War Eagle, Golden Age comic from 1942. Capture by cometstarmoon
I don’t support any war crimes investigation against Sri Lanka. The day Dick Cheney is tried, hell, the day Dick Cheney is not invited on TV, then OK. I do support a non-punitive reconciliation process, and I think the truth of this war needs to get out. However, I do not support any war crimes prosecution from outside.
The US has documented evidence of torture authorized at the highest levels of its government. Rendition and torture flights ran through Europe and the UK was the biggest partner in the terribly destructive invasion of Iraq. None of these states are going to go on trial, and I wouldn’t really support that either.
Sri Lanka is an OK case for them to push because they don’t really give a shit, but it’s disingenuous and unfair. If they want to target Sri Lanka because it’s small then fine, but to act holier than thou after the Bush years is a joke.
However, none of this is about them. I think Sri Lanka did do terrible things during the war. I think the Rajapakse’s killed a bunch of my fellow citizens and tarnished Sri Lanka’s honor, albeit in the course of preserving the nation. When the ‘international community’ interferes the debate immediately changes to us vs. theme. It should really be about us.
The UN or the EU are not going to be there for us. Say they prosecute the Rajapakses, then what? How do they serve the subpoenas? Are they going to setup a caretaker government in the meantime?
The only actual result is that the center gets branded as foreign and the body politic unites against the outsiders. It becomes very hard to support simple honesty when the nation is under threat from outside. Any nation will unite against an external threat, however rational. If they can carry out the threat then fine, but if not, then perhaps think about more subtle ways to do the right thing. Sometimes that means stepping back.
I’ve talked to people in the US government and they say they get phone calls and stuff from Tamil Diasporians and that this is a major issue for them. To that I say, I’m sure they also get phone calls alleging that Obama is born in Kenya and should be deposed. Some of the concerns are valid, but some stuff you can and should ignore.
Amnesty And Engagement
To their credit, the Kerry/Lugar Foreign Relations committee released a report calling for sensible and improved relations with Sri Lanka, though angry elements of the diaspora predictably protested.
So they should do it. Engage with this government and stop threatening them. Perhaps offer some carrots for a reconciliation committee, but put don’t talk loudly and carry a tiny stick.