While RaWick plays political footsie, the incarnate militarist Pirapaharan refurbishes his war-machine for the next round of fighting

by R. Chandrasoma

What is the cardinal difference between the strategies of RaWick and of Pirapaharan in the resolution of what is euphemistically called the 'Northern Conflict'? The former pursues a political strategy based on well-known rules of demagoguery and inter-party horse trading that have proved to be hugely successful in the past in getting governments into power. To this inveterate politician, the erasure of rebellion and the assuaging of the divisive passions of Pirapaharan are political tasks that can be effectively handled by the kind of trickery and snooth talk that has paid wonderful dividends in the rough-and-tumble of the electoral politics in Sri Lanka.

Contrast this with the approach of the Tamil supremo Pirapaharan he is the consummate militarist and treats with scorn the game played by politicians. He has an irrefragable goal, an inviolable commitment - the establishment of Eelam that he is convinced can only be fulfilled by the dogged pursuit of a militaty strategy. He has the ineradicable conviction that it is only through the defeat of the 'Sinhala Army' that the path can be cleared for the establishment of his beloved Eelam.

He rejoices in the fact that the unflinching pursuit of this military goal has made a humiliated Army withdraw into bases as a prelude to a full evacuation of the region that he calls his 'homeland'. If there is a recent (and much publicized) pretence of 'going political', it is a mere tactical ploy to further confuse and weaken the opposition at a time when his overall military strategy is working wonderfully well.

Can there be a 'meeting of minds' when the protagonists in this great drama of life and death are so diametrically different in mindset and orientation towards the basic parameters of the conflict?

We ask this question because the 'grounding axiom' of the current peace effort is the proposition that Pirapaharan has abandoned his military strategy and has become a politician of sorts prepared to trade arguments with lawyers and diplomats to secure his cherished goal of 'Eelam' through civilized discourse and a ground-breaking eschewal of the use of arms.

Is there a chastened and mollified Pirapaharan feeling acutely the weight of world opinion? There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that this is true that Pirapaharan is 'morally rearmed' and looks forward anxiously to the day when peace dawns in the North and East with the benediction of the Great Powers of the West. His current strategy of talking peace is no more than an opportunistic extension of a basically unchanged military strategy the expulsion of the Sinhalayas from the North and East and the annulment of the writ of the Sri Lankan Government in these areas through the use of force or the implied threat of the use of force.

There is a poetic dictum that is quite apposite in this connection 'There is none so blind as those that will not see'. Friends, look around and tell us if you can espy any move towards freedom and democracy in the areas under the control of Pirapaharan and his renowned gangsters.

Have they thrown off the cyanide capsule that they wear like a Brahaminic holy thread in honour of their leader? Is it not obvious to the plainest fool that every move of the LTTE is for the greater glory of Eelam-to-be? They recruit. They extort. They terrorize their opponents. They bring in arms while the Norwegian 'dog-handlers' look on benignly and our Navy looks the other way for fear of seeing apparitions that are distasteful to the political leadership. Is this the healing scenario one would expect to see if the Tiger is casting off his 'tigerishness' and is in throes of a spiritual metamorphosis?

The intriguing question that arises in this connection is the wilful ' head in the sand' Ostrich like approach of the RaWick regime when confronted with trickery that is so insouciantly paraded by a Tiger leadership that has never hesitated to reveal its contempt for the 'Sinhala Government'. Here is an answer that is based to a large extent on the vital distinction we made earlier between the 'militarist' and the 'politician'.

While the Tiger leadership has as its sheet anchor the military option and resorts to political manoeuvring as a mere extension or 'fine-tuning' of its unwavering commitment to a last-resort military campaign, the RaWick regime has abrogated the military option (the notorious doctrine of the Un-winnable War) and is nakedly exposed to the pressures that a lesser power suffers when the other knows its critical weakness.

This abandoning of the military option by the Sri Lankan government is an absolute disaster for the Sinhala people. The enemy knows full well that the use of coercive power of the State is no longer a feasible option and is prepared to hector, browbeat and treat with contempt the Government of Sri Lanka in its new role as the underdog.

Against such effrontery by a killer-group with a notorious record, what is the reaction of the wimp RaWick and his pipsqueak Generals? The Army Chief is reported to have said publicly that he and his soldiers are 'happy that they are not fighting' and 'warmly welcome the MOU with Pirapaharan'. (He had earlier become famous for another remarkable gaffe about arrangements to enlist Tigers in the National Army).

Is this ribboned and decorated fighting man unaware that about a third of our country is now under the heel of the enemy and that his own troops are in mortal danger of eviction? Has he not expressed a political opinion that is not shared by the patriotic men who do the actual fighting?

Let us set aside this asininity of a General playing politics at a time when the security of the nation is at its weakest since Independence largely due to folly and indiscretion stemming from a strange alliance of politicians and military men. It is RaWick who is the ultimate decision-maker and he (as stated above) is a 'No War' man indeed, he is the greatest living exponent of the 'Theory of the Unwinnable War' that has wrecked havoc with the morale of troops for a good many years.

Notwithstanding this rhetoric, it is obvious to even a dunce that there must be a fall-back military strategy when dealing with a man who has at his command a fighting force of devastating power. Although chary of revealing it to the public, RaWick has turned his back on our forces and relies completely on his beloved foreign friends to save us (and himself) in case Pirapaharan turns nasty.

Friends, spend a little time to digest and assess the import of this statement does it not compromise our sovereignty to call on others to quell what is essentially a domestic rebellion led by a convicted criminal? There are more disturbing questions that one can ask the foreign 'friends'to whom RaWick is so abjectly beholden have never concealed the fact that their sympathies lie with the minority Tamils and see the 'conflict' with Prabhakaran as as a symptom of Sinhala misgovernment.

While they disapprove his (i.e. Pirapaharan's) bloody tactics they agree that the man has a cause that underwrites his extra-parliamentary struggle. Given this flagrant bias in favour of the separatists, can we hang on to the disputed one-third of Lanka even if the Yankees march in?

Have our troops been turned into befuddled bystanders? The Tiger High-Command is seething with activity in preparation for the next round of the conflict. There is a frenzied relocation of troops. Arms are brought in ad libitum. Teen-agers are being frog-marched into recruitment centres while the guardians of the law look on with glazed eyes. More frightening than all this is the undercover organization of a 'Citizen's Army' geared to expel the Sinhala invader from Eelam.

Is this not the time to put our forces on Red Alert? How can the RaWick Regime act rationally to thwart this menace when it is hoist with its own petard of 'unwinnability' and their reliance on foreign 'Big Brothers' to stave off defeat if Pirapaharan strikes again?

It is time for patriotic citizens of this country to take a stand on this vital matter. There are two disasters brewing for the genesis of which the RaWick regime must be held wholly responsible.

The first is the runaway build-up of troop-strength and logistical capacity on the side of the enemy that makes the task of recapture a near-impossible task if things go wrong. The second is the sickness of spirit within our armed services that spreads like plague on account of the perfidy of politicians and the lack of spine in the Generals.

It is a toss to determine which category is the more culpable but it ought to have been the clear duty of Generals to tell the light-headed demagogues that 'unwinnable' is a meaningless word unless the context is made clear. If Jaffna and the parts of the East cannot be held because of the military superiority of Pirapaharan in these regions, new defence lines ought to have been recommended that are in consonance with the maxim that the purpose of war is to defeat the enemy, not to hold territory.

The Trincomalee region should have been made an impregnable wedge driven into Tiger territory. A naval blockade of the North-East coast through revamped naval patrols and air surveillance ought to have been a serious option. The point here is not to advise the Generals but to make clear to the public at large the stupidity of the incessant blather of the politicians that the war is unwinnable. If this is indeed the case, Sri Lanka has only a few years ahead as an independent state. How can the rump republic of Lanka match the fire-power of a rejuvenated Eelam with a military genius Pirapaharan as the boss? Are we to become an Indo-American protectorate (and reinstate colonialism) to avoid renewed blows from Pirapaharan? Give it a thought, friends.


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