Breaking ranks with the poor
The contours of our foreign policy are now clear - the PM has mapped them out himself at the United Nations. The UNF government is clearly aligning itself with the West, abandoning its solidarity with developing nations.

It is not uncharted territory for the UNP. J. R. Jayewardene the late President, once voted with the UK on the Falklands issue at the UN, going against almost unanimous global sentiment. A fortnight ago, the Commerce Minister Ravi Karunanayake read out from a prepared script, as Sri Lanka broke ranks with the economically developing countries at Cancun in Mexico, where a roadmap was being prepared on new trade rules for the world.

We abandoned the stand taken by countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil etc., and closed ranks with the US and the European Union (EU) on many issues such as agriculture subsidies etc.,

In plain terms, we took the line that we don't mind foreclosing our paddy fields because the cost-of-production of locally produced rice is more than the cost of importing rice. We went by the logic that it makes more economic sense to import than to grow rice. If there is some element of straightforward logic in this argument adduced by the Commerce Minister in Cancun, the people might find it illogical all the same, when the same UNF Government's Agriculture Minister urges Sri Lankans back home to eat rice thrice a day while praising our farmers for a bountiful harvest.

In doing what he did at Cancun, the Commerce Minister was instructed to break ranks with the poor to fall in behind the rich. At the UN, the Prime Minister on Friday asked that the world body reforms itself so that decisive action could be taken without indulging in the idle prattle of rhetoric. Such rhetoric has been heard ever since the UN was founded.

However, in what was clearly a bid to identify with the US, this time even by distancing itself from the European Union and the world-at-large, the PM supported the invasion of Iraq.

These are his words ; " ... Then there are those of us who feel that the United States and their allies had no choice but to intervene, that the failure of the United Nations had created the need for a world policeman however reluctant it might be ".

For this bold if brazen stance, the US must now repay the UNF Govt. with a Free Trade Agreement, help rally round our garment exporters, perhaps grant us Most-Favoured Nation status, and add muscle to our battle with the LTTE.

But whether Sri Lanka must necessarily be made a US puppet-state or even in the lesser of evils, a US satellite state, is a matter for vigorous national debate.

The Ranil Wickremesinghe Government is desperately in search of economic upliftment of its people with tourism and foreign investment as uppermost priorities to raise the living standards at home, in a thoroughly unfair world order in which the Government permits its citizens to be finger-printed for overseas visas while encouraging the garlanding of visa-less citizens from that country on arrival here.

In the process, will this government also attract unwarranted attention as a lackey-state running after the pot of gold represented by US largesse in the short-term, at the expense of her self-respect and international solidarity for a better world in the long-term?

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