INTERNATIONAL FRAME &
THE STRUGGLE for Tamil Eelam
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Revised May 2004
"We are fully aware that the world is not rotating on
the axis of human justice. Every country in this world advances its own interests.
Economic and trade interests determine the order of the present world, not the
of justice nor the rights of people. International relations and diplomacy between
countries are determined by such interests. Therefore we cannot expect an immediate
the moral legitimacy of our cause by the international community...
In reality, the success of our struggle depends on us, not on the world. Our
success depends on our own efforts, on our own strength, on our own
determination." Velupillai Pirabakaran, 1993
India concerned to exclude
extra regional powers from the Indian region and at the same time manage and channel Tamil
US Support for Indo Sri
Lanka Accord as a way of managing India...
Rajiv Gandhi & LTTE Ban
Canada, Great Britain, European Union, Switzerland and South Africa
Ban on LTTE and US
concern that 85% of the world's population by the end of this century will be living in
Africa, Latin America and the poorer parts of Asia....
The Struggle for Tamil Eelam is a
national question - and it is therefore an international question. Given the key roles played by
, the United States
supporting roles for the European Union, Japan and
the Struggle for Tamil
Eelam, it is not without importance for
the Tamil people as well as others who seek to
understand the nature of the Tamil struggle, to further their own understanding of the
foreign policy objectives of these countries - this
is more so because the record shows that states do not have
permanent friends but have only permanent interests.
And, it is these interests that
they pursue, whether overtly or covertly.
Furthermore, the interests of a state are a function of the interests of groups
which wield power within that state and 'foreign policy is the external manifestation
of domestic institutions, ideologies and other attributes of the polity'.
In the end, the success of any
liberation struggle is, not surprisingly, a function of
the capacity of its leadership to mobilise its own people
and its own resources at the broadest and deepest
The nature of the struggle for Tamil Eelam was stated
crisply by 17 non governmental
organisations at the UN Commission on Human Rights in February 1994:
"The Tamil population in the North and East of the island, who have
lived from ancient times within relatively well defined geographical
boundaries in the north and east of the island, share an ancient heritage, a
vibrant culture, and a living language which traces its origins to more than
2500 years ago.
The 1879 minute of Sir Hugh Cleghorn, the British Colonial Secretary makes
it abundantly clear that... before the advent of the British in 1833,
kingdoms existed for the Tamil areas and for the Sinhala areas in the island.
The Tamil people and the Sinhala people were brought within the confines of
one state for the first time by the British in 1833. After the departure of
the British in 1948, an alien Sinhala people speaking a language different to
that of the Tamils and claiming a separate and distinct heritage has
persistently denied the rights and fundamental freedoms of the Tamil people...
A social group, which shares objective elements such as a common language
and which has acquired a subjective political consciousness of oneness, by its
life within a relatively well defined territory, and by its struggle against
alien domination, clearly constitutes a 'people' with the
right to self
determination and in our view, the Tamil population of the north-east of the
island are such a 'people'."
Despite protestations from time to time that the conflict in the island is an internal
matter for the Sri Lanka government (a view assiduously
by Sri Lanka as well), both India
(as the major
regional power and an aspiring world power) and the
States (as the world's super power) have taken a direct interest in the conflict with
a view to securing their own strategic political concerns.
has served as a convenient point of entry for real politick. The
Thimpu Talks in 1985, sponsored by India (and held in Bhutan)
brought the international dimension of the struggle for Tamil Eelam, out from the closet
into the open. And, some ten years later, the
underlined the continuing interest of the 'international
community' in the affairs of an island, situated a mere twenty miles or so
from the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent - and strategically placed to
control the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
India concerned to exclude extra regional powers from the
Indian region and at the same time manage and channel Tamil militancy...
Prior to the breakdown of the Soviet Union (and in the
context of a bipolar world order), India's 'non aligned'
foreign policy had for itself, a relatively broad canvas for
manoeuvre. At the 1975 non aligned conference in Colombo,
then Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Srimavo Bandaranaike promoted the Indian Ocean Peace Zone - an
ill disguised attempt to exclude extra regional powers from the Indian region.
The election of the West leaning Sri Lanka Prime Minister J.R.Jayawardene in 1977, and
the later disenfranchising of opposition Sinhala leader, Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike were
matters of concern to India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who herself returned to power
in India in 1979. The US, on the other hand, welcomed the open economic policy that the
Jayawardene government was pursuing with vigour as against the protectionist and left
leaning policies of the coalition led by Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike.
An additional matter of concern to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was that the Tamil
armed resistance movement which had arisen in response to
of oppressive Sinhala rule, had sought assistance from those outside the Indian
region, including the PLO and Libya.
India wished to exclude the influence of extra regional powers in the
Indian region, and in this, it had the support of the Soviet Union. At the same
time, India was concerned that a separate Tamil Eelam state may
be used by external powers to as a 'pressure point'. Jyotindra Nath
Dixit , Indian
Foreign Secretary in 1991/94 and National
Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India in 2004/05 was
disarmingly frank at a Seminar in Switzerland in 1998 -
received (India's) support ...as a response to
(Sri Lanka's).. concrete and expanded military and
intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel
and Pakistan. ...The assessment was that these presences
would pose a strategic threat to India and they would
encourage fissiparous movements in the southern states
of India. .. a process which could have found
encouragement from Pakistan and the US, given India's
experience regarding their policies in relation to
Kashmir and the Punjab.... Inter-state
relations are not governed by the logic of
morality. They were and they remain an
The high profile visit of US Defence Secretary of State, Caspar
Weinberger, to Sri Lanka in 1984 reflected the continuing interest that
the US, as a world power, had in the Indian region. A US diplomat in Washington remarked
(with some arrogance) in July 1984: "India is not a world power - and, it should not
try to behave like one".
But whilst the US extended support to Sri Lanka and described President Jayawardene's
regime as a 'working multi party democracy',
(within 18 months of the
1983 Genocide), the
State of Massachusetts hoisted the Tamil Eelam flag in the early 1980s and at Tamil Eelam
conferences in New York, in 1982,
1984 and again in 1986,
Tamil rhetoric was allowed free flow. It was the US way of monitoring and managing Tamil
responses and advancing US foreign policy objectives.
Sri Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene sought to use the political space created by the
differences in approach between US and India, by allowing one of his Ministers to take a
pro US stand and another a more pro India stand. When confronted, he cheerfully admitted:
"We may speak with two voices but we
have one policy."
With the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984 and the new dispensation under
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, India's new Foreign Secretary, Romesh Bhandari, was openly
critical of the earlier Indian approach (which had a heavy Soviet bias) and declared that
that approach far from excluding extra regional powers, had led to greater US involvement
in the Indian region.
Romesh Bhandari sought to remain true to the central premise of Indian foreign policy
of excluding extra regional powers from the Indian region. Having used Tamil militancy to
pressurise Colombo, India under Rajiv Gandhi was ready to do a deal with J.R.Jayawardene,
if India's own strategic interests in the region were protected. Here, New Delhi's
approach was not without parallels to the role of Iran in the Kurdish struggle against
Iraq. (see Tamil Eelam, Kurds and Bhutan
written in 1985). The debacle of the
Thimpu Talks was one
consequence of the Romesh Bandhari line.
The limited support extended by India
to the Tamil armed resistance during the period 1981 to 1987, the
Parthasathary led conflict management initiative in the
aftermath of Genocide'83, the 1985
Talks sponsored by India, the 1986 "December
19th proposals", the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka
Accord, and in particular the
annexures to the Accord,
all evidence New Delhi's efforts to manage and channel Tamil militancy and at the
same time, further its own strategic interests in the region.
"The Shah of Iran once said that in his role as the
gendarme of the region he had two main weapons for dealing with the
revolutionary threat which existed in the region. First, was direct
intervention. This was applied in the case of Oman in 1973, and also in the case
of Baluchistan when the Shah provided armaments and military finance for the
Pakistani state's repression in the area. The second weapon was internal
subversion of the national liberation movements among the various nationalities.
this method was applied in Kurdistan. The goal, ofcourse, was to allow the
national movement to grow in a particular direction in order to defeat it. The
case of Kurdistan was classic. The Shah said openly that the Kurdistan operation
was relatively cheap for him. With 30 million dollars the job was done. He
simply supported Kurdistan to destroy it. Such a possibility always exist in
Baluchistan. What is the best way of destroying the Baluch movement? The answer
is clear: allowing the development of
the national movement under a reactionary leadership who would then be willing
to sell the national resources and the strategic value of Baluchistan to the
highest bidder. It is also clear that it is only the revolution which can defend
the natural resources and the strategic value of Baluchistan from all foreign
control." (Murad Khan of the Baluchistan People's Liberation Front,
speaking to Raymond Noat - Interview quoted in
Tariq Ali's 'Can Pakistan
A booklet, published by the Indian
intelligence sources in 1987, immediately after India had air dropped food supplies to
the Tamil homeland in the island of Sri Lanka declared:
"As hundreds of innocent civilians - both Sinhala and Tamil - perish in the
escalating violence in Sri Lanka, the question of a negotiated political settlement
becomes ever more difficult. Any such complex issue is inevitably rendered more
complicated by the malevolent involvement of external powers. This involvement does
unfortunately have long-term implications for India's security.
There has been periodic criticism of India's good offices and diplomatic efforts which
have aimed at bringing together the representatives of the Sri Lankan Government and the
Tamil minority to work out a viable and durable constitutional set up which would meet the
Tamil aspirations and enable the Tamil minority to live in Sri Lanka in safety and with
dignity. This booklet presents a factual account of the efforts made by India,
through its good offices, to assist in the restoration of peace, harmony and mutual trust
in Sri Lanka."
Jyotindra Dixit, India's High Commissioner in Colombo in 1987 has given his version of the events leading to the signing of the Indo - Sri Lanka Agreement in his book
titled 'Assignment Colombo'. One of his comments is
"It was also my considered opinion that the LTTE's insistence on the creation of a
separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, based on ethnic, linguistic and religious
considerations, would have far-reaching negative implications for India's unity and
territorial integrity too..."
US Support for Indo Sri Lanka Accord as a way of
The detailed and comprehensive
by the Political Committee of the LTTE at an International Tamil conference in April 1988
set out the LTTE viewpoint on the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Accord and the conflict with the
Indian Peace Keeping Force:
"....Thus, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord secures India's geopolitical
interests and strategic objectives. The LTTE is sincerely pleased that the Government of
India was able to put an end, through the Agreement, to the dangerous activities of the
international subversive elements who operated in Sri Lanka as agents of Imperialism.
As a revolutionary liberation movement committed to anti-imperialist
policy we recognise India's security concerns in the region and support her cardinal
foreign policy of making the Indian ocean as a zone of peace free from interference of
In this context, we wish to point out that it was the LTTE fighters who
put up a heroic and relentless fight against foreign mercenaries. It was the LTTE fighters
who shed their blood to contain these evil forces. Our liberation movement is not opposed
to India's interests.
We have no objection whatsoever to India's strategic aspirations to
establish her status as the regional superpower in South Asia. We always functioned
and will continue to function as a friendly force to India. We would have extended our
unconditional support to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord if the Agreement was only confined to
Indo-Sri Lanka relations aimed to secure India's geopolitical interests. But the Accord
interferes in the Tamil issue, betrays the Tamil interests. It is here the contradiction
of interests between the LTTE and India emerges..."
Shorn of the cold war rhetoric of the "dangerous activities
of the international subversive elements who operated in Sri Lanka as agents of
Imperialism", the message that the LTTE sought to convey to India was clear: 'we are
not opposed to your geo political interests'.
Here, the circumstance that the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Accord (and Indian armed
intervention in the island) did have the overt support of the US was not without
significance. On the surface, it was surprising that the US supported an Accord which
called for the dismantling of the Voice of America installations in the island and
increased potential Indian influence in the Indian Ocean - an Accord which was hailed by
Rajiv Gandhi as having secured India's strategic interests in the region.
But, the US appears to have have taken the view that India's
direct involvement was a
way of ending the less manageable covert support that India had
extended Tamil militancy during the period 1981 to 1986. The US was mindful that should
India's influence in the island tend to become stabilised, President Jayawardene (who for
many years was called 'Yankee Dick' by his political opponents) and US supporters in the
Sri Lanka cabinet (like the then Sri Lanka Prime Minister Premadasa and National Security
Minister Lalith Athulathmudali) could always be encouraged to delay or even sabotage the
implementation of crucial terms of the Accord.
In the event, the arrest of top ranking LTTE leaders including Kumarappa and Pulendran
did provide National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali with that opportunity. His
insistence (backed by President Jayawardene) that the arrested LTTE leaders should be
brought to Colombo for questioning despite the amnesty proclaimed in the Indo Sri Lanka
Accord, forced Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to choose - and Rajiv Gandhi chose to support
Sri Lanka (in an attempt to salvage India's role in the region). The subsequent suicide of
Kumarappa, Pulendran and others was the final straw that broke the fragile peace that the
Accord had secured. (see
Eyewitness Account of
Incidents in Jaffna - September to November 1987).
Many may conclude that Rajiv Gandhi
was entrapped in the snare that had been laid for him and in the end succumbed to forces
bigger than those that India could manage. Also, the assessment of sections of the Indian
intelligence services that the EPRLF was the appropriate instrument to further India's
interests in the island may have been a monumental mistake. Perhaps, Rajiv Gandhi should
have recognised something which his own IPKF Divisional Commander in
Jaffna, Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande declared later in 1992:
"I have a high regard for the LTTE for its discipline, dedication,
determination, motivation and technical expertise... I was left with the impression that
the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long
as that sentiment remained." (Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande in
"Assignment Jaffna", published in 1992)
Again, whether the events surrounding the death of Kumarappa and Pulendran left
the LTTE with no other option but to confront the IPKF will remain a matter
for debate. Reportedly, Sathasivam Krishnakumar (Kittu) dissented
from the decision to go to war against India. It is ironic, perhaps, that it was the same
Kittu who in the end died as a consequence of an
act of piracy
by India in January 1993. But, by then much water had flowed under the
The brutality of the war that India waged from 1987 to 1989, ostensibly against the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but in effect against the Tamil people, brought its own
repercussions. Eduardo Marino's report to
International Alert, after a visit to the war zone in November 1987 revealed the
horrific nature of the IPKF offensive in Jaffna. (see also
Indian Armed Forces).
war crimes committed by the IPKF in Tamil
reprisal killings of
non-combatants, looting of homes,
murderous attack on the Jaffna hospital
killing of a number of unarmed and disarmed guerrilla
suspects without trial and in breach of the Laws of War.
The election of Ranasinghe Premadasa as the new Sri Lanka
President in December 1988, and the defeat of the Indian National Congress (led by Rajiv
Gandhi) at the Indian General Elections in November 1989 contributed to a reappraisal by
India of its foreign policy approaches and the IPKF withdrew from Sri Lanka in early 1990.
in May 1991 of Rajiv Gandhi (in the run up to a new Indian general election), led to a
hardening of India's position. It is true that India failed to adopt a
balanced approach which recognised that Tamil armed
resistance had arisen as a response to
decades of systematic
oppression by a dominant Sinhala majority. At the same time, the
Jain Commission Report
published in 1998, refers to some of the circumstances that may have contributed to
"By far, however, one of the most mysterious and yet unraveled threat perception
revolves around a warning given by Chairman of PLO, Yasser Arafat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi.
This extremely significant piece of information was received by the Intelligence Bureau on
7th June 1991 and more details in this regard were received by R&AW in September 1991
from Tunis. (Deposition of Shri S.A. Subbaiah, dt. 14.02.1996, p. 5)
The information indicated that
Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had received
intelligence reports from his sources in Israel and his European sources one month before
the assassination of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi that there existed threats to the life of Shri.
Rajiv Gandhi from LTTE or Sikh militants who, the sources mentioned, would eliminate Shri.
Gandhi during the election period.
Yasser Arafat's sources also indicated that hostile
powers from outside India may also attempt the assassination of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. As per
information received by the intelligence agencies, Yasser Arafat had drawn the attention
of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi to this information. The Palestinian Ambassador in India had also
spoken to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi in this connection. Some enquiries to obtain specific details
appear to have been made in this regard by the External Affairs Ministry with the PLO
Ambassador in India, Khalid El Sheikh, but nothing worthwhile has emerged so far.
This was a prophetic threat perception directly conveyed to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi one
month before his assassination and, therefore, in order to get to the bottom of the
conspiracy, it is essential to conduct an enquiry into this definite indicator which
discloses foreknowledge of foreign intelligence agencies regarding the event..."
The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 was a crime. Rajiv
Gandhi was not a combatant in an armed conflict. Furthermore at the time of his murder, he
was not even holding office as the Prime Minister of India. He was the leader of a
political party campaigning at a general election. And, the IPKF itself had withdrawn from
Tamil Eelam by early 1990.
It is true that prima facie, Rajiv Gandhi, as India's Prime Minister during the period 1987 to
1989, may be held accountable for the war crimes
committed by the IPKF in Tamil Eelam. But, the extent of Rajiv Gandhi's culpability, for
the crimes committed by those under his command in Tamil Eelam, depended on the answer
to several questions.
|Was he aware of the crimes that were being committed by the armed forces under his
command? Did he refrain from intervening to prevent such crimes, although he had the
power to do so? Did his attitude amount to incitement to crime and criminal negligence,
and should his actions be judged as severely as the crimes actively committed and
specifically covered by the humanitarian law of armed conflict?
Did he take steps to adequately punish those who were guilty, or did he condone their
crimes? Did his speeches in Parliament and elsewhere encourage those under his command to
act with impunity - and to commit further crimes?
If Rajiv Gandhi had been tried before an International Court of Justice, an opportunity
may have been afforded for an informed judgement to be made on the extent of his guilt.
In the absence of due process, the assassination cannot be defended as
'punishment' for a war crime.
Again, if the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was a political act, then the political
consequences of that act may have damaged the struggle for Tamil Eelam rather than
At the same time, the
trial conducted in secret against
26 Tamils accused of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, under the special Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention)
Act (and not the ordinary laws of the land), was a clear violation of the principles of
natural justice and has been condemned by human rights organisations
In 1992, India banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
originally the subjects committee of the ruling
Indian National Congress adopted a resolution to ban the LTTE for its alleged
involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi
assassination, in the event the ban was imposed on the ground
that the objectives of the organisation threatened the integrity of India. The
International Secretariat of the
appeals against the ban, without avail. In July 1996,
India renewed the ban on the same grounds i.e.
securing the integrity of India.
On the question of the integrity of India (that the ban sought to
secure), India may eventually be persuaded by the views expressed by
Pramatha Chauduri writing in Bengali in
"Just as there is a difference between the getting together of five convicts in a
jail and between five free men, so the Congress union of the various nations of India and
tomorrow's link between the peoples of a free country will be very different."
In a more recent examination from a Western point of view,
Robert L.Hardgrave Jr.
wrote in 1993 of the dilemma facing India:
"...In India, in a political culture of mutual distrust and increasing
violence, the dangers are legion. India's democracy is challenged by
communalism, excessive caste consciousness, and separatism. But in the state
response to these challenges, India confronts yet another dilemma--weakening the
very values of individual liberty that are at the core of its democratic
commitment. In its attempts to quell endemic unrest and the challenge of
terrorism, India has enacted a plethora of laws that have become instruments of
repression; police and paramilitary abuses seem to get worse while all sorts of
other violations of human rights are reported with numbing frequency. But for
all the challenges, pressures, and dilemmas to which India is exposed by virtue
of its plight as a multicultural state, Indian democracy, sustained through ten
elections, still shows remarkable strength and resilience..." (Journal
of Democracy Vol. 4, No. 4 October 1993, pp. 54-68)
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the United
States as the sole super power and the new balances in an emerging
multi lateral world
have not been without their impact on the struggle for Tamil Eelam.
Today, nuclear non proliferation is admittedly the single most
important plank of US foreign policy and in the words of President Clinton, the
intends to ''weave its non-proliferation
strategy more deeply into the fabric of all its relationships with the world's nations
and institutions''. (see also
This has had its impact on India's nuclear policy and its own
security interests. India, not without reason, contends that whilst it will support
nuclear disarmament it will not support a 'nuclear non proliferation' treaty that creates
an elite nuclear club in perpetuity.
alignment in a multipolar world takes on a somewhat different coloration to that in a
bipolar one. 'Calibrated adjustment' is the
name of the new approach.
Again, the US is not unaware that whatever may be the short term calibrated
adjustments', in the longer term, stability will be achieved in the Indian region
only on the basis of a free association of the separate nations of the sub
The US may therefore seek to build up influence within struggles for national self
determination both as a way of monitoring and managing them and also as a useful addition
to its armoury in managing New Delhi. It is within this matrix of power balances that any
national liberation struggle in the Indian region may be compelled to adopt its own
calibrated approach, both towards New Delhi and Washington.
At the same time, within the island of Sri Lanka, the stark
economic reality is that the Sinhala dominated government in Colombo cannot annihilate
Tamil resistance without massive foreign aid.
Japan has in recent years become Sri Lanka's the largest
single aid donor. Japan views the Asia-Pacific region as its own trade area and Japan's
trade interests are not always in harmony with those of the US. And China is not a passive
bystander and has helped Sri Lanka with arms purchases from time to time - perhaps to the
dismay of both India and the US.
The US itself has not been averse to permit the supply of arms
(and the provision of military training) through countries such as Israel. There is also
the reported presence of US Green Berets as 'advisers' to the Sri Lanka armed forces. It
is an approach which the US believes will give it leverage and prevent a power vacuum
which may suck in other powers (for 'other powers', one should perhaps read 'India').
Britain, which are commonwealth countries have taken stands which are broadly
supportive of US approaches to the conflict and have offered, from time to time, to
facilitate talks to end the conflict. The same is true of the
European Union and
Conference in 1996, with the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister in attendance, was one
such effort, and was the precursor to the
'facilitated' Peace Talks in 2001.
In the case of Canada and Europe, the presence of relatively
large numbers of Tamil refugees and asylum seekers has
influenced governments to take stands that will facilitate their return to Sri Lanka. The Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meetings have also attracted appeals to address the conflict.
After the dismantling of apartheid, the ANC led
government of South Africa has expressed its
concerns about the ongoing conflict and at the UN General Assembly in September 1998,
South African President Nelson Mandela called for UN intervention to end the 'destructive
conflict' in the island.
US Ban on LTTE and US concern that 85% of the
world's population by the end of this century will be living in Africa, Latin America and
the poorer parts of Asia....
It appears that the
US as the world's remaining
super power, tends to view 'third world' liberation movements as threats to the stability
of the existing world order and therefore to US economic interests and national security.
The categorisaton of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, on 8 October 1997, as a
'terrorist organisation' under the US
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 is a case in point. The response by the LTTE and the
appeal by the Christian World Service
serve to expose the failure of the United States to recognise that which international law
the legitimacy of Tamil resistance against
decades of oppressive Sinhala rule.
A position paper updated by the US Foreign Affairs and National Defence Division on 9
December 1996, titled
the Future, and U.S. Foreign Policy underlines the frank views expressed by President
Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski as long ago as 1983, on US foreign
".... the combination of demographic pressures and political unrest will generate
particularly in the third world, increasing unrest and violence... The population of the
world by the end of this century will have grown to some 6 billion people.... moreover
most of the increase will be concentrated in the poorer parts of the world, with 85% of
the world's population by the end of this century living in Africa, Latin America and the
poorer parts of Asia....
Most of the third world countries... are likely to continue to suffer from weak
economies and inefficient government, while their increasingly literate, politically
awakened, but restless masses will be more and more susceptible to demagogic mobilisation
on behalf of political movements... it is almost a certainty that an increasing number of
third world states will come to possess nuclear weapons....
Terrorist groups may also before very long try to advance their causes
through a nuclear threat... the problems confronting Washington in assuring US national
security will become increasingly complex..." (Zbigniew Brzezinski - Power and
Principle, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983)
It is not clear whether Brzezinski saw the irony in his statement that as the peoples
of the third world become 'increasingly literate' and 'politically awakened' they will be
'more and more susceptible to demagogic mobilisation'. Surely, literacy and political
awakening will render people not more but less susceptible to demagogy.
Marenches, longest serving Head of the French Secret Service holding office for
11 years under two Presidents, Pompidou and Giscard d'Estaing writing in the
'Evil Empire, the Third World War Now' (published by Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1988)
was somewhat more direct:
|"... I do not believe in what one humorist
called 'verbal words'. All the conferences, along with other chit-chat, are merely for
entertainment value. It is like a 24-hour cinema... (The population explosion) is very
much a taboo subject, because it is highly emotive and it cannot be dealt with
phlegmatically without the term 'racist' being brandished. We are supposed to bury our
heads in the sand. However mankind is faced with a fundamental problem of nature. Do we
want to live in an organised world, where the quality of life is of paramount importance,
or an overpopulated planet which is prey to fratricidal racial tensions and conflicts,
where the rich, under populated and highly productive North - America and Eurasia alike,
would be attacked by the swarming, hungry masses of the South?
The media present us with the most heart rending
images of children from the Third World, with swollen stomachs, spindly legs and wide
eyes, which cannot but help move us. But the main cause of our distress is never - or
rarely - tackled: the over population of bleak lands devastated by natural disasters and
often run by incompetent governments, whose main concern is the misappropriation of some
of the funds made available by the North.
Out of every ten babies born, nine are born in
the Third World. Some misinformed people think that with, with its 320 million
inhabitants, the EEC represents one of the greatest concentrations of population in the
world. That is a serious mistake. In 100 years, India will have a population
1,600,000,000, and will be the most populous nation on earth. At the moment one human
being in five is Chinese. The population of Nigeria today is 105 million, but this will
rise to 312 million by the year 2020...
If the governments of men, with all due respect
to morality, do not soon put forward vigorous proposals to deal with the threat of a
population explosion, they will inevitably preside over a North-South
confrontation. Hunger and poverty will be ranged against prosperity based on hard
work but irresponsibly linked to its privileges... (And) conscience is the weapon of the
weak against the strong... "
For Count de Marenches the prosperity of the
North was based on 'hard work' whilst the 'hunger and poverty' of the South was the
result of 'natural disasters' and 'incompetent governments' - and he is concerned that the
issue "cannot be dealt with phlegmatically without the term 'racist' being
Be that as it may, both Brzezinski
and Count de Marenches
were right to
anticipate the build up of demographic pressures. In 1960 about 35%
of the world's population lived in "developed" countries, and 65% in "less
developed" ones. In 1990, about 22% lived in "developed" countries and 78%
in "less developed" ones.
And, these may be the considerations which led Presidential
candidate George W.Bush to declare in the
year 2000, some 10 years after the end of the Cold War:
"(Then) it was us versus them and we knew exactly who
them was. Today we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they're
there.' (George W.Bush, quoted in the New Internationalist, December
The truth is that what may be at stake is not so much the 'national security' of the
US and the so called North, but the capacity of the North (the 'minority
world') to direct and control world events - and world economic resources.
That the US should perceive the political awakening of the 'third world' (in
reality, the 'majority world') as a threat to US 'national security' may be understandable
but neither the US, nor for that anybody else, can Canute like, command the waters to
recede. The politically awakened majority world is not about to go back
Gradualism may be the way to manage change. But at the same time there may be a need
for the international community to accept the solid political reality of not simply the
third world but the emergent
fourth world as well.
The way forward for the US as well as other states concerned with securing a stable
world order, may be to recognise that, whatever the short term results, in the longer
term, stability will not come by furthering the rule of one people by another.
Stability will not come by the North building alliances with ruling Third
World governments to suppress non state nations.
Stability within Third World States
will not come from a new version of the 'melting pot' theory. Peoples speaking different
languages, tracing their roots to different origins, and living in relatively well defined
and separate geographical areas, do not somehow 'melt'. And in any event, a 'third world'
economy will not provide a large enough 'pot' for the 'melting' to take place. Nations and
states cannot be made to order - not even by a super power.
Stability lies in
securing structures where the different peoples of the world may
voluntarily associate with each other in equality and in freedom. And if this be
perceived by some as an unrealistic 'idealism', the European Union
(established albeit, after two World Wars) may help to focus our minds and
our hearts - and serve as a pointer to the future.