Why plight of Lankan Tamils highlights the hypocrisy of nations

We can debate the policy of interventionism until we're blue in the face - we'll still screw up.

The former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Syria - they will go down as some of the worst humanitarian and hypocritical blind-spots of history.

Negotiation rarely if ever has stopped the massacre of people by their own nation. And other nations simply don't want to intervene, unless there's oil. . . and even then, it's usually long after there's no people left to save. Iraq is a great example of letting Saddam Hussain kill a whole host of his own people, and only going in once it suited the US to create a lie for the benefit of obtaining natural resources.

That was never about people.

Some of the world's inaction is dictated by the race and colour of skin of those in trouble. There's no point pretending otherwise. The states with the most power generally avoid those nations either through racism, or through a desire to avoid a repeat of the colonial messes they created over the centuries.



So it's a bit rich hearing anyone, ANYONE, condemning Sri Lanka for not coming clean on the numerous allegations of the massacre of Tamils.

Sure, there were people who spoke up around the world at the time, but nobody in a position of leadership. Nobody was going to take action against another state to prevent deaths.

Even if India were one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and even if they led a vote in favour of action, so long as China and Russia have vetoes, nothing will happen. China will never authorise action, and I sometimes doubt if they would even act if North Korea dropped a nuclear weapon on South Korea.

As for China, they simply don't interfere (except for the hacking of foreign government computers, spying, alleged currency manipulation, etc etc).

Syria is the current, ongoing humanitarian crisis and Britain is now sending some armoured personal carriers - a somewhat desperate attempt to appear to be doing something, while actually doing nothing. There, we don't go in because we're afraid of Syria's buddy, Iran.

The lack of decisions in the face of massacres or the threat of massacres is as complex as the causes for those deaths in the first place. Yes, races and hatred is the overwhelming root cause, but there are more nuanced individual actors who manipulate the situations, as is seen through many of the International Criminal Court prosecutions for genocide.

It's too late to save the Tamils massacred by Sri Lanka (or "allegedly", since Sri Lanka is clearly in denial). Maybe India could have done more.

We'll never know.

What we can do, is improve the world's ability to react and solve the internal problems of nations where they threaten civilian populations. We have systematically reduced support for UN peacekeeping so they lack the ability, the strength and the will to act.

And funding alone wouldn't solve the problem.

Even before that, you would need to remove the veto power from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Then, you'd need to restructure the council and either add more permanent members, or remove the concept of permanency entirely.

None of this will happen. The UN was formed after the failure of its predecessor. We are witnessing the slow death of the UN in its current form, and a global agreement to overhaul it will only come after more conflict and more civilian death.

India could certainly lead a charge to offer a new vision of international cooperation and intervention where necessary, but I won't hold my breath. It's easier to talk, then act, or lead.

Updated Date: Mar 08, 2013 07:33 AM

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