Photo by Neil Hewat
The LTTE is well on their way to pissing off everyone on Earth. After their strategically brilliant ploy of assasinating the Indian PM, Rajiv Gandhi, they’ve followed up in the last few years with a failed attack on the Pakistani envoy, and today by injuring the US and Italian ambassadors – firing mortars at their helicopter. But what I don’t get is the LTTE statement – ”’We are shocked at how the Sri Lankan state childishly exposed very high-level diplomats,” he said. ”Our people were not informed of the diplomatic movement…This is a criminal negligence on the part of the Sri Lankan military,” Ilanthirayan said.’ What whaaaat? It wasn’t our fault, you walked in front of our guns? I can get used to the physical attacks on buses and Colombo, but please stop bombing the shit out of common sense.I saw this first on Defence Net and read more at the New York Times. From that report:
U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake and his Italian counterpart Pio Mariani had just landed in the eastern city of Batticaloa when several mortars exploded near their aircraft, said Sri Lankan government minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who was traveling with the diplomats.
He said the ambassadors both ”suffered slight injuries” but were ”fine” now. Seven Sri Lankan security personnel also were wounded, he said…
Samarasinghe’s spokesman described a close call, with people screaming and running for their lives.
The rebel Tamil Tigers said they were not aware the helicopters were carrying ambassadors and blamed the military for putting the diplomats in harm’s way. They said the ambassadors landed in an area where the army has launched attacks on Tamil Tigers and that rebel fighters had attacked the helicopters fearing further military assaults.
”I express our regret at this unfortunate incident,” said Rasiah Ilanthirayan, the Tamil Tiger spokesman.
That last bit is what gets me. Both sides are technically under Cease-Fire. Whether you knew or not you’re not supposed to be firing anything. Either call off the cease-fire or take your lumps. We’re in a nowhere zone where everyone’s afraid to ‘start’ the war by calling off the CFA, but it also means that you can’t complain if and when you fuck up. The LTTE fucked up simply by firing that mortar, and if the government makes a similar mistake I’d tell them to take their lumps as well.
What really gets me is the LTTE calling this an ‘unfortunate incident’. This is like the late Balasingham’s statement – “As far as that event (Rajiv Gandhiâ€™s assasination) is concerned, I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the government of India and the people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective (Financial Express)”. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. Assasinating Rajiv was an assasination. The LTTE ordered and planned an assasination. It was a tragedy for India and the world, but for the LTTE it was a mission. In the same way, this attack on the US and Italian ambassadors wasn’t ‘an unfortunate incident’. Me dinging up my car is an unfortunate incident. Attacking people with deadly weapons and embedding shrapnel in their bodies is an attack. Choose violence if you want, but please don’t suss out on the words.
Part of the reason the LTTE is actually detrimental to any sort of Tamil state is that they are straighforward thugs. Thugs can get so far (the Mafia for example), but eventually they need to deal with modern political and financial systems. That’s why many mafiosos get busted for tax evasion. In adopting violence as a tactic the LTTE gains visible ‘results’ at the cost of control. Violence spreads, cascades, and incurs significant long term costs. The LTTE has shit all over the subcontinent, Canada and Europe and if they could carve Eelam it wouldn’t have many friends.
As a prime example, killing Rajiv Gandhi was stupid, and permanently pitted them against India. That was not wise. Even a government as hobbling as Sri Lanka doesn’t do anything so catastrophically stupid because it is deeper invested in the global rule-set than the LTTE (or North Korea, or Al Qaeda). There are checks and balances. We can’t behave like children because we have something to lose. The LTTE does behave like child. They are effectively children amongst adult nations, only children with guns. Literally.
You can say they’re fighting a war, and that’s fine, but choosing a violent path has these consequences. If you’re engaging in peaceful struggle, satyagraha if you will, you might fuck up on a press release or get some of your followers killed but you won’t kill the Indian PM or embed shrapnel in the US Ambassador. You can and will make mistakes, but you won’t make the catastrophic, dream-killing mistakes that a violent struggle does. It’s slower and frustrating, but it also holds the chance of not dooming Tamil aspirations the way the LTTE’s violent bumbling does. The path of violence has not worked. The LTTE is leading Tamil people away from Eelam for sure and, worse, away from the basic prosperity and security of the global community.