The foreign policy component of the Viyathmaga sessions completely-omitted the main challenges: how do we successfully combat – not merely decry and denounce – the threat of universal jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions? How do we reverse the diminution of our “soft power”?
Sri Lanka’s international relations cannot be insulated from Sri Lanka’s nationalities question. The Tamil question was globalised decades ago and is now more globalised than ever. No serious discussion on Sri Lanka’s foreign policy can ignore this problem and omit the political solution we propose, which is vital in managing our relations with India — without which we lose international space and are strategically-vulnerable.
In 2015, Sri Lanka broke with the settled traditions of its democracy and brought Right and Centre together in a coalition government with ghastly results: we inhabit a decadent, fraught, ‘Weimar moment.’ Will Sri Lanka return to the successful democratic conventions and traditions that have prevailed since 1947 (including over the JVP and LTTE): the competitive alternation of centre-right and centre-left that propelled our high social welfare and sustained our pluralist democratic freedoms? Or will we see post-2019, roughly the same pattern, that we did post-1977—an euphoric ‘new beginning,’ a great economic upswing initially, a harsh authoritarian interlude justified by calls for stability in the cause of rapid economic advancement, and a culmination in multiple conflicts, internal and external, with foreign troops on our soil?