By Izeth Hussain –
I am adding this fourth and concluding part of this article because I want mainly to clarify one point, and establish it firmly, as otherwise my article – though it contains material of public importance – might seem to amount to a nullity. From the feedback I have been getting it appears that the public mind is fixated on the idea that President JR really had no alternative to caving in to the Indian demand that military operations be stopped after Vadamarachchi, as otherwise India would have invaded this country with very horrible consequences. He therefore did what any responsible leader would have done in his position. Behind that fixation is the realpolitik notion of international relations, according to which what counts ultimately in international relations is power and nothing else. It is a naïve, and indeed ill-informed, notion that fails to take count of the complex realities behind international relations in the modern era.
The main point that I want to establish – that India would not have invaded Sri Lanka if President JR had stood his ground – can be dealt with at great length and much detail. Here I will have to content myself with a few paragraphs in which I will bring out the essentials, which could however suffice to revolutionize our thinking about what was done to Sri Lanka in 1987. My argument depends on just one point: power of course counts in international relations but other factors also count, the most important being morality which can place serious constraints on the exercise of power. The most striking example that I can think of is the Vietnam War. The US had the power to bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age. Neither China nor the Soviet Union would have risked nuclear war in defense of Vietnam. But the US had to suffer an ignominious defeat when that Vietcong tank burst through the iron gates of the American Embassy not long after the Ambassador and his staff had hooked it by helicopter. Today the US has the power to blow up the globe several times over, it is the sole super power, but its power to influence and dominate other countries has been in steep decline. Power counts; morality could count for more.
In the period after the Second World War, every case of a foreign invasion has had a moral justification behind it, or at the very least the pretence of a moral justification. This really has been the case right through history, except that in the past the pretence of a moral justification to cover up what really was naked aggression was far more frequent. The two Iraq wars are instructive. Saddam Hussein claimed that he had a moral justification in taking over Kuwait because little Kuwait yearned for unity with the motherland. The rest of the world saw it, quite correctly, as aggression and annexation and therefore supported international counter-action in the Gulf War. In the second Iraq war Bush and Blair claimed a moral justification on the ground that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It turned out that both had engaged in bare-faced lying, and Blair in particular is regarded as an international pariah with whom Desmond Tutu won’t even shake hands. Such are the norms established after the Second World War, showing that today morality counts in international relations far more than it ever did in the past. I cannot see India acting in cavalier disregard of those norms.
In regard to the problem of foreign invasions I would put powerful countries and their weaker neighbors in a special category. Both have security preoccupations which – at least for the most part – don’t apply to their relations with the rest of the world. The weak feels vulnerable to the strong neighbor while the latter feels vulnerable over the prospect that the weak neighbor might get together with some powerful country and work against it. Consequently the moral constraint on the exercise of power is more likely to break down in relations between neighbors. I must emphasize however that that does not mean that the moral factor ceases to apply in relations between neighbors. It is important to bear both those facts in mind in our relations with India.
Russia provides an interesting case study on the complexities of relations between a powerful country and its weak neighbors. It annexed the Crimea in an act of aggression that apparently showed no moral compunction at all. Actually the Crimea, which has had an overwhelming Russian population, should never have been gifted to the Ukraine – something that was done at a time when the Soviet Union was conceived of as a single unit. It was not therefore a straightforward case of naked aggression and annexation. Certainly Russia has been tough in dealing with Georgia, the Ukraine and others, but I view that in the perspective that I formed while serving as Ambassador in Moscow from 1995 to 1998. Russia saw itself – I think quite correctly – as having done something extraordinarily noble in relinquishing its hold on East Europe and dismantling the Soviet Union. It was therefore deeply disappointed that the US regarded it as the potential enemy and several of its neighbors showed resentment and hostility towards it. Many wanted close relations with the West at the expense of Russia and some clearly yearned for NATO membership. In other words, Russia’s toughness with neighbors should be seen in the perspective of threat perceptions and what Russia sees as its legitimate security interests. It is not that it has abandoned the moral factor in its dealings with neighbors.
I come now to two cases that are of particular interest to Sri Lanka, the first of which was Bangladesh. In an earlier part of this article I have already disposed of the notion that the break-up of Pakistan was an exercise of realpolitik by India. The truth is that Indira Gandhi spent around eleven months in establishing the moral justification for Indian intervention in East Pakistan. The other case, that of Cyprus, was much more complicated, and certainly the factor of realpolitik weighed heavily in the intervention of Turkey. In 1974 a Greek junta took power in Athens, proceeded to drive out the Cyprus leader Makarios, and installed in his place Sampson, preparatory to establishing Enosis, the union of Greece and Cyprus. But prior to the grant of independence to Cyprus there had been a tripartite Treaty of Guarantees between Britain, Greece, and Turkey, according to which they would take action to prevent that unity and also a division of Cyprus. Turkey acted in terms of that Treaty by invading Cyprus, but it put itself in the wrong by failing to act in concurrence with the other two parties to the Treaty. Thereafter there was a second invasion of Cyprus in which Turkish troops took over much more territory than the Cypriot Muslims could legitimately claim. Later in the 1980s Turkey established an independent Cypriot Muslim state.
Certainly the factor of realpolitik – the assertion of the will of the powerful over the weak – weighed heavily in all that. But I want to show that the factor of morality did count, and has continued to count to a crucial degree. Firstly Turkey did have a strong moral justification for its intervention because Sampson was a thoroughly unsavory character, known to have been in league with terrorists for decades, and was just the kind of person who in a leadership position would have carried out a genocidal massacre of the Cypriot Muslims. Turkey had a strong moral justification – ignoring the legal technicalities – for its intervention in terms of the principles of today’s R2P (Responsibility to Protect). The moral factor has counted with the international community to the extent that up to now not a single country, apart from Turkey, has recognized the Cypriot Muslim state, not even Turkey’s closest Muslim allies such as Pakistan. At the present moment the Cyprus problem seems closer to a solution than ever before.
I can conclude this article very briefly because the essential points have already been made. The moral factor counts in international relations far more than it ever did in human history, and it is difficult to believe that in 1987 India would have invaded Sri Lanka in cavalier disregard of established international norms and earned international opprobrium in the process. On what grounds would India have invaded Sri Lanka if President JR had insisted on extending the Vadamarachchi operations? 1) There were food shortages in the North but nothing like famine conditions, and certainly there was no imminent danger of death by hunger. Furthermore those food shortages were easily corrigible. If India had invaded Sri Lanka, it would have been the first time in history that a powerful country invaded a small neighbor because of food shortages that were easily corrigible. 2) Sri Lanka had not just the right but the primordial duty of putting down an armed rebellion by military means. If we had insisted on that, I am sure that the international community would have backed us. 3) It was widely believed that India was being very tough with us because of the special relations that President JR had built up with the US, which were seen by India as inimical to its interests. But I have shown above that in 1987 the US was actually colluding with India.
However, the kind of questions and arguments I have raised above could not have been raised in 1987. We were living under a virtual dictatorship, and President JR was engaged in a tripartite conspiracy the outcome of which were the Peace Accords and the coming of the IPKF troops to Sri Lanka. The further outcome was twenty two more years of war and a hundred thousand deaths. I suppose that President JR, having the mentality of an old fox, preferred a conspiracy to a straightforward military victory. The problem was that he was a mad old fox.
Rajash / June 13, 2015
IH “I am adding this fourth and concluding part of this article because I want mainly to clarify one point”
oh no! another clarification as I predicted.
Amarasiri / June 13, 2015
A Parade of Traitors, Bought by Christian Fundamentalists to Lanka, the Land of Native Vedda Aethho.
Sinhala Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, BBS where are You? Are you not funded ny the Norwegians and the Israelis?
The Various Norwegian Agencies That Supported BBS Personnel
By Rajiva Wijesinha –
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP
When I wrote some weeks back about the supposed Norwegian involvement with the Bodhu Bala Sena, I had not seen the clarification which the Norwegian Embassy had put on its website about the allegations. Having read it, I am more than ever convinced that the Norwegian government and its embassy have not behaved badly, but also that they, and also the Sri Lankan government, must go more carefully into the matter and check on what exactly has been going on. If they can do this together, so much the better, though I fear that neither side will have the correct skills and attitudes to ensure fruitful and productive cooperation.
The reason I believe investigation would be useful is because of two names I noticed in the official Norwegian statement. One is that of the Worldview International Foundation, which is essentially run by a gentleman called Arne Fjiatoff, who has been in Sri Lanka now for several decades. During this period he has been involved in a range of projects with various Sri Lankan governments, which are in theory designed to benefit the Sri Lankan people, but which have also brought considerable benefits to Arne himself.
Izeth hussain / June 13, 2015
Congratulations Rajash! Brilliant prediction. But, oh Nostradamus, some would say the point is whether the clarification is necessary or not. – IH
Amarasiri / June 14, 2015
I am getting tired of the Events that happened during 1987-1989.
Can you please change your subject to the Hypothesis that is going around among Muslims, regarding the wahhabis and their clones.
Educate your Fellow Muslims and clearly show that
1. The Wahhabis and their Clones are following Iblis, Satan, Shaitan, Devil, Mara, Lucifer, as warned in the Hadith and the Quran.
Ask the Muslims to be Muslims, and not Wahhabis and Iblis and Salafis.They are there to destroy the Muslims, Sufis and Shia from within.
al-azhar cleric about wahabis/salafis
Hadith of Najd
According to two narrations in Sahih Bukhari, Muhammad asks Allah to bless the areas of Bilad al-Sham (Syria) and Yemen. When his companions said “Our Najd as well,” he replied: “There will appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there will come out the side of the head (e.g. horns) of Satan.” In a similar narration, Muhammad again asked Allah to bless the areas Medina, Mecca, Sham, and Yemen and, when asked specifically to bless Najd, repeated similar comments about there being earthquakes, trials, tribulations, and the horns of Satan.
“O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Shaam. O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.” The people said, “O Messenger of Allaah, and our Najd.” I think the third time the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from there appears the Horn of Satan.”
A number of authors have claimed that the hadith refers to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the patronym of the Wahhabi movement. It is accounted that the origin of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab is from the modern day Najd region of Saudi Arabia, which happens to be the only surviving region that carried on the title of ‘Najd’ after the geographical codification regardless that there were several distinct locations known previously as ‘Najd’. This theory is generally supported by adherents to other various sects in Sunni Islam that have disdain for Wahhabism. This is often speculated to be due to the revival of prophetic traditions, strictly clinging to hadith and negating what was seen at the time to be bid‘ah or ‘heretical innovations’, instigated by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and later carried on by his followers. as well as Twelver Shi’ism. Contrary to the accusations there are numerical hadith that discredit this argument due to praise of the ethnic tribe of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, being the Bani Tameem tribe, and praise for the region of what is now known as Najd and its peoples. Through anthropological records it is accounted that the Bani Tamim are the majority of people inhabiting the land of modern day ‘Najd’ in present day Saudi Arabia.
Egypt Salafist University: It’s OK to kill unbelievers and eat them!
Rajash / June 15, 2015
IH “Congratulations Rajash! Brilliant prediction.”
I should congratulate you for making it happen.
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / June 13, 2015
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Rohan Polwatte / June 18, 2015
JR IS THE BIGGEST TRAITOR WHO WAS ELECTED TO SRI LANKAN POLITICS. SRI LANKAN SUFFERED FOR MORE THAN 30YEARS becuase of this traitor. Next bunch of traitors were elected to the office from 2005 to 2014 January 8th . thanks to maithri all these traitors were sent home or may be will be jailed pretty soon after january 8th 2014.
aLL TRAITORS SHOULD DIES SOON!
backlash / June 13, 2015
“… India would have invaded this country with very horrible consequences….” recklessly insists established India-hater Izeth Hussain. This is, after all, his opinion. Foolish opinion, one might add. Many readers have written expressing surprise why Hussain chose the present time to heap hatred on JRJ in his 4 piece verbal diarrhea. There are many who believe JRJ, arguably, is one of our more able and successful leaders since Independence (1948) although, being human and a political animal, he was not free of his foibles or different interpretations from his detractors. I hope I do not ask for much if I am to suggest he deserves to be treated more fairly by history. I might add that my family and I were badly traumatised in July ’83.
It is clear to those students of India and its politics India’s political strength lies within and is distributed between its independent political establishment, institutions of the armed forces and administration of governance and justice – all of which function transparently and constitutionally making any rogue action from super-ambitious individuals or groups virtually impossible. There is much discussion within India’s polity and administration before major political decisions are made. It would appear India is extremely careful not to go into war – either with countries of her size, larger or smaller endangering that giant country, its billion people of its very significant gains in its massive development, giant strides in agriculture, industry, education and many other spheres of peaceful activities. I believe she is careful not to compromise her recent history and widely respected Gandhian and non-aligned image in the pursuit of invading smaller neighbours. She has avoided all out war with China and Pakistan. One naturally does not know what the future holds in this confused and unpredictable world – a prospect that applies to all regional and global powers.
India’s controversial presence in Sri Lanka (1987) was, in case Hussain forgot the point, was on “invitation by JRJ’s Government” that was at virtual war in the North by the Tamil youth and in the South by Wijeweera and his JVP. It is well known, hours before the arrival of the IPKF JRJ called the chiefs of the Army, Police, Navy and Air Force – in the presence of his Cabinet. He is reported to have asked them if they can, combined, hold the country together if the LTTE and JVP were to increase their attacks simultaneously in the areas they were active in. It was only upon the unanimous negative reply from the service chiefs JRJ and the Cabinet okayed the IPKF campaign. It was, therefore, not an “invasion” that mischievous men like Hussain, with possible surreptitious Agendas in hand, laboriously try to make out. The IPKF came and left the NEP on their terms and on the dates of their choice.
Arguably, they did not meet their objectives entirely to their liking. How could they when it is now known Premadasa – and indeed others in different ways – treacherously armed those against the IPKF. The IPKF lost over a thousand soldiers. As CBK was to claim during her election campaign in 1993/94 there were many “Governments” in JRJs Govt of 1987-1989 working against him and at cross purposes.
India and Indian political leaders vis-à-vis Sri Lanka are not entirely free of fault both by commission and interpretation. But let us be reasonable, factual and fair in our criticism whether the analysis is done by men of good intent or those clearly prejudiced and possibly deranged.
IIzeth Hussain / June 14, 2015
This Backlash has been one of the worst Frangistas (my shorthand for Tamil lunatic fringe anti-Muslim racists). It’s mind-boggling, the brazen way in which he misquotes me and reads a meaning into my article that is the diametrical opposite of what it plainly declares.
He opens his response as follows: ” ‘….. India would have invaded this country with very horrible consequences …’ recklessly insists established India hater Izeth Hussain.” But that is only part of my sentence the whole of which reads as follows: “From the feedback I have been getting it appears that the public mind is fixated on the idea that President JR really had no alternative to caving in to the Indian demand that military operations be stopped after Vadamarachchi,as otherwise India would have invaded this country with very horrible consequences.” Is it not plain enough that there I am referring to a fixation in the public mind, not to a view held by me, that India would invade Sri Lanka?Is it not plain enough that the burden of my entire article was that if JR stood his ground India would NOT have invaded Sri Lanka? But our Backie gets it wrong. It’s mind-boggling.
He concludes his response by declaring that I am “possibly deranged” and he regularly describes my articles as “verbal diarrhea”. If he believes that such is the quality of my mind, he must answer the following questions: 1) How is it that the Island and the CT continue to publish me? 2) that Devanesan Nesiah declares that he agrees with 99% of what I write? 3) that I gave the Kandasamy memorial lecture in the first half of the ‘nineties? 4) that during the same period I gave the Ludowycke memorial lecture?
In addition to answering the above questions, I request him to make an admission.He has divulged that he has been reading my articles for decades.The truth, surely, is that he relishes my verbal diarrhea. Admit it, Backie, you old rogue! – IH
backlash / June 14, 2015
Not only yours Mr. Hussain but I, like many readers of these pages, have read the articles of many regular contributors for years. If that makes you feel special, go ahead. I have no qualms.
But in the future, stay by the facts; keep your prejudices to yourself and avoid cursing and unnecessary polemics. You need far to go in the PR area.
Izeth hussain / June 15, 2015
Our Backie is in full Backie form. He says that he and others read regular contributors over the years. That’s beside the point. What’s to the point is why he reads me if he thinks my articles are verbal diarrhea. The truth is that he relishes the stuff. After that utterly insulting characterisation of my writings and his reference to me as “possibly deranged” he actually advises me to avoid polemics and says that I have a long way to go in PR. That’s hard to beat for sheer lunacy.
Backie – Why don’t you answer the questions I posed – Why do the Island and CT continue to publish me? etc. The truth is that you can’t answer them without divulging that you are mad with anti-Muslim racist hatred just like the other Fringistas. – IH
backlash / June 15, 2015
Ha! ha! Hussain. How can I come to the conclusion your impositions are verbal diarrhea unless I read them?
BTW, thank you for your usual curses of “mad” “lunatics” and
the lot you generously inflict on those who have different views from yours. Like many, over the period of time of reading you, I find them quite amusing – which is probably the chief feature in your writings. In a way both you and your old pal De Silva bring back memories of Laurel & Hardy, Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin, the 2 Ronnies and ….How about Hus&Band??
Native Vedda / June 15, 2015
“bring back memories of Laurel & Hardy, Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin, the 2 Ronnies”
I love them all have great respect for them.
Well Hus and Silva scratching each others back is no fun. Even Punch and Judy show seems highly professional which brings joy to all those fans.
These two old codgers have been living in their own parallel universe.
Izeth Hussain / June 16, 2015
Come, come Backie – you must answer my questions. If my writings are verbal diarrhea, the quality of the mind behind it must be negligible or worse. How then is it that 1) the Island and the CT continue to publish me? 2) that Dr Devanesan Nesiah declares that he agrees with 99% of what write ? 3)that I gave the Kandasamy Memorial lecture? 4) that I gave the Ludowycke Memorial lecture? To the reader – Who can take our Backie seriously?
Backie- I an busy comparing six different versions of the Goldberg Variations – those of Wanda Landowska, Wilhelm Kempf , Rosalyn Turek. Glen Gould, Tatiana Nicholayeva, and Angela Hewitt.
To the reader – What’s the point of my cultural showmanship? The truth is that culturally I am utterly highbrow.I therefore don’t fit the image of the Ihambia. That’s part of the reason why I drive Backie and other Fringistas to their hysterical hatred and mad dog rage.- Isn’t that so Backie? – IH
backlash / June 16, 2015
Hiding behind a flow of names from the academic world does not make one a “highbrow” intellectual or raise him from the pitiful depths of his established mediocrity. It is “showmanship” of a low order.
You had answers to your bland questions more than once.
May I respectfully suggest you seek clinical therapy to free you from your present disturbed mental condition. You need it real bad.
Izeth Hussain / June 17, 2015
Point blank lying will get you nowhere Backie. It just shows that you have no moral scruples at all, because you have been dehumanised by your anti-Muslim racist hatred. There have never been any replies to my “bland questions” as you put it. Cite the replies. You can’t. You are a liar.
Come on Backie, reply my questions. You won’t because deep down you know that doing so will confirm that you have been deranged by anti-Muslim racist hatred.Or is it that you are simply a nincompoop, as Bandu puts it? – IH
RAJA / June 14, 2015
Dear IH, you are labeling all Tamils expressing their views against your writing as lunatics and racists. You are the one who started all this. You first attacked Wigneswaran, and then Modi. When there was no opposition to those, you became courageous and attacked Tamils. Your article insulted Tamils and tried to bring about a rift between Tamils and Muslims in Eastern province. At a time the present government is moving towards reconciliation and peace, you are trying to whip up hatred. Tamils who wrote against you only attacked you. None of them made any racist remarks against Muslims. Attack on you does not mean attack on Muslims.By your behaviour you have demonstrated that you are the lunatic and racist.
Amarasiri / June 13, 2015
Izeth Hussain –
“I am adding this fourth and concluding part of this article because I want mainly to clarify one point, and establish it firmly, as otherwise my article – though it contains material of public importance – might seem to amount to a nullity”
Sounds like the Ancient Greeks who thought the Sun goes around the Earth, the Church and Joshua who all wanted to clarify the Sun going around a stationary Earth.
Hello Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Foucault, did you hear that?
JR was a Pragmatist, he knew the situation and Sri Lankas’s situation in the Geopolitical scene and knew Realpolitik. He went one step further, git Rajiv Gandhi to do the dirty work for him.
lynx / June 13, 2015
On what basis did India send food ships and then an air drop? What did the so called ‘international community’ do to help Sri Lanka put down terrorism (apart from issuing ‘statements’)?
I seems a waste of time and space to keep criticizing a former President.
Amarasiri / June 13, 2015
“What did the so called ‘international community’ do to help Sri Lanka put down terrorism (apart from issuing ‘statements’)?
“I seems a waste of time and space to keep criticizing a former President.”
Yes, Yes and Yes.
JR was a Pragmatist, he knew the situation and Sri Lanka’s situation in the Geopolitical scene and knew Realpolitik. He went one step further, got Rajiv Gandhi to do the dirty work for him.
JR was a Pragmatist and Patriot. However, he should be severely criticized for what he did, especially during 1983, and what he dod not do, that lead to the Indians arrival in 1987.
Bandu de Silva / June 13, 2015
The point made by Hussain in this summing up article should not be overlooked, though it might appear, as he seems to concede, that the international response might not have been as it is today. Of the analogies he has presented, in the case of India’s military intervention in East Pakistan, India had far more important security reasons for wanting to break up Pakistan’s East wing. Pakistan was the sworn enemy but within the Indian establishment, there was a division of opinion, one representing the political outlook which saw the advantages of allowing Pakistan to be saddled with a festering and consuming problem in her East wing, so that Pakistan would be weakened by it. This group saw it as a better way to achieve India’s objective of weakening her irritating neighbor. A middle- of – road opinion was
that India could use the internal weakness in Pakistan’s east wing situation, rather than going for direct military intervention but one where India could advantageously foment dissension and thereby achieve the same goal ensuing from a military intervention. That did not exclude arms training and supply of arms for dissidents. This was actually resorted to in East Pakistan, and its very text book model was later applied in Sri Lanka when Tamil terrorist groups were allowed to enter India after hit and run operations, and when arms training as well as arms were provided to them by RAW and others.and funds were provided by Tamilnadu government. A third group headed by the Indian military, advocated direct military intervention.
As Hussain stated, Indira Gandhi prepared the ground for one year before striking. Like in the case of Sri Lanka at the beginning, in East Pakistan, she was opposed to military intervention. Was this mere eyewash to hide true intentions?
Two factors precipitated events. One was the influx of refugees from East Pakistan to India’s border states running to near one and a half million, in some states like Tripura, exceeding the local population. The other factor was Pakistani army’s decision to suppress the Bangladeshi movement through harsh militarily oppression. The final turn of events combined with India’s massive propaganda drive, succeeded in suppressing international opinion against India for military interference
I brought up a hither to undiscussed aspect which had been worrysome to India, namely, that East Pakistan had been a training ground and arms supply source to rebels in Assam and Nagaland. How serious this problem is could be seen from the very recent news of Indian army killing a large number of Assamese rebels across Myanmar’s border. Myanmar was the corridor through which the rebels went to former East Pakistan and China. This is recorded evidence.
Consequently, if there was no international opinion mounted against India’s military engagement in former East Pakistan, it was not only because of an acceptance of big power –small power perception, but because of some kind of readiness to understand India’s own security perceptions. If I remember right, Sri Lanka was one country to disapprove of India’s action though not publicly declared, but by permitting Pakistan military aircraft to transit though and have fueling facilities at Katunayake. Which were the countries India could immediately muster to recognise the new state of Bangladesh but two land-locked counties of Bhutan, and Mongolia. Bhutan was under Indian tutelage and Mongolia was a country to recognize which India was the first outside the Soviet bloc.
What is the lesson for us over the way President Jayewardene finally responded to India’s high handed action? India used her propaganda might to highlight the ‘plight’ of Sri Lankan Tamils, making use of July 1983 ethnic riots as primary evidence. She permitted a large exodus of Tamils from sri Lanaka to India. She allowed the Tamil terrorist propaganda head quarter to be established and operate from Madras. Indian embassies became disseminating outlets for these propaganda. Even a year after the riots when I was appointed Ambassador to France, I saw how pathetically inadequate our own machinery for meeting this propaganda challenge was. Even though I and my colleagues managed to overcome some of these difficulties there was no match to combined Indian government and Terrorist propaganda built up. It was really India’s intrusion into Sri Lanka’s air space which deflected the propaganda tide against Sri Lanka to one towards India. The role played by the leading French newspaper, Le Monde has to be acknowledged. Governments like that of France were watching India’s induction of massive numbers of troops with alarm. How the international community would have reacted had Indian army invaded Sri Lanka (Please note that before signing the Accord of July 1987, India had made contingency plans as early as April 1987 to send troops to the island and one of the contingencies in the “Operation Pawan” by the so called “invited” IPPKF was “Operations against the Sri Lankan security forces with the assistance of the LTTE”. So much for the “Invitation” and India’s benign intentions. These are hard facts recorded by the Indian side itself.
Hussain’s emphasis seems to be rather on what was likely have followed had a wholesale military take over by India took place. The analogy of the international community refusing to recognize Turkey’s annexation of a large portion of Cyprusian territory is relevant here. In the case of Bangladesh it was different. The international community finally accepted the ‘fait accompli’ there, though some countries including US, Sri Lanka and China delayed the recognition. Her recognition of the new nation by Pakistan in 1974, finally paved the way for removing China’s objection and Bangladesh’s entry into UN.
This is a more theoretical perspective, and I wonder if the President ever considered how the international community would have reacted, nor was he advised on that aspect by anyone, I believe, including Premadasa and Athulathmudli, For that matter I do not think any advice was proffered by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry which was in a position to do so, even if the subject might have been discussed internally; or by any of Sri Lankan Ambassadors.
I saw the prospects of building up an international opinion which persuaded me as a preliminary step to compile a dossier of “International Reaction to India’s intervention in Sri Lanka” on India’s violation of Sri Lanka’s airspace which was first distributed at the post-Aid group-meeting Press Conference held by the then Finance Minister, Ronnie de Mel. It is my reading that the President’s vision on the whole affair was circumscribed by a restricted and projected towards India alone. If he had any other considerations outside that it would have been with US Embassy alone. As Hussain had pointed out, it is doubtful if he had received any encouragement from that direction to stand firm with India and spoil any support from India in a mediatory role. I am reminded of what Ambassador Galbriath told Jawahallal Nehru not to expect US air cover to sustain his adventure of fighting to the end with China over the border issue.
The question then arises if President Jayewardene was acting traitor-like refused to evaluate the international support he might receive and cowardly succumbed to Indian pressure to sign the Accord which was imposed on him with accompanying Exchange of Letters which impinged on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty; or if he missed to do so because he was not properly advised. It could also be that he had reached a crisis situation in his life which he found himself unable to tackle with firmness.if one agrees with this formulation, then he alone cannot be blamed for it.many including myself as his ambassador have to share part of the blame. I was prevented by his Foreign Minister, Shaul Hammeed from even conveying the concerns which the French Foreign Minister expressed too me about Indian troops in Sri Lanka.even my meeting with the french Foreign Minister which came about when I was on leave in France before departure to Sri Lanka was facilitated by a friend and not the Embassy.
There after I remained “status-less’ in the Foreign Ministry, marking my presence daily and seated on a visitors chair.
Perhaps, Hussain’s question could be rephrased then, if he agrees, to President Jayawardene’s narrow vision on the Indian threat and intimidation, also, with a fear of personal safety arising from a threat perception which was exaggerated by the Indian government assisted by RAW.
P.S. I must make a small correction to an error I made in a comment on Hussain’s last article where I said that the threat perception came later after signing the Accord.No It had been there around the time he was negotiating with the Indian government.
Bandu de Silva.
Izeth hussain / June 13, 2015
Thanks Bandu for your detailed and valuable comment.In your penultimate para you wonder whether JR was properly advised. He was not advised at all. The Foreign Office was not asked for its advice. We were kept in the dark.I and Secretary WTJ knew that an Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was in the offing but we did not know its terms. Things moved to a conclusion in a totally clandestine way. It seems that even the documents were prepared abroad.
If reference had been made to the FO I certainly would have made the three points with which I conclude my article. 1) It was ridiculous to suppose that India would invade Sri Lanka over food shortages that were easily corrigible. 2) The international community would never have denied that the SL Government had the primordial duty of putting down an armed rebellion by military means.3)The special relations with the US did not count because by 1987 the US and India were in collusion.
It is important to remember what happened after 1987. Our armed forces put down the JVP and LTTE rebellions. I believe that Kingsley de Silva was absolutely right in holding in his book that the failure to extend the Vadamarachchi operations led to 22 more years of war and a 100,000 deaths – IH
Bandu de Silva / June 13, 2015
I apolagise to readers for the presence of two unfinished sentences. and for a few other omissions.The comment was long and got completely erased, and I had to reconstruct it from memory. I repeat the two paragraphs with corrections.
“Governments like that of France were watching India’s induction of massive numbers of troops with alarm. How the international community would have reacted had Indian army invaded Sri Lanka (Please note that before signing the Accord of July 1987, India had made contingency plans as early as April 1987 to send troops to the island and one of the contingencies in the “Operation Pawan” by the so called “invited” IPKF was “Operations against the Sri Lankan security forces with the assistance of the LTTE”,can be a matter of conjecture. So much for the “Invitation” and India’s benign intentions. These are hard facts recorded by the Indian side itself”.
“Even my meeting with the french Foreign Minister which came about when I was on leave in France before departure to Sri Lanka was facilitated by a friend in Quay d’Orsay and not the Embassy who even arranged transport for me. There after I remained “status-less’ in the Foreign Ministry, marking my presence daily and seated on a visitors chair on the corridor.”
Bandu de Silva
backlash / June 13, 2015
Our senior ex-diplomat Mr. Bandu de Silva has two perceptions of the arrival of the IPKF in his belief of the “conspiracy” our neighbour concocted to destabilise Sri Lanka
(1) the events leading to the July ’83 events and the flow of refugees
(2) “the threat perception came later after signing the Accord” i.e.
At least our experienced foreign ministry man gives us the democratic
choice of choosing between two alternatives. How good of him.
backlash / June 14, 2015
It is clear the imagination of our two senior ex-foreign ministry men
is going to bits and pieces. Here’s what that can go as a cake-taker –
“Operations against the Sri Lankan security forces with the assistance of the LTTE” ??? An idle mind, it has been said centuries ago, is a
devil’s workshop. Looks like, at least to these gentlemen, well past their 80s, excessive imagination and invention of history are
past times to while away the plentiful supply of time hours in their hands. Fortunately, for those of us in the readership, they are articulate and write well – whether what they write is consistent with history and the times is another matter entirely.
Nelun / June 14, 2015
Well the writer of the article says that the International community would have supported JR to end the war they did by giving arms both to the rebels and the government!!!Imagine if America had been invited to come in what would have happened they could not have been sent away and what would have been said about that!!! Because India came in JR knew that USA and China would not have allowed a permanent base.!! He was smart and he knew that Premadasa would not tolerate a permanent station to India.I think he also knew the International political mind a little better than you did.He juggled the situ so that the main powers would not want the other to locate permanently in Sri Lanka!!Smart and wise.If USA really wanted the war to stop they would have stopped funding on their shores.
Bandu de Silva / June 14, 2015
I agree with you that the foreign office was kept out of Indian affairs.This was partly by design and partly by the way things evolved. I say by design because JR was sensitive that Indian affairs should be handled with extreme care. I do not know if you would agree with me that Minister Shaul Hammed did not seem to enjoy much trust with Prez JR, though JR had trust in the officials. I know he respected his Ambassadors very much. When I was appointed Ambassador, he asked me one evening at his residence, in the presence of Prime Minister Premadasa, what advice I could give him over the Tamil terrorist problem.In Paris when he received information on the movement of a shipment of arms for the LTTE from a German port, he gave the document to me and asked me how I proposed to deal with it. After the riots of July 1983 when he was assailed over the diplomatic appointments made to key western posts, he had asked “Where are my professional diplomats”.It was thereafter that he found that senior diplomats like me, Stanley Jayaweerra, Jayanath Rajapakse were vegetating in insignificant positions but certain other junior diplomats had been sent as Ambassadors to key posts.To his horror he had found that the attack on him came because key posts like London,Paris,Bonn and Cairo were held by Tamils.It must be said that men like Moorthy in London and N.Balasubramnium were men of great substance and integrity (even under presure) which could not be said of Lakshmi Naganathan in Bonn who was found to be engaged in anti-Sri Lankan diplomacy and finally defected.
JR allowed Hammed to preoccupy himself with matters over nonalignment, and UN. When he visited Paris after Bahamas CHOGM, Hammed was kept out of the Paris sctor.He was asked to go to UN while Gamini Dissanayake who had become a principal adviser on Indo-Lankan issues accompanied the Prez to Paris. Hameed smelt a rat and was getting a ball-by ball account of what the President was doing. Hameed was right.The whole Paris visit which was camoflagued was for an important meeting with Shimon Perez, Israeli Prime Minister.It was a mid night meeting. The Prez apologised to me next morning saying it was too late to call me and made out that Perez called on him as Protocol would demand as he was the senior statesman staying at the hotel. This was all bl..bla…All this had been well arranged in advance and President’s son, Ravi, as go- between was at hand.(I had made a mental note of Prez asking me first thing on arrival if Ravi had arrived). When I pointed out the stamp sized news item on the back page International Herald Tribune, the Prez ignored me and kept on turning the pages, lowered the N/P to me asking “Did you see this”?The King of Jordan is going to meet the Israeli leader. “so t is good for them but bad for me,you think”.
This is in illustration of why the Foreign Ministry (rather Foreign Minister ) was kept out.
On the Indian side,Hammed was not an acceptable person.This was conveyed to me by a Joint Secretary of the Indian Foreign Ministry when he came to probe from me why Parthasarathy was disliked by Prez JR.High commisssioner Dixit also avoided meeting him.
The second point I want to make is that Dixit avoided the Foreign Office altogether.He did not like W.T telling him that his contact point would be the Divisional Chief, Jayanath Rajapaksa.Dixit wrote that Jayanath was a well read, smart officer and perhaps thought he might not make much headway with him. With Secretary W.T Jayasinhe whom he called the perfect Civil servant, he seemed to be suffering from an inferiority complex because the unusual height of the Secretary. Dixit being his usual self,found avenues to deal with the President direct and he succeeded. JR also found is a short cut to maintaining close rapport with the Indian P.M.
These are then the factors behind the Foreign office being kept out of limelight.
With persons like Gamini Dissanayake as a close adviser on relations with India, there was no hope any political assessment of the situation like prospects of international reaction by the professional foreign service.Even if such reports were routinely sent to the President,there was no chance of heir being read and digested at the Presidential Secretariat.
These are some details. Hope they are of some used to refresh our minds.
Izeth hussain / June 16, 2015
Thanks for your detailed information Bandu. I think there were two reasons why Hameed was not acceptable to JR to deal with India over the ethnic problem. If things went wrong, he would have been blamed unfairly as he was a minority member. The other reason was that JR knew that Hameed was essentially a grass roots politician and a misfit as a Foreign Minister. He needed a far abler politician – and that was Gamini Dissanayake. It is news to me that Hameed was not acceptable to the Indian side. Why? Any idea? – IH
Bandu de Silva / June 14, 2015
It was not my imagination but I was simply quoting from the first GOC of IPKF, Gen Harlirat Singh, appointed in July 1987.Here what he said based on instructions given to him:
“Immediately prior to the signing of the Accord, the Indian Army Head Quarters hastily put together an ad hoc plan for the induction of troops. the IPKF was operationally effective within six to eight hours of receiving the COAS’s executive orders.Basic panning had ben completed based on various contingencies .Milatary planning for Operation Pawan took into account the need to prpare for the following cntingencies:
a. Operations to reinstate the govt of SL in the event of a coup;
b. Operations against the SL security forces with the assistance of the LTTE.:
c.Operations against LTTE to implement the Ind-sri Lanka Accord with the assistance of the SLAF.
-Harikrat sngh:Intervention in Sri Lanka,Vijitha Yapa, 2006,p.11.
Yes, Blacklash, ill-informed, Idle Minds as yours can beat those of former Foreign Service men. Congatualations! Thre is time for you youngman! Do some reading and equip yourself well before coming up with counter-points.The Mahayana analogy with its deeper meaning I quoted about the “dog running after the clod of earth rather than at the thrower” fits you well. You seem to be such a ‘dumkoff’ you cannot think of anything other than personal attacks. depravity, eh!
Bandu de Silva
backlash / June 14, 2015
Mr. Bandula de Silva does not have to descend, at this time of the day,
to unnecessary profanities and polemics to make his point. He has so far maintained finesse and dignified articulation expected of a trained diplomat. –
Gen. Harkirat Singh is one of the several dozens of men connected with the IPKF misadventure – going into print, with their particular version of events decades after their office. These are hardly what would go as the biblical truth. The 3 options suggestions you refer to are bizarre and contradictory, at the very minimum. But that proposed alliance between the Indian Army and the LTTE, beats most everything. No wonder the General was not considered very highly by Delhi.
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / June 14, 2015
There is no point in writing about What had happened in the past. What one has to do is to prevent such thing in the future. JR, Prabaharan and Mahinda did not understand geopolitics and met with their fate.
Srilanka cannot do anything which will affect the security concerns of India. Any amount of India bashing will not change this situation. Srilanka cannot move away from India and has to accept this reality.
Interference by India will continue, because a part of land in Colombo port has been sold to China by last government under an international agreement, which cannot be unilaterally abrogated by Srilanka.
China is now a wounded animal, being virtually ditched by present government to please India and west, and will not wait idly watching things happen. We cannot rule out any actions in the future by China.
I hope that Tamil extremists will not fall into China trap or anti-Indian officials in foreign ministry mislead the government to take an antagonistic stand. Both these will lead to catastrophic result.
Bandu de Silva / June 15, 2015
Did Blacklash start polemics with the intention of pulling down BdeS to his level? How he forgets he was the Author of polemics!Isn’t it like the burglar joining the crowd chasing after him and chasing after an imaginary burglar shouting “Onna Hora”?
B de S
backlash / June 15, 2015
As to De Silva’s “level” he refers to here, does he want us to applaud him for such tasteless and warped statements as “key posts like London, Paris, Bonn and Cairo were held by Tamils..” and the unfortunate comments on Lakshmi Naganathan. What’s wrong if they were able and efficient. Is De Silva trying to gain the attention of the BBS and the Sinhala Buddhist extremists? This is not the quality and decency expected of those who want others to see them as quintessential diplomats from a plural country.
Bandu de Silva / June 16, 2015
Rather than waste my time on crap written by a nincompoop, I thought of turning my mind on what you wrote about the Foreign Office being kept out of the [final]discussion on the Accord. I remember, however, that Indian diplomats engaged the Foreign Ministry officials asking for concessions for India on Trincomalee harbour long before they came into the picture as mediator over the Tamil issue..I was told this by Jayanath Rajapaksa who was the Area Director. Incidentally, Dixit referred to him virtually as tough nut to crack.
As for the Accord itself, I came across a scrap from an extensive article I wrote entitled :”Foreign Policy Making in Sri Lanka: Persona behind the scene”, for Lorna Dewaraja’s compilation in honour of Vernon Mendis, which was not included finally as it turned out to be a virtual book by itself.(The text must be still with the Bandaranaike Institute of Diplomatic Training).
The following excerpt I came across with my papers might show that the practice was not confined to a country like Sri Lanka. it happened very much in US under President Lyndon Johnson during the Dominican Crisis.(sic)
“As a result of this even the hierarchical arrangement for foreign policy making which had earlier devised a formula for sharing responsibility between the President and the Congress in the formulation and the conduct of foreign policy, had changed so much so that Presidential power has not only impinged on the role assigned the legislature to some extent, but on the field of traditional diplomats in charge of foreign relations. The latter situation is illustrated by William Turpin (in his article” Foreign Relations:No; Foreign Policy: Yes>”, published in Foreign Policy Journal, No 8,Fall 1972, pp 56-61), who quoted the Desk Officer in the State Department who said during the Dominican crisis, of 1964, ‘On Friday I was Dominican Desk Officer; by Friday evening [Dean ] Rusk was; and by Sunday, Lyndon Johnson was”.
backlash / June 16, 2015
Was it because their advise for many years within was considered “crap” and so rejected that “nimcompoops” in the Foreign Ministry remained unrecognised for decades by different administrations. It is sad they have to now carry their tales “outside” seeking sympathy and even descend to communalism for solace.
Bandu de Silva / June 17, 2015
Thanks for the comment on Hameed. There is a point in what you say of JR thinking of Hameed having a disadvantage, his being a member from a minority group in his team. As to Hameed being a grassroot politician, yes. He represented a largely Sinhalese electorate in Harispattuwa and had a big Sinhalese following. Sarath Amunugama’s father was always his proposer or seconder at nominations. He was disturbed when Sarath wanted to enter politics. He handed over a NGO to Sarath to be ore-occupied with, gave his wife a job at the Embassy under me. At that time he asked me if I could not persuade “my friend” to keep out of the Harispattuwa electorate. (I had no such influence over Sarath).
To conclude, Yes, JR may have seen the disadvantage of using Hameed as a key adviser on relations with India and preferred men like Gamini Dissanayake who could carry the majority electorate with him. Even though he was popular in his electorate,he had not built up a popularity at national level.
Even if Gamini was not as much liberal minded as made out to be, his electoral interests as representing a largely Indian Tamil electorate might also would have influenced his pro-Accord disposition. On the other hand, Dixit had chosen to work on him. The only occasion Gamini showed some reluctance to be associated with the Accord was when he refused to be the attending Minister on Rajiv Gandhi when the latter came to sign the Accord. That was because Gamini was harbouring Prime Ministerial ambitions and against the background of the rising tide against the Accord he, obviously, felt imprudent to be associated with Rajiv Gandhi direct. The President had to assign Ronnie de Mel for that purpose.
As to why Hameed was not very much accepted in India, I put the point across based on what my dear friend Darshan Bhutani , former Joint Secy of the Indian foreign Office told me. As I said Darshan worked very close to Rajiv Gandhi and was one of the few Indian foreign service diplomats who was given Defence College training. He told me about New Delhi’s negative perception about Hameed when he was probing from me the reasons for JR’s reservations about Parthasarathy. Our conversation was over lunch as soon as he arrived in Paris from the airport. The first person he sought out was me and not even his own Ambassador. There was much background to it including a connection strengthened through his wife who was a very close friend of mine. We concentrated more on Parthasarathy issue, his mission in Paris to supervise details for Rajiv’s history- making visit to France which included, besides the official part, festivity, a fascinating Indian bazaar with jugglers, wrestlers, gram –sellers, sooth- sayers, palm readers etc spread over acres of ground from Trocadero hill to Eifel tower Park. That was a lot work for Darshan which involved much supervision over security arrangements.
It did not occur to me ask Darshan the reasons for New Delhi’s dislike of Hameed. I took it for granted that it resulted from Dixit’ss assessment of him. Dixit hardly called on Hameed. All along he tried to deal at a higher level. He made full use of a little acquaintance he had established with the President when he had attended on JR during an earlier visit to New Delhi. Using that he cringed on to come up later even to the point of sipping Shivas Regal and smoking Havana cigars offered by the President. He may have explained to New Delhi that Hameed was not important [at least to him] in the link.
Izeth hussain / June 19, 2015
Thanks Bandu for all the valuable information. I can guess why the Indians disliked Hameed. He was known to be corrupt to the bone and devoid of principle. That would make him undependable. Good diplomacy requires a basis of trust. – Hus