Love-the-Navy-Hate-the-Army, West Cannot Trust Sinhalas in Geopolitics and LTTE is Useful for the West
Posted on October 6th, 2016
The Geneva and You meeting brought out some remarkable hidden truths out into the open. We thank the organisers and hope the series will continue.
Little or nothing have been discussed about these so far but they are at the heart of what the “international community” demands from Sri Lanka. Understanding these is key to safeguard the nation and face the challenges wisely.
The West has been following this concept. While holding joint military exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy, selling (and donating) equipment to the navy during the war (and thereafter) and praising the navy for maintaining law and order in the seas, the West is witch-hunting against the army with war crimes allegations, forced reforms and demilitarisation demands. Why is this inconsistent approach? The reason given by speakers – the US considers the army to be more patriotic – is wrong. That is not the real reason. The real reason is the usefulness of the navy and the uselessness of the army for US hegemonic designs.
Since the end of the war, two US allies have donated four large warships to Sri Lanka. Two have been delivered by Australia while the two Japanese warships will be delivered soon. These are very valuable, far more capable than our existing fleet and dramatically increases the navy’s capabilities. During the war, USA donated warships and fast attack crafts (despite removing their guns) while pro-US Israel not just sold Dvora fast attack crafts but also gave us the license to manufacture them locally. USA shared intelligence on Tamils’ floating weapons warehouses allowing the navy to sink them thousands of kilometres away in the open seas. Sri Lanka navy maintains law and order of the seas within the Exclusive Economic Zone and beyond which is a huge benefit for USA and allies in defence and commercial shipping. Sri Lanka navy scored a rare victory against Sea Tigers (only sea going terrorists in the world) which is extremely valuable to the West as future terror domain will include the seas.
However, the West was not so generous or courteous towards the army. In fact, the army had no US support, suffered from US imposed weapons sale restrictions and was constantly harassed during the war. After the war, the West levelled war crimes allegations against the army only. As a peaceful nation, Sri Lankan army does not operate outside national boundaries and therefore not useful for USA. In late 2009, USA made a request to send the Sri Lankan army to Afghanistan, which was rightfully rejected. In addition, the army did most work in the extermination of Tamil terrorists. The army was on the wrong side of the law in 1971 and 1989 as well making it difficult for USA to team up with it. Further, the continuation of the army hinders another US interest – saving or reviving the LTTE (explained below).
Had Sri Lanka any clever leaders, this threat could have been turned into an opportunity by amalgamating the navy and the army. Many countries have done this with huge cost savings, operational efficiencies and better coordination. Certain military debacles during the war (including at least six failed attempts to take Elephant Pass by the army) should have been avoided if the two forces were one. Had the two forces been combined, the West cannot hunt down the army while hailing the navy. It will have to either accept the entirety or shed it all. Given the heavy US reliance on the naval wing, it would have been forced to accept the combined force. No war crimes allegations, demilitarisation demands and other restrictions would have affected the combined force.
In fact, due to operational requirements, it was proposed in 2008 but political leaders fearing the creation of a powerful combined force, denied it. Politicians even played politics with the two commanders to retain their own importance. This short-sighted approach drove a wedge between the army commander and the navy commander which later spiralled out of control when politicians took sides.
Why the West Doesn’t Trust Sinhalese as Much as Tamils in Geopolitics
A speaker at the event correctly identified this. It is not because of a fault of inherent mistrust against Sinhalese. It is stemming from history, community disposition and usefulness. Over 93% of Sinhalese are Buddhists. Impacted by the concepts of Middle Path and the constant questioning of right and wrong, they cannot be partnered with to advance hegemony. At one point their cooperation will fizzle out sensing sheer immoral acts done by the West to dominate the world. Worse, their fallout will happen at the most unwelcomed time when the West loses the moral high ground. However, over 98% of world Tamils are Hindus and in Hinduism hegemony and religion are interwoven. For instance, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Arthashastra and many other military-religious texts mix the two well. India is a living example of unbridled hegemony steamrolling towards regional domination without regard to any moral restrictions. As a result, the Hindu majority world Tamil community is more dependable for the West.
History also plays a huge role in shaping their preferences. Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders found South Indian language speakers and Africans to be loyal slaves. They were taken around the world. Close to a million of them were brought to Sri Lanka to work in tobacco, tea and other plantations. During colonial occupation, South Indians in both India and Sri Lanka offered little resistance compared to North Indians and Sinhalas. This demonstrated loyalty towards the West, places South Indians (including Tamils) ahead of the Sinhalese. It cannot be shaken off easily.
As the speaker correctly pointed out, despite having a pro-US government in Colombo, the West still goes clamping down on Sinhala rights and uplifting Tamil rights even to apartheid proportions. This was also evident in 1987 when Sri Lanka was completely pro-western and Soviet-backed India invaded the island nation. Nevertherless USA didn’t intervene.
There are other strange Western preferences too. Between Sunnis and Shiites, the West prefers the former. Between Serbs and Croats, the latter is preferred. Pakistanis are naturally preferred to Indians (despite other inconsistencies). Japanese are preferred to Koreans and the Chinese. Irish are preferred to the English and certain Latin Americans are preferred over the rest.
Why the West Finds LTTE Extremely Useful
The West wanted Sri Lanka to weaken the LTTE but not exterminate it. USA, UK, France and Norway combined forces to save the terrorists in 2009. USA even attempted to save terrorist leaders during the last stages of the war. It was scuttled by clever moves by the military. USA has a history of relying on terrorists. Examples include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Chechnya, etc. It is an easy way to achieve global hegemon without sacrificing own troops. These groups will stoop to any low and war crimes issues don’t bother them. Any terrorist group can become rebels and vice versa depending on their usefulness to the West. Ideologically LTTE is not Islamic or communist which makes it extremely appealing to USA. LTTE is supported by the large Tamil community in the West. Despite the UN resolution 1373 banning financial support to terrorists, the West allowed it. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, over $300 million was remitted to the LTTE in 2005. However, if the West genuinely wanted, they could have stopped these. By selectively blocking or not blocking LTTE fund raising, the West will have an excellent lever to control it.
Disrupting Chinese shipping s another aim USA’s ‘China Containment’ strategy envisages. LTTE is the only terrorist group in the world to attack Chinese vessels. Around 2003, LTTE attacked and killed over a dozen Chinese nationals on board a fishing vessel. As LTTE had a capable sea going arm and just across LTTE’s sphere of operations lie a potential chokepoint of Chinese commercial shipping, USA could have used the LTTE to disrupt Chinese shipping.
Due to these reasons, the West must be weeping the extermination of the LTTE and out to punish the army.
Why the West Supports Tamil Eelam
As can be seen today, no amount of pro-western skewedness in Colombo can satisfy the West. Unable to trust Sinhalese in the long run and driven by insatiable global dominance desires, the West is after a more dependable ally. Will Sri Lanka allow its territory to be used by USA to attack Chinese, Indian or Pakistani interests? Not a chance. Will Sri Lanka allow the large-scale deployment of US troops and turn parts of the island nation into another Okinawa with all the associated horrors? No. Sri Lanka cannot allow its territory or the sea to be used for nuclear weapons deployment due to treaty commitments and morality. Sri Lanka cannot risk getting retaliatory attacks from US targets. For these reasons, Sri Lanka as it is, provides little or no use for USA which is actively looking for a replacement for Diego Garcia base. Tamil Eelam is the perfect solution. Nuclear weapons from Diego Garcia can be deployed in Tamil Eelam and its rulers will not object. Very thin population density, inability to sustain its weak economy without many industries and the need to retain its independence from a hostile Sri Lanka, Tamil Eelam will allow anything. As a new nation, its constitution and international commitments can be moulded by the West. It will host nuclear and other weapons and not be constrained by human rights laws. Presence of US troops will give it immunity against Sri Lanka to expand into the rest of the island.
It was not Mahinda’s alleged and highly broadcasted anti-west policy that determined the conduct of the West. In fact, Sri Lanka never left USA as the closest geopolitical ally since 1977 and largest buyer since 1990s. Even for medical purposes and raising their children Lankan leaders trust USA than Sri Lanka. However, the West has other plans; plans much larger than Sri Lanka. Entrapped into these plans, the island nation is at the receiving end. Although cleaver and bold moves could have given Lanka a better deal, the calibre of its leaders doesn’t help. The good news is the world economic and military dominance of the West is waning. In 1990, the West including allies controlled 64% of the world economy. By 2020, it will be just 39%. New superpowers emerge with their own interests not letting the West execute its grand strategy. These developments give hope and must be grasped early. Betting on a waning empire is absolute lunacy as a bold new world order awaits the brave.