Colombo and the brand new World Order
Stanley Jayaweera of Avadhi Lanka writes that the greatest spectre
that faces Sri Lanka is not Marxism or even the LTTE, but of being
branded by America as a ''failed state.'' Susantha Gunatilleke writing
in the Sunday Island castigates the OPA for inviting foreign forces.
there is a controversy raging about America's Tropical Forest Conservation
Act and whether Sri Lanka should sign the Tropical Forest Agreement
in exchange for writing off US loans. Selvam Canegaratnam makes
mincemeat of an earlier view that Sri Lanka should accept the terms
of this Agreement, and handover control of vast swathes of our forest
reserves to the control of the Americans.
All of which
shows that there is an increasing awareness about the new contours
of the global discourse. Jayadeva Uyangoda, in an interview with
Tamil Net says that the LTTE should remember that 'that they are
dealing in the global state.''
is also the same, which is that national problems are no longer
resolved within national boundaries. But whereas others are willing
to name names, and say the United States is the culprit, Uyangoda
plays safe, and he confines himself to the rather sanitised descriptions
of 'global state'' etc., which would probably not get him in trouble
in the "global state'' that operates in matters of academic
funding research grants etc.,
Either way, there is a phenomenon that can be seen with or without
- American hegemony, choose what you want, but essentially you will
be talking about the same thing.) Cut to the bone what it means
is that American hegemony is becoming more and more nude these days.
Even if garbed in the clothing of ''global state'' this nudity is
showing, to all, even to those who have to carry out their scholarly
work within the boundaries of what their foreign funded research
grants may allow.
But it also
means that people are increasingly beginning to identify the new
ways and means -- the new modus operandi -- through which this hegemony
seeks to assert itself. For example (as referred to in this column
last week) there was no glib reference to regime-change those days
when America needed to get its way in the world. Most certainly,
there was no case for regime change in countries such as Sri Lanka.
But the route
to accomplish regime change now is different. Sri Lanka can be ripe
for regime change, if it first becomes a failed state. "Poor
countries are "failed states"; those that oppose America
are "rogue states"; an attack by the west is a "humanitarian
intervention". (One of the most enthusiastic bombers, Michael
Ignatieff, is now "professor of human rights" at Harvard).
'' That was said by John Pilger. 'Bombers' refers there to those
who approved the invasion of Iraq. As an article in the US Foreign
Affairs magazine explained recently, there is also a category called
the "pivotal state.'' Pivotal states are those which are vital
--- in American thinking -- for the 'stability'' and furtherance
of American interests on the globe.
Even if Sri
Lanka is not a ''failed state'' say in Liberian terms, Sri Lanka
probably qualifies as a "pivotal state'', which is why to make
it quite unscholarly and bereft of jargon, we need to watch our
with classifying Sri Lanka as a failed state is that there is a
coterie of thinkers here such as Susantha Guntilleke, Stanley Jayaweera
(not thinkers of the OPA variety) who constantly keep reminding
people that ''failed states'' for instance are made to fail. The
failure is orchestrated or engineered. One facet of this orchestration
is that a nation is slowly denuded of its intellectuals and thinkers.
They are either
marginalised, eliminated in the worse case, or they are co-opted.
It is easier to co-opt intellectuals with research grants than it
is to eliminate them.
Those who want to take Sri Lanka down the road of the failed state
would prefer the OPA variety of thinkers. Even Jayadeva Uyangoda
seemed embarrassed for example, when the OPA recently unveiled its
'national electoral reform plan' to a group of select invitees.
It is a harebrained project, that seeks to engineer the electoral
system in such a way that people vote for candidates within a small
'commune''. Their rights of franchise end there.
The vast number
of candidates elected in this "grassroots'' fashion, then proceed
to elect a second tier of government, and from this is elected another
tier and so on and so forth, until the National Assembly is elected
by a rarefied few in the last tier at the top. Being polite Jayadeva
Uyangoda the political scientist said "some professionals are
naturally so exasperated with today's prevailing system that they
would even unwittingly enthrone an elite leadership,'' or words
to that effect.
The point here
is hardly one of dismissing the OPA. That's almost not worth the
while. The real issue is that there is a slow intellectual atrophying
- a bereft-ness of thinkers who are prepared to see things for what
they are -- and then proceed to call a spade a spade. For instance,
it is good to see global hegemony. But if one is to neglect mentioning
American hegemony, and call it ''global state'' instead, then that's
at least partially co-opted wisdom also.
As for engineered
regime-change, one does not have to go far. In Indonesia, for instance,
Abdurrahuman Waheed was installed by the Americans. And then, he
proceeded to appoint Henry Kissinger as an Advisor! But when Waheed
was not malleable, despite Kissinger, they proceed to install Megawathi
Sukarnoputhri in power, signifying the fourth regime change in a
matter of years.Indonesia of course is no Liberia.
Part of the
fundamentalist culture that's now being seen in the American power
elite today (Bush, Rumsfield and company) is that it is so fundamentalist
that there is no room for niceties. Any Sri Lankan expert in the
American foreign policy system will say that Sri Lanka cannot be
'regime-changed' the way Liberia or Indonesia is ''regime-changed.''
But the fundamentalist
thinking today in the US Bush administrations doesn't know or care.
This is why it is possible that any number of ambitious politicians
can try to hitch their wagon to the US regime, in an attempt to
engineer a regime change here in Sri Lanka and get themselves catapulted
into the seats of power in Colombo. But whatever its weaknesses,
Sri Lanka has a democracy that cannot be "regime -changed''
just like that. It is time that the real Sri Lankan experts within
the American system told the fundamentalist administration in the
US that there are still some countries with which you cannot do
a Liberia or an Indonesia.