Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

WINNING THE WAR, WINNING THE PEACE

“The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew, cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down”.  

– Barack Obama, Berlin, July 24

 

We must not settle for a draw in a game we can win and are winning. As we draw closer to victory, those who wish to deny it to us will intensify their efforts.

Let us do everything that can help us win the war, and desist from anything that may prevent or divert us. We also need a vision for winning the peace. Our vision for winning the peace will play a part in helping or hindering the winning of the war. Our postwar program will affect the outcome of the war, not least by influencing the behavior of external powers (one of which actively saved Prabhakaran in 1987).

Victory is imperative and yet not inevitable. It is more than possible; it is probable. Yet, the war is not won as long as Prabhakaran is alive. As long as he is alive, he can recruit and continue to fight. People will follow him. A guerrilla war waged under Prabhakaran’s leadership is a rather different prospect from one waged by a post-Prabhakaran LTTE. From the outset of his struggle– whether one dates it back to the 1970s or the early ’80s– right up to 1990, Prabhakaran proved a maestro of guerrilla war, doing what was thought impossible in a relatively limited area of a small island His performance against the IPKF was as a classic guerrilla fighter, and his tactics since, even when waging semi-conventional war, have never lost the unorthodox guerrilla style. As long as he is alive, the dream of Tamil Eelam, a separate country carved out from ours — the only one we will ever have — will never die. That dream, our nightmare, will begin to die only when he is no more. It will remain only in the cyberspace fantasies of the Tamil Diaspora, a computer game.

For now there must only be one objective in view: the military defeat and destruction of the Tigers. Moderate devolution helps and does not hinder the war effort because it brings India over to our side or at least keeps it benignly neutral. There are two forces who do not want closer relations between India and Sri Lanka: the LTTE and pro-Tiger elements in Tamil Nadu such as Mr. Vaiko on the one hand, and sundry Sinhala chauvinists and xenophobes on the other. The latter do the job of the former.

 

The Movement for Devolution

A UN Under Secretary-General from a country which is among Sri Lanka’s staunchest friends, gave me some good advice (prompted by warm recollections of my father): draw the line, defend your core interests, make no concessions on them; but do make concessions short of those core interests so that you give your friends something to defend you with.

Our core interest is to win the war. It is one thing to resist external pressure from whichever quarter far or near, that wishes us to stop the war or retard its pace or restrict its objectives to something short of victory. That sort of pressure impinges directly on our core security interests, and must be resisted by any means necessary. However, signals that are short of that, which have nothing or little to do with the war, must be treated with sensitivity and accommodated to the fullest degree possible.

Moderate, realistic devolution is the classic case in point. Strategic wisdom has it that he who seeks to defend everything, defends nothing. Those who oppose everything and everyone gain nothing and jeopardize everything.  Those who seek to obstruct moderate devolution will almost certainly help obstruct victory in the war.

This is why the launch of the Movement for Devolution, a pro-devolution caucus of Government Ministers-Rajitha Senaratne, Douglas Devananda, Tissa Vitharana, DEW Gunasekara, Dilan Perera-who support the war, the President and devolution, is to be greatly welcomed. Devolution is too important to be left to appeasers and NGOs, while the war is too important to be left to interpretation by chauvinists.

 

Power sharing and Nation building

While Tamil separatism must be rolled back and overcome, Sinhala and Tamil nationalism have to be contained if one is to build a Sri Lankan national identity and consciousness. They can be contained only by being accommodated to some degree. Tamil nationalism can be contained only by a sufficiency of devolved power and resources. We must share power with one another so as to build a nation with and for us all.

It is a myth that devolution is advocated only by India and/or the West. When Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar sent a delegation to Pakistan in 2005 as a guest of the (Defense-funded) Institute of Strategic Studies of Dr Shireen Mazari, one of the questions we were asked by an intelligent young Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was why Sri Lanka did not learn from Pakistan’s federal model. That is not to say that we must be blind to its faults, but we must understand that it is not only Tamil Nadu, or the Tamil Diaspora influenced West, or the Christian churches or the INGOs, that wish us to share power with and grant adequate political space to the Tamil people.

No devolution or too little, and communities will break away. Too much devolution and they will do the same. The degree of devolution at the periphery depends on the character of the mainstream. If one implements a strictly secular Republicanism as does France, and one is a French citizen with equal rights irrespective of ethnicity, then the need for substantive devolution at the periphery is virtually non-existent (though Corsica would doubtless disagree). However, if a society insists that the culture, language and civilization of its majority must have some built-in preference, then it is unrealistic to expect that those who do not belong to that culture but are inhabitants of the country would feel themselves fully integrated and un-alienated citizens. Full integration can only take place on the basis of full equality, and a citizenship that is blind to ethnic origin, religion and language. If the State and citizenship are not blind or even-handed but biased, then it is unavoidable that there will be demands by minorities for their own political space at the periphery.

Wild illogic asks the question as to why Sri Lanka should devolve when Prabhakaran is not asking for devolution. Others equally irrationally speculate that Prabhakaran really wants devolution as an escape hatch. Worst of all some actually hold both – mutually exclusive and contradictory – views. The evidence of decades is plain. If Prabhakaran were willing to accept devolution even when he was militarily disadvantaged, he would not have waged war against the IPKF. The other argument, that devolution is unnecessary because Prabhakaran does not want it, is a model of utter irrelevance. When there is a general strike, one grants a realistic wage increase not because the most radical “wildcat” strikers want it or would settle for it but because the vast majority of rank and file workers and moderate trade unions would settle for it, thereby undercutting the extremists. When the strike is reduced to a hard core of extremists, it can be brought quickly to a close. So it is with separatist struggle and devolution.

To win the war, our successful military track has to be paralleled by a political one which proceeds with the same purposiveness and at the same speed. If our neighbors and the world think that a military victory for the Sri Lankan state is tantamount to a Sinhala /Sinhala Buddhist victory over the Tamils/minorities, we may be denied that victory by external economic and coercive pressure, as we once were twenty years ago. A moderate, rational political program containing a progressive vision for Sri Lanka’s post-war future is a necessary component for bringing this war to a successful close; for winning this war.

 

Don’t Lose the Peace

Xenophobia, cultural or otherwise, is profoundly counter-productive for winning the war as well as the peace. Scholarly and scientific research has shown that creativity and innovation in all fields takes place not so much from within the bowels of homogeneous and unchanging cultures but precisely where cultures interface, interact, exchange and cross-fertilize. Sir Arthur C Clarke correctly observed that Sri Lanka contains the greatest cultural diversity in the most compressed space, which is a source of conflict but potentially also of great creativity. Unless we embrace pluralism, learn to celebrate the treasure that is our own diversity, and tap into it as an energy source for advance, we shall certainly be unable compete regionally or globally. Worst of all we shall not be using all our cultural capacities, making the best of our endowments, making the best of ourselves.

The best performing of our youngsters, the brightest minds coming out of our universities with First classes, are migrating. Unless we can retain them by creating an environment in which the intelligent discerning internationally aware individual can flourish, we may win the war but lose the capacity to re-build, regenerate. Post war Sri Lanka must not be like pre-war Sri Lanka, because that order was so flawed as to contain the seeds of war. As we reconstruct we must restructure, transform, learning from past mistakes.

Similarly, post war Sri Lanka must be unlike wartime Sri Lanka. If ideologies of resentment and closure prevail over those of conciliation and openness, we shall be unable to manage the problem of the hemorrhage of quality human resources, which in turn will decide whether we shall develop or decline as a country.

It will serve little purpose if we win the war and lose the peace. For those who think that Sri Lanka can win the war on the basis of a program and vision of inequity between peoples, of enforced cultural homogeneity in a heterogeneous society; for those who believe that Sri Lanka can return to its pre-war order or build an unfair unequal post-war one; for those who assume that closed minds and cultural exclusivity can sustain our country in the 21st century, I have little time and no more arguments but only two words, which must be marked well: Barack Obama.

 

The American Candidate: Barack in Berlin

Barack Obama left the USA for the Middle East and Europe as a candidate described as African-American but in Europe he was re-defined and reborn as what he is: the American candidate. Leonard Cohen’s song says “First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin”. Obama seems to be reversing that trajectory of triumph. Let him speak for himself, in his own words — highly acclaimed as statesmanlike — delivered (without a note) to the two hundred thousand strong crowd in Berlin’s Tiergarten on July 24th:

 “…Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

 “…I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British…”

 “…The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”

 “…Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.”

 Obama points the way for Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. For the Tamils, the relevance and example should be clear: abandon projects of separatist walling-off, integrate into the mainstream, fight against discrimination and for equal rights, regard oneself as a Sri Lankan and compete as one. The African-Americans experienced slavery and segregation and still encounter racism, but Barack Obama’s example is to transcend that experience, which was historically far worse than anything suffered by Tamils. His is the model of our martyred Lakshman Kadirgamar (whose oration for devolution in the Parliamentary debate on the August 2000 Draft Constitution is cunningly ignored by Sinhalese chauvinists). It can come to the forefront only when Kadirgamar’s assassins, the Tigers, are defeated.

What is the lesson and example for the Sinhalese? Barack Obama, perhaps the most intellectually gifted politician in today’s world and potentially a philosopher-president in the Platonic sense, ushers in a new model of cultural globalization and globalized culture of and for the 21st century. He is the modern, Multiethnic, Multi-Cultural Man, emerging from the melting pot meritocracy that is America. However, this is not an exclusively American Dream. It is not essentially different from the multiracialism of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, or that of Jawaharlal Nehru, without whose inclusive, pluralist, secular, rational, modern leadership vision for an ancient, culturally rich society, India would not be the Asian success story and the 21st century miracle it has become.   

 

[These are the strictly personal views of the writer].

 

 

  • Ekcol

    Hello Dyan,
    You are right on Obama. From the first day he announced his candidacy, it was obvious he will be elected President and that the Chauvinists of this world will have to run. I am glad you are alerting your employers and their supporters that the end of their philosophy of ruling the two nation states, joined together as one by the British for their convenience, is coming to an end.

    Devolution of powers assume that powers rest with someone or some institution. Tamils do not accept that such powers rest with the Sinhala leaders and their nation state. Tamils did not approve the illegal 1972 or 1978 constitution nor the 13th amendment. The powers rest with the Sinhala state for the Sinhala state. Powers rest with the Tamil nation for the Tamils. We could talk about SHARING OF POWERS IN AREAS OF MUTUAL CONCERN for MUTUAL BENEFIT. That would be a starting point.

    When you talk about Pirapakaran and defeating the Tigers you sound like the Rajapakse brothers and their Band of which of course you are one. Wait till you have defeated the Tigers before you crow from the roof tops of Geneva. The attempt to defeat the Tigers will spill more blood of the Sinhalese and Tamils than ever before. Think of the consequence of such a strategy that your government is following. I shall not ask you to directly advise your employers to stop the war and negotiate. You don’t have that much power.

    Can you tell me which legal inquiry concluded that Kadirgamar was killed by the Tigers? Ask yourself why the Commission set up to do that inquiry and those of Pararajasingam, AFC 17 and Trinco-five executions is dragging their feet. Is it because all of those killings are pointing to the gosl leaders and the gosl forces?

  • I am truely alarmed by the beating of war drums of Mr Jayatilakes arguement. His absolute insistance on winning the war at all costs( the failing economy, human rights abuses, further polarisation of the communities, the effectiveness of the state – the largest cabinet in the world, impunity of misdeeds,) makes him a apologists for the Sinhala nationalism.

    Repeatedly post independence onwards the nation state of Sri Lnaka has abused the trust of the Tamil minority. Whilst mistrust running at its lowest ebb what makes him think that the post war Sri Lanka is suddenly going to grant the Tamils an equal stake in society. Doesnt he know victors write the history and march forwards on their own terms? I have got no illusions that what succesive governments hadn’t done is going to be achieved by a war mongering winner of the present war.
    He is a perfect apologist for Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism ( he even makes a little gaff on the churches in the article) masquerading as well reasoned equity for all its citizens

  • Nishan

    Dayan’s aspirations for rolling back chauvinism, devolving power and fostering an equal society is as commendable, as his optimism about ‘killing Prabhakaran’ and ‘winning the war’ is quaint.

    In the model set out here by Dayan, it seems that the way to deal with Tamil extremists is to kill them; and the way to deal with Sinhala extremists is to scold them and urge them to change. That seems to contradict Dayan’s own sense of being even-handed, which I am not questioning.

    Perhaps we need at least one alternative vision on how Sri Lanka can overcome an ever deepening ethnic enmity that has dogged it since independence. A vision that is not trapped inside the belief that ‘winning the war’ can be the only path to peace. We need the kind of vision that made the “Good Friday” agreement possible in the UK and brought an end to a conflict of comparable complexity.

    Dayan’s professed model and openness is still a positive departure, I would say, from the coterie that pisses in the direction of ‘winning the peace’ and violently closes the political space for alternative visions and dialogue.

  • Live and Let Live

    Dayan,

    Good article for the most part. I am a Tamil and I support the Tamil Struggle. Whether that struggle translates into a separate “Tamil Eelam” or whether it is done through a proper devolution of power would be all the same to me.

    I say good article for the most part because I am in concrete agreement with the body of your essay. You have beautifully spoke about how a country will only flourish when plurism is accepted; when military successes are coincided with political solutions; and when the administration and policies of Sri Lanka are blind to ethnic origin.

    You, being a Sinhala, are big enough to point out the mistakes of the policies of pre-War Sri-Lanka; to admonish the Sinhala chauvinists; and to do it in as much of a neutral way as you possibly could.

    However, Dayan, even you- one of the more moderate Sinhalese political writers I have read – lack a critical understanding of the Tamil Struggle. And I think, in order to propose any type of idea/solution to this ethnic war, one MUST be able to whole-heartedly understand BOTH sides. You, with all due respect, have a superficial understanding/perception in regards to the Tamil Struggle.

    For example, after citing Obama’s speech, you offer some examples to both the Tamils and the Sinhala. To the Tamils, you say,
    “….abandon projects of separatist walling-off, integrate into the mainstream, fight against discrimination and for equal rights, regard oneself as a Sri Lankan and compete as one.:”

    Dayan, you will agree, that Pre-War, the Tamils yearned to do what you have exactly stated. The Tamils wanted to be one with the Sinhala; we dismissed any claims by any extremists claiming for a separate state; we tried to integrate into the mainstream; and we fought discrimination peacefully.

    Dayan, you will agree, these attempts were cut short by the chauvinists and politicians who subsided to these chauvinists. The Tamils were slapped in the face, and kicked to the ground countless times. And eventually, those slaps and kicks eventually gave birth to the “separtists” movements. The “separatist” movement was forced upon the Tamils as the only plausible solution at a time where we felt hopeless.

    So when you tell the Tamils to do what we already have tried and been rejected, and then follow it up with the only “advice” to the Sinhala is to be accepting of the Tamils, you project a sense of bias upon yourself.

    Lastly, your skewed view of the “Tamil Struggle” can be seen right in the beginning of your essay. You slam the Tigers and their leader Prabaharan, stating the war must be won and the Tigers must be crushed. Now, I assume, that you have this hate for the Tigers because of their “terrorist” type actions, such as,
    1) Bombing innocent civilians
    2) Iron-handed control of their people
    3) Lack of democracy amongst their defacto state.
    These some of the common complaints against the Tigers, so understandably, you would be disgusted by such a regime.

    However, to the Tamils, the Sri-Lankan government, and especially the Rajapaksa government carry out the same “terrorist” actions. The Tamils, hate and distrust the government as much you and most Sinhala hate the Tamils. I think we both have very valid reasons for our hate for the government/Tigers.

    So when you start your article favouring the conitnuing of this “war” so that the “evil” Prabaharan can be killed, you send all Tamils such a chill that it is hard to read on. The continuing of this war will, in effect, diplace hundreds of thousands and indiscriminately kill thousands of Tamils. All in the name to kill the “evil” Prabaharan and to “liberate” the Tamils from the evil “Tigers”.

    Can you see that the Tigers are using the same logic to reak havoc on the Sinhala people as your government has done on the Tamil people. To kill the “evil” Rajapaksa or any other reigme which, as you have said, oppresses the Tamil people, and to “liberate” the Tamils from the evil “government”.

    Now who is right and who is wrong. I hope you will agree with me that it is not so easy to cast one group in to the “wrong” category and the other into the “right” one.

    Agains, Dayan, this comment is not to take away from your insightful article. You propose a great solution, and I hope one day Sri Lanka could be as richly diverse and prosperous as it has the potential to be. However, all Tamils, Sinhala and Muslims, including ones who advocate for peace, must really dig deeper and find a place where they can truly apathize with the other ethnic groups of Sri Lanka

  • Sie.Kathieravaelu

    The writers view with regard to devolution of power needs the support of all peace loving citizens of this country. Everyone has the right to promote his/her views in the way he/she thinks it fit.

    We must always think of winning over our opponent. Elimination is one way BUT not the only way and not the best way. The best way is to win him over to our side or line of thought.

    I do have some ideas/suggestions for peace in Sri Lanka. But it is not devolution of power. It is sharing/distribution of power as different from devolution of power. I would like to contact the writer to discuss my suggestions, if possible.
    My email address can be given to him OR his email address can be given to me.

  • JP

    Dayan, although your article is very well formulated one, but a hypocrite and lop sided. To start with, you are taking the verse from Obama he made in Berlin, and then you start to state that the core activity the GoSL is to win the war and get rid of Pirabaharan. And then you go on to talk about the Devolution etc.

    I am not certain, exactly what you are trying to portray in your article. Let me remind you that the LTTE submitted a document called ISGA, which included the very theme that you are talking about the post-war activties etc. The very document that was submitted did talk about this and to start with was an interrim govt for the tamils and then gradually, review the situation and then to decided on the devolution etc. But where did the document end up at? Similar fate to the PTOMS.

    The main issue with you sinhala politicos and their cronies are that, you want the tamils to have their freedom at your decression. Say it is like, if you are my neghbour, i am a tamil and you are a sinhalese, I will need to ask you if I can go to the toilet. This is what the freedom that you want to impose on the tamils.

    Did it ever come to the thought of your sinhala masters, to ever have a referendum on the said issue? The tamils over whelmingly voted in 1972 for a seperate state, since then the tamil parties have been sweeping victories in the elections on the same platform. This is the pure reason that you don’t want to have a referundum, because you will lose.

    Further, if the sinhalese thinks that killing Pirabaharan will solve your ethnic problem, then my friend, you have no idea of the tamil ethnic issue in SL. What makes you think that any one replacing Pirabaharan is more furious than him? Thus your core is in shaky grounds, built on sand, and not concrete.

    May be you have sold your core to the IC, but they bought it because they want your wealth. As long as you beg from them, and your politcos and their cronies fill their pockets, no questions asked, but be our salves for the ever. This is another colonisation by the countreis west ,east or south or north of SL.

    And your leaders, sorry managers as there is no single sinhala leader with a vision for a prosperous SL. I am sure like our neighbours, and the current political managers who are ruling the country will be able to import some one from abroad, to plunder more resource out of the country and violate any human rights that may be left over.

    Good luck.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    look let’s all be realistic. no state would treat the Tigers differently from the sri lankan state, for the simple reason that the LTTE walked away from every serious negotiation and returned to war unilaterally. please note Obama’s very hard line on terrorism and his determination to defeat al qaeda and the Taliban. the man is no peacenik, unlike the Groundviews constituency. as fareed zakaria says in the latest Newsweek, he is a hardheaded realist. please let’s not also talk about the ISGA: as chris patten said, it as unlike any federalism of his acquaintence. if the Tigers wanted peace with dignity they shouldn’t have been dumb enough to fight the IPKF and follow it up with killing rajiv. for those who think that the Tigers are not going to be defeated or will replace a dead Prabhakaran with an even fiercer one, yeah, right, well, best of luck to them. let’s make a date to revisit that topic on same website at the same time next year, huh? and its not a question of discussing what ( some) tamils want and would like to have, but of figuring out what is possible to obtain given the military and political realities. wake up and realise that the struggle now is twofold: (a) to safeguard and build on the achievements of the indo-lanka accord/ 13th amendment, defending it from those who would roll it back and (b) to design and obtain a broad consensus for a better postwar order. always remember that the merger was abolished, with absolutely no reaction from India or the IC….! so, get real guys.

  • aadhavan

    where the learned gentleman misdirects himself or deliberately obscures the point is where he uses this utilitarian logic of “once the tigers are done away with, minor tinkering with the status quo will do” and deems that acceptable because that’s what the majority will be willing to give away. he can do that, but he can’t co-opt obama’s message of justice and equality with dignity for all to justify some cold utilitarian formula which given the relative weakness of the ltte, would justify a continuation of a paternalistic attitude towards the tamils which shuns their desire to determine their own development and political destiny. i suspect the gentleman understands this, and has deliberately chosen his side. trying to plaster obama’s words all over the ugly visage of majoritarian paternalism, i.e- we’re kicking your asses, make do with what we give you, is a tad bit disingenuous. people like gl pieris understand this, hence his expressed concern over an obama presidency and its ramifications for american foreign policy towards sri lanka.

    the gentleman also forgets to mention that for all obama’s tall of transcending the “race” divide, he frequently acknowledges his indebtedness to the civil rights movement, (the remnants of which include Rev Wright and arguably his own wife) have not yet made that transcending journey with him, pointing out that he would not be where he was if not for them. to thus expect tamils to regard themselves as sri lankan and “compete” before the state is first able to reconfigure itself to provide a level playing field, is to miss the point. obama arrives on the scene a few generations after the hard fought victories of the civil rights movement materialized. he then acknowledges that he can do what he does and say what he says only because of the civil rights movement. it is open for the gentleman to say that tamils ought to take the path taken by the civil rights movement, and express his preference for luther’s version over malcolm x’s, but that is another debate. looking to obama’s example for how tamils should interact politically with the state in the present or near future is silly, and to advocate the position is to employ sloppy logic.

  • Amazing this Obama fellow, he seems to be everything for everyone. For Dayan/zakaria he’s a realist, for aadavans he’s a bringer of ”
    justice and equality with dignity for all”

    You are the obamas you have been waiting for. or something like that.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    look , here’s the logic. to achieve anything, you need either bullets or ballots. the tamil nationalist military cycle is past its peak, the project is past its sell by date, and you’ve surely got to see that. the other leverage is the ballot. that means integrating and competing in the mainstream while managing some of one’s own affairs in the provinces. it is true that the tamil people went through the stage of operating in the mainstream, but sometimes one has to return to an earlier stage when a later one has failed. in today’s world, what failed decades ago might well work, and with proportional representation , it may be no small deal. the relevance of obama is this: he’s not going to stop sri lanka’s war (that’s a mirage) but his example and presence could be leveraged as a factor which influences the post war sociopolitical outcome in an enlightened direction.

  • Nishan

    This beating of breasts and yahooing about ‘winning the war’ (now even more in Dayan’s comments) evokes not Barack Obama, but George W. Bush — especially when he said of the early post Sadam resistance in Iraq, “Bring it on!”.

    The question of how the government’s current “military solution” will turn out should not be a matter of ideology, but of sound and sober analysis. A serious discussion should not be derailed by the pipe dreams of those who are drunk on their own propaganda.

    Dayan offers to meet detractors like me at this website in a year to show us we are wrong. That is already one year further down the road from when the government claimed the war would be decisively “won”. (Recall the highly publicised boasts in January that it would all end by August 2008?)

    But I am upping the Anti. Why have these vague offers to meet on websites? Why not make a concrete offer, to which you can be held? You can, for instance, offer to resign all government positions if you turn out to be wrong.

    Currently, those paying the price, of the bad analysis and idle fantasies that you tout, are all the people of Sri Lanka who are getting killed and maimed in bombs and battles which will not solve anything; in this stupendously retrogressive path towards “winning-the-nothing”.

    Since you made the challenge, may I dare you now to “put your money where your mouth is”. Make today, on this page, a public promise of what you will do by August 2009 if your predictions on the war turn out to be wrong.

    (i am smiling, and waiting)

  • aadhavan

    whatever the fate of the tamil nationalist military project, one thing is for certain. the sinhala nationalist military project is alive, kicking and has the able backing of those who don’t necessarily swallow wholesale its majoritarian ideology. in this context, to beckon tamils to “compete” using the ballot while running a few hospitals and schools in the provinces, is to try vainly to whitewash ugly military imposed hegemony with some random platitudes about competition. akin to perhaps berating the poor farmer in africa for not working harder and competing with the big agro industries, to use an analogy that perhaps the gentleman would appreciate.

  • Ekcol

    It is ironic that Dayan is trying to associate with Obama and his progressive ideas. Dayan’s and his government’s actions are a copy of Bush’s policy. However I do admit that Bush has copied a lot from the gosl. Aadavan and Nishan have eloquently answered your empty rhetoric. Please note that Obama makes a distinction from Terrorists and Liberation Movements. That should be a wake-up call for the gosl.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Dear Ekcol,

    That’s nonsense. Barack Obama never drew a distinction between terrorists and liberation movements. he has never used the phrase liberation movements even once, and certainly not to refer to any armed movement. you are confusing him with the defeated hillary clinton.

    there is of course a difference between liberation movments and terrorist ones, which is why the sri lankan government has long recognised the PLO. could you ame one liberation movement or a state that resulted from a liberation struggle, that recognises the LTTE as a liberation movement? there are none.

    President Bush invaded someone else’s country. the sri lankan government is fighting separatism in its own country. the closest american example is not Bush, but Lincoln! and please check out how that war was fought, especially in Georgia. ever heard the song about how they Burnt old Dixie down?

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Nishan, since we don’t know who on earth you are and what you do, what are you going to do if you lose the bet and how are we ever going to verify it?

    more seriously, can’t you see the trend line of military developments since last year, or even january? what is most dangerous is that people like you are living in cloud cockoo land, unble to acknowledge the objective trajectory….never mind the timing.

    and hey, here’s one thing you have to go figure: Bush’s war is so unpopular , its all over the US opinion polls, while this war, with the consequences you claim it has, is perceived very differently by the sri lankan public which has lived through it for decades. go check the CPA opinion polls, inculding the latest by the center for irish studies. we’re talking stratospheric ratings in favour.

    that’s because Bush’s is a war of aggression, invasion, occupation in a foreign country and is unsuccessful, while ours is a war of slf defence, reunification and national liberation…and by the way, is successfully prosecuted. don’t you even read Col Hariharan’s and Gen Mehta’s stuff?

  • V

    To Sie.Kathieravaelu

    I’m sure the rest of us would also be interested in your ideas of sharing/distributing power. Please share them with us too.

  • V

    It might be true to call the LTTE both a terrorist group and a liberation movement.; the same is true of the PLO.

  • V

    To Dayan:

    There’s a general acceptance amongst the public that winning this thing means we have to fight fire with fire: bumping off ‘suspected’ tiger supporters in the south without trial, mass arrest and detention of Tamils, attempted busing of Tamils out of Colombo, killing/kidnapping dissenting journalists. Is this a legitimate part of (even a necessary part of) this war? Also, war means IDPs by the thousands, bombs/artillery hitting civilian settlements, deep penetration units sometimes hitting civilian vehicles. Can we really be trusted to do right by society once this is won, when it is being won in such a dirty fashion, throwing human rights into the back of a white van? Have we become terrorists? Is this now a war between two rival terrorist groups? Has it always been so (black july was a government sponsored pogrom)? Is there no other way out of this other than eliminating the opposition?

  • Nishan

    Dayan, I WAS serious when I asked that you “put your money where you mouth is” (who I am is irrelevant to that).

    I expected you to back down, as you have, with “time-lines” being replaced by open-ended “trajectories”. This “bait and switch” trick was typical of the George Bush regime selling the Iraq war as well. The next step will be, in a years time, to re-define a no-win trajectory as somehow still a winning one, with the goal posts of “winning” shifted. (In fact, Gen. Sarath Fonseka is already in the midst of doing that; you will see if you analyse his statements over the last year).

    Your analysis of the US situation, I would say, is just as poor as your analysis of the SL one. In fact, Bush’s Iraq war started with as much popularity as you claim for the the MR war on LTTE. And, like this one, it was sold by propagating false ideas at various levels. For my analysis on that see: http://nishan-iraq.blogspot.com/

    The popularity of the Iraq war plummeted only when the truth, gradually, got widely exposed in the American media. That still took a good 4 years to happen, even without the obstacle of white vans to abduct, torture, imprison or kill journalists that were putting their finger on the truth. (Notice how your journalist friend Tissainayagam is being illegally kept in CID custody for a very long time now).

    Of course you read col. Hariharan, and your strategy for “winning the peace”, echoes him in so many ways. But good judgement, which Barack Obama claims enabled him to oppose the Iraq war while it was still overwhelmingly popular, does not consist of just reading intelligence analysis, but also of independent thought and discernment.

    This ends my comments and engagement on groundviews on your article.

  • Ekcol

    Dayan,

    When you say, “look, let us all be realistic” (as if we are not and only you are) or, “look, here is the logic” (as if we don’t understand logic) you sound more and more like a used car salesman, trying to sell an outdated, gas guzzling jalopy to people who know all about cars.

    Regarding Obama’s position, you seem to be looking for sound bites. Read his many speeches and figure out what his position is on SL. You know his position on human rights violations by individuals, groups or states. You must have listened to his speech at the Google event when he referred to SL civil war as viscious and it is like many ethnic problem, it is the problem of the other. Then his general position, “Take away a person’s right, you take away their freedom. Without freedom there can be no justice. No justice, no peace.” This applies to a community as well, including the Black community in the US.

    Please don’t compare the American Civil War as if Sri Lankan state is the Union and the Tamils are the slave owning States. It is the Sri Lankan State that has been trying to put Tamils under their control since 1956. If not for the LTTE, SL would have succeeded during JR’s monarchy. You bet on Varatharajah Perumal and you lost. Now you are betting on the Rajapakse Dynasty. I am sure you will jump ship before it sinks.

    Please don’t forget that Senator Clinton is still in the Senate and Bill will have some say in foreign policy in the future. If a political solution is not found soon, SL will be facing a bleak economic and political future.

    Be realistic, Ours is a politico-economic–social–military war. Military occupation of the North by Sri Lanka will be at the expense of the other three components. Military conquest of the East, even with USAID, Worlds Bank, ADB and others is already bursting at the seams. Sri Lanka occupying the North by military offensive will be like Hitler’s Germany occupying France. The outcome will be the same.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Nishan, a bet if you have ever taken one, is a two way street. the guy with whom you take the bet tells you what he will do if he loses, not just what you should do if you lose. now since, as i said i don’ t know who the hell you are or what you do, that’s not a level playing field. if on the other hand the bet were suggested by say, sanjana H, i could consider it seriously because i know who he is and what he does.

    man, what’s with the george bush thing? as you say his war was unpopular in four years, having started with high ratings. ours has been on for 25-30, which gives plenty of time for plummeting of popularity, intsead of which approval ratings have gone way in the opposite direction. what you do not seem to get is the difference between a war fought overseas against a country which did nothing against one’s own , and a war fought internally against an enemy who sets off bombs in one’s towns and wants to carve out a piece of your territory, from within your own internationally recognised boundaries.

    since you can’t get that basic difference, its a waste of my darn time – in fact anybody’s darn time– debating you.

  • Nishan, I think if you promised to burn your computer and never go near the internet again if you lose the bet, it might be a fair one. Dayan’s not the only one here with a theory after all.