Saturday, May 23, 2009

Comments on LTTE brutality by Kenneth J. Cooper

(Colombo Lankapuvath May 22) Sri Lanka's government was right to finish off the Tamil rebels, despite the risk to and ultimate loss of civilian life. Decisively ending the civil war, which lasted 26 years and killed more than 70,000, will save more lives than were lost in the final assault.

United Nations officials, Western leaders, and human rights groups had called on Sri Lanka to agree to a cease-fire to allow civilians to flee the shrinking enclave where government forces had finally hemmed in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Complying with the request would have been a major strategic mistake.

Those international voices ignored - or maybe didn't know - the pattern to pauses in the civil war: The Tamil Tigers used every cease-fire to rest, recruit, and rearm. Then they took the offensive. That's how they broke a 2002 cease-fire. Another ended in 1995 when the rebels, dramatically, sunk government navy ships.

Beginning this January, Sri Lanka faced the risk that rebel commanders would slip out alongside innocent civilians and live to keep fighting. It had happened before. In 1987, 70,000 troops from neighboring India flushed the Tigers from their northern stronghold in Jaffna. Most of the rebels escaped to reconstitute an insurgent force that would fight for two more decades.

Americans and citizens of other countries that have suffered terrorist attacks should be glad to see the Tamil Tigers and their maniacal leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, done for good. They bequeathed the world the suicide bomber. What other deadly innovations would they have produced had the fighting force survived?

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