News

United States imperialism still poses a great danger to world peace and prosperity 

By Prof. Tissa Vitharana 

After the dramatic events of the past few weeks when the Americans had to hurriedly depart from Afghanistan, which it had ruled for 20 years, with its tail between its legs, people have begun to think that Americans are just a paper tiger, not to be feared. Though it may be losing its number one economic position to China, it remains the world’s number one military power by a long margin. It has 403 military bases encircling China and over 800 bases worldwide. China has only one base in Djibouti in Africa to fight against the Somalian pirates that attack its ships. The people of the world must get it clear into their mind that China is a third world country that has emerged from its poverty through industrialisation and trade. Sri Lanka and other countries face no military threat from China. Not being an imperialist country, it is focused on trade. Through good relations, flexible bilateral trade that is mutually beneficial can be achieved. 

The fact that during this period the Taliban came under attack from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) product, is a clear indication that the United States of America (USA) will continue to promote internal conflicts in Afghanistan, making use of smaller sectarian differences, besides the main Sunni/Shia one. A British agent is in charge of commercial exploitation. The North East of Afghanistan, which has connections with Russia and Pakistan, may also be made conflict zones. The danger exists of chaos in Afghanistan and conflict with its neighbours, with a huge market for the American armaments industry. 

The visit at this time of the US Vice President Kamala Harris is a clear move to provoke clashes against China over the South China Sea disputes, largely an outcome of US-promoted widening of the territorial waters of countries, leading to overlapping. The ultimate objective could be a conventional war that arises in East Asia and spreads West. It would also put an end to China’s Belt and Road economic strategy. The path to intervention by the US and its allies (Australia, Japan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India), the “Quad”, a product of the US’s Indo-Pacific one Ocean concept, is a possibility. 

In this scenario, Sri Lanka is in grave danger. With India under pressure from reinvigorated Muslim countries in the West and China on the East, besides its sizeable Muslim internal population and opposition from the Congress, the US is bound to turn to Sri Lanka. Attempts will be made to activate the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Agreements, that would make Sri Lanka an economic colony of US multinational corporations (MNCs), and also a military base of the US. The deliberate running down of the economy, with a very low foreign exchange reserve, and a high level of debt, will be used against us to compel us to get International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans, with all their neoliberal conditions. That will end the good move of the present Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna-led Government to build a national economy free of debt. 

To resist these pressures and retain our Independence, Sri Lanka will have to act with acumen and diplomatic caution. 

The image portrayed of the Taliban by the West is unjustified. It is a nationalist movement that has fought consistently for the liberation of Afghanistan and to set up its own elected Government. But they led a peaceful existence blending their tribal customs with that of Islam. They did not attack any country or cause harm to any people. The Taliban did not drive people away from their homes, unlike what the Jews did to the Palestinians with support from the US. 

It was after the Soviet invasion in December 1979 and the installation of a puppet regime that destroyed the social infrastructure and plunged the country into poverty that they fought for their liberty. They took up arms to fight against the decade of Soviet domination. In the guise of restoring Afghan independence the US and its European allies, backed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) not only attacked Afghanistan but ruled over the people with an iron fist. According to the United Nations (UN), these same forces caused around 40 million refugees. It was the US-led forces that looted the Arab countries. America is said to have robbed $ 60 billion worth of gold from Libya. 

In this context, it is surprising to find United National Party Leader and Member of Parliament Ranil Wickremesinghe opposing our recognising the Government of the Taliban. There is much criticism of discrimination against women. The Taliban has to do away with this as promised. The charges against the Al-Qaeda too are exaggerated and the Taliban are unnecessarily blamed. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to recognise the Taliban Government, while appealing to them to broaden democracy by giving full rights to all women. Under no circumstances should the Government sign or allow the US to implement the MCC and SOFA Agreements. 

(The writer is a virologist, Government MP, the Committee on Public Accounts Chairman, and the LSSP General Secretary)