Wikileaks: Bane or Boon? – A Deluge of Treachery – Revealed
Posted on December 21st, 2010

By Eymard de Silva Wijeyeratne- Courtesy The Island  22-12-2010

As much as we are determined to learn lessons through a sincere effort to recall a grim and bloodied past and make amends, Wikileaks has only provided evidence that has been a part of our experience over many decades. Wikileaks has merely confirmed what we had known about how foreign powers have converted naked colonial occupation and exploitation into a more insidious form of intervention that one could call do-gooder machinations. It has now reached a point where foreign elements working under cover of slogans such as “ƒ”¹…”international community’, “ƒ”¹…”co-chairs’ and “ƒ”¹…”coalition of the willing’ will go to the extent of sponsoring terrorism in order to achieve their own goal of domination.

Every nation-state has a right to protect its sovereignty with official secrets that do not violate their own citizen’s right to critical information, and in no way damage the reputation and security of other nations. If a nation is brutalised by terrorist activity it has a right to maintain official secrets relating to the strategies, both diplomatic and military, that it plans to use to get rid of that abomination. To engage in activities that are designed to reveal such legitimate secrets in the name of what is euphemistically referred to as investigative journalism or whistle-blowing is not to be hailed as heroism.

If on the other hand, a state chooses to plot against other nations with the intention of destabilising and humiliating them, revelation of these plots through whistle-blowing becomes a service to humanity. It is my view that we should not over-react in our response to the Wikileaks revelations by going beyond the natural inclination to be inquisitive; because internationally accepted standards of diplomatic immunity do not entitle a host nation to be privy even to garbage that is carried in a diplomatic pouch. Let me put this in another way. When I worked in Doha my immediate neighbour was Kumar, an affable electrical engineer from India. Expatriate officers in the service of government were given the opportunity to study Arabic. I did not make use of this facility because I neither found the time nor the inclination to do so.

 When I asked Kumar whether he was attending Arabic classes, he replied: “No my friend, I do not wish to be aware of unsavoury remarks that are directed at me”. Insulting remarks in diplomatic pouches are best left unknown. In these circumstances we should not be hostile towards Ambassador Butenis but pray fervently that officials, who play the role that she does in the field of diplomacy, develop a sense of shame and propriety. My opinion of her is similar to that expressed in John Keats poem “ƒ”¹…”The Eve of St. Agnes (Verse XV): like “Madeline asleep in the lap of legends old”. Her predecessor too played a similar role by proclaiming that terrorism could not be wiped out with the use of the military option, while his own government was embroiled in military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 These are the words he used in his sermon on Mount Moral, “The expulsion of the LTTE from the East and the recent sinking of several LTTE ships carrying arms and other provisions mark important military successes. But these tactical successes should not tempt the Government to re-consider whether Sri Lanka’s conflict can be won by military means.  It cannot”¦ The governing coalition must demonstrate it represents the interests of all Sri Lankans, not just Southern Sinhalese” A speech delivered at the Seminar “Sri Lanka: The Way Forward” held on 21st September, 2007.

Foreign Interventions

Sri Lanka made legitimate use of the military option to rid itself of terrorism within its own territory, with the use of fair means. The pains, which the armed forces took to provide humanitarian assistance to those fleeing from the cordon of a human shield, in the heat of battle, makes the allegation of war crimes a criminally concocted ploy to embarrass and destabilise Sri Lanka on behalf of what is called a Diaspora. The final assessment is that the USA and Britain in particular have declared a preferential option for terrorism as against the legitimate actions of an elected government to defend its territory and protect its people.

If one takes other factors like the revocation of GSP plus, it is also evident that the Coalition of the Willing, has declared a wider preferential option for getting rid of an elected government in Sri Lanka, in favour of one more amenable to do its bidding. If the quality of governance provided by a particular regime is poor, it is the duty of the Opposition to use all legitimate means of public criticism and persuasion to bring about a change. It has no right to seek the assistance of foreign governments to intervene on its behalf.

At a time when rebuilding the economy and effecting reconciliation between various sections of the country’s population is of paramount importance, the devious attempts made by foreign powers, with the help of paranoid local citizenry, to foster dissension and simmering hatred is depravity that goes by the name of peace-crimes. We are familiar with the battle-strategy of those occupying mountainous terrain mowing down with gunfire, those down in the valley. What we now see is the spectre of those who claim to occupy high moral ground firing bird-shot with peace pellets.

Lessons from Iraq

The invasion of Iraq by the USA, Britain and its allies cannot be justified on the grounds that it was a legitimate response to protect their own security because no piles of WMD were ever found. It is true that Saddham Hussein was a brutal dictator who would not countenance any opposition. He made two major blunders in invading Kuwait and getting bogged down in an un-winnable war with Iran, thanks to the support he received from the USA. Yet, it is also true that he opted to maintain a secular state that was originally sponsored by the Baath party to which he once belonged, but betrayed.

 According to information given in the “ƒ”¹…”Tablet’ (The International Catholic Weekly) of 6th November 2010, at least 45 people were murdered and around 60 injured by a terrorist group within the premises of the Syrian Catholic Church of “ƒ”¹…”Our Lady of Deliverance’. The Syrian Catholic Bishop Georges Basile Casmoussa of Mosul made the following remark to the Italian Catholic Paper “ƒ”¹…”Avenire’ that “most of the deaths were caused during the blitz by the Iraqi security forces led by the Americans” (ibid). In the next issue of the Tablet (13th November, 2010) Dr. Harry Hagopian, Middle East Adviser to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has made the following statement, “Most Iraqi Muslims are not rabid anti-Christian terrorists. In fact, the majority in the past have been – and still are today “”…” peace-loving men and women.

They harbour no ill-will against Christians “”…” be they Catholics, Orthodox, Armenians or other small communities “”…” who have been living in Iraq for centuries and even longer than their Muslim co-citizens”. I can add my own testimony to the situation in Iraq. I have visited Baghdad on at least four occasions. At most times I attended the celebration of the Eucharist in a Church where the medium of worship was English. The priest in charge was a Belgian national. On one occasion I attended Christmas Midnight Mass, along with Elmo St. Jacolyn Seneviratne, formerly of the Foreign Service, in a Church attended by Arabic-speaking Catholics. The Church was so tightly packed with nearly a thousand worshippers that we could hardly find room to stand. There was absolutely no evidence of anti-Christian activity at that time.

Who may I ask stands accused of this criminal transformation of Iraqi society? The moral of the story is that foreign interventions can only cause chaos and seething discontent. Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve was quoted in The Telegraph (reproduced in the Island of 18th September, 2007) as saying, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil”.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Relations

Sri Lanka’s foreign relations plunged to low levels, the moment President J. R. Jayawardene took over the reins of power. He was directly responsible for spoiling the relationship we had with India. However much people may have scoffed at the Non-Aligned Conference held in Colombo, it was an event that put Sri Lanka on the map. This event, though it involved complicated logistics and sensitive protocol due to the arrival of many Heads of State, was handled with assurance and skill.

The embarrassment caused to President Mahinda Rajapakse by the Oxford Union speaks volumes about the decline in our standards of handling protocol. Yet, this does not mean that we can condone the disgraceful conduct of that Union in insulting a Head of State.

Britain has taken up the position that it is in no way responsible for this faux pas, but the fact is that they have let the cat out of the bag. The fact that the British government was by no means perturbed by the cancellation of the President’s address to the Oxford Union is confirmed by its hostile attitude to Liam Fox’s proposed visit to Sri Lanka to deliver a speech in honour of former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. It is by no means due to fear that Mr. Fox may be given the same treatment as the President, but because “Britain wants to maintain pressure on Colombo in light of questions about its assault on Tamil Tigers” (The Island Friday 17th December 2010).

 The warning given by the British government that it could not guarantee the safety of Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda if he was appointed High Commissioner to that country, should be viewed in this context. While I do admit that our conduct of foreign relations has been deficient since the demise of the stalwart, Lakshman Kadirgamar, it is my view that no diplomatic effort could ever induce the United States and Britain to desist from the irrational and immoral action it has taken against Sri Lanka.

While we sympathize with the hunger of David Miliband, Keith Vaz and others for diaspora votes, we need to console ourselves by admitting that their hunger is an Anglo-Saxon variant of Sri Lankan “ƒ”¹…”Manape’. Indian intelligence has reason to believe that Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh may be target of an attack by the LTTE, when he visits Chennai. According to a news report the Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar, has been subject to a body search, while on her way to deliver a lecture at the Missisipi State University. What is the response of the USA and Britain to such disgraceful incidents?

Diplomacy and Hypocrisy

It would be folly to believe that hypocrisy could ever be separated from diplomacy. Since the former is an essential part of the latter, it is purely a matter of refining it to be a fine art that amounts to remembering a woman’s birthday, without ever remembering her age. This skill, perhaps, is one that our diplomats need to develop. Just as much as the use of diplomacy can serve to solve a crisis it is more likely to prolong a crisis, in the manner that the peace-process served to prolong the reign of terrorism. J. R. Jayewardene, the first Executive President of Sri Lanka, who as uncle Dick was perilously enamoured of the exploits of uncle Sam, inserted the tissue of what he called a “dharmishta samajaya”(righteous society) into the Sri Lankan body-politic. It is not for me to judge whether his ideal was sincere or not, but ever since that day, the house-trained and well-groomed human equivalent of pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers have used the sharp tooth of peace-mongering and other sharp practices to tear the polity apart.

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