Sri Lanka can never beat the West.
13/02/2011 7 Comments
Regardless of how democratic, peaceful, law-abiding, rich or powerful Sri Lanka may become, there’s one area in which it will never, ever beat the West. This is the highly skilled area of causing massive civilian casualties and human rights abuses during military action against hostile states, insurgents and terrorists. It takes decades of practice to achieve such a high level of skill (as the West has done) to rack up telephone-number sized, civilian kill rates.
Western politicians, human rights organizations, civil society activists and their pro-LTTE followers have led an unceasing campaign to indict Sri Lanka’s democratically elected government and armed forces for the bloody and ruthless manner in which LTTE (one of the most effective and murderous terrorist groups of the 20th Century) was finally annihilated.
Yet these Western moral arbiters are unwilling to look at their own conduct in their wars of choice against real and perceived enemies. When the West is held to the same standards demanded of Sri Lanka, an entirely different picture emerges – that of civilians killed (in far away countries) in truly awe-inspiring numbers by industrialized, efficient slaughter and of human rights abuses easily surpassing Sri Lanka’s own.
Who’s killed the most civilians? The West.
For ease of comparison, let’s compare the civilian death tolls in the last 30 years, which equals the period during which the LTTE pursued its failed campaign for an ethnically pure ‘homeland’ within Sri Lanka.
Key: T = Torture, A = Abduction & Assassination, D = Death Squads, H = Human Rights abuses
- Wars fought by Western proxies (e.g. Contras) are not counted, only those with direct Western military involvement.
- Casualty figures are only approximate.
- Iraq War I included 500,000 excess child deaths due to Western sanctions.
- Note the very low civilians casualties in the Falklands, because the war was not fought in urban areas.
- The casualties resulting from Western military campaigns in the immediate post-World War 2 period (e.g Kenya, Vietnam) are shown but not counted in the comparative period.
Counterinsurgency Best-Practice – Sri Lanka and the West
Sri Lanka’s absolute victory against the LTTE quickly was followed up by Western politicians and pundits (90% of whom had claimed the Sri Lankan forces incapable of a decisive victory) declaiming that the Sri Lankan ‘solution’ offered no ‘lessons’ due to civilian casualties and human rights abuses.
Robert Kaplan a writer for The Atlantic (and visiting professor at the US Naval Academy) says “.. [Sri Lanka] acted in a way so brutal that there are no lessons for the West.”
Kaplan was an enthusiastic cheerleader for Iraq War 2. In his looking glass world, Sri Lanka’s war was conducted in a ‘brutal’ fashion, whilst the West in Iraq was merely ‘idealistic’ and never brutal. Kaplan follows Humpty Dumpty’s philosophy: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
Kaplan further believes that Western political leaders should “discard Christian/Jewish morality in public decision-making in favor of a pagan morality focused on the morality of the result rather than the morality of the means.”
For Kaplan, Sri Lanka was too ‘brutal’ in pursuing the ‘morality of the results’ in its existential struggle against the Tamil Tigers. Internal consistency appears not be Kaplan’s strong point. The abuses committed by the West and Sri Lanka are integral (and unacknowledged) components of all counterinsurgency campaigns.
Essential Components of Counterinsurgency Warfare
T = Torture
A = Abduction & Assassination
D = Death Squads
H = Human Rights abuses
Some representative examples will suffice to prove my point.
Torture: NATO uses Bagram and other outsourced camps and Sri Lanka has Boosa Detention Camp, an in-house facility. Results vary but unfortunately torture appears to work, hence its continued use.
Abduction: The US/NATO alliance abducts suspected Islamic terrorists and sympathizers on CIA Gulfstream private jets. Sri Lanka abducts suspected Tamil terrorists and sympathizers in Toyota Hi-Ace white vans. The CIA provides better catering and comfort levels.
Assassination: The US/NATO alliance use drones in Pakistan & Yemen. President Obama calls this “living by our values”. The UK’s SAS executed an IRA bomb squad in Gibraltar. Sri Lanka used LRRP Units to kill senior LTTE commanders.
Death Squads: The US/NATO uses Iraqi and in-house death squads. Sri Lanka used paramilitary death squads with a built-in deniability factor. The difference is that NATO pretends to be shocked, when they’re caught.
Human Rights Abuses: Too many to list! The US/NATO kill Serbian journalists, bomb Al-Jazeera’s offices and kills journalists investigating the activities of Western death squads. Sri Lanka kills and disappears its own journalists investigating corruption, death squads, human rights abuses and for supporting the LTTE.
No Western political or military leader has yet been indicted for War Crimes, punished by their domestic courts or even been pursued by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
And these people now want to judge Sri Lanka?