The type of diplomacy Sri
Lanka needs at this hour of crisis is neither barking Rottweiler nor
quest for a foreign policy, matching 21st century world order.
What if the western subsidized cry of "rights"
for poor countries is not about "rights" at all but rather
the symptom of something else?
Eliminating the "element of
deception and trickery" from our dealing with the west
The day that Premadasa declared the withdrawal of IPKF from Sri Lanka,
one of my learned friends sarcastically said, "Look, this 'Polthel
baba' (coconut oil baby) really thinks that he can get rid of IPKF just
by declaring it loudly from a temple, can you believe this?
In countering his argument I said one sentence; "Watch, Indians
definitely will quit," so they left without even fulfilling their
political and military objectives for the surprise of most of Sri Lankans.
How Premadasa reduced this "remarkable diplomatic feat" of
India into oblivion? Why IPKF had to leave like that, what was the diplomatic
failure of it from Indian perspective? What was the germ that spoiled
apparently well geared up Indian diplomatic action?
It is none but removing the "element of deception" from the
Premadasa's diplomacy in dealing withIndia which turned the whole event
of Indian intervention other way around. This single unorthodox diplomatic
act of Premadasa upseted the whole structure of the design of IPKF intercession,
which based on the fundamental falsehood that IPKF was an invited military
rather than invading force. Although SL does not get any benefit out
of this fabricated lie other than saving the face of JRJ especially
from the Sinhala speaking indigenous masses, according to the design
SL authorities supposed to chant the same 'mantra' of this falsehood
with India. It was pretty obvious that India had never had any substitute
plan to implement if anything went wrong that upsetting the original
plan; such as if LTTE resisted to lay down arms, if IPKF happened to
fight a long war with any party including LTTE or if JRJ's presidency
or the government changed. The frustration of Indian establishment about
their diplomatic failure after the assassinations of Premadasa and Gandhi
LTTE was best explained by the following quotation of Jain Commission
"How India could have acted contrary to the stipulations
in the Agreement?" the Commission asked. "The IPKF was sent
at the request of the President of Sri Lanka and would have remained
in Sri Lankan territory under the Agreement till its tasks were performed
and normalcy returned by disarming of militants including the LTTE,"
Jain Commission report.
But we all knew that Indian forces came not on the invitation of Sri
Lankan President, so they knew that there was no legitimacy as such
existed in reality. This grandiose lie behind this whole enterprise
was maintained by India with the help of Sri Lankan establishment at
It is a public secret that the global power hierarchies are maintained
on a loosely structured "element of deception and trickery"
especially in foreign relations between the west and the rest. And it
is also well known that this trickery remains pivotal to its function.
Continual existence of this "deception" in foreign relations
is heavily depend on certain set of conventions, unsaid rules and principles
usually followed by weaker nations in the name of protocols and etiquettes
in their dealing with powerful nations, in order to continually maintain
such hierarchical structures unabated. If any faction of this power
grid ceases to follow these protocols, then west will know that the
whole network of this power structure will be collapsed.
In such scenario the other option they use to keep the system maintained
is using punitive measures against the nations go against the order
and the discipline within existing world system. In order to tame down
such "rogue" nations and to prevent other nations follow suit,
they use economic sanctions, embargos and even isolation. Currently
the west is busy buying time and building a case using all possible
tools against Sri Lanka through their diplomatic maneuverings and their
prejudice media to push SL issue into the next level.
Going back to Indian intervention, although JR was telling us a fairy
tale such as
extended their hand of friendship, I quickly grabbed it. I invited them
in order to disarm the LTTE, and they will leave our shores when ever
I ask them to do so. Now our soldiers are not dying out there in the
north and the east
But what he never reveled was the story behind the curtain that characterized
so many arm-twisting, threatening and bulling through "silent diplomacy"
cornering JR without any options other than following instructions of
India. West was observing but just did nothing but abandoned this self
proclaimed pet of the west without any mercy. The reason was clear;
the west knew that JRJ was under the custody of Indian administration
at a time when India was doing what west was desired to do in south
Asia, and were delightfully observing the stupid Indian strategists
digging their own grave. Instead of resisting and switching into
a direct diplomacy exposing the international conspiracy against our
nation at that point, JR sought refuge of the so-called 'silent diplomacy'
and brought disaster to our nation.
What JRJ was displaying in this whole array of political events was
the weakness inherited in the historical backwardness of Colombo comprador
class (to which he also was belonging to); perhaps due to their natural
tendency of obedience to authority mastered through almost 400 years
of colonial rule, never saw any need to be diplomatically firm against
external aggression and their conspiracy. (This weakness of Colombo
comprador class once again displayed for the second time, and proved
by another product of the same class, Ranil Wickramasinghe through his
In contrary, Premadasa (a man out side of traditional Colombo comprador
ruling elite, like President Mahinda Rajapakse) was about to open up
the hidden part of the story. In the accepted norms of international
relations, president of Sri Lanka supposed to follow a long process
of diplomatic protocols to get the IPKF out. No doubt Indian calculation
was based on the hypothesis of such procedural engagement. But once
you break this hypothesis, the structure of the rules of the game collapses.
Premadasa knew it. But compradors of Colombo were frightened even to
think about it. That is the anxiety came into expression through my
friend's critique of President Premadasa's declaration of sending IPKF
out through a public speech.
Had he consulted India to negotiate a withdrawal, apparently he thought
that Indians would trap him into a long term diplomatic procedural process
for a pull out; but without giving any chance for Indians to go there,
Premadasa ordered Indians to leave SL soil in a public speech. What
Premadasa did in this carefully calculated strategy was catching them
into their own diplomatic trap taking the whole Indian establishment
by surprise. In disregard to all accepted norms of orthodox diplomatic
standards, this diplomatically notorious act, no doubt alarmed Indian
military establishment the most in the backdrop of Premadas's the other
notorious act of covertly arming LTTE against IPKF. Although 'arming
LTTE' looks so unpatriotic at first glance, it was a gigantic symbolic
'sledge hammer' attack hit in the head of Indian military. That's how
Premadasa eliminated the 'element of deception' from our diplomacy to
handle political turmoil created by the political angel of Colombo compradors
JRJ, and proved that all the political pundits were wrong.
The main similarity in the Indian intervention then and the western
interference now in the SL affairs is the existence of this "element
of deception" central to both. They both (India then and west now)
have something to conceal from world community. In both cases they want
Sri Lanka to maintain a certain behavioral pattern in reaction. In both
cases they had different leverages to handle SL if behavioral problem
Today, in the case of the west, it is even more sensitive since they
really need to protect the images of international institutes they use
against SL. These are the main instruments they use against other nations
in similar situations in other parts of the globe. They do not want
to see and cannot afford to let tarnishing images of their Euro and
Dollar driven institutes such as UN, NGOs, and HR organizations identifying
them with instruments of neo liberal agents carrying out a hidden agenda.
The way currently SL handling affairs in the international arena, the
west must have realized by now that SL wouldn't hesitate to expose the
neo colonial function of these once reputed institutes before the world
community. That will definitely tarnish the images of these once reputed
institutes and also will hamper the function of those institutes globally.
Now we can understand how important role that media can play in this
The whole objective of the western governments to constantly accuse
SL state especially with wide media coverage is to build a world opinion
against Sri Lanka. In order to give that vicious project a credible
humanitarian look they added additional voices to their foul cry such
as UN, HR organizations, and NGOs etc. this brought intended inflated
significance to their voices. It is clear that west apparently think
that ideal situation to handle SL case is to have a direct military
involvement, or a R2P intervention. But in order to do that they must
be able to have a supportive world opinion. As far as we present our
story/case before the world, using all possible diplomatic and the media
channels effectively, they cannot have this support.
West was successful in Kosovo but failed in Sri Lanka,
Western design of manipulating and management of our separatist issue
is at least three pronged; namely, (1) Diplomatic pressure through government
to government relations, (2) Institutional pressure through world bodies
such as UNO and regional bodies such as EU, SL Aid Group, then (3) Public
pressure through intermediate tools such as NGOs, HR outlets etc to
manipulate public opinion through campaigns and lobbing.
The government to government level engagement intended weakening Sri
Lanka's military effort trough constant allegations of human rights,
filling concerns, diplomatic threats, cutting military assistance, enforcing
sanctions and cutting economical aid and business relations etc, etc.
Although seemingly independent but working under the custody of the
west, institutions such as UNO has being used in the effort to manufacture
a case against SL state which outwardly looks like a cases fighting
between world community vs. SL. These affairs revels the strong western
desire to build world opinion against SL through various methods.
Trying to understand this art of presentation of Sri Lankan case
trough European perspective using "semiotics" (signs and the
symbols as elements and systems of communication) that has being used
by the west against SL state is crucial. Their presentation of this
case against us is outwardly looking well poised and loud and clear;
then naturally our response too must be equally loud and clear. Our
media voice must be in full volume to project our response hearable
to the rest of the world.
The much needed breakthrough in the Sri Lanka's struggle of countering
western aggression that is aimed at weakening Sri Lankan state's determination
to defeat terrorism came from two terminal strategic errors made by
the west. First error was their excessive use of economical leverage
into extremes; as a result, SL was forced to look for alternative sources
of economic assistance which eventually removed or otherwise weakened
the effect of the western economical leverage. The second error was,
without proper assessment of the political will of the government of
SL, countries in the entire western hemisphere teamed up to isolate
and take punitive measures against SL even threatening to use R2P, exposing
their unfriendly insidious agendas to destroy the very survival of a
democratic nation. Sri Lanka was cornered against the wall leaving without
options but to hit back for survival. As a result SL looked for new
friends that eventually receded Sri Lanka away from west but widened
our spectrum of international relations and gave us stronger position
Obviously, and not to mention sensibly to handle the economical threat,
Sri Lanka took the stance of embracing the upcoming new realities in
the global economy, in which the regional economical cogs are shifting
from west to east, in our region that covered eastern shores of the
African continent to Borneo, Sumatra and up to China and Australia covering
whole Indian ocean. With the upcoming international port in southern
most tip of the island, this move made Sri Lanka a much important location
than ever before. Sri Lanka will reap benefits of its strategic location
between China and countries in two other continents in years to come.
In this policy shift, SL drifted away from west disconnecting from
western economic leverage leaving the west without any major tool to
handle SL. West had over invested on the notion that SL can be ruled
by the economical sanctions without having any assessment of the sensitivity
and the political will of the government to defeat terrorism. Then they
tried to isolate SL before the world community through HR issues, forcing
SL to recede further away from west. In other words our diplomacy has
been maturing in last couple of months, and now we must plan to establish
diplomatic relations among the nations of all three continents in the
In these changing realities, as I mentioned before, the west is left
without any viable economic or political leverage, other than R2P style
intervention or an invasion style direct military intervention. But
in order to take a R2P style action west must be able to get a resolution
passed in the UN Security Council. But such moves definitely will be
curtailed by SL friendly nations in the Security Council. The other
option is to send a military without a valid UN approval for a so called
humanitarian action in SL like they did in other occasions; we remember
independent nations of other parts, who opposed western sponsored separatists,
are bombed to ashes and their leaders charged with 'war crimes.' Due
to the existence of Indian factor, sending a military force also becomes
futile. On the other hand Sri Lanka has openly declared its position
of resisting in full spectrum in such move. What west can do now is
only making noise using their instruments such as NGOs and HR outlets?
Would ceasing the economical preference scheme can stop getting Prabhakaran?
Not at all! That would be too insignificant to reverse the SL state's
will to fight terrorism. The west has failed, of course miserably failed.
This is the type of political will that comprador class was lacking
to protect a nation with a proud history. This is the difference between
SL indigenous masses and the Anglophone post colonial ruling class in
There is a fundamental truth in the history of mankind. The history
proves that great nations emerged not just by the geographical size
of their countries or by their military might. But by the way those
nations faced, grappled, and tackled their historical challenges they
came across. The determination of Vietnamese people to resist was made
Vietnamese people, barely taller than a M16 rifle, to end their struggle
triumphantly and with dignity. And now, they deal with their archenemy
USA with mutual respect. I am pretty sure ordinary American people respect
these tiny little Asian people for their determination and courage to
stand against suppression and to resist it. On the other hand the current
relationship between US and Vietnam proves that there are no permanent
enemies in world politics. Sri Lankan case is not different to that.
In relation to the current gravity of the international aspect of SL
issue, if we happened to rely on 'Silent Diplomacy' during these most
critical times of our history, especially last few months of our foreign
relations, we could have witnessed white painted NATO tanks and troop
carriers rolling across our streets in Sri Lanka by now. But, thanks
for the different approach of the current government and the tireless
effort of some of the wonderful individuals in our foreign service who
identified the apparatus of the game and (although we are still not
perfect) utilizing the media and all newsworthy venues productively
to counter the ruthless western diplomatic thrust, we are still surviving
as a unitary sovereign nation in the world map.
The other stalemate that we have to overcome is getting out of our
fixation to the reactive mod of action. We must be proactive forcing
our enemies to be in the reactive mod time to time. As an initiative
we can make next SARC summit dedicated for the problem and challenges
of terrorism. In such agenda we can bring the issue of NGOization (the
strategic weapon of the west eroding sovereignty of nations) of our
nations and the national security issues related to it. We can propose
a common legal system to handle such affairs among SAARC countries since
the NGO issue is a common threat to our region. We can extend this type
of action plan among G77 and NAM countries and propose a collective
system and an establishment of an authority or a commission to recommend
collective action to handle these global threats. Although Sri Lanka
looks insignificant in world affaires, SL can take measures to organize
a collective action among world nations in the southern hemisphere to
defy this Trans national project of dissolving nation state for the
benefit of few, very few of the world.
Eliminating the "element of deception" is an essential
part in dealing with the west. Exposing the western instruments such
as NGOs and other international agencies, their mischievous record,
among the genuine international community and challenging their history,
media communiqués etc will definitely crumble the structures
of deceiving game of the west. Let us be more open and direct,
west is hereditarily allergic to openness and directness; it is not
going to be a barking of Rottweiler or licking Pomeranian, but a type
of diplomacy that is loud and clear enough to tell our 'untold' story
to the rest of the world. Remember our freedom is no one's defeat.
Smart rabbit, although it doesn't have nuclear teeth like the fox does,
more frequently win over the cunning fox.