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Avant-Garde, ISIS, and the Agatha Christie Syndrome


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00


Untitled-1While the skyline of the modern French Republic, Paris, was recently shrouded in a veil of grief and tears, storms clouds may be hovering over the political hub of a distant island-republic’s ancient commercial port city, as a long-drawn-out maritime

and military saga continues to confound the public

They do it with smoke and mirrors. That is to say, with a trick. Some sleight of hand. Elusive shifting the focus away from where the real action is. Lately through self-induced deception of an agog and all-too-suggestible audience mesmerised by so-called good governance. But you get the idea... 

The ongoing imbroglio over Avant-Garde reeks of these Agatha Christie-like scenarios. First, you conjure the image of shadowy paramilitary operators (their being real or imagined third parties is immaterial). Then, you drop names about iron-fisted senior ex-bureaucrats under past regimes as being the éminence grises of the whole operation (but do nothing to substantiate the charges or bring an indictment against him or other alleged collaborators). And, the plot thickens when the Attorney-General’s Department refuses to play ball or is reluctant to do so. Also, two ministers ostensibly on the same side – at least that of good governance – fall out over allegations traded. Least alarming in the list of dramatic ironies, a bevy of self-righteous accusers in Parliament bombard these two (and everyone else involved, into the bargain) with outraged charges and outrageous counter-charges. If the plot were any thicker, even Hercule Poirot wouldn’t be able to say where the body ended and the trail of blood – or the trail of smoke – began. I think the butler – or the bureaucrat – did, in fact, do it! Or perhaps it was > Colonel Mustard > in the cloak and dagger room > with the smoking gun?

Games? Parlour tricks! Good infotainment to keep the people endlessly occupied while the real criminals get away or remain at large...

 

Who is ISIS, what is she?

There is also now a similar miasma of confusion and puzzlement hanging over the grief and pain of Paris in the aftermath of the alleged ‘ISIS’ attacks. Where once outrage and knee-jerk reactions against Muslim militancy dominated the headlines, a more nuanced sense of unseen agents provocateurs being behind the dastardly acts has begun to counterpoint the finger-pointing against the allegedly fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. Even mainstream media cartoonists and commentators are increasingly uncomfortable with the smoking gun pointing so conveniently – and also so unconvincingly – to Islamic Caliphate-type terrorism. The real Trojan Horse smuggled into Paris might not be Syrian refugees with an agenda, but surreptitious agents of some superpower with a more sinister motive, determined to drum up support for their own unholy wars in the Levant. Paris’ police prefecture may have known before the bloody Friday the Thirteenth about the intended attacks which left six or seven score dead... and those fake passports are proof that would make a Passepartout laugh dismissively much more than make a Poirot sniff in disdain and disbelief. But the Western allies – and now Putin’s Russia, in an ironic coalition with his erstwhile bêtes noires – also are taking it as a cue to escalate the war against the Caliphate. Untitled-2

^ Liberté. ^ Egalité. ^ Fatalité. The liberty bit, perhaps, we can take for granted in one of the 21st century’s most open liberal democracies. Even if equality is slower in coming for crowds of refugees than it is for citizens of the French Republic. But it is #fatalité – a sense of inevitable disaster for the democratic experiment maybe taken too far – that hangs over Paris like a pall… And appalling as the insensitivity to the dead and the dying as it may be, one is not constrained enough by civil liberties to ask: “Whodunnit really? Whom will the massive outpouring of empathy ultimately benefit? Which demographics or dictatorships will pay the price for the Paris attacks in terms of a much more vigorous bombardment of ISIS military targets now and also next week? Under whose handholding and watchful eye did ISIS come up virtually overnight anyway? What’s the bottom line of Islamic militancy making the headlines time and again in the West these days?”

 

And back at home...

When treacherous bombs go off in town squares or merciless shooters go on a spree in a Western capital, the instantly shocked world audience immediately forgets the plight of the rest of the planet. Paris becomes the capital of the Earth overnight; and there are no such places – if there ever were such places in the mainstream (social?) media worldview – as Iraq, Japan, Beirut and the rest of the Lebanon, Kenya, etc. etc. for many gobsmacked news-consumers that week... To say nothing of all those authors of bleeding-heart editorials and lachrymose ‘letters’ of love... posts, memes, tricoloured Facebook profile photos! And France and NATO and the “no-boots-on-the-ground” (in Syria) US can bomb the literal or metaphysical hell out of the ISIS, ISIL, and whatever else the Caliphate calls itself these days for all anyone cares!

And when sitting Justice Ministers drop bombs on or takes pot-shots at former Attorneys-General (and vice versa) in a faraway island republic, this country forgets the parlous state of our own nation in many other quarters than those of political goings-on. By design or by default, the unwitting but often only too willing polity is led by the hook in their nose away from the impending radicalism of a do-or-die budget; the allegations of waste and mismanagement of construction projects by an administration ostensibly high on good governance; and the thousand ills that this all-too-mortal government has been seen to be heir to. (Now there’s that hoary clinker of a chestnut – the abolition of the executive, again – to sink one’s teeth into...) Only thing is that the Avant-Garde fiasco is no mere Trojan horse like ISIS, but rather a Hydra-headed monster like the rogue “CIA” that conspiracy theorists are tweeting about and is all the rage today. There is no telling how many heads this mythical maritime serpent – AGMSL – will grow for each head (or senior mandarin) which (or who) is hacked off. An ex-AG has gone. A sitting minister might follow suit. The shadowy bureaucrat behind it all is yet to be brought to book...

So ISIS, the Bush-era CIA covert ops hacks, and the oh-so innocent US and valorous Russia aside, how shall we see the Avant-Garde vs. the Attorney-General saga? How can the common or garden commentator attempt any meaningful analysis, in the light of some many red herrings and so much red tape, to say naught of red lights and Caution – Do Not Proceed signs? What does it all mean? 

There are four prisms through which we might essay a quartet of corresponding perspectives: 

 

The AG-AG saga is happenstance (the NAIVE view)

  • It was right of the former Defence Secretary to enter into an agreement with Avant-Garde through Rakna Lanka. 
  • It was only purely happenstance that the Avant-Garde ship MV Mahanuwara was raided, and also simply happenstance that the other Avant-Garde ship MV Avant-Garde was also raided. 
  • The IGP is right about the acceptable way in which the Police Dept. carried out investigations into the alleged arms scandal. 
  • The Attorney-General was right in offering legal advice tantamount to their being no case against anyone worthwhile prosecuting. 
  • The President was right in ordering the immediate cancellation of the joint venture agreement between Avant-Garde and Rakna Lanka, and ordering that the guardianship of the high seas off Sri Lanka’s maritime boundaries reverts to the Navy. 
  • The Cabinet is right to censure the parties whom it censured for the causes with which it took issue against these respective parties. 
  • The former Attorney-General who staunchly defended the incumbent AG’s legal opinion was right to do so, and righter to quit as a matter of principle. 
  • The Justice Minister was right to defend Avant-Garde and the AG, right to deny all knowledge of all allegations against him, and right to remain in situ. 
  • The powerful cabal in the Cabinet is right to threaten to resign if the Justice Minister doesn’t also resign forthwith and stern action is taken against the ex-AG cum Law and Order Minister. 
  • The UNP was right to claim during its election campaign that the Avant-Garde – Rakna Lanka deal was an illegal operation and would be investigated, if not terminated or prosecuted, no sooner it came into power. 
  • The UNP is right now to be at sixes and sevens amongst its stalwarts as they take up sterling positions against each other on the issue. 

[Everything is right as rain.]

~ Things are as they are. < ISIS is guilty, the Avant-Garde case is resolved, Agatha Christie must have been dreaming when she wrote it was murder. >

 

The AG-AG saga is coincidence (the PRAGMATIC or NECESSARY view)

  • It was savvy but not so smart of the former Defence Secretary to enter into an agreement with Avant-Garde through Rakna Lanka knowing what might transpire after regime change – if at all… but that was unthinkable then. 
  • It was a funny coincidence that the Avant-Garde ship MV Mahanuwara was raided, and a funnier coincidence that the other Avant-Garde ship MV Avant-Garde was also raided. 
  • The IGP is being cautious about committing himself to a damning comment about the slow and ponderous way in which the Police Dept. carried out its investigations into the alleged arms scandal, and is correct in denying for the record a vested interest whatsoever in the affair. 
  • The Attorney-General’s Dept. sent out mixed signals on the fiasco – first, saying there was no case… but whispering at levels below the sitting AG that there might be a point or three to be made against the protagonists. 
  • The President maybe precipitate in ordering the immediate cancellation of the joint venture agreement between Avant-Garde and Rakna Lanka, but judicious and politically savvy to revert the guardianship of the high seas off Sri Lanka’s maritime boundaries to the Navy, thereby smartly staving off further criticism of Government’s handling of the issue. 
  • The Cabinet is in its customary default ‘critical of all others but self’ mode in censuring the parties whom it censured for the causes with which it took issue against these respective parties. 
  • The former Attorney-General who staunchly defended the incumbent AG’s legal opinion was savvy in doing so, and smart to quit. 
  • The Justice Minister was curiously bold to defend Avant-Garde and the AG, and strangely defensive to deny all knowledge of all allegations against him, but stubborn to remain in situ. 
  • The powerful cabal in the Cabinet is playing customary politics in threatening to resign if the Justice Minister doesn’t also resign forthwith and no stern action is taken against the ex-AG cum Law and Order Minister. 
  • The UNP was electorally expedient to claim during its campaign that Avant-Garde was an illegal operation and would be investigated, if not terminated, no sooner it came into power. 
  • The UNP is now administratively obliged to suffer itself to be seen to be at odds amongst its stalwarts over this issue. 

[Everything is fairly all right, because this is par for the course after all.]

~ This is the way things always are and always will be. < ISIS may be guilty but with some cause for aggravation against the West, the Avant-Garde case is sub judice – so shh!, Agatha Christie may have had a point when she noted there was foul play afoot. >

 

The AG-AG saga is enemy action (the CYNICAL or NAUGHTY view)

  • It was strategic of the former Defence Secretary to enter into an agreement with Avant-Garde through Rakna Lanka. 
  • It was enemy action that Avant-Garde ship MV Mahanuwara was raided, and also enemy action that the other Avant-Garde ship MV Avant-Garde was also raided. 
  • The IGP is wary and chary of admitting that the Police Dept. has to be careful how it expedites investigations into such alleged arms scandals, and so his denying culpability against all comers is a safety precaution. 
  • The Attorney-General’s Dept. deliberately sent out mixed signals on the fiasco – first, saying there was no case… but whispering at levels below the AG that there might be something there, to be more balanced. 
  • The President was strategically limiting collateral damage to his beleaguered ‘good governance’ administration in ordering the immediate cancellation of the joint venture agreement between Avant-Garde and Rakna Lanka, and reverting the guardianship of the high seas off Sri Lanka’s maritime boundaries to the Navy. 
  • The Cabinet is seemingly irrationally hostile in attacking its colleagues angrily because it is still ‘survival of the fittest’ – and the most fickle – at that level of the game. 
  • The former Attorney-General who defended the incumbent AG’s legal opinion was compelled to do so by the higher powers that be, or so it is openly whispered. 
  • The Justice Minister was fighting for future survival in defending Avant-Garde and the AG, cannily denying all knowledge of all allegations against him, and being cautiously optimistic about his immovability in remaining in situ. 
  • The powerful cabal in the Cabinet is playing dangerously hostile politics in threatening to resign if the Justice Minister doesn’t also resign forthwith and no stern action is taken against the ex-AG cum Law and Order Minister. 
  • The UNP was aggressively going for the former regime’s jugular in claim during its campaign that Avant-Garde was an illegal operation and would be exploded. 
  • The UNP is fighting a losing rearguard action over the issue. 

[Things are falling apart, because they were never really together and secured in the first place.] 

~ Things are not quite what they seem. Things are never quite what they seem. < ISIS is a Trojan horse, the Avant-Garde is still wide open for scandal and alarm, and Agatha Christie’s bloodhounds would do well to be on the trail for clues and culprits. >

 

The AG-AG saga is a managed spectacle (the SUBVERSIVE or NASTY view)

  • The former Defence Secretary’s agreement with Avant-Garde through Rakna Lanka was being protected until recently. 
  • Avant-Garde ships being boarded and raided was bread and circuses to a bored populace. 
  • The IGP is only too aware of which side his bread is buttered on. 
  • The Attorney-General’s Dept. wants to have its cake and eat it. 
  • The President is like salt that has lost its savour, and the AG-AG imbroglio only leaves a nastier taste in the mouth. 
  • The Cabinet is hostage to grander agendas than their interminably petty partisan politicking. 
  • The former AG cum Minister who stepped down could have opened Pandora’s Box for the powers that be, so he had to go. 
  • The Justice Minister might still do the same, and he may have still to go too. 
  • The UNP is famous for its all-too-correct broadsides against its infamously corrupt and power-perverting predecessors. 
  • The UNP (like the UPFA before it) is equally famous for its shocking but not surprising volte-faces once it assumes power itself. 

[Things are not falling apart; instead all is well, and all’s well that ends well for those who will not be moved by this saga… or any other – not for a long while to come…]

~ Things are seen to be as they are because it is all part of a managed spectacle. < ISIS is in the same boat as the US/CIA/KGB/Russia, the Avant-Garde case is a nasty mystery, and Agatha Christie is turning over in her grave. >

This comment may have been hard to read. But the reality behind the scenes might well be harder to grasp. We live in an age of X conspiracy theories. Still that doesn’t mean that just because you’re paranoid they aren’t out to get You after all!


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