by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor
Diplomacy requires tact and sensitivity towards other cultures and customs, and it is important to avoid behaviour that could be perceived as offensive or disrespectful. – Kofi Annan
An image circulated by the US embassy in Colombo featuring an American diplomat the incumbent US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Julie Chung feeding a hungry school kid in Sri Lanka shows the ugly side of the so-called American diplomacy. While the act of feeding a hungry child is undoubtedly a noble one, the image has raised questions about the ethics of using such acts for publicity and whether it is appropriate for foreign diplomats to involve themselves in such situations. Performing like a monkey with feathers to fly in front of the media and other social gatherings is nothing but a deplorable form of comedic entertainment.
For parents, the hardest thing is to see their children being fed by someone else. This sentiment is universal, and it is understandable that the image of a foreign diplomat feeding a child in another country is disturbing. The little girl’s face in the picture says it all. She is a victim of the entire scenario, caught up in something that should not have happened in the first place.
The embassy’s decision to circulate this image as a means of publicizing the diplomat’s efforts is questionable. Diplomacy is about building relationships and fostering understanding between nations, not using a child’s hunger to garner attention. It is even more disturbing to consider the possibility that this act was done with the intention of promoting a hegemonic image of the US in Sri Lanka.
Certainly, this incident represents something beyond diplomacy, perhaps even a new term should be created to describe it. Let’s refer to it as “Julienism.” It is important to note that this incident does not reflect the behaviour of all American diplomats in Sri Lanka but the act of a disordered individual who does not know the limits of her diplomatic duties. The fact is that there have been many US diplomats who have done an excellent job during their tenure in the country, behaving with respect and humility. But quite contrary to her predecessors, she does not hesitate to point out small errors in signboards or take selfies to demonstrate her “artificial humanity” and use every possible opportunity to mock the island nation and its people.
It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka has politicians who are willing to act as western bootlickers and take the country down to such a low level. The incident involving the American diplomat and the hungry school kid is just one example of how the Western mindset works to undermine the morals and ethics of nations.
It is important to recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but rather a part of a larger pattern of behaviour from Western powers. They know how to manipulate and control nations to serve their own interests, often at the expense of the local population. The fact that a kid born into the Korean dissidents turned diplomat picked rice, certainly not by accident, is a prime example of how the West works to keep countries dependent on them. They create a situation where the local economy is unable to sustain itself and then swoop in with their aid programs to keep the population dependent on them.
The ultimate goal of this strategy is to turn Sri Lanka into a vassal state, where any external power can come in and exert their influence. This is a dangerous situation for any nation to be in, as it puts their sovereignty and independence at risk.
In order to counter this threat, Sri Lanka must strengthen its own economy and reduce its reliance on external aid. At least for basic foods. This will require a concerted effort from the government and the people, but it is a necessary step if the country is to thrive and prosper.
It is important to condemn the banality of the act of this US Ambassador in the strongest possible terms. The US government must take this issue seriously and take appropriate action to address the matter. It is unacceptable for any foreign diplomat to act in such an inhumane, insensitive, and disrespectful manner towards Sri Lanka, its people, and its future generations.
It is unfortunate that some media outlets, NGOs, and civil society groups are manipulated by the US and other Western blocs, and are hesitant to speak out against this triteness. This kind of behaviour is a clear violation of Sri Lanka’s nationhood and sovereignty, and it should not be tolerated by any means.
Although Sri Lanka is going through a difficult time, this does not give anyone the right to disrespect the country or its people. Sri Lanka is not a tool for anyone’s disordered mind to fulfil their brutal desires. Such actions are not only disrespectful but also degrading to the country and its people. As Henry A. Kissinger, once noted, “In diplomacy, actions speak louder than words, and it is crucial to avoid any behaviour that could damage trust and credibility.”
It is indeed an ugly show by those who claim to be the guardians of human rights and who often brag about the right to privacy. However, it is important to note that sooner or later, such diplomats will receive the same treatment, the famous shoe treatment, that George W Bush received from the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and it is imperative that it is addressed with the seriousness it deserves.