Blake Foreshadows New American Approach to Sri Lanka … and the Rajapaksa Combo

Daya Gamage, in Asian Tribune, 12 May 2019, with this title “Robert Blake indicates Washington’s new approach to Sri Lanka”

Robert O’Blake, former (2006-2009) American ambassador to Sri Lanka and onetime assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Bureau (2009-2012) of the US Department of State indicated how Washington would approach Sri Lanka having seen the deteriorating security situation in this South Asian nation – which could affect Washington’s military design in the Indo-Pacific region – while assessing the rapidly changing political environment possibly favoring the return of the Rajapaksas.

Now as Senior Director (India and South Asia) of McLarty Associates, Mr. Blake undoubtedly maintains a rapport with Washington policymakers and ‘designers’ at the State Department, fully aware of the Trump administration’s foreign-policy stances indeed became a messenger from Washington to convey policy shifts toward Sri Lanka when he addressed an invited audience in Colombo on May 8.

McLarty Associates in its web portal describe itself as follows:  “We were ambassadors. And trade negotiators. And White House officials, journalists, intelligence officers, business leaders, and scholars. Our work lies at the nexus of business and policy. We understand the complexities of international markets and help our clients navigate the strategic and operational challenges they face around the globe’”
.
Carefully scrutinizing his address, sponsored by the Pathfinder Foundation, one could read between the lines what Washington wanted him to convey, the adjustment of state department foreign policy planks toward Sri Lanka and, in formulating a new foreign policy to resonate with the emerging political scenario in Sri Lanka, what Washington has monitored and comprehended.

Washington’s military advancement toward Indo-Pacific region and how vital Sri Lanka is in its overall military design was underscored by Robert Blake while conveying Washington’s regret of (sic)  its policy of withdrawing military assistance during the Eelam War IV (2006-2009) which resulted in overemphasizing issues connected to human rights.

Blake declared “I am pleased that our military to military relations have progressed substantially from the days when I was Ambassador. In the last years of the war in 2008 and 2009, human rights concern almost completely circumscribed our military exercises, training and assistance with the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force. I had to fight hard to maintain even small areas of Navy-to-Navy cooperation, in part by arguing that it was in our interest to help Sri Lanka interdict LTTE arms shipments. Today, I am happy those restrictions are behind us”.

It was a confession but a partial-truth: It was during his tenure in Colombo that Washington completely cut military assistance to Sri Lanka at the height of the war using human rights, rule of law and violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) using the Leahy Law of the Foreign Assistance Act.ent. His diplomatic mission placed obstacles using human rights. In fact, Ambassador did not “fight hard’ instead endeavored, with Norway and Britain, to stop the war to prevent a total annihilation of the Tamil Tiger movement.

This writer disclosed Washington’s foreign policy adventurism – as a one-time insider of the state department – in his (Amazon-published) book ‘Tamil Tigers’ Debt To America: U.S. Foreign-Policy Adventurism & Sri Lanka’s Dilemma’ to which Robert Blake in his address in Colombo shamelessly confessed.

He, and Washington were convinced the vitality of America’s military pivot to the Indo-Pacific region and Sri Lanka’s vital participation in that ‘design’ when Blake said “As the US, China and other influential countries like India, Japan and Australia all jockey for influence in Asia, Sri Lanka is in an excellent position to benefit from and even play off these countries against each other. Your strategic location on the busiest shipping lanes; your democratic character and your economic openness make Sri Lanka an attractive partner”.

Given the McLarty portfolio to which Mr. Blake is committed the military design for Indo-Pacific region is part of the Trump admiration’s foreign policy plank.

Previously, Asian Tribune carried two comprehensive research-investigative analyses exposing Washington’s ‘grand design’ to extensively enhance its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, and how U.S. progressively transformed Sri Lanka into a US military hub. Read the following Asian Tribune reports to get a comprehensive understanding of Washington’s military design roping Sri Lanka in its battle with China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Sri Lanka: A military logistic hub for the U.S. 
http://www.asiantribune.com/node/92537

At 2020 Sri Lanka elections, stakes are high for the U.S. 
http://asiantribune.com/node/92645

The above Asian Tribune reports will show the reader with substantial evidence that it is the United States that benefits in its confrontation with China in the Indo-Pacific region and the past eighteen months of military ‘encroachment’ in Sri Lanka transforming this South Asian nation a ‘US Military Hub’ Washington has dragged Sri Lanka into its battle for supremacy with China. Nevertheless, Robert Blake endeavors to convey to authorities in Sri Lanka that this ‘whole US exercise’ is in the interest of Sri Lanka in this manner:

“Let me conclude on a note of optimism. Sri Lanka stands to benefit from the US and Chinese competition for influence in the Asia-Pacific. But it will need strong and unified political leadership to fully investigate the Easter bombings, an even-handed security approach, and a new commitment to reconciliation that will insulate Sri Lanka from efforts by ISIS or others to exploit religious differences to expand their hate-filled influence”.

This is exactly the Trump administration’s design to protect America’s national security interests.

Conscious of the rapidly changing political scenario in Sri Lanka – the unpopularity of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration which Washington was instrumental in setting up in February 2015, the imminent return to power by the Rajapaksas and protecting the ‘new found’ American presence – Robert Blake hinted where Washington will turn revealing its monitored knowledge. While stating that Sri Lanka could learn from the mistakes the US have done before and after the 9/11 attacks, Blake said the incumbent government should establish a high-level group of technocrats similar to the one [thT] existed when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defense secretary, to prevent terror attacks in the country.

He said “So to improve inter-agency communication and coordination, then President Bush ordered a new committee to be established. The committee had senior people of all the relevant intelligence and law enforcement authorities. They met on a weekly basis to evaluate all the intelligence of the US and to determine what was credible and then most importantly to take action against those credible things. Individual people were assigned specific responsibility for each one of the lead which were considered credible. As a result of that, we haven’t had a successful terrorist attack by a foreign terrorist group since then. We had plenty of domestic terrorist problems but the ISIS and Al-Qa’ida had not been able to attack like they did in Paris or any other places. In fact, Sri Lanka did have such a group during the war when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defense secretary and he personally shared that and made sure that all the different branches of the intelligence of which there are many in this country, shared information and then shared that information up to the senior level people and then they themselves were making sure that somebody was looking into those and making sure that the attacks didn’t take place. So I think that’s a very important thing that the current government should think about and re-establish some kind of a group like that”.

It is interesting to note that [recently this year] the American ambassador Alaina Teplitz took a sudden interest (sic)  to meet with the former president and incumbent Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 10. Mr. Blake is undoubtedly aware that former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has announced his intention of contesting the forthcoming presidential election. It is known to anyone who worked within the US State Department system that it is a diplomatic practice for a person of the calibre of Robert Blake to consult the US diplomatic mission and exchange notes before preparing his remarks for public consumption.

One could sense Washington’s shift in its policy approach toward Sri Lanka, and Robert O’ Blake became Washington’s messenger to convey several policy shifts foremost to protect its ‘new-found interest’ in the Indo-Pacific region: One of the several policy planks of America’s national security network is the inclusion of Sri Lanka in its overall military design. To protect and enhance this military design it is important for Washington to use the emerging political scenario in Sri Lanka and appease an imminent political formation that could possibly be hostile to that interest.

– Asian Tribune –

see Daya Gamage: “Robert Blake hides U.S. maneuver to save Prabhakaran,” 4 July 2009(?) … http://www.asiantribune.com/node/90664

ALSO NOTE the information within these older articles

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 24 July 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/wpadmin/post.php?post=17127&action=edit&postpost=v2

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Ambassador Blake in Never-Never-Land: Misreading LTTE Capacity in Early 2009,” 26 August 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/ambassador-blake-in-never-never-land-misreading-ltte-capacity-in-early-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2015 “American Action and Inaction on Sri Lanka, 2008/09: A Critical Evaluation,” 15 September 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/american-action-and-inaction-on-sri-lanka-200809-a-critical-evaluation/#more-17725

Roberts, Michael 2016 David Miliband’s Imperious Intervention in Lanka left in Tatters,5 July 2016,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/david-milibands-imperious-intervention-in-lanka-left-in-tatters/

Roberts, Michael 2016 Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clarifies, III: American Volte Face in 2008,” 10 March 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/gotabaya-rajapaksa-clarifies-iii-american-volte-face-in-2008/

Roberts, Michael 2015A Drama in Four Acts: Dishonest Reportage by Amnesty International and Aussie Journalists remains Unmasked,” 2 September 2015, https://wordpress.com/post/thuppahi.wordpress.com/17560

Roberts, Michael 2018 Where USA sought to arm-wrestle Sri Lanka in March-April-May 2009,” 11 May 2018,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/where-usa-sought-to-arm-wrestle-sri-lanka-in-march-april-may-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2018 “The Western World’s Cumulous Clouds of Deceptiion: Blanketing the Sharp Realities of Eelam War IV,”  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/the-western-worlds-cumulous-clouds-of-deception-blanketing-the-sharp-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

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Filed under american imperialism, centre-periphery relations, China and Chinese influences, discrimination, economic processes, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, life stories, military strategy, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, security, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, war reportage, world events & processes

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