| by Gamini Weerakoon
( December 9, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) For weeks on end the cry of ‘CHOGM’, ‘CHOGM’ has been assailing our ears and annoyingly it is continuing. In the mornings as we wake up, those glib news readers on TV are working themselves up to a high pitch on CHOGM, probably under the delusion that the very existence of the Sri Lankan nation hangs on this CHOGM. As we open the morning’s newspapers, in the inside pages, patriotic defenders of the nation and of course, the Rajapaksa faith, lambast Harper, Cameron, Manmohan Singh and all sundry in the Western world for their ‘perfidy’, ‘hypocrisy’, ‘stupidity’, etc.
When oh when can we live in a CHOGM free world? An inner voice tells us: Not for a long time. The CHOGM will go into high frequency by March next year when the UNHRC takes up the Sri Lankan inquisition and thereafter it will be all about ‘UNHRC, UNHRC’ and of course Navi Pillai. We are certainly not defending the targeted gentlemen and the lady in question but are more concerned with this deadly and noxious garland of ‘war crimes’ going off the neck of the nation.
While letting off steam is good for blood pressure and reducing the adrenalin flow, the impotent verbal fury is not hitting anyone beyond our shores. Of course it does wonders to the popularity of our president and the ruling party for standing up to the self appointed global policemen of the world. This column has pointed out on earlier occasions how interference by Western leaders in our internal affairs have boosted the popularity of President Rajapaksa and his party and helped them to sweep the polls.
It does appear that David Cameron’s threat of moving a resolution for appointment of an international group to investigate the alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka will be adopted, whatever the investigations that will be conducted by the Sri Lankan government before March.
Going by their performance in Colombo, Cameron & Co., it appears to have smelt blood and are going for their prey.
Finding a scapegoat
What will Sri Lanka’s strategy be? The policy of ‘Look Africa’ came up a cropper as was evident at CHOGM itself. In the post Cold War era the sole Superpower – however financially weakened it may be – has most developing countries including those of Africa on a leash and is preventing them from straying away from the Washington- EU axis.
We do not seem to have any strategy to thwart Cameron & Co. The reflex action has been to make Foreign Minister G. L.Peiris the scapegoat and call for his head. Insiders to foreign policy implementation however say that GL has very little to do with foreign policy initiatives and such initiatives emanate directly from the ‘kitchen cabinet’. Those ‘independent’ commentators in newspapers calling for GL’s head, it is fairly well known, are those who want his job as foreign minister!
The absence of a definite strategy has given rise to frivolity among cynics. One suggestion has been to invite the Dalai Lama as a revered guest of the Sri Lankan government. It will boost Sri Lanka’s image sky high in America and the West as a supporter of human rights, Besides the Dalai Lama is the bete noire of Chinese Communist leaders since the days of Mao Zedong. But an invitation to him would obviously result in a change of heart of Beijing’s commissars towards Sri Lanka, it is claimed. The Living Buddha is also international political dynamite today. David Cameron who had earlier welcomed the Dalai Lama to Britain is now fighting shy of him because the Dalai Lama may be an obstacle to improving business relations between Britain and China.
Besides all that, Lanka’s chief development financiers in Beijing will take a dim view of this initiative and it could jeopardise development projects in Hambantota and elsewhere.
Inviting the Pope
The cynics are also attempting to interpret Lanka’s invitation to Pope Francis to visit Lanka as being a strategy to stymie critics on Sri Lanka’s observance of human rights. If Pope Francis visits Sri Lanka and blesses it, whatever damnations Cameron may invoke on this country would seem ludicrous.
If the Pope does really come, it would have to be before March next year for it to have any impact in Geneva. However, we are reminded that the Vatican has been the fons et origo (source and origin) of all forms international diplomacy for centuries and all implications in accepting such an invitation would be weighed and considered in depth before acceptance. A sceptical leftist comrade says: The Vatican has always been on the side of bigger battalions.
Solution at home
Does the solution have to be a complicated Machiavellian deal involving international jiggery-pokery? Sri Lanka’s position has always been that this is a Sri Lankan problem and a solution can come only from within the country. The solution lies in resolving grievances of Tamils and reconciliation with them and having the political will to do so.
Our solution in a few lines is that of that delightful American journalist and humourist Ogden Nash for a happy marriage. It would be good enough for a happy reunion between the two communities.
Keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup
Whenever you are wrong admit it
When you are right, shut up.