The ships which transported goods from Eastern to Western States of the USA had to sail around Argentina spending a lot of time and money. Hence, the USA was badly in need of constructing a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.
Although the USA had planned to construct the canal in Nicaragua the narrowest isthmus was available in Panama which was a State of Colombia. However, attempts made by two French companies to build a canal in Panama were futile due to various reasons.
Considering the massive cost involved in constructing a canal in Nicaragua, the US government decided to purchase the incomplete projects of the French company in Panama. Panama was then a State of Colombia. Hence, the US Government had to reach an agreement with Colombia in respect of the land allocated for the canal, in addition to making a payment for the French company for the work done by them. Both governments signed an agreement to lease the land required for the canal on 22 January, 1903.
However, the Senate of Colombia rejected the agreement claiming it is extremely unfavourable to their country. Although the USA was disappointed, it was not discouraged. It formulated an alternative plan.
By then, there was a separatist guerilla movement fighting Colombian government with a view to establish a separate State for Panama. The USA openly supported separatists by sending military troops. As a result, Panama unilaterally declared its independence on 3 November 1903. Soon after the declaration, the USA recognized the newborn State. Three days after the declaration, the USA signed with Panama the exact agreement which was rejected by Colombia.
This incident came to my mind when Minister Rajitha Senaratne spoke in the Parliamentary debate on the Geneva Resolution. According to him, we, the opponents of the resolution, have no understanding about the world and international politics. We were of the view that the world is within Sri Lanka. We were in vein of the view that the USA is very much interested in Sri Lanka. In contrast, US leaders did not know even the location of Sri Lanka. The correctness of Minister Rajitha’s statement can be verified only comparing Sri Lanka’s present situation with Colombia in 1903.
Robert Kaplan who is an American writer on foreign relations published a book titled Monsoon which revealed an interesting point about shifting political power from one ocean to another. According to him, the Atlantic Ocean was the power centre 100 years ago because most of the sea traffic took place between the USA and Europe. The USA exported meat and grains such as wheat and corn to Europe and imported industrial products such as vehicles and machinery.
After the UK and France had lost their superpower status, the importance of the Atlantic Ocean faded away. After the Second World War, the USA and USSR replaced the UK and France as world superpowers. These countries were situated in the Pacific Ocean and thereby the Pacific Ocean became the power centre. Since the collapse of the USSR along with the socialist bloc in early 1990s, the USA has been the solitary superpower in the world. In the recent past, two Asian giants, India and China are emerging as global superpowers challenging the monopoly of the USA. After Spain and Portugal enjoyed the superpower status as border sharing nations, this is the first time two neighbours are becoming superpowers. As both nations are in the Indian Ocean, power centre is now shifting towards the Indian Ocean from the Pacific Ocean.
When the Indian Ocean turns into the power centre of the world, Sri Lanka becomes the most important country as it is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
If I quote the words used by the US Secretary of State, at a function organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in last May, “Sri Lanka is in crossroads to Middle East, South Asia, Far East and Africa”.
Because of this crucial geographical location, tamed Sri Lanka is crucial for US dominance in the Indian Ocean. Similarly, English, Dutch and Portuguese rulers in the past captured Sri Lanka understanding this geo-political reality. Thinking in the same line, Lord Mountbatten established his headquarters in Sri Lanka during the Second World War. The location is not the only reason for the US interest in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is very important for the USA for meeting its future energy needs. The most efficient energy source, petroleum will be over within the next 40 years. Hence, gas and nuclear energy will replace petroleum for heating, lighting and motions.
Although Sri Lanka is a small country in terms of its land territory, it is one of the largest when both land and sea territories are summed up. Sri Lanka was able to claim for a huge sea territory because of its isolation in the Indian Ocean. Although Sri Lanka is located above the Equator, there is no country up to Antarctica. Similarly, there is no country up to Malaysia in the Eastward and up to Somalia in the Westward. India, is the only country situated nearby which is in the Northward. As a result, Sri Lanka’s Continental Shelf is twenty times larger than its land territory. Hence, when both land and sea territories are considered together, Sri Lanka is similar to huge Mongolia in size.
Continental Shelf is an underwater landmass that belongs to a country. Although foreign ships can sail in the water without permission, extraction of mineral resources is an exclusive right of the country to which the Continental Shelf belongs to.
Mannar Basin and Kaveri Basin of Sri Lanka are rich of petroleum and gas. It has been discovered that Sri Lankan Continental Shelf is rich with Thorium which is a base material for producing nuclear energy. It is very logical because 25 per cent of Thorium deposits in the world are in India. The most of the deposits are in Southern States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh which are in close proximity to Sri Lanka. Hence, If the Middle East is important for the USA now, in the same manner, Sri Lanka will be important in the future.
It is advantageous for the USA to support Tamil separatists in the same manner it was an advantage for them to support Panama separatists some 100 years ago. The USA was able to construct the Panama Canal in return of supporting separation of Panama from Colombia. Similarly, USA will benefit from Sri Lanka’s location and natural resources if it supports Tamil separatists to establish their dreamy Tamil Ealam. If they establish Tamil Eelam carving Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka it will possess two third of Sri Lankan shore and thereby a Lion share of the Continental Shelf.
Additionally, the USA will be able to gain the control of militarily important Trincomalee Harbour. USA can then monopolize extracting Gas, Oil and Thorium from Sri Lankan Continental Shelf. In a similar manner, Australia monopolized oil extraction of East Timor after supporting it to separate from Indonesia in the recent past.
Fairytales of the War Crime Court would trigger a dialogue about safety of Tamils in Sri Lanka. It would be concluded in the end of the debate that there would be no alternative to establish a separate State for Tamils since the government forces which are duty bound to protect Tamils have killed them. This kind of diplomatic operation is not new to the international community. Separations of Pakistan from India, Israel from Palestine, East Timor from Indonesia and South Sudan from Sudan are similar occasions where the international community intervened to establish new States. Hence, they would establish Tamil Eelam carving North and East out of Sri Lanka eyeing natural resources it would inherit. On the same basis, Western powers carved out Kuwait from Iraq and Bahrain from Iran with a view to exploit petroleum resources possessed by these countries.
In order to protect newborn Tamil Eelam from invasions from Sri Lanka, the US would establish an Army camp in Palali and Air Force and Navy camps in Trincomalee. Thereafter, it would exploit natural resources of the country and spread dominance over the Indian Ocean acting as the cunning protector of Tamil Eelam against monstrous Sri Lanka.