15 December, 2017

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A Dangerous Game?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Life is gradually getting myopic…” – Joseph Brodsky (Allenby Road)

Why would Lankan military need a war gaming centre?

Why did Sri Lanka refuse to sign the resolution condemning nuclear weapons-use, for the second consecutive year?

The war with the LTTE is over. Sri Lanka has no land border, nor any external enemies. Given these fortuitous circumstances, war games should have been the last thing on Colombo’s agenda.

Mahinda GotaBut a state of the art Joint War Gaming Centre was recently opened by Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Sapugaskanda. According to the Defence Ministry website, this War Gaming Centre “was a long felt need for the apex military training establishment in the country…. (It has) six syndicate rooms, two state of the art auditoriums, two model rooms and an office complex for directing staff”. The participants in the current politico-military simulation course include Lankan military officers, an SLAF officer and “16 international officers from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal and Vietnam”[i].

Is this just an expensive toy to keep the massive military happily occupied? Or is this another indication of the dangerous course Sri Lanka is on, under Rajapaksa rule?

As the Friday Forum pointed out in its recent statement, Colombo’s refusal to sign the annual resolution against nuclear weapons (presented to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly) marks a radical departure from traditional Lankan positions. The resolution is not against the peaceful use of nuclear energy but against nuclear weapons. Why would Sri Lanka not support such a resolution?

The Rajapaksa project is a transformative one. It is premised on a new worldview, a new commonsense which is anti-democratic and anti-pluralist. Just as the Rajapaksas build alliances internally with like-minded forces and entities, they are doing so regionally and internationally as well. The appointment of Rajapaksa kith and kin to every embassy and high commission is attention-grabbing, but it is not the real story. The real story is how Lankan foreign policy is being transformed to dovetail with Rajapaksa interests.

The Rajapaksa foreign policy is an adjunct of the Rajapaksa agenda of familial rule and dynastic succession. Its main aim is to create an international support structure not for Sri Lanka but for the Rajapaksa regime, using the country’s strategic position as a bargaining counter. And to gain their objectives Rajapaksas are willing to use the sort of methods and run the kind of risks which less unscrupulous/more rational administrations would be unwilling even to contemplate.

For instance, in January/February 2013, Australian media revealed that “A SENIOR Sri Lankan government official is suspected by Australian authorities of being personally “complicit” in the people-smuggling trade … Australia’s intelligence agencies have identified the official, who has a high profile and is known to be close to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The agencies believe he is responsible for authorising numerous boats in the past 10 months, fuelling the surge of asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka…”[ii] This tactic seemed to have worked. The new right-wing government of Tony Abbot adopted a policy of unconditional support for the Rajapaksas, obviously in return for a pledge to actually clamp down on ‘boat people’.

Building an international safety-net for familial rule is one key objective of Rajapaksa foreign policy. The other key objective is to gain international recognition, to become somebodies on the global stage. Rajapaksa megalomania does not stop on the shores of Sri Lanka; the Siblings crave to become regional and international players as well. That is why the regime offers to host as many international political and sports events as possible, even if doing so bring little or no benefit to Sri Lanka as a country.

It is not for nothing that a favourite official accolade for Mahinda Rajapaksa is ‘The Leader who conquered the World’.

Sri Lanka’s spurious ‘entry’ to the ‘club of satellite owning nations’ is a manifestation of this megalomania. So is the abiding Rajapaksa desire to have its own peaceful nuclear programme. During the Ahmadinejad years, Iran reportedly offered Sri Lanka uranium-enrichment technology to set up a peaceful nuclear programme. This offer seems to have fallen by the wayside with the ascension of the more moderate President Rouhani. India made an offer of help, under the previous Congress administration, but the Siblings were uninterested. Perhaps they felt that Delhi cannot be trusted, or will have too many conditions.

The Rajapaksas are believers in unlimited power; might is their god. Their need to go nuclear is at least partly motivated by their desire to acquire regional and international muscle. Given this outlook, they may prefer to go nuclear with the help of a like-minded friend, someone with a similar disregard for democratic freedoms and human rights, such as Pakistan or China. With such a friend, the Rajapaksas will not have to bother overmuch about parliamentary oversight, media investigations or laws.

Nuclear power and impunity – what an unbeatable combination!

China’s Pearl?

A new row is brewing between India and Sri Lanka over the second docking of a Chinese attack-submarine in Colombo.

The first docking happened in September, when the Indian president was visiting Vietnam. “In a recent report, Wall Street Journal described the Chinese submarine fleet as Beijing’s most significant military challenge in the region. And for them to surface at Lankan ports brings alive some of New Delhi’s worst fears of China’s expanding presence in India’s neighbourhood.”[iii]

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval reportedly warned Gotabaya Rajapaksa “that any presence of a Chinese submarine in Sri Lanka would be unacceptable to India”[iv].

Just a month later, the Rajapaksas permitted a second Chinese submarine, Changzheng 2 and accompanying warship Chang Xing Dao, to dock in Colombo.

One does not need Sibylline-capacities to surmise that the Modi administration must be outraged and insulted. Delhi will feel the need to do something, so that it does not seem utterly powerless: “The government is now left with no option but to look upon Lanka’s defiance as ‘inimical’ to India’s interest”[v]. China’s dismissal of Indian concern with the argument that the visit was a normal one[vi] may have made matters worse for Sri Lanka.

China has said that it is not building any military bases in Sri Lanka. Perhaps it does not have to. Beijing’s modus operandi might be otherwise – lending money to build/expand ports in return for controlling stakes. For instance China has been granted operating rights to four berths in Hambantota, outside tender procedure[vii]. Thus the ports will remain civilian installations, used by China as military service stations and for other military purposes.

The new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, set up under Chinese aegis, will cement this relationship still further. The bank will ensure “easy access to unconditional credit but at a higher interest rate”[viii]. A more effective way to obtain Rajapaksa compliance cannot be imagined.

The Rajapaksas regard the world beyond Sri Lanka with growing trepidation, feeling menaced by Western insistence on human rights. They might believe that the safety of their rule lies in acquiring capacities and friends which can keep Western pressure at bay. A more militarised foreign policy might help Rajapaksa rule, but for Sri Lanka it can be the road to unnecessary enmities and avoidable conflicts.


[v] ibid

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Latest comments

  • 16
    2

    Mara’s vision is to be the Israel of South Asia – a nuclear power aligned with China.

    Can anybody, including India or the US stop it? A definite no, in Mahinda chinthanaya.

    India has to put up with fait accompli!

    • 11
      2

      China’s Pearl?,

      No, it is the emerald pendant hanging in the Indian Ocean from the Chinese string of pearls!

      • 7
        3

        Excellent analysis Madam Thisaranee!

        Sinhala Modyas are cooking their own goose: They will soon be faced with voting for not just one but two corrupt dictators: Mahinda Jarapassa and his pet poodle and eternal loser – Ranil Wickramsingha!

        Miracle of Ass-ia indeed!

    • 1
      1

      Dear Tisaranee Gunasekara ,

      Did you Author the book Common sense Pamphlet like Thomas Paine did for america on 1776?

      Why not?

      Just Do It!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_(pamphlet)

      Common Sense[1] is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–76 that inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. In clear, simple language it explained the advantages of and the need for immediate independence. It was published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution and became an immediate sensation. It was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places. Washington had it read to all his troops, which at the time had surrounded the British army in Boston. In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history.[2]

      Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of whether or not to seek independence was the central issue of the day. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Forgoing the philosophical and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, he structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people.[3] He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity.[4] Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.[5

  • 13
    2

    Tissaranee, Your far sightedness and intellect to foresee and put to pen the danger facing ordinary Sri Lankans is marvellous.

    But, are our people able to fathom out and understand what is at stake here. They are all happy as long as they have a bottle in the night and wake up in the morning for another day.

    Even the so called intellectuals are thoughtless of the dire consequences facing our country.

    I am sure you can have the consolation, of saying later that “I SAID SO” long time before it happened and no one cared.

    Till that day comes, it is party time for MARA THE SWINDLER AND GORA THE MERCENARY AND PLUNDERING OF THE COUNTRY GOES ON UNABATED.

    • 1
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 5
      1

      Hope Tissa’s articles appear in Sinhalese media too.
      Thanks Tissa.

    • 10
      2

      The Geo-Political game over Sri Lanka has begun in earnest. China vs India/West. Hamba Clan will try to exploit that to cement their own power.

      However, they might end up making the same fatal mistake Yankee Dicky Jayawardena made trying to be a lapdog of the US.

      India started a fire by proxy, using Tamil grivances. It burned Sri Lanka for 30 years.

      What’s next?

      Cheers!

  • 5
    1

    Patriots have a job to do. Kill them all.

  • 4
    8

    Talk about far fetched! Tisaranee has finally cracked. Nuclear power? Hah!

  • 4
    12

    Ms T has taken time out from Sinhala Buddhist bashing to focus on the Chinese..

    Natural progression one would think…

    Guess who is dead against the China Infrastructure Bank !! It is none other than Uncle Sam..

    It would have been at least worthy of reading if Ms T explained why…

    Peace loving inhabitants must feel relieved that the Defence Sec has opened this state of the art military training centre.

    With the European Union giving another life to the LTTE , they will soon crank up their fund raising and recruitment activities.

    There are thousands of European Muslims who have joined the ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

    LTTE may follow suit now that the EU has made them all legit..

    There are willing partners to join them in Lanka ,because they think the West is now behind them.

    And Ms T may even persuade PM Modi to join them ,if she keeps showing the Bogey(China)man to Hindians.

    • 8
      2

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Natural progression one would think…”

      We think and you don’t. Therefore there is nothing for you to tell others.

      “LTTE may follow suit now that the EU has made them all legit..”

      Hence Gota needs Chinese nuclear powered submarines to smash the LTTE and the West.

  • 3
    14

    India is probably feeling unease because it was a submarine. Strategically what threat does China pose if its vessel docked there compared to other times? Absolutely none.

    Indeed, open presence would be better than submerged hidden presence. Now they know China lurks beneath Indian underbelly close to its shores. They know thanks to its docking.

    The “Tamil Cause” is cursed. Whoever came forward to give it help ended up being getting seriously burned.

    Indira, Rajiv, Premadaa, CBK, Ranil et al are all former “helpers” who at a minimum lost an eye. It seems those who promote the UNHCR menace will pay someway too.

    • 6
      2

      Vibhushana

      “India is probably feeling unease because it was a submarine. Strategically what threat does China pose if its vessel docked there compared to other times? Absolutely none.”

      You have been selectively hearing voices in your head. Forget Hindia. Did you hear what What Champika Ranawaka said about Hindian nuclear power plant based in Koodankulam.? Read the article:

      Sri Lanka concerned over radiation from India’s nuclear plants
      PTI Apr 9, 2012, 01.47PM IST

      COLOMBO: Sri Lanka today expressed concern over possible impact of radiation from India’s nuclear power plants located in the southern region, as it prepares to raise the issue with global atomic watchdog IAEA.

      The official raising of concern with the International Atomic Energy is to be made in September, the power and energy minister Champika Ranawaka said.

      “We respect the right of India to have nuclear power stations. But our concerns are on the possible radiation affects they could have on Sri Lanka. We have already written a letter”, Ranawaka said.

      Ranawaka said Sri Lanka’s concerns stem from disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. Sri Lanka would work towards achieving guarantees of safety.

      Sri Lankan energy officials say at least three nuclear plants are located on the southern coast of Tamil Nadu which is separated from the island by a narrow strip of sea.

      The Minister said the IAEA had proposed that a mutual agreement on the matter should be reached between the two countries. “We have sent a proposal to India through the External Affairs Ministry and the Indians have sent back a note on the matter,” he was quoted as saying by Colombo Page.

      According to Ranawaka, the Indian government has sent a proposal to commence a broad based discussion while Sri Lanka wants only to discuss and reach an agreement on a disaster mitigating programme in the event of a nuclear disaster in the South Indian plants, the paper said. Sri Lanka has no nuclear power plants but is just 20 kilometres away from Indian main land at the closest point.

      Koodankulam nuclear plant in India’s Southern coast is just 250 km from Sri Lanka’s northwest coastal town of Mannar.

      Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority does not possess adequate facilities to face a threat of nuclear accident.

      http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-04-09

      Padaala “expressed concern over possible impact of radiation from India’s nuclear power plants located in the southern region”

      Are you saying Chinese radiation leak is better than the Hindian one? Now Paadaala is keeping a deafening silent on Chinese nuclear submarine which is almost under his bump.

      By the way Paadaala believes zero was invented by Sinhala/Buddhists.

      • 3
        1

        Dear Native,

        Hindians love Dravidians so much that they even gave them a Nuclear Power Plant and put it in the heart of old Chola Chola land…

        • 2
          1

          K.A Sumanasekera

          “Hindians love Dravidians so much that they even gave them a Nuclear Power Plant and put it in the heart of old Chola Chola land…”

          Locating the Nuclear power plant at Koodankulam was a cunning idea on the part of Hinians, if and when it became necessary Hindians would blow up the power plant to destroy this island. It is like Hanuman from South India destroying Lankapura.

          • 0
            0

            Veddam, the nuclear plants are in your land to keep them away from the borders with Pakistan and China. Unfortunately China has come via the rear entrance. C’est la vie.

            • 1
              0

              Taraki

              “C’est la vie.”

              Wait when sh*t hits the fan.

              “the nuclear plants are in your land to keep them away from the borders with Pakistan and China. Unfortunately China has come via the rear entrance.”

              I have no land since it has been systematically stolen by the descendants of Kallathonies.

              Could you tell us how far away the rest of the Nuclear power plants are located from China and Pakistan. Here is the list and work it out for yourself and then educate us.

              Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), Maharashtra

              Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS), Rajasthan

              Kaiga Generating Station (KGS), Karnataka

              Narora Atomic Power Station (NAPS), Uttarpradesh

              Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS), Gujarat

              Planned nuclear power plants closer to Pakistan and China than Chennai and Koodankulam. If in Hindian assessment nuclear plants vulnerable to enemy attack why have the planners built 5 out of 7 closer either Pakistan or China?

              More plants are planned which would be located closer to Pakistan and China than away from both countries.

              You should do some reading before you start typing.

      • 2
        1

        Dear Native,

        Even our Inhabitants closest to the Hindian Nuclear Plant should be worried.

        Just imagine the Boiler Makers from Calcutta welding those reactor vessels and the cooling water tanks?.

        At least our Chinese mates take their Nuclear Subs home for parking.

        Our Southern inhabitants are thousand times more likely to get killed by another Prabakaran than from a dose of Chinese Neutrons…

        • 0
          0

          K.A Sumanasekera

          “At least our Chinese mates take their Nuclear Subs home for parking.”

          Nuclear submarines need not to surface frequently. Food stock last only 90 days. Therefore Chinaman park their vessels under the sea until they run out of food, that is the very idea of buying these very expensive toys.

          “Our Southern inhabitants are thousand times more likely to get killed by another Prabakaran than from a dose of Chinese Neutrons…”

          I wouldn’t bet on it.

          Tsunami, Earth Quakes. Ebola, Aids can kill thousands in a short period of time. So can the Chinese woks deep frying your majority inhabitants.

          One consolation Neutrons don’t deep fry inhabitants but it take your life while keeping the flesh intact.

          Your inhabitants are lucky if Chinese radiation don’t kill them Indian boilers will. Before all these things happen Gota will drive most of the inhabitants out of the country into exile. Therefore I am satisfied that before Hindian karahi or handi/Chinese wok get your inhabitants, Gota will.

  • 5
    2

    Koslanda landslide showed the current position of SL in the world. SL gov initially announced that 300 people were killed. India has offered $25,000 and USA has offered (via World Vision) $50,000. China gov didn’t offer anything but I saw some Chinese kids donated considerable amount of money… That’s all I saw.. Is this the kind of world response to SL disasters we used to see in the past ??
    If SL refuse to sign the resolution condemning nuclear weapon use, economically insignificant Lanka would be completely abandoned by the rest of civilized world.. In Gota’s cooked mind, he is seeing whole West and East are preparing WW IV. If there is WW IV, that would be the end of the human civilisation and all world elite leaders knows this. How one can explain these to GCE O/L struggled Lanka leaders?
    AKD (JVP leader) recently said that none of the members of old generation and new generation Rajapakse family members successfully completed GCE O/L. But MR’s two sons are now reading (being read?) for PhD in Colombo University, straight from GCE O/L to PhD..

    • 7
      2

      AVB

      “China gov didn’t offer anything but I saw some Chinese kids donated considerable amount of money…”

      Instead China sends its nuclear powered submarine on a fact finding mission, didn’t go up the hill.

      You can’t do much about natural disasters, however you can stop creating man made disasters. Gota’s invitation to Chinese submarine is another such in the long line of self inflicted harm.

  • 4
    1

    The Rajapaksa regime is playing with fire. They are making pacts with the devil, and being getting too involved with shady nations around the world. Whether it is China, India, or Israel, liaisons with such devious countries will end up badly for the people of Sri Lanka, who must pay the consequences for the greed and diabolical games played by the Rajapaksa’s. The Rajapaksa’s are mired in dirt, and making deals with the Devil, that long term will be disastrous for the country.

  • 0
    0

    Vibhushana,

    [Edited out]

  • 3
    4

    TG,

    I have been posting umpteen comments here in CT, Rajapakshe is not just going to be threat for Tamils, even for Sinhalese too, Unfortunate that most sinhalese are soaked in racist ideologies and side with this devil. For sinhalese, racist ideology is enough to comfort their day, for almost year, i read other news media on srilanka and commentary sections show clearly their racist minds.

    Unprecedented danger awaits for Silly lanks which willing to wage its tail through nuclear expansion and race in Indian ocean.

  • 1
    2

    Where is that pumpkin size brain lady, Sach?

  • 4
    2

    Dear Thisaranee,

    I have always respected your views but you should not hesitate to spell out names neither should you beat around the bush. Its a fact that the Aussies know that it was Gota who was sending the boats. Say it without hesitation. I am aware of inside information and I can conform it. Tony Abbot won his election in true Rajapakse style by hoodwinking his own people. They orchestrated the boat invasion in connivance with Colombo to win the election in Australia. In return the Rajapakse’s wanted Abbot to support them by attending CHOGM and refraining from voting against SL at the UN. This is how it was done.

    This village mentality of the Rajapakse who don’t understand Global politics and just want to continue in power to rob more money have set a disastrous course for Sri Lanka. The villages who form the massive voter base don’t have a clue that the Rajapakse will jump ship in the near future leaving them and the country to face the consequences. They are all about themselves and care little about the people making them the most unpatriotic family in Sl. They are worse than the LTTE . Just watch it unfold. We will be brought down to zero before a wise leader I don’t know from where in SL will have to emerge to take the country forward.

    • 1
      2

      Says a clown who calls him self potshot . what a joke

      Cheers

      Abhaya

      • 2
        0

        Abhaya, if just take it off, you will stand naked.

      • 5
        0

        When the facts are stubborn and against the government anybody is a clown to Abhaya. FYI Abhaya there are so many insiders in Gov who are fed-up with your President and information about him and his family are leaking at a rate. You will soon be stunned by the number of SLFPer who are preparing to crossover to support a common candidate. I will then meet clowns like you on CT to discuss it. It will be helpful to your president if you keep your eyes and ears open although nothing can prevent a disastrous end to the regime.

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