Given the recent turn of events, will the rest of the world ever take Sri Lanka seriously again? When we say ‘rest of the world’, mind you, we mean countries and corporate states that used to matter. Like the UN, the EU, the UK, the US – not Iran, Rwanda, and Cuba… the latter being the IRCs of the Western World. Oops, better not be undiplomatic! There could be something of a ruckus – as there was recently, when our tiny island-nation ruffled Eritrea’s feathers. Eritrea, of all places! Why Eritrea, you might ask?
Well, why not. We’re not partial to size, shape, or other mundane considerations when it comes to poking tin-pot banana republics or tyrannical politico-military powers in the eye. Big or small, we offend them all. Not that we always mean to, we grant you. But a democratic socialist republic intent on just being itself and not letting anyone dictate terms to our own brand of homegrown despotism can sometimes rub people up the wrong way by just being ourselves.
Take the recent case of Ban ki-Moon, for example. We simply don’t seem to be able to get it right with this guy. Whatever we do, however we do it, whichever way we turn… there’s Mr. Moon or Mr. Ban, or whatever he’s comfortable being called, having his nose rubbed in the dirt by our pug-ugly heavies. Only the other day, he was looking our way yet again and pointing out in no uncertain terms that he and his allies at the Undeterred Nuisances (UN, for short) were none too pleased with our progress – or lack thereof – on the political process of reconciliation, the setting up of transparent accountability and good governance processes, and the treatment of IDPs.
Phew… to the UN’s way of thinking, such a statement may not be merely a letting off of steam at the behest of the powers that be in the big pond – to whom we are sitting-ducks to be shot out of the water, but also “a frank and honest exchange of views”. But I very much doubt that the grand panjandrum at the receiving end in a hot-spot third-world capital would see it from the same point of view! There may be more mooning and name-calling soon… but let’s ban “terrorist”, shall we? It could make our man in New York mighty uncomfortable…
Now we don’t claim to understand the intricacies of world politics, dear. But we do know something about human nature. And what interests us most at this juncture is the reaction of a certain bigwig in the receiving-end country – who seems to have got his, er, principles caught between a rock and a hard place. Our man in Colombo (though, perhaps, we would do better to refer to him as “our man at large”) is in two minds. On the one hand, as the raving – um, I mean – roving ambassador who “won over the world for Sri Lanka”, he takes a very dim view of all this Unadulterated Nonsense (UN, for short).
Namely, that the home country has fallen by the way as far as international standards of democracy, good governance, etc. go. On the other, he sees quite a bright future in Unmitigated Nepotism (UN, for short) should the world at large – whether won over or not – see fit to support his offspring’s ambitions to ruin – um, run – things at fairly high level in the UN. The mind boggles, does it not? But that, dear, is a sign of the true genius. To hold two mutually exclusive opinions and not be driven mad by one’s position! Or more to the point, be a personable schizophrenic of sorts who can win the world for one’s political friends and woo one’s opponents overseas for one’s precious family.
In the long run, though, what does it benefit us if we win the world but lose our soul? For one can’t be a tyrant at home and a thick-skinned democrat abroad. That old definition of a diplomat will not wash any more. We must make up our minds whether we want to call the bluff of the wily foxes among the Unreasonable Nitpickers (UN). This may entail firmly and politely telling them where they get off.
For example, not in our backyard; and certainly not before inspecting the chicken coop in Iraq or the hen run in Afghanistan. But then, we will have to look for plum jobs for our kith and kin in other lush vineyards. India, Russia, and China come to mind… the IRCs we have befriended of late… and lest they take issue with us, let us hasten to assure you that it is because they love us that they have chosen to champion our cause – Shame be on them who say it has anything to do with oil, land, ports, or all of the above.
This… or else, we will have to resolve that Unrepentant Noisemakers can have their field trip and field day, and we will bite the bullet. Because hypocritical though it is, we still want to be a part of the UN (for long or for short). Until we make up our minds, we will continue to be at our collective wit’s end, no?