Mystery - Asia's top defence
organisation and peace in Sri Lanka
--- WorldCity ---
discusions with Wendell W. Solomons
Sri Lanka's problems brought in Norway, a member of the NATO military
block, as peace facilitator. The entry made the country's health depend
on Norway. The entry was once frowned upon by Sri Lanka's neighbours
who saw in it a bid for the deep water port of Trincomalee and this
report must indeed notice a line of fire being formed close to 8 degrees
from the equator that attempts to sever the port away.
Quite in contrast to Sri Lanka's dependence on Norway, Haiti depended
for its security on the United States. In two weeks time the U.S. peacefully
negotiated out insurgents who had captured and held power country-wide
in Haiti for several years.
Tropical Haiti is a yacht-ride away from Florida. In December 1990
internationally supervised elections had resulted in a landslide presidential
victory for Jean-Bertrand Aristide. An outspoken advocate for the poor,
President Aristide cut defence expenditure that had been eating 2/3rd
of the budget of the nation. Yet, in September of the next year the
Aristide government was ousted by a military coup.
A military government led by Lieutenant General Raoul Cédras,
consolidated its grip on power during the next three years. The repression
evoked a wave of Haitian boat people who set off for the US and Canada.
After developing a strategy for action, the United States on Sept.
16, 1994 sent in three men to negotiate with the military government.
The US also surrounded Haiti with aircraft carriers bearing scores of
helicopter gunships and using TV screens, mounted psychological warfare
by displaying its mustered fire-power.
Haiti boasted one propeller-driven military plane. The show of US fire-power
on TV was successful in laying the ground for the Haitian rulers to
capitulate without bloodshed to US negotiators Gen Colin Powell, former
President Jimmy Carter and Senator Sam Nunn. The negotiators proposed
retirement to the Haitian rebels and the latter flew with their retinues
to Panama and the Dominican Republic.
The difference between events in Sri Lanka and Haiti could be explained
(a) the dire condition of the Sri Lankan patient and inadequacy of
Norway as doctor, and/or,
(b) the proximity of Sri Lanka to India - to which neighbour the threat
of destabilisation can flow.
The threat of destabilisation in India through separation of the Dravidian
south was evoked by T. M. Nair and Rao Bahadur Theogaraya Chetty in
1914 against Gandhi and leaders of the Free India movement. The 1914
theory declared that if Britain ceased to 'hold the scales evenly' in
India, the south would separate to form the sovereign state of Dravida
Today India attempts to safeguard its security by balancing forces
of East and West. While India has conducted defence exercises with the
US, India also conducted exercises with Russia.
India is an observer in Asia's large defence alliance that was incepted
by Russia, China and several Asian states in 2001.
Russia's joint tactical exercise last year with India, code-named 'Indra
2005' included live firing. It was held at the Mahajan training ground
in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, and offshore near the port of Visakhapatnam
in the Bay of Bengal in mid-October. The defence ministers of both countries,
Sergei Ivanov and Pranab Mukherjee, watched the exercises.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China are
members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Observers in
the SCO include India and Iran. Pakistan joined in mid-2006. Asking
to link up are Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia.
Taking only the armies of Russia and China, you reach a count of 3 million
officers and men.
That physical count easily balances NATO. Speaking still of conventional
force, not nuclear, India has purchased Sukhoi SU 30 hyper jets. India
and Iran too have stocked up on Sunburn and Onyx anti-warship missiles,
ominous because they skim below ships' radar at Mach 2 (twice the speed
Regional security for the SCO includes fighting terrorism, separatism
and extremism. Its first anti-terrorism exercise was held in Kazakhstan.
Therefore when you look at the map, you wonder why Sri Lanka, which
has suffered bloodshed, has not linked up with the SCO to balance the
large forces that have acted unilaterally on the island.
A closing of a brief report must recall that TV and radio in Sri Lanka
depend for world news on news agencies that editorially fawn upon Western
finance houses. That adds to reasons why information on Asia's top defence
organisation has been kept away from a nation so poignantly in need
of balance for its security.
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