Friday, March 23, 2012

A defeat as good as victory

Editorial - The Island

The diplomatic badger hunt in Geneva is over. The cornered badger bravely fought the mastiffs of neo-imperialism, savage in the fray, and went down fighting yesterday. It certainly was a defeat as good as victory!

The US, the EU and India won against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. They secured 24 votes for the US resolution as opposed to Sri Lanka's 15 with eight abstaining. The US and its friends should be ashamed that they, in spite of their combined might, could muster only 24 votes. With its economic and military prowess, political clout, not-so-veiled threats, megaphone diplomacy and intense campaigning backed by an anti-Sri Lankan propaganda blitzkrieg the western media and human rights groups carried out in the run-up to the vote, the US should have been able to win at least two-thirds of the UNHRC votes. It is heartening that there are countries capable of standing up to the US.

Reeling from its ignominious UNESCO loss at the hands of Palestine last year in Paris, the US has got a diplomatic straw to clutch at in Geneva. Champagne corks are popping in Washington!

The Indian government may have managed to extricate itself from a domestic political imbroglio at Sri Lanka's expense by compromising its much-vaunted foreign policy at the behest of the likes of Jayalalithaa, but it has, in so doing, plunged India into an unholy diplomatic and political mire. Now that it has sided with the US on a country specific resolution against Sri Lanka, other countries will want it to do likewise if and when similar situations arise at the UNHRC in the future.

India has been a loser in Geneva, though it helped the US win. With Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi on its side, the US can now rely on Tamil Nadu to exert pressure on the Centre on sensitive issues. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it may be recalled, made it a point to have a powwow with Jayalalithaa on Sri Lanka when she visited India in July 2011. The Tamil Nadu politicians failed to save Prabhakaran but since his demise, they have won all political battles against the Centre so much so that even the Rajiv Gandhi killers could not be hanged in Tamil Nadu, where they committed that grave crime in April, 1991!

The outcome of the Geneva vote and their strong ties with the US will further embolden Jayalalithaa et al to adopt a more confrontational approach in dealing with the Centre. Her resistance to the setting up of a national anti-terrorism centre is a case in point. She also succeeded in having the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant stalled and it was only after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yielded to her pressure and undertook to back the US resolution that she gave her nod for that project.

The US succeeded in carrying India in Geneva, but India failed to carry Asia, or at least South Asia with it. In other words, Sri Lanka has won against India in Asia!

The US failed to secure the support of one of its closest allies, Saudi Arabia, for its resolution. And, Marzuki Darusman, who was instrumental in crafting the UNSG's advisory panel report on Sri Lanka, has failed to sell it to his own country, Indonesia, which voted against the US resolution based on the war crimes allegations hurled by his panel against this country. The same goes for his co-panelist Yasmin Sooka from South Africa, which spoke in favour of Sri Lanka, though it had no vote at the UNHRC! Only Steven Ratner's country, the US, has bought into the unsubstantiated war crimes allegations in the Darusman report. Thus, it may be seen that two out of the three co-authors of that report have failed to market their arguments to their own countries!

The LTTE is likely to step up its operations in Tamil Nadu, where a situation conducive to its activities exists with prominent politicians backing it to the hilt. Even a section of the Indian media which turned hostile towards the LTTE following the Rajiv Gandhi assassination has apparently softened its stand.

It is hoped that India will not be hoist with its own petard––once again.