d’être of terrorists.”

Washington Times, on April 27, 2009, editorial captioned ‘Clinton & self-styled peacemakers obstructing Tiger defeat ‘editorially questioned as to why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton obstructing the GSL.

Hillary Clinton is now positioned to become the 45th president next January defeating real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump at the December 8 election.

What is Sri Lanka’s dilemma under President Clinton given her track record on Sri Lankan issues:
During the official pronouncements, Washington could not conceal its developed mind-set on Sri Lanka’s national issues, the place the LTTE occupied in both America’s foreign-policy agenda and the hearts of the minority Tamils, how the Tamil lobby was successful in shaping the (Clinton) State Department narrative, the impact the bloody insurrection has had toward the rearrangement of Washington policy planks, which facilitated the (former LTTE) global activists and their organizations within the Tamil diaspora to acquire a special place—a somewhat dignified one in thehalls of power of the West—as the sole voice of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population that the Rajapaksa administration failed to bring into the national framework immediately after the domestic defeat of the Tigers.

Interpretations to the then secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s inner feelings of a possible defeat of the Tamil Tigers and, if such a scenario emerged, what consequences the Sri Lankan state should face reflected in a sensitive State Department cable that went through Clinton’s unprotected e-mail server in early May 2009.

Subsequent developments clearly showed how the LTTE struggle consolidated within the Tamil diaspora, which paved the way toward the emergence of a global diplomatic movement—intentionally or not—facilitated under the tutelage of Clinton and her liberal staff in Washington and Colombo.

US Maneuvers: On May 6, 2009, twelve days before the war ended, with the total defeat of the LTTE with all the leaders killed, the State Department convened a special media event in Washington, presenting one of Clinton’s 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 for the GSL to hear loud and clear:

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.

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 emphasize that we believe the Diaspora, the Sri Lankan Diaspora, and particularly the Tamil Diaspora in North America, in Europe, elsewhere, has a very important role to play in this. They should, I hope, be speaking out in terms of what they envisioned for Sri Lanka in a post-conflict scenario. They have an important voice in that process.”

What Mike Owens, who a couple of years before served in the US diplomatic mission in Colombo, 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.”

This was the similar sentiment Senator Clinton expressed to The Guardian in October 2007.

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 following 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:

We are trying quietly — and I can’t talk too much about this– but we are trying quietly behind the scene to find a way to bring an end to the fighting. It’s very difficult to see exactly how that’s going to happen, but we think there are a couple of elements that need to be involved, and we need to find a way for the LTTE to surrender arms possibly to a third party in the context of a pause in the fighting, to surrender their arms in exchange for some sort of limited amnesty to at least some members of the LTTE and the beginning of a political process.”

Clinton Never Wanted LTTE Defeated: The US Department of State’s—highly impartial and non-partisan watchdog—Office of Inspector General found fault on May 25, 2016, with Hillary Clinton for the use of a private e-mail server, which contained sensitive material during the time she was secretary of state.

In one of the sensitive e-mails clearly depicted that secretary of state Hillary Clinton intervened in early May 2009 to bring impediments to the government of Sri Lanka when it was clear to her the Tamil Tigers’ imminent defeat.

She wanted the IMF to immediately suspend funds to Sri Lanka. An e-mail, dated May 4, 2009, which passed through Clinton’s server, seemed to have expressed the sentiments of the officials of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank that they were unhappy with Secretary of State Clinton ordering/telling” the IMF to suspend the funding of the government of Sri Lanka.

As a result of Secretary Clinton’s ordering/telling,” the IMF/IBRD held a meeting with the then US secretary of treasury—President Obama’s cabinet officer handling the nation’s finances. The e-mail passed through Clinton’s server noted that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed displeasure that she was intruding into his domain.”

Burns Strider, a political consultant and senior advisor at that period to the secretary of state, says in the e-mail—which went through Clinton’s private server she was illegally maintaining at her New York residence—that he felt people on the ground,” from both the World Bank and the IMF, believed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam needed to be completely defeated” and that collateral damage inflicted on private people” by the actions of the Sri Lankan government were ok” in their eyes.

Strider’s communication to Clinton of the sentiments attributed to the IMF/IBRD officials that the Tigers needed to be completely defeated’ can be interpreted as the officials were of the impression that Hillary Clinton (and Washington) wanted the LTTE spared short of total annihilation.

The e-mail written by Secretary Hillary Clinton’s political consultant and senior advisor Burns Strider (to H) that went through her classified server gives a serious narration. Obama administration’s foreign minister Hillary Clinton was using her official position to bring obstacles to the government of Sri Lanka in its fight against the secessionist Tamil Tigers; that she was attempting to use her influence on IMF and World Bank to bring economic blockade” to Sri Lanka, all of which, to avenge the failure of the State Department’s overall policy, to prevent a total annihilation of the LTTE; she was using her stature and position in the Obama administration to influence Secretary of Treasury Geithner to coordinate with the IMF and IBRD to impose an economic blockade.” The officials of the IMF and IBRD strong feeling that the Tigers needed to be defeated even at the cost of collateral damage” speak volumes: that Secretary Clinton, the Obama administration’s foreign-policy executor, wanted the LTTE saved short of total annihilation.

The Clinton e-mail is well connected to what the deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department expressed at the special media event in Washington on May 6, 2009.

Washington Times, on April 27, 2009, editorially questioned as to why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton obstructing citing her previous week statement critical of the GSL saying “The entire world is very disappointed” that they were “causing such untold suffering.”

The editorial captioned ‘Clinton & self-styled peacemakers obstructing Tiger defeat’ noted The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, one of the world’s most violent terrorist outfits, are surrounded in northern Sri Lanka and about to be destroyed – but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and European self-styled peacemakers are getting in the way of victory. The meddlers should let Colombo finish off this menace….. Last week, Mrs. Clinton played into the hands of the terrorists by blaming the Sri Lankan government for the crisis. “The entire world is very disappointed” that they were “causing such untold suffering,” she said.”

The editorial in conclusion: We can only imagine American satisfaction if we had al Qaeda in this position. It is unconscionable for the United States to castigate its Sri Lankan ally for prevailing in its war against terrorism. The Tamil Tigers have purposefully created the conditions for a humanitarian crisis and deserve neither amnesty nor mercy. There are ways to help resolve this standoff that will not allow the Tigers to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, such as providing military and intelligence support for pinpoint strikes against the terrorist leadership. Failing that, the Obama administration should mind its own business. The Sri Lankans are winning; we should let them finish the job.”

Long before that, when Clinton was US senator and contending for 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination, in her interview to The Guardian 23 October 2007 said that you can’t lump all terrorists together,” citing Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers. The terrorist brush should not be used on everyone, she said.

She said the following:

Michael Tomasky: Yeah. Do you think that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, or do you think they have specific geopolitical objectives?

Hillary Clinton: Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilized throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. There are personality-driven terroristic objectives. The bottom line is, you can’t lump all terrorists together. And I think we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d’être of terrorists. I mean, what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka, or the Basque separatists in Spain, or the insurgents in al-Anbar province may only be connected by tactics. They may not share all that much in terms of what is the philosophical or ideological underpinning. And I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush, which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what it is we were up against when it comes to those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they’re seeking.

This is not an issue whether who is in political power in Sri Lanka. This is about Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The track record of Hillary Clinton clearly shows the dilemma of the Sri Lanka state under Clinton Presidency which commences on January 20 next year.

This writer has extensively dealt this issue of how Washington facilitated the operatives and their organizations in the Tamil Diaspora to take the place of the Tamil Tigers in his forthcoming book Tamil Tigers’ Debt To America: US Foreign-Policy Adventurism & Sri Lanka’s Dilemma.

– Asian Tribune –

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