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20th December 1998

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    Clinton's loose cannon

    Just as the people of Iraq were preparing for the fasting month of Ramazan, Bill Clinton seems to have got the urge, once again, to shoot his loose cannon.

    It was his shocking and shameful Christmas gift to world opinion in general and the starving, malnourished, suffering people of Iraq in particular. The double-dealing Bill. Only a few days earlier he was in Bethlehem portraying himself as a man of peace. Significantly it was in Bethlehem that King Herod massacred a few hundred children in what is commemorated 2,000 years later as holy innocents day. But today a UN humanitarian agency has revealed that upto 6,000 Iraqi children die every month through causes connected directly to US-sponsored sanctions. Herod must be turning in his grave to see what Clinton is doing and on that basis Saddam is not far wrong when he referred to the American leader as an 'Agent of Satan.'

    The impeachment hearings which were coming to a climax last night must surely have propelled Mr. Clinton into action. He says "no" but who believes him anyway after all the lies he told about his dealings with Monica Lewinsky. At the end of the day, Saddam Hussein whatever his follies will remain, but Mr. Clinton might have to go just as George Bush before him.

    The last time he let loose his cannon on Sudan and Afghanistan, looking for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Clinton had timed it well with the Grand Jury probe on the Lewinsky affair. What kind of a nation is this? Believing them to be the rulers of earth.

    We feel sorry for the people of Iraq sandwiched between the ugly schemes of Saddam and Clinton. We understand and unite fully with the people of Iraq, caught as they are between the ugly arrogance of Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein.

    As for Britain one does not know whether to feel sorry for it or be angry with it. The people who pontificate to Sri Lanka to solve our internal problems through dialogue even offering their good offices do not believe in that principle viz-a-viz Iraq. Or are they trying to re-live the days of their Empire as the Ruler of the Earth and hang on to Uncle Sam's coat-tails to ask "how high" when told to "jump" by the US.

    Countries like Sri Lanka also face the economic consequences of this scandalous military strikes against the Iraqi people. This then is the New World Order.

    Thonda in turmoil

    Mr. T the kingmaker ended up with a lot of egg on his face recently when he found out he couldn't get the allocation for his ministry passed in parliament.

    Quite an ignominious fate for a kingmaker, it must seem. Mr. Saumyamoorthi Thondaman has been almost a fixture in the Sri Lankan political firmament, and his flock has comprised the vulnerable plantation workers. They are not as 'vulnerable' as some of the Sinhala villagers in the highlands, who never had Mr T's patronage.

    But, the means don't necessarily justify the end, and Mr. Thondaman's means of achieving a better living standard for his constituency have more often than not compromised national interest.

    But all the theatre that accompanied Mr. T's parliamentary debacle may have helped to hide some of the recent history that was pertinent to Mr. Thondaman's glittering parliamentary record. The same Mr. Thondaman plotted and planned just weeks ago to defeat fellow Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake's vote.

    Mr. Thondaman did not have any qualms or regrets about giving his poor cabinet colleague a good run for his money. Mr. Thondaman's sometimes convincing bluff has been that his political fortunes do not depend on the PA and the UNP. But he seems to have not planned for the eventuality of the PA and the UNP getting together.

    If and when they do, Mr. Thondaman will be history, but the thought that this might happen one day has not crossed his mind.

    Minister Thondaman has preferred to be a 'Messiah' to his flock but he has certainly not aspired to be a national leader in the process.

    His kind of sectarianism, mimicked by other political leaders who want to lead their 'people' in this multi ethnic land, has been at the root of our political problems since independence. Thondaman is not the only such Messiah, and that is the problem.


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