I wrote last week of the destruction wrought by the West, to itself too, by its cynical support for terrorists when it sees them as helpful. But while I deplore what it did to Sri Lanka, we in Sri Lanka must also recognize that we contributed to the disasters that have overwhelmed us in the international sphere, beginning with the hunting down of this country in March 2012. It is simply the frosting on the Western cake that now our own Foreign Ministry is supporting this vendetta.
But while the Clintons and Millibands and sadly the Camerons of this world are guilty of double standards, reinforced by the hound dog mentality of Rice and Power and Donohue and Sisson and Chilcott and now Dauris, we must also recognize that much of the running is done by idealists with no capacity to sift evidence. The latest report emanating from Australia with regard to General Gallage is typical of how myths become entrenched in stone if not immediately exploded.
I can understand Dayan Jayatilleka’s current admiration for Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and I share his view that he is perhaps the most competent and least selfish of those who ran things under the last government. But there were weaknesses, which as Dayan noted both he and I drew attention to.
In this context I should note that, while I stand by what we wrote about Weliveriya, the aftermath raised my admiration and affection for Gotabhaya. Unlike others in government who undermined me behind my back, Gotabhaya was direct, and called me up and shouted at me. And what he stressed was not so much the content of what we had written – he agreed that there needed to be an inquiry into what had happened – but the fact that I had signed a petition along with enemies of the government.I thought he was referring to Dayan, and refuted this, but later I realized that he was probably referring to Mr Weliamuna. I had indeed wondered when Tamara told me that Weliamuna had signed the petition, since I knew that he was hostile to the government – unlike I think all others who had been solidly behind it with regard to the victory over terrorism – but at the time I did not know that Weliamuna was not the principled advocate of transparency he pretended to be.
Gotabhaya shouting at me was unusual though, for he tended usually to clam up when he was irritated. Where he should have confronted unfair opposition direct, he tended to ignore it, perhaps thinking that there was no point in dealing with those who were prejudiced. But this was a mistake, and he should rather have drawn attention to egregious and unfair interference, as in the case of the American Political Officer, Paul Carter, who tried to suborn army officers. Indeed this might have helped the then Ambassador Patricia Butenis since, though she too was intent on the Clinton agenda, she was basically decent and had marked differences with Carter.
Saddest of Gotabhaya’s lapses was the fact that he did not respond to the Darusman report. After that report was issued, both he and Basil published accounts of what had happened during the conflict, but they did not address allegations head on. I told him this, when I was called in at the end to advise on the book his staff had produced, but his response was that that was not his business. When I told him that it had to be done, he told me that that would be done by the Chief of Defence Staff, but when I checked with Roshan Gunatilleke I found that he had had no clear instructions and no resources.
It was left to me then to engage in detailed refutation, but of all government officials only Nivard Cabraal was interested. The Foreign Ministry, in thrall by then to those who were working to a Western agenda, ignored the book. Now, five years later, Sarath Weerasekera and his associates have also done their best, but this will have no impact since the panjandrums in Geneva happily ignore, with regard to what they dislike, what has no official status.
With Mangala’s doctrine of guilt and breast beating dominating our official pronouncements now, there is no hope unless the President gets his act together. But it is sad that a government that believed in what its forces achieved did nothing then to deceive them. And, as Dayan pointed out recently, it is more than sad that, after he had shown during two very tough years how to deal with unfair criticism, he was replaced summarily, and Sri Lanka was placed ‘under the stellar leadership of Mohan Pieris, who had unmasked himself as a pompous stooge and woefully inadequate for the task, and Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, the Rajapaksa nuclear family’s poster boy of “Thug Diplomacy”.
What drove Mahinda Rajapaksa to such madness? One problem is that, despite his brilliant leadership in adversity, he is easily swayed by hangers on. Indeed, there had been a problem even earlier, in that Dayan was told to come home in March, the President having given in to the demands of the Foreign Minister. Dayan, it should be noted, had not helped matters by making clear his contempt for Rohitha Bogollagama, and indeed also belittling the Secretary, Palitha Kohona, who did nothing to defend him (though when Dayan was sacked in July, Palitha, though he did not stand up for him, refused to sign the letter).
Saddest of all, no one else except for me stood up for Dayan, nor even contacted him after his dismissal. I told both Mohan Pieris and Mahinda Samarasinghe that they should, but they avoided him like the plague. It was indeed only Mahinda Rajapaksa who, having perhaps realized he had blundered, took Dayan with him to Vietnam at the end of that year, and famously told him, after Dayan noted that he had been avoided, that that was understandable after the way he had been treated. Dayan cited that as an example of Mahinda’s charm, making it clear, though ultimately he was responsible for the sacking, that it was others who had precipitated it.
So for five long years we were defenceless before the world, the running being left to Kshenuka whose allegiances and predilections were with the West, as Tamara found when she discovered concealed correspondence between Kshenuka and the American representative in Geneva Eileen Donohue. Tamara promptly informed the President who got her down to Colombo, but she was then bullied by GL and Sajin who tried to stop her seeing the President.
On that occasion she saw him, got clear instructions, and worked swiftly in Geneva so that the Canadians, being used as cat’s paw by the Americans, had to back down. But Eileen told her that they would get us next time, and so it proved, with much help from their friends in Colombo. Tamara was completely sidelined, GL after he had served his turn by putting Kshenuka and Sajin in charge was also sidelined, and as Dayan put it we lost, disgracefully (though not by as large a majority as the West had lost by when Dayan held the fort).
I think Mahinda dimly understood what was going on, for three times, once in September the previous year and twice in March he asked me to go to Geneva. Earlier, after the Darusman report came out and Mahinda Samarasinghe was called back to the mast and said he wanted to put together the old team again, I told him that was not possible with Dayan not there, and refused to go with him to Geneva though I said I would help him as possible in Colombo. Having then also refused the President twice, I was told that I should be more gracious, so I did go in March 2012 and found such a shambles that I was glad I had arranged to leave early, before the vote.
Earlier, at the beginning of 2011, I had been instrumental in getting Dayan back into service, when I suggested to the President that he send him either to London or New York. That Mahinda was unwilling to do, but he told me he would appoint Dayan immediately to either Brussels or Paris, and – to my disappointment since I thought Brussels would give me a wider range – he chose Paris. But he was subject to relentless persecution by Sajin and Kshenuka, while G L, for whom he had previously had a high regard, using him on occasion in Geneva, did nothing to support him.
After the March 2012 disaster, those arguing for subservience to the West had Tamara dismissed – even though real friends of Sri Lanka, such as Lord Naseby, had made it clear that she was the only bright spot in the dismal performance we put up. And, as Dayan notes, ‘The Rajapaksa administration did not have the common sense to send me back in to Geneva to reverse the situation after the 2012 defeat, though I had finished my stint in France by January 2013 and could easily have been deployed in the Geneva arena. The resulting “deluge” continues to this day, sinking Sri Lanka deeper by the UNHRC session.’
Can we recover? Of course, but that will need swift action by the President. Unless he has indeed decided that he had better abandon SLFP principles, he must realize from the list of those who sponsored the resolution that Mr and Mrs Bandaranaike must be turning over in their graves. All 27 members of the European Union are there, this being one Western way of raising numbers even though we know that they work in terms of uniform foreign policy. Then there are four more long established European countries and another four hived off from Yugoslavia. Two former communist countries now firmly in the Western orbit, Albania and Georgia, are also there, plus seven which are unquestionably Western in orientation, though two are in the antipodes, two in East Asia (Japan and Korea) and Israel, conveniently created in the Middle East when the UN was even more obviously run by the West.
Only the Ivory Coast and Indonesia are there from the areas on which the Bandaranaikes based our foreign policy. I suspect the President, our first leader to visit Russia since Mrs Bandaranaike, knows what is going on. Whether he will have the courage to act however is another question. Sensibly he took Mahinda Samarasinghe with him, and though there are those who think Sarath Amunugama would be safer, I think Mahinda’s work in Geneva before the deluge shows that he knows how to work things, to do what he can and find able people to do what he needs support for.
Dayan has shown himself willing to let bygones be bygones, in that I suspect that, whereas Mahinda only ignored him after he was sacked, Gotabhaya was amongst those who thought his removal a good thing in 2009 – Dayan had warned him about excessive reliance on Israel and the Israelis who certainly had much influence with Gotabhaya then were deeply opposed to Dayan.
But all three of them, whatever their differences might be, will want to serve Sri Lanka than alien agendas, so I hope the President moves swiftly to arrest the current especially egregious March of Folly.
Ceylon Today 28 March 2017 – http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20170101CT20170331.php?id=18035