Editorial

Lakshman Kiriella’s hilarious understanding of battlefields and balance

Summary

The entire world is a battleground as long as there are resources to be obtained and markets to be established.

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Eight years ago, Friday the 8of March, 2013 to be exact, Lakshman Kiriella said that the then government’s handling of foreign policy had ‘pushed Sri Lanka to the edge of a major international disaster.’ He even warned that a South Sudan type of secession was on the cards unless ‘minority political grievances are addressed.’

Didn’t happen. Sure, resolutions were passed. Sure, a US-backed move helped edge out a government whose popularity had waned (although not account of any handling or mishandling of foreign affairs). There was no South Asian version of South Sudan though.

Kiriella can be counted on to make mountains out of molehills. He can also be counted on to talk absolute balderdash about global politics.

Kiriella, now a member of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and is the Chief Opposition Whip claims ‘the Government has turned Sri Lanka into a battlefield of global superpowers through ineffective handling of its foreign policy.’

The nimiththa for this sweeping claim was the issue of the East Container Terminal. Let’s get to that presently. Let’s first deal with Kiriella’s understanding of geopolitics.

Having claimed that all leaders from D.S. Senanayake toD.B. Wijetunga (he leaves out Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and of course Gotabaya Rajapaksa) ‘maintained a balanced foreign policy.’

Then this:

‘However, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the present government have failed to maintain it by involving China in Sri Lanka in a big way. This government and the previous government of Prime Minister Rajapaksa had borrowed extensively from China and had got it involved in Sri Lanka’s affairs. This has made Sri Lanka a battlefield of the Super powers.’

Alright. What does Kiriella have to say about J.R.Jayewardene subverting Sri Lanka’s non-aligned policy and playing slave to the USA, Japan and then India? What does he have to say about the Yahapalana Government’s absolute genuflection before the USA? As for China, who signed the totally lopsided agreement that gave China virtual ownership of the Hambantota Port? What of the wheeler-dealing regarding the East Container Terminal that allowed India to keep changing the goal post, eliminate competition and secure the inside track on controlling this facility? Where was Kiriella when all this happened (he was an SLFPer during the JRJ times, but what of stuff that happened after he took up residence at Sirikotha?)?

Has Kiriella read the MoU with India signed when Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister? Has he followed the developments regarding Indo-Lanka relations since January 8, 2015? Did he learn the term ‘balanced foreign policy’ only after November 2019?

Would Kiriella have used that term if for some reason the current government said ‘Bye-bye China, hello India’? (Shhh….we can’t say bye-bye China because a) Kiriella’s pals played regional lapdog to Uncle Sam and having pushed the country against the wall, left Sri Lanka with few options, and b) the Hambantota Port!)

Is ‘balance of power,’ for Kiriella, something to do with Sri Lanka siding with anyone but China?

Lakshman Kiriella, Chief Opposition Whip, Sir, read ‘The Complete Works of the UNP’s Policy on India.’ Your pals in the SJB were in the cheering squad or else approved silently or else were clueless. Remember?

Sri Lanka was always a target for global superpowers on grounds of strategic location. The most dangerous moment for the bloc led by the UK and USA during the Second World War, it is argued, was when Japan threatened Ceylon. India’s moves on Sri Lanka via the Indo-Lanka Accord was less about minority grievances than about getting a foothold on Trincomalee.

Does Kiriella seriously believe that this was never a ‘battleground’? Remember the Portuguese ‘battling’ the Dutch, the Dutch ‘battling’ the British, the British and allies vs Japan? Has Kiriella heard of how the US has relentlessly tried to leverage tall stories on rights violations to get Sri Lankan governments to concede all kinds of benefits to that country? Has he heard of how the Bretton Woods institutions are used to secure the economic and strategic objectives of the USA and her allies in countries like Sri Lanka?

This is a battleground, Lakshman. The entire world is a battleground as long as there are resources to be obtained and markets to be established. Sri Lanka is part of that world. It is then a corner of the battlefield. It might be a good idea to think of recovering your balance, Lakshman (if you had any to begin with, that is), for you are keeling over.

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