The ‘International Community’ doesn’t have its money where its mouth is, and they wonder why they have no one’s ear. Global politics has changed. According to the Hindu and Times Online China gave about $1 billion last year compared to $7.4 million for the US (I read about 24 in this State Dept PDF). The West simply isn’t in the same position to dictate terms. But they are in a position to help.
There’s a prescient article in the New York Times from March 2008 called Take Aid From China and Take A Pass On Human Rights.
But however free Sri Lanka feels to dismiss Western concerns about human rights these days, there are still long-range costs it may find itself confronting one day. The real Achilles’ heel for the government is looming economic trouble, as its war chest expands and inflation reaches double digits.
Those long term costs can and will come due. The $1.9 billion we need from the IMF is just the start. We need more than money to rebuild our country anyways, we need integrity and basic good governance. Which we don’t have.
This government isn’t especially benevolent or wise. The one thing they can prosecute ‘well’ is the war. Economy and peace and actual life for people here is not so good. I don’t hold high hopes for relief, rehabilitation or reconstruction or reconciliation, but I do hope.
The International Community, however, would be wise to understand the political reality today and make some tough compromises rather than antagonizing the government. There is still time to save some people trapped in the warzone and support those that get out. However, they either have to pay or use humble diplomacy and their wits.
China has given Sri Lankan fuck-off money and the government is telling the world to fuck off. The ‘international community’ can’t really lecture Sri Lanka anymore. China will fund the war and China is on the UN Security Council. The IC needs to back off on the bluster and understand geopolitical reality if they want to actually make a difference.