Geneva, Morning After: A necessary Rethink
Posted on April 4th, 2013

Susantha Goonatilake

The week we lost at Geneva was the week the rest of the world was asking uncomfortable questions on the 10th anniversary of the western invasion of Iraq. And Kashmir was on lockdown as the population protested Indian atrocities there, including killings and rape.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was not only Western channels like CNN and BBC but also most of their serious newspapers that were questioning the Iraq warlast week. 10 years ago, the USwas still in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and considered the worldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s sole superpower. In the Iraq invasion,the US returned to its role as a guntoting Wild West sheriff. The decision to invade Iraq was thus taken on fictitious claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction WMD and despite widespread global protest. This was reminiscent of the USƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢searlier falsehood as it went to war against Vietnam (which the US lost) by creating a completely fictitious incident in the Gulf of Tonkin.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Saddam Hussein was no saint but what replaced him in Iraqthrough the US invasion was a disaster. The facts are plain. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have being killed, possibly one million. Iraq society is now in utter disarray and its infrastructure destroyed. Massive bombs are going off regularly. Large chunks of its oil resources and other war-booty handed over to corrupt American and Iraqi politicians. And the influence in Iraq of Iran, the WestƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s bogeyman, has increased enormously through IraqƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s majority Shia population.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Bled by imperial overstretch including in Afghanistan, the US and UK are suffering from financial overreach and are in debt, kept afloat by others, particularly China. Iraq was the end of AmericaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s unipolar moment. In the coming decades, we are transiting to an Asian future and we have to grit our teeth and wait for a few yearsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”a blip in a country with 2500 years of written history. This is a contrast to the 250 years of the US ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” built on genocidal elimination of the then Native American population and replacing it with European whites.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ With this past and present baggage,Donahoe the US ambassadorto the Geneva event had the gall to say that the resolution against Sri Lanka was one of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-peace and reconciliationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and that it wanted ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-meaningful steps toward truth and accountabilityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. We should note that this declining US bully, widely accused of war crimes does not accept the International Criminal Court. To get at the USƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s past and present massive war crimes, just Google ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-US war crimesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and see the Wikipedia entry.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There were no protests in Tamil Nadu and in India generally on the LTTE massacres. This lack of qualms extended toSonia Gandhi whose husband Rajiv was assassinated by the LTTE. According to the Indian government-appointed Jain Commission on the killing, the DMK had been involved in the plot to kill Rajiv Gandhi. Significantly, there were no posters on the Rajivdeath in the Tamil Nadu protests. In the protests in TamilNadu, the most blatant misinformation was a picture of an LTTE atrocity on a Sinhala majority village being carried by protesters as being done on Tamils by our Army. Similarly,anAl Jazeera coverage of alleged Sri Lanka atrocities on Tamils had a film-clip of bones being uncovered by a forensic team. This clip was actually from the recent digging up of bones of suspected JVPers killed in Matale. This misinformation was very much in the tradition of the book once published by the TULF in whose politbureau was NeelanThiruchelvam of the ICES. This book claimed that Sinhalese eat meat of butchered Tamils. The ICES at one time had functioned almost as a branch of the Federal Party and its later director, an ethnic foreign Tamil, was deported for advocating military intervention in Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Just before the end of the war, two Indian ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-academicsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ both of SouthIndian extraction appeared in international channels and wanted the anti-LTTE war stopped. One was Sahadevan from the key JNU University, a strong contrast to his earlier JNU predecessor Urmila Phadnis, a friend of Sri Lanka. The other speaker was from IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s main defence think tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). An interesting contrast to our own unthinking intellectual apparatus was that shortly before;Sahadevanhad been an invitee to Colombo University as a guest lecturer. Although the founder of IDSA Air Commodore Jasjit Singh was sympathetic to Sri Lanka, the current head was recently invited to our Kadiragamar Centre only to preach to us on the 13th amendment. The current IDSA website has an article on why India should vote against Sri Lanka in Geneva. These calamities within our alleged think tanks are not surprising.Not so long ago, key lecturers in the thenKotalawelaDefence Academy were those very foreign funded NGO hacks working against our sovereignty.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was the UNP government of JR which was first humiliated by India, due it is said, to JR being perceivedas a US puppet against then pro-Soviet India. But JR was far more an astute politician than his nephew Ranil Wickremasinghe, the current UNP leader. Western puppets were at one time strongmen but a symptom perhaps of the WestƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s decline is that their perceived agent in Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremasinghe works more like their male call girl. We require a strong opposition in the country. But with a whining weakling like Ranil, ever so ready to go against Sri Lanka, this seems a distant dream.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In 1987 JR had to succumb to Indian gun boats and overflying bombers and sign the colonial 13th Amendment, prepared for him by the Indians. The leading newspaper in the USthe New York Times then editorialized about ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Mr. GandhiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s…. big-stick diplomacy in Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. Another leading American newspaper the Wall Street Journal editorialized that India was like ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-A rogue elephant trampling upon its neighborsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.The London Evening Standardsaid ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-India … is the colonial power in the region today. If the Indian navy had shut off the Palk Strait Tiger reinforcements and supplies, if in fact Mr. Gandhi had behaved with that rigour he demanded from Britain in our treatment of the Sikhs, the terrorists would have been defeated by nowƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Last month the New York Times NYT in two articles written on the Geneva meeting by an Indian noted that in factthe US Geneva resolution ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-would be impeding progress rather than facilitating it.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ The news report also recalled the experience of Jaffna citizens on the IPKF which we should note was called by Tamils ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the Indian People Killing ForceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. The NYT writer said Jaffna citizens were still recalling summary executions by the IPKF. Now advocating Sri Lankafollow a faulty Geneva resolution, this regional bully has yet to implement the UN resolutions passed over 60 years ago, calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. This week, even the docile Chief Minister of Kashmir was complaining in the Indian Parliament about unending atrocities including rape. Apart from Kashmir, we should remember that New Delhi is today the rape capital of the world. A woman is raped every few minutes in India -a strong contrast to China. If you want to know more about this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-democraticƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ India, see the UTube video ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-India Untouched: Research DocumentaryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Business Standard of India commentedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-In Sri Lanka, India has lost the plot to ChinaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. It added ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-If there was a guidebook on ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”How to sour relations with neighbours and lose whatever little influence you haveƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, India is playing it out to perfection in Sri Lanka, yielding ground progressively to China.China was quietly savouring a moment of diplomatic triumph.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Indicative of this changing geopolitics in the world was that Mahinda Rajapaksewasone of the five foreign leaders that the new Chinese President Xi Jinpingfirst telephoned. On his first foreign visit namely to Russia,Xi also emphasized a need to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ a contrast to the big bullies India and US

The other countries that supported us in Geneva includedMuslim Pakistan.And earlier, the Muslim leaders of Qatar and Iran had been received very warmly in Sri Lanka. In this background, it remained very puzzling how a few weeks before the Geneva vote, anti-Muslim sentiment was being heated up. Maldivians who speak a Sinhala derived dialect and consider themselves close to us have been also targeted. A news item reported the President saying ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Muslim countries supported us, however, certain elements here attempted to deny this support ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-.The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with 57 member countries, expressed its concerns about the safety of Muslims in Sri Lanka. If India was trying to lose our friendship to China, some of us were trying much harder to lose Muslim friends.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Some wondered whether there were unseen foreign hands behind the anti-Muslim protests, and Sunday newspapers hinted about a Norwegian connection. Decades ago, before Norway started interfering in Sri Lanka, I had strong Norwegian academic links. And during the last few days I was now asked about an alleged Norwegian connection to anti-Muslim events. The seeming link was in the form of the Norwegian funded Worldview Foundation headed by Arne Piertoff and its ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-YA TVƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ which during the war took anti-Sri Lanka positions. Piertoff himself had been once quoted in the Norwegian press as saying that he was as popular in Sri Lanka as the Buddha and Karl Marx! The allegations of the Norwegian connection were that one of the lay persons associated with the anti-Muslim events had been with this organisation and that the protesting monks were simply pawns. Who knows? Maybe it was only simplya lack of foreign policy awareness.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ As the world shifts towards Asia, we should reach out not only towards China and Pakistan but further afield. But within India itself, there are many groups we could align with, including in Tamil Nadu itself. Hardly anybody in Sri Lanka knows that the original roots of the DMK and Tamil chauvinist policies were an organisation created over 110 years ago in South India for the Indian downtrodden by our AnagarikaDharmapala. In addition in many Indian states, there are buttons we should have played. Our Buddhist background could be used in India, especially towards Dalits – a quarter of IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s population. The Dalit leader Ambedkar denounced Hinduism and became a Buddhist together with hundreds of thousands of the Indian downtrodden. States with Buddhist inspired groups and leaders like Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh; Nitish Kumar in Bihar; the new Buddhists in Maharashtra and new upper-class Indians who increasingly find Buddhist culture attractive could be our natural allies.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ You should not ask our Foreign Service about this soft power usage or the KotalawelaDefence University KDU. Whereas in an Indian SAARC meeting,I was given aplenary on Buddhist soft power,my parallel paperat a KDU conference was included together with one on growing vegetables! And theKDU reviewer who had looked at my paper evidently had no idea of soft power (in use at least for 20 years in international relations discussions). S/he asked in effect what it was. We must reboot ourselves and put our thinking caps.We have much to do to put our intellectual orderand the countrystraight. At very many levels,we are an imperfect society.


6 Responses to “Geneva, Morning After: A necessary Rethink”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “Indicative of this changing geopolitics in the world was that Mahinda Rajapakse was one of the five foreign leaders that the new Chinese President Xi Jinping first telephoned.”

    Way to go!

    Chinese secret service boss visited SL in the last few days. His delegation visited Trinco and Jaffna.

    Chinese miliotary bases should be set up in these places.

    The we can NEGOTIATE with Endia – we SCRAP 13 amendment, Endia takes back ALL Endian Tamils and we REDUCE Chinese military in SL.

  2. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    anglo saxon ungulate, the american variety, is now shivering over korea’s overtones. americans feared the most, the korean soldiers during war times and now the cia and pentagon seems to be a bit ‘concerned’. from the 18th century these anglo saxon ungulates bullied japanese which culminated in testing of uranium and plutonium on innocent japanese. pissed veitnam and lost it. pissed iraq and now realise the folly. pissed and pissing afghanistan and still cannot win. koreans should chase these ungulates from the asian region and chinese should support that.
    for that to happen, we, sri lankans, need to take an active role. part of magampura should be a base for chinese navy. trincomalee, the best natural harbour for submarines should be a submarine base for russians. give a good hiding to indians or as lorenzo puts it endians, from n e w s., to teach the ‘unclean’ indian a lesson and their tiger saks. i hope our dumb politicians visit lankaweb to read valuable articles such as this one. these fools can’t see beyond england, for them england is everything from education to investment. while the english speaking sinhala ungulates harbour english values and see the merits of being english, we expats luckily unconditioned overselves to realise the actual reality of these values, with hidden agendas, from spreading their language and religion and dismantling and divinding countries like sri lanka.
    i think we are just wasting our time here, -anyway it’s a pass time for us anyway.

  3. Voice123 Says:

    Refreshingly positive article about the potential for using “soft power” in India and elsewhere. If we dont learn these lessons now, we will be relegated to history. Soft power, diplomacy and publicity has been largely untapped. Susantha Goonathileke has shown it is possible to advance ones religion and heritage without scapegoating and blaming fellow-Sri Lankan adherents of other religions and heritages. Others could learn from your example. Well done.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    India is set to become worse with the main Opposition BJP following an even harder line of right wing politics.

    Narendra Modi, the architecht of the 2001 anti-Muslim riots has been given a top post in BJP. He is the most popular leader from the rightist Hindutva party.

    Quoted from The Diplomat.

    [quote] Many were surprised, however, by the appointments of Amit Shah, Varun Gandhi and Uma Bharati. Amit Shah, for one, was arrested for his connection to the case of terrorist Sohrabuddin Sheikh in July 2010. After spending a few months in prison, the Supreme Court debarred him from entering his home state of Gujarat for almost a year.

    Varun Gandhi, who shares his surname with his first cousin and Indian National Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, was recently exonerated for giving a hate speech against the India’s Muslim minority during his 2009 election campaign in India’s eastern state of Uttar Pradesh. In his speech, which earned him a few weeks in jail, he threatened to chop off the hands of anyone who harmed members of India’s Hindu majority.

    Uma Bharati, a rabble rouser known for her radical Hindutva ideology, was one the main campaigners for the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid mosque in 1992. The communal riots ignited by the destruction of this important religious site claimed more than 2,000 lives, according a 2009 parliamentary report. At the time of the report, Bharati remained unapologetic for her role in the affair. [unquote]

    Whether BJP wins or lose, they are set to increase their electoral power at next year’s election.

    There is also the added danger of these elements finding willing partners in the island. The current trend of BBS and other splinter groups engaging in extremist activity will be fuelled further. BJP can still do it while remaining in the opposition.

    Concurrent to the rise of Hindu militarism, Islamic militarism will also rise.

    Ministry of Defence must stay on top of things mindful of the likely danger. A needless Buddhist-Muslim confrontation can produce only one winner; India. BJP contacts in the island are not likely to stop at that as they will push their Hindutva agenda violently.

    I rule out any likely connection between BBS and RSS at the moment.

    But unless defence authorities stay on top of things and more importantly unless Buddhist economic interests are protected and promoted, it is only a matter of time the two will join. Government authorities must recognise the fact that it was Sinhala Buddhists who made almost all sacrifices for the peace we all enjoy today and reward them with economic opportunities instead of allowing the rule of the jungle type economic policy that benefits immigrant minorities alone.

  5. Senevirath Says:

    Who is this lay person in B .B.S having conection with the worldview?

    some body plese inform b b s’
    Why not susantha do it ?

  6. Luke61 Says:

    USA, UK and Saddam’s WMD – The Spies Who Fooled the World

    Using remarkable first hand testimony, this one-hour Panorama special reveals the full story of how two very highly placed sources, both close to Saddam Hussein, talked secretly to the CIA via an intermediary and directly to MI6 in the build-up to the war and said Iraq did not have an active Weapons of Mass Destruction programme. But both were ignored.
    In a compelling story of spies and intrigue, deception and lies, key players reveal how sparse British and American intelligence was and how none of the handful of human sources had direct knowledge of WMD production.

    Former CIA official Tyler Drumheller summed up Curveball as “a guy trying to get his green card essentially, in Germany, and playing the system for what it was worth.”[1]

    Now, where did we hear that before!!

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