With the Rajapaksa government’s political and economic fortunes very much tied up with China’s munificence, it would be in the order of things to heed the advice of the legendary Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist of 25 centuries ago, who wrote the military strategy, The Art of War.
The theme running through the Chinese military strategist’s text is that the finest of victories in war are those that are won without a conflict.
A skillful leader, he says, subdues the enemy’s troops
without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying any siege to them and without losing a man his triumph is complete.
The war—the military conflict—ended in this paradisiacal island almost three years ago. But a Cold War is being waged against this little country by some of the world’s most powerful nations. The threat now is that allegations against some of our so-called war heroes may be turned into charges of alleged war crimes that if proceeded with could have incalculable consequences.
The Rajapaksa government it appears is determined to meet this threat head on and take on the world’s most militarily powerful, wealthy and influential nations. In Sri Lanka it is being interpreted by government supporters as a David vs. Goliath confrontation. Even though little David has been seen by the world at large in the past as the heroic victor in the first encounter, Goliath has been the consistent victor after that, with the gods favouring those with bigger battalions
Sri Lanka, as a sovereign independent nation is resisting the Resolution brought forward to make it or an international body investigate the alleged war crimes. Nations big or small will resist such interference in issues which they consider are their internal issues. But the concept of national sovereignty of small and weak nations is being eroded by mighty nations, even though they will not brook any international interference in their internal affairs and who are also guilty of gross violations of human rights such as those Sri Lanka is being accused of. The Sri Lankan state media, government politicians, genuine patriots as well as patriotic supporters of the government have been crying themselves hoarse about double standards of these mighty nations, but to no avail.
Leaders and officials such as those in weak nations such as Serbia in the Balkans and African nations have been brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague even though some of these nations do not recognise the jurisdiction of this Court and strangely even by some of the chief inquisitors like America.
However, if so-called war crimes have been committed there is no moral justification to plead for exculpation on the basis that mighty nations too have been guilty of such crimes. Allegations are that crimes have been committed by those in authority against their own helpless citizens.
The US sponsored Resolution has been moved in the UNHRC in Geneva and the pot is boiling for Sri Lanka. So far Sri Lanka’s stand has been that of moral indignation but in this 45 nation assembly, morality alone will not carry the day. Even though the Sri Lankan government and most Sri Lankans see themselves as victims of a plot by Western nations, do others see us in the same light? Whether Sri Lankans likes it or not the impression created beyond our shores is that there were gross violations of human rights committed against Tamil civiliansparticularly during the last stages of the war.
Rightly or wrongly, the international media as well world opinion in a civil conflict usually goes in favour of the minority community as against the majority. Thus Sri Lanka, in cricketing terms has to play on the back foot with some of the world’s most powerful nations arraigned against it. The Rajapaksa government is determined to take the challenge head on like it did two years ago at the UNHRC when it defeated a similar motion. If it can do it once again well and good but is it possible? What if the motion goes through?
Politics is the art of the possible and diplomacy doubly so. Despite Sri Lankan diplomats being taken by the plane load to Geneva we do not see any compromise solution being worked out. This may be due to the Rajapaksa ‘kathata- polla’ (confrontationist) policy. We hear more of the barracks room language than diplomatic arguments emanating from Geneva.
What has not been said is about the stand Sri Lanka will take if the American backed Resolution is adopted. Is Sri Lanka to succumb to directions of the UNHRC on how the investigations are to be conducted and accept the directions of this body whose officials have been remarkably hostile to this country?
The Rajapaksa government leaders have developed gigantic egos since their so called ‘historic victory’ over the LTTE on the battle field. They appear to consider themselves world beaters and take on the powerful and influential Western nations, even in the diplomatic arena. It could well be that we have grown too big for our shoes. The strategy right along should have been to seek a diplomatic way out rather than locking horns with big nations, however morally right we may consider ourselves to be.
The Rajapaksa strategy seems to be to keep postponing the issue but experience has shown that problems for this country keep mounting with a belligerent and active LTTE lobby at work in the West.
Sri Lanka should actively consider going along on the lines suggested by Japan, which has consistently supported and aided this country in fair weather and foul. Japan while stressing the need for the Sri Lanka government to implement ‘many good recommendations’ of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had also stressed that the international community should engage with Sri Lanka on a constructive basis without exerting pressure. Sri Lanka, Japan hadsaid, should continue to have an open dialogue with the international community on the issues concerned.