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Editorial


Spiteful lady
When William Congreve, in the 18th century, wrote of hell having no fury like a woman scorned, he probably wouldn’t have been thinking of Hillary Rodham Clinton. But Clinton is one spiteful lady indeed, at least, as far as Sri Lanka is concerned.

Almost during the entire latter phase of the ‘Eelam War’, this Secretary of State of the United States waxed eloquent about the need for a ‘peaceful’ resolution to the conflict, conveniently ignoring the fact that Sri Lanka was battling, arguably, the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world.

Thereafter, when the armed conflict ended, with the decimation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Clinton shifted her focus to the ‘plight’ of the internally displaced persons, again conspicuously avoiding issues such as the need to weed out hardcore LTTE cadres from the IDPs and the necessarily slow pace of de-mining the North.

But her best effort was yet to come. Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Ms. Clinton was to say that “We’ve seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma and Sri Lanka and elsewhere,” a comment that made Colombo understandably furious and demand an apology from Washington.

Hillary Clinton may have been the former first lady of the United States of America. She may have also been the principal opponent of Barack Obama, when he was seeking nomination from the Democratic Party to run for the Oval office. Today, she is also the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation in the world. All that does not, however, mitigate her disparaging remarks. In fact, it makes them all the more reprehensible.

Washington was, of course, quick to realise that Clinton had made a faux pas of gargantuan proportions, and shifted to damage control mode. At first, it ‘clarified’ Clinton’s remarks, saying that they did not refer to any specific perpetrators. That did little to soothe rising tempers in Colombo, because it was construed as a flimsy escape clause for the beleaguered Secretary of State, whose intentions to disgrace Sri Lanka were blatantly obvious.

Then came another ‘clarification’, this time saying that Clinton’s remarks were “not specific to the recent phase of conflict which ended early this year”. The State Department also went one step further and said that “the reference that the Secretary made...was to...very well-documented reports of significant levels of rape that were documented through...2002 or 2003 in a variety of reports, including State Department reports, and also reports done by Amnesty International”.

It is now not clear which is worse - the offence or the defence. The State Department does not elaborate what specifically these incidents of ‘rape’ were in 2002 and 2003. And, in any event, Hillary Clinton must be suffering from a serious bout of amnesia, if she is raising these purported incidents after a seven-year lapse!

The obvious conclusion one can safely arrive at is that, Hillary Clinton, misguided by those who lobby her in Washington, cannot quite stomach the fact the Sri Lanka went against the edicts of the western world and prosecuted the war against the LTTE to a finish.

That must be something quite galling for the most powerful nation in the world, which is still looking for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, killing thousands of civilians in the process and not caring a whit about it.

Thus scorned, Hillary Clinton wants to belittle little Sri Lanka in the eyes of the rest of the world, and has absolutely no qualms about abusing her position as the Secretary of State of the United States of America to do so, even if it means making flippant and unsubstantiated remarks about this country.

Clearly, Clinton has a long way to go in terms of learning statecraft and diplomacy. Those before her, such as Madeline Albright, may have been formidable foes or admirable allies in diplomacy, but they were streets ahead of Clinton in the manner they did their job: professionally, thoroughly and not leaving room to get egg on their faces.

We all know Hillary Rodham Clinton is one ambitious woman. Her stated aim is to become the President of the United States. If Clinton’s performance this past week is anything to go by, that will –and should - never happen. But for now, with friends like Hillary Clinton in his team, President Barack Obama will need no more enemies.

The ultimate irony of all this is that it is Hillary Clinton who is lecturing Sri Lanka on the possibility of using sexual abuse of females as a political weapon. If she cares to look in her bedroom mirror, who knows, she may see husband Bill somewhere. And that should remind her a little bit about using sexual abuse of females as a political weapon. Or is it that her memory is so short that she has forgotten recent history before one could say ‘Monica Lewinsky’?