18 November, 2018

Blog

Inside An Elusive Defeat

By Daniel Alphonsus

Daniel Alphonsus

A review of Peter Stafford Roberts’ “The Sri Lankan Insurgency: Rebalancing the Orthodox Position” and Stephen Battle’s “Lessons In Legitimacy: The LTTE End-Game Of 2007–2009

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in May 2009 the Government of Sri Lanka won the war. This extraordinary turn of events, we are told, resulted from the political carte blanche granted to the Gotabaya, Fonseka and Karanagoda troika. License from on high, the story goes, unshackled their hitherto caged military nous and single-minded, perhaps even bloody-minded, focus on military victory. 

Occasionally the Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe governments’ victories survive the simplistic narrative’s hegemony. Here and there we are reminded of Karuna’s defection, the LTTE overseas proscription, acquisition of blue-water capabilities and development of LRRPs. Cumulatively these events caused the LTTE to split, cut-off their supply lines and succeeded in eliminating a number of senior leaders. Some observers even argue that the revival of the Sri Lankan economy under the Wickremasinghe regime laid the foundations for the government’s technological and manpower superiority in Eelam War IV. 

Sophisticated or stupid, the narratives at our disposal place agency in the hands of the political and military leadership in Colombo. That is the true hegemony of our thinking about the war’s conclusion. Almost all English language analysis of the war, including academic texts, suffer from this flaw. 

Peter Stafford Roberts’ doctoral thesis, The Sri Lankan Insurgency: Rebalancing the Orthodox Position, is the Kamba Ramayana to these Valmiki Ramayanas. Following Col. Hariharan’s 2009 Frontline cover story, he argues that choices made in Prabakharan’s Wolfsschanze, rather than at MOD-Temple Trees, lead to the Tiger’s extinction after thirty years. In other words, the war ended in an LTTE loss rather than a government victory. 

Roberts argues that there was nothing fundamentally new in the Sri Lankan Government’s strategy during Eelam War IV. J.R.’s military solution, Chandrika’s ‘war-for-peace’ and Ranil’s peace talks all failed as strategies for defeating the LTTE. In his view, the balance of power between the Government and the LTTE also remained broadly stable over time. As a result, he concludes that there is good reason to doubt that Colombo was responsible for the LTTE’s defeat. Instead, echoing Hariharan, he thinks that it was the LTTE leadership’s failure, particularly Prabakharan’s failure, to comprehend and respond to the emerging domestic and international realities that led to the Tiger’s demise. 

Interviewing ex-LTTE cadres who escaped the Vanni, Roberts pieces together a narrative of the war from the LTTE’s perspective. He corroborates and supplements these sources by his unprecedented access to both the Sri Lanka Army Archive and the RAW Archive. Collectively they tell us a very different story. Cadres who worked closely with the top LTTE leadership, suggest that Balasingham’s death and Karuna’s defection were the primary reasons for Prabkharan’s loss of strategic agility. 

Balasingham’s absence, the thesis opines, left Prabakharan without a foil to debate and think critically. Balasingham, Roberts argues, was vital in shaping Prabakhran’s thought because he was (i) uniquely able to critique his assumptions and logic, (ii) sufficiently trusted that Prabakharan could admit mistakes without losing face and (iii) he was the sole senior LTTE leader who had a reasonably sophisticated understanding of politics and diplomacy. He also attributes Balasingham’s apparently exceptional influence to his close personal relationship with the Tiger supremo; particularly Balasingham’s singular ability to put Prabhakaran at ease, even inducing him to violate the LTTE code by smoking and playing poker. 

After Balasingham’s death Prabakharan increasingly alienated the international community. For example, in 2005 the LTTE deviated from its post-9/11 policy of focusing on military targets.  Furthermore, Prabhkaran was surrounded by individuals who were either blinded by their devotion or were ‘working towards the Führer’.  Therefore, Roberts concludes, Prabakharan’s strategic powers ossified. He was no longer an adaptive, agile leader. As the Government’s strategy and the international environment transformed, Prabakharan and the LTTE failed to develop an effective response, sticking to their doctrine of conventional, territory-holding war, complemented by asymmetric attacks on military, economic and civilian targets outside the battlefield. This remained the case even after it became obvious that this strategy was leading to catastrophe. 

Prabhakaran’s rigidity, Roberts claims, was only exacerbated by Karuna’s defection. Prabakaran became increasingly paranoid and focused on matters internal to the LTTE: investigations and trials became de riguer and planning for military operations faded into the background. In a manner reminiscent of Mahinda Rajapaksa in his second term, Roberts concludes that “[Prabhakaran’s] immediate circle, including Prabhakaran’s family, were contributing to his nadir and eventual failure by their blind faith in his judgment and ability. If anything, Prabhakaran had surrounded himself with a group that was reinforcing the failing strategy”. 

Nonetheless, the very virtues that endow Roberts’ thesis with its exciting iconoclasm –anonymous interviews, employment of GCHQ technology and access to closed archives – are also the source of its premier vice. The results of Roberts’ thesis cannot be replicated and therefore their veracity cannot be tested. Naturally there is little Roberts could have done to mitigate these drawbacks. But it does mean that we cannot take his facts or his conclusions at face-value. All the more so in virtue of Roberts’ reliance on the accounts of a handful of interviewees. Other than his somewhat unpersuasive argument that the strategic balance between the GOSL and LTTE stayed roughly constant over the course of the war (despite significant investment in GOSL manpower and armaments), he also fails to adequately explain why senior commanders, like Pottu Amman, KP and Balaraj, could not play the role Balasingham and Karuna did. Nor is he entirely persuasive in his account of the change in Prabakharan’s psychology and subsequent failure to adapt post-2005. Finally, he does not analyse alternative strategies Prabakharan could have adopted, such as abandoning conventional warfare to fight a Maoist guerilla war.

Furthermore, as Roberts himself notes, we also need to be aware that, as a participant-observer linked to the Sri Lankan government during the war, he was not a fully independent researcher.  The thesis also appears to have been written against a deadline – with minor factual inaccuracies that someone with Roberts expertise could not possibly have intentionally made. But, all in all, much of the material is new and Roberts obviously knows more than he can say. 

In terms of corroborating Roberts’ evidence, the only other source known to the author that considers the war as a LTTE loss rather than government win is a masters thesis by US Army Major, Stephen Battle, titled Lessons In Legitimacy: The LTTE End-Game Of 2007–2009. Battle argues that the LTTE’s dependence on the Tamil diaspora transformed its relationship with the Tamil population in the North and East.  Persuasion gave way to coercion. The most emblematic example being ever more demanding conscription to refill depleted ranks. Ultimately choosing coercion, Battle argues, led to a loss of legitimacy among the Tamil population in the North and East. 

The crux of his argument is an inverse relationship between foreign support and domestic accountability. In Battle’s words, as the LTTE became more “famous internationally, among the Tamil Diaspora, they became more infamous domestically, amongst a greater number of local Sri Lankan Tamils”. In 1983 the LTTE’s dependence on the diaspora was virtually nil. But by the turn of the millennium nearly eighty percent of the LTTE’s operating budget was funded from overseas sources. Concomitantly, the LTTE, which turned away recruits in the 1980s, started conscription in the 1990s. By the early 2000s every family needed to hand-over a child. 

Post-2005, as attrition escalated, and the Government of Sri Lanka increased its military-participation ratio, the need for additional manpower from the already depleted North became acute. (For a useful discussion of the military-participation ratio in the Sri Lankan civil war see Sivaram’s 1997 essay The Cat, a Bell and a Few Strategists.) This was naturally exacerbated by the LTTE’s limited ability to exploit Eastern recruiting grounds following the Karuna insurgency. By February 2009, rebel-civilian relations were reaching a breaking point. The US Embassy “received a report from a foreign government that the LTTE killed 60 civilians who were fleeing by boat at night. According to reports received by an organization, the LTTE then promised to arrest and detain, rather than shoot, those who sought to escape in the future in order to ease tensions between the LTTE and the civilian population.” 

Battle concludes that as “ties to the Diaspora increased, the LTTE reliance on local communities for money, guns and legitimacy decreased. And as the LTTE reliance on the local communities for everything except people decreased, ties to local grievances decreased. As the LTTE became less tied to local grievances, they relied on greater degrees of coercion in order to garner human capital to fill LTTE ranks, leading to spiral of decreased legitimacy.” Ultimately, this may explain a key puzzle Roberts poses:  why did the LTTE not change strategy to fight another day?  Why did they not melt, Maoist fashion, into the population and move among the people as a fish swims in the sea?

Roberts’ or Battle’s theses are not cast-iron evidence for one view or another. Instead, they are better thought of as an invitation to reconsider our own understanding of the events that led to the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war. It also reminds us of how little we really know about our recent past. As Roberts demonstrates, the answers to these questions cannot be found in Colombo, Killinochchi, Delhi, Geneva and Washington alone. A complex, nuanced account of this pivotal event in Sri Lanka’s recent history requires investigation that spans the globe. But a good start can be made at home by declassifying all documents related to the war. These include national security council minutes, advisory memoranda from foreign military consultants (e.g. the General Nambiar, Sir Michael Rose and the 2002 PACOM reports), operation completion reports, interrogation transcripts and captured LTTE documents. (Redactions must, of course, be made where there are salient contemporary national security or diplomatic interests at stake.)

It is only then that we will be able to weigh up the evidence and debunk myths to learn lessons from our successes, and our mistakes. The result may well unseat the truth so universally acknowledged. But there is no doubt that its replacement – an understanding of the causes of the war and its ultimate closure – will be closer to the messy, complicated and multi-causal reality that is the world. Armed with an understanding of the past that closer resembles the truth, as a country, we may be able to muddle through the remaining decades of the 21st century just that little bit better. And sometimes just a bit better is just enough. 

Daniel Alphonsus is a Fulbright scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 14
    3

    The reason LTTE leader did not hide inside jungle and carry on guerrilla attacks was because SL army strategy was designed in such a way to prevent it.

    And they were waiting for the Norwegian sponsored American ship. That is why LTTE retreated to the beach holding a human shield.

    • 4
      2

      The why did the LTTE leader and his son begged soldiers to spare them without eating cyanide? They died begging at the feet of Singhala soldiers. If Tamils had dignity, he should have killed himself.

      • 0
        0

        Daniel the Fathima comment was circulated with Goebbelsian fervour and is taken as the truth.
        Peter Stafford Roberts PhD, might have been fed such information.

      • 0
        1

        Fathima!
        You are coming out with Fat Stories that the Leader and his sons begged the Srilankan soldiers to Spare them. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of facts to belittle the leader. Prabah according to government was shot/ bombed/killed by the army and his son. was shot after feeding him with Biscuits. Channel 4 video clearly sowed the son being fed and thereafter his body was shown with bullet wounds. You seem to be in an imaginary world of your own. As a Muslim? are you trying to satisfy your masters who beg for ministries.

    • 1
      1

      Who knows MR had already bought KP way before May 2009?

    • 0
      3

      Leader of Tamil nation was inhumanly sodomised by genocidal sinhlese army before brutally killed. our leader, undisputed leader of global Tamils died like a true hero, like jesus Christ . Tamils should be etrrnally greatful for our leader, traitors of Tamil race will die a painful death soon. Tamils quest for Tamil Eelam

      • 3
        0

        Eelam Tamil Montreal – I will tell you bud I am no supporter of your so called Tamil leader. If he was sodomized, then what happened to the cyanide capsule he forced all his cadres to bite? Why didn’t he adhere to his own preaching? Why was he captured? If Tamils quest is Ealam, then how do you propose to attain this living in Montreal? Also VP was not the leader of all Tamils. This is a dream some of you fellows have cooked up in your head. VP, MR, JR and all the bastards who controlled Lanka were no heroes. They were simply low class thugs. Disgusting!!!! Hundreds of thousands of Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese died for what? We had a good reason to leave the country……….we hated everything what happened in the country. If your dream is/was Tamil Ealam, please explain why you ended up in Montreal? If you feel an alien has invaded your home, you don’t fight your battle to get your home living 13000 Km away, you go back and fight for your home. So I would love to see all you keyboard heroes to go back and destroy that beautiful country further. When you are ready to leave, there are some Sinhala rascals who live here, please take them as well. Once you reach Lanka, kill each other!!!!!! Leave my beautiful country alone……………Canada that is. VP is Christ? hahaha…………poppycock my friend.

        • 0
          2

          @Tamil from the north

          “I will tell you bud I am no supporter of your so called Tamil leader. :
          You scum on the earth how dare are you to discredit the name of the national leader of all Tamils. Not your bud, your butt will know the punishment for your betrayal in time.
          The national leader of Tamils is Thalaivar, there is no dispute. do you dare to tell a Muslim mohamed is not the only god. you will be beheaded.
          Eelam Tamils are not in a mood for your nonsense.
          TamilEelam is the country of Eelam Tamils. you treacherous fagot should never set foot in Tamil Eelam.
          Tamils quest is for Tamil Eelam Thalaivar is our leader.

      • 3
        0

        Eelam Tamil Montreal – while you praise VP and the Sinhala hoodlums praise Gota and MR, the damn Chinese and the f*in Indians are robbing our beautiful country

  • 1
    0

    “It is only then that we will be able to weigh up the evidence and debunk myths to learn lessons from our successes, and our mistakes. The result may well unseat the truth so universally acknowledged.”. Hope the Result will be known before the next Presidential elections.

  • 12
    4

    Let’s get one thing straight first that LTTE kallathoni terrorists never had a chance of having their own state within Sinhala-Buddhist Sri Lanka. Prabakaran was an uneducated, illiterate, unpleasant criminal before he became the leader of ‘Tamil race’, kallathoni Eelamists still believe that Prabakaran is the ‘super g0d’ of them.
    /
    If Sirimawo were the president instead of power greedy but weak JRJ, she would have definitely finished the scum Prabakaran off within hours, see, how Sirimawo easily dealt with 1971-JVP-terrirists. In the 80s, JVP was more powerful than LTTE.
    /
    LTTE was funded secretly by Norway, Canada, Britain, France, Indian, Switzerland, Malaysia,etc. LTTE was one of the richest terrorist organizations in the world, if not the richest.
    /
    remember the last minute attempt to save the kallathoni scum Prabakaran by Kushner and Miliband????????

  • 8
    1

    Kouchner, Millibrand and indirectly the US Barack Obama Hillary regime wanted to bail out VP. I am glad the Government stood up to them and told them to go fuck themselves. US game was clear. Save the leaders so they can use them as tools for their geopolitical games. Now it does not matter, because under RW, they have super access to every corner of SL and are surveying and staking every place. They are constantly paying “goodwill visits” to Tamil and Muslim areas now to win hearts and minds before boots on the ground. But glad MR-GR-SF gave the leadership needed in 2009. Tamil Tigers got their asses whupped and noses ground. No one sheds a tear for those thugs and their demise either by combat or by execution. Who cares ?

    • 2
      4

      Thanga,

      US cannot meddle in SL without antagonizing India. Besides, US has no material interest in SL. SL has no oil, no nat gas, no Uranium, no Potash, no Gold reserves.

      SL is just a Boralu Godak.

      • 2
        0

        But Norwegians made USA to meddle in SL affair

  • 2
    1

    Sri Lanka – the land where descendants of former colonials can reinvent themselves as Champions of Human Rights.

    LOL!

  • 3
    1

    History repeats. In 3rd century B.C. a group of invaders from Hindusthan landed in Sinhale. Since then these Para Hindusthanis invaded Sinhale 17 times but they were chased away. However, when there was a weak King these invaders colonized northern part of the country. When a strong person became the King, these invaders were chased away killing their leader e.g. Elara. Sinhalayo coined the term ‘Demala’ to refer to these invaders. During colonial rule by western parasites Demala invasions temporarily stopped. After colonial rule ended again Demalu made an attempt to colonize the country. 70% of LTTE cadres were from Tamil Nadu. On 18 May 2009 that attempt was also foiled by killing the leader Prabhakaran by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces whose Commander was Mahinda Rajapakse.

  • 1
    1

    In “Inside An Elusive Defeat”, Daniel Alphonsus reviews Peter Stafford Roberts’ PhD Thesis “The Sri Lankan Insurgency: Rebalancing the Orthodox Position” and US Army Major Stephen Battle’s Master’s Thesis “Lessons In Legitimacy: The LTTE End-Game Of 2007–2009”.
    We have had books reviewed, Opinions reviewed but to the best of the commenter’s knowledge not thesis which are virtually out of bounds to us.
    A Daniel comment ~ “………….In 1983 the LTTE’s dependence on the diaspora was virtually nil. But by the turn of the millennium nearly eighty percent of the LTTE’s operating budget was funded from overseas sources………….”.
    The July 1983 Pogrom created most of the Eelam Tamil Diaspora!
    Daniel must research “The Vietnam War Debacle” to experience the difficulty of getting even-handed information.

    • 0
      1

      Who was responsible for the defeat of LTTE. Is it Srilankan Government forces or the joint effort of India, Pakistan,China and America? ofcourse India takes the ‘cake’, spying on the boats bringing arms to the LTTE and destroying them.

      • 0
        0

        None, other than Pirabakaran. It all ended like a match fixing in cricket

  • 3
    0

    Daniel, I hope you will look at the end of war or 2006-2009 period in relation to Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, specifically towards China and India. Looking at available data I am sure you are as I am mystified why a 250,000 or so strong SL government forces could not take out the LTTE much earlier, except for the fact that SL government forces could not flex all its available muscles, i.e. aerial attacks. Then by some magical realism they were no longer fighting with one hand tied back. Why? Was there a foreign policy change so that Gov SL no longer feared India’s back lash, or India no longer cared about the destiny of the LTTE. So the answer my friend is somewhere in the annals of foreign policy, of Mighty India, Super powered China and the tiny Sri Lanka.

    • 5
      0

      The answer is Rajapaksa diplomacy and mastery

    • 2
      0

      IT is the death of Rajiv Gandhi and 9/11 in 2001 that changed everything. Tamils had spy agencies influence and money coming various sources. On the other hand, Sri lankan govt was bankrupt because of JVP insurrections. some how at the end mighty LTTE ended up in Nanthikaddal. In 2009 april about 600 LTTE brigadiers were piled up one heap. About that many Brigadiers ran away to greener pastures of the western countries. Spy agencies such as RAW and CIA failed because there were other countries such as China and Pakisthan helping Sri lanka.
      This LTTE rlied on Local communities for everything is BS. Sri lankan govt gave them food, medicine, electricity and even safe passage to civilians if they want to leave the fighting areas. but, LTTE used civilains as hostages. The number is said to be 350,000. Another Article by Tamils, probably told by one LTTE BRIGADIER MALATHI< A FEMALE of a reigiment says she had 300,000 children. all of whom vanished without traces. That is part of the LTTE victory too.

  • 2
    0

    The debonair attitudes of John and Thangamma don’t presage well for long term peace and happiness in Sri Lanka.
    .
    It is good to see Daniel Alphonsus and Roberts trying to delve deeper in to the need for proper solutions. We Sinhalese suffered like all others, but we were victorious. For now we reign.
    .
    What we have to do is to bring our Sinhalese leaders under control. For us, corruption is the huge problem, and we are dragging the entire country down. We must find honest new leaders for all three groups: the UNP, Yahapalanaya, and those around the brutal and corrupt Rajapaksas. The South is a political mess.
    .
    As for the Tamils, their recent history and the issues treated by them are still being very seriously examined by Dr Rajan Hoole.
    .
    And there are serious discussions initiated by people like this:

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/complexity-contradiction-the-tamil-tigers/
    .
    As I said, it is good that others are contributing, but as much as possible it is Sri Lankans living in this country who must search for solutions.

  • 5
    0

    “Balasingham’s absence, the thesis opines, left Prabakharan without a foil to debate and think critically” – I wonder why SL Govt and Tamil diaspora had to wait 30 long years to learn that “LTTE was a 2-men show”

    Apart from ideology, LTTE and Al Qaida had many similarities such as child shoulders, killing innocent civilians, killing own people who oppose etc. Bottom line is both are terrorist groups in front of involved governments. But still the world’s super powers can not get rid of Al Qaida because its leadership hierarchy is distributed and not One or Two men show.

    Anyway, we are lucky and I am happy that we got rid of this terrorist group (when I was a kid back home, I have lost 2 of my relatives to LTTE bomb in CB). We don’t have a national policy on anything, but that saved the nation here with MR’s tactics.

  • 1
    0

    I think Sri lankan should be very very proud when a journalist says that the documents related to war should be non-confidential and should be open to public. On the othe rhand, you cam get all the information many agencies of the USA. Because every one including UN, all the SPy agencies were inside. US sattallites were talking photos. So, they knew everything. IT is simply nor smart way to ask documents from the Sri lankan govt when every thingis available in the USA.
    Another of your question why did not LTTE change their strategy to fight another day. That is another big bull. That is how they had EELAM WARs 1, 2, 3 and the last 4. Even for that, they asked for a break to which the govt said OK and those two days they got Weapons shipments and that affected soldier sin the front. Besides, american helicopters were waiting to pickup PRabakaran and the lost. I don’t why you di dnot find these information, probably you are just trying to sell this CRAP BOOK. I can Believe a Full Bright Scholar writes these things. Probably you are chosen based on political grounds probably to support some Tamil uprising again. Anothe rpoint is you are not from HARVARD but you are from HARVARD’s School of govt means political science.

  • 1
    0

    Not much is known about the inner workings of GCHQ — the Government Communications Headquarters, which is Britain’s version of America’s NSA spy agency. Due to the sensitive nature of its ‘business,’ it has deliberately shrouded its work under an inpenetrable cloak of secrecy. An opportunity to meet the organization’s former director, Robert Hannigan — at the IP Expo Manchester security conference — afforded me the chance to lift that shroud a little, and ask about GCHQ’s internal culture.
    You are making a SALES PITCH also here, probably to Sri lankan forces asking by our stuff. I read what this GCHQ is. IT is a company training SPIES in the technology field. what a way to enrol spies, train spies and steal military secrets. Your Praise ROBERTS for something. But, I think either from you or from, that is a stupid analysis. Do you think when LTTE is palying their game, would the enemy side stay silent. PArticularly both the CIA and RAW supported Sri lankan aforces. I think RAW was looking for fractures of LTTE. IT is in the public domain and So KAruna left. That is one way LTTE lost.

  • 2
    0

    Again you say Chandrika Bandaraiake and Ranil wickramasinghe’s technological and man power superiority led to the foundation of the victory. IF so, how do you explain ther defeats of the Army and Navy. Why don’t you talk about the prepreparation of the Army Top brass and the supply of new or superior weapons by the Rajapakse govt. AT one point SEa tigers were winning. It is the supply of good weapons that turned around the defeat. How about multi bsarrels. that was devasatating to tigers. that was not bought by Ranil and CBK.
    Secondly you say that HAriharan analused it is not he MOD but it is the LTTE and mighty LTTE, the ruthless Terrorist organization withc lot of money, foreign training, invinsible and very motivared fighters with their best trained higher rankers were losers to the rag tag Sri lankan army. What Bull. Hariharan is upset because their IPKF were losers and were beaten from both sides.

  • 0
    0

    As is the desire of this good auther the end objective must be to uncover the TRUTH. Nothing but the TRUTH. Undialuted, unexaggerated exact extent of the truth. Not political naratives. This is the ONLY inheritance this generation can leave to the posterity. It is for this reason I am totally opposed to this clarion call for ‘accountability’ which is more than obvioust to me will bury the truth for ever. That is clear enough. Even the good-hearted desire for ‘ reconciliation ‘ at any cost will be an obstacle in the search for unmitigated truth. That will lead to white lies and cover up uncomfortable facts.
    A man whose family is mysteriously murdered has devoted his entire life for finding the criminal and delivering the due punishment with his own hands. He would gladly walk to the gallows. He was frustatingly unsuccessful in his life long search. He has reached his last days with no clue in sight. A god appears at his death bed and says ” I can give you an OPTION. Either to reveal the identity of the criminal in which case he will be pardoned OR to be punished by me to your heart’s desire in which case you will die without knowing the truth.
    Which option would YOU choose?

    Soma

  • 1
    0

    “Cadres who worked closely with the top LTTE leadership, suggest that Balasingham’s death and Karuna’s defection were the primary reasons for Prabkharan’s loss of strategic agility. “

    Yes Karuna was the cause of the fall.

  • 2
    1

    Daniel Alphonsus,

    Both theses have some elements of truth, but there are some omissions in the analyses.

    Firstly, LTTE leadership was aging and becoming ill, even as it was increasingly conscripting children and lacking legitimacy.

    Indeed, I suspect that Balasingham recognized Pirapaharan’s increasing descent into irrationality, even real madness, even as he was fighting kidney failure and had transplant in Norway.

    There is no mention of the fact that at the Oslo peace talks, Balasingham had agreed to Federalism and let go of the demand for a separate country, only to be chided by Pirapaharan and then backtrack. This made the LTTE lose even any vestiges of international support, as it was already facing a post-9/11 scenario in which the US and its allies were losing patience with non-state actors.

    In one of his speeches in London, Balasingham had said he wanted to retire, but VP had said there was no ‘retirement’ for anyone who joined the LTTE.

    There is no mention in your article of how the tsunami weakened the naval capabilities of the LTTE.

    More fundamentally, LTTE’s pretension to being a conventional military was always based on deeply flawed assumptions. The armed struggle should always have been seen as a way of extracting a workable solution at the negotiating table, not one that would lead to a separate country, which was always problematic for a number of structural reasons; and it didn’t have international support, not even in India.

  • 1
    0

    to sinhala man

    Dear sinhala man ,
    Pl read latest comments by Vigneswaran .It does not look good if these sentiments are held by many tamils.
    India will continue to exploit these proxies to destabilise Sri Lanka.Sinhalese have only this country to call our own.let us unite to protecr it.

  • 3
    0

    Gentlemen,

    Today I write here with great emotions. Yesterday as we know was National Heros day. It is a day of such significance to any soldier where ever he is.

    It is a feeling no civillian SOB will ever understand.

    When a soldier thinks back to those days at tbe battle field our hearts stull pump with enthusiasm, our body still feels it can meet battle field demands and our eyes can still hold enough tears for our comrades.

    I dedicate my day to three men of great valor who served our mother land. One of them a Dutu Gemunu of our times and the other two no lesser mortals. Major Gen. Janaka Perera, Cpl. Gamini Kularatne, Capt. Saliya Aladeniya.

  • 0
    1

    for a well written article ,it is sad to note that the comments made by the readers reflect the low intellectual level of the reading public and their racist outlook

  • 1
    0

    Roberts, Battle and Alphoso, all forgot to mention Ghandi Mummy who delivered Mr Velupillai to Srilanka, after real time battle training in boot camps in Hindia.
    And Dhall Bombed the Srilankan Forces when Mr Velupulle was in dire straights.
    The Trio also forgot to mention how Ghandi’s Hindian Hariharans looted, raped the Dalits and made Mr Velupulle a Hero among the them.
    While the Elite in Jaffna and their Mates in Colombo moved to better pastures in Montreal, London , Oslo, Paris, Melbourne, and even Switzerland to finance Mr Velupulle.
    Wonder whether they got their PhD’s.
    But then, Dr Ranil who gets a guernsey in Dr Roberts theses ,got one without writing anything…. …

  • 1
    0

    The article is an academic pursuit of Daniel Alphonsus, a Fulbright scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Obviously, it has its accompanying imperfections.
    *
    Daniel Alphonsus has contributed nothing from his personal study of the subject. He probably hasn’t done any. His sources have legitimacy. But legitimate or not his analysis is shallow.
    *
    LTTE was a one man show. The stress cannot be ignored; should not be ignored. Support for LTTE, as with any human endeavour, was directly connected to the ‘performance’ of LTTE. When LTTE was seen winning its battles the support for it from the Tamil masses LTTE rose; when seen losing, the opposite happened.
    *
    The two irreparable losses mentioned – Balasingam’s demise & Karuna’s defection – were watersheds. The former was inescapable; the latter an outcome LTTE’s inexpert formation. However, those were secondary. The primary cause was the fallout with India.
    *
    Tamils needed a resolution. LTTE seemed the best option. But, having started showing faith in LTTE they grossly ignored (were ignorant of) the deficiencies in LTTE setup.
    *
    Don’t blame LTTE for the plight of Tamils. Blame Tamils themselves.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.