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Steely nerves, stony hearts and perfumes of Arabia

Compared to last year, Sri Lankan government does not seem to be particularly perturbed about the prospect of the United States introducing a resolution for the second time at the United Nations’ human rights body in Geneva on the war crimes in the final phase of Colombo’s victory in the conflict with the separatist LTTE movement. Colombo seems to estimate that there isn’t going to be any ‘additionality’ in this year’s US-sponsored resolution. 

Indeed, the ghastly TV footage of the cold-blooded killing of LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran’s son once again aims at shaking up the conscience of the international community. The human rights organizations are furious. Ominously, the Christian Church in Sri Lanka has also entered the fray, by making a stirring appeal to the collective conscience of the western world. 
But Colombo is disdainful and plainly contemptuous. One indication that it is unperturbed about the stormy weeks ahead in Geneva is that unlike last year, Sri Lankan leadership isn’t knocking at the Indian door for help and salvation. Colombo seems to take it for granted that Delhi would repeat its last year’s twin-forked performance and life will thereafter move on. 
The External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s latest statement should amount to a renewed assurance from Delhi — at least, that is how Colombo will see the friendly statement in its context. 
Curiously, the US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland also seemed to hint that it is business as usual and nothing dramatic needs to be expected in Geneva. 
In such matters, Washington closely closely coordinates with London and Colombo insists that the Commonwealth summit meeting scheduled to be held in Colombo in November will be attended by the British queen. Interestingly, Britain is even selling weapons to the Sri Lankan army
There can be no two opinions that In rank hypocrisy, the big guys are outdoing each other — US, Britain, India. They have all decided to do business with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government in Colombo. 
But then, what alternative do they have? Rakapaksa heads an elected government in a functioning democracy. And Sri Lanka is not Myanmar; even in the case of the latter, geopolitics ultimately prevailed and President Barack Obama was compelled to visit the country and call it by its real name. 
Simply put, In the gathering storms in world politics emanating out of the rise of China as a superpower, countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka become extremely valuable real estate situated between Diego Garcia and the Malacca Straits. 
Besides, what moral right would the US, Britain or India have to speak about human rights when they themselves have piled up abominable human rights records? Also, in this case they were literally participants or active witnesses of the war crimes perpetrated in the last phase of the brutal war against the LTTE — especially India. 
Without doubt, Indian intelligence would have known how exactly Prabhakaran’s son was put away so that the LTTE leader’s legacy wouldn’t survive to haunt Colombo. But, as Khurshid implied, that is not the compelling issue here. 
As he put it, what counts is that Sri Lanka is an “important neighbor and friend.” After all, steel nerves and stony hearts are what are required for successful diplomats. However, somewhere deep down in the Indian conscience, there would be a pang of guilt. And all the perfumes of Arabia cannot wash it away. 

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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