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.

Victor Gunasekara

From: Shyamon Jayasinghe []
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 12:11 PM
Subject: Re: Responsibility of the government

Jaliya, You are not saying anything new that can dislodge my position that naive militarism will fail miserably and bring calaminty and eventual separation in our country. Fortunately, our present government has realized this although President Rajapakse has been fenced in by naive militarists. It is further alleged that his brothers want to make a big buck out of the war. Mangala Samaraweera has already pointed out their interest in tenders!. It will be be too late when you realise that the foreign passport holders have fled the country. The other militarists are (a) the JVP who once peddled for Eelam and are thus seen to be mere opportunists (b) the JHU monks who are ignorant and who have been part of the conflict for decades;not allowing its peaceful resolution.
What I advocate is a realism that takes into account BOTH the military component and the diplomatic component and you seem to deliberately ignore this stand of mine by trying to group me under the socalled peace activists who I think are promoting a naive pacifism that is as bad as naive militarism
I therefore take the Buddhist middle path

From: Shyamon Jayasinghe []
Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2007 9:06 AM
Subject: Re: Responsibility of the government

I am sorry to observe that Jaliya has distorted my responses and tired to take this argument on a different path rather than meet me point by point relevantly:
1. I have not said that only a defeated LTTE will agree to  peace talks. What I said is that only a defeated LTTE will agree to talks ON THE CONDITIONS PROPOSED BY CSLAT. Therefore, obviously CSLAT has joined the other militaristic expatriate groups who who beleive that this 22 -year-old crisis can be sorted out only by a militaristic approach. I am not in agreement with that vision which I believe is based on naive assumptions that will certainly fail.
2. Jaliya proposes that we go ahead without the Western countries and, by extension, without  India. If he studied this part of my argument he will realize that our country will be without ability to import its food and basic necessities. The implication of his stand  would entail India's invasion of our country. However we may wish to, we cannot hide our faces in sand disregarding geopolitical realities. Thanks to the great diplomatic efforts of Kadirgama, we have come a long way from the bad times when the West and India had given positive support to the LTTE. Are you aware that CSLAT proposals will, if given effect to, take us backwards once again?
3. We need both a militaristic and diplomatic thrust presented in fine proportions if we are to eventually beat the LTTE.
 Ranil ignored the militaristic component and leaned too heavily on the diplomatic strategy. MR is doing it the other way with no proposal yet emerging that can win global respect, bring global pressue on the Tigers, and dissipate its sympathisers.
4.I am personally getting more than a bit worried with growing concerns of the interest in government tenders said to be shown (ref Mangala Samaraweera's letter to the President) by the Rajapakse brothers with foreign passports. We have to be very cautious in our assessments.
I hope that CSLAT will not fall into the naive popularistic trap that other Sinhala expatriate organisations have fallen into. For someone who has had respect for CSLAT, this will be a sad experience
----- Original Message -----
From: Shyamon Jayasinghe
To: CSLAT ;Sent: Friday, February 16, 2007 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: Responsibility of the government
CSLAT: "The government must stand firm, and tell the world that the only way they will agree to talk,  if the LTTE give up all their arms, renounce violence, and disband their police, suicide brigade and child soldiers.  Only then, the GOSL even consider talking peace"
MY RESPONSE: (a) If the LTTE were to agree to the conditions stated, the question of talks will not arise as it would imply that we have won the war. It is only a defeated LTTE that will agree to those conditions.Then why talk? (b) CSLAT wants us to "stand firm" and not listen to global powers in resolving our conflict. What would we do if these big powers wash their hands from us and block us from recourse to their funds. Today,  we balance our huge war budget with the help of IMF , US, and EU funding. In addition the US trains our soldiers and has put in a lot of money to our war effort. Are we going to give this all up? Then are we going to resort to bows and arrows?
CSLAT: "European countries should never again be accepted as peace brokers no matter how sincere they appear to be.  They all have hidden agendas, which certainly not going to help Sri Lanka to get rid of Tamil Terrorism"
MY RESPONSE: (a) If we should never accept EU coutnries as peace brokers then who are we to employ? A huge conflict like the one we have needs a third party to act as broker and facilitator. This is not like dealing with a recalcitrant trade union. India refuses. Then who? (b) The assumption that all EU countres have hidden agendas needs scrutiny, isnt it? All GOSLs including MR have accepted the EU mediators. Does this not hint that your assumption may not be correct?
Can CSLAT or somone else answers these cogent questions in an equally cogent way without resorting to slander? If this is done, that will help to clear our minds (yours and mine) of confusion.