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US Senate Report on Sri Lanka: U.S. Cannot Afford to Lose Sri Lanka due to its Strategic Importance

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US Senate Report on Sri Lanka: U.S. Cannot Afford to Lose Sri Lanka due to its Strategic Importance
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Strategic Interests In Sri Lanka
Recommendations On Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan Government should:
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Washington, D.C. 08 December ( The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, a bipartisan endeavor, on Sri Lanka released December 07 was a thorough review of the failed U.S. policies and approach toward Sri Lanka in recent years and recommends that the U.S. needs to adopt a fresh approach to this South Asian nation declaring “the U.S. Government has invested relatively little in the economy or the security sector in Sri Lanka, instead focusing more on IDPs and civil society. As a result, Sri Lanka has grown politically and economically isolated from the West.”

The report shared by the Senate Committee chairman Democratic Party’s John F. Kerry and the committee’s ranking member Republican Richard G. Lugar further observes: “This strategic drift will have consequences for U.S. interests in the region. Along with our legitimate humanitarian and political concerns, U.S. policymakers have tended to underestimate Sri Lanka’s geostrategic importance for American interests. Sri Lanka is located at the nexus of crucial maritime trading routes in the Indian Ocean connecting Europe and the Middle East to China and the rest of Asia.”

The United States during a decade or so which exerted pressure on successive Sri Lankan governments and intensified during the current Rajapaksa administration that the nation needs to totally focus on Tamil issues, predominantly Tamil provinces in the north and east, Tamil economic woes and grievances of the 12% Tamil ethnic minority has taken, in this Foreign Relations Committee evaluation, a realistic view most professionals have urged for several years in taking a novel approach saying “U.S. strategy should also invest in Sinhalese parts of the country, instead of just focusing aid on the Tamil-dominated North and East.”

The Kerry-Lugar Report shows how disturbed the United States is to the newly organized global alliance the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration pursued in creating a strategic environment conducive to defeating the Tamil Tigers.

In fact, the report acknowledges that the three Rajapaksa brothers were instrumental in adopting a strategy to defeat a ruthless terrorist group.

Indirectly admitting the shortsighted policies the United States has adopted towards Sri Lanka in recent years the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommends to the Obama administration to “Take a broader and more robust approach to Sri Lanka that appreciates new political and economic realities in Sri Lanka and U.S. geostrategic interests. Such an approach should be multidimensional so that U.S. policy is not driven solely by short-term humanitarian concerns but rather an integrated strategy that leverages political, economic, and security tools for more effective long-term reforms.”

Here are some of the excerpts of the Senate Report titled Sri Lanka: Recharting U.S.Stratergy After the War, authored by Senators Kerry, the Chairman of the Committee and Lugar, the Ranking Member of the Committee.

“The Government considers the bilateral relationship with Washington to be on a downward trajectory. Most U.S. criticisms of Sri Lankan actions at the end of the war and treatment of IDPs have fallen on deaf ears, with Sri Lankan authorities dismissing the U.S. posture as ‘‘no carrots and all sticks.’’ U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka, although delivered in grants and not loans, has attracted criticism from the Rajapaksa Government for its emphasis on political reform. This growing rift in U.S.-Sri Lanka relations can be seen in Colombo’s realignment toward non-Western countries, who offer an alternative model of development that places greater value on security over freedoms.


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