Keep Indian Ocean, a ‘Zone of Peace’ – Editorial Daily Mirror

Keep Indian Ocean, a ‘Zone of Peace’ – Editorial Daily Mirror

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Keep Indian Ocean, a ‘Zone of Peace’ – Editorial Daily Mirror

Today once again a repetition of the ‘Cold war’ between the US and Russia is threatening to spill over into a military confrontation in the battlefields of Europe.

The epicenter Ukraine – where the US is engaged in a proxy war with Russia. Sadly, the land of that country (Ukraine) has been laid waste, millions of its people made homeless and hundreds of thousands killed and wounded.


At the same time the US is now, confronting nuclear-armed China, world’s the second most powerful country. Unable to face down China on its own, the US has formed a military pact with an ailing Britain and militarily weak Australia in a military pact titled ‘AUKUS’.


While the aim of the pact – AUKUS- is to ‘maintain the freedom of Indo-Pacific Ocean’, the reality is that, neither the UK, US nor Australia are situated in the Indian Ocean. The pact also aims to provide Australia with nuclear powered submarines capable of deploying nuclear missiles.


In effect, the AUKUS pact is effectively turning the Indian Ocean region into a virtual naval battleground for nations using these important and vital sea lanes.


After its resounding defeat at the hands of the Vietnamese people in March 1973, for a short while the US withdrew into its own country to lick its war wounds. 


The ‘Vietnam War Stats and Myths – US Wings’ revealed one out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 were wounded out of 2.7 million who served.


The US used chemical weapons, defoliants and weapons mass destruction on civilian areas of Vietnam. In addition, it attacked Vietnam’s neighbours Laos and Cambodia claiming the North Vietnamese were smuggling weapons through those lands; again, leaving a massive trail of destruction.


According to the US Department of Defence, the US spent about US$168 billion (worth around US$950 billion in 2011) in the entire war including US$111 billion on military operations (1965 – 1972) and US$28.5 billion on economic and military aid to Saigon regime (1953-1975). 


In the aftermath of its defeat in Vietnam and the casualties it suffered; the world believed; nay hoped, that the US would learn the lessons thereof and stop interfering in the affairs of other nations.


But it was not to be, shortly thereafter the US attacked Somalia, invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake – all in the name of maintaining freedom.


Today, once again the US using the AUKUS military pact claiming to seek ‘maintaining the freedom of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.


None of the states in the Indian Ocean region looks to the US, our past colonial ruler UK or Australia who nearly wiped out the aborigines of that land, to maintain the freedom of the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.


It was not surprising therefore, when President Wickremesinghe in a zoom interview with Harvard University on March 24 said, it is essential for Sri Lanka’s future to ensure that the issues of the Asia Pacific, especially that of Taiwan, does not spill over into the Indian Ocean. 


He added, Sri Lanka’s access to the growing Indian and African markets should not be disrupted by any big power rivalry or conflict. The President also highlighted the rising competition between China and the Quad, which has been further aggravated by the newly formed ‘AUKUS’ pact between Australia, US and Britain. 


The President’s statement is in keeping with UN Resolution 2832 (XXVI), adopted by the UN General Assembly, which designates ‘for all time’ the Indian Ocean as a ‘Zone of Peace.’


The resolution also calls upon the “… permanent members of the Security Council and other major maritime users of the Indian Ocean to enter into consultations aimed at the implementation of the Declaration whereby (a) warships and military aircraft would not use the Indian Ocean for any threat or use of force against any littoral or hinterland State; (6) the right to free and unimpeded use of the zone by the vessels of all nations would be ensured; and (c) international agreement would be reached for the maintenance of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace. 


The idea of the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone was first mooted by then premier Ranasinghe Premadasa, who forwarded the motion at the UN General Assembly, where it was accepted and adopted.

We do not need the frigates, nuclear submarines or nuclear weapons of the US, Britain or Australia to maintain the freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. It is already a designated ‘Peace Zone’ and we would like to keep it that way.