19 October, 2017

Inspirations: Hero Figures And Hitler In Young Pirapāharan’s Thinking

By Michael Roberts – 

Professor Michael Roberts

In line with my long-standing interest in currents of nationalist thought, the origins of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism has always been a topic of interest and has led to a number of interventions on my part, invariably written within the shortcomings of a person who cannot speak or read Tamil.[i] An overview can be found in “The Tamil Movement for Eelam” which appeared first by invitation in the online journal E-Bulletin of the International Sociological Association, but has since been printed in Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics. However, readers should also consult other works, especially the books by Nira Wickremasinghe, Lakshmanan Sabaratnam, Neil de Votta, Gerald Peiris and KM de Silva, besides Narayan Swamy’s three books on the Tigers of Lanka, Inside an Elusive Mind and The Tiger Vanquished (see the bibliography below). There is, needless to say, a burgeoning literature on this topic which continues to generate additional fare.

There is little doubt that Velupillai Pirapāharan (1954-2009) was a central force in raising the LTTE into a redoubtable fighting force and in setting up the de facto Tamil state of Thamilīlam (1990-2009).

Since the causal factors and processes for the rise of Tamil nationalism and its militancy are many and complex, social science as a discipline struggles to work out how to attach weightages to the many factors that have come into play, especially when one attends to temporality within this historical process.

Since the Tamil militant organisations in general displaced the parliamentary arms of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism from the early 1980s in pressing the struggle for a separate state, a study of the processes spawning militancy and armed struggle assumes primacy. This in turn calls for a greater focus on the LTTE and its inspirations and thinking.

There is little doubt that Velupillai Pirapāharan (1954-2009) was a central force in raising the LTTE into a redoubtable fighting force and in setting up the de facto Tamil state of Thamilīlam (1990-2009). One can also say that he was venerated to the point of deification[ii] both within the regions of Thamilīlam and among the Tamil migrant networks in various parts of the world. It is likely that this veneration remains strong today in certain quarters of the migrant circuit, though the available evidence suggests considerable disenchantment among the Tamil peoples within Sri Lanka, especially those forced through the furnace of war in 2008-09 – a war that failed disastrously.

Given Pirapāharan’s centrality, therefore, the factors that moved him to join the radical youth cells that were emerging in the north and east of Sri Lanka in the late 1960s and 1970s assume significance. Speaking on a priori grounds, one could say that the processes that generated Tamil militancy also served to move him in this direction. But what more can one say in embellishing this tale with particular reference to young Pirapāharan?

Tamil militants in the 1960s were especially influenced by the fiery rhetoric of V. Nāvaratnam, who set up the “Self-Rule Forum” and popularized a comparison of the Tamil people with the story of the Jews by deploying a translation of Leon Uris’s book The Exodus.[iii] Grapevine information indicates that as a schoolboy Pirapāharan was also influenced by one of his early teachers, one Venugopal;[iv] and that at some point in the early 1970s he was mentored by A. Rājaratnam (best known as the father of Thenmoli Rājaratnam, alias Dhanu).

Rājaratnam had been one of the core group in the mushroom organisation known as “Pulip Padai” (Army of Tigers) that had been founded (in Colombo?) in 1961, a body that went to the extent of making “a pilgrimage to Thirukoneswaram temple in Trincomalee, one of the three ancient Hindu shrines in Sri Lanka, to take the oath of allegiance to the new organization.” Here, “they took a bath in the holy waters of theerthakarai, attended the morning pooja at the temple in the wet clothes, received the kalanchi from the priest, walked to Swami Rock, stood facing the rising sun, threw the contents of the kalanchi into the sea as offering and took the collective oath to sacrifice themselves to fight for the freedom of their homeland. They vowed: ‘We dedicate ourselves to redeem the dignity of the Tamil people and liberate our homeland from Sinhala subjugation’.”[v]

While the Pulip Padai faded away, Rājaratnam was subsequently associated with a youth group within the Federal Party, namely, the Thamil Mānavar Peravai (Tamil Student Assembly).[vi] It was during the fervent discussions among such radical networks that young Pirapāharan met Rājaratnam and was persuaded to take the Cola symbol of a crouching tiger as the symbol for the flag that was eventually designed for the Tamil New Tigers in 1972/73 (and eventually for the LTTE).[vii] However, we must also allow for the possibility that both Pirapāharan and Rājaratnam were drawn to this symbolism by the example presented by Subhas Chandra Bose who composed a flag for his Indian Legion in Germany which took the Indian National Congress flag with its tricolours of green, white and saffron as background, but replaced the spinning-wheel with the figure of a leaping tiger (Borra 1982).

It was during the fervent discussions among such radical networks that young Pirapāharan met Rājaratnam and was persuaded to take the Cola symbol of a crouching tiger as the symbol for the flag

Pirapāharan had been drawn into the radical circles that were emerging in the Jaffna Peninsula at a very early age as a 14-15 year old: it is known that he attended meetings of the shadowy Tamil Liberation Organisation in 1969 and thereabouts. The TLO was directed by Thangadurai (aka Nadarajah Thangavelu), Kuttimani (aka Selvarājah Yogachandran) and Varadharāja Perumal; and Pirapaharan seems to have attended some clandestine meetings in the company of his older Karaiyar friends from VVT, Periya (Big) Sothi and Sinna (Small) Sothi (Sabaratnam 2009).

Within this broad analysis the ideological inspirations that inspired young Pirapāharan assume centrality. There is little doubt that he was a man of action from his early days. But those who knew him aver that (a) he was a voracious reader and that he was enthused by “Tamil historical novels which romanticised the valour of Tamil kings and warriors;”[viii] (b) as well as histories detailing the growth of British power in India and the tales of Indian nationalist struggles;[ix] that (b) he would “talk about Israel, and how the Jews were able to establish a powerful country” (Rāgavan 2009b.); that (c) he asked friends who were bi-lingual to summarize selected English works for his benefit; that (c) he had a remarkable memory; that (d) he was “a meticulous planner, efficient organiser and a perfectionist;”[x] and that (e) he was security conscious and adhered to the VVT smugglers’ practice of destroying all photographs of himself at this point in his career.[xi]

This means that the literature that attracted young Pirapāharan becomes data for our analysis, though one must also supplement this process with attention to the power exerted by the film world because of the popularity of Tamil films produced in India among the Sri Lankan peoples. One of his early fighter colleagues, Rāgavan, has indicated (in Kadirgamar 2009) that Pirapāharan liked cowboy and modern war films – a note that is in line with the admiration he expressed at one point in the 1980s for Clint Eastwood (in the latter’s roles as a tough cowboy).[xii]

The Tamil film world also led Pirapāharan to Vīrapandiya Kattabommān, the resistance fighter of early colonial times. Kattabommān was a local chieftain and marauder in Tirunelveli District in the Madras Presidency who fell foul of British power. He was caught and executed in 1799. Within a short time a rich and variegated medley of folk stories retailed in southern India through oral transmission as well as palm-leaf manuscript depicted him as an outstanding man. In the 1940s, some budding Tamil nationalists homogenised these tales into a version which depicted him as an Indian and Tamil freedom fighter who opposed British colonialism. This reading guided a movie that appeared in 1959 with Sivāji (Shivāji) Ganēshan in the lead role.[xiii] This film is widely available in multi-media forms and Kattabommān is a household name among the Tamil peoples of India (Ramaswamy 1994: 311-13).

There is little doubt that he was a man of action from his early days.

It was probably no accident that this development was initiated in the period embracing the 1930s to 1950s. Indian anti-colonialism was burgeoning at that time. One activist who was antipathetic to Gandhi’s emphasis on non-violent resistance was Subhas Chandra Bose. Though placed under house arrest when World War II broke out, he slipped out of India on an Italian passport and with the aid of revolutionary networks reached Berlin in March 1941 after an arduous land journey. Bose then proceeded to campaign for a “free India government in Europe;” while assisting the Nazi state in organising Indian regiments recruited among Indian POWs and the few Indian youth residing in Germany (Borra 1982). Eventually, however, the Nazi German regime persuaded Bose that it would be more strategic for him to organise an Indian force in Southeast Asia in cooperation with the Japanese; and he was transported by submarine to this theatre in early 1943.

The Indian National Army (INA) had already been set up among captured Indian troops by the Japanese in Southeast Asia;[xiv] and Bose was quickly made its leader. Bose generated great enthusiasm among the Indian communities in Singapore, Malaya, Rangoon and Bangkok with his stirring rhetoric. His statements indicate that he considered the Japanese-INA thrust into north-eastern India (viz., the Imphal Campaign) to be a precursor for a civil disobedience movement within India that would metamorphose into an armed struggle. This grandiose vision insisted that “all organizations whether inside India or outside [would then have to] transform themselves into a disciplined fighting organization under one leadership” (quoted in Borra 1982). He formed the Provisional Government of Azad Hind (Free India) in October 1943 towards this ultimate end. A speech he delivered at Tokyo University in late 1944 indicated that in his view India required a political system of “an authoritarian character,” so that the fusion of socialism and fascism that he often advocated clearly had a right-wing cast (Montgomery 1994).

The failure of the Imphal Campaign and the collapse of the Japanese war effort destroyed all these utopian expectations, while Bose himself died in a plane crash in Formosa in 1945. However, Subhas Chandra Bose’s hero status amongst some Indian radicals is indicated by the fact that a few (including Borra) have refused to believe that he died in this manner (replicating the story of Pirapaharan). More to point, this story highlights the probability that Bose’s emphasis on disciplined armed struggle was among the currents of thought that was disseminated among radical circles in India — especially in Bengal, Maharashtra and Taminandu. The soldiers of the INA who returned to India as POWS and the networks linked to the Indian communities of Southeast Asia would have been among the circuits that retailed his message.

In any event the high-profile court martial cases of Indian troops charged by the British with desertion to the Japanese and INA aided in the dissemination of Bose’s lines of revolutionary nationalist thinking.[xv] One active Congress politician who needed little persuasion on this count was the Muthuramalingam Thevar (1908-63) from the Maravar caste community in the south. During the internal faction disputes in the Indian National Congress in 1938-39 Thevar had been part of Bose’s Forward Bloc; and he spent much of the war years in jail or under some travel restriction. He returned to labour and radical politics in the post-war era, being elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952, but resigning in order to concentrate on activity within the Madras Legislative Assembly.[xvi] Such details therefore point to a lacuna that requires filling: what were the currents of thought propagated by Bose that remained vibrant in the Tamil political streams and to what degree did these ideas extol the virtues of Hitler and Nazi Germany?

Sri Lankan Tamil activists were encouraged to look towards Mein Kampf and Hitler as pertinent for their struggles.

Note, too, that Mein Kampf had been translated into Tamil in 1944 (Nicholls 2000), indicating an interest in Nazi Germany’s rejuvenation under Hitler. It is possibly through Muthuramalingam Thevar and such fringe political figures as Janardhanan in Tamilnadu[xvii] that the Sri Lankan Tamil activists were encouraged to look towards Mein Kampf and Hitler as pertinent for their struggles. Janardhanan, significantly, had an avid interest in the political situation in Sri Lanka and was among those who assisted the 18-year old Pirapāharan to find lodgings in Koddambakan when he was in exile in Tamilnadu in 1972 (Narayan Swamy 1994: 54, 96).

As significant is the fact that Bose had adopted the title “Netaji,” meaning “Führer,” when he was in Germany and insisted that the Indian regiments set up by the Wehrmacht should be trained in the strictest military discipline (Borra 1982; Montgomery 1994). It is therefore feasible that Pirapāharan’s attentiveness to Hitler and German disciplinary codes (see below) sprang from his reading of Bose’s career[xviii] rather than the influence of Tamil political currents.

It is within this regional Indian backdrop that one must take note of young Pirapāharan’s attested respect for Bhagat Singh, Bose, Venchināthan and Kattabommān.[xix] Clearly, those who had resisted the British violently in pursuit of independence spurred his violent pursuit of independence for the Sri Lankan Tamils. There were other inspirations as well. Napoleon Bonaparte was one (Narayan Swamy 2003: 24) – presumably admired for his generalship and military exploits.

Che Guevara was another.[xx] During his sojourn in India in the early 1980s he spoke highly of the Latin American revolutionary and the Cuban struggle and even posed for the camera with a beret in the late 1980s (Tekwani 2009). There is reason to suspect that this presentation of self was a propaganda device inspired by Anton Balasingham and meant to cultivate Indian media personnel and the Left radical world in general. Since Pirapāharan sought out a translation of Che Guevara’s writings in 1978/79 (Narayan Swamy 1994: 79-80), we know that this inspiration was significant at that stage. Someone must now investigate whether the enthusiasm for the contemporary Marxist and Naxalite struggles in various parts of the world was part of his thinking in 1968/69 and early 1970s.

In sum, our preliminary findings indicate that young Pirapāharan was inspired by such hero figures as Kattabommān, Bhagat Singh, Bose, Napoleon and Guevara in the period extending from 1969 to the early 1980s. Most of these names have been cited by Narayan Swamy, a premier biographer of the Tamil Tiger movement. But Narayan Swamy missed one inspirational force: Adolf Hitler and his Mein Kampf. We must be thankful, therefore, to two of Pirapāharan’s early colleagues-in-arms, Ganēshan Iyer and Rāgavan, for indicating that Pirapāharan had a copy of Mein Kampf in his possession and that he admired Hitler.

Presenting empirical evidence of Pirapāharan‘s interest in Hitler raises problems. It arouses the ire of Tamils and others[xxi] partial to the Tiger cause who immediately charge you with malicious intentions directed towards a disparagement of the Tiger leader by associating him with a modern-ogre, Adolph Hitler of racist notoriety. Their defensive responses must be treated as just that: an ulcer within their own psyche. Such sensitivity is misplaced. There is a genuine intellectual issue here arising from the first-hand evidence provided by our two sources, Iyer and Rāgavan.

The Meaning of Hitler for Young Pirapāharan   

Three inter-related questions summarize this issue: (A) what did the figure of Hitler as hero connote for young Pirapāharan? (B) what did he extract from Mein Kampf? and (C) what aspects of the history of Nazi Germany and its rise to power in the 1930s captivated him?

Che Guevara was another.During his sojourn in India in the early 1980s he spoke highly of the Latin American revolutionary and the Cuban struggle and even posed for the camera with a beret in the late 1980s

Let us move first to the evidence in the words of Pirapāharan’s companions from the 1970s. Rāgavan has this to say (in Kadirgamar 2009):

Thangathurai [from the TLO and TELO groups] was pro-US and pro-Israel. Prabhakaran was also of the same mindset but he was also, strangely, inspired by Hitler. He had with him a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’. He also was inspired by Bhagat Singh and Subash Chandra Bose. It was a strange combination. On the one hand, I think he had ideas about Jewishness, the state and the formation of Israel. On the other hand, the idea of eliminating the “other” came from Hitler. There was a connection in his mind.

Ganeshan Iyer (2012) writes thus:

Above all, Prabhakaran, governed by the discipline and victories of Hitler’s army, is trying to enforce the German army’s practices in to the training of the Thamil Eelam Tigers. He says it is because it was disciplined and firm [that] Hitler’s army has made victories its own. The order was given that as the first part of the army training all being trained should salute as is done in Hitler’s army. Prabhakaran who held in esteem the discipline and firmness of Hitler’s army, wanted the Thamil Eelam Tigers’ army to be its representative. I too did not reject it. … [There was a fierce internal debate as to whether we should adopt the Nazi salute]. In the end, as put forward by Prabakaran, Hitler’s ways were accepted and put in practice.

Taken in conjunction with Pirapāharan’s alleged interest in the military manual drafted by Clausewitz, Iyer’s testimony confirms Pirapāharan’s pragmatic orientation. Hitler, for him, meant German military capacity and the advantages of discipline in army and society, with the army serving as pathfinder for society.

A corrective caveat is required here. Pirapāharan seems to have fallen into the common-sense error of assuming that the rejuvenation of Germany from a downtrodden position after the defeat in World War I and the humiliations imposed at Versailles was largely due to Hitler and the Nazi regime. Such a conclusion is only a partial truth at best. Germany’s rapid recovery in the 1930s was made possible by the educational and institutional foundations of German society as it had evolved from the nineteenth century. More specifically, we should take note of a verdict conveyed by Helmut Kuzmics from the University of Graz (email dated 1 February 2012):

The efficiency of the Prussian army and its tradition … can be traced back to the wars against Austria and France 1866 and 1870/71. The German army was probably, as Van Creveld in his work, and Ferguson in The Pity of War, maintain, the most efficient army not only in the First, but also the Second World War. Its success had more to do with the superiority of logistics and technical skills, also the greater degree of autonomy of the middle ranks of the officer corps, than with soldierly discipline in troop-parades or greeting-habits. It was, paradoxically, less bureaucratic than the armies of the US or the British, and provided more freedom of manoeuver for the ordinary soldier by giving orders that formulated clear goals but left the choice of path to achieve them to the lower ranks. … the spirit of the Wehrmacht was the product rather of history than of the Nazis.

Pirapāharan, says Rāgavan, “felt very strongly that the Tamil cause needed to be united behind one single organisation” and was attracted to “Adolph Hitler’s authoritarianism.”

Indeed, as Mango (nom de plume) remarked, “most Western militaries now follow German doctrine on joint operations, mobile operations [and] mission tactics;” while the army which [has] followed the Wehrmacht’s tactical doctrine most closely [in recent times] has been the Israel Defence Force!” (email to Roberts, 1 February 2012). The latter irony has recently been compounded: an experienced officer corps and flexible ground-up operational planning was a critical factor in the Sri Lanka Army’s capacity to defeat the LTTE in the course of Eelam War IV from 2006-09 (Tammita-Delgoda 2009).

Within this broader perspective on the factors that promoted Germany’s rejuvenation under the Nazi regime, one can insert some recognition of Hitler’s place in the scheme of things. David Blacker has recently injected a perceptive point:

What Hitler did bring to the sandbox, however, were the concepts of ideological indoctrination of the military and the political soldier. The latter, in the form of the Waffen-SS, was both the spearhead of the German offensives and the rearguard in its retreat. It was this ideological indoctrination that created a type of soldier who fought on when all military sense told one to give up. It was this that VP admired, and which he tried to incorporate into his Black Tigers; some might say successfully (his emphasis).[xxii]

Kuzmics modifies this idea in yet supporting it: the Waffen were, indeed, as brutal and suicidal and were “particularly motivated and ideologically committed to the cause of National Socialism;” but their units were mostly constituted in the latter stages of the war (email dated 6 February 2012).

Such suicidal commitment encouraged the practices of Armageddon, such as attempts to hold unto untenable ground. The final apotheosis of this commitment, of course, was when Hitler and a few Nazi leaders swallowed cyanide in their beleaguered bunker in Berlin in 1945. It is this emphasis on total suicidal commitment and dedicated discipline that Pirapāharan seems to have extracted from Mein Kampf and the tale of Nazi Germany.

Logically, one would also anticipate Pirapāharan was attracted by Hitler’s autocratic disposition and his unquestioned position as supremo. This is confirmed in a whole series of recollections provided by Rāgavan. Pirapāharan, says Rāgavan (2009b), “felt very strongly that the Tamil cause needed to be united behind one single organisation” and was attracted to “Adolph Hitler’s authoritarianism.”

When the major internal row peaked in 1979/80 his opponents complained that he was “being a dictator,” while also alleging that he had been responsible for killing two members of their own organisation.[xxiii] The reference here is to Patkunarajah and Michael (from Batticaloa). Though Sabaratnam claims the execution was a Central Committee decision, Iyer’s recent writings contradict this claim. Michael was deemed unreliable and a “security threat” by Pirapāharan, who consulted Iyer and Kumaraselvam before proceeding to execute him at an isolated spot. Patkunarajah was executed when other Tigers were present after Pirapāharan had consulted’ the Central Committee members individually and received their assent.[xxiv] Patkunarajah had shown dissent on several occasions and it would seem that his outspoken character prompted Pirapaharan’s antipathy.

In any event it was about this period that Pirapaharan “would not agree to anything but a one-man leadership;” and promptly resigned from the LTTE (Rāgavan 2009b). He subsequently recouped his position around 1981 when the arrest of the TELO leaders by the government and other developments led to the re-composition of the LTTE, while Uma Maheswaran’s broke off and set up of the rival militant group, PLOTE. It is against this background that one must interpret a previous quotation from Rāgavan: “the idea of eliminating the ‘other’ came from Hitler.” In my interpretation, “eliminating the other” does not point to the elimination of Sinhalese or any specific racist dimension. Rather, it reveals Pirapāharan’s inclination to eliminate anyone in his circle who posed a challenge to his authority, a tendency which then extended to most of the other forces in the Sri Lankan Tamil world who were competing with the LTTE to lead the Tamil people (Bavinck 2011; Hoole 2001; Rāgavan 2009b). Guided by conversations with Arun Ambalavanar I conjecture that this inclination had been nourished by his upbringing in smuggling Karaiyar circles in VVT, a terrain where secretiveness and coteries were vital ingredients for survival.

In any event it was about this period that Pirapaharan “would not agree to anything but a one-man leadership;” and promptly resigned from the LTTE

This disposition and the pragmatic logic which directed Pirapāharan to pursue this course are revealed in the details regarding the split within the LTTE that occurred in 1979/80 that have been presented by the journalist Sabāratnam, writing in ways that indicate veneration of the Tami leader.[xxv] The dispute within the Central Committee seems to have centred upon a personality clash between Uma Maheswaran and Pirapāharan, precipitated by Maheswaran’s violation of the ascetic sexual code adopted by Tiger personnel through his sexual liaison with their first female cadre, Kandiah Urmila Devi. The internal dispute was so serious that the London branch of the LTTE sent Anton Rajah and the two Balasinghams to Chennai to resolve the disagreement. They failed.

The dispute flared up again in 1980 at a Central Committee meeting at Vavuniya. When Iyer, Nagarajah and Para from the Maheswaran camp proposed that the LTTE should be converted into a mass organisation, Pirapāharan hit the roof and resigned from the LTTE. When he regained control of a re-assembled LTTE rump he brought to the organisation certain conclusions that he had spelt out during the rift. These had been presented in his dialogue with Anton Balasingham and seem to have been recovered by the journalist Sabaratnam (2003, chap. 21). These are said to be Pirapāharan’s words:

The Sri Lankan state is the oppressor. The state is in the hands of Sinhala chauvinists. Sri Lankan state is using its armed organs, the police and the armed forces, as its tools of oppression. Thus, the police and the armed forces are the immediate enemies of the Tamil people. They are … reducing the Tamil people to subservience. The Tamils should be made to realize that the police and the armed forces are their enemies. … The Tamil people should be mobilized to enter the armed struggle. Doing that through educational campaigns and propaganda would be time-consuming and wasteful. Get the police and the army to do that work for the Tamils. Hit hard at the police and the armed forces. They would attack the people. That will make the people patriotic. People would flock to the militants seeking protection. … Maintaining people’s trust is important and difficult. Discipline is the crux of the whole thing. Protectors should not be immoral. Then the entire resistance movement will crumble (emphasis mine).

What this viewpoint (especially the highlighted phrases) demonstrates is Pirapāharan’s acute strategic capacity. Internal debate would only encourage factionalism. Seeking mass support called for time-consuming effort and was not required because pinprick guerrilla attacks would stimulate the Sri Lankan state’s armed forces to retaliate in ways that aroused the Tamil people.

Pirapāharan’s evaluation was precisely what came to pass in the years 1982 to 2002 after he regained command of the LTTE

Aided then by the idiotic counter-insurgency tactics of the Sri Lankan leaders and officer corps, Pirapāharan’s evaluation was precisely what came to pass in the years 1982 to 2002 after he regained command of the LTTE and pressed forward with this strategy – the term “strategy” being deployed here in considered manner in lieu of the term “tactics.” The pin-prick attacks mounted by the LTTE and other Tamil militants generated a major state-facilitated pogrom in July 1983 (Roberts 1994; Kanapathypillai 1990) and a series of retaliations by the military arms of the government between 1982 and 2001 in ways that disposed the majority of Sri Lankan Tamils to support the drive for Thamililam.

His experiences within the embryonic LTTE between 1978 and 1982 also led Pirapāharan to the following conclusions which he spelt out to Santhosum:[xxvi] “(1) he should build an organization absolutely loyal to him [and] (2) he should have the overriding say in running the organization.” Pirapāharan then underlined his insistence on the strategic need for autocratic power in the mould of a Hitler with the following anecdote: he had faced immense troubles [in the recent past from] men who joined the LTTE in its initial years — most of [whom] were talkers. They [would] split hairs over everything. Each one of them would pull in a different direction.” In this view, therefore, “no guerrilla force would succeed with such men” (Sabaratnam 2003: chap. 21). Pirapāharan had to call the shots Narayan Swamy 1994: 280)..

With retrospective advantage we now know that this standpoint led Pirapāharan to kill any budding leaders within the LTTE who showed sharp dissent and threatened his authority. As Ragavan stresses in concluding his evaluation:  Pirapāharan “refused to accept pluralism and difference of opinion, and saw those as a hindrance to the cause. He mercilessly ordered that opponents be killed, and continued to have loyal followers who carried out his orders without any question or hesitation.”[xxvii] This principle of eliminating all rivals[xxviii] extended to virtually all other Tamil militant and parliamentary organisations committed to Thamililam. His LTTE would be the ruling authority for the Sri Lankan Tamils.

His reading of Hitler, therefore, combined with his pragmatism and his penchant for action in pushing Pirapāharan in this direction. Like Hitler, too, Pirapāharan overreached himself in ways that have been extremely disastrous for most of the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka.

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Narayan Swamy, M. R. 1994. Tigers of Sri Lanka, Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2003 Inside an Elusive Mind. Prabhakaran, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2009 “Prabhakaran: from Catapult Killer to Ruthless Insurgent,” IANS, 18 May 2009 – see http://twocircles.net/node/148596 [reprinted in The Tiger Vanquished, pp. 165-67].

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2010 The Tiger Vanquished. LTTE’s story, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Perinbanayagam, R. S. 2011 “Caste and Politics,” http://groundviews.org /2011/08/22/ caste-and-politics/

Peiris, Gerald H. 2006 Sri Lanka: Challenges of the New Millennium, Kandy: Kandy Books, pp. 413-438.

Peiris, Gerald H. 2009 Twilight of the Tigers. Peace Efforts and Power Struggles in Sri Lanka, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Ragavan 2009a “Interview with Ragavan on Tamil Militancy (Early Years),” http://kafila.org/2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i/

Ragavan, 2009b “Prabhakaran’s Timekeeping. Memories of a Much-Mythologised Rebel

Leader by a Former LTTE Fighter,” Sunday Leader, 24 May 2009.

Rajasingham, K. T. n. d. “Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination,Asia Times, http://www.lankalibrary.com/pol/rajiv.htm.

Ramaswamy, Sumathi: ‘The Nation, the Region and the Adventures of a Tamil ‘Hero’,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 1994, n.s., 28: 295-322.

Roberts, Michael 1994 Exploring Confrontation. Sri Lanka: Politics, Culture and History, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Roberts, Michael 1994b in Exploring Confrontation. Sri Lanka: Politics, Culture and History Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers; pp.

Roberts, Michael 1996 “Filial Devotion and the Tiger Cult of Suicide,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 30: 245-72.

Roberts, Michael 2004 Narrating Tamil Nationalism. Subjectivities & Issues, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2005 “Saivite Symbolism, Sacrifice and Tamil Tiger Rites,” Social Analysis 49: 67-93.

Roberts, Michael 2006 “The Tamil Movement for Eelam,” E-Bulletin of the International Sociological Association No. 4, July 2006, pp. 12-24 [reprinted in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo, Yapa, 2010, pp. 203-18].

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Hitler, Nationalism, Sacrifice: Koenigsberg and Beyond … Towards the Tamil Tigers,” in http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/hitler-nationalism-sacrifice-koenigsberg-and-beyond-%e2%80%a6-towards-the-tamil-tigers/.

Roberts, Michael 2012 Inspirations and Caste Threads in the Early LTTE, unpubd, Mss in process.

Sabaratnam, Lakshmanan 2001 Ethnic Attachments in Sri Lanka: Social Change and Cultural Continuity, London: Palgrave.

Sabaratnam, T. 2003 Pirapāharan, [a biography in chapter segments] serialised in http://www. sangam.org/index_orig.html.

Sabaratnam, T. 2003b “The Split of the LTTE,” chap 21.

Sabaratnam, T. 2009 “Beginnings of Violence,” draft chapter from his book in press — kindly sent to me.

Schalk, Peter 1997a “Resistance and Martyrdom in the process of state formation of Tamililam,” in Joyce Pettigrew (ed.) Martyrdom and Political Resistance, Amsterdam: VU Press, 1997, pp. 61-84.

Schalk, Peter 1997b “Historisation of the Martial Ideology of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” South Asia 20: 35-72.

Sivarajah, A. 1996 Politics of Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka, New Delhi: South Asian Publishers.

Sivaram, D. P. 1992a “Tamil Militarism – The Code of Suicide,” Lanka Guardian June 1992, 15: 13-16.

Sivaram, D. P.  1992b“Tamil Militarism,” Part 6, Lanka Guardian, 1 Aug. 1992.

Tammita-Delgoda, S. 2009 “Sri Lanka. The Last Phases of Eelam War IV. From Chundikulam to Puddmattalan,” Manekshaw Paper No. 13.

Taraki [D. P. Sivaram] 2004a “LTTE develops Asymmetric Deterrence to stall Foreign Intervention,” Daily Mirror 22 May 2004.

Taraki [D. P. Sivaram] 2004b “Strategic Positioning Vital for Military Advantage,” Daily Mirror, 24 July 2004.

Tekwani, Shyam 2009 ‘The Man who destroyed Eelam,” http://www.tehelka.com/home  /20090523/default.asp.

Thottam, Jyoti 2009 “Prabhakaran: The Life and Death of a Tiger,” Time, 19 May 2009, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1899590,00.html.

Van Creveld, M. 1982 Fighting Power: German and US Army performance, 1939-1945, Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982.

Whitaker, Mark P. 2007 Learning Politics from Sivaram, London: Pluto Press.

Wickramasinghe, Nira 2006 Sri Lanka in the Modern Age. A History of Contested Identities, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Wilson, A. J.  2000 Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism. Its Origins and Development in the 19th and 20th Centuries, London: Hurst and Company.


[i] See Roberts 1996; 2004, 2005 and 2006.

[ii] Chandrakanthan 2000: 164, 169; Hellmann-Rajanayagam 1994: 172; & Wickramasinghe 2006: 301.

[iii] Jeyaraj 2009; Narayan Swamy 1994: 24 and Rāgavan in Kadirgamar 2009a.

[iv] “In a 1994 interview [Prabhakaran] described a deep-seated anger against the military and remembered an eighth-grade teacher who exhorted students to take up arms against it. ‘It is he who impressed on me the need for armed struggle and persuaded me to put my trust in it,’ Prabhakaran said” (Thottam 2009). This teacher was probably one Venugopal (Jeyaraj 2009). Venugopal has since written about his influence in Tamil (information from Ambalvanar).

[v] T. Sabaratnam 2009. Also see Narayan Swamy 1994: 24; Jeyaraj 1993:289-90; and Wilson 1966: 127, 130). The late T. Sabāratnam was a journalist and has authored a serialized biography of Pirapāharan on web (2003 et seq.). Also see Kaarthikeyan & Raju 2004: 128-29.

[vi] The Mānavar Peravai was composed mostly of “students from the higher classes of the colleges” (Perinpanayagam email, 28 Oct. 2011).

[vii] Rāgavan in Kadirgamar 2009a and Kaarthikeyan & Raju 2004: 128-30, 142.

[viii] Rāgavan 2009b; and Narayan Swamy 1994: 80. The Mahabhāratha and its hero figures are specifically cited to be among the historical literature which spurred Pirapaharan.

[ix] Narayan Swamy 1994: 80; and Rāgavan 2009b and 2009a.

[x] Ragavan 2009a; 2009b; Narayan Swamy 1994: 79-80; Narayan Sway 2003: 64-69, 122 and Taraki 2004a & 2004b.

[xi] Ragavan 2009a; Narayan Swamy 1994: 57 and a personal communication from Ambalavanar.

[xii] A newspaper item from the LTTE’s early days that is firmly etched in my mind (no notes were taken). Also see Narayan Swamy 1994: 59. However, Jeyaraj insists that the reference to Eastwood was a teasing act on Pirapāharan’s part and dismisses the suggestion (2009).

[xiii] “Sivaji Ganeshan as Kattabomman” www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GHsKn-y4rk; and Jeyaraj 2011. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veerapandiya_Kattabomman.

[xiv] See “Subhas Chandra Bose: A Pact with the Devil – Between Gandhi and Hitler” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyhmI6a2qsA.

[xv] See “Indian National Army” in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_National_Army.

[xvi] I am indebted to M. Sathiyamoorthy for referring me to Thevar. The bio-details are from Wikipedia which uses a publication on the Forward Bloc by K. Bose (Madras: Tamil Nadu Academy of Political Science, 1988).

[xvii] I am grateful to M. Sarvananthan for the reference to Janarthanan. Clearly there is a research topic here calling for further exploration.

[xviii] There is more than enough to suggest that Bose’s inclinations towards political choreography of a martial character heralds the Jana Sangh and BJP. When Bose organised a guard of honour for the sessions of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta in 1930, “2,000 volunteers were given military training and organized into battalions. About half wore uniforms, with specially designed steel-chain epaulettes for the officers. Bose, in full dress uniform (peaked cap, standing collar, ornamental breast cords, and jodhpurs) even carried a Field Marshal’s baton when he reviewed his troops.” (Montgomery 1994).

[xix] Schalk 1997b: 46-48; Narayan Swamy 1994: 51, 80; and Rāgavan in Kadirgamar 2009a.

[xx] Note Frontline, 30 December 1981.

[xxi] One of these others was a referee who reported on one of my manuscript articles for the journal Nations and Nationalism, though he was crafty enough to obscure this antipathy. There were, I stress, other reasons guiding the Editors when they rejected the essay. My article is now on web at http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/hitler-nationalism-sacrifice-koenigsberg-and-beyond-%e2%80%a6-towards-the-tamil-tigers/.

[xxii] See comment in http://colombotelegraph.com/2012/02/02/hitlers-rejuvenation-of-germany-as-inspiration-for-prabhakaran/.

[xxiii] Rāgavan 2009a and Sabaratnam 2003b.

[xxiv] Here I am guided by communications from Ambalavanar who has read the whole of Iyer’s serialized work. Kumaran was another early Tiger cadre who was executed by the LTTE high command. The list of those subject to Pirapaharan’s personal animosity may be quite long, with the most outstanding example being the former second-in-command Mahaththaya.

[xxv] Sabaratnam 2003b. Also see Narayan Swamy 1994: 70-71.

[xxvi] Santhosum was the code name for one of the earliest LTTE fighters, one Umainesan of Ariyalai, who died in action on 21 October 1987. Note that Sabaratnam was from Ariyalai himself and was of Civiyar lineage.

[xxvii] Rāgavan 2009b.  Note that Rāgavan himself was among those who adhered to this policy till he resigned in 1984.

[xxviii] See Narayan Swamy 2009.

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  • 0
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    Greetings Padraig,

    The last “paper” I gave a link to is in fact not a paper but an article. You’re correct that Radu does not make a case for the LTTE being Marxist. The point of that article, I believe, is to demonstrate that “suicide terrorism transcends religious, ethnic, and political boundaries.” In any event, here is a link to an actual paper: http://links.org.au/node/1064

    –Radu asserts: “The LTTE targeted politicians— they murdered a former Indian prime minister and a Sri Lankan president— but not civilians, unless as ‘collateral damage’”. That is just plain wrong – what about Anuradhapura, Kattankudi, all those night-time raids on villages where elderly people and children had their throats cut as they slept? —

    Actually, many of these “border villages” where the Sinhalese civilians were murdered were state-subsidized Sinhalese entities that had been built on Tamil land, after the Tamils had been driven out, usually by the STF. This is particularly true in the East. I refer you to http://www.sangam.org/2010/09/Colonizing_North.php?uid=4052. The census data speaks for itself.

    “I am not quite sure what that means”

    One way to see it is to note that National Socialism is inherently anti-semitic, whereas Karl Marx is indispensable to Marxism and its close derivate Bolshevism. Marx being a Jew (regardless of the fact that he became an atheist) means it would have been impossible for the National Socialists to find any middle ground between their own philosophy and Marxism per se. One could make a somewhat similar argument for Christianity, given its Jewish influence; however, for obvious reasons, Hitler could not go after the churches that easily. But one can be certain that if the war had taken an opposite course, European Christianity would have been replaced with a more “volkisch” religion. The point I am making is that a true hard-core National Socialist would reject anything with a grain of anti-semitism in it; hence the Nuremberg Laws, the “Nordic” physical requirements for membership to the Waffen SS, etc. This means that if Prabhakaran’s admiration for Hitler went beyond the superficial, then he would not have tolerated the presence of Balasingham, the ardent Marxist, for so long. But this begs the question as to what Prabhakaran saw in Hitler/Nationalism Socialism and found appealing, in the first place. I have already discussed the hand salute, which by itself is meaningless. I have proved that the LTTE’s fighter formations had nothing in common with those of the Wehrmacht; Roberts’ argument that “discipline” is the common thread does not hold water. Blackers argument for “fanaticism” is equally proposterous; the very survival of a guerilla group is built upon discipline, it’s not a skill one picks up by reading/hearing Hitler’s argument for physical education over foreign languages, in “Mein Kamp.” Living in harsh environments, gathering intelligence in enemy territory, being away from personal acquaintances and the amenities of modern life – these things build up discipline (at least the discipline required to be a guerilla fighter), whether that is the intended goal or not.

    “You seem to be leaving the door open to the possibility that VP admired Hitler but was not a National Socialist.”

    As I said earlier, Prabhakaran was an extremely practical person. Hitler was not practical at all. I would imagine that if Prabhakaran knew just how impractical Hitler was – from the latter’s desire to attack the East (against the advice of his generals) to his desire to blow up Berlin towards the ends of the war, to his inability to understand the differences between WW1 and WW2 – the former would have been thoroughly disgusted.

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      @ Nihal

      My IQ may not be as huge as VP’s but I do not need you to tell me that it was NOT a paper on Marxism to which you referred me. I told YOU that.

      Here is how you referred me to Radu: “Enough professional papers have been written about the LTTE and its Marxist orientation. Here is one such paper:

      http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20031021.americawar.radu.islamsuicidebombers.html”

      Now you say:
      “The last ‘paper’ I gave a link to is in fact not a paper but an article. You’re correct that Radu does not make a case for the LTTE being Marxist. The point of that article, I believe, is to demonstrate that ‘suicide terrorism transcends religious, ethnic, and political boundaries.’”

      Which is it? Make your mind up. You said the link would support your argument that the LTTE was Marxist. Now you seem to be agreeing with me that it does not do that.

      You say: “Actually, many of these ‘border villages’ where the Sinhalese civilians were murdered were state-subsidized Sinhalese entities that had been built on Tamil land, after the Tamils had been driven out, usually by the STF.” Does that alter the fact that the LTTE WERE targeting civilians? They did not only target Sinhalese whom they could define as colonisers. They killed Muslim and Tamil civilians too.

      Is it not possible to make legitimate criticisms of the government without glorifying and making excuses for the barbarism of VP and the LTTE?

      You inform me: “National Socialism is inherently anti-semitic”. Really! Thanks for telling me. You mean six million Jews didn’t die accidentally? Marx and many prominent Marxists may have been Jews but many communists were anti-Semitic. I am not sure where this is getting us. I am even more confused when you write: “The point I am making is that a true hard-core National Socialist would reject anything with a grain of anti-semitism in it”. But you have just said “National Socialism is inherently anti-semitic”. Why, then, would a hard-core National Socialist reject “anything with a grain of anti-semitism in it”. What is going on here?!

      “Begs the question” is a specific term in philosophy which means a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself. Tautology. When one begs the question, the initial assumption of a statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place. A simple example would be “I think he is unattractive because he is ugly.” The adjective “ugly” does not explain why the subject is “unattractive” — they virtually amount to the same subjective meaning, and the proof is merely a restatement of the premise. You beg the question a lot in your logically fallacious and tautologous arguments and assumptions but what I think you mean to say here is “invites the question”.

      “As I said earlier, Prabhakaran was an extremely practical person. Hitler was not practical at all.” In the long term, as JM Keynes would say, they are both dead. Both were convincingly defeated. If VP had been as ‘practical’ as you claim he would not have lost the support of the Eastern Tigers, he would have had a more sensible approach to negotiation and compromise, he would not have engaged in conventional battles when his strength lay in guerrilla tactics, he would not have subjected the Tamil people to decades of suffering without anything to show for it at the end. At least Hitler and Mussolini managed with reasonable efficiency the infrastructure of modern nation states. They made the trains run on time. What was VP’s legacy in his dictatorship?

      Still having trouble with the apostrophe! “Roberts’ argument that ‘discipline’ is the common thread does not hold water. Blackers…”

      Personally, I would have written “Roberts’s” rather than “Roberts’” but some would disagree with me. There is no room for disagreement that you should have written ‘Blacker’s”

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      “Actually, many of these “border villages” where the Sinhalese civilians were murdered were state-subsidized Sinhalese entities that had been built on Tamil land, after the Tamils had been driven out, usually by the STF. This is particularly true in the East. I refer you to http://www.sangam.org/2010/09/Colonizing_North.php?uid=4052. The census data speaks for itself.”

      How does the prove the LTTE marxist, Unterklokommandant; and under your logic, wouldn’t it have been OK for the GoSL to kill the inhabitants of Jaffna because the Tigers chased out the Muslims and took their property?

      How is this “One way to see it is to note that National Socialism is inherently anti-semitic” compatible with this: “The point I am making is that a true hard-core National Socialist would reject anything with a grain of anti-semitism in it;”??? :D

      “I have already discussed the hand salute, which by itself is meaningless. I have proved that the LTTE’s fighter formations had nothing in common with those of the Wehrmacht; Roberts’ argument that “discipline” is the common thread does not hold water.”

      Yes, you have spent a lot of time arguing against and disproving topics that were never suggested by Roberts :D That’s a novel way of winning an argument!

      “Blackers argument for “fanaticism” is equally proposterous”

      Nevertheless, they were arguments I was able to substantiate and you were unable to disprove :D

      “it’s not a skill one picks up by reading/hearing Hitler’s argument for physical education over foreign languages, in “Mein Kamp.””

      It’s not a skill, it’s a trait; and you can’t “pick it up” as one would carpentry.

      ” Living in harsh environments, gathering intelligence in enemy territory, being away from personal acquaintances and the amenities of modern life – these things build up discipline (at least the discipline required to be a guerilla fighter), whether that is the intended goal or not.”

      Not quite. One must have discipline to be able to undertake the above; and that discipline is gained through training. Roberts’ claim is that VP admired this discipline that he felt Hitler instilled in the Wehrmacht, and wished to instill a similar discipline in the Tigers. Therefore, your laughable attempts to disprove parallels between the Tigers and the SS, to prove the SS better trained, etc, are utter nonsense. Basically, it matters not a whit what the reality of Hitler’s Germany was; all that matters is what VP believed it to be.

  • 0
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    I see you’re playing semantic games again.

    I didn’t say it’s not a paper on Marxism, I said it’s not an academic paper. And no, you did not state that it’s not an academic paper. Here are your exact words:

    “The paper to which you have referred me is not a professional paper about the LTTE’s Marxist orientation. It is a paper about suicide bombing.”

    “Is it not possible to make legitimate criticisms of the government without glorifying and making excuses for the barbarism of VP and the LTTE?”

    I suppose you would agree that the IRA also committed barbaric acts and that one cannot justify the behavior of the IRA in any way, shape, or form?

    ““Begs the question”

    I know what begging the question is. Why don’t you get to the point instead of giving lessons on logic.

    “If VP had been as ‘practical’ as you claim he would not have lost the support of the Eastern Tigers,”

    RUbbish. If VP had not been practical, his organization would have been wiped out in a few months. VP’s downfall was that the political and technological environment which had favored his organization in the 80’s and 90’s underwent a major transformation that was ultimately beyond his capabilities. For example, there was a time when VP could count on the Indians to stop a major SL military offensive; in 2009, however, not only did Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party give full approval to the SL Army to wage a war of total attrition, but India also shielded SL from war crimes investigations at the UN.

    “At least Hitler and Mussolini managed with reasonable efficiency the infrastructure of modern nation states.”

    Hitler didn’t have to do anything except pick favorites. Many of these favorites, such as Albert Speer, Erwin Rommel, Werner Heisenberg, and Werner Von Braun were extremely talented individuals who were capable of independent work with little to no input from Hitler. Speer’s ingenuity kept the war going far long than it would have otherwise, Heisenberg was a Nobel Prize winner, and Von Braun eventually helped the USA to win the space race. Hitler was a fool surrounded by dozens of intelligent people (the average German IQ is 107, if I’m not mistaken); his singular piece of luck was to become dictator of the most scientifically and technologically advanced nation at the time. And similar to Bush, he squandered the surplus, causing untold carnage and misery. Prabhakaran, however, was no fool. The man outsmarted the Indian Army and kept the Sri Lankan Army at bay for 30 years. His legacy is that he brought out all the worst in Sinhala-Buddhism, exposing it as one of the biggest jokes in history.

    “Still having trouble with the apostrophe!”

    As I said, I don’t care for grammar and other such trivialities. If you’re up for a real logical challenge, try proving why 1+1 = 2; you will see that the answer has nothing to do with guinness, leprechauns, pedophile priests, or apostrophes.

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      @ Nihal

      “I suppose you would agree that the IRA also committed barbaric acts and that one cannot justify the behavior of the IRA in any way, shape, or form? ““

      I certainly do agree that the IRA committed barbaric acts which were disproportionate to the injustices they were supposedly fighting against. I would not attempt, nor have I ever done so, to justify in any shape or form the behaviour of the IRA. Is that clear enough? In many respects, the Provisional IRA was little more than a criminal Mafia-style enterprise. I covered this in some detail at

      http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/terrorism-business-politics-and-ordinary-decent-criminals/

      Why do you assume, just because I have an Irish passport that I would support the IRA? They gave up the fight after more than 30 years without achieving their main aim, which was a united Ireland. Was all that suffering worthwhile? I think not.

      Is that clear enough for you?

      I asked you for something to substantiate your assertion that the LTTE was a Marxist organisation. I was open to persuasion. You referred me to Radu saying: “Enough professional papers have been written about the LTTE and its Marxist orientation. Here is one such paper:

      http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20031021.americawar.radu.islamsuicidebombers.html”

      Then you said:

      “The last ‘paper’ I gave a link to is in fact not a paper but an article. You’re correct that Radu does not make a case for the LTTE being Marxist. The point of that article, I believe, is to demonstrate that ‘suicide terrorism transcends religious, ethnic, and political boundaries.’”

      Now you say:

      “I didn’t say it’s not a paper on Marxism, I said it’s not an academic paper. And no, you did not state that it’s not an academic paper”.

      Neither of us used the word “academic”. I used the word “professional” quoting you.

      These are not semantic games. It helps if we all use words in a way that they can be generally understood. Punctuation and grammar are not trivial – they help with communication and understanding. A while back you asked me to do you the credit of quoting your actual words. I have done so. You have misquoted me and continually make unwarranted assumptions about my character and beliefs.

      It is quite revealing about your mind-set that you should write: “I know what begging the question is. Why don’t you get to the point instead of giving lessons on logic.”

      If you know what begging the question is why don’t you use it correctly? It is clear that logic is as trivial to you as grammar and punctuation.

      “VP’s downfall was that the political and technological environment which had favored his organization in the 80′s and 90′s underwent a major transformation that was ultimately beyond his capabilities.”

      We live about eight hours away from Colombo. Some blowhards say “rubbish! I can do it in three hours”. When they come to visit us we wait and wait for them and they usually arrive about eight hours after they left Colombo. We say “you said you could do it in three hours”. They say “but there was a lot of traffic, there were road works, we got stuck behind a lorry, We decided to stop for lunch”. Whatever the excuses, it took them the same time as it takes us.

      However “practical” VP was, he was defeated.

      “His legacy is that he brought out all the worst in Sinhala-Buddhism, exposing it as one of the biggest jokes in history.” Some legacy! You are not going to sucker me into defending Hitler just because you think VP was superior. Hitler was an ogre, who caused great suffering and was defeated.

      “As I said, I don’t care for grammar and other such trivialities. If you’re up for a real logical challenge, try proving why 1+1 = 2; you will see that the answer has nothing to do with guinness, leprechauns, paedophile priests, or apostrophes.” I do not care for Guinness, paedophilia or priests myself, as I have told you on numerous occasions. You are correct in saying that logic has nothing to do with those things. Why do you bring them up? Pathetic!

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      “If VP had not been practical, his organization would have been wiped out in a few months.”

      I think a basic level of practicality can be attributed to him, since almost every guerrilla group has lasted more than a few months. That’s nothing to be proud of given the SL military was mostly ceremonial at the time and couldn’t have done much to stop an insurrection.

      “VP’s downfall was that the political and technological environment which had favored his organization in the 80′s and 90′s underwent a major transformation that was ultimately beyond his capabilities.”

      If he had been as practical as you make out, he would have foreseen these developments.

      “For example, there was a time when VP could count on the Indians to stop a major SL military offensive;”

      Really? Can you point out any such halting of an offensive by the indians, except for ’87?

      “in 2009, however, not only did Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party give full approval to the SL Army to wage a war of total attrition, but India also shielded SL from war crimes investigations at the UN.”

      If VP hadn’t targeted Rajiv Gandhi, do you think that wouldn’t have happened. Do you believe the assassination of Gandhi was a practical act?

  • 0
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    “Neither of us used the word “academic”. I used the word “professional” quoting you.”

    You’re missing the point. In a university setting, anything written by an academic, other than a book, is called a “paper.” The connotation “professional” is taken for granted. Papers, however, are submitted to journals, not the internet. That is why I corrected myself and said the above piece is not a paper, regardless of the fact that it was written by an academic.

    “You have misquoted me and continually make unwarranted assumptions about my character and beliefs.”

    You are entitled to your own opinions, but I maintain that I never misquoted you. As for your “character and beliefs”, their nature is quite evident from both your writings and your association with the likes of Mr. Poop of “Carthaginian Solution” fame. The fact that you and he seem to show up in pairs on numerous Sri Lankan websites raises some interesting questions. Also your defense of Crackpot Chetty in a different thread is most revealing.

    “These are not semantic games.”

    Actually they are. Minor mistakes in spelling and grammar do not detract from the substance of an argument.

    “Whatever the excuses, it took them the same time as it takes us.”

    Let me rephrase it another way. If swords and clubs were the only weapons available, the LTTE would probably have defeated the Sri Lankan Army. At the very least, the battle would still be raging.

    “Why do you bring them up?”

    For the same reason that you bring up apostrophes and commas.

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      “That is why I corrected myself and said the above piece is not a paper, regardless of the fact that it was written by an academic.”

      You were correcting yourself? I did not notice. An unfamiliar occurrence. You are engaging in some casuistical semantic jiggery-pokery here yourself. To keep it simple – you directed me to a piece of writing which you claimed substantiated your claim that the LTTE was Marxist. The piece of writing did not prove that the LTTE was Marxist and that was not the writer’s intention.

      “You are entitled to your own opinions, but I maintain that I never misquoted you. As for your ‘character and beliefs’, their nature is quite evident from both your writings and your association with the likes of Mr. Poop of ‘Carthaginian Solution’ fame.”

      You defend yourself against accusations of unwarranted assumptions by making further assumptions. I only encountered Mango recently and only know him through these blogs. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I disagree with him. You seem to be seeing sinister agendas everywhere.

      Here are a few of the assumptions you have made about me – sodomite, paedophile, alcoholic, Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist, Irish catholic, mutt, Guinness lover, Chetty defender. I will probably find more later.

      “Let me rephrase it another way. If swords and clubs were the only weapons available, the LTTE would probably have defeated the Sri Lankan Army. At the very least, the battle would still be raging.”

      That reaches fantastic heights of irrelevance. Swords and clubs were not the only weapons available were they? The LTTE were defeated.

      I don’t believe I mentioned commas?

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        “You were correcting yourself? I did not notice.”

        Perhaps you should pay more attention in the future.

        “Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I disagree with him.”

        I have yet to see you disagree with him. Not that I really care; however, it does reflect badly on your “character and beliefs” when you form alliances with the lowest of the rabble.

        “The LTTE were defeated”

        In what sense?

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          I hang on your every word Nihal but often they do not make sense!

          You say: “Not that I really care; however, it does reflect badly on your ‘character and beliefs’ when you form alliances with the lowest of the rabble.”

          Enough of this playground nonsense about who is friendly with whom. How about the substantive issues? You have not responded to my views on the IRA. You have not explained why you think the LTTE was Marxist. You have not explained how I can be a Sinhala-Buddhist fanatic as well as an Irish-Catholic, paedophile alcoholic. You have not explained how I was corrupted by the Sri Lankan educational system even though I never experienced it. You have not explained what my sinister ulterior motives and hidden agendas might be.

          You now ask: “The LTTE were defeated’. In what sense?”

          I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the conflict, can anyone deny that the LTTE were comprehensively defeated! In what sense were they not defeated?

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        “In what sense?”

        In the ways that make sense. :D In your case, Unterklokommandant, given that you believe the US won the Vietnam War and that Germany won WW2, I’m sure you believe the Tigers to be undefeated.

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      “Let me rephrase it another way. If swords and clubs were the only weapons available, the LTTE would probably have defeated the Sri Lankan Army. At the very least, the battle would still be raging.”

      How so? Can you explain how the Tigers would have been able to assassinate key leaders in the government and military using clubs? Can you explain how a force a tenth the size of their enemy could have survived in battle using swords? The Tigers were not more skillful at warfare than the SL military; just that technology allowed a small force disproportionate strength because of technological reach. This is one of the most dunderheaded comments Unterklokommandant Heshan has made. He earlier made it on Groundviews and the arse-kicking he received there was so hilarious to behold that I thought he’d have learned his lesson. Clearly it takes a lot of arse kicking before the vibrations reach his colon, the seat of all intellect in his case :D

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    “How about the substantive issues?”

    I have responded to most of these issues, if not here, then on your blog; in particular check the piece on LW.

    “I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the conflict, can anyone deny that the LTTE were comprehensively defeated! In what sense were they not defeated?”

    Of course they were defeated on the battlefield, but the story doesn’t end there. Here in the USA, the so-called “Civil War” of the 19th century created a divide between the North and South that has lasted to this day. You still have individuals from the South who wish to fly their so-called “Confederate flag” (essentially the flag of a separate nation) which more often than not, conflicts with the views of those who prefer the “Union flag.” My personal opinion is that there are no real winners in a war, period. The Bolshevists beat the Fascists, but Bolshevism turned out to be worse for the world than fascism (this is why so many Eastern Europeans supported the Nazis during WW2 – they could see through Stalin’s blinders). Similarly, the Rajapakses will turn out to be worse for SL than Prabhakaran. That is why I always favored the Ranil W approach to the conflict, which was to bring the LTTE into the political process, e.g. offering them an incentive to lay down arms. I believe this was the same approach used with the IRA.

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      “Of course they were defeated on the battlefield”. I am glad to get that cleared up.

      “That is why I always favored the Ranil W approach to the conflict, which was to bring the LTTE into the political process, e.g. offering them an incentive to lay down arms. I believe this was the same approach used with the IRA.”

      My friend the Reverend Harold Good was deeply involved behind the scenes in the Northern Ireland peace process. It was Harold who finally announced to the world that the IRA had given up the armed struggle. Harold was no supporter of terrorism but is happy to say today that Martin McGuinness is his friend. Martin made a visit to Sri Lanka and recommended negotiations with the LTTE and denounced the idea of a military victory. That would have been my own view at one time. Unfortunately, I have had to tell Harold that Martin was misguided and did not fully understand the Sri Lankan situation. The IRA were difficult to negotiate with but McGuinness and Adams realised that there was no point carrying on and had the authority to persuade most of the Provos to settle. All the evidence suggests that VP had no interest in negotiation or compromise.

      I am not a fan of counterfactual history. What if JFK had not been assassinated? Would the civil rights legislation have gone through without LBJ as president? Would JFK have become as mired in Vietnam as LBJ? Who knows? Who cares?

      The fact is Ranil was not able to bring the LTTE into the political process because VP did not want that. McGuinness and Adams did want to join the political process. The Real IRA didn’t and although they have only a handful of supporters they can still kill people.

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        I have read that Martin McGuinness was a paid agent of the British government. Do you dispute this claim?

        “All the evidence suggests that VP had no interest in negotiation or compromise.”

        Actually, the LTTE was moving more and more towards some kind of political settlement up until Balasingham died. Balasingham was very much in favor of a political settlement. It should also be noted that it was not the LTTE that called off the CFA; the Southern Sinhalese Buddhists, beginning with CBK’s dissolution of Parliament, were eager to have a hardliner in power so that the war would get going again. Unsurprisingly, Ranil’s numerous achievements during the CFA, such as creating massive economic growth and attracting (Western) foreign investment, were overlooked in light of the fact that he was giving away too many concessions to the LTTE.

        One should also look at the present situation and see whether there is any genuine effort towards a political solution – with the Tamils – as of right now. It is my understanding that the British have kept their side of the bargain, e.g. whatever bargain they made with the IRA, which perhaps you can shed some light on.

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          “I have read that Martin McGuinness was a paid agent of the British government. Do you dispute this claim?”

          There you go again! Why would I dispute that? I have no inside knowledge of the workings of the Provisional IRA or of the British secret services. I have never met Martin McGuinness. I made a couple of visits to Northern Ireland in the early 80s when I was working for Sir Arthur Armitage at the Social Security Advisory Committee. I did meet the Rev. Martin Smith, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge (funnily enough, I bumped into him outside the House of Commons many years later and he said hello. In my teems I knew a lovely girl who later went on to marry a conservative MP who was a member of the Orange Lodge. She died.) In Belfast, I had dinner with Chris Patten and chatted to his security man as he was cleaning his gun. I met Joe Hendron of the SDLP. I did not meet McGuinness or Adams but I met a man who had been kneecapped by the Provos.

          Allegations were made by Freddie Scappaticci that McGuinness was a double agent. Scappaticci was known by the code name “Stakeknife” and was himself accused of being a high-level double agent. By 1980, Scappaticci is said to have been a lead member in the IRA’s ISU (Internal Security Unit, also known as “the Nutting Squad”) and various killings have been blamed on him. Scappaticci claims that some of the killings occurred to keep another agent, McGuinness, safe and that McGuinness continues to be employed by the British secret service.

          During the recent Irish presidential campaign, several relatives of people killed during the troubles objected to McGuinness being a candidate. The husband of a mother killed by the IRA in 1981 said he doubted McGuinness’s claims of ignorance about the identities of IRA killers, saying “If anybody knows who did it, he does. If he is full of apologies he has never apologised to me”

          If Nihal is harbouring delusions that I have romantic notions about the Provisional IRA he should read:

          http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=37960

          http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/terrorism-business-politics-and-ordinary-decent-criminals/

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          “Actually, the LTTE was moving more and more towards some kind of political settlement up until Balasingham died. Balasingham was very much in favor of a political settlement.”

          Counterfactual history again! Others are better qualified than I am to say whether Balasingham could have achieved a political settlement if he had not died. Fact is he did die and there was no settlement. No point speculating.

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        “Actually, the LTTE was moving more and more towards some kind of political settlement up until Balasingham died.”

        There is absolutely no evidence of any such movement. There were periodic negotiations under the cover of which the Tigers regrouped and rearmed. Not a single concession was ever gained by either side in these negotiations.

        “Balasingham was very much in favor of a political settlement.”

        It wouldn’t have mattered if he was in favour skinny dipping; the Tigers were headed by VP, and there is no sign that any policy was ever set by Balasingham. In fact, all signs point to the fact that Balasingham (and others like KP) were gradually losing influence with VP in favour of those like Tamilselvam who preferred a military solution.

        “It should also be noted that it was not the LTTE that called off the CFA;”

        No, they simply violated it with impunity. When the Rajapakse GoSL eventually called it off just before the Mavil Aru operation, it was in shreds, and not worth the paper it was written on.

        “the Southern Sinhalese Buddhists, beginning with CBK’s dissolution of Parliament, were eager to have a hardliner in power so that the war would get going again.”

        Not at all. If they were so eager to continue the war, why did they vote the UPFA out and vote RW in (even though you maintain that the latter was never elected to Parliament!)? RW lost the people’s support because he was unable to articulate his plans clearly to those that mattered (the voters); the ultimate political ineptitude. That, coupled with the Tigers’ regular violation of the CFA with acts of murder and terror, and the right-wingers continuous pointing out of the fact, gave CBK the opportunity to dismiss him and cling to her fading power. You know all of this, Unterklokommandant, because it was explained to you in great detail on Groundviews in one of those regular class-room arse-kickings you were so familiar with.

        “Unsurprisingly, Ranil’s numerous achievements during the CFA, such as creating massive economic growth and attracting (Western) foreign investment, were overlooked in light of the fact that he was giving away too many concessions to the LTTE.”

        Again, you’re wrong. His concessions to the Tigers would have been acceptable if the latter had shown a modicum of sincerity in their negotiations. Given the regular violations that included the murder and assassination of political leaders and the military, RW’s concessions looked stupid; and in fact they were.

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        “One should also look at the present situation and see whether there is any genuine effort towards a political solution – with the Tamils – as of right now. It is my understanding that the British have kept their side of the bargain, e.g. whatever bargain they made with the IRA, which perhaps you can shed some light on.”

        The GoSL made no such bargain with the Tigers the way the Crown did with the Provos. How can a dead man bargain?

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      “Of course they were defeated on the battlefield, but the story doesn’t end there.”

      It does, for the LTTE.

      “Here in the USA, the so-called “Civil War” of the 19th century created a divide between the North and South that has lasted to this day. You still have individuals from the South who wish to fly their so-called “Confederate flag” (essentially the flag of a separate nation) which more often than not, conflicts with the views of those who prefer the “Union flag.””

      The divide was there before the Civil War, so it is incorrect to say that the war created it. The Southerners can fly their flag as much as they wish, but the fact is that the cause they were fighting for was defeated, as was their attempt to secede from the Union. There is nothing wrong with conflicting views — and in fact they should be welcomed; it is when views are enforced at the point of the gun that they need to be defeated. And the Confederacy was completely defeated. Similarly, there is nothing wrong whatsoever in having views that conflict with the GoSL, nor with believing that the Tamils should have a separate state. It is when people attempt to establish these views by force that they must be met by force. So while the cause of Eelam may not be dead, and might never completely die, there is no doubt that the Tigers were defeated in every way, on and off the battlefield. The cause and the Tigers were too different things; mostly because the Tigers had made it thus.

      “My personal opinion is that there are no real winners in a war, period.”

      I think you give yourself too much credit. This is an opinion shared by many throughout history, and it has rarely made sense in the political context. It is simply an observation that in some wars there are no absolute winners. Often there are winners, like the western Europeans in WW2, the Vietnamese in the Vietnam War, and so many others.

      “The Bolshevists beat the Fascists, but Bolshevism turned out to be worse for the world than fascism”

      And yet the imperialism that preceded Bolshevism was arguably worse than the Bolshevism it spawned. This is not an argument against violence; it is an argument against change; and any such argument is stupid. Nor is it evidence of a lack of winners in war.

      “this is why so many Eastern Europeans supported the Nazis during WW2 – they could see through Stalin’s blinders”

      Not at all. Most of the Eastern European allies of Hitler sided with him for simple racial motives (the Croats and Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs), or a multitude of other reasons.

      “Similarly, the Rajapakses will turn out to be worse for SL than Prabhakaran.”

      One has to be exceedingly unintelligent to imagine that a group of militants could govern better than an elected government.

      “That is why I always favored the Ranil W approach to the conflict, which was to bring the LTTE into the political process, e.g. offering them an incentive to lay down arms.”

      Given that the Tigers had always opted for retaining their arms rather than accept incentives, and that they were violating the CFA in order to carry out acts of terror, it is clear that the Tigers had no such intention. RW’s approach was one of necessity, rather than choice, believing that the Tigers could not be defeated.

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    No this is not counterfactual history. It’s a fact that Balasingham was in favor of a political settlement. Whether or not such a settlement was possible is a different story.

    You’re the one speculating here, not me. You’ve said that under no circumstances would the LTTE have agreed to a political settlement. This is the same view held by the Sinhalese nationalists.

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      “No this is not counterfactual history. It’s a fact that Balasingham was in favor of a political settlement. Whether or not such a settlement was possible is a different story. You’re the one speculating here, not me.”

      Whatever. I thought you said that if Balasingham had lived there would have been a negotiated settlement. Balasingham did die. There was no negotiated settlement. What is , is. What did not come to pass, did not come to pass.

      To me counterfactual history means, what if. What if Balasingham did not die? What if the LTTE fought with swords and sticks?

      “You’ve said that under no circumstances would the LTTE have agreed to a political settlement.”

      I do not think I said that. What I would say is that the behaviour and actions of VP gave every indication that he had no intention to compromise and that he would not accept anything less than Eelam.

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        “Balasingham did die. There was no negotiated settlement.”

        Balasingham was not the first Tamil to seek a negotiated settlement.

        “To me counterfactual history means, what if. What if Balasingham did not die?”

        That is your imagination there. I never raised such a point.

        “What I would say is that the behaviour and actions of VP gave every indication that he had no intention to compromise and that he would not accept anything less than Eelam.”

        VP was not the one doing the negotiating during the CFA. The CFA was the best opportunity for a negotiated settlement; the fact that the Sinhalese unilaterally called it off is significant.

        “There you go again! Why would I dispute that?”

        So then there is no comparison between McGuinness and Prabhakaran. And, to quote you, “McGuinness and Adams did want to join the political process” is irrelevant, in the context of the LTTE. Prabhakaran would never have sold out the LTTE.

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          @ Nihal

          Another confusing wander around the labyrinths of your mind.

          Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then. I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes”.

          Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds”.

          You say: “The CFA was the best opportunity for a negotiated settlement; the fact that the Sinhalese unilaterally called it off is significant”.

          You say that Balasingham was not the first Tamil to seek a negotiated settlement. I take it that you believe that Balasingham was, during the time of the CFA, genuinely seeking a negotiated settlement. To me the very idea of negotiation encompasses the concept of compromise. When I said that indications were that VP would not compromise, you said: “VP was not the one doing the negotiating”. Are you saying that Balasingham would compromise but VP wouldn’t?” How would that work out in practice? Would Balasingham have the authority to agree a compromise during negotiations and VP would say “fine, you know best Anton old buddy, go ahead, good man yerself?”

          Seems unlikely because you go on to say: “Prabhakaran would never have sold out the LTTE”. That seems to bring us back to the point that VP would not compromise, whatever Balasingham might have agreed in futile “negotiations”.

          So what are you talking about? How could you argue that a negotiated settlement was possible if Balasingham did not have the authority to agree compromises and VP was firm against compromises?

          The reality was that there was no negotiated settlement. Would there have been one without a military campaign if VP was taking this stance? Please explain your thinking to this thick Irish mutt.

          Back to your misguided assumptions about what my views on the IRA might be. A non-violent civil rights movement with legitimate grievances was cynically hijacked by the brutal hard men of the IRA. This led to 33 years of death and misery totally disproportionate to the initial grievances.

          “So then there is no comparison between McGuinness and Prabhakaran.”

          Did I ever say that there was?

          You say: “And, to quote you, ‘McGuinness and Adams did want to join the political process’ is irrelevant, in the context of the LTTE.” I don’t understand what you are saying.Please say it in joined -up English.

          The road to hell is paved with false analogies. McGuinness was sorely, profoundly mistaken in the parallels he tried to make between Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland. The Irish terrorists were trying to unite through violence the north east of Ireland with the rest of the island. In Sri Lanka, the LTTE was trying to detach the north east from the rest of the island.

          The IRA and the British government (and to a lesser extent, the “Loyalists”) were exhausted enough to recognise it wasn’t worth carrying on. They negotiated. They compromised. They signed agreements. They squabbled. McGuinness took a place in the government.They didn’t get a united Ireland. The loyalists were still despised by those to whom they were theoretically loyal but the eventually gave up their arms. It’s not perfect but it’s better than it was.

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    Surely you’re aware, Colman, that precedent is the penultimate standard. Now, observe the following:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1Jyy90SzOlo/TdoWRbPYGcI/AAAAAAAAADw/X14kOfae8sA/s1600/9apr1958TC227.jpg

    It is a picture of Buddhist monks forcing SWRD to tear up his pact with Tamil politicians in 1958.

    That is the kind of precedent the Sinhala-Buddhists set for compromise with the Tamils – as far as a political solution is concerned – well before the CFA of 2005.

    You seem to imply that regardless of Balasingham’s position on peace talks, Prabhakaran would have overruled him. If this were true, then Prabhakaran would have called off the CFA as soon as Balasingham died. In fact, Prabhakaran never called off the CFA, thereby putting a severe dent into your hypothesis that Prabhakaran the was incapable of all else but fascism. In fact, it was the Sinhalese side that unilaterally called off the CFA. It was Sinhalese nationalism that dissolved Parliament, thereby leading to new elections, in which Sinhalese nationalism yet again prevailed in electing a President whose platform was explicitly pro-war.

    “The reality was that there was no negotiated settlement.”

    The reality is that the only Sinhalese politician willing to deal with the LTTE on a level playing field, Ranil W, incurred the wrath of the South and is considered a traitor to this very day. The reality is that despite the absence of the LTTE since 2009, no steps have been made to find a political settlement that addresses legitimate Tamil grievances, within the framework of a democratic process.

    “The road to hell is paved with false analogies.”

    Yet it is worth observing that the Irish fought the British for 800 years and the struggle is not yet fully over. In comparison, Prabhakaran’s futile battle lasted little more than a quarter century. The Tamil struggle is not over either. As Mandela said, “there is no such thing as part freedom.”

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      “You seem to imply that regardless of Balasingham’s position on peace talks, Prabhakaran would have overruled him. If this were true, then Prabhakaran would have called off the CFA as soon as Balasingham died.”

      Here, we have the perfect example of how simple-minded Unterklokommandant Nihal is. He can never conceive of the fact that someone else could view the self same object that he does but see it in a different light; or that an object could have dual purposes in the hands of different people. Therefore, since negotiating was undertaken by the Tigers during the CFA, he assumes that the purpose of signing the CFA was to negotiate :D It’s really pretty hilarious. He then follows this “logic” to its obvious conclusion that if negotiations were not the genuine purpose of the Tigers, there was no further purpose to the CFA!

      The inescapable fact is that the Tigers never made a single concession in any of the many rounds of negotiations that they undertook during the course of the conflict; not ever. Every single time it was the Tigers that reopened the fighting by launching an attack. Why did VP need to formally call off the CFA when he never abided by any of its conditions? He never respected the Accord of ’87, and the same went for the CFA.

      “n fact, Prabhakaran never called off the CFA, thereby putting a severe dent into your hypothesis that Prabhakaran the was incapable of all else but fascism.”

      Here we see Unterklokommandant Heshan’s extensive knowledge of fascism, which leads him to believe that a fascist cannot negotiate. The fact is that Hitler made several negotiations and truces, even though he was a fascist. He rarely maintained these truces, but that is just another similarity he and VP share.

      “In fact, it was the Sinhalese side that unilaterally called off the CFA.”

      In his eager excitement over Padraig, the Unterklokommandant has missed my earlier comments ;) The CFA was called of by the SLFP government only after the Tigers had assassinated Kadirgama, attempted to assassinate both Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, murdered scores of Army officers, evicted the Scandinavian monitors, and finally attacked and captured the Mavil Aru gates. If the GoSL hadn’t called off the CFA, it would still be in place, regardless of the ground realities, proving once more that Nihal/Heshan is more comfortable with la-la land than the real world :D

      “It was Sinhalese nationalism that dissolved Parliament, thereby leading to new elections, in which Sinhalese nationalism yet again prevailed in electing a President whose platform was explicitly pro-war.”

      No, it was a power-hungry CBK that dissolved parliament to prevent an impeachment. And it was the Tigers who placed MR in Temple Trees by preventing the NE Tamils from voting largely for Ranil W; the latter a candidate who was ready to maintain the peace and accede to Tiger demands in their negotiations. If the Tigers were serious about the latter, they would have allowed Ranil to be re-elected and continued the negotiations. However, they weren’t serious. VP believed he had regained the strength necessary to overrun the NE, but he wanted the morale high ground of not being the aggressor. Unfortunately for him, SF and GR were patient and cunning men, and bided their time, not jumping the gun and falling into VP’s trap in spite of the continued aggression and relentless terror attacks. They blunted the Tiger suicide attacks, ensuring they were no longer effective, and then attacked in carefully planned offensives. The rest is history. All the intelligence and practicality the Unterklokommandant credits VP with were proven to be nothing more than silly fantasies. Result, a fat old guy dead in his jungies, his family slaughtered in front of him, and his people all but destroyed. So much for his military genius.

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    “Prabhakaran’s futile battle”

    I retract the word “futile” from there.

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      :D Don’t be so hasty; it’s one of the few things you’ve ever got right.

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    It’s interesting and edifying to see David & Padraig patiently, yet again, trying to re-educate Nihal/Heshan. A reasonable person can only conclude that Nihal/Hehsan’s (SEN) ‘special educational needs’ (which has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age), prevented him from recalling the teaching sessions on Groundviews.

    So, like Groundhog Day, we’re condemned to repeat ourselves, hoping that one day, Nihal/Heshan’s (SEN) ‘special educational needs’ will be met.

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    As a gay Sri Lankan Sinhalese, I understand why homosexuality was so prevalent in the Sri Lanka Army. It is common in the villages and part of our Buddhist culture, even though we don’t speak so openly about it. I am sorry my Tamil friends had to suffer through this abuse.

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    COLOMBO TELEGRAPH, I MUST PROTEST THAT THE COMMENTATOR KNOWN AS “OBSERVER” (AKA NIHAL P AND HESHAN) IS USING MY PICTURE AS HIS AVATAR. I UNDERSTAND THAT HE IS SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO ME AND WISHES TO SHOW HIS ADULATION IN THIS MANNER, BUT IT CREATES CONFUSION. I REQUEST YOU TO THEREFORE DELETE COMMENTS THAT USE THIS FALSEHOOD.

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