17 November, 2017

War & History: Sharing Some Thoughts

By Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

I am neither a military analyst nor a military historian. I have read but little on military matters, and what follows are very much the thoughts of a layman. As a student of Literature, my concern has been with the victims, and not with the so-called makers of History. My sympathy has been with the Trojans and not with the victorious Greeks; with devastated Carthage and not with proud, imperial, Rome; with the Native Americans, and not with the Europeans who dispossessed and decimated them; though not at all an anti-Semite, I am with the Palestinians and not with the bullying Zionists. Isaiah Berlin in his ‘An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History’ observed that “history normally deals with important, political, events. The ‘inner’ events are largely forgotten, yet it is they “that are the most real, the most immediate experience of human beings; they, and only they, are what life, in the last analysis, is made of”. (The main title of Berlin’s essay is The Hedgehog and the Fox.)

To glorify war is to glorify death and destruction; to glorify war is to glorify wounds, both of body and mind; to glorify war is to glory in the inflicting of suffering and sorrow. The victorious Duke of Wellington seeing the carnage on the battlefield of Waterloo said that the next saddest thing to losing a war is winning it. In certain circumstances, war can be a sign of failure: the failure of negotiation and compromise; the failure of reason and justice. Sun-tzu (BCE 380-316) in his Art of War writes that the greatest military victory is one that is won without a battle. Given this attitude, it’s not surprising his treatise is also known as ‘a Book of Life’.Balachandran Prabhakaran1

If language arises from the wider (external and internal) reality, that reality can also be conditioned by language. Once, some students were taken aback when I asked them whether it was alright to kill fellow human-beings. I then inquired whether it was good to kill the enemy, and their indignation turned to discomfort. Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral in London, a place of religious worship, one finds monuments to those who had killed natives who were defending their homeland: the greater the massacre, the greater the glory. The change in classification from “human being” to “enemy” licenses violence, and can incite cruelty. By way of example, I cite from the Guardian newspaper (London, 25 December 2015) which describes a hall packed with Jews cheering the death of a Palestinian toddler murdered in an anti-Palestinian ‘hate crime’. The video, filmed at a wedding, shows guests “dancing with guns and firebombs and stabling a picture of Ali Dawabshe who died with his parents in an arson attack on their home”. (One is reminded of Sri Lanka’s Black July,1983.) Yet some at that wedding celebration would probably jump into the water or fire, instinctively, to rescue a toddler who was unknown to them.

It’s now a truism that History is written by the victors. It is “written” not only in books and articles but in films, plays and stories. And in this way a myth is created, propagated, repeated and soon taken to be fact, the total truth. In Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the slogan is: Those who control the present, control the past. Those who control the past, control the future. Writing in ‘Colombo Telegraph’ (14 November 2015), I confessed my chagrin when recalling that, as a child, I had enjoyed what were then known as ‘Red Indian’ (Native American) films. I quote: “They were savages bent on rape and given to the horrible habit of collecting human scalps. They charged wildly at the out-numbered whites who heroically stood their ground and, eventually, won. Hiding the truth, falsifying history and manipulating spectator-response, one didn’t realize that the Native-Americans were fighting for very survival on land which had been theirs for centuries, and of which they were being remorselessly and relentlessly robbed through superior weaponry. Ironically, at the end of such ‘Red Indian’ films one had a sense that right had triumphed.” The story of the Native-Americans, their version of history, was buried and lost. They were a defeated and demoralised people, without access to media and publicity; minor casualties in the march of history and ‘progress’. For recent studies of this crime and tragedy see works such as Madley’s An American Genocide and King’s Blood and Land: the Story of Native America. And the Native Americans are but one example from many.

To triumph in war is also to triumph in the making of History. The word “story” is embedded in the term History. In turn, “story” can imply “fiction” – that which is not true: as it has been said, the first casualty in war is truth. To cite another example, the Western version of history is that Napoleon was defeated not by the Russians but by the vicious winter. However, Dominic Lieven, Professor of Russian Government at the London School of Economics, in his book Russia Against Napoleon, 2009, argues that this version is propagated so as (a) not to damage Napoleon’s reputation as a military genius and (b) take credit away from the Russians. Napoleon and his admirers blame the unusually cold winter for the destruction of his army: “This is mostly nonsense. Only in December, after most of the French army had already perished, did the winter become unusually and ferociously cold” (op. cit., p. 265). “One key reason why Russia defeated Napoleon was that her top leaders out-thought him.” (p. 13) “Alexander and his advisers well understood Napoleon’s aims and tactics. In this as in every other way, they sought to impose on him the kind of war he least wanted to fight” (p. 215). Clausewitz is the author of a standard military-text, On War. When Napoleon compelled Prussia to become an ally, Clausewitz crossed over to Russia and fought with them. The book he subsequently wrote, The Campaign of 1812 in Russia, demonstrates that Napoleon was doomed even as he entered Russia. As I have written elsewhere, history can turn the incredible into the inevitable but when it comes to history (story), most believe what they wish to believe. Versions which contradict or demand modification are either ignored or denied. Simplicity is much preferable to complexity. And so we have the good against the evil; the innocent and brave against the perfidious and cowardly; the decent and honourable against evil terrorists.

Aeschylus (known as the father of Greek tragic drama) and his brother fought the Persians at the battle of Marathon, BCE 490. Though his brother was killed, Aeschylus in his play, ‘The Persians’, shows sympathy for the defeat and suffering of the Persians. Euripides, also a Greek, wrote ‘The Trojan Women’, almost entirely from the Trojan perspective. Hecuba thinks she has seen and suffered the worst that life can bring: her royal husband and her son, Hector, are dead; her city is in flames; and she and the other women wait to be taken over the waters into life-long captivity. But then the victorious Greeks take away and kill her only grandson. (It was also the fate of the youngest son the Tamil Tigers’ leader, a boy last seen being given a sweet: a macabre scene.) All that the old woman can do is to perform perfunctory funeral rites over the beloved little body. The play is a sustained lament, harrowing even to read, let alone watch on stage. And it was written by a Greek about the enemy Trojans! In Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, Anthony, acknowledging the courage and loyalty of Lucilius, orders that the prisoner be shown kindness, regretting that such a man was an enemy and not a friend. The “Dying Gaul”, is a famous statue commissioned by Attalus of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Celtic Galatians in Anatolia The statue depicts a dying Gallic warrior, his shield and sword beside him, but the dying warrior appears to be fighting against death, refusing to surrender to his fate. The statue while celebrating victory also shows the courage of the enemy. There are several such incidents from all parts of the world, examples of where the enemy is accorded some measure of regard, grudging or otherwise: “All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry” and even the enemy soldiers “Could scarce forbear to cheer” (‘Horatius at the Bridge’ by Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay). Such regard indicates a certain independence of mind and nobility of spirit but in blessed Sri Lanka, similar behaviour is conspicuous by its absence – on both sides.

Moving specifically to ‘the Paradise Isle’, now that the Tigers have been eliminated, they are made out to have been a formidable force. Why? I quote from my Public Writings on Sri Lanka, Volume 2, p. 85: “It is thought that, at their height, the Tigers perhaps numbered 30,000. Towards the end, down to a few thousand (finally, a few hundred), they faced an army of (again, perhaps) 250,000. The Tigers did not have jets and helicopters. Their mono, propeller, planes were slow and clumsy, and of no real military value. Rejected by foreign governments, the Tigers were as isolated internationally as they were totally surrounded in geographic and military terms. In contrast, the government of Sri Lanka received help and advice from several countries, even from those states in competition with, and suspicious of, each other. The Taliban fight in mountainous, inaccessible, terrain, while the Tigers occupied flat land, albeit forested. Sri Lanka being an island (and the government of the nearest country, India, implacably hostile), the LTTE did not have borders over which they could easily slip, regroup, recover and return to continue the struggle. The wonder is not that the government eventually won but that it took so long for final victory to be achieved” (End of quote). Perhaps, an answer to the “Why?” above is that the more formidable the enemy is made out to be, the greater the victory and success. One safely inflates the threat the (dead) enemy posed in order to lavish greater credit on oneself.

At present, there is much talk about a book (which I haven’t seen) on the war by a retired army general titled The Road to Nandikadal. Individuals in other countries have written with a good degree of objectivity and impartiality of wars in which they participated. But a balanced understanding, including a consideration of successive historical events which culminated in war seems impossible in Sri Lanka, particularly when clouds of “war crimes” and “human-rights abuses” cast ugly and shameful shadows. I would suggest The Total Destruction of the Tamil Tigers: The Rare Victory of Sri Lanka’s Long War by Paul Moorcraft, an outsider. (The book, reviewed by me in Colombo Telegraph, 9 June 2013, is included in my Sri Lanka: Paradise Lost?) Moorcraft states that the Tigers were the architects of their own downfall: see Paradise Lost?, pages 89-90. A very senior officer in the Indian intelligence service, now retired, in a personal message to me wrote: When the Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi, they also killed any hope they ever had of independence.

It seems to me, a non-specialist, that it is unwise to combine political and military leadership in one person, as was the case with Napoleon and Hitler. By way of contrast, when (dictator) Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, the (democratic) President Bush turned to General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The actual military operation was the responsibility of General Norman Schwarzkopf (“Stormin’ Norman”) who studied the situation, and conveyed his requirements in terms of men and equipment to the political leadership. As I have written elsewhere, if Prabhakaran had read The Art of War by Sun-tzu (also known as Master Sun) he certainly did not profit from it. The Master wrote, inter alia, that a true leader never acts out of anger, revenge or spite. To be fixed is to be temporary; to change, to adapt, is to endure. (Chairman Mao’s tactic – “The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue” – is taken from Master Sun.)

I suppose I’ll fall foul of those at the extremes, both Sinhalese and Tamil. But if Tamils do not have the courage and the candor to try to evaluate their past honestly, have they the moral right to criticize others? As I have written above, History is manufactured, preserved and assiduously disseminated by the victors. I hope, very much, that someone with personal experience and detailed knowledge will write an account of the war from a Tamil-Tiger perspective. Then posterity can attempt to put the disparate pieces together, and form their own synthesis; their own understanding of events, events whose significance (and resulting tragedy) for Tamils cannot be exaggerated.

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  • 2
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    Sumanaya can you please share your thoughts as well?

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      WERE you with the Tamil Civilians and NOT WITH THE TIGERS? if so so many young kids who should have been given sweets were given Cyanide capsules and guns and turned into Killers. ‘they are made out to have been a formidable force. Why’ If the Tigers were so clumsy they would not have been able to sustain a war for 30 years, Defeat The Indian Army, Launch Effective missions to assassinate high profile leaders in sri lanka and India, Smuggle State of the art Weapons, Produce their own effective artillery, Earn Billions across the world, Create a Sophisticated Drugs and human trafficking network, Have a Fleet of merchant cargo ships. ohh and every defence analyst from the west to the east saying they are the most sophisticated militant outfits and cannot be defeated in the battle field. SOME Clumsy group. You are correct you don’t have knowledge of war or pretend you dont

  • 4
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    The image is compressed using a certain ratio and algorithm, i.e. converting from raw to jpg for example. This leaves a distinct pattern at byte level.

    So its easy to spot fake images. This is because often the pasted parts have different patterns to the rest of the image owing to the distinct ratio and algorithm used.

    The photo is a fake because using pattern analysis we can see the image of the boy has been pasted into the background of the army bunker.

    This photo above was given to Callum McRae by the British Tamil Foundation (BTF) I believe. I think the chap there is Rev. Emmanuel I think. You can ask him how this happened.

    • 8
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      De Silva (The one who hears voices in his head)

      “This photo above was given to Callum McRae by the British Tamil Foundation (BTF) I believe.”

      Are you hearing voices of British Tamil Foundation (BTF)today?

      Is it Tamil British Tamil Forum or British Tamil Foundation (BTF)?

      Was this photo shot by VP’s official war photographer or by the octogenarian?

    • 1
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      De Silva , I am sure you will be pleased to note that Kingston town in the Royal Borough of Kingston UK will be Twined with Jaffana

      Your favourite Wiggy will be do the honours.

      details below.

      https://www.kingston.gov.uk/jaffna

  • 9
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    You forget that the Tigers had much more clout internationally and the ability to raise millions of dollars every year. People – primarily diaspora Tamils – paid into their coffers, knowing full well that they were targeting other Tamils (especially intellectuals and moderates), in addition to Sinhalese and muslim villagers int he border areas. The SLA was supported financially by sales taxes – thus we as ordinary citizens were not able to withhold funds from them.

    The LTTE also had a very sophisticated and effective intelligence service, as evidenced in their meticulously planned attacks on the air port and the assassinations of Premadasa and Kadirgamar.

    The LTTE was not, in fact IS not a shrinking violet, dear. Nor were they a rag-rag army. They were ruthlessly effective. So much so that they could command 100000 people to to pack up and move, so they could use them as a bargaining tool in the theater of war. Let’s not pretend to be naive dear sir.

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      Sinhala Buddhist,

      It is almost certain the Kadirgamar killing was not an LTTE job. It was one, it is believed by well-informed sources, sections of the army conspired to prevent Lakshman K becoming PM, which was then on the cards.
      The event was a message to CBK. The wise lady took it and lives to tell the tale. This factor is now and then mentioned in academic, political and journalistic circles.

      Kettikaran

  • 9
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    I am for the most part in agreement with the writer. From both his scholarship and sympathies, he recognises that in writing on history, mass events and revolutions, one is frequently in danger of writing fiction. An event that pulls a significant crowd on to the streets passes for popular mass struggle and exaggerating crowds is part of the game. The French Revolution was chiefly political, involving the few hundred deputies who attended the Estates General in May 1789. Although Paris had 500,000 inhabitants, many writers agree that the best crowd on a Parisian street did not exceed 10,000. The Bastille was not taken. It was surrendered after the Kings general wish to avoid the spilling of blood. The Revolution did not produce a government that came anywhere near replicating the legitimacy of the Monarchy. It consisted of leaders living in fear of one another and sending rivals to the Guillotine before they could themselves resort to it. It created enormous bloodshed, but no wealth; instead it printed Assignats which contributed to hyperinflation. Napoleon was a prisoner of this legacy, which contributed to his downfall.

    But closer home the writer loses his sure-footedness. He grasps some of the problems, but the fate of the LTTE has only marginally to do with its killing of Rajiv Gandhi. It begins with the fact that the people were long war-weary and the LTTE’s style of politics could offer nothing but war. External writers inevitably rely heavily on correspondents’ dispatches and that, the writer instinctively knows, is only a small part of the story. The story of the heroic victory of the Sri Lankan Army, leaves out the criminal stupidity of leaders starting with Jayewardene and the phenomenal desertion from the Army and the war-weariness of the Sinhalese people. The story of Tiger or Tamil nationalist heroism leaves out the enormous resistance to conscription and the criminally shameful manner in which the parents who wanted their children back were treated. As important as any battle was that of thousands of parents who in 2007 got their children into Madhu Church, with the cooperation of the parish priest, and formed a ring around the Church preventing LTTE press-gangs from going inside. The Church authorities are yet to clarify how the LTTE eventually got its way.

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      The Church authorities are yet to clarify how the LTTE eventually got its way.

      Mannar bishop did a lot for the Fake Struggle.

      He was a Tamil-nadu born Tamil. So, his mentality was different. He supported the Suicide-belt transporting Brigade of Catholic Priests. He was hiding the bank loots from many banks that LTTE opened during 1970s.

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        Jimmy

        Are you sure the Bishop of Mannar was born in Tamilnadu? If not, your comments here and elsewhere are not worth the paper you print them on. And, you comment several times almost daily.

        Dravidian

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    The Killing of Rajiv Ghandi is now blamed on Sonia gandhi & Subramaniya Swamy. The Jain Commission requested for further investigation. Why this is stopped is a million dollar question. Everyone blame the bow not the man who aimed the bow.
    If the Indian government investigated further deep in to the killings lot of truth & filth could have come out. Now all the truth and filth buried very deep down.

  • 5
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    De Silva queries the authenticity of the picture of Prabhakaran’s son.
    This seems to me a trivial objection – if not a deliberate distraction.

    Surely, what matters is whether the child was taken and then callously murdered?

    By way of a postcript, I did not submit that picture, and was surprised to see it included.

    Sarvan

    • 1
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      By way of a postcript, I did not submit that picture, and was surprised to see it included.

      CT introduces it’s own picture to make the article more attractive,s ensational etc., etc,

  • 4
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    Rajan Hoole criticises Sarvan for losing “his sure-footedness” but it is Hoole who has completely mis-read the article; lost his footing altogether!

    Hoole is incapable of grasping that Sarvan was sharing general thoughts on how History is created, particularly when it comes to war. His examples, mostly non-Sri Lankan, are meant to illustrate the points he makes.
    He uses the particular to formulate, tentatively, general propositions.

    Hoole has blinkers, a one-track mind, and seems incapable of functioning on a more abstract level.

  • 4
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    The Bolsheviks executed the Czar Romanoff II’s family.
    The UNP Batalanda Ranil’s government had to dispose of Wijeweera
    This kid was kept as a human shield and also probably was brainwashed.
    US killed Bin Laden when there was no need and killed one of his wives too.

    These things happen. If VP had got his army to surrender when Kilinochchi fell on Jan 8th 2009, none of what follows would have happened.

    He used human shields and he used child soldiers in desperation like Hitler did. If you went to PTK you will see the number of Vehicles they used to try to blow their way out of the encirclement. Those blown up suicide vehicles were there for a long time. LTTE were tough and ruthless; they eliminated anyone who was a threat. They were well trained and disciplined. They used small planes to bomb and also to carry out a suicide mission.

    They had a NAVY. NO Other terrorist or separatist group had a NAVY where their boats outran and outgunned the SLN. For the longest time their boats with 4 Evinrude Engines or Yahama Engines were faster and superior to SLN boats. They also were masters of smuggling because that is what they were from VVT before the war started. They knew every coastal nook and cranny. They rammed SLN boats. SLN had to desperately get guns from US for longer range. SLN had to adapt and come up with Arrow Boats and that is when they finally beat them.

    They had hundreds of female fighters and female black tigers who blew themselves up when cornered and did not surrender. That is why they had to be strip searched after death to make sure the corpses were not booby trapped.

    LTTE was a group to be feared and respected by their opponents. That is why the SLA honored one of their commanders who they knew to be a great fighter who was only killed at the end in the box. VP was a fascist fool who refused to believe the end was upon him. His family had to be killed so they will not have leverage later. US did not want outright defeat and wanted to take them out to Mauritius where they would have been used as leverage. VP could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he surrendered on Jan 9th. He was given so many opportunities. He opened fire on escaping refugees at Nanthikadal. VP should not have had his young son there. His older son was a terrorist combatatant and his wife and daughter were no different. If these were Al Baghdadi’s family the USA would have done the same. Why did he have his son there? VP was a fool who failed to realize his time was up just the way Hitler failed to see reality of Soviet troops closing in. So he took the cowardly route and committed suicide because he and his wife would have been raped by the Soviets. At least VP died fighting…But he failed to protect his family because of his fanaticism. No one will grieve except LTTE rump funding Hillary Aunty to try to fan the flames of war like in S.Sudan, Yemem and Libya

    • 2
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      Tripti

      “If VP had got his army to surrender when Kilinochchi fell on Jan 8th 2009, none of what follows would have happened.”

      On the other hand Hindians were determined to wipe off VP, his family, and the LTTE from the face of the earth. What chance did the psychopath VP have when 95% of the war was fought by the Hindians and their allies?

      Gota was merely the executioner in chief and the commanders allocated jobs to the low level alugosuwas from villages.

    • 3
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      Tripti

      “At least VP died fighting…”

      Both VP and Rohana surrendered to army and were tortured by sadist officers and then killed. Rohana was burnt alive at Kanatte and VP was axed to death.

    • 0
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      Tripti,

      You seem to know a lot.
      “………………….female black tigers……….”
      That is why they had to be strip searched after death……………………………”
      Did they search the body cavities too, with gloved hands, like US police & DEA agents?

      The female LTTE cadres who died after the attack on the Anuradhapura Air Base were stripped naked, along with the male cadres, loaded on a tractor trailer, and paraded along the roads of the town.

      What was the purpose?

  • 4
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    The writer repeatedly stresses that the victor writes the story which eventually is considered history….may be true in the ages gone by but not too sure in to days context with information freely available to most .
    Further more he too is towing the line of the victor in the case of Bonaparte { no fault of his i guess as that’s how it goes }

    There is also a, apparent sympathy towards the LTTE although he tries his best, genuinely to remain un biased but for obvious reasons the slip shows in his statements as to why the LTTE lost the war.
    He even chastises VP only for not following what Sun-tzu’s prescriptions for victory and for nothing of the barbaric acts he committed .
    good in parts would have been much better if he did not lets his emotions get in the way

  • 2
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    The end of the civil strife has thus far produced almost nothing fruitful to the Tamils except scope for articles like this or that , analytical, didactic, vainglorious, etc. The pity is the present state of Tamils has thus become a subject to callous derision rather than a matter to be seriously taken into consideration and consolidation. Instead it has been destined on the Tamils to see no light but twilight in the horizon. What have the internecine struggles of half a century taught us? nothing?

  • 1
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    It is wrong to celebrate the war victory.

    but, it is OK to celebrate suicide bombers and blacktigers.

  • 0
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    Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan:

    My conclusion always is never Support Tamils. It will never work. It di dnot work for the last 100 years. They are bragging how grans they are and how low Sinhalas are etc.,

    None of them agree or admit most of them had to depend on Dali – Quotes to go to university and to do a good job if they were living in Tamilnadu. On the other hand, They can not prove with sufficient evidence that there was a Tamilland in Sinhale.

    Anyway, Charles is not happy that LTTE lost. That we can understand. Always the blood relationship is strong.

    My sympathy has been with the Trojans and not with the victorious Greeks;

    “It is thought that, at their height, the Tigers perhaps numbered 30,000. Towards the end, down to a few thousand (finally, a few hundred), they faced an army of (again, perhaps) 250,000. The Tigers did not have jets and helicopters. Their mono, propeller, planes were slow and clumsy, and of no real military value

    Read above mentioned your statements. What you say, enormous amount of money that they got yearly from western countries, money they earned via drug trade, credit card scams, prostitution rings, fake passport port printing, yet LTTE could not do it. NOW YOU TALK ABOUT FOX’S SOUR GRAPE STORY.

    On the other hand, You refuse to acknolwedge that Military saved Tamils from the hands of LTTE. YOur argument should be if LTTE was allowed to establish the kingdom, that would not have happened. Again you can not prove Why Sinhala should be that stupid to give Tamils eelam.

  • 4
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    In America they have that arms lobby that wants a war somewhere. Here we have huge numbers of armed forces personnel enjoying perks that they want to continue.

    When are we going to start demobbing? Today there is this Forbes article:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2016/09/30/sri-lankas-debt-crisis-is-so-bad-the-government-doesnt-even-know-how-much-money-it-owes/#7e534e48a831

    “The war is over, beware the peace”. I visited Jaffna in June 2016, with some other retired village teachers; with me, perhaps, being the most cosmopolitan and the only guy with an old school friend to stay with. We paid standard homage to some of our Sinhalese heroes of the Eelam wars. I noticed many mistakes in the English translations, which were also given, at the Elephant Pass Monument. The present government is too scared to correct one word of what has been written by the Rajapaksas. At Nagadeepa one lands near the Buddhist vihare; huge pictures of Mahinda Rajapaksa (and I think Gota, his brother) congratulating them. On the whole far too visible a Sinhala Army presence. And the Hotels being run by the Army.

    There is great happiness still among the Sinhalese that we can at last visit Jaffns; so constant busloads of people arriving at the Sri Nagavihara International Buddhist Temple, carrying firewood and huge cooking utensils. There is no racism in the pilgrims, but there is unquestioning acceptance of the official line. It seemed Bedlam to me, but all were still cheerful, still manipulated by our politicians to support our heroic armed forces. Yes, there were some heroes from poor families, and there are the deserters who cause huge problems. The new leaders don’t have the courage to acknowledge the other side of the story, and also are not sure what immense sums we owe the rest of the world.

    We knew in 2009 that demobbing was not going to be easy, but we actually continued to recruit, in greater than normal replacement numbers. And for that, the supposedly continuing threat from the LTTE has to be maintained. Prof. Sarvan, your Orwellian quote, “Those who control the past, control the future”, was particularly apt, and what you say in the same paragraph about the “Red Indians”: yes, we read the same “cowboy stories”, in the same school, fifteen years after you, and never mused on the context.

    We elected our new rulers to act with greater decisiveness. At least you guys can stop this mutual backscratching with the Old Regime. And let’s pull our Sinhalese forces out of the North, starting right now!

  • 0
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    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/?s=Charles+Sarvan&x=10&y=0

    Sun-tzu (BCE 380-316) in his Art of War writes that the greatest military victory is one that is won without a battle. Given this attitude, it’s not surprising his treatise is also known as ‘a Book of Life’.

    Commander of the US – pacific command dewcribed how good Pabakaran as a Military commander.

    Some of his words were “Pabakaran did not have a military strategy. I think Erik solheim and some else Described Pabakaran very well. that is he was a WAR LORD. So, you talk about Sun-tzu.

    At least your mentality is good for Tamils to be happy and to escape the identity that Tamils are “barbarians”.

  • 2
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    ……There are several such incidents from all parts of the world,examples of where the enemy is accorded some measure of regard grudging or otherwise………
    Such regard indicates a certain independence of mind and nobility of spirit but in blessed Srilanka,similar behaviour is conspicuous by its absence-on both sides..

    Very true Prof:The Mahavamsa described by many as the Aesops Fables has an account where Dutugemunu had honoured his rival Elara after defeating him in single combat.A very rare exception!
    De Silva aka Vibushana sees a red-herring in the photo to this essay.
    Vibushana too,after all,has a conscience!

  • 0
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    Plato

    I thank you, but must we go back centuries and centuries to find an example?

    Is there nothing, but nothing, from Modern times?

    If there isn’t, is that not unfortunate, very unfortunate??

    Sarvan

  • 0
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    Prof:Sarvan.

    My comment above was only to emphasize the fact that I am unable to pick up such acts of the victor honouring the vanquished,in the subsequent centuries after the Dutugemunu-Elara episode!In this context,Srilanka is a Land like no other,no doubt.
    If,that boy in the photo[Placed by CT] was spared of his life,a non-combatant,then there is something to talk about the nobility of spirit.

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