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…