Saturday, October 10, 2009

WHICH PART OF THIS DON'T WE GET, REALLY?

WE emphasized the importance of focussing on effective outward communication earlier when the visiting UN representative Lynn Pascoe, after visiting IDP camps amidst the post-war chaos commented 'you have a better story than is getting out today.' At the time the government was patting itself on the back for a job well done, when the opposite was true; it was failing miserably to establish the facts with the international community as to what is happening with the internally displaced persons, while anti-government forces were very successful at portraying a completely different and derogatory picture of Sri Lanka. That situation has not changed since then and the warning signs are continuing.

The most recent of these signs is the communication issued by the veteran US foreign policy figure Madeline Albright who commented in relation to Sri Lanka and in the absence of verifiable facts US political analysts are forced to make deductions from unrealiable sources which continue to feed even flawed information to them on a regular basis. This is a harsh statement of reality and is an indicator of how vulnerable the SL government is, due to a combination of the not very original, yet effective propaganda activities of the pro-eelam lobby and Sri Lanka's own ineffectiveness and lack of interest in establishing constructive dialogue based on ground realities with outside forces. Sri Lanka may be an island geographically, but in international relations no nation can expect to be an island unto itself. Isolationist policies whether actively sought or forced by circumstances has never served any nation well. Even the mighty US came down to its knees economically and militarily after its previous President followed similar 'go alone' series of policies. There are plenty of other examples elsewhere in history.

Albright's comments are a second reminder to Sri Lanka that the government needs to talk more often to the international community, to get the facts out to them. Hidden behind this warning are subtle forces which seek to have dialogue to be channelled to and through them, so that they have opportunities to continue covert activites within Sri Lanka. Some of these forces can be found on the Scandinavian part of the world map. Contemporary Europe's continuing politico-military impotency is a definite threat to Sri Lanka's national soveriegnty in that context, and can be expected to remain so for a considerable period of time. What that spells out is that Sri Lanka should get the facts out to the world fast, often, and in easily digestible potions. The fact that the EU will grant GSP+ concessions yet again to Sri Lanka should not be taken as a sign of improved relations between us, even though the politicians on the two sides of the divide may make misleading statements and the usual stupid noises. Not surprisingly, some on Sri Lanka's side may even belive what they utter.

And then there's the not so little issue of a Nobel peace prize for Prez Obama. There are many and diverse views on this surprising turn of events, which 'deeply humbled' Obama the brilliant orator and led the majority in the US and elsewhere to wonder what next? While a minority usually in the lunatic fringe either support or oppose (Rush Limbaugh is livid and frothing at the mouth) the Nobel happening, majority are concerned about how the pressures of recieving such a prestigious award would influence their yet to be tested President, who is already facing apparently insurmountable challenges at home and abroad. Although it is quite possible that the main promoters of the event, Sweden and Norway are following their well established anti-George Bush rhetoric by awarding Obama, it is also more possible that they intend to use the shock and awe of the situation to make the office of the US Presidency more amenable to their views about how the world should be run. With Hillary Clinton and now potentially Obama coming under the Scandinavian peacenik influence nations such as Sri Lanka Israel which are plagued by deep rooted terrorist problems that essentially require military responses, better watch out.

This is not to say Obama is anyone's puppet. The very fact that he has not relinquished the pressure on anyone should tell the world that attempting to mislead him in the long term is very likely to be futile. In managerial and analytical skills, Obama is much superior to his predecessor and that characteristic provides for hope for a balanced perception in this worrisome situation.

But that does in no way eliminate or even diminish the fact that Sri Lanka is yet again spiraling out of control into a propaganda vaccuum, when the need of the hour is the very opposite; an effective international public relations mechanism which drives the change worldwide that uniquely benefits us. In that context we can and must learn from the pro-eelamist lobby amongst others to be able to not only counter, but to overcome them. Worse, in the propaganda game, time is not on our side. Sri Lanka needs to act now.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

THE FACTS WHICH ARE UNDENIABLE

THERE are many interested colonial wannabes who are pointing the finger at Sri Lanka, while attempting to whitewash, or even blatantly ignore their own horrendous attrocities in recent times.

In Iraq, the US led invasion has so far led to over half a million civillian deaths and unquantifiably large scale destruction to the once prosperous country. And yet there doesn't seem to be any accountability for the horrendous crimes against humanity commited by these military forces, even though ample evidence exists to support undeniable indictments against the previous Bush Government.

Similarly, but lesser known and even less cared about is the carnage that has been happening in Afghanistan, which has now become a testing range for US and allied weapons systems where they are deployed against live targets with absolutely no sense of accountability. Even though some reporting happens on these mass scale killings, they do not lead to any legal consequences in the Western world.

video

Meanwhile Sri Lankan media is hyper ventilating on reports that the present SL government has succssfully deterred yet again another attempt to bring war crimes indictments against them in the US Senate, with the assistance of the Israeli influence groups. Reality behind such claims could easily be quite different.

The fact remains the Americans and the British do not possess adequate evidence to prosecute a war crimes case against Sri Lanka and the present attempts are based on flimsy and baseless accusations of a few pro-LTTE groups affiliated with a few Democratic party leaders. In such a situation it would not take much to convince the US Senate that they shouldn't proceed further until and unless solid and irrefutable evidence is unearthed. In any case the Americans have bigger problems; two losing wars, an ailing economy, a declining politico-military stature and a deeply fractured nation divided over the policies of its first black President.

The situation for the British is no better. An increasingly unpopular government led by a group of incompetents has led the country to a gradual political and economic decline while its idiotic foreign minister is seen as many as a juvenile amateur who craves recognition at any cost. British forces abroad have also commited many documented attrocities including the indiscriminate use of white phosperous ordnance in civillian areas leading to large numbers of deaths.

Complicating the issue for those who'd like to bring a successful indictment against Sri Lanka is the fact that the island nation is not a signatory to the Geneva convention.

It is in this context that the Sri Lankans are now compelled to play the diplomatic games of recovery. Not only must we rebuild the nation, but must also help rebuild our diplomatic clout to one of decisiveness and usefulness. The Sri Lankan government needs to reach out to her loyal and patriotic diaspora population and garner support in coherant and well planned exercises to manage this outcome, which is not too difficult irrespective of hostile attempts by pro-LTTE groups operating from abroad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION - THE BIGGEST NEED

BEATEN to the draw by the SL Defence Forces on Sri Lankan soil, the eelamist lobby overseas is busy making alternate arrangements to pursue a campaign of subversion against the island nation. These anti-Sri Lankan forces stlll possess formidable clout in many influential places including the UN, US Congress, with powerful EU law makers and various others across the world.

Primarily they seek to accomplish two distinct goals. In the short term to intensify international pressure on the Sri Lankan government to force it to allow all civillians currently in refugee camps in the north and east to disperse into the country side, so that the thousands of LTTE cadres hiding among them immediately become free to re-organize, re-arm and be ready to re-commence hostilities.

Time is a crucial factor for both sides, it is currently on the side of the Sri Lankan state which badly needs to identify and neutralize all threats currently in hiding; the well trained LTTE cadres and the massive arms caches that the Sri Lankan forces are continuing to unearth as evidence is analized. The SLG has a valid card it needs to play well; it cannot afford to send civillians into areas that are dangerous due to mining, and potential desease. Assistance offered by some foreign nations to expedite this process must be viewed in this context as both benevolent as well as a part of a well formulated strategy to counter Sri Lankan government's ability to stretch the time it needs to weed out the terrorists and destroy their arms caches. Therefore it is essential that those who are to be re-settled in the soon to be cleared areas are investigated quickly for the level of their connections to the LTTE.

The pro-eelam lobby's long term goal would be to develop the potential to offer a combination of threats against Sri Lanka, while weening itself from the currently debilitating terrorist group image. Sri Lanka needs to understand the growing threats in these twin scenarios; her enemies have been successful so far in implementing both strategies to considerable extent, being able to to bring increasingly greater pressure on Sri Lanka to hastily let loose LTTE terrorists along with civillians. They have also begun to effectively excercise well developed long term relationships with leading international political figures towards earning recognition that of being representatives of almost a seperate state entity. The eelamists have a delicate balancing act in this game; they have to be able to build internal military pressure necessitating the Sri Lankan state to maintain a very difficult, high lelve of vigilance, while working hard to convince the outside world that they are no longer terrorists. Their close connections to liberal politicians in many western nations is a huge asset for this purpose and the diaspora eelamists can be relied on to be put it to use. The readiness of some of the outspoken foreign law makers and supporters of the eelamist lobby abroad, who seem to be increasingly willing to consider the pro-LTTErs connections with Tamil Tiger terrorism as a distant and unrelated happening should ring alarm bells in Colombo.
Sri Lanka as usual has lost the initiative in the diplomatic skirmishing since military operations ended. The government has succeeded in tying itself in knots by muzzling its own best attack dogs in international fora while slowly degenerating in the international mind's eye to appear increasingly like a corrupt, family regime which dependents purely on violence to rule with an iron fist. Nobody likes a thugocracy.
Disenchanted domestic politicians and some media factions are contributing towards this decline in no small measure. While the SLG had understandable reasons to muzzle the press while the fighting was on, there needs to be a visible decline of government pressure tactics to do so now that fighting is over and the nation needs greater transparency in what happens next. This is where responsible media institutions need to reach out to the upper echelons of government in order to establish an understanding of how necessary levels of media freedom can yet again be guaranteed and be free of government interference or intimidation.
The end to fighting didn't end the war of Tamil tribal racist seperatism in Sri Lanka. It simply forced a change in the way this conflict now will be faught; on unfamiliar soil and a terrain in which the enemy has always held a clear advantage. Where the supremacy of the pro-eelamist diaspora was challenged only with some success and that too very briefly when the government let loose talented and unbridled Sri Lankan intelligensia to represent it. Over the past few months the SLG has destroyed its own ability to be heard overseas effectively by a comitting a series of near sighted blunders such as replacement of important diplomatic positions abroad with political nominees whose skills and capabilities at best are debatable.
Sri Lanka's failures in the international fora since the fighting ended is well summarized by departing comments by the most recent UN representative to visit Sri Lanka, Lynn Pascoe who said, "you have a better story than is getting out today...". Sri Lanka's recent actions tantamount to shooting itself in the foot and then the belly. Whether we will proceed to shoot ourselves in the head next, seems to be a matter of time.
Sri Lanka must understand the importance and urgency of Lynn Pascoe's words and not treat them as lightly. His words are not a commendation. They in reality are a critique of an important Sri Lankan governmental failure which can and will lead to disastrous long term consequences for the country. This is not an accomplishment the Sri Lankan government should pat itself on the back about, yet recent media announcements from the Presidential Secretariat seem to indicate such a perception.
It is very imporatant that Sri Lanka no longer fail to keep the outside world informed of exactly what is happening on Sri Lankan soil. Keeping the outside world informed can still offer the island nation much needed international understanding and support in this continuing and fast evolving conflict. It can also be used effectively to counter the anti-Sri Lanka rhetoric which depends largely on the unpreparedness of the Sri Lankan government to counter its blatant lies with any degree of effectiveness.
In order to be able to communicate effectively and also earn international respect, we must with all honesty ensure that our actions against our own people are both responsible and dignified. Communicating facts surrounding issues related to resettlement with the truly affected, the long suffering Tamils in the camps for the internally dispalced must also be done with equal or greater frequency and clarity. Much greater transparency now becomes an urgently needed concession.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SHARING OUR TACTICAL ADVANTAGE - WHY?

They say fools rush in where angels fear to tread. We Sri Lankans are no strangers to rushing into situations we barely understand, in fact we've made history doing so. Not just once, but repeatedly over the decades and centuries. Maybe we are a nation of fools, perhaps we have a national level learning disability which keeps us from stopping to think. Especially when we are at an emotional high as a nation, like these present days.

When Sri Lanka decided to respond to the LTTE's 'Final War' with a decisive campaign of her own, we heard the opinions of various self-appointed experts who predicted a situation in which no clear winner would emerge. We saw the funny faced Norwegians, in particular a bitchy whore who made every effort to portray the Tamil Tiger terroristas as the good guys, simply because she was openly sleeping with one of them. And then there were the other NGO wallahs whose activities can be only guessed at from the numbers of blue eyed tamil kids now found abandoned in the refugee camps. These characters and the similarly amusing Colombo based Sri Lanka's own peaceniks were making every effort to convince us that the war was a losing proposition. But that's in the past now, nevertheless an important part of history we should never forget.

To forget what these paraihs attempted to do to Sri Lanka will not only be a mistake, but also an unforgivable disgrace to the memory of the brave Sri Lankan Defence Forces personnel who sacrificed their lives to prove them wrong.

We also seem to be in a hurry to make a new mistake. Now that we've proven our new found capability in being able to deal with modern day terrorism more effectively than everyone else, significant interest is seen from other nations who are keen to learn how we did it. Among these are nations such as the UK, whose eager beaver Foreign Minister rushed to Sri Lanka wanting to stop us from accomplishing the very result that they are now interested in learning about in greater detail. In April this year, even before the war was won we forecasted "..In two years from now, no one will give a rat's ass as to how many died in the process but will only remember how we defeated terrorism.." in these columns. In two months they've come asking us how we did it and in our own unique boastful arrogance and stupidity our government seems to be only too willing to share it all even with the vermin who openly attempted to support the LTTE and provide it yet another lifeline.

That brings us to the very important question of whether we need to share our expert knowledge with everyone who merely asks for it. The simple answer is No. Had the Brits and Americans shared their specialized combat skills with us when we really needed it, this war would have been over decades ago. They didn't. We owe them nothing.
To emphasize the obvious is usally a wasted effort. Yet the obvious stupidity of the present situation demands nothing less. Openly sharing our strategic, operational and tactical secrets opens the door to effective counter-measures being developed. Those who support terrorism from abroad will then have the ability to better arm the next crop of terrorists and train them in strategies to defeat our capabilties. For that simple reason, sharing our secrets is not only stupid, but unnecessarily dangerous as well.

So Sri Lanka should just say No. If they don't get it, try Nyet, Nada, or even Illayi.

HUMAN RIGHTS TERRORISTS DEFEATED IN US COURTS

COURT UPHOLDS U.S. LAW ALLOWING PRESIDENT TO DESIGNATE GROUPS AS TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS

A law that allows the U.S. president to designate groups as terrorist organizations, freeze their assets and block aid to them was upheld by a federal appeals court in San Francisco today.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act was enacted by Congress in 1977 and was originally used by presidents to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations considered a threat to national security.

In 2001, President George W. Bush issued executive orders under the law that enabled him, through the Treasury Department, to designate groups as terrorist organizations, freeze their assets and prohibit any aid or services to the groups. The penalty for violating the law is a fine of either $250,000 or twice the amount of money given to a group.

The procedure was challenged in federal court in Los Angeles by the Humanitarian Law Project, which sought to aid the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam in Sri Lanka.

Project lawyers argued that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that it violated the First Amendment right of free speech.

But a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled by a 2-1 vote that the law regulates conduct, not speech, and does not violate the Constitution. The court majority said, "There is no right to provide resources with which terrorists can buy weapons and explosives."

Source: http://cbs5.com/localwire/22.0.html?type=bcn&item=TERRORIST-ORGANIZATION-LAW--12-24

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

IN AFGHANISTAN AND SRI LANKA - SEEKING AN END TO TERROR

When Sri Lanka went after the LTTE in a fight to the finish, they used tactics which are hard to repeat elsewhere. As her armed forces employed innovative military strategies to wreak havoc in the terrorist groups’ strongholds, the Sri Lankan government received strong backing from a determined and silently vengeful population who were willing to pay any price to eliminate the Tamil Tigers. Such popular backing and a series of unforeseen opportunities worked in favor of the Sri Lankan government both in the domestic and foreign theaters enabling her to pursue the conflict until the LTTE was completely liquidated as a fighting force.

It was only towards the tail-end of the fighting that political changes in the US and other distant lands brought some human rights related pressure on the Sri Lankan government, which it managed to keep at bay successfully.

And then the Sri Lankans pulled yet another classic stunt by virtually abducting the newly self-appointed LTTE leader known as KP from somewhere in South East Asia, blowing the lid off the entrenched belief that the conflict would remain within the territorial space of the island nation.

Even though most democratic nations would flinch at the prospect of adopting the withering tactics used by Sri Lanka in her spectacularly successful anti-terrorist campaign, the lessons learnt here have not been lost on most. Even before the fighting came to an end, many defense analysts were speculating how far the Sri Lankan war would influence the future of asymmetrical warfare across the world. There is an undivided consensus that Sri Lankan Defense Forces have rewritten the book on modern warfare and changed conflict strategy irreversibly. Once considered undefeatable, terrorism is now a very curable disease, one which required bitter medicine.

Coming on the heels of an Indian military victory over terrorism in Khalistan and Russian suppression of terror in Chechnya, the Sri Lankan conquest of Tamil Tiger terrorism comprehensively proves the case for decisive military action as a solution for this modern day scourge. It is perhaps due to this reason that a US Special forces contingent is currently in joint exercises with Sri Lankan Army Special forces and SL Navy Special Boat Squadron units in North Eastern Sri Lanka.

The situation in Afghanistan is diametrically opposite to that of Sri Lanka. The Americans have ventured into perhaps the world’s most inhospitable land where no invading army had ever been successful as occupiers for any considerable length of time. Just as they defeated innumerable hostile forces over the centuries the Afghans could quite possibly prove that they can still remain unconquerable even by the mighty Americans, if they decide to do so. Just as they had help from friendly neighbors to defeat the Soviets in the war which lasted thru’ 1970/80s, the Afghans could muster plenty of support from Iran, Pakistan and other predominantly Muslim nations in the region.

In their present war against some of the world’s most powerful armed forces, the Afghan guerilla forces have so far held a decisive upper hand; they field warriors who are willing to die, to fight an enemy who wants to win wars with no casualties to own side. But the game is changing, as is only to be expected in the aftermath of the Sri Lankans’ comprehensive defeat of terrorism.

US forces appear to have since of late adopted leadership decapitation strategies which are yielding positive results. A recent air strike by US unarmed drones killed the Taliban commander in Pakistan throwing the terror group into disarray. Snatch operations since then have netted at least two high profile terrorist leaders, causing further disintegration of the Afghan guerilla operations.

How far the American will go to eradicate the Taliban under the present Obama administration will remain to be seen, even though tactics similar to those adopted by Sri Lanka definitely are providing significant success in the battle field and elsewhere. The Taliban on the other hand are unlikely to go quietly, as the recent suicide bombings which caused massive casualties indicate. In response the US backed Afghan government has clamped a press censorship ostensibly to control panic during the fragile election process in the troubled land, drawing absolutely no adverse comments from the Western press who were overtly critical when similar action was put in effect by Sri Lanka during the height of her own bloody events.

Wars often define human history. How we fight decides who wins. Sri Lanka recently re-wrote the book on how wars will be fought in the future. And thereby, whether her most ardent supporters and detractors admit or not, Sri Lankans have effectively changed how how our part of history will be written in the future.