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Saturday, 24 September 2011






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Government Gazette

Winning the world by putting the record straight

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is keeping the world informed about post-conflict positive developments in Sri Lanka through his close and friendly interaction with world leaders at the 66th UN General Assembly sessions in New York and this could go some distance in countering the adverse opinions being aired in some quarters about this country. It is our considered opinion that at this juncture there could be no let-up in the state's efforts to put the record straight about the factual situation in Sri Lanka and the President's personal diplomacy should be strongly backed by consistent efforts on the part of the state to engage the world in making the truth known.

Much could be achieved by keeping a dialogue going with the foremost powers of the world. Ironically, although some of these states are engaged in protracted armed conflicts with some key practitioners of extremism and terror in our part of the world, they seem to be suffering from bouts of amnesia when addressing issues in Sri Lanka. It is a decade since the West created a military quagmire for itself in Afghanistan but it is yet to come to the realization that it is up against a conflict of the most complex kind in Sri Lanka, for which simple answers are not forthcoming. We had occasion to dwell on this issue in this commentary yesterday, wherein we highlighted the intractable nature of intra-state conflicts in particularly this part of the world.

Here's where we confront the Janus-faced character of some Western policy makers and their pronouncements. Admittedly, there are no simple solutions to the military imbroglio the West has created for itself in Afghanistan, to take one of the more marked examples, but Sri Lanka was in somewhat the same situation as regards the LTTE. As we pointed out yesterday, 'conventional wisdom' could not be resorted to in understanding the military conflicts which are assailing us in South and South-West Asia. These extremist groups waging war on states could not be understood entirely in terms of the classic 'dog Vs flea' analogy of well known Western journalist and authority on guerrilla warfare, Robert Taber. The latter in his path-breaking book on guerrilla warfare titled 'The War of the Flea', compared the guerrillas, of particularly the Third World, to fleas which bring the dog, which is the state, down to its last legs through constant biting and blood-sucking.

The issue to be resolved is whether the Tigers and their likes in the South Asian theatre could be simplistically compared to the insurrectionist flea in Taber's study. While Taber's analogies may have been appropriate in the case of some conflicts in the Third World a few decades ago, they no longer ring true today. Rather than being the classic underdog in the bloody insurrectionist turmoil of Asia, the Tigers were predators who savaged even civilian lives in the hundreds and thousands, as is very well known. They were terrorists whose prime tactic was to create grievances rather than exploit them to advance the 'struggles' of any 'oppressed'. This we commented on rather elaborately yesterday.

Therefore, the LTTE stood 'conventional wisdom' on insurrections on its head. The conflict in Sri Lanka cannot be comprehended in conventional terms and presents a challenge to Political Science theorists who look at our realities through traditional lenses. There needs to be a paradigm change in Political Science scholarship on conflicts of our kind and this too would contribute towards Sri Lanka having a fruitful dialogue with the West on the issues confronting this country in the foreign relations sphere.

However, there is reason for Sri Lanka to be satisfied over a recent development in the Australian Senate where an anti-Lanka motion moved in that body was thrown out of it by a government-Opposition joint vote. As reported by us yesterday, the Australian government, in rejecting the motion stated, among other things, that it did not believe that 'complex foreign policy issues can be resolved through motions' of this kind. We have the proof here that some sections of the international community are beginning to understand our problems with a greater degree of insight.

These pluses need to be built on. We need to prove to the world that not only have our conflicts not been understood correctly, but what is happening in Sri Lanka now by way of reconstruction and rehabilitation is being, willfully or otherwise, being missed out on. This is essentially a matter of enlightening the world in a most vigorous fashion. Sri Lanka must meet this challenge successfully.

Reconciliation - essential requirements

Reconciliation should have a favourable environment internally and externally. If the situation is not conducive, the situation should be changed. The holding of elections for local governments in March and July 2011 has strengthened the democratic participation at the grass roots level. The lifting of the emergency also has gone a long way in creating an enabling environment. A major challenge nevertheless would be to maintain the atmosphere continuously,

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Reflections on legal murder: the eye-for-an-eye argument

Troy Davis, a US citizen and a black man, wrongfully sentenced over the killing of a Police officer in 1989, was executed by way of a lethal injection yesterday. ‘Wrongfully’, because the entire case against Troy was based on eyewitness accounts that were horrendously compromised.

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Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara - Father of Free Education:

Patriot worthy of emulation

On September 23, every year we commemorate Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka. He was also one of the galaxy of patriots who led the national movement of first half of the 20th Century and laid the foundation for the Independence we enjoy today.

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