Category Archives: Opinions

Business Prospects after the War

Ajit Gunawardene, Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings talks to Bloomberg TV on the business prospects of a post-war Sri Lanka.

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The Rajapakse Doctrine

Move over Bush, the TIME has a new piece on the Rajapakse doctrine of counterinsurgency. The whole thing is worth a read. Below is a key excerpt:

The main principles [of the Rajapakse doctrine of counterinsurgency] are:

Brute Force Works
Modern military wisdom says sheer force doesn’t quell insurgencies, and that in the long run political and economic power-sharing along with social reconciliation are the only ways to end the fighting. But the Sri Lankan army eventually broke down the Tigers in an unrelenting military campaign, the final phase of which lasted more than two years. That sort of sustained offensive hasn’t been tried anywhere, in decades.

Negotiations Don’t
After numerous attempts at mediation — most notably by Norway — led to nothing, Rajapaksa basically abandoned the pursuit of a negotiated solution. Once the military had the upper hand, there was little effort to treaty with the Tigers.

Collateral Damage Is Acceptable
In the final months of fighting, the Sri Lankan military offensive hardly differentiated between civilian and Tiger targets. Refugees fleeing the fighting said thousands of innocents were being killed in the army’s bombardments. Modern militaries typically halt hostilities when large numbers of civilians are killed. The Sri Lankan army barely paused. Reva Bhalla, director of analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm, says Rajapaksa’s “disregard for civilian casualties” was a key to the success of the military operation.

Critics Should Shut Up — Or Else
For a democracy, Sri Lanka’s recent record on press freedom is an embarrassment. Journalists who dared question the government (and not just over the military campaign) have been threatened, roughed up, or worse. The Jan. 8 murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, a crusading editor — and TIME contributor — was an especially low point. In recent months, as the fighting intensified, journalists and international observers were kept well away, ensuring very little reporting on the military’s harsh tactics and the civilian casualties.

Lack of accurate reporting from the war front was one reason why the international outcry against the military’s heavy-handedness was so muted — especially in the U.S. Rajapaksa also benefited from the post-9/11 global consensus that insurgent groups using terror tactics “can no longer call themselves freedom fighters,” according to Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The Tigers didn’t understand this, and paid a significant price.”

That may be one lesson insurgencies worldwide can learn from the Tigers’ downfall.

The whole thing on TIME.

On a somewhat related note, and if you are into this sort of thing, take a look at this superb article on Tehelka on Prabhakaran’s rise and fall.

UN statements on Sri Lanka

First, the official statement by the Security Council President, Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation). Video is below, UN has the full statement

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Miliband other European delegates from the UN Security Council made their own statements. The video for that too, is included below.

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Obama on the Sri Lankan Crisis

President Obama asked the LTTE to surrender and the Sri Lankan government to take greater measures to protect civilian lives . Huffington post has a report based on the statement. The Whitehouse on Youtube also has the statement up, which is included below. If you want only the relevant part, see the same statement on politico

There are competing views as to how Obama has handled the Sri Lankan crisis, Obama’s first since assuming office.  See the recent articles on TIME, accusing Obama of not handling it well, and on TNR, commending the administration for handling it well.

Update : Sri Lanka Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickramasuriya responds to questions raised on the Obama satement to Aljazera

Conflict Watch, Sri Lanka — Assorted Links

We found the following, interesting..

More links we have missed? Put them up in comments.

Riz Khan on Sri Lanka

AlJazera’s Riz Khan show focused on Sri Lanka this week. The panel consists of Eric Solheim, Francis Boyle (A law professor) and Nirj Deva, the Sri Lankan-British member of the European Parliament.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Is the LTTE finished? and is the war really over?

Vikalpa has an excellent video play list on youtube. Commentators includes, Nishantha Wanasinghe of JHU, Rohan Samarajiva (Lirneasia), Minister Thissa Whitharana, Victor Ivan, Dr.Nirmal Dewasiri (University of Colombo), Mr.S.G. Punchihewa, Wickramabahu Karunarathna and Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

The JHU Video is below. Others can be seen in the playlist.