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Over the last few weeks, it has become clear that our international relations need improvement. Some elements in the West seem annoyed with us and determined to criticise us. Various reasons are offered for this, though one of the most preposterous that floated around in the past is now dead. This is that the West was really very fond of us but Dayan Jayatilleka engaged in megaphone diplomacy in Geneva and alienated them.

How that theory developed is well worth studying, and that may help us in working out what a sensible foreign policy should include. Equally important is the study of how exactly our Mission in Geneva dealt with the threat presented over several sessions of the Human Rights Council. The manner in which Dayan built up a coalition of principle, encompassing almost all countries in Asia, and most of those in the Middle East, Africa and South America, must be an example to all those involved in multilateral relations in the future.

One of the canards spread about Dayan was that he was hostile to the West. Compared to many individuals in the Foreign Ministry at the time, this was true, because he was not subservient to the West. In one sense one can understand, if not approve of, such subservience at a time when Western hegemony seemed assured. But, since that no longer obtains, the West is more nervous than it used to be, and is therefore inclined to engage in more adventurism than it thought essential a few years back.

What many of those who claim to understand foreign relations ignored completely is the fact that in foreign relations, self-interest is all. While pretences of morality are often proffered, these must necessarily be subordinated to national interest. Unfortunately, in the last couple of decades, that national interest also includes indulgence, as far as many Western countries are concerned, to the demands of an extremely sophisticated and well-endowed Tamil diaspora that had adopted the position that the LTTE was the only answer to Tamil problems.

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Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining, and the Darusman Report was no exception. It gave me a reason, if not exactly a good one, to re-read Enid Blyton, a pleasure that increases in value as one nears one’s sixties. Having discovered that Marzuki Darusman was also called Kiki, I remembered that the only other Kiki I knew was the parrot in the ‘Adventure’ series that Enid Blyton began just as the second world war was ending. It seemed a good idea then to see what light Enid Blyton shed on the character of a Kiki. Though she dealt in broad rather than subtle brush strokes, her characterization is vivid, and particularly in her descriptions of animals, such as the faithful but highly individualistic dogs, Timmy and Buster and Loony.

Kiki was no exception. I thought it would be self-indulgent to study more than one story, so I bowed to the recommendation of my niece, who said ‘The Circus of Adventure’ was her favourite. It was also particularly apposite, since it is all about regime change, the wicked Count Paritolen, and his sister Madame Tatiosa, wanting to replace the good king of Tauri-Hessia with a puppet.

The proposed puppet is a sweetie really, a boy called Gussy with long hair who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. But Gussy becomes stronger as the book progresses, and I suspect there is hope for Ranil too, if authority is not conferred upon him too soon.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2011
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