Wednesday, January 15, 2014
International Relations – Bilateral Issues can get out of control fast if taken lightly
My readers might wonder why I touched on the raging controversy in India over the Devyani Khobragade issue in my last entry. It was simply as a lesson to all of us, on how a small issue badly handled by petty officials pursuing their personal agendas can cause an international crisis amongst friendly nations, that can if unchecked become permanent, as it becomes part of the history of international relations, and thus permanently cloud the budding future diplomat and statesmen on the attitudes and prejudices, rightly or wrongly on a country.
Using this very clear incident, where the minor officials refuse to budge from their stated positions, even after so much water has flown under the bridge, reflects the practice of highly structured countries with a relatively unbiased judiciary, where senior politicians do not wish to influence the commitment of an offence, even if it is by a foreigner on a foreigner, both of whom are on diplomatic passports, with very little dependence on the host country.
If the issue was in Sri Lanka, the exact opposite would happen, where the politicians would directly intervene to safeguard the interests of those beholden to that politician. It is in this context that the murderer of a British Tourist, has escaped after being given bail, and is no doubt being protected by the relevant Govt. politician he serves, this time it is the ex Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha being given a hiding place, by either the President or his family. This blog entry and the immediately preceding one are invaluable for students of foreign policy, and international relations in Sri Lanka to understand how the different systems work.
There is a time and place where a politician who can see the big picture MUST intervene to save the day, as in the US case, before it snowballs out of control, and where they should stay out completely as in the Sri Lanka case, lest it completely smudges the image of Sri Lanka to the outside world, where NOW it seems that the Sri Lanka Govt. harbors murderers from justice, and SO there is no point even arguing if crimes were committed at the end of the war, as peacetime shows a callous disregard for human life.
Let us touch on the sensitive topic for many Sri Lankans, about the unfair allegations ostensibly egged on by the Global Tamil Diaspora to take the GOSL to task for Genocide and War Crimes committed towards the end of the war. The reasoning goes, how can that be when 300,000 were saved, so there was NO genocide, and it was by the LTTE instead, and they should be accountable.
Rapp it seems came armed with the conviction that crimes were committed and they MUST be investigated internally, otherwise there will be an external one. Don’t get the Diaspora involved in this as the issue was one that came about within days of the end of the hostilities where the Diaspora was still in shock, and it was Ban Ki Moon who demanded accountability then. The international lobby do not wish to let it go, lest it seem like they have no teeth to enforce international obligations.
After all the reason why the LTTE were NOT castigated for their mass murders, and grotesque torture, was because they were an internationally outlawed terrorist organization. No rules apply to them, as they are subject to immediate prosecution upon capture. They cannot be now prosecuted, as they don’t exist.
A democratic country is subject to international laws and must answer. Then critics charge, why is the US not being prosecuted for the unjust war against Saddam in Iraq? Or for that matter the daily massacres by drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan! Well good point, but just as there is one law for the rich who can hire top lawyers, even if the laws are the same, they can get away with it, and we cannot. We must face reality!
After all don’t forget the US helped defeat the terrorists, they supplied us with sophisticated technology and as they had spy satellites up in the sky, saw exactly what happened. They know how many were killed, by whom, and so whilst not admitting to spying, know the facts of how the war was concluded. There may be a grey area of the take no prisoners order, where the top ranks of all LTTE were massacred when approaching with white flags, but just think what would have happened if the LTTE top brass were still around! They would be given asylum in some country, and then we will have a permanent threat from them, training new guerillas.
Where the Rajapakse Govt. went wrong was in their nonsensical assertion of zero civilian casualties! If only they had the sense to tell the truth, then we would have been spared all this travail, and if I was a leader, I would have taken full responsibility for the deaths that occurred of Sri Lankan citizens on both sides, as inevitable in the pursuit of the end game, and got rapped in the knuckles for it. Instead Rapp is rapping the Govt. 4 years later holding the reputation of the Country, and its people, to ransom, due to the cowardice of our leaders in not being able to tell the truth. I suppose lying is how they got to their exalted positions in Sri Lanka, and they thought lying is the way to go in International Fora too, and got caught out with little wiggle room left!!