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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Where have all the ‘internationalists’ gone?

By Malinda Seneviratne

Nation. National. Nationalism. Nationalist. They are words that make certain people react the way a cobra does when encountering and leaves as the idiom goes. Of course, its certain nations, certain things national, certain nationalisms and nationalists that they can’t stand. Yes, anything that is even agues linkable to ‘Sinhala’ and/or ‘Buddhist.’ That’s another story.

What’s relevant here is this: if nation, national, nationalism and nationalist make up ‘anathema,’ what does it make them? Logically, ‘larger than nation.’ They get located outside or above ‘nation.’ Internationalists, then? After all, they do go overboard with things international and universal, don’t they?

They lecture one and all on universal human rights. They speak of dire responses from the ‘international community.’ They work closely with various UN agencies. Their missives mimic those of certain diplomatic missions to the point that it would be silly to believe that they are not working together. Indeed, Colin Powell noted that such people (especially NGO operatives) were a key element in US military efforts. They are, he acknowledged/confessed, ‘a force multiplier’ (in Washington’s wars). ‘They are an important part of our combat team,’ he added. Powell, is the ex-Commander of the US Army Forces Command, no less.

Wait, that’s the USA. And the USA is not ‘The International Community.’ Is it? Is it not? The international community, to the extent that moves and shakes indicate movers and shakers is led by the USA with the UK and EU as adjuncts, Canada and Australia as quiet approvers with the UN system as sanitizer.

Well, things have gone a but awry in the ‘motherland’ of the internationalists of late. Consider all the spontaneous protests against yet another product of institutionalized racism and policy brutality. Consider the concerted response by the police. That which was hidden is now out in the open.

Teargassing protestors in a Covid-19 pandemic context is essentially biological warfare. Assaulting and setting police dogs on protestors already brought down to the ground, some handcuffed to boot, is absolutely horrific. Police cars steamrolling over protestors is not exactly affirming human rights protocols. Well, it’s not as if the USA ever gave a hoot about violating human rights. They’ve thumbed the proverbial nose at such things all over the world. And at home too, one might add. Ask First Nations people and minorities, if you are a doubter. There have been thousands of George Floyds.

If the USA was Libya would Donald Trump’s fate be different from that of Muammar Gaddafi? That’s a legit question with the following qualifier: Libya was nothing like the USA of May/June 2020 and much of what it was had everything to do with a pernicious media drive to deceive and exaggerate orchestrated by Washington. And of course the ‘force multipliers’ did their part of the ‘combat.’ As they have in other parts of the world where the US wanted to defeat regimes or movements antithetical to US interests or safeguard friends.

The internationalists here are silent. If human rights, decency, democracy are as holy as they make them out to be, if police brutality is an abhorrent as they claim, if media rights are as sacred as they make them out to be, shouldn’t they be at least stirring up ‘civil society’ to lodge some kind of protest? Shouldn’t they be collecting signatures for a petition to be handed over to the US Ambassador? Shouldn’t they be organizing at least a token demonstration outside the US Embassy?

As I write 33 journalists have been arrested, 143 attacked and the equipment of at least 35 reporters damaged while covering protests. They’ve been shot at (one woman was left permanently blind in her left eye when she was shot by a rubber bullet), pepper-sprayed, threatened, assaulted and arrested. Where are the media rights worthies who come out of the woodworks whenever their political masters want them to? Where are the rights-brigades that rant and rave over freedom of expression? Where are the humanists, bleeding heart liberals and self-labeled leftists, Marxists and revolutionaries?

Why aren’t they invoking R2P (Responsibility to Protect), that pernicious doctrine frequently referred to in calling for international intervention in countries Washington has decided to love to hate? Why is there no call for economic sanctions? Why is the UN not being urged to intervene with peace-keeping forces? Why isn’t anyone saying ‘The USA is a failed state’?

Sri Lanka's 'internationalists' are caught in the headlines of heavily armed rogues in a rogue state willing and able to threaten, arrest, maim and kill and indeed are doing just that.

Well, the USA does have veto power, but surely it’s risk-free to make that call? Even Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have issues statements of condemnation (weak, incomplete and carefully worded of course, but still!). Even the Human Rights chief of the UN, Michelle Bachelet has expressed objection. She has, employing the classic device of equivalency, taken pot shots at protestors, urging them to go about things peacefully. She’s not uttered a word about how peaceful protest was made untenable by violent cops. Still, she said something. Better than nothing.

‘Nothing’ is what our internationalists have at the moment, it seems. Absolutely nothing apart from the perhaps mandatory post in social media by individuals. Maybe they are at a loss for words. If that’s the case, here’s a letter they can use as draft.

Dear Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz,

We, the undersigned, having worked closely with your government in championing human rights, democracy, peace, reconciliation and the protection of minorities, even within operational limitations imposed by the political and ideological interests of your country, are appalled by the open and unashamed violation of every single tenet of democracy and human rights in the USA since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer who held his knee against the man’s neck even as he pleaded that he was unable to breathe.

We are appalled and shamed by the fact that you have refused to call it a murder and chosen to use the word ‘death’ almost as though there was no police brutality whatsoever.

We are appalled and shamed by the violence unleashed on journalists and the deliberate infringement of freedom of expression.

We are appalled and shamed that armed white supremacists are defying curfew with impunity, clearly operating as adjuncts of the police or as vigilante groups that have the blessings of the relevant authorities.

We note with utter consternation and understandable perplexity that racism is systemic in your country and that your government has never been serious about democracy, human rights, decency or even civilization.

Please understand, Ambassador, that the actions of your government and indeed its predecessors, now and over many decades, has compromised our work. Indeed, it is doubtful that we could be of any assistance to you as force multipliers in your combat team.

Please understand, Ambassador, that the United States of America can no longer pretend to be what it is not. It is undoubtedly a rogue state, a failed state and what George Floyd and those who protested his murder are experiencing today is what nations, regimes and peoples who have fallen out of Washington’s favor have suffered for decades. The police in over 75 cities where protests have broken out are obviously taking a leaf out of the operational bible of the world’s self-declared policeman.

Finally, we fear that all this will bury once and for all your efforts to thrust the MCC Compact down Sri Lanka’s throat.

Yours Sincerely

Signatures of organizations and individuals

Of course they can edit it, leaving out the truths they love to hide. They can make it harsh. They can delete the sarcasm. They can write two letters in fact; one for the press and a single-liner of reassurance: ‘don’t worry, we are on your side.’ Well, they don’t even have to write it. A phone call would do.

For now, though, they are silent. They are caught in the headlines of heavily armed rogues in a rogue state willing and able to threaten, arrest, maim and kill and indeed are doing just that.

Back to the original question. Where have all the internationalists gone? Pretending to be asleep, perhaps? More likely, that’s exactly what they never were. Not internationalists. Just force multipliers. Ground-clearers for troops of one kind or another.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asian Tribune -

Where have all the ‘internationalists’ gone?
Where have all the ‘internationalists’ gone?
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