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European mission lacks vision


The mission of the two visiting Foreign Ministers – David Miliband from UK and Bernard Kouchner from France – has only one main objective: to stop the military offensive of the Sri Lankan forces which has released tens of thousands of Tamil civilians held captive by the Tamil Tigers. If the military offensive had not breached the sand bank constructed by the Tigers to fence in the Tamil civilians, there would have been no way out for them. They would have been kept as prisoners and used as cannon fodder by the Tigers.

Saving Tamil civilians and consequently human rights of the victims of Prabhakaran has been one of the most positive aspects of the entire military operation. From Mavil Aru in July 2006 to Mullativu in 2009 it is the military operations that advanced to save the Tamil people from the clutches of Velupillai Prabhakaran. So what is the rationale for the halting the war at this late stage when such a move would neither help the Tamils held as captives, nor the rest of the nation waiting for the war to end? The priority now is to end the war and not to save Prabhakaran, which can be achieved only by halting the war. The two Foreign Ministers are not babes in the woods who cannot grasp the horrendous consequences of their move, if it succeeds. The hope of the war-weary Sri Lankans is that their mission will fail. If by any chance they succeeded in halting the war they should be held responsible for their irresponsible and immoral conduct of prolonging a war that could have ended in days.

In fighting wars their prime objective is to a finish it within the shortest possible time, whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka. Their moral, political and strategic calculations are to minimize their costs and maximize death and destruction to their enemies. For instance, the American argument in dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima was that it would cut short the war and save lives of American soldiers. The same principle applies even in these times. Just the other day Ms. Hillary Clinton berated the Pakistan government for not doing enough to focus on the war against Talibans. Prime Minister Gordon .Brown told the media in his recent visit Afghanistan that it was necessary to end the war in Afghanistan because it spilt over to the streets of London. But Miliband and Kouchner has come with a totally different message to Sri Lanka. They are bent on ending the war which they know will benefit only Prabhakaran to prolong the war and commit more war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Everyone knows the double standards of the so-called big powers. That is s hacked argument not worth raising. However, what is unacceptable is the obscenity of their morality which serves neither human rights nor peace. Each time they take the moral high ground to dictate terms to small nations they find themselves exposed without even a fig leaf to cover their nakedness.Take the case of Kouchner. He is the only prominent French leader to support the US invasion of Iraq. He said it was wrong because the US did not have the sanction of UN but it was "the lesser evil than having Saddam Hussein in Baghdad." ( The London Times – February 5, 2009), Well, if Kouchner can opt for the "lesser evil" in Iraq why can’t he accept the right to protect the greater good in Sri Lanka? If Kouchner feels that the US can push for regime change in Iraq without the consent of the US why is he opposed to ‘regime change’ in Mullativu when the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Claude Heller, announced after the last Security Council meeting that Prabhakaran must lay down arms, renounce violence, release the Tamils held as captives and enter the peace process?

The US marched into Iraq on the pretext of saving the world from the weapons of mass destruction supposed to be hidden in warehouses and silos of Iraq. This was the biggest fiction ever presented to the world in recent times. But Kouchner backed this fiction all the way. The Sri Lankan case is quite transparent. The TV footage alone will confirm that the Tamil people prefer to live under the Sri Lankan government than under the Pol Potist regime of the Tigers. Based on his stance in Iraq and based on the transparent evidence available in Sri Lanka what should be the moral duty of Kouchner?

Consider also the case of Miliband. His Prime Minister made a special visit to Afghanistan not to enforce "a humanitarian pause" to save Osama bin Laden or the Talibans but to end the war in Afghanistan to protect the street of London. If Miliband and his Prime Minister can fight wars in far away Afghanistan to protect the streets of London why can’t President Mahinda Rajapaksa follow in the footsteps of Gordon Brown to protect the streets of Colombo and Kandy? Don’t the people in Colombo and Kandy have the same right as Londoners to live in a world free of terrorism?

So both foreign ministers have a record of eliminating terrorism in areas that affect their interest but not in Sri Lanka. Besides, Kouchner and Milliband should know that 600,000 Iraqi children died (UNICEF figures) because of the naval cordon thrown round Iraq blocking the movements of medicine and food. Just to punish one man the Kouchners and Millibands killed 600,000 innocent children.  Are these the ethicists who are rushing in to preach a higher moral conduct to Sri Lankans?

These two high priests of morality may have the power to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka through their network in the EU and the US. In fact, the Czech Foreign Minister is already threatening serious consequences for not letting the Swedish Foreign Minister into the country. As a small country sandwiched between big powers in Europe, it should know the immoral invasions and pressures exerted on small countries.

Perhaps, these European foreigners will understand the current situation better if they are told that the breaching of the sand bank by the forces is comparable to breaking down of the Berlin Wall. The Tamils who streamed out of the one-man regime in Mullativu, braving the bullets fired by the Tigers to prevent them from escaping, are like the East Berliners. The West hailed it as a big breakthrough which it was indeed! Now that it is explained in simple terms it is hoped that they will draw the necessary conclusions from the parallels and let the Sri Lankans handle their issues their way.

This European mission will be completed only if they come down from their high horse and take a more pragmatic approach. Any attempt to twist the arm of the Sri Lankan government should be resisted forcefully and unhesitatingly. If the French and the English insist on having their way they should be asked to take a running jump into the Seine and Thames, respectively and let the people of Sri Lanka resolve their problems as they have done for centuries without their help.


By H. L. D. Mahindapala  ~ ~


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