8:46 AM

An Obama-Biden Foreign Policy

"Terror is a tactic," Biden has said. "Terror is not a philosophy." It is a mantra that everybody in US politics should be required to chant each morning before work, even if it is slightly inaccurate. ("Terror" is actually an emotion. "Terrorism," however, is a tactic – a political tool or technique, more precisely – that can be used in support of a wide variety of causes. It is as misleading to declare war on terrorism as it would be to declare war on propaganda.)

Barack Obama, we are told, chose Joe Biden to be his running mate because he needed an older man, more experienced in foreign policy, to fill the gaps in his resume and reassure American voters that the United States would be safe under an Obama presidency. That’s true, but it is assumed that he also chose him because Biden’s views on foreign policy are not radically different from his own. Since American foreign policy still affects almost everybody in the world, that makes Biden’s views very interesting.

Joe Biden, now 65, has been a senator since he was 29. For almost half that time he has been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he now heads. He has been around long enough to leave plenty of evidence about his view and his reflexes, and it is safe to say that he qualifies as a liberal interventionist (or, as they say on the other side of the Atlantic, a liberal imperialist). He has never met an international problem that he didn’t think the US should help to solve.

Unlike the neo-conservatives, who are brothers under the skin to the liberal interventionists, Biden does not believe that every problem in the world can be solved by the application of US military power, but he does think that many of them can. He backed the US military intervention in Bosnia, the bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo crisis, the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, and the invasion of Iraq (although he subsequently had the grace to admit he was wrong and apologise for that).

Indeed, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has even called for the use of US troops in Sudan, unilaterally if necessary. He would doubtless agree with Obama’s famous remark (over Iraq) that he was not against all wars, just against dumb ones – but Biden’s criteria for which wars are dumb wars are not very discriminating. A unilateral US military intervention in Sudan would make the Iraq fiasco look like a wise act of statesmanship.

On larger issues, by contrast, Biden has usually been a voice of moderation among the chorus of Democratic hawks vying to outdo their Republican colleagues in their hostility to Russia and their enthusiasm for the "war on terror." He did support the expansion of NATO right up to Russia’s frontiers (and visited Georgia immediately after the recent fighting), but he has resisted the temptation to paint Russia as the Soviet Union in sheep’s clothing. And his contempt for the "war on terror" has been consistent and exemplary.

"Terror is a tactic," Biden has said. "Terror is not a philosophy." It is a mantra that everybody in US politics should be required to chant each morning before work, even if it is slightly inaccurate. ("Terror" is actually an emotion. "Terrorism," however, is a tactic – a political tool or technique, more precisely – that can be used in support of a wide variety of causes. It is as misleading to declare war on terrorism as it would be to declare war on propaganda.)

Knowing this has enabled Biden to concentrate (most of the time, at least) on the need to eliminate the particular groups of terrorists that had attacked the United States, who were mostly located in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When he briefly supported the invasion of Iraq, he did not do so out of an ignorant belief that Saddam Hussein had links with those terrorists. It was his liberal interventionism that drove his decision, combined with a naive belief that the US intelligence services would not bend the evidence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction to serve the president’s purposes.

So that is Joe Biden’s take on foreign policy, and it probably isn’t vastly different from Barack Obama’s. The difference lies mostly in the "experience" factor, which tells you all you needed to know about the value of experience in these matters. It is Biden’s long residence at the heart of the Washington political/military/intelligence machine that makes him such a conventional character.

All that stuff about Obama being "not ready to lead" is simply a coded warning that he might not lead in the time-honoured, conventional way. John McCain certainly would, and so would have Hillary Clinton if she had won the Democratic nomination The selection of Joe Biden as his running mate is intended to allay those fears by linking Obama to someone who is deeply embedded in the conventional wisdom, but it doesn’t actually prove that Obama is too.

There is still room for suspicion that Barack Obama harbours a secret desire to lead move American foreign policy in a quite different direction, away from the traditional great-power realpolitik and the occasional forays into liberal interventionism. That would probably appal Biden, and it would horrify the rest of the Washington establishment.

Vice-presidents don’t have a veto, so the choice of Biden poses no problem there. But the Washington establishment probably does have a veto, so whatever Obama intends, Biden will not be disappointed by the outcome.

8:44 AM

Fair and Free Elections: A Reply to Ambassador

The elections to the North Central and the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils have been held and it is reported that there were no major incidents of falsification. The actual results, specially the manner in which the elections were held is a sharp reply to the American Ambassador’s statement made recently that “the United States is interested in assuring a free and fair election” and he further added that “The United States takes a strong interest in free and fair elections around the world including here in S ri Lanka”.

The Hon American Ambassador must understand that people in glass houses should not throw stones. It is sad that he has forgotten that his own master, the Hon President of the United States of America has stolen his Presidentship not once in 2000 but also in 2004.

The facts are that when one considers how George W. Bush crept into the White House in 2000 through a decision by the Supreme Court Judges and not by the votes of the people and again how the Electronic Voting Machines voted him into power in 2004 no American has any right to advise any other country on holding free and fair elections.

The manner in which the 2000 election was “won” was a first time where the counting of ballots was stopped by an order of the Supreme Court and timed in such a manner that George W. Bush had to be bestowed with the Presidency. It is a strange manner and it is hoped that no other democratic country will copy it to the detriment of democracy. Our Ambassador should remember this fact. I will repeat my own words:

“Every election, anywhere is likely to have a certain degree of corruption. Instances of impersonation do happen. Then there are the more serious – rigging, ballot boxes being stuffed with ballots, ballot boxes being stolen or burnt. But this is the first time I have heard of the Judiciary usurping the rights of the people and I hope this will be the last”(From “The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election,” (The University Press of America) x1)

7:42 AM

29 civilians seek protection with security forces

A total of 29 Tamil civilians from the non-liberated areas at Mullaittiuvu and Kilinochchi Districts have sought protection with security forces yesterday (Aug 27) at Pulmoddai (Eastern coast) and Iluppaikkadavai (Western coast) military detachments.

According to military, 17 civilians including 3 women, 2 girls, a boy and 11 men were among those who had arrived at the coast of Pulmoddai, in a fiberglass boat at 2p.m. The civilians have fled due to unprecedented hardships experienced in the hands of LTTE, including forced abductions and fear of child conscription by the outfit who are running blank of fighting cadres.

Earlier, on Wednesday, 10 more Tamil civilians had arrived at Pulmoddai and sought protection with security forces, according to military reports received.

In addition, 2 more civilians found protection with troops at the newly liberated Iluppaikkadavai area in the Western Wanni battlefront, at around 8.45a.m.

2:40 AM

Sri Lankan Rappers in Public Feud Over LTTE

Sri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (who goes by the stage name MIA) and Sri Lankan hip-hop artist DeLon are trading charges against each other in a rousing battle on the internet.Sri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" ArulpragasamSri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam

DeLon has accused MIA of implicitly supporting the LTTE cause, primarily through her lyrics and video images. But she has vehemently denied the charges.

Her father, Arular Arulpragasam, a founder member of the Tamil militant group EROS, and who is currently based in London, told Asiantribune, the charges are erroneous and outdated.

"She is not alone in this. She has an army of people behind her and she will deal with this matter in a manner she deems fit. This issue has been taken up and dealt with two years ago and the matter referred to are outdated," he added in an email message to News-Lanka.

In a letter to her father, MIA says "its good to have the facts on file". She says she told the media she isn't interested in starting a dialogue with DeLon, who she says, "wants to promote himself and sell t-shirts on the back of my song."

MIA, who currently lives in New York, also says that in America her song is number 2 and 3 in the singles chart. "And I'm selling 100,000 copies of my song a week. So, there will be jealousy, but they can only attack me with my own song, which at the end of the day proves that its about talent."

"My time will come to clear this up, properly and this guy doesn't have to be anywhere near me when that time comes. I'll do it when its right for me, not him. Also, I'd rather win this with talent and the right to be recognized.'

She continues: "It just so happens I'm a Tamil, and I won't forget my history or my personal experience. But Tamils have to be smarter to get their stories heard, without getting milled, banned and buried. I just don't know what that is yet. But politics might not be the solution."

A web story last week said that in a YouTube video posted in late July, which remixes MIA's latest number "Paper Planes," DeLon claims that the Sri Lankan rapper used LTTE imagery in her song.

DeLon's version re-cuts the MIA version with Tamil Tiger bombings and child soldiers, and openly questions whether M.I.A. supports terrorists. DeLon says MIA consistently uses tigers in imagery -- on clothes, in videos -- and that MIA has called her father a "freedom fighter."

According to BBC, 'Paper Planes', has reached number 16 in the singles chart after being included in the trailer for the comedy film "Pineapple Express".

Marshall Shen, head of DeLon's record label, Ceylon, told E! "In the video, we didn't really accuse her of being a Tamil Tiger," But we're asking, why she is putting these images out there if she doesn't support them?"