Sri Lankan Lessons in Ending War
The decades-long Sri Lankan Civil War comes to a close with the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the radical cult leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers. Peace has come about not by UN-mandated ceasefire, or the two warring sides coming together in a mutually agreed understanding. No, this war has reached its end with the Federal Government in physical occupation of the Tamil’s territory, and the destruction of the latter’s military capability.
Such a very human way of settling differences is not new, but certainly rare in a supposedly “kinder gentler” era. During the rise of the West, this total war was familiar to our great military heroes such as the Duke of Wellington, US Grant, and their more modern contemporaries Bernard Montgomery and Dwight Eisenhower. Carl Von Clausewitz, that much quoted German military strategist, and author of “On War“, was filled with foresight when he said:
Statesmen and Generals have at all times endeavored to avoid the decisive battle.
None more so than today. Beginning with the Korean Conflict (with roots going back to the First World War) a new manner of war by the West would be fought. This would be one of stops and starts, of peace negotiations that dragged on for years. It would consist of ceasefires where one side or the other, usually the losing side would take the opportunity to rearm and regroup, to continue the fight anew at its leisure.
This latter tactic worked quite well for the world’s bullies, the communists, who would repeat the process in numerous struggles with the West, notably the Vietnam Conflict where they actually won, or at least outlasted the US. So it was with the Arabs of the Middle East in their never ceasing desire to drive Israel into the sea, and who were saved from battlefield defeat again and again by a timely United Nations intervention, usually under pressure from the West.
From this we get never-ceasing wars, or conflicts that go on far longer than necessary, at great cost in lives and funds spent on war-making arsenals. No greater example can be given than the Sri Lankan Civil War of the past 26 years. The small Island nation off the the coast of India tried it the UN’s way numerous times since the bloody conflict began in 1983. Finally, a new president Mahinda Rajapaksa was convinced there would never be peace with the brutal Tamils, especially when the latter insisted on a separate state in negotiations. Staving of all international interference and media criticism, he was determined to bring the nation’s suffering, as well as that of the Tamils themselves, to a final decision.
Article 51 of the United Nation’s charter declares “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations…”.In practice, this is frowned upon with constant interference occurring by UN Agencies and even the most dubious rumors of human rights abuses investigated. Strategypage reveals the activities of one such agency:
The UN, and the NGO (non-governmental organization) aid community are calling for war crimes changes to be brought against Sri Lankan leaders. The NGOs claim that the government did not do enough to avoid hitting the Tamil civilians the LTTE were using as human shields. This is a smoke screen, to help protect the UN and other NGOs from charges that they aided the LTTE and helped prolong the war.
So we see these so-called “peace organizations”, manned mainly by Western countries, actually profit by keeping poorer nations in conflict and turmoil. If the impossible standards which the UN places on warring states were intact in the past, the United States today would not be a unified country, with the institution of slavery still a problem in the South, or at best tolerating some form of American apartheid. The heirs of Hitler would likely still dominate Europe.
Imagine for example, General Sherman forced to ensure the well-being of every civilian on his March to the Sea. Or Eisenhower made to verify the complete evacuation of the French civil population from the Normandy beaches before the D-Day Invasion, thus giving Hitler ample evidence where he should assemble his armor. Fear to strike the killing blow meant America in Vietnam for 13 years, with wounds that have yet to heal. The same mindset is probably keeping us embroiled in Middle East conflict to this day.
Rather than being moral, this current method of Western Warfare ensures defeated dictatorial regimes a new lease on life. It also causes much doubt and hesitation in the minds of military leaders, who fear they would be brought to a UN Court on trumped up charges of war crimes. So, heinous acts which seem to belong to another century go on unchecked, such as the massacre of hundreds of thousands in Rwanda, or even piracy off the coast of Somalia, breeding more lawlessness in that troubled region.
Victory in Sri Lanka should be an embarrassment to the so-called “civilized” nations of the West, reminding us of the need for determination and certainty in an uncertain world, an Age of Terror. Of course, total war is a horrible thing, but at least now there is hope for the future in the Island nation, where before there was only constant threat of death from a suicide bomb. It is in the rebuilding where the UN and its International Funders could do the most good, not interfering in time of war of which they consistently prove they have little understanding.