Dangers of the foreign policy mess
Daily Mirror Editorial
Jan 11, 2011

The United States, while trimming its 2012 Defence Budget by almost one trillion dollars, has announced that it will now give more emphasis to security and its geo-political interests in the Asia Pacific region which includes Sri Lanka. The obvious reference was to the growing influence of China in the region and this is where Sri Lanka needs to be cautious because of the increasing influence China is having in our country.

Both India and the United States are known to be deeply concerned about China's role and geo-political agenda in Sri Lanka, especially what China can do at Hambantota's International Port in exercising control over world oil shipments.

When Lakshman Kadirgamar was Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister from 1994 to 2001, our foreign policy was handled with a high degree of diplomatic professionalism and prudence. With facts and figures Mr. Kadirgamar succeeded in isolating the LTTE by showing that it was a ruthless terrorist movement which was making hundreds of millions of dollars through arms deals, narcotics or human smuggling and other international crimes instead of fighting or working to achieve the legitimate grievances and aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people of Sri Lanka. As a result of the sustained efforts of Mr. Kadirgamar and top class Sri Lankan career diplomats in western capitals, Sri Lanka succeeded in getting the LTTE banned in the United States, the European Union, India and Canada.

After the 2002 ceasefire agreement between the Ranil Wickremesinghe government and the LTTE was sabotaged or derailed by various forces or factors, Sri Lanka's foreign policy has gradually lost its diplomatic professionalism and clear global perspectives largely because of party political interference and the appointment of too many politicians, military officers and henchmen of government leaders as High Commissioners or Ambassadors to important countries.

We live today in what is called a global village where no country can live in isolation or secrecy because of high technology like satellites which can monitor the whole world and unmanned cyber-operated surveillance aircraft like drones. For example though no foreign journalists are allowed to enter Syria the world sees graphic pictures and hears full details of the torture and the massacres taking place there. This illustrated information comes mainly through internet video and other social media networks.

During the past few years Sri Lanka's foreign policy has been messed up and muddled to such an extent that we are today facing our biggest international diplomatic crisis over alleged war crimes in 2009 and the failure to move urgently or effectively in finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict. The alleged war crimes are likely to be taken up at the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in March while India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna is coming here next week amid growing concern in New Delhi over the delya in finding a political solution and China's growing influence on Sri Lanka.

Unknowingly or due to undiplomatic amateurism and over-emphasis on the national response to the Rajapaksa Regime's war victory, Sri Lanka now finds itself trapped in the massive geo-political scenario involving the US, China India and other countries with repercussions going beyond anything like the 13th Amendment. If urgent steps are not taken to review this dangerous global scenario and change our foreign policy, many analysts believe Sri Lanka might face something worse than Eelam with China and India carving out slices of this country and the US playing international policemen in the middle.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka