The great debate on the solution
Could somebody please explain this great debate Sri Lanka has imposed
upon itself as to whether the solution to the LTTE has to be military or
political? One school of thought tends to believe that a ‘military
solution’ is necessary to take care of the LTTE while the other school
of thought advocates a ‘political solution’.
Well, there is separatist terrorism, in different degrees of
intensity, in nearly about t 100 countries of the UN’s 191 member
states, but no other country seems to be embroiled in such divisive
thinking as we Sri Lankan are.
In a democracy, the Government is elected by the people and in a non
democracy the government is formed either by acceding, or by succeeding,
to state power.
What ever the mode, every country has to have Government to run its
affairs of and when a Government assumes state power, the Head of the
Government automatically becomes the supreme commander of that state’s
This is necessarily so in any government because the head of
government is responsible for the country’s security and parenthetically
the accepted norm is that ‘the one who controls the countries security
forces controls the country’.
This effectively means that the head of the Government is empowered
to mobilize the security forces at a time of either internal or external
threat to the peace (law and order) of the country.
If this provision is absent the country will slide in to anarchy and
hence it becomes the responsibility of the Head of State to ensure that
the entire length and breath of the country is under the writ of the
This is why Mao Tsetung said that ‘the political power comes through
the barrel of the gun!’ Even according to the Montevideo convention,
which detailed the pre -requisite for the establishment of a state, the
possession of security forces capable of defending the defined territory
is one of the four requirements to be declared as a ‘state’.
Hence it should be clear that military power and political power of a
state is one and the same thing and that they can not be separated.
Any abstract thinking on political power and control devoid of
military power and control, is contrary to the concept of state!
At the moment the Government of Sri Lanka has de-jure political power
over the entire territory of Sri Lanka but it has lost its de-facto
political power in two of the districts i.e.the districts of Kilinochchi
In these two districts the de-facto political power is presently
enjoyed by the LTTE, but LTTE does not have de-jure political power over
these districts. The LTTE nevertheless, is holding on to the de-facto
political power in these districts by the strength of its rebel forces.
However since the LTTE has no de-jure political power to these
districts the Government of Sri Lanka has the right to over power the
LTTE by its forces and regain the de-facto political power too in these
It is not possible for the Government to give a ‘political solution’
to these two districts before it restores its writ, because the
Government cannot possibly give what it doesn’t have.
The only thing the Government could do is to abdicate its de-jure
political power on those two districts through constitutional means
creating a separate state in the area.
Therefore on the one hand it is not possible for the government to
give a political solution to Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts at
present and also as the political power can not be separated from
military power, there is no question of a debate ensuing as to whether
the solution should be military or political Military power is only the
means of exercising the Government’s political power.
Then how did this debate on ‘military solution’ Vs ‘Political
solution’ ensues in to the Sri Lankan conflict scenario?
The author of this confusing juxtaposition was Jehan Perera, the
Director General of the National Peace Council with his many writings to
the public press on the Sri Lankan conflict.
He has introduced a few seemingly esoteric terms in his writings that
were in fact intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the Sri Lankan
leaders and public so that issues involved become more cloudy preventing
The other terms introduced by the NPC were ‘the ethnic conflict’,
‘the war in Sri Lanka’, ‘the Southern consensus’ etc. Each of these
terms on their own appears innocent but they are subtly construed to
blur the thinking of the decision makers precipitating a situation of
anarchy: the troubled waters where the peace merchants can continue to
If an average person is posed with the question whether he prefers a
‘military solution’ or a ‘political solution’ to the crisis he probably
may think that advocating a military solution may appear harsh and
somewhat uncivilized in the face of an availability of a thing called
the ‘political solution’.
This blurring has really worked and even the present Government that
has vowed to wipe out terrorism seems to get caught in the air pockets
of ‘a political solution’ once in a while. Hence people get ‘led up the
garden path’ by these terms and end up being adherents of hypothetical
solutions which do not exist in reality.
The purpose of creating this thinking is to buy time for LTTE to
consolidate itself militarily and diplomatically in the North. The
sustenance of a conflict between two parties depend on the relative
strength of the two parties. If one party withers and disintegrates the
conflict will end. Therefore anybody interested in exacerbating the
conflict should strengthen the side of the underdog.
The position that there is no ‘political solution’ as against a
‘military solution’ does not however imply that a Government can not
address the grievances of an under privileged section or a community in
the country by way of special concessions to that section or community:
but such redress has to be necessarily brought only after the writ of
the Government is imposed on those areas by deploying the State military
To advocate a ‘political solution’ to the present crisis in Sri Lanka
‘as a solution to the war’ is tantamount to suggestion that the
Government yields to duress and undue influence brought upon by the
uncontrollable violence created by the LTTE.
They do not for a moment think that yielding to unbridled violence is
no solution to anything and it can only create imbalanced situations
which will cause eruptions elsewhere.
The ‘political solutionists’ also seem to believe that when
concessions are granted at large to the society, that will have an
effect in isolating those who have taken to arms weaning the other away
from them. This thinking is based on the premise that terrorist is like
a fish in water who is nurtured by the oxygen in water.
Yet, what these high profile advocates fail to realise is that the
hapless population of about 250,000 Tamils now living in the LTTE area
is hardly the pasture of the LTTE.
The LTTE has eliminated all the Tamils capable of independent
political thinking in the local Tamil polity and hence there is no
possibility of opinion forming in that society. Further that this
society is so clinically managed making even an armed uprising
The truth is that the LTTE is today nurtured by the Tamil Diaspora
numbering 800,000 located in some 14 Western countries. Therefore if
this ‘political solution is to have any relevance it has to be addressed
to accommodate the needs of the Tamil Diaspora in the West. What are the
concerns of this Diaspora?
They thrive on the misery of Tamils living in Sri Lanka. They have
been going to the West seeking greener pastures for sometime but their
case strengthened after the propaganda blitz of July 83.
After July 83 they realised that they could seek ‘political asylum’
and hence their potential to enter the Western countries depended very
much on the publicity they could generate from similar events the local
Tamils could enact. In this context the activities of Prabhakaran served
their cause more than anything else.
Tamil Diaspora in turn contributes to the macabre coffers of the LTTE
helping the movement and its leader to hold sway as the despot he wishes
to be. Therefore at present there is a mutual understanding between the
Tamil Diaspora and the LTTE serving each other’s interests.
Any concession granted to the North under these circumstances could
only be a bonus to the Diaspora but weaning the LTTE away from violence
could only be a ‘pie in the sky’ as the Diaspora would not wish an end
to their principal cause of seeking economic refuge in the West.
So how could any political solution break this vicious transaction?
Those who are hell bent on destabilising Sri Lanka could write pages and
pages on the virtues of a political solution quite oblivious to the
realities of the situation. When you are obsessed with something your
thinking faculties refuse to function and hence your advocacies could be
bereft of reason.
There is hardly a difference between obduracy of Prabhakaran who is
obsessed with violence and the obduracy of those who press for a
political solution as a panacea for all our troubles.