No flash photography, please
The Ministry Of Defense has issued a curious statement attempting to protect its high officers from any criticism while telling common soldiers to shut up. It’s wrapped in language about treason and patriotism, but a turd wrapped in silk is still a turd. The high officials of the military want no discussion of themselves, their promotions, their procurement processes or of the war in general. Knowing ‘high officials’ in this country, we’d be wise to not give them the benefit of the doubt – for the health of our nation and of our common soldiers. It is precisely for the people of Sri Lanka and the people on the frontlines that we need civilian oversight on the military. I think the Ministry of Defense is deeply confused about the purpose of this whole exercise. The point is to win the war, not to look like we’re winning. This isn’t a war on perceptions. This is a war. We need to see both our enemy and ourselves clearly.
The statement is here on the MinDef site. In short, the military is saying that everyone must support the war, only military officers can handle information related to the war, the promotion of said military officers cannot be questioned, procurement by said military officers cannot be discussed, and grunt soldiers are not allowed to talk. This doesn’t sound like the military defending the nation to me. This sounds like corrupt military officers defending themselves.
Herein I’ll go through their statement bit by bit.
Spades Are Spades
There has been much controversy among the media and political circles over the stance taken by the Ministry of Defence on the media freedom in this country. Some have even called it a government’s war on media; some call it an anti democratic stance taken by the government. Whatever it is, the Ministry stands affirm on its stance over the irresponsible defence reportage and will assure to take all necessary measures to stop this journalistic treachery against the country.
I’ll call it the government’s war on media, or the government’s anti-democratic stance. Glad the MinDef is OK with that. Can I say that?
You Are Not Free To Oppose The War
1. Sri Lanka is at a war… Thus, whoever attempts to reduce the public support to the military by making false allegations and directing baseless criticism at armed forces personnel is supporting the terrorist organization that continuously murder citizens of Sri Lanka.
WTF? This is the first time I’ve heard it officially said that anyone that opposes the war is a traitor and supports the LTTE. Presumably all criticism is baseless in their eyes. Guess what, millions of Sri Lankans oppose the war. I oppose the war. We are not traitors and the statement above is a great disservice to the people of Sri Lanka. In civilized countries it is possible to oppose your government, especially on issues of war. Seeing as the Government of Sri Lanka has alternately pursued negotiated peace it does seem possible to advocate that path without being LTTE.
Only The Military Can Analyze The War
The Ministry is in the view, that it is no one other than the military officers who are qualified to plan, conduct, and analyse military operations.
Again, did they really say that. The people of Sri Lanka no longer have any civilian oversight over the military. Can we still think about it, or is that analysis?
Criticism on internal promotions does the same damage to the armed forces as mentioned above by embarrassing those officers who run the actual battle. They are being introduced to the public as those who are not qualified to hold their appointments and therefore they may not be able to carryout their duties in a happy environment. Also, public may look at the military as an organization run by incompetent people.
Um, maybe it is? Nothing in this statement even acknowledges that the military promotion process may actually be imperfect (like every other promotion process on earth). The system isn’t perfect, no human resource system is. The way we improve it is by criticizing and improving it, not simply erasing the perception that there’s a problem at all. That is just incompetent.
Don’t Talk To The Help
A large amount of public money is being spent on the training, education, salaries, and other benefits on military personnel not because the public want them to be informants to the media agencies but to stay loyal to the nation, to fight for her and to safeguard the good order and the military discipline.
So, basically, the military officers have bought our soldiers and they can’t speak out about anything. Military discipline is what it is and this part actually makes the most sense, though the vitriol and quickness to call the media LTTE is incompetent and silly. If the military wants to maintain discipline among its soldiers then it needs to do that, can’t really blame the media.
We Need Them To Hide Behind
The Ministry does not find any other word better than a “Traitor” to call whoever attempts to show the soldiers as thieves or fools by making false allegations and raising baseless criticism against them.
OK. But nothing much in this statement applies to soldiers. The Ministry Of Defence seems far more interested in protecting high officers than grunts. Everything in the statement is about protecting those managing authorities from any criticism of using the soldiers as they see fit – without any oversight on officer promotions, procurement, or anything even. They even go so far in covering their own asses as to insinuate that every Sri Lankan must support the war or be a traitor. From any angle this is patent bullshit and entirely shameless. It’s be funny if it didn’t put the lives and freedom of so many innocent Sri Lankans in danger and weaken our war effort by keeping any sense of objective reality out.