01 March 2012

Patricia Butenis needs to sleep (so she can wake up)

Patricia Butenis, in an interview where she was offered a lot of full tosses, has waxed eloquent about US-Sri Lanka relations.  I thought this piece, written a year and a half ago might make interesting reading.
The 4th article of the Dasa Raja Dharma, Lord Buddha's incomparable treatise on good governance is about Ajjava, i.e. honesty and integrity. The ruler, the Buddha said must be absolutely straightforward and must never employ any crooked means to achieve ends. This week I planned to dwell on this particular aspect of good governance but am compelled to employ the idea to dissect something more specific. I write about honesty and integrity but only in terms of how they relate to the month of September.

I am writing this on September 22, 2010. September 22 is significant for a specific and personal reason. It marks an anniversary. On this day, exactly one year ago, the Daily Mirror published an article by me titled ‘Welcome to Sri Lanka Ms. Patricia Butenis'. Ms. Butenis had just assumed duties as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka. My comment followed a statement she issued to the press subsequent to presenting credentials to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

She said in that note, ‘No country, including the United States, has a perfect record in safeguarding human rights' but said that even while addressing its own shortcomings, the USA has a responsibility to advocate for the rights and freedoms of people worldwide. Ms. Butenis is aware, I am sure, of the adage that charity begins at home. I expressed in my response to her ‘note' the hope that once she recovers from jet-leg, Ms. Butenis would write a lengthy piece informing Sri Lankans about what exactly the USA has been doing by way of addressing shortcomings.

A lot has happened since September 22, 2010. We've had Nick Clegg of Britain's Liberal Democratic Party confessing while acting as Prime Minister that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. We've had ‘Wikileaks' telling us of the horrendous and systemic perpetration of atrocities by US troops in Afghanistan. We've had the US justice system virtually giving a green light to torture of prisoners as long as it happens outside the borders of that country. We've had President Barack Obama wanting photographic evidence of excesses perpetrated by US troops in Iraq suppressed in the name of ‘national security'. We've not had Ms. Butenis saying a word about these things.

Here are some sobering numbers. The number of Iraqis slaughtered since the US invaded Iraq stands at 1,366,360. That's close to 1.4 million people. The USA has lost 4,739 military personnel. This means that roughly 288 Iraqis have died for each US soldier. Ms. Butenis knows of all this because she tried to buy the silence of one Mohammed Hafidh after trigger-happy security personnel deployed to protect a US diplomat belonging to the contractor Blackwater opened fire on a group of civilians killing his 10 year old son Ali. Ms. Butenis was at the time the Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad and had offered the boy's father US$ 12,500. He had refused. She must know these numbers. She must know what that invasion was about. She must know that the US invaded that unhappy country in order to eliminate non-existent weapons of mass destruction. She must know that in addition to the 1.4 million Iraqis killed after the invasion, half a million Iraqi children died courtesy of the US-led economic sanctions imposed on that country. I am yet to hear Ms. Butenis talk of ‘shortcomings'. Her country has already spent US $ 1,083,252,716,408 in executing the wars on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and I refuse to believe that these adventures did not generate returns that justified investment.


There are 30 days in September. On the 24th day of this month in the year 2009, it was revealed that declassified documents of the US embassy in Bogota showed that US authorities had been aware since 1990 that the Colombian military had been murdering civilians and dressing them up as guerrillas to increase body counts. Colombia is the largest recipient of US military aid in the Western hemisphere. Ms. Butenis knows. She was Consul (1990-1993) and Consul General (2001-2004) in the US Embassy in Bogota. She could not have been ignorant of these matters.

Ms. Butenis also served as the US Political Officer in El Salvador (1982-1985) and as El Salvador Desk Officer (1988-1990). This was when that country was in the middle of a civil war where US-backed dirty tactics (developed using CIA experience from ‘Operation Phoenix' in Vietnam) caused over 75,000 deaths. And this lady had the audacity to tell the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘the Lankan government must seriously address precious human rights abuses, including establishing accountability and rule of law by bringing to justice those responsible for extrajudicial killings, disappearances and numerous attacks against press freedom that have occurred in the last several years'. Ms Butenis could tell us what kind of bringing-to-justice was facilitated by her Government of murders her Government has supported and continues to support in Latin America. Given the posts she has held, Washington's policy directives she had to execute as part of her JD and her sanctimonious posturing, it is indeed surprising that she's in Colombo and not in the Hague.

My ‘welcome note' to Ms. Butenis is no longer available on the internet. I saw it a few days ago, posted the link on facebook, but it's since disappeared. I am not surprised. I have a copy saved though. Here's a quote referring to her meddling stink in Bangladesh:

‘At a farewell speech at the Gulshan Club, Dhaka, she had said that although some Bangladeshis believed she was sometimes too outspoken, this was because Ambassadors must be clear about their country's interests and viewpoints to avoid misunderstanding. I was told that Dr. Abdullah Dewan, Professor of Economics at Eastern Michigan University and a Bangladeshi American had observed: There was no "misunderstanding" on our part; she was not just "outspoken", but openly meddled, apparently beyond her mandated duty, in the internal affairs of a sovereign country and made it look like a client state of America.'

Last September I made a list and shook it twice at Ms. Butenis, in lieu of an official red-carpet welcome. This is the list.

US troops massacred 300 Lakotas in 1890. The USA has sent troops abroad or carried out military strikes against other countries on 216 occasions since independence from Britain. Since 1945, the USA has intervened in more than 20 countries throughout the world. People are aware of ‘Vietnam of course, where over 3 million people were killed before the then US President decided to withdraw. There are other unhappy countries. These include China (1945-46), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), Guatemala (1960), Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73), Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Guatemala (1967-69), Grenada (1983), Lebanon (1984), Libya (1986), El Salvador and Nicaragua (throughout the 1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (ongoing), Sudan (1998), Afghanistan (ongoing) and Yugoslavia (1999). After World War II, the USA has assisted in over 20 different coups throughout the world and the CIA orchestrated countless assassinations and attempted-assassinations of dozens of political heads of state.

I also pointed out that Ms Butenis does not have to read Noam Chomsky to understand that Uncle Sam will support democratic regimes, dictatorships, monarchies, military juntas and all manner of totalitarian regimes guilty of horrendous crimes against humanity as long as US interests are served. That is the bottom line and I was sure Ms. Butenis must have been briefed on this when she was inducted into the US Foreign Service.

The USA has on numerous occasions deployed military police overseas, mobilized the National Guard, sent her Navy to patrol seas off the coast of numerous countries to show strength, carried out covert actions where US forces were not under direct US command, deployed US pilots to fly foreign planes, trained and advised military hierarchies in unpopular and tyrannical regimes and of course assassinated heads of state and other ‘undesirables'.

I strongly recommended that Ms. Butenis read Willian Blum's ‘Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II'. I said that if the US throws the book at us, we can drown them with a hundred books, such is the magnitude of that country's crimes against humanity.

Ms. Butenis' contention that it is good not to have misunderstanding was taken in that spirit. I asked her to comment. I hoped there wouldn't be selective amnesia. One year later, I can report that we didn't get ‘selective amnesia' from Ms. Butenis. We got blanket silence. In Sinhala we would say ‘kata uththara nehe' (silence on account of being tongue-tied).

Ms. Butenis might not have heard of the Dasa Raja Dharma. A year ago I might have though that she would know the words ‘honesty' and ‘integrity'. Today, the 22nd day of September, 2010, one year after Mr. Butenis received that open welcome note I am saddened to observe that this lady doesn't seem to have a clue and this because those are the two most inconvenient concepts for a diplomat from her country.

I finished that note with the following:

‘Don't underestimate us. Don't misread ‘smile' for ‘pliant'. We will be watching your every move, trust us.'

I wished her an enjoyable tenure in Sri Lanka. I take this opportunity to tell her that we haven't dropped our guard or blinked even once.

You are being watched Ms. Butenis. With greater suspicion in fact. You can thank your silence, double-standards, deceit and continued meddling for this.

Cheers.

[This was first published on September 22, 2010 and was edited by Wendell Solomons and posted at
http://www.articlesbase.com/international-studies-articles/september-22-is-for-remembering-3333150.html]
Reactions:

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

When victims of US torture began litigating, the US quickly redefined torture hitherto expressed in the Geneva Conventions. Legally with their Patriot Act, they can run roughshod over any country's sovereignty in the pursuit of the perceived enemy of the USA.

Anonymous said...

Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Bravo

Walter Rajaratne said...

The term living in the stone age is not dead. Standing example is the US that uses the term every now and then when threatening a country that would not budge under her pressure. How long! Until a country thats paralell to US - Islamic ideally- lay their hands on a Nuke. Butenis maybe a idiotic bully but a 350 million Americans.

Leela said...

Though her predecessor opposed LLRC when it was being commissioned insisting implementation of Drusman report, as soon as LLRC report was out, Ms Butenis praise it and demanded the government implement it on selective basis in a hurry. She wanted the president to use his popularity to implement LLRC plus Drusman. Otherwise they threatened the hell will break loose at the UNHRC.

Not just that, in an interview to DBS Jayarj.com. Mrs Butenis has been shedding crocodile tears for 'uninformed' Sinhalese and their economic plight and said her effort is to educate them and civilize them in a verbose sermon.

However, it seems the US has put its much publicized threat to condemn Sri Lanka at the UNHRC for defeating terrorist LTTE to the back burner. It also seems that no member of the coterie of the so-called International Community had the guts to propose the resolution that they talked and threatened for so long at the UNHRC. Butenis should just tell us why the entire club (IC) have chicken up at Geneva right now?

For one thing, we know very well that Butenis and her colonialist clique will never leave Sri Lanka alone to get on with its own affairs but will interfere with their ‘economic hit men’ that they have planted as NGOs, evangelists and etc to change the popularly elected government by deceit.

But Ms. Butanis do not know that their NGO stooge and their Colombian puppets are a minority by far in this country. The more such puppets of Butenis and co try to change the government the more Sinhalese would get round President Rajapakse and vote for him. Got it!
Leela

Shaik Ahamath said...

I have just watched a "Frontline" biography on Dick Cheney (Former Vice President to President George W. Bush) shown on PBS Channel recently. Apparently there had been many in the US Congress, from both parties, who have had serious misgivings over his desire to ignore the Geneva Convention, by introducing abhorrent interrogation techniques - sleep deprivation, waterboarding etc. He cleverly overcame Congress' objections and the Constitution by drafting advice memoranda from favoured personnel in the Legal Services Office, whose advice the President was obliged to follow. This must have also allowed the smooth path for the Patriot Act without much debate.