U.S. Embassy’s partisan diplomacy in Sri Lanka (as never before)
Posted on August 15th, 2016

By Daya Gamage – Former Political Specialist at U.S. Mission in Colombo Washington, D.C. 14 August (Asiantribune.com):

Since the advent of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration in January 2015, the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka has adopted an extremely partisan diplomatic / political line never seen – in public – since the July 1960 parliamentary election in which the Embassy funded for the pro-UNP bill boards in every Shell and Mibil Gas patrol stations in the Island with Premier Dudley Senanayakes giant image and using the Saman Press in Maharagama in the out skirts of Colombo to print literature in support of the candidacy of Dudley Senanayake.

Nevertheless, no Chief of Mission or Foreign Service Officers at the American Embassy openly made statements or comments critical of a previous or existing regime. In addresses before accepted forums such as the Sri Lanka-US Chamber of Commerce, American officials accredited to Sri Lanka made un-provocative general policy statements on economic matters, Rule of law, human rights, trade and commerce to make the Sri Lankan policymakers knowledgeable of USG positions on issues to influence changes. There were no personal or partisan references.

Within the portals of the American Embassy, officials developed their own critical views and opinion about personalities of the incumbent regime or previous regime; developed their own perspectives on Sri Lanka’s national issues and the manner in which they intended changing or influencing such issues; identifying selected personalities in the incumbent regime they are comfortable with and targeting potential leaders who could fall in line with American policy agenda.

The opinion, sentiments, perspectives and the developed mindset were never known to outsiders, only to those FSOs who worked within the diplomatic chancery. They were often very critical views on men and matters but only filled the classified diplomatic cables to Washington. And within the portals of Mission, with the concurrence of the State Department, policy planks were developed in what manner, which way, what technique and what strategy needed to influence Sri Lanka’s national policies which coincided with American outlook.

I changed my by-line of this note from U.S. National Correspondent /Asian Tribune to Former Political Specialist of the United States Mission (in Sri Lanka) to get a message across to the American Embassy, especially to its Chief of Mission Atul Keshap, who, since late, has been coming out with pronouncements highly partisan and un-diplomatic.

I have observed, since the advent of the Sirisena administration and the political demise of the Rajapaksa regime, American embassy officials, significantly Ambassador Keshap, have been making public pronouncements how the incumbent regime was formed, under what circumstances the regime emerged defeating the Rajapaksas, the policy missteps of the Rajapaksa government and the enormous progress the current regime made on Sri Lanka’s national issues criticizing the policy planks of the previous regime etc.

For Ambassador Keshap’s information, this writer was recruited by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service National (FSN) in 1970, and after a decade, from March 1980 through June 1994, was the Political Specialist within the chancery’s political section working very closely with successive Chiefs of Mission. The period, close to 15 years, the Mission’s work was intense and demanding as we had to handle two insurrections, one in the north and other in the south.

The trust and confidence this writer earned from FSOs at the Mission during this volatile period, I gained access to classified briefings, sensitive data that filled diplomatic cables to Washington, and, foremost, was in the earshot of sensitive and classified sentiments expressed by the FSOs which included successive Chiefs of Mission. But never had the experience during that time, or even later before Ambassador Keshap arrived, American diplomatic officials expressing undiplomatic and partisan sentiments in public.

I was driven to write this note when I read Ambassador Atul Keshap’s op-ed column embedded in the Political Editor’s Column in 14 August Sunday Times under the caption ‘US Air Force Strengthens Historic American ties with Jaffna’, in which he declared: The United States is committed to the future of all of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s presidential election of January 2015 marked a historic shift in the country’s political direction and made possible a new relationship with the United States. Sri Lankan voters elected a new government built upon the pledge of good governance and national reconciliation and rejected an increasingly authoritarian rule by a government determined to erode democratic institutions”.

Previously, including Ambassador Keshap, a number of American officials have made such partisan / undiplomatic declarations, since the advent of the Sirisena regime, which this writer does not recall any previous American official uttered.

The American Embassy that I worked (1970 through 1994) kept critical thinking within its portal and only went into classified cables to Washington. During my tenure, the USG had its favorites for Sri Lanka’s presidency but, to date, no outsider was aware of those. In fact, during Premadasa presidency (1989-93), we in the Political Section filed ‘progress reports’ every month some of which were very critical. And we were very much critical of the manner in which the Sirima Bandaranaike and Jayewardene regimes handled affairs of the Sri Lankan nation, but we kept our opinion within the walls – within the Executive and Political Offices – of the embassy. The Embassy handled information, opinion and analyses very carefully not to allow any outsider to get even a glimpse of our sentiments.

Ambassador Keshap’s strong opinion cited above is un-American, un-diplomatic and un-ethical to the diplomatic position he holds.

This writer’s experience at a Foreign Service National of the U.S. Department of State working at the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and his accumulated knowledge of men and matters, Sri Lanka’s national issues, international intervention in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs, the developed American mindset toward Sri Lankan national issues, the LTTE insurrection and how the Tiger agenda was transformed to the operative professionals within the Tamil Diaspora as a global diplomatic movement to influence changes in Sri Lanka will be addressed in his forthcoming book Tamil Tigers’ Debt To America: US Foreign Policy Adventurism & Sri Lanka’s Dilemma.

Ambassador Atul Keshap can bet that sensitive-classified material to which this writer had access will be left out, but very interesting analyses will be found. Mr. Keshap should have kept the declaration he made in his op-ed column in August 14 Sunday Times within the portals of his diplomatic mission, as, such sentiments are too provocative to the normal diplomatic practice of the State Department. In Sri Lanka, one never knows which regime will emerge next and how soon. When we worked in the U.S. Embassy, we were always conscious of that vital fact.

– Asian Tribune –


8 Responses to “U.S. Embassy’s partisan diplomacy in Sri Lanka (as never before)”

  1. Christie Says:

    Atul Keshap is an Indian vermin from the US. He is another Non Resident Indian. It is Indian Empire who put Sirisena and Ranil there. Look at the voting pattern. Indian interests managed to divide the Sinhala voters and then Indian colonial parasites block vote delivered the result.

  2. SA Kumar Says:

    U.S. Embassy’s partisan diplomacy
    Our CM walked out from American Air force flight with Americant today at Jaffna remined me Balasingam with Norwegian out from SLAF flight.

    We Tamil know Norwegien left us at Mulivaikal, Where this Amarican will leave us …….

  3. SA Kumar Says:

    Hello Hon CM Viggi ( former Judge) Please do not make same mistake as Bala Anna( English translater ) made …. talk to insider eg: Kandy Mahanayaka, MR, JU,not to outsider , you know at Nanthi Kadal they left us last time ……..

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    It is time that those in the opposition strengthen their ties with countries other than the Chrisitan West as a buffer against these hegemons. Leaving Sri Lanka at the mercy of Western Christian powers will result in balkanisation of our motherland. America desperately wants Trincomalee. They are willing to destroy Sri Lanka – a la Iraq, Syria, to achieve their goals. Time for waiting is over. We need to see some concrete action on the part of the Joint Opposition to oppose the moves of the US and UK.

  5. Ratanapala Says:

    It is time that those in the opposition strengthen their ties with countries other than the Chrisitan West as a buffer against these hegemons. Leaving Sri Lanka at the mercy of Western Christian powers will result in balkanisation of our motherland. America desperately wants Trincomalee. They are willing to destroy Sri Lanka – a la Iraq, Syria, to achieve their goals. Time for waiting is over. We need to see some concrete action on the part of the Joint Opposition to oppose the moves of the US and UK.

    Pada Patras alone will not save Sri Lanka. It is not sufficient to be like frogs in a well.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:


    Given that the US already interferes in Sri Lanka politics engineering regime changes, it is VERY DANGEROUS to allow a large embassy complex in Colombo, and a large military base in Trincomalee, to be created, for that will give them greater means to take control of the entirety of Sri Lanka and impose and sustain puppet governments like the Yamapalanaya in power.

    If we allow these, we are enabling the transformation of Sri Lanka into a permanent US colony, like Panama had been ever since the Panama canal was built.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    Take the Battle to the UN.

    After WW II, the UN was created to AVOID WW III, not to create wars leading to WW III.

    The UN must declare Lanka PORTS as areas for PEACEFUL ACTIVITY ONLY, ALWAYS.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    Ananda, stopping them is very difficult but remains the best option. No political party (certainly not UNP and TNA) even talks about it. NFF and PJHU time to time blames it on their own accord but the JO officially doesn’t try to stop it. No civil group takes it up for fear of retribution. Sri Lanka already has an inter-operability agreement with US military which was signed in 2007 by Mahinda. That is sufficient. USA should be convinced that it is sufficient. On a larger scale USA is keen to relocate part of Diego Garcia base to Lanka.

    Fran, the UN cannot declare ‘Lanka PORTS as areas for PEACEFUL ACTIVITY ONLY, ALWAYS’. It is Sri Lanka’s call. Besides UN is just a cat’s paw of the US.

    Sri Lanka needs a Plan B to resort to if Plan A (stopping USA and India from military basing in the island) fails. We often have only one plan and if that fails we totally collapse. For instance, we totally opposed 13A but there was no attempt to forge a plan B – not make Tamil language an official language. Regional language status for Tamil and 13A provincial powers could have satisfied India.

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