Eid Mubarak - (Photos)

[August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian]

Demotix Images
Thousands of Sri Lankan Muslim devotees gathered at the Gall Face Green to attend Eid prayers marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a ceremony organised under the patronage of the Menon Association of Sri Lanka. Colombo. 31st August 2011

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Mr. Prime Minister: Make media your friend, not your enemy

by. B.Raman

Dear Mr.Prime Minister,

(August 31, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) At a time when even the Chinese have realised the soft power of the media and been trying to understand it, speak its language and make it a national asset and not a national vulnerability, it is disquieting that your Government is reported to be thinking of setting up a small group to deal with issues concerning the accountability and regulation of media in the light of the way the media covered the recent fast of Anna Hazare.

2. The Government seems to feel that the media---particularly the electronic one--- was one-sided in its coverage creating in the minds of the people a larger-than-real-size image of Anna and giving Anna’s movement a projection that was far removed from reality. Many seem to feel that the media also became an unwitting tool of the leaders of the movement for projecting the Government and the political class in negative colours that were unwarranted.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) waits to speak to the media after arriving at Parliament for the monsoon session in New Delhi on August 1, 2011. Parliament's 39-day monsoon session is slated to debate or approve 32 new laws including the hard-fought Lokpal Bill, which if passed will arm a national ombudsman with powers to punish corrupt politicians and officials. India's prime minister appealed to the opposition to help pass crucial legislation on corruption and land acquisition on the opening of a new session of parliament. - Getty Images
3. In the beginning, I myself used to think that the media was playing a pernicious role in providing oxygen ---- as Mrs.Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, used to call it--- to anti-Government and anti-political class elements for commercial reasons.

4. After a half a day spent in the Ramlila Maidan on the afternoon of August 25,2011, I realised that barring certain channels which, in my view, consciously sought to give the movement a distorted projection to the detriment of the Government and the political class, the majority of our TV news channels and print media were largely objective in their coverage.

5. The milling crowds of young people were there for all to see. Their ras-le-bol (fed up) with corruption feelings were there for all to sense. Their admiration for Anna and their disgust with the political class were palpable. Their patriotic fervour was reminiscent of the fervour that I, as a young student, had experienced while attending meetings and rallies addressed by Mahatma Gandhi before 1947.

6. Anna is definitely not another Mahatma Gandhi, but the atmosphere that prevailed during the 12 days of his fast brought to one’s mind the atmosphere that used to prevail at the meetings and rallies of Gandhiji. The disgust of large sections of the youth with the Government and the political class for dragging their feet on the issue of action against corruption played as great a role as their admiration for Anna in galvanising them into uniting against corruption.

7. Large sections of the media did nothing but project this atmosphere marked by disgust for the Government and the political class and admiration for Anna . Yes, the media did use unwarranted hyperboles in its coverage instead of restricting itself to a factual, unvarnished reportage. But the use of hyperboles did not detract from the fact that the ground reality of large sections of the youth in revolt was something historic, the like of which the country had not seen for some years now.

8. It was an electrifying and ennobling atmosphere. Anna and his team of media advisers---many of them whiz kids from the world of the IITs and IT companies--- rose to the occasion and took advantage of the new soft power of the media for giving their movement an extra boost.

9. The Government, its spokespersons and Government- controlled media such as All India Radio and the Doordarshan totally failed to harness the new soft power of the private media outlets to correct an one-sided projection of the movement. If the Government’s version remained untold, the fault is not that of the media. Its commercial machinations alone cannot be blamed for the negative colours in which the Government and the political class appeared.

10.The Government and the various political parties have shown a total disinterest in learning and mastering the various dimensions of the new soft power--- the print media, the private TV news channels, the social media world and the expanding community of netizens--- and harnessing them for correcting the projections to the people--- either of the Anna movement or of the Government and the political class.

11. The fast-expanding soft power of modern media came out loud and clear during the movement. This power needs to be understood, appreciated and suitably harnessed. Instead of learning the right lessons from the role of the media during the 12 days that electrified large sections of India and its youth, the Government’s ill-advised focus seems to be on how to regulate the new soft power of the media. This will be a retrograde step, which needs to be strongly discouraged and deplored.

12. Mr.Prime Minister, instead of remaining confined to an inaccessible shell, get out of it, plunge into the world and sea of the media, learn to speak their language and idiom, interact with them vigorously and encourage them to interact with you and your spokespersons. Media interaction is no longer a one-way street. It is a multi-lane road. Learn to use that road with self-confidence and without complexes.

13. Start today, Mr.Prime Minister. Don’t wait for tomorrow.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

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US Cables Reveal Execution of Iraqi Family

Women and children had their hands tied behind their back and were shot in the head in house raid, which was covered up by the military

by John Glaser

(August 31, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) As revealed by a State Department diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks last week, US forces committed a heinous war crime during a house raid in Iraq in 2006, wherein one man, four women, two children, and three infants were summarily executed.

The cable excerpts a letter written by Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, addressed to then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. American troops approached the home of Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee, a farmer living in central Iraq, to conduct a house raid in search of insurgents in March of 2006.

Iraqi Kurds demonstrate on August 24, 2011 against recent Turkish bombardment of border villages outside the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, one day after the Turkish military said its latest air attacks on northern Iraq had killed between 90 and 100 Kurdish rebels and injured another 80. - Getty Image
“It would appear that when the MNF [Multinational Forces] approached the house,” Alston wrote, “shots were fired from it and a confrontation ensued” before the “troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them.” Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha ( aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.

Alston’s letter reveals that a US airstrike was launched on the house presumably to destroy the evidence, but that “autopsies carried out at the Tikrit Hospital’s morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed.”

The details revealed in the cable are a valuable insight into how many of these house raids turn out. The raids, often carried out in the middle of the night, have become one of the primary strategies of the US war in Afghanistan, with tens of thousands orchestrated just in the last year.

In one notable and comparable incident in February of 2010, US Special Operations Forces surrounded a house in a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan. Two civilian men exited the home to ask why they had been surrounded and were shot and killed. US forces then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of ten, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager).

Instead of calling in an airstrike to hide the evidence, US troops, realizing their mistake, lied and tampered with the evidence at the scene. The initial claim, which was corroborated by the Pentagon, was that the two men were insurgents who had “engaged” the troops, and the three murdered women were simply found by US soldiers, in what they described as an apparent honor killing. Investigations into the incident eventually forced the Pentagon to retract its initial story and issue an apology.

Civilian deaths are a common occurrence in these commonly occurring raid operations. In May, NATO killed another four civilians in a night raid, and another three in early August. No soldiers or US officials have been held to account.

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First woman Attorney General of Sri Lanka takes oaths

by Dulan Hettiarachchi

(August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Shanthi Eva Wanasundera, PC will be sworn in as 26th Attorney General of Sri Lanka before Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha, the President of Sri Lanka cementing a remarkable milestone in the history of the Judiciary of Sri Lanka becoming the first woman Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

She will be succeeding his predecessor Mr. Mohan Peiris -PC.

Mrs. Shanthi Eva Wanasundera was born in Kurunegala during the period her father Mr Hector Jayasena , a reputed teacher who comes from Down South was posted to a school in Kurunegala district. Mr Jayasena rose to the enviable heights of his determined ambition of becoming an attorney-at-law by his untiring efforts in later years. It is inspiring to learn the story of his incredible achievement. True to form, it was the daily routine of Mr Jayasena to escort his daughter Miss Eva Jayasena to the college, a student of the law college for the sake of her safety. He observed the phenomenal engagement of the law students in their studies at the time of his visit to the law College every day. This encouraged him to pursue knowledge and professional articulation in the study of law accredited with the great success of becoming an Attorney-at-Law. Mrs Sumana Jayasena, a house wife and the mother made a dedicated effort guiding with prudence for her daughter Shanthia Eva to rise to the loftiest echelons of legal profession.

Eva’s brilliance in studies was highly impressive from the salad days of her career in school. Beginning her primary education at St. Thomas Girl’s College in Matara, she was compelled to change schools on account of her father’s transferrable profession of teaching. She was fortunate to win a scholarship to study in USA while she was at Dharmapala, College, Pannipitiya. Ending her studies in Sri Lanka she left to USA to further her higher studies under the scholarship at Canyon del Oro High School Tucson, Arizona, USA.

On completion of her studies under the scholarship in USA she returned to Sri Lanka and entered Law College in early 1970s. Her intellectual aptitude stimulated with masterly performance of candescent success influenced her to achieve her ambitious goal of becoming an Attorney-at-Law. She debuted as an Attorney-at-Law at the Gangodawila Magistrate Court followed by the District Courts in Mt.Lavinia and Colombo. It was significantly a special feature to note that all relative legal matters under her purview were handled by herself.

She joined the Attorney General’s Department in 1979 as a State Counselor. Subsequently she served as the Senior State Counselor, Deputy Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General and Solicitor General. It is a spectacular scenario of ascendance to higher rank as the first woman Senior State Counselor, first woman Deputy Solicitor General, first woman Additional Solicitor General and the first woman Solicitor General of Sri Lanka in her resplendent career of this noble legal profession.

Eva Wanasundera served as the Acting Attorney General 16 times.

She is also master degree holder of Law of the University of Leicester United Kingdom. She mastered trade law for her LLM degree. Being a professional and senior official of Attorney General Office, she represented Sri Lanka in key conferences overseas keeping Sri Lanka flag high.

She is married to Mr. Indrajith Wanasundera, a well renowned businessman in Ratnapura. Their son Subodha lives in Australia with his wife Chandani and daughter Medanee is in USA for higher studies.

( The writer, Media Consultant, Ministry of Justice.)

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Was Gandhi's killer a terrorist?

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(August 31, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) On 29 August 2011, Sri Lanka Guardian published the statements of Confession by Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s Killer. The article says ‘Such was the power and eloquence of this statement that one of the judges, G. D. Khosla, later wrote, “I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought a verdict of ‘not Guilty’ by an overwhelming majority”’

Godse said ‘In fact, honour, duty and love of one’s own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust. I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and, if possible, to overpower such an enemy by use of force. [In the Ramayana] Rama killed Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita.. [In the Mahabharata], Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite a number of his friends and relations including the revered Bhishma because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed a total ignorance of the springs of human action.’

The path taken by Gandhi seems different to the path taken by Arjuna under the Guidance of Krishna Himself. But to me in essence they, like different religions, led to the same goal. This is an important issue in deciding whether or not a person is a rebel or a terrorist? As per today’s Bigpond News – Wikileaks has revealed that six women living in Australia were on the ‘terror list’. I was immediately concerned for the safety of some Women Tamil Activists close to the Tamil Tigers. To me – if they were Terrorists – I would feel concerned about being infected by them through our common belief. I have NOT felt that way with these women.

If indeed the Government of Australia suspected these women of Terrorism, why did it not take official action against them – at least through their Community leaders? I ask Godse the same question – ‘why did the Indian or British Governments not take action against Gandhi as if he were a Terrorist – which you made him out to be and hence deserving the death sentence?’ One has to have majority vote to have the body of Government; One has to be conscious of leading all people in common to have the mind of Government.
Rama as well as Krishna were born into the ruling class. Likewise Arjuna. They were apparently groomed to be kings whose duty it was to fight physically to protect their people. Gandhi’s parallel was the Law and Gandhi did use the Law as a Civilian to fight against his Opponents – sometimes by consciously acting in breach of the law he considered to be inappropriate for his people. But Gandhi assessed and judged himself before anyone else did. That was the strongest indicator of his sense of Independence.

Gandhi’s family extended far beyond his biological family due to this self-assessment, transparency and accountability. Gandhi was first accountable to himself. At the end of the day – that is the only one that counts once we step out of official positions.

Godse stated ‘Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal duty inasmuch as he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled before Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless.’

We go through different stages vertically and at the highest level we reach, we are naturally affected by all below that level, affected by our actions. It’s like the Natural CEO position. Gandhi would have gone through not only Godse’s level but also the level of the Judge G. D. Khosla who identified with Godse’s interpretation of Gandhi’s actions which seemed to him to favor Muslims above Hindus. To me, this is not different to me acting to support Sri Lankan Administrators who are largely Sinhalese. Given that I am naturally Sri Lankan, I would naturally go with another Sri Lankan. In Administration, where many are Sinhalese, I could be seen by a Tamil – especially a pro-LTTE Tamil – to be on the side of the enemy/opposition. In fact, this is the dilemma faced by Sinhalese politicians who form Government in Sri Lanka. Just and Fair allocations of Resources to Tamil areas are likely to be seen as being ‘pro-Tamil’ and anti-Sinhalese by the ordinary voter.

Gandhi’s strongest virtue was his sense of independence. Hence he assessed and judged himself. His discipline in daily life was his punishment which helped him accept the legal sentences against him as accumulated confirmations of his own discipline. One who assesses and judges her/himself is an independent person and v.v.

At his level Godse was also independent. But his development ceased at his Hindu Community level – similar to today’s Muslim and Tamil rebels. Gandhi’s was Global and hence he included Muslims in Pakistan as part of his world. Recently, I wrote to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner for Australia as follows to highlight the need to express beliefs from within our boundaries – including Government Boundaries:

‘The adjectives ‘fearless and ruthless’ describing respectively the President (your boss) and the Tamil Tigers (your opposition) confirm that you seek to get credits for your side, subjectively. Majority members of Tamil Diaspora would not identify with the above descriptions and in fact would use it in reverse order. If we are to therefore work towards harmony, we need to express from within our respective borders.

I submit that Belief and Conscious Merit are the legitimate bases for allocating rights and wrongs. Under the belief system – as in family - we feel that we/our leader are/is ‘right’ for us. We have every right to defend ourselves on the basis of belief but do so within the borders of the group/community that generated/facilitated the development of that belief. Only the net outcome of the group/community after offsetting positives against negatives needs to be published for the use of wider world. A community that does that about itself irrespective of whether it would be seen as positive or negative by outsiders – is a truly democratic community. All others have to have earned a higher position than the community to publish the outcome without showing the merits of it or consciously show the merit based assessment.

Under merit basis, our statements in this particular context need to be measured through Global Standards and not even Sri Lankan standards, leave alone Sri Lankan Government Standards.

As an Australian of Sri Lankan origin said recently – the Government is not the only avenue through which we can serve Sri Lanka and the world through this issue. Hence it is important to use Global Measures to take credit or give debit.’

Gandhi was a citizen who grew taller than any Government Official of his day. Not so Godse. Yet, due to an active mind that worked faster than his belief Godse seems to have related through the visible outcomes instead of identifying with the root. To my mind, unlike Gandhi, Godse failed to discipline himself enough to reach the Indian level; instead stagnated at Hindu level but carried the name Indian. This is similar to many Sinhalese leaders carrying and using Sri Lankan name even though they stagnate at Sinhalese level. Likewise Tamils.

Godse to my mind, is a terrorist because he killed ‘outside/beyond’ his circle of belief, while claiming to be Indian and therefore claiming to be deserving to be physically close to Gandhi. Likewise every Tamil and every Sinhalese who killed Sri Lankans outside/beyond merit basis, or whose actions resulted in the death of even One Sri Lankan.

My advice to those who seek to rebel is to ‘ensure that from day one – your actions are transparent and you either believe that they are right for you and your society, and you have accumulated enough discipline to accept without agitation, any punishment by the law enforcement authorities’. If those who claim to be rebels act outside their circles of belief but without consciously using merit basis – they carry the risk of their actions damaging others and hence carry the risk of returns that cannot be managed by them to complete the experience. Completing the experience helps us develop to the next stage.

Helping Muslims was well within Gandhi’s circle of Belief. It was not Godse’s.

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Libyan lessons for Lanka

by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

(August 31, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) Influential individuals in the West have begun to refer to Sri Lanka in the same texts, indeed the same paragraphs as Libya. Take for instance, an article in perhaps one of the two most influential publications of world affairs, the Foreign Affairs Quarterly, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the oldest and most respected think tanks on global affairs. The essay dated August 26, 2011, is by Stewart Patrick, a former Policy Planning Staffer of the US State Department, currently a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council itself. Entitled ‘Libya and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention’, the article deals, as the subtitle indicates, with ‘How Qaddafi’s Fall Vindicated R to P’. In a particularly ludicrous but pernicious passage, he writes: "...To be sure, the atrocities Qaddafi orchestrated in Libya prior to the intervention pale in comparison to those committed during the course of other recent violent conflicts. In Sri Lanka, for example, the government killed thousands of civilians while finishing off the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. And forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have raped tens — or perhaps hundreds— of thousands of women over the past decade to sow terror..." (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68233/stewart-patrick/libya-and-the-future-of-humanitarian-intervention, published on Foreign Affairs http://www.foreignaffairs.com)

Reuters Pictures
A caricature depicting Muammar Gaddafi is seen in Tripoli August 30, 2011.
Stewart Patrick provides a valuable service by drawing our attention to a brand new policy document of cardinal importance that takes the doctrine of R2P to the next level. He discloses that ‘Lest one imagine that the Libyan case is a one-off, on August 4 the Obama administration released the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities (PSD-10). The directive defines the prevention of mass atrocities as both "a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." PSD-10 is a groundbreaking document and represents a huge victory for NSS Senior Director Samantha Power, a leading administration hawk on Libya. The PSD-10 recognizes a simple truth: the United States will inevitably confront atrocities that cannot be ignored. The directive expands the menu of policy options available in such cases, which should range from complete inaction to sending in the marines. This escalatory ladder is meant to encompass preventive diplomacy, economic and financial sanctions, arms embargoes, and ultimately coercive action. Realist critics have bemoaned it as a blueprint for interventionism run amok, anticipating meddling in foreign conflicts on a grand Wilsonian scale.’

What are the lessons of Libya for Lanka? The main lesson derives from the very essay that makes the ludicrous and dangerous mention of Sri Lanka. Listing the reasons for the success of the Libyan intervention as a case of R2P, author Stewart Patrick reminds us that "...Qaddafi...had managed to alienate...his erstwhile Arab and African allies...the members of the Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Gulf Cooperation Council all endorsed the UN’s declaration of a no-fly zone over Libya, including the use of "all necessary means" to prevent mass atrocities."

The famous analyst–commentator on CNN, author and former editor of Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria makes quite the same point in his August 23rd essay on Libya, captioned ‘A New Era in US Foreign Policy’. He lists as the second most crucial factor in the success of the Libyan intervention, "Locally recognized legitimacy in the form of the Arab League’s request for intervention".

The lesson here is manifestly clear, especially when viewed against the success of Zimbabwe in warding off, with the support of influential large neighbour South Africa, a campaign of ex-colonial Western hysteria. De-stabilisation, hegemonic intervention and regime change are possible only if there is a breach in the wall of neighbourhood solidarity. Already in the sub-region, comprising Sri Lanka’s ‘greater Northern’ neighbourhood, voices of redolent of ancient animosity are being raised.

All defence of sovereignty must entail the solid building or rebuilding of regional and neighbourhood solidarity, especially the support of large influential regional players. Everything that helps such support from the neighbourhood is truly patriotic, while anyone and anything that damages, retards, delays, or dilutes such support; anything that opens or widens a breach in the wall of neighbourly cover and protection, only supports the interventionists, even if it views itself in a grotesque misunderstanding, as the acme of patriotism and nationalism.

Is there a place for deterrence in Sri Lanka’s strategic options? Our Northern borders are acutely vulnerable for two reasons and from two types of threat, which may interact: a disaffected minority adjacent to a historically hostile and intervention prone area, and exposure of our assets and dispositions to stand-off weapons and aerial strikes. Our advantages lie in a large, patriotic population, a tough armed forces and a proven capacity to fight even in the demographically inhospitable North. A credible deterrent or ‘second strike’ capacity would entail the possibility of protracted asymmetric warfare along a long ‘border’.

This must involve the offsetting of our Northern vulnerability with a strategic reconfiguration of the adjacent Eastern province, in a manner that makes it solidly defensible or a credible jumping off base for Northern operations.

Our deterrent capacity cannot depend upon a vastly expanded army of almost half a million, as a former commander mistakenly called for, because the economic costs would sink the country. Nor should anyone envisage compulsory national service in the form of a draft because the USA itself learnt to its bitter social cost that the best army is an all-volunteer army. However, a recent successful experiment has been conducted in Sri Lanka with the armed forces’ support, for an orientation course of university entrants. In preparation for a worst case scenario, that model could be expanded to provide a huge youth/student populace, including women, trained in the use of weapons, and which could make any invader, secessionist or irredentist puppet regime (and its ‘rebel army’) bleed from death by a thousand cuts. As Fidel Castro once said when Cuba was under threat of intervention, "we shall arm even the cats!"

Sri Lanka must protect itself against two erroneous schools of thought, both of which sin against Realism. One fails to comprehend the basic conflict of interest between Sri Lanka’s national interests and those states that call for so-called accountability hearings. These states are driven by Tamil Diaspora lobbies, contempt for national sovereignty (except for their own) and an emerging Cold War competition with China. The pseudo-pragmatic school of ‘professional’ capitulationists and appeasers fails to perceive the threat from this quarter, the zero–sum nature of the game and the requirement of global resistance. The other school of thought that sins against Realism is that of those who fail to understand the imperative need for compromises and concessions on the secondary and the tactical, so that a strong protective ring can be reconstructed on our perimeter, i.e., our neighbourhood, thereby protecting that which is essential: Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and the gains of the historic military victory.

In the final analysis though – and that final analysis may be closer than one thinks—the most durable defence against interventionism is by simultaneously changing our ‘target profile’ and ‘target hardening’. This can be done only by repairing our internal fragility; removing the discontent and disaffection of the minority at our strategically sensitive Northern periphery. But can that be done and how can it be done? The best answer is in The Fear of Barbarians by Tzventan Todorov, Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique (CNRS), Paris. In this book, described by the great scholar of international relations, Prof Stanley Hoffman of Harvard and Science Po, as "more than a masterpiece, [it is] a treasure", Prof Todorov speaks of the need to replace or transform an ethnocracy into a modern democracy: "a modern democracy is to be distinguished from an ethnocracy, i.e., a state in which belonging to a particular ethnic group ensures you of privileges over the other inhabitants of a country; in a democracy, all citizens, whatever their origin, language, religion or customs enjoy the same rights." (p 67)

Could any imperative be more patriotic? Could any patriotic task be more urgently imperative?

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Terrorism and international business

Looking back and striving forward

A firemen rest his helmet with the American flag in his lap during a break from the search and rescue mission at the World Trade Center 13 September 2001 in New York. Rescue and cleanup continues after the twin towers were destroyed 11 September by terrorist in hijacked commercial aircraft. - Getty Image
by Michael R. Czinkota, Gary Knight, Gabriele Suder

(August 31, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The airplanes of 9/11 forced countless multinational corporations (MNCs) to update their strategic planning. Our work with executives at more than 150 MNCs shows that ten years later, companies are still grappling with how best to manage the terrorist threat.

In the two decades before 2001, the rate at which firms launched international ventures was growing rapidly. After 9/11, foreign direct investment fell dramatically as firms withdrew to their home markets. The popularity of international-sounding company and brand names decreased appreciably as managers now emphasize domestic and local affiliations.

The tendency to reverse course on globalization has been accompanied by declining international education in the United States, as revealed by falling enrollments in foreign language and international business courses. In the past decade, managers shifted much of their focus from proactive exploration of international opportunities to a defensive posture emphasizing threats and vulnerable foreign operations.

In Europe, the radicalization of individuals and groups, motivated by ideology, religion or economic concerns, threatens local cooperation and social harmony. European business schools have benefited from tighter restrictions on international student enrolments in the U.S., but the focus of teaching has shifted from global to regional trade.

Another outcome of the terrorism threat has been a rise of public-private partnerships, in which governments and firms collaborate to counter them. For example, global police agencies now partner regularly with private firms to combat cyber crime and attacks on critical computer infrastructure. Governments and activist groups now use social media to organize campaigns fighting against threats ranging from dictators to disease. But nations also have begun to curtail social media when they are contrary to government interests.

The cost of protecting against terrorism is many billions, while terrorist spend millions or less on their actions. There are abundant opportunities for small groups to employ nonweapon technologies, such as aircraft, to cause massive harm. Though our capacity to protect key facilities has improved over time, the security focus on high-value assets encourages terrorists to redirect their violence at “soft targets” such as transportation systems and business facilities. Greater security at home means attacks will increasingly take aim on firms’ foreign operations.

Companies have placed more emphasis on terrorism risk considerations when choosing how to enter foreign markets. In the last century, foreign direct investment (FDI) was the preferred approach. But terrorism has shifted the balance. Now many more firms favor entry through exporting, which permits broad and rapid coverage of world markets, reduces dependence on highly visible physical facilities, and offers much flexibility for making rapid adjustments. In terms of economies of scale and transaction costs, FDI is generally superior, but the risks of exporting are judged to be lower. Markets tend to punish failure more harshly than they reward success, which makes risk-minimizing strategies more effective.

Skillful management of global logistics and supply chains cuts the risk and cost of downtime. Firms seek closer relations with suppliers and clients in order to develop more trust and commitment. Some have increased ‘on-shoring’ by bringing suppliers back into the country when their remoteness constitutes risk.

Terrorism causes an organizational crisis whose ultimate effects may be unknown, and poses a significant threat to the performance of the firm. Corporate preparedness for the unexpected is a vital task. Innovative managers develop back-up resources, and plan for dislocations and sudden shocks with a flexible corporate response.

Terrorism is a public threat, and some managers believe government should bear the cost of protecting against it. Others argue that a public-private partnership is the most effective approach, with firms taking the lead. There is also the issue whether corporate headquarters or the locally exposed subsidiary should fund prevention and preparation expenditures. Regardless of who pays, everyone can agree on the need to guard against terrorism.

Every world region is vulnerable, and most attacks are directed at businesses and business-related infrastructure. Terrorism requires decision-making and behaviors that support vigilance and development of appropriate strategies. Managers who fail to prepare run the risk of weaker performance or even loss of the firm. While we can no longer choose the lowest cost option, ten years after 9/11 companies are more aware, less exposed, and less vulnerable to the risk of terrorism. But in the next ten years comes the really big task: What can and should we do collectively and individually to reduce the causes of terrorism.

Michael Czinkota teaches international business in Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. He is a former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prof. Gary Knight works at Florida State University in Tallahassee on international marketing in Japan. Gabriele Suder holds the Jean Monnet Chair at SKEMA Business School in France.

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The killing fields also the playing fields of uncivilized barbarians

One of the biggest mistakes that these uncivilized barbarians make is that they under estimate even the basic intelligence of the others.
by Subran
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to,the Sri Lanka Guardian)

(August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
Fertilised by the flesh and blood of the tens of thousands of the Tamil civilians massacred during the closing stages of the racist war against the Tamil people in early 2009 with the connivance of India, Pakistan and China, we are now told that the northern areas in Sri Lanka the traditional homelands of the Tamil people have yielded very good agricultural returns in rice and vegetables. Agricultural lands becoming increasingly fertile in the aftermath of a major war where there wholesale massacre is not a new phenomenon. In East Timor nearly 65,000 were killed during the Second World War by Japanese bombings and the land became fertile. Likewise lands in the Pacific islands that suffered the same fate are said to have become fertile in similar unwarranted massacres of tens of thousands of people such as in the main island of Tarawa which was subjected to constant bombings by the Japanese.

In the instant case of Sri Lanka, we are looking at the area of the Vanni where more than 40,000 Tamil civilians were massacred in the guise of defeating Tamil militancy led by the LTTE where it was thought that the only way to defeat the LTTE was the wholesale decimation of the Tamils, men women, infants children, the old the disabled and the infirm. We are not going into the details of the Tamils being lured with Indian complicity over a period of one year into areas most vulnerable only to be eventually destroyed in their tens of thousands. Tamil militancy arose in desperation in consequence to decades of the Sri Lankan State terrorism.

The killing fields in early 2009 became the happy hunting grounds for the tribe of uncivilised barbarians headed by the Rajapakse family. Here we have to distinguish the uncivilized barbarians from the civilized. For instance, in the early middle ages the Goths and the Ostrogoths marauded and pillaged parts of the Roman Empire, yet history looks at them as civilized with Theodoric the Great being referred to as a civilized barbarian. We are now in the twenty first century where these barbarians act within a culture of absolute impunity.

The massacre of the Tamil people during the early 2009 should be viewed in the light of the Gobellsian doctrine of the defence secretary Gota abhaye, the brother of the President Mahinda Rajapakse, the most cantankerous of them and a human version of the Tasmanian devil, now turned a political philosopher who declared at the very outset that anything was fair in war. This was a war waged by the Sri Lankan government against their own people whom they claimed they sought to protect.

It must be remembered that the massacre of the civilian Tamil people as the only way of vanquishing the LTTE was done with the blessings of the venerable Buddhist priests. The Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka are a law unto themselves. Although Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist there is not a single Tamil who is Buddhist not because of its founder and his philosophy but because of the manner in which the majority of the monks have been behaving. Suffice it to say, that a former prime minister SWRD Bandaranaike who introduced the Sinhala language as the only official language and gave Buddhism its pride of place was killed in September 1959 by a highly politicized and powerful Buddhist monk who was his very close associate. He was convicted along with his accomplice another Buddhist monk for the murder.

Since then the monks have become powerful having graduated into gaining places in the parliament on chauvinistic policies. There is the case of a former monk parliamentarian, who we are told is now being tried for sexually molesting teenage novices aspiring to become monks. There are also cases of some of these brand of parliamentarians using violence against each other requiring immediate hospitalization for example the case of squeezing the scrotum of another monk parliamentarian. In response to the BBC Channel 4 programme the “Killing Fields” it was said that a monk had produced another Video, the first of those to be produced to refute the BBC documentary with dialogues in the Sinhala language dubbed in Tamil to indicate that the barbaric crimes were committed by the Tamil militants. The Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka are famous for producing fake documents including counterfeit currency notes for which they had been found guilty at a time when there was a clean justice system. There will soon be a series of other videos trying to contradict the Channel 4 BBC documentary. The more they try to counter this the more they put their feet in where their mouths are.

One of the biggest mistakes that these uncivilized barbarians make is that they under estimate even the basic intelligence of the others. The Chinese race that consider themselves the most civilized and cultured on this earth are on a mission to enslave these uncivilized barbarians permanently. The principal tragedy is to provide spending money to their leader and pocket money to the heir apparent. Unlike in a true democracy in a dictatorship this is easily done. You buy up the leader and rest are your slaves. When the uncivilized barbarians wake up to this it would be too late for they would realise that they are slaves, thanks to India.

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The Gun and the Political Solution

by Izeth Hussain

(August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The purpose of this article is to establish that in trying to get out of our ethnic imbroglio one factor, and only one, really counts: the gun. By "gun" I refer to power in the political realm, meaning the whole range of hard power and soft power that can be deployed by antagonists. The crucial question at the present juncture is this: can the "international community" which in the present context really means the US, the EU, their allied powers, and India, deploy power against Sri Lanka of a sort that is unacceptable to the Government because it is too harmful to the national interest? If so, the Government has no alternative to stop shilly-shallying and really moving towards a political solution. In the alternative, if that is the deployment of power against us will be bearable, not something really harmful to the national interest, the Government can continue with its dilatory tactics in pursuit of a strategy of what I wound call "a peaceful solution through a process of attrition". I have in mind a process in which dilatory tactics will hopefully lead to a peaceful solution with our Tamils coming to be satisfied with the blessings of economic development and a reasonable measure of fair and equal treatment. This seems to be the Government’s strategy at present. Either way the gun will be the final determinant: either we proceed towards a political solution now because we cannot withstand the guns of the international community, or our Tamils accept the diktat of the Government because they cannot withstand the guns of the Government.

Our relations with the West have been troubled, indeed seriously troubled, for some time.
I am not basing my argument on a crude notion of realpolitik in which only power counts and morality not at all. Human beings have a moral sense, and all human societies are organized around moral systems, however crude and rudimentary they may be. It even becomes arguable – for reasons that cannot be explored here - that the moral sense is part of the human equipment for survival. Anyway morality cannot be kept out of politics. The problem is that it sometimes counts to the extent of determining outcomes, and sometimes not at all. It determined the outcome in the Vietnam War which ended with the ignominious withdrawal of the US despite all its power because the moral sense of too much of humanity was outraged. But it didn’t count at all in the more recent case of the aggression against Iraq or the Russian savaging of Chechnya. My argument is that in the case of the Sri Lankan ethnic imbroglio what will determine outcomes at the present juncture – I repeat, at the present juncture – is the gun.

I will now make some observations on the inter-play between power and morality in connection with our ethnic imbroglio. I will first take the "international community" which in the present context effectively consists of two components, one of which is India and the other the US, the EU, and their allies. Their interests in the ethnic imbroglio are not identical, but there is a conjunction of interest between them: India wants a lasting political solution because in the alternative problems of a potentially serious order can arise between Delhi and Tamil Nadu, while the West wants it as part of the promotion of a new world order in which the West is willing to accord India a role as one of the leaders. In an earlier article I postulated a benign conspiracy between the US and India for which Ban Ki-Moon was used as a puppet, resulting in the infamous Darusman report, the purpose behind which was to pressurize the SL Government into moving towards a political solution.

India’s involvement in our ethnic imbroglio arises out of the Tamil Nadu factor, as I have stated above. Therefore the Indian involvement should not be seen as interference, and that is evidently the position of the international community. However, although the involvement may be legitimate, it could take forms that amount to interference and are morally unacceptable. Here we enter into a grey area in which there are no rules to guide us, and therefore we have to use our commonsense and our moral sense. On that basis, I would say of the 1987 Peace Accords that the arrangements for devolution were legitimate and morally acceptable, but not the arrangements relating to India’s strategic geopolitical concerns. However, at that time India’s international status was uncertain whereas now India is internationally accepted not just as a regional great power, but as a great power which will participate in the shaping of the New World Order. I expect India therefore to show a greater sense of responsibility than in 1987, a greater sense of its international obligations, and a greater unwillingness to forsake the moral high ground. However, we have to always bear in mind the factor of the "gun" in our relations with India. The unchangeable geographical reality is such that no great power will intervene militarily to save Sri Lanka against India. It means that India, in a worst case hypothesis, can with impunity impose a Cyprus-style "solution" to our ethnic problem, if it so wishes. I believe that it was this fact of our total vulnerability to India that former Pakistan President Zia ul-Haq – one of Sri Lanka’s greatest friends – had in mind when he used to warn us, "If you try to solve your ethnic problem against the wishes of India, you will sink into a bottomless pit."

Our relations with the West have been troubled, indeed seriously troubled, for some time. Admittedly we are vulnerable on human rights etc, but there is a blatant display of double standards with much Western indulgence shown towards countries with infinitely worse human rights records. It is important that we recognize these double standards not as a temporary aberration that might go away, but as systemic: one set of standards apply normally, but another set of standards come into operation when what is at issue is the establishment of a New World Order. In the latter context, the aggression against Iraq together with the horrors perpetrated there and the tortures arising out of Afghanistan, and so on, become acceptable. So do the HR violations in Saudi Arabia etc because those countries are seen as servitors of the West in the thrust to establish the New World Order. We can see all that as really the New Imperialism, but that perception and all the charges about double standards will be no more important to the West than the water that slides off the backside of a duck. We will continue to be damned over HR violations, and also our failure to come up with a political solution to the ethnic problem.

At the moment, the alleged war crimes are the main focus in our relationship with the West. I saw the Darusman report as part of a conspiracy to pressurize the SL Government into really moving towards a political solution. Unfortunately, there is a well-known tendency for social action to lead to unforeseen consequences, and accordingly the war crimes charge has assumed an importance quite beyond the parameters of that conspiracy. That was seen, for instance, when the two former Foreign Ministers Kouchener and Miliband peremptorily demanded that SLG take quick action to investigate the war crimes charges. The US too is becoming more and more insistent on the demand for quick action, possibly because a special feature of US imperialism has also come into play. For about two decades or more the US has been uneasily conscious that its power has been declining and that the American Empire is on the way out. In this situation the US could have a psychological compulsion to show that it is still very powerful by taking on not the powerful countries which could be dangerous to the US but the weak ones such as Iran and North Korea. This case has been advanced by Emmanuel Todd in a brilliant book, published some years ago, predicting the demise of the American Empire. Is the US, perhaps, therefore experiencing a compulsion to kick Sri Lanka around? Anyway, our relations with the West are thoroughly unsatisfactory, and the West enjoys a redoubtable concentration of power in every form.

I come now to the internal actors in our ethnic imbroglio. The LTTE put itself thoroughly in the wrong both by its "terrorism" and by its intransigent resistance to every move to bring about a political solution. But the SL Tamils are not identical with the LTTE, and the international community as a whole will almost certainly favour a political solution based on devolution. Unfortunately, we non-Tamil Sri Lankans have got our thinking badly queered by the spectacular military victory against the LTTE. The Government waged what was indisputably a just war, and won. Why should the conquered Tamils have a say on the shape of a political solution any more than the conquered Germans had in 1945? The question reveals a failure to understand the factor of the "gun" in the Sri Lankan post-war situation. The point is that our armed forces destroyed the guns of the LTTE but not the guns of Delhi. As long as the Tamil Nadu factor remains – that is, as long as there is a potential fall-out in Tamil Nadu from what happens to the Tamils here – the factor of the guns of Delhi have to be reckoned with.

I believe that it is a mistake to give much importance to the supposedly diabolical machinations of the rump diaspora LTTE, which supposedly takes in the gullible West in a big way. Those Westerners are not where they are, right at the top of the world, because they are led by fools who readily swallow LTTE propaganda. In formulating their policies on our ethnic imbroglio they will give far more weightage to the sophisticated assessments made by their Embassies in Colombo than to the LTTE’s propaganda. We must treat the rump LTTE as marginal, and assess the prospects of our Tamils in the wider perspectives of the Tamil Nadu factor and the attempt to establish a New World Order/New Imperialism. We must also take into account the revolutionary changes that are going on around the globe: I have specifically in mind here what looks like a new importance that is being given to ethnic minorities. It seems to me that because of such factors the SL Tamils don’t belong to the category of ethnic minorities that can be kicked around with impunity. They have the gun behind them, and also they are on the high moral ground as the international community clearly sees them as victims, as shown by the war crimes allegations.

The other internal actor, the SL Government, won the war splendidly and in the more than two years that have elapsed since then seems grimly determined to lose the peace. The underlying problem is that the Sinhalese power elite have an allergy to sharing power with the Tamils. In fact the members of that elite have an allergy to sharing power even with their fellow Sinhalese, as shown clearly by the failure to implement fully the 13th Amendment in the predominantly Sinhalese Provinces. The familiar argument against power-sharing through devolution is that it will lead inevitably to separation. A Sri Lankan academic who teaches abroad has recently cited as examples the cases of South Sudan and Kosovo. But surely there are all the other cases in which devolution has helped contain and solve ethnic problems. I believe that the decisive counter-argument is that the record shows that separation takes place only under two conditions: either a government comes to agree to separation because in the first place there was no sound case for unity, or it has not been able to deploy sufficient force to prevent separation. In Sudan the Government was unable to quell the rebellion even after many decades, while in Kosovo the Serbs were unable to withstand the deployment of external force.. In Sri Lanka the deployment of force successfully quelled the rebellion, so that Sri Lanka is about the last country in which it can be held that devolution will inevitably lead to separation. Other fanciful arguments are also advanced against devolution, and we can expect such arguments to keep on proliferating because of the underlying allergy to power-sharing.

There is of course another way of dealing with ethnic problems, what might be described as a liberal democratic way in which the focus is not on power-sharing and devolution but on the direct unmediated relationship between the individual and the State. I have in mind Western special legislation to deal with ethnic complaints, and the setting up of institutions such as Race Relations Boards.

Just over a decade ago the mooted Equal Opportunities Bill had to be abandoned because it roused fury among the Sinhalese power-elite, showing that it was allergic also to the liberal democratic way of dealing with ethnic problems. I am afraid that the international community will not see the Sri Lankan state as occupying the moral high ground on our ethnic imbroglio. What about the "gun", the factor of power? Sri Lanka’s power stops at its maritime boundary. There is only one country that it has the power to harm and wreck: itself.

I have provided above data on how the factors of power and morality apply to the main actors in our ethnic imbroglio. I believe that it will be generally agreed that arguments and appeals made on moral grounds will not enable us to get out of the imbroglio. Only the appeal to the gun – meaning the whole range of hard and soft power - will enable that. This is not because only realpolitik counts in international relations. It is rather because the Sri Lankan Government has given the impression that for it only the gun counts in solving the ethnic problem. It has won the war, and has given the impression that it is not all in earnest about offering a political solution because there is really no need to concede to the Tamils more than what has already been conceded. Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse is reported as having stated the following in an interview with the Indian television channel Headlines Today: "The existing Constitution is more than enough for us to live together. …. So, devolution-wise, I think we have done enough. I don’t think there is a necessity to go beyond that." (Lakbima News, August 21).

In this situation it seems to me of crucial importance for the Government to undertake a responsible assessment of one question: will India and the West use their power to the detriment of our national interest to an extent that will not be acceptable to the Government and people of Sri Lanka? If the answer is in the negative, the Government can continue with its dilatory tactics in the expectation that a political solution will be reached through a process of attrition, with the Tamils coming to be satisfied with rising living standards and a reasonable measure of fair and equal treatment. I must add that dilatory tactics will be much admired in Sri Lanka – and perhaps nowhere else – as a manifestation of brilliant Machiavellian diplomatic skills.

But I believe that that optimistic assessment will be proved to be wrong, not just wrong but catastrophically wrong. I believe that India will do everything, everything humanly possible, to bring about a political solution because its vital and primordial interests are involved. I have argued the case before and I will not go into details here. The point is that an unsolved ethnic problem in Sri Lanka can cause serious problems between Delhi and Tamil Nadu, which – in a worst case hypothesis – can even threaten the unity of India. In recent weeks a new factor has entered the situation, which is that Jayalalitha and the AIADMK, and indeed Tamil Nadu as a whole, are showing more militancy over our ethnic imbroglio than ever before. I am wondering whether this is a manifestation of a global revolutionary process in which ethic groups are showing a greater and greater assertiveness. Anyway, prudence requires that we now proceed to implement 13A. Alternatively, we could enter a disaster course in which breakfast with Nirupama Rao will not help.

(The writer can be reached at izethhussain@gmail.com )

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Lifting of Emergency: What Next?

by Sumanasiri Liyanage

(August 31, Kandy, Sri Lanka Guardian) Although some members of the UPFA government indicated vaguely a few months ago that Emergency would be lifted fully at the end of this year, the President’s announcement that he and his government had decided to do so with immediate effect and depend on normal laws to maintain law and order came at an unexpected moment and as a result, it has received a mixed response. In my opinion, the lifting of Emergency regulation in itself is a commendable and appropriate action since it has been a known fact that Sri Lanka had ruled since 1971 not by ordinary laws but through emergency regulations except for a couple of very brief intervals. Many have surmised that the proximate cause for lifiting Emergency is the forthcoming UN human rights session in Geneva.

Of course, we have to keep in mind that the government since the beginning of this year has relaxed emergency regulations and informed the people that it would lift it fully when the time was opportune for such a decision. It has been customary for many NGO people to think that all good things come because of the pressure of the so-called international community! Moreover, many human right activists have understandably raised an objection that lifting of emergency in itself does not lead to an improvement of the situation as the other draconian laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) are still in operation and PTA can be used as a supplement for Emergency regulations. Nonetheless, one should also understand that reversing the process that began in the early 1970s and gathered so much dirt since the late 1970s is not an easy task for multiple reasons. The continuous rule under Emergency has created a new system substantially different from the system that existed in the pre-1971 period. As a result, one may argue that the removal of those laws should be done with utmost care and that the focus should be on gradual transition to a system that is just, democratic and humane.

Although a transition to a just society needs the repeal of draconian laws and regulations, one should not forget that the rules and regulations are fundamentally symptomatic of the complex socio-economic and political process and context and the relationship between context and laws are dialectical. Hence whether the lifting of Emergency is a step in the right direction or it will not make a significant difference depends on so many variables. Here, one important and interesting point is that all elected governments since 1970 have developed authoritarian tendencies at an increasing rate. This may be attributed to many factors. First, it is systemic as the authoritarianism is inherent in constitutions of 1972 and 1978.

The executive presidential system has given one person immense power and the political party system has been adapted to the whims and fancies of the presidential system. Secondly, internal political conflicts stemming from redistribution, recognition and representation injustices have led governments since 1971 to resort to emergency laws and regulations. The Emergency laws enacted in the late 1950s were widely used and new law called PTA were enacted in the late 1970s. Thirdly, in the cultural-ideological sphere, authoritarianism receives the support of the larger section of the people for various reasons. This became crystal clear when the majority of Sinhala masses supported the Emergency and other draconian laws while they were being used to suppress Tamil militancy.

"The basic issue that we have to deliberate at this
moment is how the systemic, political and
cultural-ideological situation that nurtures the creation
of the state of exception could be transformed."
It has become an accepted fact that a certain degree of authoritarianism is required to achieve economic development and to preserve the territorial integrity. These or similar tendencies are inherent in many countries in the world today including some of the so-called Western democracies. This has led an Italian political philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, to argue that the ‘state of exception’ is, in fact, the normal situation in the current political landscape. Agamben opines: "One of the elements that make the state of exception so difficult to define is certainly its close relationship to civil war, insurrection, and resistance. Because civil war is the opposite of normal conditions, it lies in a zone of undecidability with respect to state of exception, which is state power’s immediate response to the more extreme internal conflicts" (Sate of Exception, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005). This zone of undecidability has, in fact, created a novel option for the ruling class and the state to generate permanently such a situation so that the rule through emergency may be legitimised with reference to exceptional, not normal situations. He further notes: "Since then, the voluntary creation of a permanent state of emergency has become one of the essential practices of contemporary states, including so-called democratic ones" (ibid).

Hence, the basic issue that we have to deliberate at this moment is how the systemic, political and cultural-ideological situation that nurtures the creation of the state of exception could be transformed. In this regard, one of the key obstacles is the discursive violence practised by the people who tend to think that the Western system is the model that we should adhere to in post-colonial context. The lifting of Emergency is a step forward. I also submit that the PTA should also be repealed. However, if one believes that a just and humane system can be fostered just by changing the legal system without touching the systemic issues, one is making a big mistake. Similarly, if by lifting Emergency the UPFA government seeks to effect some cosmetic changes without addressing basic issues, such an attempt is doomed to failure.

The writer teaches political economy at the University of Peradeniya. E-mail: sumane_l@yahoo.com

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The Rise of Another CIA Yes Man

The Checkered Career of Michael Morell


(August 30, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense.

Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell’s record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.

As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. If past is precedent, his loyalty will be to Petraeus, not necessarily to the truth.

Forgive me if my thinking about loyalty to the facts seems “obsolete” or “quaint” – or if it seems unfair to expect CIA analysts to put their careers on the line when politicians and ideologues are misleading the nation to war – but those were the principles that analysts of my generation tried to uphold.

The recent tendency at CIA to give politicians what they want to hear rather than the hard truth is not healthy for the Republic that we were all sworn to serve.

And, if Petraeus’s own past is precedent, loyalty to the four-star general will not always be synonymous with loyalty to the truth.

Burnishing an Image

However, you will get no indication of this troubling reality from the flattering, but thin, feature about Michael Morell, “Mr. Insider Will Guide Petraeus at the CIA,” by Siobhan Gorman in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 26.

Gorman is normally a solid reporter; but either she did not perform due diligence and let herself be snookered, or her editors stepped in to ensure her story was consonant with the image Petraeus and the Establishment wish to create for Morell.

Before her “rare” interview with Morell, Gorman should have taken a close look at former CIA Director George Tenet’s memoir, At the Center of the Storm, to learn what Tenet says about Morell’s record during the last decade’s dark days of misleading and dishonest intelligence.

In Tenet’s personal account of the CIA’s failures around 9/11 and the Iraq War, Morell – Tenet’s former executive assistant – is generally treated kindly, but Tenet puts Morell at the center of two key fiascoes: he “coordinated the CIA review” of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous Feb. 5, 2003 address to the United Nations and he served as the regular CIA briefer to President George W. Bush.

Putting Access Before Honesty

So, Morell was there as Bush blew off early CIA warnings about the possibility of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being “determined to strike in the US” – and while Bush and his neoconservative inner circle were concocting intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

Tenet credits Morell with suggesting to analysts that they prepare a report on the terrorist threat, which became the President’s Daily Brief that was handed to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Bush brushed aside the warning with a reported comment to the CIA briefer, “all right, you’ve covered your ass,” and went off fishing.

Though Tenet said Morell got along well with Bush, it appears the President didn’t pay much heed to any CIA information coming from Morell, at least not anything that went against what Bush wanted to hear – nor did Morell seem to risk offending the President by pushing these contrary points.

After the Aug. 6 PDB was delivered, Tenet wrote that he needed to follow it up, and did so with a trip to Crawford 11 days later, when Tenet remembers Bush driving him around in a pickup truck as Tenet made “small talk about the flora and fauna.”

Morell also was the CIA briefer with Bush in Florida on the morning of 9/11 when news arrived about the attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers. Later, Bush told Morell “that if we [the CIA] learned anything definitive about the attack, he wanted to be the first to know,” Tenet wrote, adding:

“Wiry, youthful looking, and extremely bright, Mike speaks in staccato-like bursts that get to the bottom line very quickly. He and George Bush had hit it off almost immediately. In a crisis like this, Mike was the perfect guy for us to have by the commander-in-chief’s side.”

However, it appears Morell was not willing to risk his rapport with Bush by challenging the President’s desire to pivot from retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan to a full-scale invasion of Iraq based on false and misleading intelligence.

Tenet also described Morell’s role in organizing the review of the “intelligence” that went into Powell’s speech, which let slip the dogs of war by presenting a thoroughly deceptive account of the Iraqi threat, what Powell later called a “blot” on his record.

Though the CIA embraced many of Powell’s misleading assertions, Tenet recounted one exchange in which Morell stood up to John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, regarding Iraq’s alleged efforts to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.

“Hannah asked Mike Morell, who was coordinating the review of the speech for CIA, why the Niger uranium story wasn’t in the latest draft,” Tenet wrote. “‘Because we don’t believe it,’ Mike told him. ‘I thought you did,’ Hannah said. After much wrangling and precious time lost in explaining our doubts, Hannah understood why we believed it was inappropriate for Colin to use the Niger material in his speech.”

Despite that one pushback, the CIA analysts mostly bent to pressures coming from the White House for an alarmist treatment of allegations about the “weapons of mass destruction,” which turned out not to be in Iraq.

Of the CIA’s finished intelligence product, it was reportedly the PDB – delivered by Morell – that most exaggerated the danger.

Not Mistaken, Dishonest

It is sad to have to recall that this was not “erroneous,” but rather fraudulent intelligence. Announcing on June 5, 2008, the bipartisan conclusions from a five-year study by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence conjured up to “justify” war on Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Rockefeller’s comments call to mind what Tenet told his British counterpart, Sir Richard Dearlove, on July 20, 2002, after former Prime Minister Tony Blair sent Dearlove to the CIA to get the latest scoop on how the U.S. planned to “justify” the attack on Iraq.

According to the official British minutes of a cabinet-level planning session chaired by Blair on July 23, 2002, at 10 Downing Street, Tenet made clear to Dearlove that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” to bring “regime change” to Iraq.

Could it be that Tenet would let the British in on this dirty little secret and keep George W. Bush’s personal briefer, Michael Morell, in the dark? Seems unlikely.

But even if Morell were not fully informed about the high-level scheme for war, would he have been – with his prized relationship with the President – the most appropriate senior official to “coordinate the CIA review” of Powell’s speech?

The ‘Sinister Nexus’

In the Wall Street Journal feature, reporter Gorman was assured of something else about Morell’s role in preparing the intelligence on Iraq. According to Gorman, “His [Morell’s] team didn’t handle the analysis that erroneously concluded the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction.” I guess that depends on your definition of “team.”

But what about alleged ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the second bogus issue used to “justify” attacking Iraq? There Morell seemed to be on better ground, telling Gorman that his “team” had concluded that there had been earlier contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda, but there were no links to al-Qaeda operations at the time.

Still, Morell didn’t seem to have pressed this point very hard while coordinating the CIA’s review of Powell’s UN speech. If Morell had, one has to wonder why Powell was fed, and swallowed, the line about a “sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network?”

ABC’s Brian Ross shot down that canard just hours after Powell spoke. Citing a BBC report from London, Ross noted that British intelligence had concluded there was no evidence to support the theory that al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together.

Virtually all intelligence analysts with no axes to grind, after sifting through thousands of reports, had long since come to that same conclusion.

Did Secretary Powell have to learn about the Iraq/al-Qaeda disconnect from the BBC? Later, Powell was livid at having been led down the garden path by the likes of Tenet, Tenet’s pandering deputy John McLaughlin, and Morell, a Tenet protégé.

Tenet and McLaughlin were also co-liars-in-chief regarding those mobile biological weapons factories — a yarn spun by the infamous source called “Curveball.” In his memoir, Tenet doesn’t describe Morell’s role in promoting — or at least acquiescing in depicting — the charlatan “Curveball” as a reliable intelligence source for a key portion of Powell’s speech.

And, if you think it’s unfair to expect CIA bureaucrats to risk their careers by challenging the political desires of the White House, it’s worth noting the one major exception to the CIA’s sorry record during George W. Bush’s presidency – and how honest CIA analysts helped prevent another unnecessary war.

After former chief of State Department intelligence Tom Fingar was put in charge of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), a thoroughly professional NIE in late 2007 concluded unanimously and “with high confidence” that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in mid-2003.

President Bush’s own memoir leaves no doubt that this Estimate played a huge role in spiking White House plans for war on Iran. It’s a pity that the Estimate on Iran should be an exception to the rule.

Much to Be Humble About

Yet, in the Wall Street Journal feature, Michael Morell lectures Gorman on the basics – and the limits – of intelligence analysis.

“We end up having bits of information that have a multitude of possible explanations,” said Morell. “You’ve got to be really humble about the business we’re in.”

Well, yes indeed. The WSJ also ran a sidebar with a list of the following CIA failures and Morell’s facile potions for cures:

–2001, Sept. 11 attacks: A failure of both intelligence collection and analysis. Lesson: A need to better penetrate U.S. adversaries.

–2003, Iraq weapons of mass destruction: Analysts erroneously concluded Iraq had WMDs. Lesson: Analysts must describe confidence levels in conclusions, consider alternate explanations.

–2009, Bombing of CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan: Doubts about the asset-turned-suicide-bomber didn’t get to the right people. Lesson: Share information with the people who most need it.

Is this Morell fellow on the ball, or what?

Let’s address these one by one:

–9/11 need not have happened if Tenet and his protégés simply shared the information needed by the FBI and others. See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info?” Or, Tenet and Morell might have risked their cozy relationship with Bush by challenging his casual dismissal of the existing multiple warnings.

–The WMD not in Iraq? How about promoting and rewarding honest analysts; no “fixing” allowed. Face down White House pressure. We used to do it all the time. We used to have career protection for doing it.

–On the tragedy at Khost? Well, how about some basic training in tradecraft — including rudimentary security precautions.

And speaking of rudimentary security precautions: Morell bragged to Gorman that he had recently flown to Kabul to brief Petraeus, carrying a blue briefing book emblazoned with the CIA seal and detailing the CIA’s every critical program, organization and operation.

“It was the most highly classified guide that I’ve ever seen in my life” was Petraeus’s wow-response.

The appropriate reaction, in my professional view, would have been to fire Morell on the spot for recklessness. He should know better. They down aircraft, blow up motorcades and shoot people in Afghanistan, you know. Is it really such a great idea to carry a briefing book with the CIA’s most sensitive secrets into that environment?

Moreover, bragging about this cavalier approach to protecting sensitive documents sends shivers down the backs of foreign intelligence officers, adding to their reluctance to share delicate information with us.

Loosening Leashes on Dogs of War

There is ironic serendipity in the fact that the WSJ feature on Morell appeared on Aug. 26, exactly nine years after the fraudulent speech given by Vice President Dick Cheney before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville.

And just four days before the nation’s bookstores host In My Time — Cheney’s apologia pro vita sua. (The advance promotion includes his personal warning that the book will have “heads exploding” all over Washington.)

There are huge lessons in what happened and what did not happen immediately after Cheney’s Aug. 26, 2002, thinly disguised call for an attack on Iraq — and how those who recognized the lies could not summon enough courage to try to stop the juggernaut toward war.

The Fawning Corporate Media and the cowering careerists at CIA were among the main culprits. But there were others who, if they have a conscience and are honest with themselves, may still be finding it difficult to look in the mirror nine years later.

In his August 2002 speech, Cheney launched the virulent propaganda campaign for an aggressive war against Iraq, telling the audience in Nashville:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

This was no innocent mistake by the Vice President; it was a bald-faced lie, a falsehood that opened the gates to a hellish conflict that has ripped apart Iraq, bringing untold death and destruction.

Nine years later it is well worth recalling this lie – on behalf of the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, the many more wounded, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, and the five million displaced from their homes.

Let it be widely understood that on Aug. 26, 2002, Dick Cheney set the meretricious terms of reference for war.

Hear No Evil — Speak No Truth

Sitting on the same stage that evening was former CENTCOM commander Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was being honored at the VFW convention. Zinni later said he was shocked to hear Cheney’s depiction of intelligence (Iraq has WMD and is amassing them to use against us) that did not square with what he knew.

Although Zinni had retired two years before, his role as consultant had enabled him to stay up to date on key intelligence findings.

“There was no solid proof that Saddam had WMD. … I heard a case being made to go to war,” Zinni told Meet the Press three and a half years later.

Zinni is normally a straight shooter with a good bit of courage. And so, the question lingers: why did he not go public when he first heard Cheney’s lie?

What seems operative here, I fear, is an all-too-familiar conundrum at senior levels where people have been conditioned not to rock the boat, not to risk their standing within the Washington Establishment.

Almost always, the results are bad. I would bet a tidy sum that Zinni regrets having let his reaction be shaped, as it apparently was, by a misguided kind of professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions.

After all, he was one of the very few credible senior officials who might have prevented a war of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals – after World War II – branded the “supreme international crime.”

Zinni was not the only one taken aback by Cheney’s words. Then-CIA Director George Tenet said Cheney’s speech took him completely by surprise.

In his memoir, Tenet wrote, “I had the impression that the president wasn’t any more aware than we were of what his number-two was going to say to the VFW until he said it.” But like Br’er Fox, Tenet didn’t say nothing.

Tenet claims he didn’t even check it all out with either Cheney or Bush after Cheney’s speech. Yet, could Cheney’s twisting of the data not have been anticipated? Indeed, weren’t Tenet and his CIA in on the determination to make a case for war?

In a way, that conclusion is a no-brainer. As mentioned above, just five weeks before Cheney’s speech, Tenet himself had explained to his British counterpart that the President had decided to make war on Iraq for regime change and “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Cheney simply was unveiling the war rationale to the public. Several weeks later, when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Bob Graham insisted on a National Intelligence Estimate before any vote in Congress, Tenet told his folks to prepare one that dovetailed with Cheney’s unsupported rhetoric.

Sadly, my former colleagues did. And where was Michael Morell in this process? Clearly, he did nothing to destroy his career or put himself too much on the outs at the White House.

The Sales Job

When Bush’s senior advisers came back to town after Labor Day 2002, the next five weeks were devoted to selling the war, a major “new product” that, as then-White House chief of staff Andy Card explained, one shouldn’t introduce in the month of August.

Card, too, apparently had no idea that Cheney would jump the gun as “fixer-in-chief.” At that point, the Tenets, McLaughlins and Morells of this world fell right into line.

After assuring themselves that Tenet was a reliable salesman, Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allowed him to play a supporting role in advertising bogus claims about aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment and mobile trailers for manufacturing biological warfare agents.

The hyped and bogus intelligence succeeded in scaring Congress into voting for war on Oct. 10 and 11, 2002.

In my view, it strains credulity to think that Michael Morell was unaware of the fraudulent nature of this campaign. Yet, like all too many others, he mostly kept quiet — and he got promoted. That’s how it works in Washington these days.

This kind of malleability regarding twisting facts to support war has worked well for Petraeus, too.

Today, there is little chance Petraeus can be unaware of Morell’s pedigree. Given Petraeus’s own experience in climbing the career ladder, the general may even harbor an admiration for Morell’s extraordinary willingness to please.

The two will make a fine pair for Official Washington, though not for those “quaint” folks who put a high premium on integrity.

As for Dick Cheney who was once given the well-deserved sobriquet “Vice President for Torture” in a Washington Post editorial, I just wish he would disappear so he would stop bringing out the worst in everyone.

I found my own feelings mirrored in a plaintive comment from a good friend who prays a lot. She said, “I keep praying for Dick Cheney, especially when he goes into the hospital. But he always comes out again.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a PDB briefer of Vice President George H.W. Bush and the Secretaries of State and Defense during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, and earlier in his career chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Note: I (Ray) sent a draft of the above article to former colleagues, intelligence officers who served in CIA more recently than I and left after clocking many years at very senior levels. The comments I received from them turned out to be so germane and incisive that I include them below for those wanting a better feel for what really goes on.

The first is from a recently retired Senior Intelligence Service officer.


You make a good case that Morell isn’t going to be the objective, unpoliticized deputy that Petraeus is going to need. He may be what Petraeus wants, but not what he needs to do a good job.

You make the case that, like McLaughlin, he’s going to give the veneer of an analyst’s integrity to decision making without any of the burdens (integrity, nonpoliticization, tradecraft, etc.) that make the analyst imprimatur meaningful. Like McLaughlin, he seems eager to play handmaiden to a predetermined agenda.

In fact, the case you make, correctly, is that Morell is the quintessential intelligence community bureaucrat – who has survived and prospered by subscribing to a particular worldview and steering clear of the alternatives declared off-limits by the U.S. right wing.

A couple of more specific comments:

–Your use of the word “loyalty”: Morell will be loyal to his boss – i.e., he will not upset him – the way McLaughlin was loyal to Tenet. That ignores, of course, that the deputy’s job is to protect his boss from himself and from his own biases.

McLaughlin’s “loyalty” to Tenet wound up screwing Tenet, and Morell’s “loyalty” to Petraeus is going to do the same. A man like Petraeus shows up with HUGE blind spots, and Morell – rather than help him see into those blind spots – almost certainly will reinforce them.

Your use of the word “loyalty” conveys that it’s a virus that will harm Petraeus. And that’s what it is.

The “winds blowing from the White House” requires a little elaboration. Just as Panetta was captured, so has this White House been – via the person of CIA veteran John Brennan on site. Brennan, of course, is the fellow who could not get confirmed as director because of his well known past history, so he’s running things from the White House.

The number of Obama flip-flops on intelligence issues has been stunning. The “winds,” you might say, have been blowing from CIA’s own Tenet protégé Brennan.

I personally would say Morell, like McLaughlin, knows and accepts that the operations people and their rightwing allies in the Admin, at the Pentagon, and in the Congress (and there are many!) set the direction the wind blows; Morell will always urge his boss to tack accordingly.

In fact, the parallels with McLaughlin are strong — an analysis directorate fellow of modest capabilities, desperate for acceptance by the operations people and the rightwing downtown, jettisoning tradecraft and going with the flow.

The Gorman piece in the WSJ was disgraceful cooptation in action. The fact that she could list his many failures as “lessons learned” was amazing. It’s as if the rightwing were signaling to Petraeus not to judge Morell by his repeated failures and repeated inaction; judge him by our right-wing love for him.

On the many failures, I don’t have first-hand knowledge of Morell’s role in the historic intelligence cook-job of WMD and the fateful State of the Union lies about yellow cake; all I know is that Alan Foley was the designated representative in that coordination.

But your sourcing of Tenet on that is compelling — and I think your sanity-check on Morell’s performance is fair.

–Words like “wow-response” are also fair — and effective. The “wow” factor is used to shock and awe people – to squeeze them into the tiny space in which conformity is expected and challenges rejected.

For me, particularly with a weak Administration with no policy bearings like this one, the problem is that operations are done for operations’ sake – sans policy, sans review.

I’m reading Joby Warrick’s book, and his worship of targeters is somewhat jarring when there’s no discussion of the number of innocent people killed and no discussion of why this is an “intelligence” vice military mission. We know why, but his readers don’t – making such worship rather cynical.

You’re probably right that it “strains credulity” that Morell didn’t know how fraudulent the whole National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq was. I just don’t know, however, whether he was able intellectually to see what was going on.

He was so close to power and so close to their mindset and so eager to stay in their good graces that he may have believed all the horse manure.

Wrapped up as he was, he may not have fully appreciated what the thing was – especially because key elements of the intelligence community funneling info to him were also true-believers — as were those in charge of community analysis.

Who could ever have been giving Morell an alternative view? The most senior people were all true-believers. It was very much frowned upon to ask real questions.

So how could a man of Morell’s background and capabilities ask them? If you preferred not to say outright that Morell was guilty of fraud, you could be somewhat more charitable and put it this way: He was surrounded by true-believers and didn’t have the fortitude or candlepower, or even perceived space, to question the bogus intelligence he was involved in validating.

Not a good harbinger for the future.

The second comment (on the remarks above) is from Larry C Johnson, former CIA intelligence officer.

Your observations provide important context. The lies that paved the road to war in Iraq are being revived this week as part of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

We have not learned a damned thing. Meanwhile, Iraq remains a deadly place for the various Iraq factions and our actions have completely disrupted the balance of power in the Middle East. Of course, neither the media nor the majority of the pundits want to focus on that.

And a brief but important point made by first commenter in reaction:

And cranking up for Iran?

Comment from Mary McCarthy, former Senior Intelligence Service officer and White House official

You asked if I knew Morell and what he is like. I do; you nailed it.

The only moment of discomfort is when you use Tenet as a compass point for the actual truth. Because, of course, Tenet often has his own version of the facts.

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (Verso). He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@gmail.com.

A version of this article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com.

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