Feature Article

'Military hijacking politics'

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 November 2008, 15:50 GMT]
A U.S. military chief commending Sri Lankan military 'success' and wishing further capabilities to the Lankan military is viewed seriously as an undue interference in the politics of South Asia, especially at a juncture when the people of Tamil Nadu are up in arms pressing to stop the war for a political solution, says Batticaloa district parliamentarian S. Jeyanandamoorthy.

Admiral Timothy J. Keating
Admiral Timothy J. Keating, U.S. Navy commander, U.S. Pacific Command
"We are assured and gratified by the progress that the Sri Lankan military is making, and I think, the Sri Lankan military would be the first to admit that there is work to be done," reported Indo-Asian News Service (IASN) on Thursday quoting Commander of U.S. Pacific Joint Command, Admiral Timothy Keating, as telling correspondents in New York on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased the Sri Lankan Navy has been able to wage an increasingly effective campaign against the LTTE,” said the head of the US Pacific Command to reporters at New York.

The Pacific Command, headquartered at Hawaai, is responsible for the U.S. military operation ranging from Australia and New Zealand to China, Taiwan and Japan to India and Sri Lanka.

“I am confident the Sri Lankan military has very best intentions in the world."

"Surely, they would like to have greater capability and capacity, but the progress they are making is commendable,” he said.

S. Jeyananthamoorthy
Batticaloa District Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian, S. Jeyananthamoorthy.
Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy attributed significance to the timing of the comments from the top U.S. military official on the very day of the announcement of Barak Obama's victory in the presidential elections.

Even the U.S. ambassador's interactive session at Chennai last month was timed to coincide with the human chain agitation of the people of Tamil Nadu, he further said.

Whether the 'strategic partners' aim at achieving something before Obama takes charge as president in January or whether the belligerent circles attempt to pass a message to Mr. Obama is the question asked by Sri Lanka watchers.

The U.S. Pacific Commander's comment has to be viewed against the backdrop of the official U.S. position and what the U.S. ambassador reiterated at Chennai that a military solution is not possible in Sri Lanka.

Usually, military officers come out with statements of this nature only when a state is defunct and they are put in charge of direct field operations there.

Recently, the Air Force Chief of Japan was forced to resign for making a politically sensitive statement hurting the feelings of the people and governments of East Asia.

However, in the Sri Lankan context, it has become customary for the Army chief and the Chief Justice of the country to make political statements, hurting the feelings of Tamils.

Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka
Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka
The Army chief Sarath Fonseka said that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhala people. The Chief Justice Sarath Silva admitted of a personal perception of him on the 'differences' between the Tamils of the North and East, influencing his judgment to separate the provinces.

Such politically inflammatory and communalistic comments are not expected from the high offices of the Army chief and the Chief Justice, but they were overlooked by the International Community as it might have been accustomed to the 'Sri Lankan style of democracy', commented a political analyst in Colombo.

"One wonders whether even a top U.S. military commander also needs to be overlooked, but for quite opposite reasons, as there is no greater democracy available for censuring than the United States," she added.

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