This is an open letter to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Chairman of the MCC and former head of the CIA.
By The Sri Lanka Study Circle
We, the members of the Sri Lanka Study Circle in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, a founding member of the Non Aligned Movement – the largest organised grouping of nations after the UN – that initiated a UN General Assembly Resolution in 1971 which was unanimously adopted by the entire world to make forever the Indian Ocean a zone of peace within which area no nuclear weapons whatsoever would be permitted are a bit confused about the status of your visit to Sri Lanka due to a lack of transparency.
Initially, your embassy in Colombo, when questioned about rumours of a possible visit by you to our country, denied those rumours. Several days later, the embassy made an announcement that you would be visiting our country for a day.
We surmise therefore that you are visiting our country, not at our invitation but at your request, at a time when the ugly head of COVID is raising its head once again due to, what appears to be, the criminal negligence of a company funded and mentored by your Government.
We must express our dismay and protest that the forerunners to your visit have dampened the spirit and purpose of your visit by flagrantly violating the basic health guidelines, required to be followed by all entering our country, to bring under control the pandemic which has caused thus far the deaths of 218,000 people in your country.
We trust that you and your entourage would subject yourself to the mandatory health checks, especially travelling from India which ranks number two, next to your country, in the number of COVID related deaths.
We note that your visit has been preceded by many communiques appearing in the media. To comment on some of them:
You seem to harbour an illusion that your country and ours have a common vision. No, we do not have a common vision; your country is a Capitalist country where the engine of growth is the private sector.
Ours, Mr. Pompeo, as per our constitution and the thinking of our people, is a socialist state where, in perfect harmony with Buddhist principles, public interest prevails over private interest. The factors of production like land are held by the state and not private individuals. That is why MCC goes against the very grain of Sri Lankan thinking, Buddhism and culture and does not have the people’s mandate.
You have ‘advised’ our Government to take necessary and difficult decisions to secure her economic independence. Mr. Chairman MCC, we request you to keep your unsolicited advice to yourself. We are indeed sorry if some members of our country had portrayed themselves to you, as imbeciles. The majority of them are not, and our capable of sagacious and independent thought.
You seem to suggest that some of our donors’ conditions are not transparent and our discriminatory. In fact, this is the very criticism the people have levelled against the MCC; it is very discriminatory and the least transparent. The people of this country have yet to see the draft MCC document in the language they understand, Sinhala and Tamil.
‘US officials warned the Sri Lankan Government who they team up with for their economic partnership’. Mr. Pompeo, if that is a threat you can go to Mars; you could spend your time more profitably over there. We are aware that you were refused an audience with the Pope and we are acutely aware that you have endorsed the torture going on in Guantanamo Bay and that you hold a view that the hell-hole you forcibly occupy there should not be shut down.
It is laughable that you allude to debt diplomacy of some other countries. Does it not make you laugh that the US offers a gift horse – as your acolytes would say – worth 480 million USD when the US has a sovereign debt of 26 trillion USD. Amid this debt, from where did you get this pottage and why not use this amount to reduce your own debt?
‘Secretary Pompeo will travel to Colombo to underscore the commitment of the United States to a partnership with a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advance our common goals for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.’
Hitherto, your military reach in the Pacific was limited to the South-East Asian countries, because the Pacific ended there. The Indian Ocean was untouched and the littoral states in the Indian Ocean declared it a Zone of Peace.
What you are now attempting to do is extend the Pacific Ocean to include the Indian Ocean. As a first step, you have artificially made two Oceans one, by calling it the Indo-Pacific Ocean. And the second step is to extend the militarisation of the Pacific Ocean to cover the ‘Indian Ocean’ portion of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
This is where the MCC, the ACSA, the SOFA and the QUAD fit in. This is how, in our opinion, the US would militarily ‘Pivot-to-Asia’
You have the gumption to say ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific, when in the seas around the American continents you restrict naval activity by applying unilaterally a policy called the Monroe Doctrine.
Make no bones about it, the Indian Ocean, Mr. Secretary, is a nuclear-free ocean, and an ocean of peace. Sri Lanka is a committed non-aligned state, and not a neutral state. Some novices are confused about this.
If you wish to speak with Sri Lanka, come in peace and we shall talk. We shall talk openly and transparently. Do not attempt to sign agreements in secret, because they do not have the mandate of the people.