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“DO WE HAVE A FOREIGN POLICY?”

2 October 2017 12:24 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Do we really need a foreign policy?

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy of a country is a set of rules that seems to outline the behaviour of a particular country and how it interacts/reacts with other countries and international organisations. This is mainly depending on internal/external political and the global economic and political considerations. Always the head of the state formulates regulates and implements foreign policy which is not static depending on the political and economic climate of the day. Foreign Policy is a pre- requisite for the development and propriety of any nation. It has direct effects and impact on commercial and trade relations among member nations and the world in the fast developing world in the digital age and it is not possible to live in isolation with modern developments on “Hi- Tech” and transformation of the world and trade, economic and political realities of member countries struggling to beat each other. Today Commercial Diplomacy is in the top of the agenda and diplomats worldwide representing the countries have been directed to give priority to commerce/trade and business over traditional duties as ambassadors.   


Foreign policies worldwide

Indian foreign policy is somewhat static, stable non-aligned, firm full of patriotism, and selfish towards the nation. In India governments may change but not the foreign policy as the administrative machinery traditionally protects and interests in the interest of the nation. India is extremely successful in managing her foreign policy and the foreign office is manned by committed and patriotic experts. In Sri Lanka, always the UNP government tend to be pro-west and SLFP was non-aligned and friendly with all and enmity with none. 
In the USA, the President formulates and implements foreign polices - a world power and self- appointed world policeman. In the UK, it is the Prime Minister who formulates and implements the foreign policy and EU has a common foreign policy for the member states. In USSR it is the President who is responsible for the foreign policy, national security and economic prosperity. Formulation of the foreign policy is the job of the head of the state assisted by able foreign secretaries (UK) and secretaries of state (USA). Obama’s doctrine based on Human Rights was different from his successor who is now entangled with a pseudo war with North Korea. 

In Sri Lanka, it is doubtful who formulates and implements foreign policy today and whether we have a foreign policy or a doctrine at all as the President, the PM and the Foreign Minister do not appear to be consistent with foreign policy statements and pronouncements, including public speeches in Sri Lanka international forums, where speeches considered to be a part of international law binding the parties under international law.   Foreign Policy is an extension of National Policy and National Interest
Diplomacy is dealing with other states on trade, war, economy, customs, environment, human rights, strategic advantages and many other areas. Today countries give highest priority to economy, trade, investments, and business resulting in an amalgamation of economic and traditional diplomacy in the interaction of any nation’s foreign policy/politics based on national interest. Economic diplomacy is a form of diplomacy to utilize the full spectrum of economic facts and realities in a state to achieve success in intern goals in foreign policy which is an extension of the national policy and interest of the nation. States today are in the microscopic eye of the embassies stationed in the host country, when the international media transmits news to the world in few seconds with the click of a button. 
Therefore member states of small nations should be careful in dealing in and out of the territory on international affairs are to be taken carefully within and outside the state by the leaders and the governance to commend respect of the world. Attitudes and conduct on the international brotherhood is carefully scrutinized and the happening in the state today are in the international domain in seconds with disastrous/immediate effects, thereby the undemocratic conduct and the unrest due to want of democracy and break down in law and order in the democratic institutions and human rights have a direct impact on the economy and foreign relations of countries and international organisations such as the World Bank, indirectly controlling the local economy. NGO ‘ism is dominating in Sri Lanka with adverse effects on foreign policy and economy. 
Postponement of elections and denial of the right of franchise, massive bribery and corruption of the legislature and executive with mega scams (Bond scam, Highways corruption by parliamentarians on car permits and bribery etc.) have negative effects on the economy and the foreign relations of our cherished and reputed nation. Persecuting and suppression opponents on political grounds, students, working class steam rolling the weak, nominal, tamed and appointed opposition are not parts of democracy endorsed by the world community and the international organisations deciding the fate of our unstable and dependent/debt economy in the microscopic eye on international relations. It is still not too late for the governance to turn to the right direction!   


Current world and Sri Lanka’s position

Few current issues on the table today for Sri Lanka are the issues on Myanmar, North Korea, harassment of Muslims by the West with deaths of millions in Middle East and Africa including the war in Syria and continuation of the traditional cold war of main two powers and the issues close to us in the SAARC region that has an ripple effect on Sri Lanka. No country can live in isolation and happenings around the globe have direct bearings on any state depending on the power/strength of the economy, leader, foreign policy and strategic and political/economic dimensions of the member nation. 
In Sri Lanka who takes decisions on economy, governance and especially foreign policy is in doubt. Different versions echoed by leaders in the “highest international forum” and highest international gatherings in Sri Lankan and world over which amounts to a part of international law with no consistency and one word. Indian ocean has transformed to be most strategic, vulnerable and important oceans in the world when Sri Lanka positions strategically on the silk route turning to be ‘one road one belt’ basis in the mildest of power struggle of the emerging world political/economic/naval powers aiming at small nations with weak unpatriotic leaders with no vision for their country as vultures. 


Way forward

Sri Lanka is in a crisis situation politically, economically and internationally and this is the time she requires a correct, coherent, stable, and “Sri Lanka friendly foreign policy.” Are we still non-aligned is in doubt. We had proud and past glory as a responsible powerful and popular member of the UN as the leader of non-aligned nations with first class international civil servants of the calibre of Shirley Amarasinghe, Prof. Gunapala Malalasekara and other world renewed Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the calibre of  Lakshman Kadirgamar, raised the stature of Sri Lanka with the help of the foreign service manned by expert personal of the calibre of Dr. Vernon Mendis and other public servants then. 
Today, though standards are downgraded due to the substandard nature of the corrupt politicians of all corrupt political parties, there are committed, educated, knowledgeable Sri Lankans here and abroad ready to serve the motherland on invitation. 
The writer is an Attorney-at-Law takes responsibility of the contents and could be reached on sarath7@hotmail.co.uk 

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