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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Australia has shown they are better strategic thinkers than big brother USA

By A Special Correspondent

Despite John Kerry stating that USA cannot afford to lose Sri Lanka when he wore his earlier hat as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, presumably referring to losing Sri Lanka to their arch enemy China, he has led the very effort to achieve the opposite wearing his more exalted hat as the Secretary of State.

If China has now got a firm and maybe irrevocable foothold in Sri Lanka, no other country but the USA should take responsibility for that. They have lost the strategic vision and depth that is required and expected of a super power. Their double standards demonstrated through the selective application of policy, has left them like an Emperor without clothes.

The USA has lost credibility as a champion of human rights advocacy by pursuing human rights issues in Sri Lanka when they apply a different set of rules to other countries like Israel, and themselves committing violations in other countries (Japan, Vietnam, Laos and more recently in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan to name a few).

The loss of US influence in pushing for human rights is very regrettable as poor countries which do not have democratic governments have no voice of their own in the international arena and who desperately need high level advocacy, have lost out as a consequence of the double standards practiced by the US.

The fault seems to lie in the lack of strategic direction in successive US administrations who seem to take a contradictory short term view of global politics, and who seem to thrive in shouting from the roof tops rather than engaging in silent and direct bilateral advocacy on sensitive issues. They also seem oblivious to what works in different cultures and how sensitive issues need to be addressed within cultural contexts.

If Sri Lanka is to be taken as an example, its rich history and heritage does not take kindly to being lectured by countries who are able to do so on account of the monitory wealth they possess and not particular moral wealth that gives them any superiority over other nations. Sri Lankans have endured colonialism for more than 400 years and they have survived with their culture and heritage intact. They are not going to subjugate to any nation than has no moral right to dictate terms to them and neither would they entertain any form of colonialism disguised as moral crusades.

This is where Australia has shown how they could work effectively with Sri Lanka to address whatever issues that are of concern for Sri Lankans through bi lateral engagement rather than the approach taken by the US.
Australia has shown that longer term objectives should override immediate term issues and that such issues should be addressed without impacting on the longer term objectives. In contrast, the US has done the opposite. As a consequence, they have lost Sri Lanka to China.

The US strategy has been to use an internal issue, magnified beyond what is reality, to push Sri Lanka into a corner hoping that Sri Lanka would be cowed to accept their dictates.

This strategy has shown that the US has been totally ignorant about the Sri Lankan country context and what works and what does not in the country. The result has been the opposite of what the US had as their objective.

Any country that does not recognize the history, the heritage and cultural and the political realities and nuances in the country will be doing so at their peril. Targeting thr current regime and orchestrating various means to bring about a regime change has been a counterproductive exercise as the voters of Sri Lanka have continued to repose their confidence in the current regime by electing them at Presidential elections, general elections and provincial elections.

They have rallied round the man who is at the centre of this recent political tradition perhaps because Sri Lankans probably intuitively tend to rally round a man and a regime that is threatened by external forces, probably a legacy of more than four decades of colonialism.

The US has obviously misread the political realities in the country whereas the Australian government has understood them well. While Australia has not deviated from some positions taken by the international community on some key issues relating to the decade long conflict and issues surrounding human rights.

The difference is that they have chosen the path of constructive engagement with Sri Lanka to address and assist in resolving these issues and articulated clearly and unambiguously that in the end, all these issues are internal matters for Sri Lanka to resolve.

- Asian Tribune -

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