War isn’t over yet


Fall of iconic terrorist strongholds like Killinochchi are easy to celebrate when you are not in the Wanni sun risking death and dismemberment. Lost in the flag waving and the cracker lighting are some worries that won’t go away. LTTE artillery (guns or munitions) have not yet been located, destroyed or captured (as I write). The LTTE is a global criminal organisation. It may still have the resources to buy and transport heavy weapons – underscored by recent reports of arms shipments to Mullativu.

The exact losses of experienced terrorist units don’t seem very specific. Thousands of active terrorists are said to be still under the command of a death cult leader who redefined suicide terrorism and cunning military comebacks. Then there’s an ominous bulge of terrorist held territory to the south of route A34. It could become a pocket very soon. Its threat as a LTTE breakout point is hardly discussed. Perhaps it is not. No body is willing to say. At a logistical level the military has to secure and supply the territory it has captured.

Euphoria over hard earned victories can distract from the grim reality that there’s hard fighting ahead. Most likely the military has not got carried away like the political party activists in the streets. Terrorist mouth pieces chant about a debacle similar to Elephant Pass (which is about all they can do right now). Having grown up with dismal head lines, of the last two decades it’s easy to be paranoid and hard not to dismiss those ghosts as propaganda shadows.

2009 is supposed to be different I’m told. The army has mastered the arts of guerrilla warfare . They actually have effective air support (for a third world country). The navy has innovated its way out of underdog status to cut terrorist supply lines. Despite the plundering of funds by politicians the military has managed to plough on – due to a mix of intelligent planning and raw courage than high technology.

A longer term worry is that the government has not announced a political plan for ensuring peace (yet). The need for which Deshapalana has elaborated better that I can. Specifically to make sure that Sri Lanka is not ruled along lines of ethnic and linguistic ghettos. Perhaps politicians will find a way of plundering and holding onto power without dividing citizens into a threatening minorities and a paranoid symbol obsessed majority. Just holding elections in a place ravaged by a generation of war, is not too convincing. Maybe there will be something hopeful and achievable announced. From my brush with the insides of Sri Lankan politics, I prefer to keep my hope on the ground.

This war is being fought and so far won by a generation born into a time of war. Most of them, and the constituencies they come from are far removed from the bickering, analysis and sensibilities of the blogosphere. In there end it will be their votes that will decide the future. I just hope that their decision will ensure that their children or grand children will not have to fight the same wars. The real victory that will honour the fallen and those risking it all in the wanni is the era when future generation see each other as Sri Lankans without suspiciously wondering if they are Sinhalese or Tamils.

Despite their past military victories, LTTE never won the peace (no terrorist group ever has). I hope the Sri Lankan government (or the voters) doesn’t squander the sacrifices of the last twenty years by failing to politically “secure” the peace. It is something that requires facing a lot of big questions when the fighting stops.

I suppose I should end this prattle with a pithy depressing proverb, ideally by someone like Sun Tzu. As a dumb ignorant blogger all I can think of is a quote from character in a film:

A boy is given a horse on his 14th birthday. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how wonderful.” But a Zen master who lives in the village says, “we shall see.” The boy falls off the horse and breaks his foot. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how awful.” The Zen master says, “We shall see.” The village is thrown into war and all the young men have to go to war. But, because of the broken foot, the boy stays behind. Everyone says, “Oh, how wonderful.” The Zen master says, “We shall see.”

The comment box awaits the reassuring words of those who know more about these matters…

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5 comments

  1. I have very cynical view about war. I seen wars are keeping on failing to achieve their goals repeatedly. Lebanon war last year, Hezbollah turn out to be a stronger than before. Regardless how much Israel pound Palestine, Hamas still shells Israel and they still want Israel to give up so call occupied lands such as Tel Aviv and rest of the Israel cities. Iraq turns out to be a disaster for America and Thalibans are still good Muslims or at least they thinks they are. India didn’t win anything in Kashmir either. Whatever the progress US army recently had in Iraq came from none traditional tactics such as bribing the enemy and other none violent tactics.

    Now at the same time I understand there can’t be two armed groups in any country including Sri Lanka. One has to go. And I wish it is not the SL Army because that is the only armed group backed by democracy or vice versa. So I think, all army can achieve by violent means right now is disarm LTTE and that is about that. I don’t know we have any plans after that.

    I’m not a big fan of dividing power base on ethnicity, because we do not discriminate people base on ethnicity alone. We do that base on sexual orientation and how many points they were able to gain in A/L exam and other things too. If we are planning to end the discrimination base on ethnicity, we should have separate province for homosexuals, so they won’t sent to jail for been who they are, like we do in Sri Lanka and other Christian countries like we are too. Also a separate province for A/L failed student too, so they can have the right to pursuit the higher education too. But the worst thing about power sharing deal is it makes bigger government and more politics. Having more of the same politics won’t change the problems created by those politics in the first place.

    I think at the end of violence, we have to re-define who we are as a nation and what are the rights we are the people should have. But I can’t think of how.

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  2. i think the military is doing a very good job with resources they have at hand to crush the LTTE. at the same time, i see the ugly head of sinhala racism rising from a minority of idiots who think now they have a free hand to persecute tamils. these fools don’t realize it is people like them who are the root cause of all this bloodshed, they are no different from prabhakaran.

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  3. the zen master said we’ll see…. Haha
    In my mind I do not see any good reason why ltte shouldn’t be disarmed; contrary to the pro ltte tone of rolland burek (of course its my opinion, but it was cringing to watch) who presented a news feature to the bbc’s 10′ o clock news on the 2nd january 2009.
    The”need for meaningful peace is probebly the isthmus of ideological alikeness I share with the BBC; just like any other young lankan who has witnessed his country depths of war; when we were up and when we were down..
    I don’t believe this much idealized “meaningful peace” will be a direct result of political solution(not that I’m saying not to have a form of decentralization, and equality-which we pretty much have); but an economic solution might just as well tick most of the boxes of attainedble/acceptable peace…
    Call me an idiot, but capitalism might just be the answer for the north… Because once the peoples of northern Sri lanka start seeing that their is a world out their and the freeworld of the south allows them to be what they want to be through enterprenureship and exercisation of free will, just like the peoples of the south have being doing for the prior 26 years when the northerners were still under the tyranny of the ill-liberator tigers… It will take their incentive to follow narrow ethno political agendas set by polarized diasapora. What’s more then their problems shift from awaiting to recieve state rations(and blaming it for everything) to having to work for the next loaf of bread, progressing to more bigger and better dreams such as earning and saving for anew house etc…. In orther words converting hearts consumed by hopelessness to hearts looking to the future confidance! Also they will have problems just like sourtherners(not that I want them to, it’s just how it works)…..
    We must unite in the brotherhood of business and making wealth…let’s Keep aside differences and encourage young people of all sri lankan communities to exploit opportunities in the growing scarc region.. Then minorities will see meaning and purpose in relating themselves as Sri lankans; the homeland of the people of Sri lanka…. Because when we are rich (of course not exclusively the monetary aspect of it but every sensible aspect of richness yet not excluding it) culture will fluorish every religion will fluorish… There will be decreasing insentive to be hostile to each other. Then the imperilist indused insecurty of both the minorities and the majorities(as I like to refer to it) will have little reason to thrive… Then We’ll see ourselves moving from acceptable/attainable peace by the disarment of the terrorists to a more meaningfull peace…
    In simple economical terms capturing and maintaining the teritorial integrity of Sri lanka will expand our production posibility boundry as it will free up more land labour capital and enterprise; the factors of production. The total value of the welfare obtained by the hypothetical near full employment of these economic resourses will be very much greater than the value of the loss due to a couple of suiside bombs per year by a failed terror group making a point!
    I think zen master must have a plan… Rather than bluffing all the way… He’ll listen to me and say “let’s see….” it’s not how much he says when the young men are at war, but what he chooses to do when (ok… May I say ” if and when” just to be sensible) they’ve won the last bloody battle…. And look for his inspiration….. Let’s see….

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  4. Thank you for the extensive comments. Particularly the positive ideas of a productive peace. Have to admit I’m not too optimistic but better to keep the gloom locked in my head so it can dissipate slowly. Good to know that there are at least 3 other people who realise a need for a greater mindset change when the LTTE is militarily defeated. 🙂

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  5. Got to have some hope… How I see it in defending order…
    Meaningful peace>end of gurrilla warfare>guerilla warfare with less less suiside attacks> guerilla war with a lot of suiside attacks> attainable peace>conventional war…
    I guess the As economics wouldt explain such complex situations so throughly… There may me the affects of other factors… Hehe anyway there we go…
    Btw is there a way of changing my display name… I just realized that everyone uses an alias while dwelling the blog sphere… Sorry if I boards you btw..

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