Ambassador Blake, your slip is showing


Mr. Editor, my sincere congratulations on your editorial re Ambassador Blake’s visit to the Elections Commissioner; the liberties certain diplomats of powerful countries take with small vulnerable states like ours is quite unfair (but then there is no question of morality in this world of ours today) and unbelievable. We must always remember that they would go as far as they are ‘allowed’ to go. It would be recalled that till a few months ago, we had the British High Commissioner, Chilcott, running wild; he was indeed lucky our President was not Ranasinghe Premadasa, for he would no doubt have been given short shrift whatever the consequences. In the 1980s we had that bully Dixit (which is pronounced just like a dirty portmanteau word) toying with an aged President. Dixit made a name for himself at the expense of our country and was rewarded when he was made the National Security Advisor with Cabinet rank. Chillcot was made DCM in Britain’s most important mission, Washington. I have no doubt that the man must be missing Colombo and all those headlines. He must be living unknown and unsung in Washington. I am not therefore surprised that other heads of missions of western countries assert themselves and take liberties with us, liberties they wouldn’t dare take with say India or Pakistan or even Bangladesh to score brownie points and make a name for themselves with their authorities.

Blake surely should know of how their ‘Republican’ Supreme Court (which comprises only political appointees) facilitated George W. Bush to win a second term even though his brother Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida, successfully prevented black voters from voting for Al Gore. The Americans can certainly teach us a thing or two about fixing elections and on how to spend billions to win elections, making nonsense of free and fair elections. No politician can win an election at whatever level in the US unless they spend millions to buy votes and today the two Presidential candidates are spending billions to win office. They are of course obliged to those infamous lobbies such as the Jewish lobby and armament manufacturers and other multi national corporations to keep them in business, even if it means having to declare war and destabilize countries such as Iraq (killing thousands of civilians) in the guise of bringing democracy to the people of these countries, but in actual fact to keep the armament industry in the US in business and to secure oil reserves to keep their economy going. As for the Jewish lobby in the US buying influence at elections to keep Israel (a country created to rid Jews from Europe by creating a country for them and denying the Palestinians of their lands) in existence, that speaks eloquently for the free and fair elections in the US where the people’s will is said to be reflected.

The question that poses itself is: Why did Ambassador Blake go to the see the Elections Comm-issioner on the eve of Saturday’s elections? If it was to express concern, he was completely out of order for he has no status to get involved in anyway in what is absolutely a domestic affair. If it was merely to inquire how it was going, that would have been legitimate but if that was so, then it was in his interest to issue a statement to that effect. If he has gone to express his personal concern or the concern of his government, we would question what he was especially concerned about. Was it that the Commissioner was not discharging his duties? What else could we conclude? If it was indeed so, that would be the height of impertinence, this is why we would appreciate, either the Ambassador or the Commissioner issuing a press release to clarify the situation. If he has indeed transgressed, it is most unfortunate for he, as a professional diplomat, should have known better. What is equally unfortunate, as stated earlier is that these heads of missions of western countries apparently find the present government ‘culturally incompatible’ and they seem to have little respect for it. They appear to be confusing licence with liberty. We may be a poor ‘Aid dependent’ country but surely this country has not lost its dignity and self respect, has it?

A part of the problem lies with the quality of our officials. Gone are the days when officials stood up to politicians and outsiders who sought to meddle with our internal affairs. Even senior government officials suffer from an inferiority complex particularly when relating to foreigners. They also do the bidding of their political superiors like servants; they have lost their independence (after the 1972 Constitution and the non implementation of the 17th Amendment) and self-respect. In this instance the Commissioner should never have entertained the American Ambassador at this particular point of time. If the government of the United States had any concerns to express the proper channel would have been through the Foreign Ministry. I read with horror that the Foreign Ministry had stated that there had been no "breach of protocol". What has this visit to do with protocol? Suffice it to say that the Foreign Ministry is today an apology for one, and that would be an understatement. I wonder how the government of the US would have reacted had Ambassador Wickremasuriya expressed concern over either the manner in which the election campaign is being presently conducted in the US with billions being spent to obtain power or the manner in which Obama is being vilified in the so-called ‘Bible belt’ or the fact that the Tamil Diaspora is supporting the candidates who have expressed support for the terrorist LTTE or over the manner in which the human rights of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are being violated, over the detentions in the infamous Guatanamo Bay prison and the horrible acts of torture that have been practised there. There is also a most justifiable cause which he could have expressed - the concern of all mankind, namely the provocation of Russia by the US stationing missiles on the borders of Russia and restarting the Cold War and endangering all mankind. Ambassador W would, if he did express legitimate concern on behalf of all mankind, be given short shrift; they would even revoke his citizenship. We also wonder how many of these ‘very brave and powerful’ countries that keep picking on us have expressed concern to India over her not signing the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. They would not dare, for they would jeopardize their economic interests. We are a safe country for the ‘powerful and brave’.

As for foreign involvement in our internal affairs, it must, of course, be conceded that we did invite the West and Japan to involve themselves in our so-called peace process between 2002 and 2004. That was justifiable for Ranil Wickremasinghe sought to set up a safety net when he started negotiations with the LTTE. Unfortunately the Norwegians hijacked the so-called peace process at its inception to assist the LTTE to achieve Eelam. But that is another story.

The issue here is ‘foreign interference’ and they would interfere so long as they are allowed to or given the space as we have done with the killing of the employees of the French NGO. All we had to do, which our Police didn’t, was to arrest the men who shot the boys in broad daylight (see the report of the respected University Teachers for Human Rights of Jaffna on these two incidents). The authorities have quite unnecessarily allowed the good name of our services to be tarnished and three hundred thousand livelihoods to be put in jeopardy, as was stated quite succinctly in a recent article in ‘The Island’. We bring upon ourselves foreign interference by our own actions and then we react unnecessarily, incurring the enmity of the international community.

Taking Ambassador Blake to task is only a part of the issue; let us put our house in order first and we can then tell these interfering sorts to mind their own business.

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