The Global Context of Counterterrorism: Strategy, Ethics, and Sustainability in Sri Lanka’s COIN Experience

[Editors note: We were forwarded Dr. Kilcullen’s speech by someone present at the on-going “Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lankan Experience” seminar in Colombo. The person who sent us the email noted that “Australian counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen speech today at def seminar. It was the best for the day where he insinuated that by giving strong political leadership to finish the war, the MR is indirectly responsible for war crimes. He got a very good ovation from the audience, which included the army commander and Rajiva Wijesinha. We were laughing, because the “government” folks missed the egg on their face lines.” Emphasis ours.]

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Defense Secretary Rajapaksa, Professor Peiris, General Jayasuriya, distinguished officials, officers, and delegations: Good morning. Thank you for organizing this important conference, and for your kind invitation to talk frankly with you about Sri Lanka’s experience in Eelam War IV.  As I said when I accepted the invitation to attend, I believe your defeat of LTTE is a remarkable achievement that deserves to be studied. At the same time, the international community has legitimate questions about human rights and about the way operations were conducted, and it is in Sri Lanka’s interest to be as open as possible in answering those questions. I am not known for being diplomatic, so let me say from the outset that I do believe Sri Lanka has achieved a great success, but before you can put forward your approach as a model for others, it’s extremely important to address some important human rights critiques, and consider how to turn a military success into a sustainable peace. I don’t believe we are there yet.

Before I begin, let me also note that none of my comments today are or can be definitive. It would be arrogant and presumptuous for me to lecture you on “proper” tactics and strategy. All I can do is to provide an outsider’s perspective, and to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the campaigns of the last decade: it is for you to decide how, and indeed whether, these insights apply to you.

I’d like to focus my remarks around three topic areas: strategy, human rights and sustainability.

Strategy

The Eelam IV campaign was a remarkable achievement, with important lessons for other militaries facing capable irregular opponents. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces applied innovative tactics, combining guerilla and conventional tactics, joint operations, and constant organizational adaptation.

Most importantly, the SLA applied these tactics in the service of an effective strategic plan. This strategic plan took advantage of the Tiger’s main weaknesses: their hierarchical and conventional structure, and their reliance on international support. Eelam IV was the last major campaign in a protracted war, and the Tigers had over time gained very significant conventional capability. This had important implications for strategy, since LTTE was more a conventional opponent than a guerrilla adversary during Eelam IV.

One key innovation was the application of Special Infantry Operations training throughout the Army, which increased the capabilities of the regular Sri Lankan soldier and his unit, enabling them to carry out complex operations in and behind enemy lines. SIO training also developed the soldier himself, nurturing professionalism in the Sri Lankan Army and revitalizing confidence in the skills of conventional units. Because of these developments in ability and professionalism, ground forces maintained a high and constant attrition rate against LTTE. Even though a large part of the conflict was fought in a conventional manner, this shift in operational emphasis and training allowed the SLA to wage an effective counter-guerilla war in combination with conventional operations.

The Tri-Services, national and local police, the Civil Security Service, and special-forces and commando units all conducted combined operations in partnership. Combined (partnered) operations are a vital aspect of counterinsurgency; their successful application in Sri Lanka is an important lesson for other countries.

The adaptations of the Sri Lankan armed forces were not limited to tactics; Sri Lanka’s success also derived from the way it learned from, adapted to, and overcame operational obstacles as a learning organization. One of the hallmarks of Eelam IV was the attention given to nurturing tactical innovation from experienced soldiers. Training programs such as the Advanced Infantry Platoon Training (AIPT) devolved command from Platoon Commanders down to their soldiers in an open process of frank analysis and tactical discussion. By encouraging even the most junior soldier to think creatively about the conflict environment, AIPT had a force-wide effect, literally altering the organizational culture of the Sri Lankan Army. Unlike a traditional top-down command system, AIPT nurtured a sense of involvement and ownership, encouraging initiative and innovation throughout the ranks.

Though these tactical advances were important, their greatest advantage came from the strategy they supported. The government’s strategy accurately assessed and attacked the Tigers’ operational weaknesses.

The Tigers claimed to represent the political goals of Sri Lanka’s entire Tamil population. The schism within the LTTE and the split with Colonel Karuna in 2004 gave the lie to that claim, and led the Tigers to mistreat and alienate the population of Eastern Province. The Army was quick to exploit this divide, employing the local knowledge of Karuna’s troops in combination with conventional operations control the entire Eastern Province by August 2007.

The Tigers also relied on international funding and support. The post 9-11 crackdown on international terrorist financing severely reduced this source of funding. The military, especially the Navy, exploited this weakness by targeting Tiger supply ships, confident that lost materiel could no longer be replaced.

Another key element of the strategy focused on the Tigers’ hierarchical structure and conventional warfare approach. With a leadership based on a cult of personality, as well as a definite chain of command and organizational structure, the Tigers were susceptible to military collapse following defeat on the battlefield or loss of key leaders. Recognizing this, the government was able to confront the Tigers on a strictly military basis, making this more of a conventional war than a traditional counterinsurgency campaign, and yet with a high chance of success.

The Tigers chose to confront the Army symmetrically in open warfare; in response the Armed Forces fought and destroyed them through conventional operations that developed a tempo, mass, and operational capability they could not match. The Army’s combination of conventional and counter-guerilla tactics denied the Tigers a competitive advantage, while the tempo of operations prevented the Tigers from regrouping. Finally, the size of the Sri Lankan Army, which was recruiting nearly 3,000 soldiers a month by the end of 2008, gave it a decisive mass advantage over the dwindling LTTE.

Finally, most controversially, the strategy gave the Tigers no opening to surrender. It is normal in Counterinsurgency to provide an open avenue for reconciliation and surrender, but Sri Lanka appears to have decided that the special circumstances of the conflict with the LTTE made this inadvisable. In the past, the Tigers had repeatedly exploited international concern and cease-fires, using the breathing space to regroup and rearm. Recognizing this, the government ignored international calls for restraint and focused on completely destroying the Tigers. The government displayed unshakeable political, opposing all external and internal pressure for a ceasefire. This political cover provided the time, space, and support necessary for the free execution of the highly attritional military strategy.

Thus the government accurately assessed the Tigers’ strategic weaknesses, and aggressively sought to exploit them. The government attacked the bases of the Tigers’ material and political support, using conventional tactics to destroy their fighting capability. Importantly, the Tigers contributed to their own downfall by exploiting and abusing the Tamil population, destroying whatever local credibility may have remained after 25 years of war. In essence, the Sri Lankan government exploited its advantages to out-adapt and out-compete the LTTE.

Eelam IV has led some to question the basic precepts of classical COIN theory. This theory, as laid out by David Galula, Robert Thompson and others, advocates protecting the population and political primacy as ways to win over the population, isolate the insurgent and forge a lasting peace. Sri Lanka chose a different path, in direct contradiction to these prescriptions, which seems to have produced quick and dramatic results. I’d like to take a moment to address some of the issues this apparent contradiction raises.

Counterinsurgency is at heart an adaptation battle, a struggle to develop and apply new techniques in a fast-moving, high-threat environment. An effective counterinsurgency strategy depends on the nature of the counterinsurgent, the population, and the insurgency itself. COIN is not defined by any one set of techniques; what might work against one insurgent group may fail against another, and what might be effective today will not be tomorrow. A counterinsurgency strategy is literally any combination of actions to counter an insurgency.

Sri Lanka’s strategy embodied this principle. It recognized that the Tigers were operating in a conventional manner, were hierarchical and were actively alienating the Tamil population. Therefore, defeating them conventionally became possible.

The population-centric approach of classical COIN theory, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a response to a different type of insurgent threat. The Taliban, for instance, are not trying to defeat the Afghan Government in a conventional battle. Instead, they are using asymmetric threats and competitive governance to undermine the government and the International Community. Against this type of group, conventional military operations would be ineffective and counterproductive. A population centric approach that seeks to provide sustainable security, improve community resiliency and create a responsive government stands a higher chance of success.

Addressing Human Rights Concerns

The recent release of the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel of Experts’ report on accountability in Sri Lanka is the latest in a series of reports detailing potentially serious human rights abuses by both the LTTE and the government. Similar questions of abuse have been raised by organizations around the world.

Multiple accounts from these sources and others show a pattern of allegations against the Tigers and the government. These include alleged indiscriminate fire on civilians or refugees, extrajudicial killings of surrendering forces, denial of humanitarian assistance in conflict zones, and human rights violations outside the conflict zone, before, during, and after hostilities. Allegations against Tigers include using civilians as human shields, murdering civilians attempting to flee conflict areas, detention, torture and executions of civilians and unarmed prisoners of war, forced recruitment and use of child soldiers, forced enslavement of civilians in conflict zones, and the killing of civilians through suicide attacks and other acts of terrorism. The alleged shelling of the no-fire-zone in Mullaitivu District contributes to a view among some well-placed observers that the government too has engaged in abuses. Reports from NGO and UN staff detail the shelling of hospitals throughout Mullaitivu, injuring and killing scores of civilians.

As I noted earlier, I’m an outsider: but even I have no illusions about the extreme brutality of Tamil Tigers and their 25 years of atrocious violence against the Sri Lankan people. Again as an outsider, though, I must say that it is very difficult to see how the international community can accept the Sri Lankan model without a frank and honest discussion of these allegations of abuse.

The LTTE was well known for its ruthlessness and disregard for civilian life, never more so than when it employed civilians as human shields, or pressed children into battle. Understanding the trade-offs inherent in fighting such an implacable and abusive enemy is critical. Sri Lanka could argue that doing whatever it took to defeat such an enemy, and so ending the conflict, was morally justifiable in the special circumstances of the campaign. When an enemy repeatedly uses civilians as human shields, a government that gives in to this tactic may simply be prolonging the campaign, ultimately costing more lives. Opinions of course will vary on this, but having that discussion is critical.

It is obvious even to an outsider like me that Sri Lankan forces grappled with these issues during the Eelam IV campaign. The Sri Lankan Navy showed great restraint when facing Sea Tiger boats hiding among civilian refugee vessels, putting themselves at risk to positively identify Sea Tiger vessels before firing. The Sri Lankan Army faced a similar situation at Mullaitivu, and made significant attempts to evacuate noncombatants from the no-fire zone without allowing LTTE forces to escape.

On the other hand, the use of force against noncombatant civilians may help defeat a ruthless enemy who uses them as shields, but it can have very negative effects on long-term resolution of the conflict. Violence against civilians breeds resentment and hatred towards the government, and this will be exacerbated in the long run unless there is a public process of accountability and reconciliation. In this light, the provisions of international law can be seen not as restrictions that limit operational effectiveness, but rather as key tools that allow for long-term strategic success by helping to achieve a lasting peace.

Towards a Sustainable Peace

Even if a military strategy shows great respect for the local population, there are limits to its ability to solve counterinsurgency conflicts.

As I mentioned above, insurgencies are the outgrowth of political or economic grievances against the government on the part of the local population. Military strategy may reduce the effectiveness of an insurgent enemy, but an end to insurgent violence does not necessarily indicate an end to the conflict. A stark disparity in military power may prevent insurgent violence, but at the same time fail to promote long-term peace. If the original grievances driving the conflict remain ignored, the incentive for violence will remain.

I have seen this type of phenomenon first hand. In Afghanistan in 2001 the United States destroyed the Taliban regime in seven weeks. Key Taliban commanders laid down their arms and acknowledged the legitimacy of the newly formed central government. However, after two years with little effort at true reconciliation, accountability or peace-building, and with abuses against surrendered Taliban by their former enemies who were bent on settling scores, former Taliban reconstituted their government as the Quetta Shura and relaunched an insurgency. The insurgency we are facing in Afghanistan arises directly from a lack of effective peace-building after the military defeat of the Taliban in 2001.

Likewise, in East Timor, the Australian-led intervention force succeeded in nipping an insurgency in the bud, and in crushing the militias who had so violently abused the Timorese people and threatened to bring down the newly independent state. But we failed to conduct a fully transparent and accountable peace and reconciliation process, and the international community and the Timorese government excluded key players from the new government. By 2002 there were signs of unrest, and by 2006 these had broken out once more into violent conflict. Both these cases show that failure to fully engage in the difficult and painful process of fully accountable, transparent peace-building and reconciliation, can simply lead to a resumption of conflict.

The actions you have taken since the end of the conflict in 2009 have been impressive: over 200,000 Internally Displaced Persons have been released or resettled, and over 30 High Security Zones have been demobilized, allowing over 3,000 families to return home. Development and reintegration programs also seem to be in full swing. The DDR program has made impressive progress, and the Joint Plan for Assistance to the Northern Province looks set to bring economic investment to Jaffna and the surrounding areas.

But challenges still lie ahead. IDPs still require basic necessities and state services, and fully 15,000 Tamils still live in refugee camps. 70,000 refugees also remain in Tamil Nadu, India. The resolution of their situation will have a huge impact on future reintegration programs. The JPA focuses primarily on economic investment and development for the North in an attempt to return to a state of “normalcy.” Economic development can be a key aspect of counterinsurgency, but in my experience, by itself prosperity does little to address the drivers of conflict. A return to normalcy is important for the health and safety of the Tamil population, but the normal condition of Tamils within Sri Lanka state was what led to the rise of the Tigers in the first place, so if we want to avoid a repeat of the conflict, that is ultimately what needs to change.

It’s easy to talk about political reconciliation, but of course carrying it out is extremely difficult. Paul Collier has found that countries affected by conflict are much less likely to revert to violence if they engage in an all-encompassing peace and reconciliation process. Unfortunately, best practices for such a process are unclear and require a long-term investment of resources and effort. One cannot artificially accelerate the resolution of complicated economic, social and political problems. Given this context, I’d like to provide some thoughts on the ways in which governments can be effective in addressing the needs of their local population.

An essential area in which government can help ensure long-term peace is the way in which it carries out reconstruction and redevelopment initiatives. Redevelopment efforts that are executed from the bottom up, with a strong focus on improving community resiliency, have proven especially effective at achieving long-term stability; the design and execution of reform initiatives is as important as the content of peace-building measures.

Just as the Sri Lankan Army underwent a grassroots, bottom-up redevelopment of its core operational strategy and organizational culture in order to win the war, so must political and civil redevelopment of former insurgent areas start with bottom-up solutions to governance reform, community resilience and sustainable security. Community-focused reintegration is particularly effective in increasing the impact of DDR and redevelopment plans. Institutionalization of governance at the local level to foster linkages between government and communities is also vital.

In this context, I see promise in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commision. Provided the commission honestly and openly examines the events that took place from the breakdown of the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) to the end of hostilities in May of 2009, detailing causes of the conflict and ways to move forward on reconciliation, it has important potential to help move towards meaningful reconciliation. The recent statement from Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L. Peiris, affirming the government’s commitment to work towards a genuine reconciliation by working with all parties on a compromise devolution package, is an extremely important first step.

It seems to me that the best hope for long-term peace, following the remarkably successful defeat of the Tigers in Eelam IV, lies in robust political and economic reform at the local, community-level in all former insurgent-controlled areas. A government that brings peace, justice, and reconciliation to its people will be defended by its people, regardless of ethnic group.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be here today. I have not shied away from raising some difficult questions with you, and I hope you will understand the importance of engaging openly with international criticism, while in no way minimizing Sri Lanka’s achievement in destroying such a violent and ruthless enemy, and the importance of seeking lasting peace through justice. I look forward to learning more from you, both during this conference and in the field.

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[Editors note: Dr. David Kilcullen is an Australian author and consultant on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism who is the founder and CEO of Caerus Associates, a Washington D.C. based consultancy firm. He is a former Australian Army Royal Australian Infantry Corps Lieutenant Colonel and Analyst with the Australian Office of National Assessments. Kilcullen was seconded to the United States Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism as Chief Counterterrorism Strategist and then was the Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In 2007 he served as the Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser to the Commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq General David Petraeus as a civilian position on his personal staff responsible for planning and executing the 2007-08 Joint Campaign Plan which drove the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. Source: Wikipedia]

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In response to this article, we were sent this email by Rajiva Wijesinha on 2 June 2011 and publish it in full.

Dear Sanjana,

I was bemused by the piece in Groundviews about David Kilcullen’s speech. It was sent to me since I was also, gratuitously it seemed, mentioned, so I thought I should check with Mr Kilcullen, who has sent the following response. I trust that you will carry it in full. Regards, Rajiva (Wijesinha)

Rajiva,
the Groundviews report is a total mischaracterization of my remarks. I never mentioned war crimes, nor suggested in the slightest possible way that any senior official encouraged or condoned them.

What I did say is that the international community has some serious questions about human rights issues in the way the final campaigns were conducted, and that Sri Lanka (from what I can see) has nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to lose by engaging in an open discussion about these issues.

I also pointed to the need for full accountability and reconciliation going forward, and mentioned our experience in Afghanistan as a cautionary tale: military victory over the enemy is the start, not the end, of a process of peacemaking and it’s incredibly important to get this process right, otherwise the conflict will simply come back.

As the chairman of the session correctly pointed out, I made these remarks from a position of strong solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka — Tamils and others — who have suffered so egregiously from the predations of the LTTE over 30 years, and after fully half of the speech where I talked in detail about the achievements and innovations of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

As I said, I’m stunned that anyone could misinterpret my remarks in such a way and would urge anyone to simply read the speech or listen to what I said — anyone who does that can judge for themselves.

best wishes

Dave Kilcullen

  • Afraid of Death

    What will now be done by the Rajapaksa Regime is to lie through their teeth about the content of Kilcullen’s presentation with that master of obfuscation, Rajiva Wijesinha, taking front and centre stage, followed by his soul-mate, Dayan Jayatilleka who needs to keep singing for his Parisian supper!

    These people and their ilk are nothing by sycophantic liars and will continue to do the bidding of those whom they, slavishly and without any concern for principle or morality,follow.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Which part of the speech, specifically, would they need to lie about?

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    I read Kilcullen’s excellent lecture with great interest, but completely failed to spot the references that your correspondent draws attention to and inferences from (if less than perfectly grammatically). Of course there are references to the Panel report and the useful assertion that these should be openly addressed. I failed to detect the references to ” the MR” (sic) and implications of “indirect responsibility for war crimes”. Of course I have just awoken and read this in my hotel bed in Lisbon, but I also do not remember reading the term “war crimes”. I would therefore appreciate it if your correspondent could quote the passage/s or lines, that the audiences’ (and Prof Rajiva Wijesinha’s) failure to grasp, was such a source of amusement to him and his fellow sophisticates (“we”). Then the judgment as to whose face the egg adorns can be made by your readers.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    I can’t find any insinuation in this speech that MR is responsible for war crimes. Can someone point this out; or is that bit just wishful thinking on the part of the contributor? ;)

    • Mahesh

      So what you wanna do David Blacker!!! take him to International Court for Justice for what ever War crime he made.How about this.you try Obama or Bush for what they have done to Iraq and Afghanistan.Why dont you try them before MR

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Mahesh, are you illiterate, or just plain stupid?

      • Thambi

        Mahesh, Mr. Blacker is on your side.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    An excellent overview with sensible prescriptions for the way forward – and I assume we’re still groping our way forward, two year on :).

    What Dr Kilcullen failed to address about reconciliation and accountability is this:

    As long as GoSL alone (and not the LTTE rump) faces never-ending calls for war crimes trials by countries themselves guilty of war crimes on a truly industrial scale (committed during a similar time frame as Eelam Wars 1-4, (e.g. http://tinyurl.com/3b2qcow ), I can’t see how any SL govt will admit to anything. It would be politically impossible and electorally suicidal.

    i.e. any admission of responsibility and/or culpability on it’s part will be seized upon and used against it and the country, probably ending in sanctions, economic strangulation etc.

    As the fabulous Western bloc of the ‘int’l community’ and their little helpers like AI, HRW et al will (for geo-political reasons if nothing else) continue with the war crimes fox hunt, the GoSL will have no alternative but to maintain a strong blocking stance.

    A lessening of tensions and mutual suspicion between various Lankan population groups is unlikely to happen and will give MR & Co a ready-made excuse to (legitimately) maintain a hard-line on various matters of governance etc.

    Nice work by the West-bloc ‘international community’ :)

    • Thambi

      [cit]i.e. any admission of responsibility and/or culpability on it’s part will be seized upon and used against it and the country, probably ending in sanctions, economic strangulation etc.[/cit]

      Ridiculous. The US, EU, etc. are bending-backwards to help Sri Lanka get over its problems without involving themselves directly. They’ve not done any sanctions, etc. towards Sri Lanka and have asked in the nicest terms to deal with the issue of addressing the grievances of the Tamils. They aren’t being so courteous to suddenly turn around and say “AHA! GOT YOU! SANCTIONS!”..

  • ravana

    I fail to also see any accusation specifically against MR.

    The speaker is far too sophisticated to make such an implication. However, he is very politely trying to tell a bunch of head hunters, “Thanks you for your hospitality but I’ll pass on the Jacob-Creitzfeldt platter…”

    To the uninitiated, the cannibal head-shrinkers of Papua New-Guinea traditionally ate the brains of their victims, hoping to gain their strength and valour. Instead they received the poison chalice of the JCD, a virus which eats their brain cells.

    You guys would have to live and grow up with the white guys to know how they express revulsion while surrounded by head-hunters.

    I doubt if Rajiva Wijesinghe has the emotional capacity to understand such subtlety. I am surprised that Dr. Jayatilleke missed that. More likely, he simply ignored it.

    • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

      Ravana,
      These morally superior white people you live with, they’re no different to brown-skinned modayas when it comes to war crimes and killing civilians.

      They just have better weapons, kill through kindness (it’s always for the victims’ benefit) and call it an unfortunate consequence of fighting terrorism or whatever excuse they manage to concoct for the event.

      • ravana

        Mango,

        “These morally superior white people you live with”

        That’s your interpretation… and your problem

        BTW there is one white person I live with. She just happens to be morally superior to me.

        heh heh.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Sorry, Ravana, but I can see no evidence to substantiate your analysis; and I assure you I have considerable experience in “white people”. Perhaps you would now like to suggest that my white people are not as sophisticated as your white people? Unfortunately it seems as if you’re being as wishful in your analysis as the original contributor.

      • ravana

        “Perhaps you would now like to suggest that my white people are not as sophisticated as your white people?”

        : )

        They (yours and mine) both think the same way. Yours just express it more directly. You know what I mean?

        OTOH guys from SL who can speak like my “white people” have left the country a long time ago. I gather there are still a few left. Sri Lankans think in a pattern quite different to “white people”. Those who have left are able to translate between them.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        So what you’re saying is, “even though there is no evidence to support my theory, I know better than you, so take my word for it”? Yeah, OK, thanks for that, but I think I’ll pass.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “So what you’re saying is, “even though there is no evidence to support my theory, I know better than you, so take my word for it”? Yeah, OK, thanks for that, but I think I’ll pass.”

        Are you talking about SD?

        Thanks!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Since SD hasn’t commented in this thread, why would I be referring to him? Have a look at what I said above about straw-clutching; if it doesn’t stretch your comprehensive skills too much that is ;)

    • wijayapala

      Dear ravana

      You guys would have to live and grow up with the white guys to know how they express revulsion while surrounded by head-hunters.

      Could you please explain then why Kilcullen consciously chose to surround himself with these head-hunters and address them, when the other “white guys” were too afraid to?

    • wijayapala

      Ravana, there are so many fascinating things you are saying:

      Of necessity, Europeans of various hues have historical experience which imbues their psyche with the necessity of hiding the game in several layers and at the same time realising that all out war is futile. Thus they dress up what ever dirty deeds they may need to engage in with several layers of intrigue.

      Premadasa, Chandrika, and Ranil apparently tried intriguing and hiding the game with the LTTE, and all failed. It was only Mahinda who ended the war once and for all by his “all out” approach. Thank you for clarifying how inappropriate the European model was for dealing with the LTTE!

      Those who have actually been through defence training and qualification examination up to the level of Colonel and General know Thomas Jefferson’s statement intimately. Sarath Fonseka would be one of those.

      But wasn’t Fonseka in charge of the SLA when it was annihilating the LTTE? When he publicly stated that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala country, was he behaving as if the whole world was watching him?

  • Sohan Fernando

    Actual speech (in three parts) on YouTube here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/defseminar
    Also has several of the others’ speeches.

    Actual speech seems to deviate (ONLY slightly) from what I assume is the pre-rewritten speech.

    In part 2, discussing the “no opening to surrender” at video time 1:45 “government displayed unshakeable political [will], opposing all external and internal pressure for a ceasefire”, then he adds something NOT in the script, some words like:
    “….controversial but also unusual. Most governments engaged in counterinsurgency, most political leaders, do not engage with such a high degree of determination, it’s very unusual to do that. I think the nation of sri lanka is very lucky in its armed forces, but the armed forces in this case are also very lucky in the political leadership they had in this particular campaign,/b>” … emphasis mine ….

    …. so, about Dayan’s comment, maybe the above part of the speech is what caught groundview’s source’s attention.

    (Although, to me it’s unclear whether Kilcullen did in fact insinuate more than what he said, or if he just meant literally what he said. Either way, it IS perfectly clear to me what Kilcullen very firmly says about Sri Lanka needing to look into and respond to the allegations of human rights allegations; and it is very very very clear that Dayan is being Dayan and conveniently avoiding commenting on that matter, and instead is engaging in his usual evasive “distraction” tactics by attacking your source’s grammar! Duh, not surprising.)

    • Sohan Fernando

      sorrrrry :-( I messed up the closing Bold tag just before
      “… emphasis mine ….”

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Don’t you mean that there is no sign of such an insinuation? Frankly, the entire speech seems to be a fawning attempt to agree with the official position of the GoSL and its military. Saying that the SL population is lucky to have such a military and that the military is lucky to have such a government hardly smacks of criticism. Seems like there’s a lot of straw grasping going on here.

  • ram kapoor

    after watching the video sohan points out, i beleive that the part of the speech not in the script is what caught the source’s attention. i think nothing was insinuated and that judging by the delivery of the speech and the script, was meant literally.

  • Shakya Pathmalal

    I am at the conference, and while Dr.Kilcullen made comments in regards to the Human Rights Issues during the latter stages of the war, he did NOT in my mind insinuated that MR is anyway responsible for War Crimes. However, this is open to interpretation depending on who listens to the speech. He did in fact state during the speech, that SL can be a case of end justifying the means as the LTTE was a brutal organization. He did however call for more accountability on what happened on the last stages of the war.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    @ Ravana: When you say “You guys would have to live and grow up with the white guys to..” in how many ways could that be interpreted? I’d love to hear your clarification. Did you mean they’ve taught you superior morals or better personal hygiene or eating habits or driving habits?

    I also have plenty of experience with ‘white people’ and have yet to see these differences you mentioned.

    • ravana

      Mango,
      You seem to make the interpretation that “white guy” is superior. Rajiva may think so.

      But that’s not what I meant or think. They are just different in the basic culture which shapes their psyche. “White Guy” refers to those of European Ancestry of the past few centuries. These people emerged from over a thousand years of continuous trauma. It is how this affected their culture and psyche that is different to the “brown man on a little mango in the Indian Ocean”. The Britons for example had to fight hard for every concession they got from their brutal rulers.

      In fact the English royal dynasty died out about the same time as the Sinhala dynasty did. Both countries imported the next dynasty (from Germany and South India respectively). Both these dynasties protected the State religion as was expected of them. The English continued to extract concession from their “foreign monarch” and in turn maintained a mutual loyalty.
      The Nayakkar kings of Sinhale and its aristocrats on the other hand diverged resulting in the disastrous distrust of the early 19th century.

      The defeat of the English/Malay army in 1803-05 by the Kandyans exemplified the way the traumatised people of Sinhale and the traumatised people of England dealt with crises. The English had learnt the fine balance between total war (and its futility) and acquiescence by developing the will to force a foe to compromise. Acquiring the rights to the island of Ceylon from the Dutch in the treaty of Amiens is an exemplar of this.

      The aristoc(r)ats of Sinhale on the other hand appear to know only a very basic form of intrigue. Lure a victim in to your trap and either subjugate or totally annihilate them. This is what happened in Kandy when they let the English first succumb to malaria and then began pursuing them and killed them all (except for one civilian who escaped). The English now had a moral high ground to take revenge (better than the one they used to attack in the first place). Further they began to utilise what they were to later master, which the intrigue of divide and conquer. Rest is history.

      Of necessity, Europeans of various hues have historical experience which imbues their psyche with the necessity of hiding the game in several layers and at the same time realising that all out war is futile. Thus they dress up what ever dirty deeds they may need to engage in with several layers of intrigue. Moral high ground is a well developed art among them. (How many hints do I need to give you to help you see this?)

      Aristocrats of Sinhale and those who followed them never had need for such layers as the culture demands absolute loyalty to the identified feudal lord. This is a practice the Europeans in general and English in particular were forced to leave behind about a century before they conquered Sinhale. The Sinhalas have not learnt to think the following way: “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching- Thomas Jefferson”. Another such a psychological caveat would be “imagine that the tables are turned one day”. (another couple of hints)

      The culture of the sinhala is such that they tend to cover up after the fact. This is because their view of the World is a defensive one. i.e. the World is something that can engulf you not something to explore and acquire. There is no necessity to justify any thing to an implacable enemy. Anything within is entirely your property to do with as you please. If the implacable enemy is at the door then quickly hide what you’ve done and make a lot of noise and sound outraged. Hopefully the enemy would be frightened and back off.
      (read Michael Roberts to find out how the implacable enemy in Medieval Sinhale evolved to acquire the name Demala- e.g. Hadi Demala, Parangi Demala etc)

      I make generalisations here. There are plenty of Europeans who act impulsively and try to cover up, but not the rulers. Similarly there are plenty of Sri Lankans who consider setting up the game of chess in advance, but not the rulers.

      Those who have actually been through defence training and qualification examination up to the level of Colonel and General know Thomas Jefferson’s statement intimately. Sarath Fonseka would be one of those. Those who have not had such training, nor any training in a tertiary institute, and have not the courage of conviction or principles would revert to the basic feudal thinking (JRJ is an example of a tertiary educated ruler who let go of courage of conviction and principle after becoming the feudal lord) especially in a crisis.

      Unfortunately this may have happened more dramatically in Sri Lanka when the people let the country be run by village idiots who could not let the professionals complete the job.

      If Sri Lanka wants to survive as an independent nation then its rulers and professionals have to learn to have a psyche similar to those described above. Having a feudal mentality will only drive you in to being a vassal state (of you know who- take your pick).

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Aside from the History 101, given that David Kilcullen has denied that he meant anything like what you and GV’s mysterious “contributor” have claimed he did, isn’t it pretty clear that your self-proclaimed inside track on the white man is a bit iffy?

      • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

        @ Ravana,
        White skin doesn’t make one superior in anything other than hiding naked in the snow. Whilst I disagree entirely about the degree of ‘trauma’ experienced by the poor, ill-treated English peasants compared to their equivalents in SL, that’s neither here nor there. And the ‘English had the moral high ground’? What ? When? Perhaps when they alone faced the Nazis in 1939, but certainly not during their era of colonial expansion. Moral high ground, my foot :)

        SL can be just as subtle, devious and hypocritical as the West.

        The West’s destruction of modern Iraqi society (with attendant civilian casualties) was code-named Operation Iraqi Freedom.

        SL’s the destruction of the LTTE (with attendant civilian casualties) was termed The Humanitarian Rescue Operation.

    • ravana

      DB, DJ

      Hik Hik Hik

      nudge nudge wink wink , say no more.

      Oh Dear, This is entertainment.

      JJ
      “I am prepared to investigate allegations, specific allegations,” Jayasuriya told reporters after a three-day seminar entitled: “Defeating Terrorism, Sri Lankan Experience.”

      Oh stop it. You guys are killing me. SF must be kakking himself in his cell.

      Diaspora Chick,
      You are not taking these guys seriously are you? They don’t care. And as you would know ‘the white guys” have played with them but made sure they had no blood on their own hands. The thing is, like catholic school boys of yore they don’t yet know the’ve been played with.

      Only ones who care are us diaspora baby. I think we’d better have our own truth and reconciliation.

      • wijayapala

        Dear ravana

        Only ones who care are us diaspora baby. I think we’d better have our own truth and reconciliation.

        That is an excellent idea. To teach all of us the real meaning of “accountability,” why not start with exploring the diaspora’s role in bankrolling the LTTE and tacitly supporting the LTTE’s return to full-scale hostilities in 2006 and its own crimes against the Tamils, namely using child soldiers?

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    We were sent this email by Rajiva Wijesinha today and publish it in full.

    ###

    Dear Sanajana

    I was bemused by the piece in Groundviews about David Kilcullen’s speech. It was sent to me since I was also, gratuitously it seemed, mentioned, so I thought I should check with Mr Kilcullen, who has sent the following response. I trust that you will carry it in full. Regards, Rajiva (Wijesinha)

    Rajiva,
    the Groundviews report is a total mischaracterization of my remarks. I
    never mentioned war crimes, nor suggested in the slightest possible
    way that any senior official encouraged or condoned them.

    What I did say is that the international community has some serious
    questions about human rights issues in the way the final campaigns
    were conducted, and that Sri Lanka (from what I can see) has nothing
    to hide, and therefore nothing to lose by engaging in an open
    discussion about these issues.

    I also pointed to the need for full accountability and reconciliation
    going forward, and mentioned our experience in Afghanistan as a
    cautionary tale: military victory over the enemy is the start, not the
    end, of a process of peacemaking and it’s incredibly important to get
    this process right, otherwise the conflict will simply come back.

    As the chairman of the session correctly pointed out, I made these
    remarks from a position of strong solidarity with the people of Sri
    Lanka — Tamils and others — who have suffered so egregiously from
    the predations of the LTTE over 30 years, and after fully half of the
    speech where I talked in detail about the achievements and innovations
    of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

    As I said, I’m stunned that anyone could misinterpret my remarks in
    such a way and would urge anyone to simply read the speech or listen
    to what I said — anyone who does that can judge for themselves.

    best wishes

    Dave Kilcullen

  • Diaspora Chick

    David Blacker said “given that David Kilcullen has denied that he meant anything like what you and GV’s mysterious “contributor” have claimed he did”

    Kilcullen’s ‘denial’ is actually when he says “…that the international community has some serious questions about human rights issues in the way the final campaigns were conducted, and that Sri Lanka (from what I can see) has nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to lose by engaging in an open discussion about these issues.

    I also pointed to the need for full accountability and reconciliation going forward, and mentioned our experience in Afghanistan as a cautionary tale: military victory over the enemy is the start, not the end, of a process of peacemaking and it’s incredibly important to get this process right, otherwise the conflict will simply come back.”

    If that’s a ‘denial’, then I don’t need an acceptance or recognition of what folks have been asking of Govt!!! LOL.

    But hard to have what Kilcullen wants to see when no one in Govt wants to do this, and I think Kilcullen knows this.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Really? Which part of this “the Groundviews report is a total mischaracterization of my remarks. I never mentioned war crimes, nor suggested in the slightest possible way that any senior official encouraged or condoned them,” do you feel is not a denial of the “contributor”‘s claim that Kilcullen blamed MR for war crimes? You may now move the goalposts and say that Kilcullen isn’t denying something else that he said, and you would be right. But he is denying that he suggested the GoSL is responsible for war crimes. Try not to get too confused, lady.

      • PAM

        For the life of me I could not pick up any allegations of war crimes against MR in Dr. Kilcullen’s speech.
        Were you drunk in the land of nod when you “picked” up this “insinuation” in his speech.
        It seems that you guys (at the GV) are the ones with “egg on the face” and have become the
        laughing stock. Most probably my comment will not get published!!!!!
        Of course Dr. KilCullen has the right to voice his reservations about adopting the SL method anywhere and everywhere in the world. Of course the SL victory came at great human cost, no denying that.
        I’m a Sri Lankan who lived in SL during most part of the 30 odd years of lunacy and killing that the LTTE and JVP unleashed on the civilian population and I rejoiced at the demise of both these groups. Those who take the sword shall die by the sword. Words spoken centuries ago, but heavily pregnant with wisdom.
        I have no doubt that civilians perished during the war. What do you expect when they are forced into the middle of a battle ground!!! Alas the “invincible” terrorist tiger leadership is not to be found on this side of life to be accused of crimes against humanity now, eh?
        It is also possible that the Govt forces shelled “hospitals”. What do you do when the terrorists hide in these and take pot shots at you. Show then “mettha, muditha, karunadahra”? You don’t form an army to
        show metta to anyone who is trying to destroy what you are trying to protect.
        Civilians died in the war, and most of them were Tamils, there is no denying that.
        But, don’t try to make a case out of punishing the SL govt and forces for this, when in reality these kinds of crimes against humanity have gone on and are still going on with the leadership of the Western “democracies”.
        It is my belief that the SL govt should examine the alleged killings (and rapes and abuses allegedly at the hands of the military) that happened outside the immediate battleground. These could have happened, and if they did, they should be investigated and the culprits punished. Nobody should be above the law in matters such as those and it will only clear out the horror elements in an otherwise brilliant army. The SL govt should do this for the sake of the reputation of a gallant and courageous army. Why allow a few criminals to spoil the good image of the saviours of a nation?

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          “It seems that you guys (at the GV) are the ones with “egg on the face” and have become the laughing stock.”

          Spot on. We laugh at ourselves daily, as much as we laugh at and with others. Can’t do a site like this without a sense of humour!

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    S.Lanka offers to probe ‘specific’ war crime claims

    AFP

    Sri Lanka’s top military commander offered on Thursday to probe “specific allegations” of war crimes during the country’s fight against Tamil Tiger separatists that ended two years ago.

    Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya said no civilians were killed by his forces, but he was open to investigating alleged rights abuses in the final stages of fighting.

    “I am prepared to investigate allegations, specific allegations,” Jayasuriya told reporters after a three-day seminar entitled: “Defeating Terrorism, Sri Lankan Experience.”

    “I don’t want to sweep anything under the rug,” he said referring to Australian counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen’s call Tuesday for Sri Lanka’s generals to address international concerns about war crimes.

    His remarks appeared to be a softening of the hard-line position of Sri Lanka which had insisted that no civilians were killed by its troops and there was no need for an investigation.

    Full story here – http://wires.univision.com/english/article/2011-06-02/slanka-offers-to-probe-specific

    • sabbe laban

      PAM

      SPOT ON!

      Groundviews:

      Hats off for the comment on PAM’s!

  • Diaspora Chick

    David,

    Who to believe? Prof. Gunaratne says 1,400 killed. President says no one killed. Gotabaya kinda says no one but in same speech says casulties kept to minimum / were minimal. US defence attache says he believes govt. US ambassadors then and now say a different story. I guess David – not you, the guy who wrote this piece – can clarify what exactly are “serious questions about human rights issues in the way the final campaigns were conducted” when he also says “I never mentioned war crimes”.

    If it’s not war crimes, what could the serious human rights issues over the final thrust of war be? Denial of Channel V to entertain the troops at night? Now there’s some serious s***!

    But I guess David’s boarded a flight back to Oz, and we’ll never know what he really meant or didn’t mean even though he could have been read to mean something else.

    Peace.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Well, they say there are none so blind as those who will not see. Kilcullen says that the world has questions on possible human rights abuses. He also says he didn’t accuse the GoSL of war crimes but that they should address those questions if they wish their strategy to be accepted as legitimate for future military textbooks. Now is that something beyond your grasp?

      I understand that perhaps you wish Kilcullen had said something else, but the fact is that this is what he said, and neither wishful thinking, nor reading into his words, nor manipulating them will change that.

      You also seem a bit confused over what a US ambassador is and what a US defence attache is. Perhaps you should google that for a start.

      I’m not too interested in what GR or MR have to say in regard to figures, anymore than I’m interested in what Tamilnet has to say; however, in neither case am I gonna claim they said something they didn’t. The point is, even guys like Gordon Weiss (who first made the 40,000 claim) now say the figures could be as low as 10,000. So yeah, who do you believe?

      However what you certainly don’t do is pretend they said something they didn’t. You have a nice day now, out there in the big bad diaspora ;)

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hi Sohan, I guess David Kilcullen ‘s clear comment should answer your speculation about my evasiveness? Grammar is important, because the most charitable explanation I can think of is that GV’s source couldn’t really understand what was said in either the text OR the actual speech ( as confirmed by Kilcullen’s emphatic clarfication reproduced above). Lost in translation, eh?

    • Sohan Fernando

      Hi Dayan,

      should answer your speculation about my evasiveness?
      :-) As most Groundviews readers have probably realized during its lifetime, it’s unlikely that anything will ever answer the oft-pointed-out questions about your oft-occurring evasiveness! :-)

      What *I* (perhaps mistakenly) said you were continuing to be evasive about, was:
      “Kilcullen very firmly says about Sri Lanka needing to look into and respond to the allegations of human rights allegations ….
      Dayan … conveniently avoiding commenting on that matter”
      (emph.added)

      I.e., in your articles or comments elsewhere on GV your position has been the evasive or “distraction” tactics of (for example) focusing only on the hypocrisy of the USA et al while refusing to admit the dire need to look into the many severe allegations. But on re-reading your original comment of June 1 above maybe I should apologize ‘cos it seems this time you ARE finally admitting that “references to the Panel report and the useful assertion that these should be openly addressed”. I assume that implies you agree with his assertion? WOW, is that a first for Dayan, or is just due to being half asleep!? :-)

      About grammar… well if that really was the reason why you mentioned his grammar then this time (unlike your usual snide lofty remarks at us far less educated folk’s poor writing) it’s OK!

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        The ancient Romans called this “suppressio veries; suggestio falsi” , meaning there were two types of lies, suggesting the false and suppressing the truth. That is what Sohan does.

        Sohan moves from spin to outright suppression of truth when he writes: “Kilcullen very firmly says about Sri Lanka needing to look into and respond to the allegations of human rights allegations ….
        Dayan … conveniently avoiding commenting on that matter” (emph.added)I.e., in your articles or comments elsewhere on GV your position has been the evasive or “distraction” tactics of (for example) focusing only on the hypocrisy of the USA et al while refusing to admit the dire need to look into the many severe allegations. But on re-reading your original comment of June 1 above maybe I should apologize ‘cos it seems this time you ARE finally admitting that “references to the Panel report and the useful assertion that these should be openly addressed”. I assume that implies you agree with his assertion? WOW, is that a first for Dayan, or is just due to being half asleep!?” ( GV)

        This guy Sohan is a ruddy treat. Weeks ago I was on every channel on SL television, from MTV/Sirasa to state TV’s CROSS FIRE, repeatedly asserting that the panel’s report should be openly confronted in detail and TRUTHFULLY. Yep, I echoed Amilcar cabral in saying ‘ the best propaganda is the truth’.

        Not only did several hundreds of thousands of viewers watch this, one of the videos is still up on the website Sri Lanka Guardian, hardly a pro-GoSL space!

        Now look who has been half asleep…! That’s my charitable hypothesis.

    • http://www.ualg.pt Dissanayake

      @ Lost in translation
      BTW, it is a good film. If anybody has not watched it, pls watch it to cool down from this unnecessarily overheated debate.

  • ravana

    Wijayapala,

    “why not start with exploring the diaspora’s role in bankrolling the LTTE and tacitly supporting the LTTE’s return to full-scale hostilities in 2006 and its own crimes against the Tamils, namely using child soldiers?”

    Excellent idea. Are you in?

  • wijayapala

    PAM,

    I have no doubt that civilians perished during the war. What do you expect when they are forced into the middle of a battle ground!!!

    Good point- so why does Mahinda then claim that there were zero civilian casualties? Does he really believe everyone is so stupid???

    • Hela

      Wijayapala,

      I haven’t seen anywhere GOSL saying that there were zero civilian casualties. What the govt saying is that they had a zero civilian casualty policy. Meaning no deliberate targeting of civilians.

      David Kilcullen also pointed out instances where SL Navy endangered their lives due to deliberate restraint they exercised. He also mentioned similar actions by the Army in trying to take civilians out of the battlefield.

      David also says that SL doesn’t have anything to hide.

      Some GV correspondents seem to possess intellectual blind spots when they don’t hear what they like to hear. It is good that you keep your sense of humour, though hopefully not at the expense of our country.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya said no civilians were killed by his forces”http://www.lbr.lk/fullstory.php?nid=201106031052451756

        This is only the latest articulation of this claim that has been repeated many times.

  • http://www.worldclasstamil.com Subramaniam Masilamany

    Unedited, forgive mistakes

    If the war was won why are they behaving like the vindicated? Their hearts, minds and souls are not at peace. The peace will come not from the Singhalese but from the Tamils.There must be some fundamental sismic shift that has to be introduced in the minds of Rajiva, Dayan and others. Though LTTE was defeated, it helped us peace loving, community oriented people to come to the front and lead the way for a new united international Tamil movement. Since 1995 LTTE was on its way out so there is no military victory, We Tamils were distancing from them. So Rajiva and Dayan must relax now. We got rid of LTTE, beacuse they were becoming a nuisance. Did you notice the Tamil resurgence after the war. In Canada we elected a Young Tamil to the parliament, second candidate was defeated by the remnents of LTTE and singapore made a Jaffna Tamil as the deputy Prime Minister. Go to Wall street and Canary wharf and see the financial power of the Tamils. Come to Toronto and see how many Singhalese are working in Tamil Corporations.
    LTTEs time was over, their usefulness no longer needed, we have other means of acheiving freedom.We are now flexing our Political and Financial muscle. Singhalese people instead of reacting must respond, come and join us we will show you safety and security in Sri Lanka, not fear and insecurity your criminal politicians are preaching. Tamils are the best ever happened to the singhalese and to try and destroy you will destroy yourself.

    What they defeated was an out dated mischievous front piece,Thank you, the Tamil establishment is intact. It is a silent and peaceful means and movement. It manipulates the forces as needed. It is my advice to Singhalese in sri Lanka is to get their house in order by cleaning up their mess, you have a criminal culture, that will not help you either. Mahinada Rajapaksa is the terminal end of a narcissistic culture of impunity and non repentence. People are not animals and cities are not jungles, you have long way to go. That is where the attention Dayan and Rajiva must be.
    First thing Rajiva and Dayan must do is to get rid of Rajapaksas and then all the crooks and criminals.

  • justitia

    A fine seminar, from the army’s and government’s point of view.
    An excellent Self Glorification Seminar.
    But the seminar ignored the fact that though the army numbered around 200,000 men/women, there are/were 50,000 deserters at large most of whom ignored the call by the army to register their names again to prevent courts martial and to become eligible for a pardon.
    Sri Lanka army has/had the largest percentage of deserters among all armies.
    This is said to a most humane army which avoided civilian casualties and which was very well instructed in “human rights”.
    SL Army offers promotions in rank to those who die in action,pensions even if the ‘service period’ was a few months, and widows’ pensions even after a few months of service by the spouse.
    Plus, salaries higher than those in public service who have higher educational standards – the army mainly recruited those with 7th std. passes who would otherwise have been unemployed.
    But then,why did 50,000 recruits became disappointed/disillusioned to desert?
    The village lads and lasses who joined only as a means of employment
    and who received excellent food, clothing and shelter, in addition to good salaries, pensions, promotions on death and spouses’ pensions deserted. What went wrong?

    Kilcullen clearly called for an investigation. This should be by independent international experts.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Justicia says: “Kilcullen clearly called for an investigation. This should be by independent international experts”.

    Kilcullen ( clearly) says: “I never mentioned war crimes, nor suggested in the slightest possible way that any senior official encouraged or condoned them. What I did say is that the international community has some serious questions about human rights issues in the way the final campaigns were conducted, and that Sri Lanka (from what I can see) has nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to lose by engaging in an open discussion about these issues.”

    This (clearly) says a whole lot about Justicia….

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    “The only speaker to address head-on the allegations of human-rights abuses—and the army’s implausible waffling about them—was not a Sri Lankan. David Kilcullen, an Australian consultant on counter-insurgency, said it was difficult to see how the international community could accept the Sri Lankan model without a frank and honest discussion of these allegations of abuse.

    Mr Kilcullen offered that Sri Lanka might argue that whatever it took to defeat such an enemy, and so to end the conflict, was morally justifiable in the special circumstances of the final campaign. But even at the end of this seminar’s third day, Sri Lanka was doing nothing of the sort.”

    From ‘The heavy guns stayed silent’, Economist, http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/06/sri-lankas-war-fighting-seminar

    • wijayapala

      From ‘The heavy guns stayed silent’, Economist,

      This is the same Economist that predicted back in 2007-8 that the SLA would not win the war, right?

  • Prabha David

    Some detractors and spoilers of peace in Sri Lanka are trying to misinterpret what David Kilcullan, a pre-eminent expert of terrorism, said. Dr Kilcullen was amazed at the economic development and reconciliation effort. The Sri Lanka defence seminar was a phenomenoal success.

    • Thambi

      The economic development for the army and pitisarayo that bypasses the Northern Tamils who are reduced to poverty? What reconciliation effort?