16 June, 2024


Whitewashing Fascism & Appeasement – A Final Rejoinder To Mark Salter

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

One good turn deserves another. Just as Mark Salter commends his book to me, I’d like to return the favor and commend one of mine that would provide a different perspective on the war and negotiations, namely ‘Long War, Cold Peace’ (Vijitha Yapa, 2014).

Salter is guilty of more than one category error. One is confusing terrorism with fascism. All terrorism is not fascist, but all fascism is terrorist. As Prof Walter Laqueuer, a world-renowned expert on fascism observed in his book The New Terrorism, which I quoted from and Salter chose to ignore, the LTTE was located at the interface of terrorism and fascism. When the war ended, The Economist noted that the Tamil Tigers were “almost classically fascist”. 

The IRA never killed Senator George Mitchell or Tony Blair, but the Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi, Ranasinghe Premadasa and tried to kill Chandrika Kumaratunga. The IRA never killed John Hume but the Tigers killed Neelan Tiruchelvam. The IRA never killed its own negotiator Gerry Adams but the Tigers killed Mahattaya. The IRA didn’t kill Bernadette Devlin, but the Tigers killed Rajani Tiranagama. The IRA didn’t shut down the Sinn Fein and kill Gerry Adams. The Tigers shut down the Peoples Front of Liberation Tigers and tortured and killed its head, the deputy commander of the LTTE, Mahattaya.

That’s not a minor distinction. That’s because the IRA and the LTTE belong in different categories. The IRA may have been terrorist, or in my book, an urban guerrilla movement that also engaged in terrorism, but was not fascist. The Tigers were fascist and terrorist.

The Norwegians should have known better, if they thought-through the implications of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. They certainly should have known better after the murder of Neelan Tiruchelvam.

As for the old trope that they kept the Indians in the loop, Salter should have researched why High Commissioner Gopal Gandhi, a dove, was pulled out of Colombo by Delhi in the middle of his term after he had endorsed the CFA, and replaced by the brilliant Nirupam Sen, who was a lucid hawk on the LTTE. He should have also asked the question as to whether the Norwegians consulted those Indians who had talked to Prabhakaran—such as Hardeep Singh Puri, who as President Kumaratunga used to say, had the longest conversation on record with the LTTE leader. They didn’t. I know. I asked him.

Lakshman Kadirgamar made a lengthy speech in parliament—the transcript of which was published as a full-page article in the Sunday Times (Colombo)—making a searing critique of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA).

Furthermore, Mark Salter should have checked with President Kumaratunga why she and her Foreign Minister the iconic Lakshman Kadirgamar insisted that the Norwegians replace Erik Solheim as the head of the negotiating team, which in turn led to a strong protest by Balasingham. Norway complied by deploying Vidar Helgessen, who was senior to Solheim, as the head of the exercise. Chandrika and Kadirgamar made the request because the US administration informed the latter that Solheim had, on a visit to Washington, urged that pressure be brought to bear on Colombo. So much for absence of bias.          

Successive Sri Lankan administrations and of course India as well had negotiated with the Tigers, all with the same outcome: the unilateral return to war by the LTTE. As the line attributed to Einstein goes, lunacy is repeating the same thing and expecting the same result. It was lunacy to keep working towards a negotiated peace with the Tigers.

When that effort is repeatedly made with an organization that is not merely terrorist but also fascist, then we enter the realm of appeasement. Since Salter’s initial article defended certain Lankan politicians and a political line, and recommended a particular political perspective for Sri Lankans – contrary to that which I had sketched out, as well as that which Sajith’s SJB has taken– let me say that his recommendation is as absurd as would have been a commendation of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in Munich (for the sake of “peace”), or of Petain for collaborating with the Nazi fascists.

The conflation of terrorism with Fascism is not the only category error Salter indulges in.

Take for instance Salter’s examples of Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. In the case of the former, we are talking about a foreign invading army and in the latter a history of colonialism. Negotiation is the only exit in what was clearly an unwinnable war, given the very nature of the conflict.  Ours was no less demonstrably, a winnable war, given the drastically different context.

In Sri Lanka’s case, our armed forces were the military of a legitimate democratic state, fighting within its legitimate, internationally recognized borders, to defend the country by destroying an enemy with whom successive governments had tried to negotiate. In other words, while I would certainly admit that there were excesses, there can be no moral equivalence as Salter attempts to establish—and the Norwegians seem to have indulged in—between either the LTTE and the Sri Lankan state, or the Lankan war and those which involve foreign occupiers and invaders. 

The war of the Sri Lankan state and its military was a Just War—though I have been among the first to state that it was not followed by a Just Peace.

The Sri Lankan electorate has just given a well-deserved and irrevocable political punishment to our local Chamberlain and his co-thinkers. They have ended up in the dustbin of History. Their ideology will never be successfully resurrected by its residual civil society adherents however they rebrand themselves.

Certainly, the newly emergent Opposition led by Sajith Premadasa will not abandon the path of enlightened patriotism, moderate nationalism and anti-racism.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Dear Dayan and Mark

    Can you utilise your time to put the following on the record please on behalf of people of Jaffna/get the ball rolling for a criminal investigation in Hague on behalf of the Jaffna & Sri Lankan people.

    The Ratha Pottu Mafia FP/ITAK/TULF/PLOTE/TNA/Tamil Nadu killing fields in Jaffna from 1970-1977-1981 please. Your time will be well spent serving the people of SL as a whole. This will be better than any peace mission ever undertaken by anyone in the world to date and is the missing link.

    Without this missing link the rest of the analysis by anyone about what happened in SL factually??

    • 2

      Another 50 years no more Tamils in Nothern and Eastern of Heladiva (Sri Lanka) Another 50 years no more whites in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), another 50 years no more whites in South Africa. We will whitewash, by ballots papers

      • 10

        Dayan, the biggest fascist terrorist organization is Sri Lanka is government. Do foreign governments by engaging with it, not doing whitewashing fascism and appeasement.

        • 2

          Dr GS:
          Sentence 1: Two verbs (“is” twice).
          Sentence 2: Wrong verb. “Are” or “Do not” rather than “Do”.
          Otherwise use “Do” with “not whitewash” instead of “not doing whitewashing”.
          Also no question mark.
          If you need a glossary of terms of abuse to select a qualifier to address me, all you need to do is ask.

          • 1

            Gosh! UK NHS should hold an inquiry to find out how many patients might have died due to the doctor’s poor English. Not too late, I say, he could go and spend some time in Bandarawela, and seek help from Sinhala_Man, the English teacher. Ouch! Should that be “teacher of English”?

      • 3

        I do not know what your plans for Sri Lanka are.
        The policy in Zimbabwe was never racist and no forced expulsion of anyone.
        In South Africa, the White South African is firmly rooted there. He has no sense of belonging in Europe or
        Designing slogans is simple, but sensible slogans, a little harder.

      • 4

        In another 50 years no more fake Aryan South Indian low caste origin rotten Pear. Heladiva? What is that? An imagined island in Gulliver’s travel? Most probably by another 50 years due to climate change most of the island will be under sea and many of its inhabitants fleeing by boat to seek refuge and most of the Chingkallams will run to their ancestral homeland Thamizh Nadu. The Rajahpuka descendants will be enjoying the good like in the USA or some other rich western nation , with their ill gotten wealth , that they swindled from the nation using racism and Chingkalla Buddhism to dupe idiots like you. Your descendants will be either picking fruit in California or working as servants for the Rajapukas

      • 1

        In 20 years no more Sinhalayas on this planet.

    • 2

      Seriously, do you think that what you suggest is the only issue before us?
      Your anger against the FP tradition is understandable, but do not let it blind you to the grim reality that faces the people of this land.

      • 2

        Dear SJ

        Respect. I am not angry but want to account the history correct. Without the facts it is difficult too face the reality collectively and efficiently. If everyone is on board with somewhat similar understanding will go a longways towards addressing problems/finding solutions a possibility.

        Whatever I write is to highlight a party an elected entity that we are keep sending to the parliament to find solutions to our problems?? How can the problem itself form part of the solution if they are not willing to admit/change/address/deliver a job scope for an elected that is to serve the peoples daily needs.I get for what I am employed to do so why these folks make a different living that is ok?? they should all go and do something else let others who are qualified to do the job??

  • 6

    Peace and Reconciliation is between the criminal/perpetrators and the victim’s. In my elects this comprises the following

    (1) JVP uprising until the end
    (2)Ratha Pottu Mafia FP/ITAK/TULF/PLOTE/TNA/Tamil Nadu killing fields in Jaffna from 1970-1977-1981 – this should focus on all the elected and their participation, foreign hands rather than the children who took up arms the victims themselves.
    (3) LTTE – The world has dissected it and recorded it without any head or tail…most of what you said and the rest of the records will be revisited based on the .
    (4) GOSL Management/survival and accountability – this can not happen without all the above.

    Once we put all this together on the table then we can evaluate/appraise/punish/justice etc. Until then we might as well stop talking about altogether without any finger pointing and have clean start now the opportunity is knocking on the door as per the current GOSL to shape a great future leaving this baggage behind.

  • 8

    So opinionated, why , what are the intellectual achievements of his? Poor countries with small mindsets keep producing these types.

    DJ has followed so many people and espoused so many theories. when was he right ?

    He was once assaulted by enraged public at the Colombo cemetery, I think at Lalith Athulathmudali funeral. Why was he so disliked ?

    No one must think he is always correct. let a thousand flowers bloom.

    • 9

      he is a loser.
      all he wants to do is boast.
      I wrote a book
      I made a speech
      I met so and so
      I that
      I this

    • 1

      It could have been Premadasa’s.
      Mob dislike of one, however, is no disqualification.

    • 2

      deepthi silva

      ” Why was he so disliked ?”

      He is an opportunistic public racist.
      He has a tendency to support mother and father of all fascist tendencies.

  • 6

    lets call it a tie after the final final

    Please no super over!

  • 9

    Thank God, the fake fight is over. That was a desperate prank by both guys to stay relevant in the fast changing world of 21st Century posthuman politics, and a marketing ploy to sell their books that nobody wants to read.

  • 3

    “The war of the Sri Lankan state and its military was a Just War”
    If so, Dayan, why were people shy about an inquiry into war crimes?
    I do not mean international inquiry. A credible domestic impartial inquiry with broad representation would have been fine.
    My doubts are about what one considers “just”.

  • 2

    Mark contended to Thero, a paid cooly to hide nasty deeds of Sinhala Buddhist Aanduwa that he is in fault. But, from Don Stephan negotiating with Britain on S 29 of Soulbury constitution, until now Sinhala Government is never for peace; that including CBK, who version of explanation is “War for Peace” but not a solution for Tamils. But not knowing who is who, Ambassador Blake, deviating from Deputy Secretary Richard, negotiated with Aanduwa and paid his prices too. A point worthy to mention here before we precede further, is US State Sec, Kerry said when he was leaving the office in 2016, that he spent $450M on Myanmar and Lankawe and they had returned to democracy. But now even Thero accepts that country has gone far away from 2015, on authoritarianism.
    “The IRA never killed Senator George Mitchell or Tony Blair, …………..”
    Thero confused of many things. Is Thero arguing when Aanduwa repeatedly attempted murder him, Pirapaharan should have voluntarily given his head but he should not have attempted back on them? Where did he get his PhD, please? Rajeev invited him for negotiation and kidnapped him from Tamil Nadu to Delhi and put him prison. His time could have ended here.

  • 2

    Thero treat Ranil as his biggest enemy because during CBK time, according to Thero, his team had very certain plan to kill Leader Pirapaharan, but Ranil helped him to run away.
    Can Thero compare what IRA didn’t do like Aanduwa attempted to kill Mary Colin inside Vanni? Didn’t they plan to put her murder on LTTE? Thank god, some doctors saved her.
    Thero thinks because Lankawe had cheated Britain in 1948, it is allowed do all kinds of murders on Tamils, but Tamil Nation have no self-determination rights of UN. But Thero can’t remember he was forced appear for Lankawe in May 2009, in Geneva. Because of his failure there, now the sovereign country’s leaders stand war crime accused.

    “The IRA never killed its own negotiator Gerry Adams but the Tigers killed Mahattaya “ Thero confused again!.
    Kathirgamar (The Mathaiya of Sinhala Buddhist Aanduwa) was shot by Chitanta Government, for he peddling influence with West, who is Royals enemies. Old King, who was a terrorist member of JVP, which is many times dangerous movement anything ever appeared in the world (Killed more than 12,000 Sinhala Civilians in its 2nd try, after pardoning and accepted it in main stream politics), appeared to the surrendered girls in exchange for sex. In contrast LTTE was the world most disciplined organization.

  • 2

    The actual LTTE negotiator Karuna was bought by Aanduwa. But Leader Pirapaharan did not try to kill him. I never heard any talk of Karuna was on the list of killing.
    Thero hiding that LTTE’s worst members, split from LTTE and started to work with Aanduwa. Karuna lost election for Slap Party, Pillaiyan is attending parliament from prison, where he is now for murdering Tamil MPs. Thero, an admirer of Fascist Castro is a member from EPRLF, which was making many murders in competition to LTTE, until it was recruited by IPKF and a part of it was accepted by LTTE and another part functioned as Razeek Kuzhu, carrying out murders and wiping out Tamil villages for Rapist Army.
    Rajeev Gandhi’s murder (if was carried out by LTTE) is a pittance- rearward to Vaalaiththodam Sr., whom Thero’s highest respected God. LTTE directly negotiated with Vaalaiththodam their deal to get Indian army out of Lankawe. It was Vaalaiththodam Sr. he who gave the arms and money for LTTE to do those things. Thero is master dodger, whitewashing them all and hiding in the rice plate. Narayan might have been white vanned to murder, Mano Ganesan said, unless he had found a taxi when he was left stranded purposefully during a meeting in Lankawe. What IRA parallel to that?

  • 2

    Unlike Thero, we don’t’ have to suddenly start listing Old King carried out murders, just the way Thero is trying to fool other by listing some inter rebels’ rivalries.
    Mrs. Gandhi‘s plans to interfere in Lankawe was complete undone by Rajeev, when he came to Lankawe. His sole idea that time was only to capture Lankawe, not find relief for Tamils. Rajeev removed A. P. Venkateswaran from FAM, the ever best FAM secretary, to implement his intentions. Knowing that well, JR’s army attempted to kill him Rajeev, inviting him Lankawe as a host. Rajeev’s luck he escaped that murder attempt. But Thero cannot wash that out from history until Vijithamuni is alive and he claims the credit for that. The man did that is still feeling in proud of his deed and he was an elected MP of Lankawe’s parliament. Modayas failed in killing Rajeev and took sages honor from Thero, but LTTE succeeded and took monster designation from Thero.
    ” All terrorism is not fascist, but all fascism is terrorist. “
    Thanks for Thero agreeing with us, not just JR, but all Lankawe leaders (somebody may willing to recuse Dudley and CBK) are terrorists because all are/were fascist, Zionist & Tamils’ land thieves.

  • 2

    It is an open secret that the Malayalee, Shiva Shankar Manon has marriage relationship with Royals, like Nadesan. So he worked against LTTE and Tamils. Almost all the important diplomats served with in the time of Sonia Gandhi were Malayalees and have investment partnerships with Royals, in Singapore, Andhra, Kerala, Kannada, Middle East…..Royal family wealth of $18 B is in foreign investments. Ambassador Robert negotiated with Lankawe for solution to Tamils in order to help Old King win LTTE. So America put pressure on Norway and forced SLMM to leave Lankawe. Because of Deputy State Secretary Richard openly criticized that time American policy as China fearing. When Richard Armitage tried to get down LTTE to the negotiating table in New York, Bush Administration rejected, in support for continuing the war. America feared if LTTE split Lankawe, China will have upper hand in South, unavoidably. Whatever Thero can argue, the Norwegian facilitator, Solheim, at the end has accepted that there is no way to negotiate with Lankawe, but Tamils have to fight diplomatically. Lankawe is not for peace.

  • 4

    You forgot a big difference. IRA did not Facist Government.
    IRA did not face a facist Government. In our name our Governments supported the massacre of innocent Tamil brethren in 1956 in Galoya, 1958 all island except North and East, 1977 all island except North and East, 1981 hill country, 1983 all island except North and East.
    During the war we bombed several schools churches homes.
    In the guildford bombing , innocent irish who were charged by police and convicted were discharged later.
    British soldiers did not rape Irish girls on the orders of war criminals.
    LTTE was fighting a racist facist government. But IRA was fighting a descent Government.
    Dayna we should be ashamed of yourself to say we are sinhalese. To defend is even worse

  • 1

    Dayan Jeyatilleka and Mark Salter
    Thanks for entertaining us with your witty responses and rejoinders.

    The subject matter had lost relevance long ago.

    Who won ultimately-I mean the debate.

    Shall we say without any bias-Drawn?

  • 3

    Hey DJ,

    People haven’t given up on pursuing war crimes charges. It could take another 10 years, during which time many of the perpetrators might die of natural causes. But, make no mistake; the hounding of war criminals and their enablers like you won’t stop. Your ‘just war’ theory is baloney, and your minimizing of the war crimes as ‘excesses’ won’t fool anyone.

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