Responsibility of Government
When Jaliya Wickremarachchi on behalf of CSLAT raised the question of "Responsibility of Government" only myself and Shyamon Jayasinghe questioned his argument. My position was that the neither the present GOSL nor its predecessors were acting as a "responsible government" but expatriate groups were taking an inconsistent position praising the current GOSL and condemning its predecessors when in fact they were all the same. Shyamon took a different line and this post examines his argument.
Shyamon's position is that "naive militarism" will fail as will "naive pacifism" while his recommendation is for a 'military component' together with a 'diplomatic component'. But it was precisely this military-diplomatic tactic that has been used in the conflict so far and it has had no success. When fighting terrorism Bush, Blair, Howard et al have opted for the military solution, and even though they cannot claim victory there are no instances where Shyamon's tactic has succeeded in dealing with determined terrorists like the LTTE or Al Qaeda.
It must be remembered that no one is recommending using a single tactic. Even those who advocate a military solution are not saying that diplomacy should not be used, but that the diplomacy should be in support of, not a substitute for, the military option. Thus Bush, Blair and Co., even though they adopt the military solution, also use diplomacy but in support of their military strategy. My argument is that this should be the tactic that offers the possibility of a solution that is in the real interests of Sri Lanka. Even though Shyamon calls his strategy a "middle path" it is not even a path but an attempt to carry on the disastrous policies of the past and present GOSLs. There is in fact no middle between war (active resistance) and peace (surrender)
In contrast to this I would argue that a realistic solution is the ACSLU solution (please click on this link). This combines an immediate course of action (war or the 'military solution') with a vision of the ultimate structure of the SL state which has no place racism, chauvinism, homelands for any racial group, mono-lingualism, 'power sharing', federalism or racist devolution. This is not the place to expand on this solution as the salient aspects are dealt with in the article referenced (especially in sections 4 and 5).
In saying that the military solution will fail in the immediate context Shyamon is propagating the myth of the invincibility of the LTTE. Unlike the global Islamic terrorism which Bush are Co. are battling the LTTE has only few resources. Their only consistent supporters are the Tamil Diaspora. In terms of manpower, financial resources, capacity to acquire military hardware, international legitimacy, etc. the resources at the disposal of GOSL far exceed those of the LTTE. Why GOSL has failed is primarily due to corruption and inefficiency. Politicians have used, and still use, the military effort as a milking cow to feather their own nests and build foreign bank accounts. Other obstacles are the wide-spread diffusion of the neo-Sinhala mentality, the foolish antics of the "patriotic lobby", the misdirected efforts of expatriate groups like SPUR, CSLAT etc. While it is difficult to do this is not inherently insoluble.
Shyamon can glibly talk of a military-diplomatic solution as he avoids giving any significant details of this solution. He claims that Kadirgarmar has some success but fundamentally the position was the same when he was assassinated as when he began as foreign minister. He may have got a few countries to "ban" the LTTE but I have shown that these are cosmetic and not real. Whatever he gained was minor and vanished soon after he was killed. Expatriate groups are essentially following the Kadirgamar strategy of trying to cultivate western politicians but these are doomed to failure in the absence of a robust policy to attack the problem such as the one proposed by ACSLU. Merely waving the terrorism flag will not get any worthwile results. Also defeating the LTTE is not the complete answer, the real enemy is racial devolution and racial separatism (apartheid) and there are many advocates of this apart from the LTTE.
Shyamon presents his strategy as a Buddhist policy ("middle path"). But the real Buddhist policy is not to rely on external saviours but on one-self. This is what Sri Lankans (especially the Sinhelas) are not doing as they are too much enslaved by the neo-Sinhala mentality. They unashamedly extend their begging bowls not only for foreign aid but also try to find foreigners to solve their problems. They should understand that these foreign agents will not pull out their chestnuts from the fire. If they want this they have to pull it out themselves, and they seem to be singularly incapable of doing this.
Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2007 9:06 AM
Subject: Re: Responsibility of the government