This Adiga character (White Tiger author) has been round in Sri Lanka and he’s smart. He wrote an accurate if somewhat repetitive summary of what’s going on the Daily Beast. I personally think you can get the basic history from Wikipedia, but all good. Except at the end. He closes with basically an ultimatum from the mythical ‘international community’ and threatens some sort of action against the Sri Lankan government on its behalf. This is both impotent and ineffective and, IMHO, on those grounds wrong. At this point I believe the ‘IC’ should condemn the LTTE soundly and offer to support the Sri Lankan government in relief and rebuilding.
The international community is, frankly, not involved in furthering some utopia where everyone has democracy and fights clinical wars. It’s about nations that generally look out for their own interests and are governed more by internal political pressures than external threats. Most of the international commentary on SL ignores the internal politics here which, frankly, makes them look stupid.
The international cavalry is not coming. They’ll forget us as soon as we stop dying and get off their TV screens. We have had to live with constant LTTE terrorism and we have to secure and rebuild our own country. Anyways, this is the comment I left, in response largely to the quoted para below:
The world has issued the Sri Lankan government a blank check in its fight against the LTTE, and it is time now to tear up that check. President Rajapakse must immediately end the climate of fear in which journalists in his country operate; he must free reporters who have been falsely arrested; and must find and prosecute the killers of Lasantha Wickrematunge. He must allow reporters, Sri Lankan and foreign, full access to the northern end of the island, so they can verify for themselves that Tamil civilians caught in the warfare there are living in humane, secure conditions. If he does not do so, the rest of the world has no choice but to assume that the worst of the charges leveled against his government are true—and act accordingly. (Adiga, Daily Beast)
“Cool article, except for the last para. Where do all these ‘musts’ come in? Do you really have to close with a threat, and an impotent one at that?
According to the Hindu and Times Online China gave about $1 billion to Sri Lanka last year compared to $7.4 million from the US (I read about $24 mil in a State Dept PDF). The $1.9 IMF loan is in the air, but I’m not sure how letting our economy crater helps any human beings on this island. The ‘international community’ simply isn’t in the same position to dictate terms.
Furthermore, this active and just ‘international community’ and these pristine monitored wars don’t exist. There is no international community in that sense and wars are goddamn dirty. Innocent people die, rights are abused and laws are suspended. Hopefully, you are able to rebuild better after the sacrifice and suffering.
Most Sri Lankans view this as similar to the crushing of the JVP insurrections in which over 65,000 people died, including many innocents and writers like Richard De Soyza. Yet the alternative there was a Khmer Rouge type insurrection which would have been much worse. Were there other ways to do it, probably, but it got done. Most people view the Late President Premadasa as a hero, even many who were almost killed by him.
In the same way the LTTE has been killing and terrorizing and holding Sri Lanka back for my entire lifetime. Yes this war is unbelievably dirty and messy. It is war. But the LTTE is an existential threat to Sri Lanka. I’m not sure that people understand that. A President, countless ministers, the Indian Prime Minister, almost every moderate Tamil and militant leader and countless civilians have been killed. This threat more than anything has been what’s crushing our democracy, just as one terrorist attack caused the US to close in on itself.
Yet our democracy survives. I voted two weeks ago and my guy lost, but we’ll try again. You must understand that this war has public support in Sri Lanka, and we are not a stupid or genocidal people. I have personally been to Vavuniya and government hospitals in Colombo and seen young children without limbs and parents. Sri Lankans citizens know the terror and misery and the north and we are organizing to support our fellow citizens there. I encourage anyone to visit savevanni.blogspot.com to see how they can help.
However, most Sri Lankans believe we will be able to rebuild better without a terrorist army occupying our land, killing our leaders and civilians, conscripting our children and preventing people from voting. Most believe that these terrible costs are worth it. That is the terrible calculus of war.
This better future is not guaranteed, but without the LTTE we at least have a chance without it getting blown up like Neelan (the last real Tamil moderate) or without voters being disenfranchised as in the election that Ranil lost. Sri Lankans understand the heartbreaking costs of war and they are willing to pay. To finally be free of this terror.
‘The world’ can’t come in and say ‘must’ this and ‘must’ that. First off, there’s no money where your mouth is nor is there much respect for our elected government and the people that elected it.
You talk about democracy and the press, but in your last paragraph there is no reference to Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans. It is simply some magic internationals that are going to come in and fix us, but punish us. You’ve got the wrong guys. You should support and encourage the best of our government and punish and condemn the LTTE.
I may not agree with this government, but it is still my government and I can change it. Our democracy can use international support, but impotent and antagonizing threats don’t actually help me or anybody else living here and trying to change the place.”