Fallacy of NGOs opposing Dayan’s appointment to Moscow
Posted on July 2nd, 2018

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The predictable response of the 108 individuals and NGOs objecting to the appointments of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka as the next ambassador to Russia is not only deplorable but also laughable. It is deplorable because the criteria on which they oppose the appointment consist of a whole heap of garbage surpassing the totality that piled up at Meetotamulla. This Gang of 108” has suddenly woken up overnight to the necessity of upholding high criteria in appointing diplomats abroad even though they can’t name a single ambassador/high commissioner among the current lot who can match the competence and the qualifications of DJ in protecting national interests” under right conditions. For instance, which one of the signatories will step forward to say that Ranil Wickremesinghe’s aunty appointed to St. James Court in London can defend the national interests” better than DJ in any international fora, combating the macro global forces ranged against the nation?

Of course, this controversy revolves primarily round the definition of national interests” and who can serve it best – an issue which will be dealt with in due course. Until then consider which one of the mediocre appointees handpicked from the pool of yahapalanaya relatives, friends and henchmen can face the challenges that are out there against those serving national interests” at the global level. These appointees may be able to serve the national interests” as defined in the pro-West foreign policy of Ranil Wickremesinghe and approved by the Gang of 108”. The appointment of DJ certainly signals a different approach to the current pro-West policy of the Prime Minister. DJ represents the national interests” that is more close to the President Maithripala Sirisena than the West-leaning foreign policy of Wickremesinghe.

Normally, stable and constructive regimes run on one, undivided foreign policy. But the protest of the Gang of 108 goes to underline that there are two foreign policies : one pro-West policy led by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the other led by President Sirisena which is struggling  to steer a more independent line.

That apart, it should be noted that Dayan comes in at a critical time when the foreign policy is at cross-roads. The Foreign Ministry is in shambles. The Gang of 108”, however, is promoting the idea that Sri Lanka’s image and standing in the international arena has reached Himalayan heights and the return of DJ will bring it down. If the standing of Sri Lanka is as high as the Gang of 108” thinks why is Ranil Wickremesinghe running after China instead of cashing in on the international standing” available in the West? If the standing of Sri Lanka is that great, as stated by the Gang of 108”, would not the Western investors flock in droves to park their dollars in Sri Lanka? Wickremesinghe, in his first flush of excitement as Prime Minister, made a bee line to George Soros hoping he could persuade him to invest his billions in Sri Lanka and save him. He also thought that the national interests” would be served by aligning himself with the West. But he had to do a U-turn and run to China. So how big is the international standing of Sri Lanka”, as stated by the Gang of 108”?

According to this Gang, the invitation to attend G7 in Japan is a big deal. What did it amount to in real terms? It was meant primarily to massage the ego of President Sirisena and not to give him the goodies and services he needs to lift the nation to new heights, or serve the national interests”, as indicated by him so far. All what happened in Japan was to raise his hopes with a feel good factor that failed to serve his national interests”. He was made to feel that he was one of them in the G7 and to impress upon him that he would not be invited next time if he behaves badly at home, or swings too far into the emerging camp led by China.

If the G7 was committed to lift Sri Lanka from the doldrums in which it is now then it is obligatory to demonstrate its good intentions with substantial contributions to help the national interests” without being subject to unwanted external pressures. On the contrary, the invitation to attend the G7, it is clear in hindsight, was to exert subtle external pressure to keep President Sirisena tied to Western interests than to free Sri Lanka to pursue its national interests”, as known at the grass root levels.

Pursing national interests” means, in one sense, the untrammelled right of  a nation to exercise its free will without foreign interventions exerting unwanted pressures. President Sirisena was invited not to give that critical assurance. He was invited to drive home their point that he has been a good boy so far by following their commands at home and not shifting too far into the Chinese camp abroad. They want him to be in their camp and to achieve that goal they have given some patronising lollies to keep him in line. This is thdden meaning in the text of then Gang of 108” when they boast about the international standing and image” of Sri Lanka.

Everyone can agree that the nation has not gained what it needs most after President Sirisena was allowed to hang around in the corridors of G7 powers meeting in Japan. In the colonial era the natives were tamed by conferring on them imperial titles like knighthoods to make them feel that they are respected and accepted member of Empire. In the neo-colonial period they are invited to hang around in the corridors of power with an occasional handshake and a pat in the back for good behaviour.

While patting him in the back in Japan they have been squeezing his vital parts in Geneva. They have refused to let him off the hook on charges of human rights violations. Compare this with the international standing and image of Israel. It is not invited to G7 but it gets all that is needed to protect its territorial integrity and security. The international community” even allows Israel to violate all the known human rights in the UN charter and let it get away with it without any economic sanctions or any other repercussions. Now that is the hard, if not blunt, meaning of obtaining international standing” in realpolitik. It means getting away with impunity even if the UN rises to condemn you.

Symbolic gestures like getting invitations to hobnob in the sidelines do not add up to anything meaningful that would advance national interests”, as understood by the people. In fact, in the case of Sri Lanka the Western alliance has treated the nation with utter contempt. DJ’s highpoint is in defeating the Western alliance and scoring a victory that lifted the international standing of the nation to a brave new world.  He brought home tangible, visible and meaningful results. How many such results have Mangala Samaraweera and Ranil Wickremesinghe brought home as convincing and substantial contributions to consolidate the national interests”? The thrust and the tone in the protest of the Gang of 108” define national interest” as implementing servile policies that serve the Western powers, aka international community”. This is why their protest is laughable, as I said at the outset.

I don’t have the space in this short article to deal with all the issues raised in the Gang’s” protest.    So I have decided to pick only on two prominent signatories – Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, and Dr. Pakiasothy   Saravanamuttu,  — who take the high moral ground regularly to pontificate to the nation and its main political actors on how they should conduct themselves and public affairs on high-sounding political principles, which they invoke and cite interminably, more to show off their familiarity with fashionable and marketable theories than to serve the high end of the quoted principles.

If you compare their past like the way they refer to DJs past it would be clear that the latter has served the national interests” at a commendable level than the mercenary and chrematistic careerists in academia and NGOs. In essence, it is apparent from the tendentious protest that their objections to the appointment of DJ stem from his controversial politics, including his past history, which does not jell with the Gang’s” current political agenda.

For instance, Dr.DJ stands firmly on 13 A without even yielding a decimal point beyond that. But all the signatories, I presume, are for 13 +. Clearly, DJ and the Gang” are in two opposing camps and it is in their interests to keep him out of any strategic position that could hinder or undermine their political agenda. Their protest also reveals unequivocally that they have not forgiven him for undercutting their moves to drag Sri Lanka to the international guillotine in Geneva.

In any case, how can Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu  put his signature to a protest that is  concerned with national interests” when he was leap-frogging from Western city to city in his mad rush to stop the last stages of war against the Tamil Pol Pot, Velupillai Prabhakaran? This leads to a critical question: Is DJ’s blocking and reversing of the Western attacks on Sri Lanka against national interests”, or is Paki’s” desperate bid to save the Tamil Pol Pot against national interests”?  The answer is buried in Nandikadal!

Of course, Paki’s” cover would be to say that he was not protecting Prabhakaran but civilian lives. That is the kind of fiction he spins to maintain his high life style as a whiskey-guzzling party animal. How can ending the war to save the life of the worst killer of Tamils serve human rights? Would saving Hitler in the last stages of the World War II have saved lives?  Ending the war has saved more lives than keeping Prabhakaran alive. Eliminating him was the only way to save human rights and lives, after the failure of numerous peace deals in the 33-year-old war. That Paki” can’t deny!

Take also the case of Prof. Uyangoda. With what kind of conscience could he put his signature to serve national interests” or human rights when he has a record of leading a group of 200 school children to capture Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike dead or alive”? Was he serving the national interest” when he was a part of the brutal gangs that tortured and massacred innocent civilians who disagreed with his brand of fascist politics?

So why drag DJ’s past when he is not guilty of this kind  of violations of human  rights. By the way, this piece should not be read as a defence of DJ’s political tergiversations but only as an exposure of the hypocrisy of the hired moralists allied to NGOs in particular. DJ’s ability to slide from one political pool to another beats that of an eel any day. His shift from Varatharaja Perumal to Maithripala Sirisena would have been seismic if it happened overnight. But it happened incrementally and each time he drew closer to the central national identity. I consider this as a positive sign of maturing politically. His redemption is in coming closer to the people and the ground realities, though, perhaps, he and others may deny it.

Anyway, if you compare the past of the two Gangsters” mentioned above with that of DJ’s past it would be clear that the latter has served the national interests” at a commendable level than the mercenary and chrematistic careerists in academia and NGOs. Besides, the President has decided to appoint him to the most critical place for the national interests” next to China. Even Donald Trump find it necessary not only to mend fences with Russia but also to cultivate new relations as a future strategic partner, if possible, ditching  America’s old allies.

If it is important for the mightiest power on this planet to go to Moscow in person and make  his presence felt, shouldn’t we also send the best man available for the job? And who else can better the expertise of an old Stalinist in Moscow, eh?

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