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editorial
A case of schizophrenia?

The Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton ought to take a good look at herself in the mirror. And that is not to wonder whether the ageing former first lady has more wrinkles on her face that would lead her husband Bill astray again but just to convince herself that there is only one- and not two- Hillary Clintons around.

We say so because we really begin to wonder whether there are two Hillary Clintons doing the rounds. We have one Hillary Clinton who is so distressed about the war in a tiny strip of land in little Sri Lanka and is in deep anguish about the alleged civilian deaths in the conflict, even if it happens in the course of trying to extinguish terrorism in the island.

Then on the other hand we have another Hillary Clinton who doesn’t mind killing hundreds of civilians through United States air strikes on the independent, sovereign nation of Afghanistan, because that too is done to try and deal with Taliban terrorists there!

It was less than two weeks ago that this same Clinton lamented that “the Sri Lankan government knows that the entire world is very disappointed that in its efforts to end what it sees as twenty five years of conflict, it is causing such untold suffering”, alluding to Sri Lanka’s efforts to flush out the Liberation Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) from their last hideouts in the North.

Then, this same scrupulous, sanctimonious saintly Secretary of State states that the deaths of civilians from United States air strikes in Afghanistan were ‘particularly painful’ and that they were ‘deeply regretted’. No, there are no calls for a ceasefire or pleas to the Taliban to surrender to third parties. Nor is there any mention of the untold suffering inflicted by the government of the United States on a sovereign nation.

Surely, this cannot be one and the same person? As Secretary of State of the United States of America she should know what it means to be a victim of terrorism because the United States bore the brunt of the 9/11 attacks launched by Al Qaeda and got a taste of terrorism as we Sri Lankans had known it for decades.

It was then that former United States President George W. Bush declared the ‘global war on terror’ and the United States embarked on military adventures in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the rest of the world may have agreed in principle with what the United States supposedly wanted to do, most disagreed with its way of doing it - invasion of Iraq on the pretext of searching for ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was a clear instance where Bush pursued a political agenda under the cover of destroying terrorism.

Clinton, we know caused a stir in Sri Lanka well into her presidential nomination campaign in the Democratic Party when she commented in a now infamous interview that one could not “lump all terrorists together” and that “what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka, or the Basque separatists in Spain, or the insurgents in al-Anbar province may only be connected by tactics. They may not share all that much in terms of what is the philosophical or ideological underpinning”.

Later it came to light that many LTTE activists were listed as fund raisers for her presidential campaign, especially in the state of New Jersey. Clinton rushed into damage control mode then, delisting them from her campaign as the LTTE was listed as a terrorist organisation in the United States and she feared that could impair her presidential bid.
Thus we now have the hypocrisy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Either Clinton suffers from amnesia of a selective kind or is a self-serving humbug who indulges in diplomatic doublespeak. We daresay it is the latter because it fits in with her past comments and dealings with LTTE sympathisers.

Therefore, when we hear calls for ceasefires from the United States and holier than thou strictures from the likes of Clinton and her representative in Sri Lanka Robert Blake we must tell ourselves that we may be dealing with the most powerful country in the world, but we are also dealing with a nation of double standards where the victims are small nations such as ours while they declare that might is right when setting parameters for their own behaviour.

And it is not only the Unites States that Sri Lanka has to contend with. Do we hear the usual noisy cacophony that emanates from the United Nations, the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and their kind speak up for the civilian victims in Afghanistan? Do we have British Prime Minister Gordon Brown rushing a special envoy to that country to inspect the facilities that are being provided to the victims? And do we hear of British and French Foreign Ministers David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner hopping on the next flight to Kabul?

No, of course not. We only hear the deafening sound of silence - a silence that is deference to America, the most powerful country on earth which can do what it likes, when it likes and then tell other countries that they shouldn’t even think of emulating them!

The new President of the United States, Barack Obama carried with him the goodwill of most Sri Lankans when he was elected to office only a few months ago. But with a Secretary of State like Clinton, it wouldn’t take long for that goodwill to evaporate.
Even if that happens, Sri Lanka must now stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to the final hideout of Velupillai Prabhakaran, for that is the path that can ensure peace for generations to come in this nation of ours notwithstanding the raves and rants of Hillary Clinton and those others of her kind.

 

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