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The butterfly effect

world Updated: Oct 07, 2009 00:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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It could replicate the butterfly effect of James Gleick’s Chaos theory. A statement made by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton at the UNSC in New York could have a multiplier effect thousands of kilometers away in a southern Sri Lankan election.

Clinton said last week, in a careless, generalised tone, that “rape (was) used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma and Sri Lanka and elsewhere."

The statement was followed by howls of protest and the US envoy was summoned to the foreign ministry here.

The US clarification was quick. It said it had no recent evidence of women being raped in government custody. The US added that it had detailed — implying in earlier phases of the war — “numerous cases of rape and sexual violence in Sri Lanka… acts committed against women held in detention by the government.” And that it remains concerned about extrajudicial killings, disappearances and detainee abuse.

The wise, instinctive politician that he is, President Mahinda Rajapaksa seized the statement in half and hailed it a victory.

At a press conference, only “relevant’’ portions of the clarification were read out and it was subtly thumped a diplomatic victory — the David in diplomacy was one up against the Goliath of global relations. The US, inadvertently, allowed Rajapaksa to whip up emotions against the West in the run-up to the October 10 southern provincial election.