Friday, June 6, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

by Stephen Long, Los Angeles

Yesterday’s heartless bomb blast aboard a public bus carrying students near University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka that killed 21 and injured over 61 civilians reminded me of that Rolling Stones anthem of the early 70’s: “Sympathy for the Devil.”

“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste.
I’ve been around for a long, long years
Stole many a man’s soul and faith.

And I was ‘round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate.

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank.

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made.

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
And what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

Thank you, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for those timeless and insightful lyrics about the consummate evil megalomaniac. Have you guessed who these lyrics refer to these days? Of course: the devil himself, Mr. V. Prabhakaran, the leader of those merry cadres up north in Sri Lanka who’s “Stole many a man’s soul and faith.” Prabhakaran, the man who “washes his hands and seals the fate” of the innocent lives he destroys on a whim. The same man, Prabhakaran, who seems willing to “fight for ten decades,” and hold the “general’s rank” while “the bodies stank” in the streets of Colombo. We know “the nature of your game,” Prabhakaran; we’re not puzzled at all.

What really gets me is how could there possibly be anyone alive on the planet that would still have sympathy for a notorious devil like Prabhakaran, leader of the LTTE murder cult. After that senseless wasting of human lives in Moratua, what did it gain him? What was the purpose, other than to demonstrate his twisted will? Doesn’t everyone see that his perverted ego is the motivating force behind the killings; his ego and the delusional vision he has of himself at the helm of an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka? How can anyone still support him and his cause after yet this latest senseless act of cold-blooded murder?

And yet, there are many around the world who DO support Prabhakaran and the LTTE. Why? Their media machine is strong, and their public relations mechanisms have loud, resounding, powerful voices. They have managed to convince many groups of people in influential positions, in important international organizations, that they are underdog freedom fighters – deserving of the public’s sympathy. Their media and lobbying efforts have seemingly won over honorable men like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. They’ve even managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the United Nations.

They have many weapons in their arsenal in addition to those hideous Claymore bombs. Their media and public relations weapons are the ones they are using most skillfully. They’ve even hired a mercenary of former high repute to be captain of their campaign: Bruce Fein, a former US Deputy Attorney General; he’s now their highly-paid ($100,000 a month) mouthpiece in Washington D.C. Last year LTTE operatives were even caught trying to bribe US State Department Officials. What’s next? They’ll do anything to promote their “image” as the downtrodden, stepped-on, discriminated-against people of Sri Lanka. But is killing countless numbers of innocent people (don’t forget, he kills innocent Tamils, too) really the warranted punishment for ancient sins that should have been resolved and forgotten centuries ago?

Wake up, people. Whatever ills may have been committed against Sri Lankan Tamils in the past are nothing compared to the murder of innocent students and pregnant women – whose unborn babies will never see the light of day.

Don’t be fooled by the Devil – and don’t have sympathy for him either!

Get real! Sympathy for Prabhakaran is nothing more than blatant ignorance. It’s time this demented ogre was permanently retired – and I’m looking forward to the day when they don’t give him a gold watch, but a prison cell as his reward.

Video: Bombs Rip Through 2 Buses in Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday blew up two passenger buses, one packed with morning commuters near Sri Lanka's heavily fortified capital, killing 23 people, a move that experts say marks an acceleration of attacks on civilian targets. (June 6)There are pools of blood after a roadside bomb ripped through this crowded passenger bus. The deadly explosion during Friday morning's rush hour shattered the vehicle's windows and peppered it with shrapnel. More than 20 people were killed and dozens of others were hurt. Just hours after the attack near Sri Lanka's heavily fortified capital, a second bomb tore through a bus nearby. Two passengers were killed and 20 others were hurt in that attack.

Authorities promptly blamed the attacks on Tamil Tiger rebels who are recognized as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and India. The group is also blamed for a blast Wednesday that targeted a passenger train in the capital. The president of Sri Lanka is urging residents to remain "vigilant against the forces of terror." But there's growing concern the attacks on civilians are on the rise. Officials say since the start of the year, more than 200 civilians have been killed by bombings in rebel and government territory.

Deadly bus bomb shakes Colombo (Moratuwa)

At least 21 people have been killed in a bomb explosionded on a packed peak hour bus in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Military officials have been quick to accuse fighters from the Tamil Tigers

The rebels have been blamed for a series of attacks on public transport, including a train bombing last week that killed eight people.

From Colombo, Minelle Fernandez reports.

Breaking News: Bomb blast near Moratuwa University

A bomb explosion has been reported in a Kottawa - Mt. Lavinia (255) route near the Moratuwa University. Tamil Tiger terror bomb has targeted a crowded public transport bus close to the Shailabimbaramaya Buddhist temple at Katubedda, Moratuwa.

The blast has killed 21 civilians and injured over 50. The injured have been rushed to the Kalubowila Hospital.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There Is a Military Solution to Terror - by Bret Stephens

Sadr City in Baghdad, the northeastern districts of Sri Lanka and the Guaviare province of Colombia have little in common culturally, historically or politically. But they are crucial reference points on a global map in which long-running insurgencies suddenly find themselves on the verge of defeat.

For the week of May 16-23, there were 300 "violent incidents" in Iraq. That's down from 1,600 last June and the lowest recorded since March 2004. Al Qaeda has been crushed by a combination of U.S. arms and Sunni tribal resistance. On the Shiite side, Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army was routed by Iraqi troops in Basra and later crumbled in its Sadr City stronghold.

In Colombia, the 44-year-old FARC guerrilla movement is now at its lowest ebb. Three of its top commanders died in March, and the number of FARC attacks is down by more than two-thirds since 2002. In the face of a stepped-up campaign by the Colombian military (funded, equipped and trained by the U.S.), the group is now experiencing mass desertions. Former FARC leaders describe a movement that is losing any semblance of ideological coherence and operational effectiveness.

In Sri Lanka, a military offensive by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has wrested control of seven of the nine districts previously held by the rebel group LTTE, better known as the Tamil Tigers. Mr. Rajapaksa now promises victory by the end of the year, even as the Tigers continue to launch high-profile terrorist attacks.

All this is good news in its own right. Better yet, it explodes the mindless shibboleth that there is "no military solution" when it comes to dealing with insurgencies. On the contrary, it turns out that the best way to end an insurgency is, quite simply, to beat it.

Why was this not obvious before? When military strategies fail – as they did in Vietnam while the U.S. pursued the tactics of attrition, or in Iraq prior to the surge – the idea that there can be no military solution has a way of taking hold with civilians and generals eager to deflect blame. This is how we arrived at the notion that "political reconciliation" is a precondition of military success, not a result of it.

There's also a tendency to misjudge the aims and ambitions of the insurgents: To think they can be mollified via one political concession or another. Former Colombian president Andres Pastrana sought to appease the FARC by ceding to them a territory the size of Switzerland. The predictable result was to embolden the guerrillas, who were adept at sensing and exploiting weakness.

The deeper problem here is the belief that the best way to deal with insurgents is to address the "root causes" of the grievance that purportedly prompted them to take up arms. But what most of these insurgencies seek isn't social or moral redress: It's absolute power. Like other "liberation movements" (the PLO comes to mind), the Tigers are notorious for killing other Tamils seen as less than hard line in their views of the conflict. The failure to defeat these insurgencies thus becomes the primary obstacle to achieving a reasonable political settlement acceptable to both sides.

This isn't to say that political strategies shouldn't be pursued in tandem with military ones. Gen. David Petraeus was shrewd to exploit the growing enmity between al Qaeda and their Sunni hosts by offering former insurgents a place in the country's security forces as "Sons of Iraq." (The liberal use of "emergency funds," aka political bribes, also helped.) Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has more than just extended amnesty for "demobilized" guerrillas; he's also given them jobs in the army.

But these political approaches only work when the intended beneficiaries can be reasonably confident that they are joining the winning side. Nobody was abandoning the FARC when Mr. Pastrana lay prostrate before it. It was only after Mr. Uribe turned the guerrilla lifestyle into a day-and-night nightmare that the movement's luster finally started to fade.

Defeating an insurgency is never easy even with the best strategies and circumstances. Insurgents rarely declare surrender, and breakaway factions can create a perception of menace even when their actual strength is minuscule. It helps when the top insurgent leaders are killed or captured: Peru's Shining Path, for instance, mostly collapsed with the capture of Abimael Guzmán. Yet the Kurdish PKK is now resurgent nine years after the imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan, thanks to the sanctuary it enjoys in Northern Iraq.

Still, it's no small thing that neither the PKK nor the Shining Path are capable of killing tens of thousands of people and terrorizing whole societies, as they were in the 1980s. Among other things, beating an insurgency allows a genuine process of reconciliation and redress to take place, and in a spirit of malice toward none. But those are words best spoken after the terrible swift sword has done its work.

By BRET STEPHENS, The Wall Street Journal

Video: Wanni Operation - 02 June 2008

Sri Lanka military liberation of Wanni (in the North) from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). 02 June 2008.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mega Carnival held in Jaffna, 2008-05-27

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Carnival held in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims enjoy their freedom WITHOUT Tamil Tiger (LTTE) terrorists.