Dissecting American Policy towards Sri Lanka

Chandre Dharmawardana

The Chapa Interview with US-military Professor Dr. Mendis:  US policy in Sri Lanka

Please listen to an interview of Dr. Mendis ((https://youtu.be/Lh4D4qGE854) which touches on US policy and Sri Lanka, and [dwell critically on the unsaid] between the words.  See how a  Sri Lankan young man straight out of a Polonnaruwa school system gets educated in the US via a scholarship to becomes a complete supporter of the “American Manifest Destiny” that he teaches to US soldiers.  US policies to lead the world  has only helped to enrich the elite classes of the US andimpoverish the rest. But Dr. Mendis  is very comfortable with US policy. It is unlikely that Dr. Noam Chomsky’s writings are part of his syllabus.

Dr. Mendis studied at Minnesota and  joined the US Army  teaching service which provides education for  US forces living in US bases all over the world. Most countries including the US exploit their poor kids for fighting, while the rich kids  escape to “better”, safer  jobs, or join the army as officers. So,  the ordinary soldiers need education to learn how to use complicated weapons, and also to do a civilian job when they get back to normal life when they are discharged or get injured (a very common eventuality). So Professors like Dr.  Mendis travel  among NATO bases  teaching soldiers US geography, economics, history, and justifying US foreign policy. In Canada too there is  the Royal Military College (e.g., in Kingston) and its professors teach Canadian soldiers – but unlike Canada, US has  bases  in over a 100 countries.

It is painful to see Dr. Mendis’s failure to note how US dominates other countries, using its  military presence to weaken regimes, and deploying its  capitalist globalization program to allow its Big Business to dominate the economies of poor countries. Nigeria,  the most populous country in Africa  has the U.S. West African contingent  stationed at a $110 million air base in Agadez, Niger.  The under-educated Muslim leaders of the North are buttressed by the US forces, and they together exploit the south (with its educated people) to extract oil to sell via US companies. Does even 10% of the income go to Nigerian people?  Nigeria is a very poor country with a sick and traumatized population. The country is eternally in turmoil and on the brink of war between the North and the South with government death squads eliminating dissent. The UN-Human Rights Commission in Geneva,  the Human Rights NGOs, the Right-to-Protect agents of the “human-rights” lobbies etc., see no evil.

Oil is the main reason why the US and its Businesses are in Nigeria.  This is why I have opposed Sri Lanka’s attempt to explore for oil and  gas in the Mannar sea. If the GOSL finds oil there, big powerful  oil companies backed by the West will use extremely  dangerous methods to takeover such resources. If they have the SOFA and the MCC, they will do the oil drilling!  They will justify it saying that such resources must not fall into the hands of China. If you are weak and find a big treasure, you get robbed.

Dr. Mendis talks of the Jeffersonian policy of Freedom, democracy etc., laid down by the founding fathers and applied to the white population of the US, and the Hamiltonian policy  of economic domination laid down by Treasury Secretary Hamilton during George Washington’s time.

Hamilton was the father of American capitalism, which arguably produced one of the highest standards of living in the world for the white population.  According to Historian  Knott “His policies at the Treasury Department were designed to enhance the development of manufacturing. His economic policies such as a national bank, tariffs to protect American manufacturing, … contributed to the overall rise of the United States as an economic superpower.” In consequence, Hamilton insisted in having an eventual dominating US military presence all over the world.

But US ideas of democracy and liberty are applied essentially to the Whites and to European nations.  The US Blacks, Natives and other nations were considered subjects to be held in check for  economic exploitation as dictated by Hamiltonian policies.

Dr. Mendis does not see all that. He  ignores how the US in the South American continent  supported corrupt dictators to exploit the resources of those countries by US companies mining, taking over land and making them into US plantations.  A few Latin American countries followed the lead of Cuba and drove out the US, but  most others are still struggling. Haiti is a very good example. The equivalents of the 1983 Black July that the Colombo Tamils suffered once  has happened to US Blacks and Native peoples regularly, every decade or so.

In South Asia and in the Pacific, the Vietnamese were most successful in driving out the US by waging  war. Vietnamese successfully  kept  China out of their country,  developed its own “patriotic” form of socialism. Vietnam avoided any anti-Americanism and  is using US technology to its own advantage in in even collaborating with highly aggressive companies like Monsanto.

Dr. Mendis does not see any problem with SOFA, MCC and other instruments of domination used by the US. This is not unusual. The neo-liberal politicians like Mangala Samaraweera, Ranil Wickremasinghe, and some in the  Pathfinder organization etc., also believe that  participating in US conglomerates is the way to prosperity. As  Dr. Mendis explains, SOFA, MCC etc  already apply to  countries now in the US orbit. As part and parcel of the US military machine, perhaps Dr. Mendis thinks like a US soldier, and that what is good for US forces is good for the world and for God.

SOFA and other mechanisms make the signatory countries become almost like a member of NATO, without the advantages of NATO membership that the  Western NATO countries enjoy. It is logical and valid for a country like Canada or Italy to be in NATO, but not for Sri Lanka or Ecuador. The MCC is a sugar pill to make SOFA and other military takeover agreements palatable to the rulers who agree to comply, or are made to comply under military pressure. Someone like Pompeo is mandated to do just that. The MCC will make it easier for US Capital to penetrate and dominate the Sri Lankan business and agrarian sectors.  Dr. Mendis kept on insisting that SOFA has been signed in 2017 but does he know that it was done in quasi-secrecy by the Yahapalanaya administration? or may be he felt that the end justifies the means of achieving Hamiltonian objectives.

Unfortunately, Dr Mendis did not look at how this US action, directed to checkmate Chinese action has only benefited a small elite t of each of these societies that joined in with the US. These elites who control the business sector of those countries become part of US capitalism, while leaving the ordinary people even more poor. US capitalism is good for those who are well to do, but not for the vast majority of people, even in the US.  The business machine  doesn’t and cannot stop to care about the poor, as seen in how Brandix preferred to push the workers to meet export targets even when the workers were in danger of Covid.  One finds that directors of Brandix are also directors of Air Lanka, and perhaps they have the capacity to bend even health rules about who they can fly in and fly out!  The Chapa interview did not bring out any of this because the Interviewer, although clearly uncomfortable with Dr. Mendis’s views, was very hesitant to ask tough questions from an old friend!

Sri Lanka has had a history of being an independent nation right at the center of the maritime silk road since the time of the Greeks. Its history, and its contribution to the world can continue even within the “Manifest Destinies” claimed by big nations.  Dr. Mendis and others fail to see this. This is not a matter of politics, but of biology and bio-diversity. Just as bio-diversity is good for reasons that I cannot go into here, an ecology of diverse nations with independent views is good for humanity.

So, I  re-iterate that Sri Lanka should take a closer look at Vietnam — a country that defeated the US in war, and has in spite of it come back as a friendly with the US while being independent of it while also being strongly independent of China.

Chandre Dharmawardana.

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