By Malinda Seneviratne
Here’s a lovely headline: ‘40 countries join resolution on SL as co-sponsors and additional co-sponsors.’ Forty countries. Forty. That’s a lot. It’s as though the entire world and part of some other planetary system with intelligent life have ganged up against Sri Lanka
Anyway, it’s not something that should surprise anyone. There’s a thing called history and there’s a thing called the present. We know of gangs. We know that nations gang up. We know that rogue nations gang up
The balance of global power is shifting but hasn’t shifted yet. Europe and North America (essentially the USA and its 52nd State of Amnesia, Canada) still have sway on account of rules set in their favour in happier times
That’s the European Union. EA stands for East Asia. It’s a crude categorization in terms of what’s happening right now in Geneva with regard to Sri Lanka. Russia, after all, is ‘East’ according to some, West according to others. Pakistan is not East enough so to speak. Both countries are backing Sri Lanka with respect to the resolution tabled by the original Mother of all things Evil, Britain. The geography has to be discussed in detail but that’s for later.
Here’s a lovely headline: ‘40 countries join resolution on SL as co-sponsors and additional co-sponsors.’ Forty countries. Forty. That’s a lot. It’s as though the entire world and part of some other planetary system with intelligent life have ganged up against Sri Lanka. That’s until you examine the deets.
So here are the details, as offered in the body of the news story: ‘a bulk of them [are] from the European region. Bulk might mean a little more than 50% or even two-thirds. More deets: ‘only TWO (emphasis mine) are ‘non-European or Western countries.’ Minor detail: twelve [of the 40] have voting rights at the UNHRC this time. So, take out Malawi and the Marshall Islands and it’s essentially a European move. The headline looks a tad exaggerated now, doesn’t it?
Anyway, it’s not something that should surprise anyone. There’s a thing called history and there’s a thing called the present. We know of gangs. We know that nations gang up. We know that rogue nations gang up. We know that rogue nations that also have bucks and weapons of mass destruction are willing and able to crown themselves as benefactors of all humankind and of course blackball other nations that for whatever reason don’t see eye-to-eye or rather are reluctant to submit to someone else’s definition of their reality.
That’s an EU story. Here’s another which we’ve referred to at times.
In 1884, 13 European nations shamelessly gathered in Berlin to parcel out the African continent like famished schoolchildren (on a school trip) haphazardly dividing up a pizza. Great Britain was represented by Sir Edward Malet (Ambassador to the German Empire). The US, the emerging but [at the time] reluctant superpower, had a delegate — the explorer Henry Morton Stanley.
‘In utter disregard and with not a single iota of conscience or concern for the culture or the families of the continent, the map was redrawn and lands claimed. What followed was the systematic scramble and undoing of Africa.
Resistance was met with the brutal force of gunpowder. The Herero Massacre was the first genocide of the 20th century; tens of thousands of men, women and children were shot, starved, and tortured to death by German troops as they put down “rebellious” tribes in what is now Namibia. Tens of thousands of defenceless women and children were forced into the Kalahari Desert, their wells poisoned and food supplies cut.’
They still do the guns-in-booty-out number but are more sophisticated. It’s a white-man’s burden clothed as black/brown people’s preference. Sometimes it works. Sometimes guns are sent in and booty taken out. Raw stuff.
Let’s revisit the political geography. China and Japan are in the East. China is backing Sri Lanka and Japan hasn’t exactly applauded the moves by the rogue states of Europe. China and Japan own North American and European debt.
The balance of global power is shifting but hasn’t shifted yet. Europe and North America (essentially the USA and its 52nd State of Amnesia, Canada) still have sway on account of rules set in their favour in happier times. That and a persisting political economy that ensures dependency do not place Sri Lanka in a situation where she can smile and say ‘ta-ta.’ Not yet, anyway.
On the other hand, this business of pernicious persecution could push Sri Lanka to a point where ‘ta-ta’ is inevitable. Sri Lanka could just grin and bear. Sri Lanka could say ‘ta-ta’ without enthusiasm. Sri Lanka might have to say ‘hello and hello again,’ to China and Japan. Maybe one day North America and Europe would be forced to say ‘bye-bye’ to their arrogance and say ‘hello’ to reason, civilization and the notions of community and solidarity, but not in the foreseeable future. They had to say ‘hello and hello again to China,’ after all, albeit in all probability muttering ‘damn it/you!’ under their breaths.
Cheerio EU, hello EA. That’s the title. Better if we could say ‘Hello Asia’. Better yet to say ‘Hello and hello again to the Tricontinental’ in the Guevarist expansion of the Bolivarian formulation. Indeed it would be best to say ‘bye-bye EU, EI, A, TC….hello people, hello community and solidarity, hello earth’ but we are not anywhere close to such Utopias. India, after all, is confused about her geographical location or rather location in politics of vexatious persecution.
For now, then, it’s an Outside-Europe universe that Sri Lanka is being forced to look at. Perhaps it’s a good thing. Let’s see.