Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Discreet Charm of an American Poodle

by Dr S Sathananthan, October 14, 2010

In short, the Co-Chairs and their cat’s paw, Norway, never had and still do not have any interest in guaranteeing Tamils’ rights as a way to ensure ‘political stability’. On the contrary, they are stabilising the Sinhalese regime by utterly crushing Tamil nationalism, not by giving it (in their view) a new lease of life through power sharing.

Nothing went wrong

‘What went wrong?’ asked Tamil academic at a recent conference in Norway. The interactions are apparently geared to craft a far-reaching evaluation the Norwegian Government seeks from analysts, both individual and institutional, on why the so-called ‘peace process’ in Sri Lanka – orchestrated by Norway on behalf of the United States, European Union and Japan – supposedly ‘failed’. An expatriate Tamil, taken in by his Norwegian politicians’ apparently contrite confession, rued ‘the failed peace process’, because the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan regime and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended not through negotiations as supposedly anticipated by Norwegian politicians but in genocide of Tamils, decimation of the LTTE and without a settlement that could guarantee the rights of Tamils and Muslims.

Even a child knows it is virtually suicidal to take politicians at their word. Norwegians alleged they were striving to negotiate a political settlement. However, don’t-listen-to-what-they-say-watch-what-they-do is the perennial caution against wielders of power. Words invariably serve to obfuscate rather that inform because State craft is pursued primarily by way of deception.

It follows and is axiomatic that lying and disinformation are integral to political projects; they are necessary to mask the interests actually pursued. American and European politicians detracted attention from the illegal invasion and rapacious plunder of Afghanistan and Iraq – their first colonial lunge of the 21st century – by lying about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (none existed, they knew that before hand) and claiming to ‘bring democracy’. Does anyone believe democracy could be delivered to the two countries on the backs of battle tanks, dropped from 60,000 feet in the sky and its principles tutored through water-boarding?!

America’s lie of ushering democracy into the two Muslim countries is hardly different from Norway’s sham about promoting peace through negotiations in the Sri Lankan conflict. Both assertions mask real intentions. The over-riding aim of Norway’s counter-insurgency – camouflaged by the so-called ‘peace process’ – was to destroy the LTTE. That succeeded.

Nothing went wrong.

Norwegian politicians are standing reality on its head and spreading disinformation that efforts towards a negotiated settlement ‘failed’. Because, they know as Tamils have known that a political solution based on sharing power with Tamils is a historic defeat for Sinhalese nationalism, which has implacably opposed the option for more than five decades. No Sinhalese leader at present or in the foreseeable future contemplates political retreat (sharing power) and courting national humiliation. Norwegians are pretending ignorance about this brute fact; Tamils reject the ruse out of hand.

The second reason is that the Co-Chairs (US, EU, Norway and Japan) had no intention whatsoever to reward armed resistance against the State by negotiating a settlement with the LTTE. Indeed they have opposed such ‘capitulation to terror’ and fear it would constitute an ‘explosive precedent’ other national movements, similarly pursuing internal de-colonisation aimed at independence or autonomy, would seize upon. Without a doubt a political settlement with the LTTE was never on the cards. The so-called ‘talks’ under the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement were an exercise in crass duplicity to buy time for the military solution.

Third, even a cursory knowledge – Norwegians grasped much more – of nationalist politics in Sri Lanka is sufficient to conclude negotiations between the all powerful Sinhalese-supremacist regime and the toothless, supine political comedians who pass for Tamil politicians are the stuff of fairy tales. The Norwegians, or any foreigners for that matter, are not going to stick around to wipe the noses of grovelling Tamil politicians.

In short, the Co-Chairs and their cat’s paw, Norway, never had and still do not have any interest in guaranteeing Tamils’ rights as a way to ensure ‘political stability’. On the contrary, they are stabilising the Sinhalese regime by utterly crushing Tamil nationalism, not by giving it (in their view) a new lease of life through power sharing.

So, Norwegians breast beating about ‘failure’ is a ploy to brush sand over their bloody footprints of treachery against Tamils. Their main counter-revolutionary objective is to retool Norway’s debased image and once again sell it as an ‘honest interlocutor’ in order to worm their way into other national movements and similarly rot their innards.

To fully understand the depth of Norwegians’ perfidy, it is essential to be aware of how well they served and continue to serve the geo-strategic interests of their master, the United States.

Norway: America’s political sub-contractor

Norway joined on 12 April 1949 as one of twelve founder members of the military arm of western imperialism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Norway has been a willing and loyal servant – the proverbial poodle – of the leading NATO power, the United States, and functioned as a listening post for the American CIA to spy on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, and most likely performs the same odious task today against Russia. France rejected UK and Norway’s application for EU membership in 1963 primarily because of their pro-Washington tilt in foreign policy.

The US has groomed Norway as its benign face, without the despised scars of a history of colonial occupation and exploitation in Asia, Africa or Latin America. Norway has assiduously cultivated its deceptive neutral facade to intervene, without inviting distrust or hostility in most instances, in internal conflicts round the world as the US administration’s trouble shooter to advance and defend American interests and, by extension, those of western powers in general. Norway gladly cooperates in return for American largesse and, more recently, enthused reportedly by the American promise of a prestigious UN Security Council seat as a so-called ‘Peace Building Nation’.

Norway has faithfully served as America’s political mercenary. Oslo dealt a body blow to the Palestinians' armed resistance and fatally undermined Yasser Arafat’s leadership through the 1993 Oslo Agreement. The document was doctored by surreptitiously slipping in maps Arafat had not seen and therefore not approved. This fraud was perpetrated in the period between the acceptance of the final document by Arafat and before it was placed later for his signature at the formal ceremony. Those who watched the proceedings could not have missed the drama. Arafat caught the deception, rejected the document and promptly walked away from the table to the consternation of Israeli counterparts. But, hemmed in and cajoled by deceitful Norwegian officials, he made the colossal blunder of signing the Agreement and succumbing to the duplicity. Norway, therefore, is largely responsible for the post-Oslo and continuing carnage of defenceless Palestinian men, women and children by the Israeli war machine. While their corpses pile up and widows wail, where one may ask are the ‘neutral’ Norwegian ‘peace-makers’? The fact is Norway sanguinely washed Palestinian blood off its hands and callously turned away ostensibly to avoid interfering in Israel's internal affairs in accordance with international law!

US and national movements

The US administration’s interests that guide Norway’s actions in their joint strategies against national movements are unambiguously delineated in recent formulations of US policy relating to the right to self-determination. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) convened in 1995 a daylong meeting on ‘Self-Determination: Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity, and the Right to Secession’ in conjunction with the Policy Planning Staff at the US Department of State. The meeting’s report is mandatory reading for Tamils and, among them, especially for expatriates dealing with western governments.

The USIP’s concern, declared in the report, is ‘the challenge to peace posed by demands for self-determination (and governments’ responses to them)’, rather than the central issue of rights violation let loose by the State-controlling majority that catalysed the demands in the first place. Unsurprisingly, the meeting set out the restricted aim, ‘to discuss whether universal principles can be developed to inform international, and particularly U.S., responses.’ The context here is the struggles for political emancipation by smaller peoples and nations confined within States controlled by larger majorities.

Western powers included the right to self-determination in the United Nations Charter in 1945 but interpreted and circumscribed the right to existing States. They then used the subterfuge to reject the right to self-determination of, and opposed independence for, the colonies on the spurious grounds that international law they had crafted did not recognize colonies as States. The corollary is the ludicrous position that a colony acquired the right to self-determination only after it became a State through the process of independence defined ‘illegal’!

But the overthrow of colonial rule – external de-colonisation – progressed nevertheless. The newly independent countries soon emerged an overwhelming counter-weight within the UN and pushed through changes in international law, especially the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Peoples. The 1960 Convention was the distilled, collective expression of the State-controlling majorities represented in the UN who manoeuvred to legalise retrospectively their anti-colonial movements. Simultaneously they slammed the door shut on national movements by peoples and nations striving for internal de-colonisation, to re-structure and democratise authoritarian States lurching out of colonial rule, by restricting the 1960 Convention’s application to territories and not to peoples. In other words, the ruling State-controlling majorities represented in the UN collectively deemed self-determination is relevant to trees, sand and mountains but not to humans!

The third, current phase is struggles by peoples and nations lashed together within colonial borders to exercise their right of self-determination including independence.

Participants at the USIP-organised meeting reacted with hostility. They endorsed the regressive, anti-democratic stance of States privileging territory rather than people, of freezing national borders drawn arbitrarily and unilaterally by archaic rulers, and reiterated the legal fiction, ‘the inviolability of existing nation-states’ borders, regardless of how and when they were determined.’

An exception, however, was made under cover of a sanctimonious caution that ‘secession can be a legitimate aim of some self-determination movements, particularly in response to gross and systematic violations of human rights and when the entity is potentially politically and economically viable’. The Machiavellian design is to retain for the US the flexibility to ‘choose, on the basis of other interests, to support the secessionist claims of a self-determination movement, but not because the group is exercising its right to secession, since no such right exists in international law.’ Put simply, national movements may seek independence only at the pleasure of the US administration of the day and, of course, in return for helping to further its geo-strategic objectives, illustrated by the administration’s interventions in Eritrea (to prune the influence of pro-Soviet Ethiopia), Kosovo (to punish Serbia’s anti-NATO stance in support of Russia) and East Timor (primarily to deny a foothold for expanding Chinese power).

The participants predictably used the term ‘pluralism’ – the numbers game of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ – to mystify the existence of larger and smaller nations within a State’s territory. That (a) masks internal colonialism and (b) through a semantic sleight of hand classifies smaller nations as ‘minorities’ to deny them national or collective rights and (c) rejects their right to self-determination. Pluralism, then, is an indispensable ideological prop for majoritarian domination, which the Sinhalese oligarchy in Sri Lanka exploited to the hilt to condemn Tamil leaders as ‘communalists’ for their opposition to universal franchise, since it transmogrified the Tamil nation into a numerical ‘minority’.

Having defined peoples and nations out of existence, the discussants asserted ‘minorities’ should be satisfied with ‘intermediate categories short of statehood’, such as ‘international forums’, ‘assemblies of national minority affairs...and mixed commissions...to continue dialogue on the issue.’ Even these laughable concessions of toothless and irrelevant talk-shops, helpfully suggested so ‘minorities’ could determine the terms of their subordination, caused trepidation: the participants worried ‘offering subgroups some sort of recognition or representation in international forums or organizations may ultimately lead to greater demands from smaller and smaller identity groups for independence and UN representation.’

No wonder, then, the meeting did NOT recommend federal or confederal structures through which ‘minorities’ could exercise a share of State power, a profoundly disturbing prospect for conservative academics and policymakers steeped in majoritarian prejudices.

The legalese employed to oppose peoples and nations forming their independent States cloaked fears of the West losing its economic dominance. After noting with alarm ‘the “unstoppable drive” of people in the Third World wanting what the advanced industrial nations already have’, the participants dreaded ‘this situation threatens those in the wealthier nations who are concerned that their benefits will decline as more economic resources are transferred abroad and those in the Third World who lead more traditional lives and generally do not aspire to what they perceive to be “crass western materialism.”’

This tirade is of course not directed at national movements in ‘wealthier nations’ (such as Quebec, Scotland, Basque). Every new State adds to the voting strength of the western block in international forums and helps to mitigate the shift in the balance of global power increasingly in favour of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Evidently the participants have not forgotten America’s humiliating defeat in 1971in the UN General Assembly at the hands of the ‘Third World’ when it obstinately opposed the entry of the Peoples Republic of China.

In short, the poor (‘traditionals’) are thirsting to remain poor and they are happy with the grotesque imbalances in global distribution of resources and wealth. The 21st century version of White Man’s Burden, as implied by the discussants, is to helpfully support the poor’s aversion to ‘western materialism’ and keep them mired in poverty. For their own good, long oppressed peoples of ‘the Third World’ should be rescued from their own dastardly national movements struggling for their political emancipation and economic advancement because they threaten the rich North and undermine the poor South!! Does this cultural myopia dressed up in the tattered garb of western scholarship make any sense at all?

Equally senseless is the arrogant view that ‘the United States…should make it clear to those seeking independence that they cannot object to the violence waged against them by claiming they were simply attempting to exercise their “right” to secession.’

Is it surprising then that an international coalition of more than thirty countries including nuclear powers, almost all orchestrated by the Co-Chairs and fronted by Norway, shovelled arms and ammunition and banned weapons systems to, and shared intelligence with, the Sri Lankan regime? They colluded to unleash the genocidal war against the LTTE-led Tamil national movement.

That is not all. After decimating Tamils military power in 2009, the Co-Chairs led by Norway are straining every nerve to encourage and assist the Sinhalese regime’s pacification of Tamils through continuing repression under military administration in the north and east, entrenching and often expanding military high security zones, engineering ethnic (Sinhalese) flooding of the Tamil Homeland, arbitrary expropriation of Tamils’ ancestral lands and the like.

And Norway is cynically urging members of the Tamil diaspora to fund the brutal pacification of their own kith and kin under the pretext of promoting ‘development’!

Nothing went wrong for Norway.

13 October 2010
tagots@hotmail.com

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