Feature Article

Washington set to downgrade ‘human rights politics’ to association level in Indo-Pacific

[TamilNet, Friday, 07 December 2018, 19:26 GMT]
A new US Senate bill named as “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018” (ARIA) has been passed with an amendment by unanimous consent on 04 December 2018. The Trump Administration that has fully withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva will be downscaling the scope of its human rights agenda er to a regional intergovernmental association level (ASEAN) if ARIA becomes a law. Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado, who proposed the bill in April has urged the US House of Representatives to quickly send the legislation to the desk of President Donald Trump for him to sign it into law.

The Obama Administration scuttled Tamil genocide investigation against the SL State.

It was also negating international investigation on war crimes and crimes against humanity, facilitating various escape routes to genocidal Sri Lanka at the UN system.

The Obama Administration was also actively defending the immunity of Mahinda Rajapaksa at the US courts to dismiss the cases filed by Tamil diaspora activists against him.

The latest Senate Act, categorises China, North Korea, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as “not free” countries by citing “Freedom House” standards, and identifies Myanmar (Burma) and the Philippines as “partly free”.

Cory Gardner's tweet

The ARIA doesn't recognise genocidal Sri Lanka as a human rights violator at all.

On the contrary, one of the four sub-items of the last one of the eight-point agenda of the Act talks of “expanding cooperation with democratic partners in South Asia, including Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.”

The Act also officially upgrades India's designation to a “major defense partner” for the first time.

Once the ARIA becomes a law, the USAID and the US Department of State would be allocated $1.5 billion for each of the fiscal years 2019 through 2023 to be used to advance the listed eight points as the US foreign policy interests and objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Taiwan-strait centric outlook of the bill seeks to reaffirm the US arms sales to Taiwan and falls in lines with the US foreign policy outlook for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The ARIA also upholds the Quadrilateral security dialogue of the USA with Japan, India, Australia.

The Act has a clause barring utilisation of the funds allocated through the Act for military education, training and financing of the armed forces of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. There are also some reservations on Cambodia.

While the recently passed BUILD Act seeks to counter China's Belt and Road Initiative through mobilising private sector funding as well as proposing a new agency the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC), which is replacing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the USA, the ARIA seeks to strengthen the US State Department, the USAID and the Pentagon.

BUILD is an ambitious move for a capacity to invest $60 billion in a move to compete with China's BRI in the Indo-Pacific region.

* * *

The effectiveness of the Eezham Tamil diaspora in the USA has been once again put on an acid test, Tamil political observers commented.

“We have seen how certain Tamil actors behaved in the past by introducing ‘coconut breaking politics’ by advising former NPC Councillor M.K. Shivajilingam to crack hundreds of coconuts during the US presidential elections praying Nalloor Murukan in support of Ms Hillary Clinton,” a former NPC Councillor told TamilNet on condition of anonymity.

“The same section is also misdirecting the mothers waging protests in search of their loved ones to carry US flags and photos of US President Donald Trump. It remains to be seen whether there are any other actors among the Tamil diaspora in North America, who are prepared to address the issue from an objective and rights-centric perceptions,” the Councillor further commented.

External Links:
War On The Rocks: Assessing America's Indo-Pacific Budget Shortfall
Govtrack: S. 2736: Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018
The Heritage Foundation: Congress Is Standing United On the Indo-Pacific



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