YAHAPALANA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Part 2
Posted on January 14th, 2017

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The Yahapalana    government has no meaningful foreign policy, said one critic. Instead there is a clear tilt to the US. Mangala Samaraweera said, ‘Obama would come up to President Sirisena to say ‘Hello’ at whichever international forum they used to meet. This shows how far American relations have improved during the recent times.’  America is very important to us, said Minister Harsha de Silva. 25% of our exports go to US and 70% of that is garments. Changes in US trade policy have a large repercussion on Sri Lanka, because of our dependency on the US economy, he added. Tissa Vitharana said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe was going to make Sri Lanka a puppet of the USA like the Philippines. We seem to be venerating ‘Uncle Sam’ at every juncture said Upul Wijayawardhana

Until recently, India and Sri Lanka remained out of the American sphere of influence. This attitude changed with the rise of China. Now the US is   deeply interested in Sri Lanka, because of Sri Lanka’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean and because China has established links with Sri Lanka. The US has been told by its advisers to go carefully with Sri Lanka. The US cannot afford to ‘lose’ Sri Lanka. This does not mean changing the relationship overnight, they said.  It means trying new approaches that would increase U.S. leverage.  There should be a broader and more robust U.S. approach to Sri Lanka.  An approach that appreciates the new political and economic realities in Sri Lanka and U.S.

The US is trying to prevent the rise of China as a superpower. It is setting up an anti-Chinese axis using India and Japan. There was a trilateral joint military exercise involving Japan, US and India in June 2016.  Sri Lanka is interested primarily in the US link with India. US has established a military alliance with India.  The purpose of this US-India alliance is to contain China. The US National Defence Authorization Act of 2017 recognizes India as a major defence partner of the US. Before that in 2016, US and India signed an agreement, allowing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply. This allowed the Indian and US navies to support each other in joint operations and exercises.

US supported India in its   surgical strikes on Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 2016. There were Joint US-India military exercises near India- China border in 2016. USA has also entered into a civilian nuclear program with India. However, the west sees China, not India, as the emerging power in Asia, said an analyst. Col Hariharan of India   observed that the preferred link for the west is with China, and China will continue to occupy a larger space than India in the coming years, in the US horizon, regardless of the ups and downs of US -China relations.  US only turned to India when an impasse arose in US China relations.

India is a willing partner in all this. India has ‘great power ‘dreams and is worried about China’s entry into South Asia.  India is particularly concerned about China’s ‘string of pearls’ which is like a naval necklace around India. India sees China everywhere, said an analyst in 2012. China’s extraordinary economic performance over the last three decades has changed things. China has overtaken India in economic performance.  New Delhi must now accept a Chinese presence in many sectors previously considered as India’s exclusive domain.  China on the other hand, sees India as an unstable state with weak leadership, deep religious and linguistic divisions.

India, TIME said in 2014, was once seen as an emerging geopolitical player comparable to mighty China, but today, India’s economy is weak, its vision as a nation is unclear.  It is a nation in decline. A report by London School of Economics in 2012, concluded, that India is not a superpower and will not become one in the foreseeable future. It has too many weaknesses, such as poor leadership, extreme social divisions, poverty and religious extremism.

Standard and Poor said in 2012 that India may be the first BRIC economy to become an economy which is not favorable for investment. India might instead go backwards, rather than forwards to super power status. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has shown advancement. Sri Lanka had the best growth rate among SAARC countries during 2009-2014. In 2013 India’s infant mortality was 41.4.  in Sri Lanka it was 8.2.  India’s ‘Under five mortality rate’ was 52.7, in Sri Lanka it was 9.6. In the Human Development Index for 2015, Sri Lanka ranked 73, India ranked 130.

USA is actively opposing China in the Pacific Ocean and is only too ready to do so in the Indian Ocean as well. To justify this, the US has concocted a new international region, the ‘Indo-Asia-Pacific Region’, which includes the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.  USA keeps announcing that India and China will engage in super power rivalry in the Indian Ocean, very soon. The Indian Ocean is where global struggles will play out in the twenty-first century, said Robert D. Kaplan. In the coming years, Indian Ocean region is likely to become the scene of power assertion, agreed Col. Hariharan. However other analysts say that it is unlikely that India and China will go to war, in which case this war becomes a US invention.

In this invented India-China war in Indian Ocean, USA proposes, like a   savior, to enter the Indian Ocean to keep peace in it. The US, we are told is the ‘only truly substantial blue-water force which does not have territorial ambitions on the Asian mainland.’ It will be the one great power from outside, and will therefore be able to act as a broker between India and China in their own backyard. The US role will be ‘protective oversight,’ policing the region, not winning wars. Indispensability, rather than dominance, must be its goal, says Kaplan, Admiral Harris, Head of the US Pacific command   spoke at Galle Dialogue 2016 about the US partnership in the Indo-Asia-Pacific with special mention of US special relationship with Colombo. He was pleased to see a growing military-to-military relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. US looks forward to working with Sri Lanka as a key force for maritime security, he said.

The relative military strengths of these three ‘Indian Ocean’ powers are of interest. In 2009 Kaplan said it is unclear how much longer U.S. naval dominance will last. At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Navy boasted about 600 warships. It is now down to 279. That number might rise to 313 in the coming years with the addition of the new “littoral combat ships,” but it could also drop to the low 200s given the increasing costs and the slow pace of shipbuilding, he concluded.

India recently launched the nuclear-capable Agni V missile, with an expected range of over 5,000 kilometres. The missile achieved its objective and landed off Australian waters. All major cities of China are now within Indian missile range.  India has naval bases in Andaman and Nicobar Islands Currently about 3000 Indian soldiers trained in amphibious warfare are deployed there. The latest landing ships can carry 10 armored vehicles, 11 armored personnel carriers and more than 500 troops.  However, Agni V is not a surprise to China. India has been working on it for years.

The Indian economy is still one fifth of China and the defence budget is way below, said Karkar.  The Indian Navy is ahead at present, but China is rapidly developing its naval power.  Robert D Kaplan said in   2009 that in the next decade, China’s navy will have more warships than the United States. China is producing and acquiring submarines five times as fast as is the United States. In addition to submarines, the Chinese have wisely focused on buying naval mines, ballistic missiles that can hit moving targets at sea, and technology that blocks signals from GPS satellites, on which the U.S. Navy depends.

The dominant presence of USA and India in Sri Lanka has been noted by the public.   Instead of admiration and fear, there is utter contempt towards US and India. This is due to the political situation in the two countries, particularly   what we see on television. There is no chance now of saying that Sri Lanka must obey US and India because they are superior.

The critical attitude of Sri Lanka to America has been discussed in the first part of this essay. Now let us look at the attitude towards India.  Sri Lankan public is openly anti-India. They say that India has forfeited the respect and confidence of Sri Lanka. Relations between India and Sri Lanka should be based on mutual respect, not superiority.  One side should not be in a perpetual state of superior bargaining power (Editorial Sunday Times 6.6.10) When reminded that India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor, one newspaper reader replied that he wished Sri Lanka was, not 20 miles, but 200 miles away from India. When the International Indian Film academy awards were held in Colombo in 2010, Sri Lankans said this was an attention getting stunt and complained about the cost.  Thirty years ago, a naval rating hit Rajiv Gandhi with his rifle butt at an honor guard in 1987.

The Yahapalana government has tilted towards USA and India, at time when the US is declining and India turns out to be a non-starter.  A country is expected to link with emerging powers not with fading powers. The emerging powers are China and Russia. Mahinda Rajapakse established relations with both.

A new development in US-Sri Lanka relations is the triumphant arrival of the CIA. The CIA has been here for ages, under the ground.  We all know that.  The political NGOs in the island, working in human rights, ethnic studies, social science, women, children, poverty and so on were funded indirectly by the CIA. The JVP was considered a CIA creation.  Until now such support was covert. Now it has become overt. USA is getting more confident in Sri Lanka.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is going to implement a  USD13.7 million programme, called ‘Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project’ (SDGAP), to be implemented by a private US company,  Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI). Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) is said to be one of the largest US government contractors in the world. It was mainly active in Latin America.  Now it has moved from its traditional ‘hunting ground’ of Latin America and is engaged in a program of expansion in South Asia. It is currently managing a USAID-funded Maternal and Newborn Health program in 10 remote regions of Indonesia.

DAI has been speedily denounced in Sri Lanka    as a CIA front. Lasanda Kurukulasuriya described DAI as a CIA front organization dedicated to destabilizing governments unfavorable to US interests.’ She noted that under the terms of the agreement, the SDGAP project is not subject to Sri Lankan law but to the laws and regulations of the US. It does not come under the purview of Sri Lanka’s Auditor General.  She adds that the Auditor General’s Department itself is apparently under scrutiny in another USAID project.

Kamal Wickremasinghe also says Development Alternatives Incorporated is a known CIA front. Its specialty is ‘democracy promotion’.    The pretext of promoting democracy” is a modern form of CIA subversion tactics, added Lasanda, seeking to infiltrate and penetrate civil society groups and provide funding to encourage regime change” in strategically important nations, such as Venezuela.

Development Alternatives Incorporated   carries out the ‘dirty work’ of CIA’s Office of Transition Initiatives(OTI) that sits at the head of a network of front entities which include International Republican Institute (IRI), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Freedom House and numerous others, said Kamal Wickremasinghe.  These organizations are used to transfer US funds to opposition parties and other pro-American groups in countries of strategic interest, using the pretext of ‘promoting democracy’.  The OTI’s charter is to finance the formation of, and deep infiltration of civil society groups (NGOs) for use in their subversive activities including regime change in strategically important nations with governments unwilling to succumb to US dictates.

Wickremasinghe observes that DAI also plans to ‘engage’ with the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration to introduce international best practices into the role of public servants in policy development and implementation. It    will provide technical assistance and grants to support government and civil society stakeholders to address priority laws and policies identified as affecting the rights of women and under-represented groups.  These words reveal, says Wickremasinghe, to the discerning reader, the ulterior motives behind the impending US intervention in our country.

The US is also interested in the Sri Lanka economy.  That is because the easiest way to control a country is by strangling its economy. At the Sri Lanka Economic Forum of 2016, there was a 3 year plan put together by a team of foreign and local experts led by Harvard University academic Ricardo Haussmann. It was funded by Open Society Foundation of George Soros. Soros also participated together with Harvard professor Joseph Stiglitz.  Local economists and social scientist criticized this plan and wanted it dismissed.

Hausmann’s presentation was compared to a power point presentation of a postgraduate student. Hausmann has offered no sound policy alternative to Sri Lanka problems. He has used Venezuela as an example, the participants said. Stieglitz fared no better. His analysis is defective, participants said. He showed no understanding of the country’s needs.  Soros, it was pointed out was here looking to invest, as well as assist the government economic progamme. Soros presence will boost foreign investment, the government said. Soros will set up an office here. Critics pointed out that Soros is a financial speculator who has made his money by manipulating currency markets.   He is the last person we need here, they said.  It was also observed, inter alia, that there were two teams heading to Harvard, each unaware of the other, one from Prime Minister’s Office, the other from Finance ministry, for a Harvard study programme.

2 Responses to “YAHAPALANA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Part 2”

  1. Christie Says:

    Kamalika:

    There are lots of Indians in the West including USA. Then India has tilted towards or is at least in equal status with Russia.

    Look at the last US election where 5 Indian legislators have been elected all Democrats.

    US Ambassador here is an Indian vermin.

    There was no India before British made it and there were no Indians out side India before they joined the British as equal partners in the British-Indian Empire.

    We are an Indian Colony like Mauritius, Guyana. Fiji etc.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Wetta,

    ENDIA is behind Tamil terrorism. USA was not.

    USA was OPPOSED to LTTE. USA took Tamil side AFTER LTTE was wiped out not before.

    List of Endian leaders that OPENLY gave money, weapons, etc. to LTTE.

    1. Inthira Ghand
    2. Rajiv Ghand
    3. MGR
    4. Vaiko
    5. Nedumoron
    5. Semen
    6. Man Moron Singh

    Rajiv Ghand was killed by LTTE-RAW because his wife was an ITALIAN (pro-US) and Rajiv was pro-US.

    USA is no friend of SL but SL’s enemy #1 must be ENDIA.

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