The Pope with Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith

Though my political approval of and personal liking for Mahinda Rajapaksa, (certainly in relation to his competitors and immediate predecessors) are shared by nine out of ten Sri Lankan citizens (according to the Gallup poll), it is not comfortable to be alone in one’s analysis and evaluation, among one’s own social stratum, the intelligentsia, especially the English-speaking and writing urban intelligentsia. It is therefore a good feeling when you discover that your views coincide with someone who stands above the fray, and cannot but evoke respect from all rational people. Nicest of all, is when the public personage with whose views your own coincide, has achieved a status and recognition that is truly global.

My perspectives on Mahinda Rajapaksa, his administration, Sri Lankan politics and the issue of accountability and international pressure have been denounced by political partisans of almost all sides. The Tamil Diaspora accuses me of Sinhala chauvinism or neo-nationalism (as Taraki put it). The Sinhala chauvinists accuse me of being Eelamist because I support provincial devolution. The Left accuses me of having sold out to the Right. The Right accuses me of a dangerous Left radicalism in international affairs.

The liberals who support international calls for boycotts and accountability hearings will never forgive my defense of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty in Geneva, May 2009. The Sinhala hardliners will never forgive me for my advocacy of provincial level devolution.

The dogmatic Left regards Mahinda Rajapaksa as a Rightist. The cosmopolitan liberals and Diaspora Tamil lobbyists consider him the chief representative of the Sinhala Buddhist Right, without whose patronage that Right would not exist. The Human Rights constituency sees Mahinda Rajapaksa as the most authoritarian, autocratic and possibly fascist element in Lankan politics, and the main danger to democracy.  I consider Mahinda Rajapaksa a centrist and a Bonapartist balancer.

It is gratifying, in this context, to note that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, at the time Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, had arrived at almost the same conclusions, and expressed them way back in 2009 to the US Ambassador.

The Cardinal can hardly be accused of being a Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist. Even if one modifies the charge to one of Sinhala chauvinism, it is hardly credible that the world’s oldest and most far-flung transnational organization, a fount of ‘universality’, would choose a Sinhala chauvinist, representing under 20 million people, as one of the youngest cardinals in the world, and as the only Asian in the electoral college that finally chooses the Pope.

Nor can the Cardinal be accused of being less than intelligent. Lack of intelligence is not a shortcoming that even the worst enemies of the Catholic Church would accuse it of, and with its high premium on training, we may readily conclude that a young Cardinal must be a very smart person indeed, with solid scholarly credentials and considerably wide and diverse experience.

The Catholic Church being the sole social institution that cuts across Sri Lanka’s ethnic divide, or that social institution which transcends it most, it could be said that it is suitably positioned to articulate an inclusive Sri Lankan identity and ideology.

Furthermore, a high ranking official of the Church, the most globalised and multicultural of institutions, is likely to provide a truly global and comparative perspective, and is least likely to provide a parochial one.

Finally, no institution has grappled more with the tough task of combining virtue and power, as has the Catholic Church. No intellectual tradition has attempted to wrestle with and synthesise ethics and Realism as has that of Christian theology (e.g. Just war theory).

It is against this backdrop that we must read Cardinal Ranjith’s reading of Sri Lanka’s politics and the Rajapaksa/s role, or more precisely, the US Ambassador’s reading of Cardinal Ranjith’s reading. Wikileaks tells the tale. According to Ambassador Butenis’ Oct 2009 cable, the perspective of the Archbishop, in summary was as follows:

“SUMMARY: Roman Catholic Archbishop Ranjith told ambassador that pushing the GSL too hard on the war crimes accountability issue now could destabilize Sri Lankan democracy and would set back the cause of human rights.  He reasoned that weakening the Rajapaksas — who despite their public image were relative moderates in the Sri Lankan polity – could backfire.  Moreover, if Sri Lanka were denied GSP-plus or the U.S. were to enact strong economic sanctions, leading to a sharp downturn in the economy, Sri Lanka could suffer revolution from the right or a coup by the military, which now had a very strong position in society.  Ambassador countered that this was an interesting perspective, but if the Rajapaksas were in fact moderates, they needed to show it.  END SUMMARY ».

The cable says that “In a September 30 introductory meeting with Ambassador and PolChief, Roman Catholic Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith recounted the recent political evolution of Sri Lanka, of which he has been both an astute observer and important participant, and described the role of the Church in society. He noted that while he himself was a Singhalese, he was very sympathetic to the plight of Tamils, who had suffered greatly from pogroms and discrimination by the majority and from the disastrous results of LTTE separatist ideology.  He explained that the Church had played a key role in brokering talks between the GSL and the LTTE over the years, including the 2002 cease-fire agreement.  After the war, the church was advocating publicly for the release of IDPs and other controversial positions.  This had led to criticism from the Buddhist right and even death threats against the archbishop himself.  This was the opposite of the leading role in reconciliation the archbishop believed Buddhists should have been playing years ago.

Despite this criticism, the archbishop said he believed President Rajapaksa personally was a good man and in the constellation of Sri Lankan politics was a relative moderate (he reminded us that Rajapaksa used to attend human rights meetings in Europe as an opposition MP).  Rajapaksa and his brothers were under great pressure from the Singhalese Buddhist right, and any show of what would be perceived as weakness before the international community could result in their losing ground to much more extreme elements.  Indeed, he argued that if something happened to the president there would be “chaos” in Sri Lanka.

This led to the archbishop addressing directly the question of war crimes accountability.  He said “my suggestion is, in order to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka, don’t push accountability now.”  He reasoned that weakening the Rajapaksas could backfire.  Moreover, if Sri Lanka were denied GSP-plus or the U.S. were to enact strong economic sanctions, leading to a sharp downturn in the economy, Sri Lanka — where democracy was not strong now — could suffer revolution from the right or a coup by the military, which currently had a very strong position in society.  The archbishop said this was why he had recently come out publicly in favor of extending GSP-plus to Sri Lanka, despite the GSL’s many human rights problems.  Ambassador countered that this was a very interesting perspective, but if the Rajapaksas were in fact moderates, they needed to show it in at least a few ways.  The archbishop said this was the challenge that he had been working on — how to get the president not to worry only about the “forces lurking beneath him” and to act as a moderate.  He told the president it was important to work with Tamil leaders on reconciliation and to invite the Diaspora to help re-build the economy.  “The Rajapaksas will come and go,” the archbishop opined, “but the Tamils will always be here.” ’ ( Wiki leaks FILE, Oct 2, 2009)

Ambassador Butenis’ concluding comment to her bosses in Washington DC bears repetition:

“Archbishop Ranjith purportedly is respected by the pope and served as papal nuncio in Indonesia.  He also commands considerable authority in Sri Lanka — despite his problems with the Buddhist right — and has a good relationship with the president (whose wife is Catholic).  It is certainly true that the president is under great pressure from the Singhalese Buddhist right.  It is also arguable that the international community’s pushing too hard on accountability could backfire.”

Two things that senior clerics know about are ideologies and to evaluate and judge the character of men. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith characterises Mahinda Rajapaksa as essentially “a good man” and “a relative moderate in the constellation of Sri Lanka’s politics”. This should surely be taken into account.

  • CheeLanka

    Birds of a feather, flock together. Dayan and Malcolm must look after each other…so that they can together look after their vulnerable benefactor of a President!

    How very cosy, all this, if not for the massive human suffering that they are both in complete denial of.

    We’re not sure where Dayan’s final judgement will come from, but Malcolm Ranjith must one day answer his Maker. Convoluted logic won’t help on that day!

  • Johnny Be Good

    /The Tamil Diaspora accuses me of Sinhala chauvinism or neo-nationalism (as Taraki put it). The Sinhala chauvinists accuse me of being Eelamist because I support provincial devolution. The Left accuses me of having sold out to the Right. The Right accuses me of a dangerous Left radicalism in international affairs./
    chameleon comrade,
    whatever you are, you are not the center of the universe. stop lamenting pathetically

    /I consider Mahinda Rajapaksa a centrist and a Bonapartist balancer./ I consider you as a spent force trying to make a living with the past glory.

    we read about Pope Pius XII’s views on Jews too.

    could you ask Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith what he thinks about Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown, Mary Bastian, Chandra Fernando, George Jeyarajasingham, Mariampillai Sarathjeevan and Eugene John Hebert

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Johnny be good:

      ‘Lamenting’? Nope, I revel in the attacks from all the extremes, because those demarcate my own position.

      ‘ Past glory’? Well, since that includes Geneva May 2009, it is a past glory that the enemies of Sri Lanka and all of you have not still managed to undo or overcome :))

      If you have anything to ask Cardinal Ranjith, why not ask him yourslf, or get my friend Fr Emmanuel to ask the Pope to do so?


      ‘Falling off a hill’? Not according the Gallup poll and the CPA survey 🙂

      A weak Rajapaksa would help the UNP which is more grounded at the centre, you say. the UNP was last ‘grounded at the centre’ when Premadasa was its leader. Not before, except for DS perhaps, and not since. And that centrist Premadasa ( whom I supported) was attacked by the international human rights crowd and murdered by the Tigers. Mahinda (unwittingly) dispensed justice to the Tigers for that and many other such crimes.

      How could one conceivably describe as ‘ centrist’ , the UNP of RW, which he officially affiliated with the International Democratic union head by the Us Republicans and the UK Conservatives? It is a conglomeration of the world’s Right. And how could a leader such as RW be to the left of MR who supported Palestine and Cuba upfront, in his UNGA speech?

      • Maverick

        Dr Dayan
        Thanks for extending silly season with your reply. The UNP may be in the same organization as the Republicans and the Conservative Party but in a Sri Lankan social context of the ethnic situation the UNP is way far to the left and closer to the centre than the PA and Rajapakse Administration. So dont waste my time with silly logic.

        Look the Church has come out hard against the content of this cable and by extension your weak attempt at making some capital out of it. So why dont you stick to your low attempts at pandering to whoever is in power.

        Dr, you may fool a person here or there but we think you are a misguided intellectual blinded by his own ego.

      • Johnny Be Good

        /If you have anything to ask Cardinal Ranjith, why not ask him yourslf, or get my friend Fr Emmanuel to ask the Pope to do so?/
        Why should I? Did I defend your friend Fr Emmanuel? I asked you because you were the one bringing Cardinal Ranjith here to evoke “non-Buddhist” atmosphere of the “centrist” gov. (I always worried less about religious fanatics when it comes to lanka, but the ethnic/lingual fanatics are the ones worry me). In the mean time, since you have said ‘My friend Fr Emmanuel”, you could have asked him and explained to us 😉

        /And that centrist Premadasa ( whom I supported) was attacked by the international human rights crowd and murdered by the Tigers. Mahinda (unwittingly) dispensed justice to the Tigers for that and many other such crimes./
        True! True! centrist Premedasa & centerist Mahinda were the with clean hands, and the sole defenders of Human rights. And, the primary job for a centrist is killing the killers of his predecessor centerist – in any expense innocent humans, and of course sending vultures and the doves of the Death to defend such ‘centrist annihilation’ in UN. Sad!

  • Maverick

    If anything, Dr. Dayan, this proves the inept analysis of the Cardinal and by extension-yours. The Cardinal argues that weakening the Rajapakse regime would drive the nation to the right- but that is a flawed analysis. A weak Rajapakse, would strengthen the UNP which is more grounded at the centre. There is no way for the country to go any further to the right. While the Cardinal is obviously well versed in matters of religion and globally renowned for his feats in Catholic affairs he is not a informed or accepted political analyst and you must not, like a man who when falling off a hill who holds on to dear life with a blade of grass with no success, try to back up your silly and intellectually bankrupt positions with opinions from questionable sources.

  • Unholy Alliance

    Questions that may exist about the Cardinal’s motivations, while important, do not necessarily need to be raised to question Dr. Jayatilleka’s analysis. While motivations are matters of speculation, context is not so gray.

    “my suggestion is, in order to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka, don’t push accountability now.” This statement by the cardinal was made in Oct 2009. It is now nearing Oct 2011. The state of emergency has been lifted, the government tells us that the majority of IDPs have been resettled and local government elections were held in the north and east. Surely, Dr. Jayatilleke is not suggesting that the situation today is the same as October 2009. The statement by the Cardinal does not suggest that accountability should not be sought at a later date, infact it implies that it could be sought at a later date. It merely states that NOW(oct 2009) is not the time, as it could have potentially far-reaching and damaging implications. This is pragmatism, not an endorsement of the Rajapakse regime. The current state of affairs (with the Government controlling both the executive and 2/3 majority in parliament)is different to Oct 2009, prior to the presidential elections. To use a statement from 2009 as reflecting the current context is completely misleading.

    At least officially it appears the the Cardinal and the Archdiocese of Colombo no longer does (or never did) prescribe to the view that Dr. Jayatilleke suggests they do.

  • Dessert Fox

    So does ambassador Butenis’s other cables would imply same sincerity? She can’t be biased in one and unbiased in another? There are lots of cables you know 😉

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dessert Fox,

      Pat Butenis obviously has her biases, but that doesn’t mean that as a top professional, her communications with her bosses would be less than accurate as far as reporting goes…while her analysis would be the best that she could give, in the interests of her country as she sees them.

      I know there are lots of cables and I treat every one of them with interest. I do not dismiss a single one.

      • Dessert Fox

        Fair enough Doc

        But here’s what Today’s Sunday Leader said;

        Archbishop’s Office Slams US Cable
        Says cable an attempt to tarnish Archbishop’s image
        By Jamila Najmuddin
        “The Archbishop office in Colombo has strongly rejected a leaked Wikileaks cable which allegedly reveals how Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith lobbied the US government against international pressure on accountability for war crimes…..”

        Let me conclude with a famous quote on Power politics 🙂

        ‘All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it’~ John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton AKA Lord Acton


    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Unholy Alliance,

      The Church, known for its opacity, has to catch up with the transparency of even official communications of the superpower, in this Wikileaks Age.

      As for your sleight of hand with dates and periodisation, I would content myself with recalling that BETWEEN Oct 2009 and today, came cardinal Ranjith’s quite public remarks at the BMICH on the occasion of his return to Sri Lanka as Cardinal. On that occasion he thanked the President for liberating the country from terrorism and critcised “the conspiracy against Sri Lanka” as symbolised by the Darusman report.

      Fairly consistent with Butenis’ Oct 2009 cable I should think.

      • Ward

        ”for liberating the country from terrorism”

        Ethnic minorities have been under state terrorism from 1948 till today.
        LTTE, one of several modes of struggle for justice, is wiped out.

        ” The most formidable challenge will be a people’s movement for the democratic rights of ethnic minorities that resonates with the desire of people for good governance. Such a people’s movement is likely to also support the international demand for accountability in regard to the war, and the human rights violations that were committed by all the parties to the conflict over the years. This challenge may not come in the next year, as Minister de Silva has feared, but it will inevitably come within the next decade or in the more distant future” – Jehan Perera, RECONCILE SOONER RATHER THAN LATER, 25 September 2011.

        Tamils are devastated physically and psychologically struggling for 6+ decades. If there is going to be a people’s movement(- there is an urgent need for it)they badly need support from conscientious Sinhalese. Arab uprising was possible because the army helped the people. That is non-possibility in Sri Lanka.

        There are NO good signs on the geopolitical horizon for the ethnic minorities of Sri Lanka.

        Death and decay has already started….

      • Ward

        Rajapakse’s Role:

        Except modrrn military hardware including UMV, ”We strongly believe in home-grown solutions for them to be sustainable”:

        Yes, Basic Buddhism has it if the ruler has a will to serve justice to all his citizens:

        Chapter5: Ethnic Cooperation in Sri Lanka by Norman Uphoff in Carrots, Sticks and Ethnic Conflict(Ed MJ Esman and RJ Herring(2003):

        ” The farmer who objected to this generositywas persuaded to support the plan after a young farmer, Narangoda, took him by bicycle down the long and bumpy canal roadto see what conditions were like at the end. The dissenting individual came back quite moved by what he had seen , reporting that the tail-end farmers did not have enough water even for drinking and bathing., let alone for growing a crop of rice.The Gonagolla farmers tried to save and donate two and even three days of their five days’ water allotment
        once they became more conscious of how the drought was affecting others downstream.”

  • silva

    Rajapakse’s plea to Dayan: ”Flood the social media with praise for me so that the misinformed and youngsters do not become informed, but remain misinformed.
    You have the gift of the wordcraft and the desire to be in the ”limelight”(holding diplomat’s office along with its financial rewards).
    You have to do it NOW as much as possible before the ship sinks:

    As soon as the Archbishop went and told LLRC that the ethnic minorities must be served justice, he was attending a function by the President praising him and saying things contradicting what he told LLRC. This is my memory – I’ll come back with website quotes.

  • luxmy

    Most ethical man: ”It is important to remind ourselves that every country cherishes the values and traditions, and deeply held religious convictions it has nurtured over the centuries. These cannot be diluted or distorted under the guise of human rights, by the imposition of attitudes or approaches which are characteristics of alien cultures”:

  • James Chance

    What a joke. Does Dayan really expect us to forget:

    a) the personal family ties that Cardinal Ranjith has with the President’s wife?;
    b) the institutional interest that the Cardinal has in staying close to MR in order to defend his own religious minority (i.e., Catholics)?;
    c) the many political deals the Catholic church has made and still makes with repressive governments around the world to protect its interests, both worldly and spiritual?;
    d) the deep ethnic divisions with the Catholic church between many Sinhalese and Tamils (beginning with masses in different languages)?;
    e) the lack of support over the years offered by the Cardinal to his Tamil bishops and priests in the north? (many of whom have been killed by government forces over the years – a reminder which is in no way to excuse the actions of the Tigers and the less-than-questioning position that many priests took when the Tigers were in charge)?;
    f) the fact that Malcolm Ranjith is a friend and close ally of the current pope, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of the most conservative, indeed, reactionary popes in history?

    Once these facts are remembered, there is little reason to buy the argument that just because Malcolm Ranjith is “a high ranking official of the Church, the most globalised and multicultural of institutions,” he would therefore “provide a truly global and comparative perspective” rather than “a parochial one” and would speak to the new US Ambassador as some kind of disinterested, objective judge of President Rajapaksas “character”. Give us a break.

    Not knowing what is in the Cardinal’s heart, it’s hard to say for sure that he is a Sinhala chauvinist. But it’s clear he and the church he leads in Sri Lanka is far from the “fount of ‘universality’” that Dayan claims. The fact that the Catholic church is “the world’s oldest and most far-flung transnational organization” doesn’t mean is can’t support a racist and nasty regime when it thinks it is in its overall interest. This would be especially so when the Cardinal who leads the church in question is both a close ally of the Pope and a close relation and friend of the ruling family.

    Please spare us this kind of patronising crap in the future, Dayan. You can do better than this: first the questionable Gallup Poll (I wonder how popular the Burmese generals are in the most recent polls taken there?), now this. Having lost the (limited) ideological battle for the soul of the Rajapaksa regime, someone seems to be grasping at straws.

  • Rodger

    Different people have different voews of the Cardinal:
    Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Agenda, Dinesh Paiva, 6 November 2010:

    ”Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the religious figure of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church, seems to be becoming something of a joke ever since he was appointed a cardinal by the Pope. He appears to have a assumed a new arrogance and is now running about trying to tell everyone else what they should be doing when there are a myriad of issues in the Catholic Church that need to be put right first.

    Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith needs to decide whether he is a politician or a man of the cloth.

    The Cardinal’s latest bombastic statements to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) seemed to be steeped in ignorance and are deeply prejudicial to ethnic harmony and peace building in Sri Lanka. …. ……”

  • Rodger

    Only a political solution could address grievances of minorities – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Shamindra Ferdinando, 3 November 2010:

    His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told the LLRC said that only a political solution could address the grievances of the minorities. Leading the delegation representing the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka, the Cardinal emphasized the urgent need to move on the political front and take measures to tackle contentious issues without delay.

    Cardinal Malcom Ranjith asserted that the Sinhala Only Act and several other laws, particularly the 1972 Constitution, introduced by different governments had caused ethnic tensions and created the situation leading to a bloody war. He cited controversial colonization schemes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as another cause of ethnic tension. He called for meaningful measures in the post-war era to restore confidence among the minorities as part of a strategy to prevent bloodshed in the future.

    Cardinal Malcom Ranjith strongly condemned a government move to reintroduce the Gaming (Special Provisions) Bill in Parliament. The Cardinal said that encouraging gambling was against all religious the country was home to. He proposed that those entering universities should be proficient in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Emphasising the need to promote trilingual education, the Cardinal said that a major shortcoming in the public sector was the inability of the public servants to communicate in Tamils. Responding to a query by the Chairman of the LLRC, the Cardinal said that proficiency in all three languages should be made mandatory for university entrance.

    Cardinal Malcom Ranjith also warned that any attempt to change the ethnic ratio in the Northern and Eastern Provinces though colonization could cause ethnic trouble.

    Responding to a query by Commissioner M. T. M. Bafiq, Cardinal Malcom Ranjith said the Church accepted that safeguards were necessary in relation to security, but a certain amount of freedom was necessary as confidence building measure and to promote goodwill and harmony. The leader of the Catholic community declared that the Church had never advocated the LTTE’s position and would never favour an armed struggle.

  • Neville Perera

    Cardinal addresses his congregation::
    Cardinal warns of ‘isolation’, 15 August 2011:

    The leader of the Catholic church in Sri Lanka has warned that the country risks being isolated in the face of international criticism.
    In his sermon to hundreds of thousands of Catholics on their annual pilgrimage to Madhu church, Mannar, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called upon the authorities to come up with a “learned response” to international pressure on the island.

    “If we are to reject everything, we as a small island can be completely isolated,” he told the congregation. …..

    The Cardinal also calls for the implementation of political rights of Tamils and the Muslims in the island nation.

    Although the war with weapons is over, a war against “national selfishness” need to be launched, said Cardinal Ranjith.

    “It is more difficult than the war that is over. As Sinhalese, we need to think about the political rights of the Tamil and Muslim people in the north and the east,” he told the pilgrims who came from all over the country….

    “We need to come out of the fear that the minority is always a threat to the majority,” the Cardinal added.

    The most senior catholic clergy described Sri Lanka as a country “united by law, but divided by heart,” and emphasised out the importance of Sinhalese working to win the Tamil people living in the north and east.

    “If not, another bloodshed in this country it could be unavoidable.” ….

  • Neville Perera

    ”evaluate and judge the character” of the good man under whom:

    Huge losses in state institutions: COPE, 23 September 2011

    Next generation to pick up the bill ????

  • Ravana

    “They work together; they share the responsibility… i’s 50-50”

    Hik Hik Hik. Looks like GG’s dream has come true! Be careful of what you ask for in case it is given to you!!

    • Ravana

      The above is in reference to the closing comments in the video posted by Luxmy.

    • kadphises


      On an unrelated point. What are your thoughts on the split in the JVP? There seems to be some fundemental idealogical schism in the membership of the party.What does the Somawanse faction stand for and what does the Gunaratnam faction stand for. How is Rajapakse manouevering to benefit from all this?


      • Ravana

        Well, before I give you my thoughts, let me just say that this is the first time that I have stopped reading one of DJ’s articles after the first paragraph. I just don’t find Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith all that interesting but more to the point I hate it it more when a clever guy tries to play dumb. Don’t you think it’s curious that whilst his erstwhile enemies are falling apart within (evidently 🙂 ) he is trying to post some thing inane?

        The whole JVP affair appears to be depicted in mostly the Sunday Times and LEN websites. One has to be careful in sorting out propaganda from truth. The truth as I interpret goes something like this:

        “Kumara Gunaratnam, the younger brother of Ranjitham Gunaratnam (a former IUSF convener and a JVP stalwart who was killed?) assumed a position in the JVP underground in the 1980’s. More recently he has travelled to and lived in Australia where he began to hatch a resistance to the old guard which is attempting to stake out a middle path. In Sri Lanka he and his faction has been at work gradually turning the more radical (and more numerous) youth to their side. Interestingly though, it appears that he has also had the ear and support of some of the more wealthy JVP members such as the Lanka editor. At an opportune time (curious indeed) they have posed a challenge to the leadership”

        I would like to add further interpretation to this (Let’s call what appears below my fantasy).

        Firstly, all mature political parties in the World is full of such Machiavellian A.H.’s and they traditionally control the membership by watching the younger members and relegating them (e.g. to the Youth Section) for years before cautiously admitting them into the inner circle. Factions abound in all political parties. The JVP has been different in that it forbids faction formation but promotes capable people rapidly. So, when I see this scenario, the first thing that comes to my mind is suspicion towards the rebel faction. As we might say in the west “It’s just not cricket!”

        Secondly, the JVP would have been considered a major threat by the CIA of the cold-war period. Apart form the GoSL of the time the CIA would definitely have been interested in sneaking in as many agents as possible during that period. Kumara’s actions all point to someone who is acting like an agent rather than a stalwart. He appears to have taken the typical steps of turning the youth who tend to be the most radical and least in possession of wisdom (which comes with experience and innate in some but absent in most even if they are given a tertiary education). Now, one has to wonder why a Great Power would at this particular time sow the seeds of discontent in the JVP. The JVP remains the only force within the country which would ever be a threat to the USA taking up residence in Trincomalee. I hope I don’t have to spell out why this would be important for the sole Super Power of the World.

        The very best strategists, have plans A, B, C and so on. If the plan A failed (e.g. the LTTE) then plan B would be put into effect (e.g. MR vs. SF- SF just would not have been manipulable) and when Plan B sees its period of utility through then Plans C or D… has to be ready in place.

        Plan C- Arms training for the most intelligent youth of the country- effect- prevent their radicalisation but have an intelligent 5th column trained and ready for a Libya solution

        Plan D- Divide the JVP into two factions. One which is radical and full of testosterone filled idiots who are blind with class-envy (Freud would say Penis-envy) that they are likely to be an easy target (if necessary) in a conservative society like Sri Lanka. The moderate wing on the other hand is smarting with regret about the fate of General Fonseka and is likely to continue their alliance with and support of him. This is likely to strengthen and not weaken the moderate forces of politics. Fonseka while not manipulable may not have an opportunity to oust the USA if they are already there legally when and if he comes to power. He would be a useful leader to have on board when the USA needs stability in Sri Lanka. If Fonseka attempts to oust them after a treaty has been struck then the USA would have other options. USA does not want to push Fonseka into the arms of China by unnecessarily irritating him. However, it is also curious to note that the great “Humanitarian Powers” of the USA and EU have said “mum” about the persecution of the General. It is just not time yet.

        The challenge for Fonseka and the moderate JVP faction is, how will they extricate themselves form the potential trap to be laid ahead for them? The indications form the great power is that they have given the Rajapakse’s until the 312 December 2011 to learn to bow down and give what is required. Can the SF and the JVP old-guard manage a turn around before the Rajapaksa’s sell the jewel in the crown? (BTW, Kumara has made sure that another generation of young radicals will if necessary disappear).

        It will be interesting viewing in the months to come. When a brilliant guy like DJ says nothing about something so close to his alleged ideals, it gives me more information. I hope you enjoyed my fantasy. Can you think of any way to test this hypothesis?

  • Neville Perera

    The Cardinal is forced to say certain things at certain times. But there are times he speaks his mind and heart.

    You don’t get even a squeak from Dr Uyangoda these days.

    Press releases by National Peace Council ‘say'(not condemn) what the government does in length and in one sentence makes a ”suggestion” to the Tamils. Don’t know when it has its last breath.

  • Christian

    Dear Dayan

    You are a professional diplomat and a seasoned political analyst and perhaps one of the few liberals/academics in a foreign service that is otherwise severely depleted of professionals due to crass politicization.
    You were also an idealist who many moons ago, rebelled against what you perceived as injustice in our society. I personally respect you very much.
    That said I think its time you should cease this type of sycophancy.
    You cannot hope to sway the anti-Rajapakse crowd,especially the diaspora with your arguments. As a diplomat you cannot speak out against the excesses of this government and therefore your arguments sound dishonest . I don’t believe that you are so naive as not to comprehend the nature of relationship between Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and President Rajapakse . End of the day its all about power. it is truly a case of “Jesus for Power” very much like how Christian Right in the States sucked up to the reactionary Republican Administrations of Ron Reagan and George Bush

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka


      You must read more carefully. I believe that Cardinal Ranjith’s anaylsis, as least as understood and communicated by Ambassador Butenis are important in that neither of them are fools, they both represent very serious powers and the Cardinal’s assessment points clearly to where the main danger in postwar Sri Lanka lies. He repeatedly names the danger, and it is not Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      All those who view MR as the main danger and the furthest to the Right the country can go, ( which was what they thought of SWRD, Sirima, Premadasa et al) will be shocked at how wrong they were, but then again, since most of them are overseas, they probably won’t give a damn.


      I cannot believe that you actually wrote: ‘the LTTE, one of the modes of the struggle for justice…’ Even after the massacre of the TELO and EPRLF in 1986? Even after goig to war against the Indian Peacekeepers? Even after killing Rajiv Gandhi? Even after the murder of the most multiethnic multicultural President we had, Premadasa? Even after the blinding in one eye of Chandrika, the most liberal leader we had? Even after the killings of Amir, Yoges, Mrs Yoges, Rajani, Neelan and Kethesh?

      If that’s what you think Ward, and if most folks on this thread don’t feel motivated to take you on, on that, I’ll just exit the forum for a while.

      I’d like to leave all of you with a thought though: What do you think are the chances of an UN HRC initiated, human rights/humanitarian driven, R2P sanctioned international campaign against Sri Lanka , leading to the carving out of Tamil Eelam or regime change and a Ranil Return, now that Vladimir Putin has been unanimously declared United Russia’s Presidential candidate at the elections due for March 2012? :))

      • Davidson

        Dayan didn’t expect to find views on Cardinal from other corners. He thought he is the only one with an idea on the Cardinal. He has taken leave by blaming it on Ward.

      • wijayapala

        If that’s what you think Ward, and if most folks on this thread don’t feel motivated to take you on, on that, I’ll just exit the forum for a while.

        You’re assuming that people here read what Ward writes. I did not.

    • prophet

      I am unable to understand why you should “respect DJ very much” when he continues to hog this website with his [edited out], inspite of receiving a lot of bashing from almost all contributors. Perhaps it is true that Rajapakse had given him specific instuction, as silva said above: “Flood the social media with praise for me so that the misinformed and youngsters do not become informed, but remain misinformed”.

  • Neville Perera

    ”anti-Rajapakse crowd,especially the diaspora’ is an insult to the anti-Rajapakse Sri Lankans inside Sri Lanka.

    • Dessert Fox

      Bloody oath mate!

  • Nihal Perera

    I am not sure what the fuss is over this cable. Save perhaps the fact Dayan Jayatilleke is trying to compare himself to Malcolm Ranjith. The cable on its own terms is uncontroversial. The Cardinal’s main concern is peace. He understands that Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is entrenched in SL politics, and that a single institution speaking out, a Christian one at that, will have negligible impact. It would be like the Church in Nazi Germany speaking out against abuses. What this shows is the extent of nationalist entrenchment; although the Cardinal does not say it, it will take some kind of massive social upheaval/international pressure to change the status quo. The successful lobbying of the Tamil diaspora in forcing Jagath Dias to resign and now Shavendra Silva to attend a summons for possible charges of war crimes, is an excellent step in the right direction. Ultimately, as the Cardinal notes, the Rajapakses will vanish (as will their sycophants). In the interim period, one should be discerning at to whether he can accelerate the process or exacerbate it. I believe that is the Cardinal’s message.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Maverick, you are a hard man. you’ve given me the toughest of choices. I can either judge which party or political leader is more of a Centrist, from the stances that the global Right and Left take. The Republicans and Ranil embrace and recognise each other as sister parties. The Cubans consistently support Mahinda Rajapaksa who supports Cuba and the palestinians up-front in his UNGA address. The UK Conservatives regard Ranil’s UNP as its counterpart. The Venezuelans and the Vietnamese support MR’s regime. This can tell me fairly conclusively who is to the right or Left or whom, and therefore who holds the politico-ideological centre.

    Now that’s one way to go.

    in the alternative, i can go with the judgment of a person whose credentials to make such a judgement remain a mystery to us all because he/she does not have the guts to expess his/her views under their name, even in the comfort of cyberspace.

    Tough choice , that, you cruel person.

    By the way, who told you or where did you read, that Right , Left and centre are decided by the stance adopted on the ethnic issue?

    Does that mean that Stephen Harper, who stands for Quebec’s federal status is to the Left of Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega and Evo Morales who stand opposed to federalism?

  • Pingo

    “it is not comfortable to be alone in one’s analysis and evaluation, among one’s own social stratum,”

    I do not know if I qualify as a political analyst but as a citizen who is politically aware I do sympathise with your position.

    You once described yourself as a moderate and I was about to write a sharp retort to that claim when I realised that it was true. This is of course relative, but I would not dream of attempting engage Malinda Seneviratene or even Rajiva Wijesinghe. They so far off the scale that one does not know where to begin.

    You on the other hand are at least worth trying to engage, but unfortunately you are the only one so all criticism tends to be heaped at your door.

    It is also rather risky to criticise the powers-that-be directly (or least I feel that way and perhaps other do as well). Bashing Dyan however is unlikely to result in Dyan sending someone around to sort the critic out, therefore a lot of anger against the regime end up being directed at you, so you probably endure more than your fair share.

    I do however wish you would take a step back and reassess the situation. Things don’t look so rosy from down here.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka


      What makes you think I disagree? Things don’t look so rosy, period, and it ain’t because the Tamil Diaspora has made ‘the right moves’ on Jagath Dias and Shavi, as Neville Perera asserts!

      However, you must also match your perception with the CPA and Gallup polls and perhaps more interestingly, the results of the upcoming Colombo election.

      If anyone wants things to be rosier, try to make the political marketplace more competitive by re-branding, re-launching AND RE-POSITIONING the main democratic alternative, bringing it more in line with the sentiments of the country’s voter-citizenry.


      You wonder why I haven’t written on the JVP split. Since I am probably the only one writing into GV with whom Ranjithan Gunaratnam ( Kumara’s legendary brother) used to have long discussions, and certainly the only one who was denounced in a greater number of pages than he expended on Prabhakaran by Rohana Wijeweera in his magnum opus, I would certainly be more qualified than you to pontificate on it. Here’s a hint. Forget Plan A, B, C. View the JVP split as part of the tectonic shift that I have been tryng to draw your attention to. Here’s an even bigger hint: the ongoing realignments that preceded the Colombo campaign, the results of that election and the JVP split must all be regarded as part of that tectonic shift. Something is happening and you folk just don’t understand it do you….like your predecessors didn’t see 1956 coming and didn’t get it when it did.

      Dear All,

      What I have been trying to do is educate and caution. Let me try just once more, using as allegory, Russia and Putin. Here are aextracts from a new piece in the New York Times by a dissenting Russian writer. Try to figure the message, which is the same that Cardinal Ranjith has evidently been trying to give the Americans, and I have been trying to impart to the readers of GV. But are you guys smart enough to get it?

      “Putin? Oh, What a Surprise!By VICTOR EROFEYEV
      MOSCOW —

      …Of course, there are people in Russia and elsewhere who are unhappy that the elections will be a formality. But then even if there were a free clash of candidates (including Medvedev), Putin would still win. Most Russians like Putin. He satisfies their idea of a strong president — a healthy man with a powerful torso, a sex-symbol of sorts, a tough talker who firmly defends the national interest.

      What if the entire opposition, even people outside the political system, were permitted to participate and to criticize Putin freely on all TV channels? Would he then lose? No, he would still win. But the foundations of the Kremlin’s authority would be shaken and partly eroded, and they would have to be repaired, the way Putin did when he first entered the Kremlin in 2000 after the chaos of democratization in the 1990s.

      …Am I afraid that if I write something alarming and unflattering about the new-old president Putin — for example, that he is a soft dictator or that in 12 years (if he stays for two terms) Russia may be ripe for an Arab Spring-like revolution — I, a Russian writer, will get smacked on the head? No, I’m not afraid. For now.

      …Why, then, was anyone waiting for a miracle? Apparently because over the past two years Medvedev decided to try to move Russia closer to universal — or more accurately European — values, and Russia desperately needed this. He said “Russia, forward!”: He proposed modernization; condemned the criminal justice system, which still smacks of Stalin’s Gulag; renamed the militia the “police”; joined the Western coalition on Libya; and — well, etc. etc.

      Yes, but Putin never ceased being No. 1. Putin can take different shapes. In his lifestyle, he is fully European. This is heartening. It is also heartening that he rehabilitated the White Russian movement and condemned Stalinist repression. Yet he clearly misses the former greatness of Soviet Russia. This is disheartening, especially to our neighbors.

      Unlike Medvedev, Putin is likely to lead Russia not toward Europe, but along some roundabout “third way,” through various Venezuelas and other strange friends, and this way will not always appeal to the West. And what about bloodthirstiness? Will there be more Khodorkovskys? I don’t know.

      What I do know is that Putin is more liberal in his views than 80 percent of the Russian population, which is more nationalistic and xenophobic than he is. Say what you want, but he is a shield against negative feelings in what is basically a very poor country. We don’t need revolutions from below. The liberal resources of Russia are laughably small and get smaller all the time, either because liberals don’t know how to deal with the Kremlin or because young liberals are fleeing to the West.

      So if the hopes for a miracle are finished, let there be realpolitik. If Putin will be a pragmatist, good. Good also for me personally. If we can hang on to the personal freedoms that Putin gave us in the early 2000s, this won’t be so bad at all.

      Still, the country’s morale is low — corruption has become a shameless way of life; there’s a lot of aggression. The head of Russia’s Communists, Gennady Zyuganov, recently declared that Russia has 20 times more murders than the European Union. Scary. In coming years Russians could start moving toward an ideological alliance of power and religion, à la Iran, and it could lead to unforeseen consequences. So, long live Putin the pragmatist! We don’t need Eastern ayatollahs…”

      Victor Erofeyev is a Russian writer and television host. Translated from the Russian by the International Herald Tribune.

      • Ravana

        Forget Plan A, B, C. View the JVP split as part of the tectonic shift…

        I invite those interested to read an article on

        This might enlighten us on the possible “turning” of Premakumara Gunaratnam after being arrested by Col Sarath Fonseka in the 1980’s. (This is not to say that Col. Fonseka had anything to do with “turning” him. “Rehabilitation” would have been carried out by other officers).

        It is interesting to note that Gunaratnam “instructed” SLA officers on how to treat prisoners so that they were more likely to be “rehabilitated”. I wonder who taught Gunaratnam those tactics and strategy? He could certainly be such a genius that he has managed to correctly targeted, the young, radicals with a poor tertiary education and lack of wisdom, and manipulated them with his own intrinsic abilities. OTOH, he may have been well trained by sources with better resources than the JVP.

        It is also interesting that there are other former JVP members who have been observed to be in the company of the likes of Gordon Weiss. It is also interesting that commentator claiming to be JVP members have also parroted the Weiss-line of accusing Sarath Fonseka of crimes at Gampaha during the 87-89 period. It appears too much of a coincidence to not believe that birds of a feather are flocking together.

        How American and European power was projected to engineer a coup in Iran in 1953 can be followed in the links below:'état

        Kermit Roosevelt, the grand son of a president and a CIA agent used various strategies and tactics , principally bribery in representing US and British interests (principally oil) which ended in eventual subversion of democracy and installation of the Shah who was a Western puppet and dictator. I remember the Shah visiting the west in the early 1970’s and being warmly received.

        If they could engineer such events in 1953 Iran, imagine the capacity the CIA would have in little Sri Lanka, say in the 2010, Presidential elections.

        I have to give it to the Americans. They know how to do things in style. If you can’t bribe them, bring in financial and political instability. If that fails, bomb them into the stone age.

        I wonder,… Can they be persuaded to have conditional access to Trincomalee, and to treat Sri Lanka with some respect, say like a friendly nation. Much along the line it treats Australia, a colo.. ahem.. an ally. Oh yes there is that small matter of Gough Whitlam.. but the Aussies realised what’s good for them and have behaved themselves since. And saved face. And became the most stable Western economy.

        The radicals have a lot to learn from the old guard.

      • Dessert Fox

        By Alisa Ivanitskya and Alexander Chornik KOMMERSANT/Worldcrunch

        MOSCOW – Usually no more than 20 people bother turning up to the opposition meetings of a group that calls itself ‘The Committee with Five Demands.’ But the latest gathering in central Moscow’s Pushkin Square was different, coming after Dmitry Medvedev’s public endorsement Saturday of the return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency – and Putin’s returning the favor by backing Medvedev for Prime Minister.

        Taking place in the central Moscow, far from the glare of the media focused on , the protest saw more than 500 people turn out — unhappy at their country’s stage-managed democracy exemplified by this apparent “swapping” of Russia’s top leadership posts. Protesters are expected to get more vociferous in the run-up to next year’s elections, jolted into action after Saturday’s announcement at the United Russia convention.

        The protest committee is a coalition of five movements. Solidarity, the Left Front, the unregistered “Another Russia” party, ecologists, investors who feel cheated and other opposition groups. As their title suggests, the committee that formed last year has five demands: the resignation of the government, recognition that the parliamentary and presidential elections are not legitimate, investigations into corrupt officials, a radical overhaul of the police, and a transparent national budget.

        Noticeable at the protest on Sunday were the young people standing either in groups, or on their own. For many, it was their first time at an opposition meeting. It was in contrast to the usual opposition meetings which are overrun by police and media. “I had travel plans for today, but when I found out about the nomination of Putin, I thought: ‘enough’s enough!’ student Gennady Adentsov told Kommersant.

        “I found out about it on the internet and I came. It’s my first meeting, I only found out about it in the morning. Even if it’s not quite like what I expected to see, I agree with the general idea,” Daniel Ostrikov, a student at the British design school said.

        End of an illusion

        Ilya Yashin, from the Solidarity movement, said he was surprised at the turnout. “Putin has returned, but he never went away,” Yashin said, opening the meeting. “Yesterday any final romantic illusions about a political thaw, about liberalization, democracy, modernization have all disappeared.”

        Yashin then urged those present “not to leave the country,” but to shake off their apathy and take to the streets. The crowd started to chant “Russia without Putin!”

        Instead of the usual throng of riot squad police at opposition events, there were only a few dozen officers, who did not react to the chanting and slogans.

        There were much smaller turnouts last year for opposition actions, including a so-called Day of Fury and the Strategy 31 group (n.b who protest for the right to protest, as guaranteed under the 31st article of the constitution) with their abstract demands for political freedoms. Thus, the 500 people at this action can be considered a serious breakthrough for the opposition.

        Sociologists warn that the tandem reshuffle might spur more Russians into protests. It is not because people have more faith in the protest organizers, it simply stems from the nomination of Putin as candidate for Russian president.

        “Our research shows the citizens feel the political situation in the country is hopeless,” Boris Dubin, of the Levada research center said.

        The announcement of Putin’s near shoe-in return to the presidency has reinforced this mood: “It is obvious the rotating presidency has shown them that they will have to bury all their hopes in the coming years,” says Dubin.

        He says the closer to the parliamentary and presidential elections we get, the greater the protests will be. “The situation with the elections leaves no opportunity to make an informed choice. In this situation, people will want to make their voice heard in other ways,” Dubin said.

        But Alexei Mukhin, a sociologist and director of the political analysis center sounded a note of caution. “A surge in civic activity will quickly come to nothing,” Mukhin said. “Putin has all the resources necessary to bribe the electorate, with social allowances and benefits.”

      • Ravana

        As DJ has been trying to educate and caution the rest of us, may I add my two cents worth:

        Apart from having the misfortune of having the harbour of Trincomalee (Rangoon is within range of a F-16), the next worst thing that can happen to Sri Lanka is striking oil.
        I must say I can think of much more beautiful, insignificant and peaceful places to visit if that happens: (e.g. Vanuvatu, Cook Islands….not many Americans; maybe a few Kiwis; the most boisterous you get would be an Aussie; definitely no demonstrations outside the US Embassy- there isn’t one!)

        Another fantasy:

        In the very near future, new technology will arrive. It will result in the next jaunt of the human race. It will make communication instant (cf the slow light speed) give unlimited (really unlimited I mean not the capped variety) bandwidth, solve our energy problems including Global Warming, put us into outer-space based living and permit us to terraform planets in the Orion nebula.

        Can I implore the genius who discovers this technology (which is bound to be relatively simple to start with) to share it with powerless people of the World instead of selling your soul to those who already have everything and are screwing it up. The billion dollar question is, how will you do it without those in power noticing? Short of something like this, there is no way to challenge the military-economy of the USA.

        Yes it is a fantasy. What I am trying to show you is that there is very little hope for the little guys to have a say in how things will pan out. Sabotage, well placed and targeted is your only weapon. I don’t mean the destructive kind practised by radical marxists. But an intelligent kind with compassion. Just stick it to the “man” whenever you can. Do not ever, engage in violence. Make sure you practice your mindfulness to guide you.

      • Lakshan

        Hi Ravana

        It is ridiculous to believe that USA would ever want Mahinda Rajapakse and his (seemingly) nationalist government to prevail. You are trying conjure up scenarios from Spy Who Came in from the Cold, like the famous Mundt scenario.
        USA did prop up Shah in that infamous counter coup in Iran 1953, but that folly was the very reason for a rabid Islamist to emerge in 1979, so their strategic planning was intrinsically flawed and does not take in to account long terms implications,just like not supporting Castro at the outset or Bay of Pigs.
        That said it was patently clear who USA and India supported in 2010 election. If you have a guy who have extremely close relations with Red China and pals with junta in Mynmar, Ahmadwhatsisname of Iran etc.etc. very much like Mrs B who courted the nasty dictators club called Non Aligned Movement, and when you do not have much influence from within his regime, the most logical step is to support the opponent no matter how incompetent and unpredictable he politically is. Same way Ron Reagan decided to support odious ,drug dealing Contras in Nicaragua to counter Marxist nationalist Sandinistas.
        Given the history proved that USA always supported piliant dictators and NOT progressive forces, you are just clutching straws trying to prove USA was against SF ,while opposite was the truth (I’m not calling MR a progressive either)

        USA and India lost a lot of clout due to MR’s dalliance with China ,Russia and nations that play antagonist to US hegemony. That explains their support for SF.

      • Ravana

        If you have a guy who have extremely close relations with Red China and pals with junta in Mynmar, Ahmadwhatsisname of Iran etc.etc. very much like Mrs B who courted the nasty dictators club called Non Aligned Movement

        Lakshan, you have to understand that the USA really do not have ideological enemies any more. And its allies are generally not squeaky clean. Have you heard of what happened in Egypt (that was accidental because of the Wikileaks debacle) ?

        The only concern that the USA really has now are economic ones. Especially when one considers who really controls the US policy. China and India are going to be two of its main competitors not only economically but potentially in the security field (if USA ever allowed them). US policy will be to court Iran in future and to bolster Pakistan to keep India occupied (away from the Indian ocean).

        It is not that they like either MR or SF. They are merely seen as potential assets or liabilities. If I was to consider SF the professional soldier who had just cleaned up the armed forces and is making clear signs of shaking off the shackles of India, I would consider him a liability. Add to that the JVP which is closer to China than MR would ever have the opportunity to be, then you have an increase in liability. It is no longer ideological but strategic. Even with UNP on board SF-JVP combine would be incorruptible. The asset of UNP would never have been sufficient to overcome that. Now that the radical lunatic elements of the JVP have been exposed US has the best opportunity ever to persuade a moderate faction of the JVP to compromise whilst having the option of eliminating the radical faction through Gota. BTW please don’t think that Gota has to be a US agent to do this. No, the agents have already done their work elsewhere.

        Myanmar and its relationship with SL would matter no more than the dust on US boots. What matters is that Myanmar is in the backyard of China and in its pocket. Do you really think that the power which is vastly superior to either China or India would really stand by and let them establish a real naval presence in the Indian Ocean? The only navy worth its salt in the Pacific would be Japan and it’s already in the US pocket. Ditto with the Atlantic. Why would the US let its hegemony over the Indian Ocean be diluted?

        Now let us return to the Rajapaksa brothers. I have already argued elsewhere that the LTTE leadership was probably eliminated with the cooperation of the brothers and with Indian insistence. Do you really think that the CIA (assassins par excellence) were not aware if such an event took place. Intelligence in this case does not just mean information but that they really do have “intelligent” men and women looking at all information at their disposal and turning them into potential weapons. The Indians would not have wanted Prabhakaran and others alive because they would have held important secrets. CIA may have have found them useful, but they would also find potential war-crimes charges useful. They would have done the maths on all this.

        Please keep in mind that whilst the handlers do the math it is the local agents who play with tactics which suit the environment. If it is thought that it does not suit US interests to have Fonseka in power right now the local agents will do the necessary work to achieve that. A Fonseka who would have gone after the corrupt GoSL machinery would not have been useful for the US. He would have become an irritant. Fidel Castro would be of a similar ilk. The reason he has survived is because he made sure that Cuba was not a direct threat to the US. Che’s murder may have gone some way to ensure that. For the USA, a future moderate JVP further moderated by a US friendly SF (even if he would attempt a non-alligned stance wrt China, India and the US) would be acceptable provided they did not get in the way too much. Such an alliance would be tolerable only when “Democracy” is necessary to tranquillise the people (Religion or Democracy are roses and can be considered varieties of opium) to the establishment of US hegemony in the Indian Ocean. The American really would not mind what happens in SL politically provided they have Trincomalee secured. Unless they strike oil in Sri Lanka!

        I think it is best if the Sri Lankans accepted the inevitable US presence in Trincomalee. You can’t win this one. With the spectre of “War Crimes Charges” the weapon has been fashioned. Rajapaksa’s have already been given the deadline (31 December 2011). They will capitulate (much more predictable than SF on this issue). Come January, I predict that there would be further cosmetic changes made to “democratise” Sri Lanka but the real reasons would be to ensure freedom for US corporations. The Military treaties will be further broadened and there will be frequent US-India-SL war games off the coast of Trincomalee. US war ships will be an increasingly frequent sight at Trincomalee. US will have its base without having to call it such. Rajapaksas will not only capitulate. They will ask how far they need to jump.

        Much better than a JVP(M)-DNA coalition which will offer Tricomalee and its facilities for a fee and on conditions. What the pseudo-Marxists radicals do not understand is that Karl Marx was a compassionate human being and a philosopher who provided a theory about the society of his day. A theory is not set in stone. It evolves. It has to be adapted to location and times. I suspect that the JVP(M- for moderate) faction understands this very well.

  • Raghavan

    If Sri Lankans were more educated, Dr. Dayan J. could serve the same utility as Joseph Goebbels. Alas, the vast majority of Sri Lankans would rather wield a club and axe to get their point across. Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is even more primitive than its fascist National Socialist counterpart; what does that tell you?

  • kadphises


    A lot of conspiracy theories in your post.

    Do you believe it is better to offer Trinco to the Yanks wholesale for cash like Subic Bay and Guantanamo Bay under the JVP than to allow them to play war games with our Navy in our waters? Neither prospect sounds attractive to me but given a choice option 2 would definitely better than 1.

    I am not even convinced the Americans are interested in either of these fascilities as they already have a large base not far from Sri Lanka in Diego Garcia. However there seems to be a fair bit of disquiet in the West about the Chinese gaining a foothold in Hambanthota. If there is any interest in Trinco it is probably only as a means of countering the Chinese “gain” in Hambanthota. Still, we are yet to see Hambanthota becomming a threat to the west as no large ship can get in or out of it without hitting that rock. The solution as far as the west is concerned might be to get SL’s agreement not to blast the rock that obstructs the entrance and let the port become another expensive Rajapakse white elephant.

    Its left to be seen whether it is Somawansa, Fonseka or Gunaratnam who is the American agent. None of them have really voiced any pro-US, anti-SL sentiments but if there are any question marks they are over SF’s head. Somawanse could be merely trying to ride into power on SF’s popularity.

    Isnt it a bit of a co-incidence that SF won the Greencard lottery? Most of the military top brass have been trained at Westpoint where the intelligence services would have plenty of access to them. SF’s family lived in the US and we are told that he had plenty of campaign funds from undisclosed donors. And then he made that all important admission about the executions which really didnt do him any good but strengthened the American claim no end.

    We also need to know how and why Somawanse and Gunaratnam dissapeared from SL and reappeared in the UK and Australia as if by magic when the goon sqads were after them. How and why were their visas expedited when the rank and file who were being picked up and bumped off had little chance of escaping to the west. Also, why to the West – the enemy of marxism – and not the East.. China and Russia?

    At least on surface the rift in the JVP seems to be caused by the disquiet among some, of its stance where it saw the comunal problem only as a “terrorist problem which required a military solution”. The Gunaratnam faction appears to dissagree. (A bit too late in my opinion). However Gunartnam is also supposed to have brokered an unspecified deal between the JVP and the LTTE according to Victor Ivan. So was there ever any collusion between the two organisations? Is he now using his Tamil name to attract former LTTE operatives and resources to launch a new struggle – whatever form it might take? He is probably the only person in the political spere who can straddle both ethnicities comfortably and have the potential to attract support from both the Sinhala and Tamil militants. The question is what will he do with this support..

    Gunaratnam also appears to prefer to operate from the shadows rather than be the public face of the JVP. Victor Ivan claims in 2008 that he was the real power behind the JVP and that Somawanse and many other senior members took orders from him. So if he was so influential in the JVP why was he so afraid of showing his face? If he has renounced violence how does he plan to gain power democratically without showing his face?

    Your critcism of democracy is very close to the JVP’s own opinion of democracy. I hear they intend to replace it with “real democracy” if and when they get into power like the democracies once found in the DDR and Cambodia under the Kmer Rouge.

    • Ravana

      My theories are definitely conspiracy theories. I do not make a claim they are facts. However, I have tried to use known facts to project possibilities. I think you have yourself answered who the agent is among SF, Somawansa and Premakumara.
      Somawansa is a good guy as far as I can make out. He has the well being of the people at heart. I have no reason so far to believe that SF is any different. I await some confirmation from a trusted source that SF definitely did not commit alleged crimes in 87-89 period. His enemies have done the work in defending him regarding the Eelam War IV. Whilst I reserve judgement my take at present is that he is probably a good guy.

      I am equally sure that the Rajapaksa brothers are baddies.

      Now, none of this has anything to do with my conspiracy theory about US intentions. Everyone knows about the history of Diego Garcia. It can be used as a projected to influence the middle east for a conventional war. But Trinco would be much more convenient position to project to East Asia. I don’t think you quite got my metaphor on the “War Games” scenario (the cat plays with mice before they kill them). The JVP will put conditions on any American presence in Trinco (e.g. in event there is an escalation of conflict between US and China no US ships can be permitted in Sri Lankan waters and that Sri Lanka will take a neutral stance). I suspect you were trying to obfuscate my original claim.

      It was a good observation on your part about the rock in Hambanthota. One that I had also noted. The US would not want that rock blasted. The Rajapaksas will hope to use it as a trump card. We will certainly see how they turn (or squirm) by early next year. Please keep in mind that my hypotheses are purely speculative but intended to illustrate a deeper meaning. I suspect US action in Sri Lanka would be much more subtle. The Rajapaksas are here to stay because the US probably want it that way. When they have achieved their goals and no longer require them we will see the tide turn. The US will only ever permit a moderate JVP faction to hold sway in Sri Lanka and Premakumara is achieving this end. WRT Fonseka, whether he becomes an asset for the US remains to be seen. But he is definitely not an agent as the US has made little or no moves to bring him justice. BTW, I don’t believe he ever went to West Point. He is home grown talent. His former deputy Prami Kulatunge was a West Point graduate. I doubt if he was an agent either. Are you not curious how guys like Kulatunge and Kadirigamar were assassinated? Or that a suicide bomber got so close to SF. One can say that it was pure luck that SF survived and it really put plans of who ever was behind the Eelam War into turmoil.

      I could go on but will stop here, except to note that it was clever, how you used my speculations to point possible fingers at SF and Amerasinghe as possible agents. But not clever enough. Hik Hik Hik. Makes me wonder about your identity….

      • Lakshan


        Re: Trincomalee ,you didn’t take in to account the all important Indian factor. During the cold war that was one reason for India to intervene more forcefully when JRJ tried to play Yankee Dickie.
        Even today the strategic alliance between USA and India is not the same as what was between US-UK or even US-France. It is something totally different. I think in the current volatile environment USA needs India far more than India needing US support. We see USA trying to develop Southern India as a pro-American hub .
        And remember,for a variety of reasons India is very much interested in East . It is hard to believe India wanting a so obvious US presence so close to home,making them look so emasculated.
        India has so many options open with its rapidly growing economy and it do not want to lose any love with China either.
        USA on the other hand smarting under the effects of Reaganomics and two disastrous monstrously expensive wars courtsey of neo-cons each of which failed to achieve economic or strategic objectives. Despite its superior military it cannot prevent development of a multi polar world in near future. Trying to prevent it would be for US like shooting itself in foot, for USA is vulnerable in so many areas unlike a decade ago and her enemies have so many things to get back at her.
        And finally remember one of the most popular conspiracy theories on JFK assassination is US politico-military industry complex killed him. But common sense shows that an organization that could not pull off Bay of Pigs without leaking it to NY Times and Castro himself and which tried so many childish tricks to kill Castro and still failed , could not have been able keep secret a conspiracy/cover up involving so many people and departments.
        Food for thought Ravana 🙂

      • Lakshan

        Sorry above should be Politico Military Industrial Complex

      • Ravana

        Lakshan,multi polar world in near future”

        Were you referring to Yapa (hee hee)?

        Why do you think Hollywood Stars “leak” stories all the time. (who gives them advise?)

        FYI visit George Friedman’s site (he also wrote The Next Decade- the focus of US strategy).
        View the video which comes with it. (Especially watch the segment which says that China would have to grow continuously at 8.3% just to prevent the gap from widening; or about how 600 million Chinese live in Sub Saharan conditions). Nuff said as far as India is concerned.

        I think it is important for Sri Lankans to be realistic about their real place in the World. Did you mean to say that India is not in the pocket of the USA? Why do suppose there is an interest in South India.
        Please take my advise and play a game that won’t make things very uncomfortable for yourselves. The USA would be more than happy to see you guys uncomfortable -> agitated -> manic -> brought under control.

        (Who do you think the USA would employ as the regional police when it suits them?)

        One relevant issue though. The weakness of the USA strategy is in going for bigger is better. The spending on Air Craft Careers may be a point of vulnerability (google it). As I have said above, to topple US from its very comfortable position of an empire someone would have to invent an utterly fantastic technology and keep it to themselves. Alternately, a wikileaks like movement would have to catch like wildfire. The latter is more likely than the former. OTOH it is not very likely that such a wildfire would occur with the number of corrupt regimes in US pockets. The Egypt (they wanted Mubarak in power) and Libya (they wanted Gaddafi out) experience may have taught an important lesson that the USA would use in future. In fact , if I was in the State Department, I would consider using the wikileaks strategy more scientifically. There will be a time when the empire wants to calm the natives around the World by giving them the illusion of democracy. I would imagine that this operation would be a well controlled one with one despot deposed here today and another despot the next year.

        We will live in interesting times. BTW, I actually much prefer this Western Empire to alternatives. I just don’t approve of the crude way they have achieved it so far.

      • kadphises


        From the point of view of someone who is not backing any of the horses Gotabaya and Fonseka both have almost identical strenghts and also weaknesses. Resolute and couragous in conflict situations but unable to work together with intelligent peers with different opinions. They therefore surround themselves with incompetant lackys and sycophants. A telling incident that spoke volumes about Fonseka was his denouncing the chief of the Navy on public TV in the middle of a war. Very unprofessional and potentially disasterous in my opinion. So how could he be an improvement on the Rajapakses? There are also serious questions as to how he would deal with dissent. Important if you believe in democracy (or even a semblance of it) but not, I guess if like many in Sri Lanka you dont believe democracy is that important. As for the JVP breakaway faction, all criticisms will stick until the come out in the open and say what they stand for. Democracy? Free Market or State ownership? Collectivisation of farming? Solution to ethnic problem?

    • yapa

      Ravana fantasy is continuing. Ha! Ha!!


      • @ yapa

        There is none so blind as those who will not see…would you rather believe the tall story of Sri Lanka (someday soon) becoming the ‘Miracle of Assia?’ For that to happen, this country would have to surpass countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.It’s more likely that this country will some day soon, surpass North Korea. We have made giant leaps towards that goal since the ‘One Family Dictatorship’ started their rule.

      • Shehan Jayawardene

        Why hello Bean

        How true
        Miracle of Asia indeed !

      • yapa

        Dear PresiDunce Bean;

        My disagreement to Ravana fantasy is not an indication of my agreement to any other fantasy, opposing to Ravana’s or not. May be it is an indication of my disagreement to all fantasies, including the “Miracle of Asia” and “Traditional Homeland of Tamils” as well.

        My policy is not to party to one fantasy while opposing the other. I have always said, I prefer hard ground than quick sand. I will try my best not to imprison in dreams or fantasies. I think Family Dictatorship Rule is a bit hard reality than many fantasies we had to live in, during the past. Many who have no hopes or do not know how to work out hopes are wondering in dream worlds and sleeping in fantasies.

        I don’t know what will happen in the future, forecasting future is a very difficult task in non scientific circumstances. There are many internal and external variables involved in such cases. Not only that many of such variables are prone to manipulations. Continuous rigorous scrutiny of sensitive variables is essential especially in a turbulent weather even for survival. With such a vigilant effort we will have to hope for the best.


      • @yapa

        I like your answer. You seem like a realist.From Ravana’s comments he doesn’t come across as a person who lives in a world of fantasy.We all know what happened to Hitler’s thousand year Reich. It lasted just 12 years.Gaddafi lasted longer.I do not know how long the Rajapaksas’ will last…but if they continue on the path of a ‘Family Dictatorship’ like in North Korea, something will have to give.Prabahakaran over estimated himself and thought that India and the West would never let the Sinhala army wipe him out and the LTTE and thousands of unarmed civilians. In the same vein the Rajapaksas’ think that China and Russia will support them always. I wonder if Dr. Dayarn hasn’t advised them about there not being permanent friends…but only permanent interests. When push comes to shove, China and Russia will drop the Rajapaksas’ like a hot potato.When it will happen I do not know…but happen it will.

  • Lakshan


    It seems George Friedman also wrote “The Coming War with Japan” some 20 years or so ago.hmm……..

    BTW I too agree with your last para. But speaking so openly is a bit risky ,don’t you think 🙂

    • yapa

      Dear Lakshan;

      “BTW I too agree with your last para. But speaking so openly is a bit risky ,don’t you think :)”

      The hero is armed with a sharp pen-knife and a impenetrable formidable body armour(pseudonym). That is his spring of bravery! Ha! Ha!!


      • yapa

        There could be another explanation as well.

        In Sinhala there is a saying “Modayata haethaepma nae”. I think when it is translated to English, it is “Ignorant are the bravest”. Ha! Ha!!


    • Ravana


      “The Coming War with Japan”

      If you read his book I think you would find it was an exploration of possibilities including how US and Japan could work together. My reference to Friedman was to illustrate that the thought of China taking over anytime soon is the fantasy (Much like Asiyawe Ascharya). Hik Hik Hik

      “But speaking so openly is a bit risky ,don’t you think”

      Risky for whom?! To multipolar? heh heh


      “A telling incident that spoke volumes about Fonseka was his denouncing the chief of the Navy on public TV in the middle of a war”

      Really?! I must have missed that one. Can you quote the dates and the words (perhaps a YouTube archive).

      I wonder if you could be mixing up a comment Fonseka made about Karannagoda during the Presidential Election. It was before Xmas 2009 and he clearly did humiliate Karnanagoda in a matter of fact discussion of how he (Karannagoda) was dismissed by the Rajapaksas. I was also concerned about it but someone older and wiser than me pointed out that he would have had a reason. Then I did a search and woe and behold, had put up a video of a TV interview of Karannagoda two days before the Fonseka interview. In it, a man who was a gobblesian caricature was needling Karannagoda to talk about the Presidential elections and the latter was coyly trying to avoid it. After a while (after saying things like “Of course I like the title of Secretary of Highways Dept. It is a great honour!”) he relented and started to talk about how one should not “betray” the “Commander in Chief” and how he won the war etc. It was like watching an old skit by Anneslie Dias (Karana) and Bertie Gunathileke (Gobbles). It was hilarious in the context of witty statements that Fonseka had subsequently made. You should really try and find these. This was one of the reasons I called Fonseka a genius (apart from the obvious one- Turning Tsun Tsu on his head)

      There are also serious questions as to how he would deal with dissent

      Er, I don’t know. You mean in the military or in civilian life? But I have a fair idea about how he would deal with corruption!

      So how could he be an improvement on the Rajapakses?

      Seriously?! Hik Hik Hik (you’re killing me- come on don’t tell me you’re not an apologist)

      • kadphises

        This is the interview I think, although I think there was another one before that. (1:20) He gives effusive thanks the President, the Air Force, the STF, The public.. One keeps thinking the Navy will be next but he does not even a mention of them. Then the very next week Karannagoda appears on TV and elaborates on the role the Navy played. It just shows how so few people in Sri Lankan public life are above this sort of pettyness. I think he also complained later that the Karannagoda had a bodyguard of 700 when he was only given a much smaller number.

        Still, I long to see him out of jail and taking on the Rajapakses as only he can. No I am not an apologist for the Pakses, UNP or the JVP. I just know the JVP of 89′ was evil. The pakses corrupt and stupid. The UNP much like the pakses but irrelavant in addition. Fonseka, I dont think is motivated by wealth accumulation. He also comes across as intelligent, measured with moderate in interviews. Even a few hacks at Sinhala nationalism (which I enjoyed). But I have heard he is not the best person to have a disagreement with. Still, I agree with you that of the current crop of candidates he is potentially the best bet. But I do have my reservations. I hope Somawanse redeems himself by comming out and apologising to the public about the JVP’s terrorist past with a promise not to repeat their crimes in the future. The JVP-Fonseka coalition might then become a bit more pallatable.

      • Ravana

        Thanks for that video. I don’t see him denouncing the Navy chief on that. The lack of specific mention of the Navy (other than “..anikuth hamudaath maeka sahayogaya denawa…”) is certainly a glaring one in the context of the sinking of the 10 LTTE armouries by the Navy and illustrates the need to train Sri Lankan officials (perhaps the people in general) how to speak in public.
        BTW, I notice that “Bertie’ interviewed SF as well on this occasion ( hee hee).

        This reminds me of another part of the skit between Bertie and Anneslie (Karannagoda). When asked about the Navy’s contribution he said (I’ll translate into English the gist of what I can remember)- “Well it was the Janadhipathy, the Supreme Commander who insisted that we take a leaky boat out near Australia to sink that ship. I was too afraid to send it that far…” Hik Hik Hik (the guy should have been given post in Bollywood).

        WRT, Fonseka I cannot ever deny his brilliance in basically rewriting the textbooks on war in the face of how the whole strategy of creating Eelam was setup and ready to go. It must indeed have been shocking to our friends in the West as well. It is a pity that this contribution is not better recognised by defence writers (perhaps his time will come). Regarding his foray into politics, I must admit it was a shock to me (the way the Rajapaksa’s handled it was not) but having recovered from it, if I was a Sri Lankan voter I would have voted for him (because I am a risk taker and would have loved to see all the corrupt officials squirm. But also because I could count on the JVP clipping his wings if he got too cocky). Would I vote for him in future? Probably not because the risk would be too great now with an unknown and unrestrained Fonseka. I believe he has already achieved his personal goal of exonerating himself (of war crimes) and of putting the Rajapaksa’s “in it”. If I was him, I would see out my sentence, retire from politics, migrate to the US, write a best seller, go on a speaking tour (he will have speech writers- we’re talking about the US baby) and attend an occasional War Crimes trial as an expert witness (heh heh heh). He should aspire to be the Kevin Rudd of Sri Lanka (or should Kevin consider himself the Fonseka of Australia?)- two great guys. I like them both and their humour.

        WRT JVP, it looks like they have finally reconciled that they will never be in Government again and have settled for being a viable communist party. I guess the JVP can be relied on to look after the interest of poor people in Sri Lnaka.Communists will never hold much power because they have not accepted a basic part of human nature- Greed. Karl Marx whilst being an exceptional and compassionate human being also (I speculate) assumed humans to be “noble savages”. We can only overcome our basic nature after we accept it. That is the secret of true compassion. When I spoke previously of “sabotage” with compassion, I really meant it. The guys with the Balangoda neurones may never get it.
        BTW, I felt the same as you about ’89 JVP but have changed my mind in recent times since glimpsing the truth. By the way, it was not just the UNP monsters who killed 60000 JVP youth who were mostly from SLFP homes. These kids were utterly betrayed by the greedy-sadistic SLFP types. The worst betrayals happened in Hambanthota!

        A final little tidbit for your entertainment:

        “However, the Sri Lankan President despite the planned hostilities by anti-Rajapaksa activists was able to pull off a propaganda scoop when he attended the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday.

        The former US President not only warmly welcomed Rajapaksa and thanked him for the co-operation extended to the organisation founded by him but even threw an arm around Rajapaksa’s shoulder—quite an unusual gesture of welcome even by an ex-American president.”

        Hik Hik Hik (Full article to be found at

        Maybe 31 December has already come and passed. Nothing makes a white man want to hug you more than when he’s got your balls in his hands! ( Some one should draw a cartoon with Bill, Mahinda and Hillary in it )- methinks the deal is done baby.

        The War for territory was won. The War of intrigue lost.

    • Ravana

      PresiDunce Bean,

      Thanks Prez. I enjoy your wit very much.

      • @Ravana

        Actually, someone should draw a cartoon with Bill, Mahinda, Monica and Paba. 😀

      • Ravana

        Haaa Haaa Haaa Haaa

  • Patriot

    I have to disagree with the description of the cardinals outlook on Sri Lanka as that of a “realist”. That Cardinals argument is certainly not novel. It is the same argument of Dayan Jayatileke, and even Kumar Sangakarra. Essentially that the vast majority of Sinhalese, and by extension the vast majority of Sri Lankans oppose any kind of international intervention. Further, any such intervention will lead to a “hardening” of Sinhalese nationalism.

    The reason I say that the above argument is not grounded in realism, is that in order to use it as a means of persuasion, you are assuming that the UN, after more than 60 years of existence, and countless interventions on every continent in the world, is blissfully unaware of the “circling of the wagons” phenomenon. It assumes that despite the engagement in Sri Lanka throughout the peace process, the West is somehow unaware of the political dynamics of Sinhalese nationalism.

    The UN panel was not appointed by the Tamil Diaspora, it was appointed by the “system” of global governance, which Sri Lanka is a part of. It is not an end, but a means to an end. The UN is not stupid, naive, or uninformend. They know very well the reaction of the Sinhalese masses to international intervention, but they appointed the panel anyway. That should tell anyone who is not in denial, who is applying common sense in an objective manner, that the end-game the UN has in mind is one in which the opinion of the Sinhalese masses is rendered to be irrelevant. There is only one such end game that I can think of. It is not regime change. It is not the 13th amendment. This is reality. I hope that leaders such Cardinal Ranjith, and Dayan Jayatilleke, accept this reality for the good of all who call the island home.