14 April, 2024


Foreign Police & The Dimensions If Impotency

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Small nations typically do not have much by way of bargaining power vis-à-vis powerful nations; ‘small’ meaning economically and militarily weak rather than land size. Weak, however, does not mean helpless. Indeed there are very few if any relationships between the powerful and the weak that are not characterized by contestation and continuous negotiation of the terms of control. The same goes for relations between countries, despite power differentials. Sri Lanka, right now, appears to be an exception.

Needless to say, diplomacy is a sphere of activity where words are almost always used to varnish unpalatable truths. In fact there’s nothing bad about anything bilateral or multilateral if we went strictly by the statements uttered by the stewards of foreign relations. And yet if one were to factor in track records of the particular protagonists, statements uttered in different contexts and examine the small print of agreements, diplospeak immediately looks an infantile language which has barely evolved out the grunts.

Let’s consider Sri Lanka’s case. First and foremost, the country’s economic situation has been the main determinant of foreign policy formulation. The economic logic of the particular regime has informed the picking of friends by and large. The striking exemption was the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime at the height of the offensive against the LTTE when defeating the LTTE counted more than ‘economic sense’ in the weight given to friendships with foreign nations. As a result, after the end of the war, that regime had to rush to China for help, support that did not come free.

There were other prices to pay of course and pounds of flesh were duly extracted in Geneva first and eventually in Sri Lanka when those nations which felt peeved by Rajapaksa put their weight behind his detractors. This is not to say, of course, that he would have prevailed if there was no such support, but that’s another story.

Post-Mahinda, as expected, the new Government placed their bets on the anti-Rajapaksa bloc, especially India, the USA and the EU. And lost. The Government was forced to pick the Rajapaksa Option. China.

And yet, it appears that the Government is not yet done with pandering to the demands of the USA and India. Of course, governments inherit debts owed by previous regimes and one can argue that a responsible regime cannot pout and refuse to pay. However, we also know that this Government is politically on the same page with the USA as far as what is good for Sri Lanka is concerned. It has essentially decided to inhabit the US version of Sri Lanka’s reality and design a future Sri Lanka that delivers the interests of that country.

It’s legitimate. If you are in agreement then you go along. Going along is one thing, but allowing someone like the US Ambassador to be presumptuous enough to state that he will help Sri Lanka write a new constitution is something else. Even diplospeak cannot varnish incompetence or worse, impotence.

Then we have the Indian High Commissioner virtually saying ETCA is a done deal. If indeed the deal is done despite objections from quarters other than the oppose-anything Joint Opposition then once again it means that this Government is either on the same page as India about the benefits for Sri Lanka (again, all-is-good diplospeak) or worse is incompetent or clueless. Reminiscent one might say of J.R. Jayewardene’s capitulation to Rajiv Gandhi in July 1987. Shows a worrisome (that’s a generous term) lack of confidence. To make it even worse, it appears that the Government wants India to develop the Oil Tank Farm in Trincomalee. Why India, is the question that needs to be asked in a context where India is not going to (and cannot) bail out Sri Lanka economically. That’s China’s job and that’s official whether we like it or not.

Put all of this on the same page (of a newspaper, say) and the picture is pretty clear: this Government has a foreign policy that can be written in a sentence – ‘say “aye” to whatever India or the USA proposes to further their strategic, economic and other interests and submit to China’s economic diktat’.

There’s a small chance that the statements issued by the US Ambassador and the Indian High Commissioner are nothing more than a couple of diplomats putting a brave front in the face of an impending China take-over. It’s hard to say, however, given the Government’s apparent policy of treating such moves as being in the ‘goes without saying’ category, the subtext of which (need we say?) is essentially ‘comes without saying’.

Small nations typically do not have much by way of bargaining power vis-à-vis powerful nations. But few nations are absolutely powerless. Given certain comparative advantages (strategic location, for one), Sri Lanka can bargain. And must. At least, it can play one power against the other and try to optimize. The kind of capitulation we are seeing, however, indicates that this Government believes that its political future is in the hands of India and the USA. There have been others who came before who believed the same and looked in disbelief when outcomes that were preferred and considered assured did not materialize.

All that for the future. Sooner or later, this Government will realize the worth of that pithy Sinhala saying ‘katin bathala sitaveema’ (planting sweet potato with the mouth). The US Ambassador will understand the US version of this: ‘put your money where your mouth is’. Right now, both India and the USA are backing on throwing a few paisas and pennies (respectively) and raking in big bucks in economic and strategic terms. There’ll probably be a limit to what the big buck provider, China, will tolerate on the strategic front.

It is better to wake up, even slowly, rather than be woken up rudely. Chances are that this Government, if woken up rudely, will break into giggles and say ‘that’s so sweet of you’. Indeed it’s a throwback to J.R. Jayewardene’s famous line when ushering in the open economy: ‘Let the robber barons come!’ Only, on a larger scale and by a Government that appears incapable of taking stock of changed global realities. This is not 1977 or 1987. This is 2016. Back then, China was not even mentioned. Today, China dominates the script. Only, this Government doesn’t seem to have read it.

*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. Blog: malindawords.blogspot.com. Email: malindasenevi@gmail.com. Twitter: malindasene

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 10

    The truth is that Mahinda needed China and China gave free chemical weapons and cluster bombs to kill Tamils but it took full control of economy by putting large sum of money as loan on unproductive investments. Mahinda & Co filled their pockets and now people and the nation has no other option than depend on China.In otherwords, soverignity is handed over to China. Now is part of China, one of the super power.

    • 2

      Ajith don’t have a pretend Sinhala name it is obvious you are a Tiger.
      Don’t talk rot with regards weapons to suit your agenda.

      • 9


        “Ajith don’t have a pretend Sinhala name”

        Could you tell us when exactly did Ajith a Sanskrit name become Sinhala one.

        Ajith in Sanskrit means, invincible, irresistible, unsurpassed or unconquered.

        If we go by your ignorance soon we will be forced to accept Buddha (the awakened one) was a Sinhalese, born in Sinheladipa, belonged to Sinha Le blood group, a follower of Sinhala/Buddhism and was named in Hela language.

        • 2

          [Edited out] NAtive Veddo:

          Could you tell us when exactly did Ajith a Sanskrit name become Sinhala one. Ajith in Sanskrit means, invincible, irresistible, unsurpassed or unconquered.

          That is how tamils are. Their Tamil can not be tronounced because Z every where. Their language is primitieve because some consonents are missing.

          Anyway, they use every thing Sanskrit but talk about Tamil.

          they are Christians but talk about Tamil.

          They are everything Indian but Talk Homeland in Sri lanka.

  • 4


    “The kind of capitulation we are seeing, however, indicates that this Government believes that its political future is in the hands of India and the USA.”

    I dont believe it is capitulation but cunning. I suspect that the PM being the individual he is, will only go so far before calling his bluff. He tried it with the LTTE, that is why they did not like him. I wish him well, because his success is important to Sri Lanka.

    • 0

      I belive that. His past experience counts a lot.

      Cold war is good smaller countries. That is how Fidel Castro became a Hero.

  • 9

    my goodness. with the amount of writing malinda and dayan are doing MR must be paying them by the word now. poor fellow, even he will run out of money at this rate.

    • 4

      Foreign “police”? What the fruck is he talking about?

      He may be writing a lot of words for Mahinda, but he still has to learn spell checking.

      Trying too hard to be a writer probably.

  • 3


    What can you do when the Tamils were on a killing spree of innocent Muslims and Sinhala villagers in hundreds of thousands and planting bombs in every nook and corner of the country? The next time you do it the reaction will be worse.


    • 5

      Do you want to count the number of bombs and shells sprayed every inch of North East since 1980? it is in billions. I know truth is hard to absorb by any Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalist liers.

      • 5

        Ajith Tamil Population in the North is less than one million. So, one billion bombs were dropped, there should be millions of crators and there should not be any tamils ?

        • 3

          Dear Jim softy, you are very weak in calculations. Do you know population is not equal to land size and not every bomb and shell land on people. If you want ask Gotapaya and all other defence secretaries to tell you the number of shells and bombs used over the 35 years of war.

          • 1

            What ever the land size is (Jaffna is not the size of Australia), for less than one million population, 35 years of bombing with one billion or even one million bombs is enough to wipe out the whole population and to make a big crater to provide enough water to whole arid zone.

    • 2


      “What can you do when the Tamils were on a killing spree of innocent Muslims and Sinhala villagers in hundreds of thousands and planting bombs in every nook and corner of the country?”

      Had the then President Premadasa and his army thought twice about arming, financing, ……. providing political and diplomatic cover for the cornered LTTE and let the IPKF deal with them the war would have come to an end well before the end of 1990.

      The armed forces were supposed to deal with the invading army, instead, they chose to hide behind their women folks and VP’s fat bum, prolonging the war for another 20 years.

      By the way wasn’t it VP who foolishly fought and got rid of the invading Hindian armed forces? Why didn’t the armed forces fight and protect the sovereignty (whatever that may be) of this country?

      And MR paid him handsomely to rig the elections. Aren’t you grateful to VP for evicting a hundred thousand strong IPKF and electing the clan chief to the highest office of this land?

      By the way, where were you when the country needed you most to fight the invading Hindians?

      Let me guess, probably hiding behind your grandma?

      Did you go to geneva with MR to beg intervention of UNGRC when Sri Lankan armed forces were involved in large scale massacre of innocent Sinhala youth or simply hiding behind your grandma?

  • 3

    There is no difference between India and USA. That is why Modi is silent and he can not do his agenda becacuse the congress is full of CIA agents.

    Now, they have done that to Sri lanka too. That is why they order in open. There are so many in the parliament and also at different places in the system.

    If Sri lanka is to be restructured, Russia and this time with China need to rekindle the Cold war.

    • 0

      I want US to be respected – Obama

      I think he has won a lot of respect since he got elected?

  • 5

    Malinda your ancestor Vijaya is from India and even Buddhism originated from India, If you cut a vein part of the blood that flows out will be Indian blood.
    So whats your problem with India?

    • 1

      I don’t think, Sri lanka has a foreign policy. Sri lanka’s foreign policy is for survival. Other than that, it is entirly dictated by and manipulated by USA and India. thqat is why Recently, Mangala Samaraweera was living in the USA mostly. He though t, he could dictate terms to China too. But, that did not work.

      CBK and Mangala are working for them. The leardhip of both of them is to lick their shoes.

  • 1


    Mahinda Chintanaya was there to lie and manipulate the whole world including country’s own voter base. Exploited every thing and country’s development meant the progress of the Rajapakse dynasty, its’ relatives, friends and henchmen.

    Yahapalanaya policy is actually, there is no one leader. CBK, Mangala, Ranil, MY3 are all leaders and have different roles. There is no collective vision, a visionary leader or a team. Their foreign policy is CBK trying to be a international leader by catering to India, USA and to the other western European countries. Mangala Samaraweera is in the same boat. CBK’s only role is making India happy, fulfilling USA needs and LTTE diaspora needs.

    Ranil’s major objective is staying in power at any cost. He is just wheeler -dealer similar to Mahinda Rajapakse but Ranil Wickramsinghe does not have a situation such as looking after the future of the extended family and bringing the future king and princes to the stage. Yahapalanaya also wants to stay in power. So, they are aligned with China. China is doing the same with every country because China knows west always get smaller countries to doublecross in order to sabotage China’s progress. On the other hand West cannot help Sri lanka because they are now bankrupt. Even Indians do not like India once they leave the country. India is that bad. So, don’t expect anything from India.

    Sri lanka is really in a sorry state with respect to the foreign policy though. It is all manipulated mostly by USA and then Inda. China is only manoevering because China knows the difficult situation that Sri lanka is in.

    Right now, India India has a Trade Surplus. India’s production cost is far lighter than that of Sri lanka. Sri lankas are not that ambitious or businesslike and they cannot face Indian businesses. So, only thing the ETCA bring will be more cheap labour coming to Sri lanka. India sends thousands of their science, engineering and other graduates to the west to do menial jobs. So, it will be easier for indians to work and compete with Sri lankans for Sri lankan jobs.

    ETCA is worh signing, if at least, Sri lanka has increase its export share in order to meet trade balance.

    Initial suggestion was sign a trade agreement in place of the 13th amendment which is costly and create more problems to the country.

  • 0

    ‘ere Malinda Seneviratne, SMALL Correction

    ….. governments inherit debts….

    NO! It is the Country, WE the People, who inherit the debts created by proliferate governments. It is WE the People who like mugs continue to put our shoulders to the wheel, here at home, and in foreign climes. to pay for the mistakes of the incompetent that WE elect to office.

  • 0

    As for medical experiments and US government’s sordid history with those it is not entirely holier than thou; they were a bit like Nazi Germany’s and War time Japan’s experiments except racism was a key ingredient of their experiments.

    IF ANYONE did anything like that on LTTE prisoners, then it needs to be investigated but most certainly NOT by the USA.

    In Tuskeegee Alabama(where Asst Secy of State Robert Blake was from) the Federal US government conducted experiments for decades on BLACK syphilis patients. The study took place in Macon County, Alabama, the county seat of Tuskegee referred to as the “Black Belt” because of its rich soil and vast number of black sharecroppers who were the economic backbone of the region. The research itself took place on the campus of Tuskegee Institute.

    CIA had so many illegal programs as well. Project MKULTRA was one such project. It led to the creation and proliferation of LSD. Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control. It is believed the Soviets were doing the same back then and therefore it was considered ok.

    Also Hillary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State, had to apologize for their Syphilis experiments done by the US Government in Guatemala. That lasted decades too. The syphilis experiments in Guatemala were conducted in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948. It was done during the administration of American President Harry S. Truman and Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo with the cooperation of some Guatemalan health ministries and officials.

    Doctors deliberately infected soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, without the informed consent of the subjects, and treated most subjects with antibiotics. This resulted in dozens of deaths.

    In October 2010, the U.S. formally apologized to Guatemala for conducting these experiments.

    Ambassador Keshap, CM Wigneswaran, Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, and the young eager US State department workers in Colombo can dwell on that hypocrisy a bit. IF ANYONE did anything like that then it needs to be investigated but most certainly NOT by the USA. We even hear stories about using White Phosporous in Falluja and of course everyone knows about Agent Orange and its long term effects even today.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.