Who won the war?
Posted on October 21st, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island

October 21, 2019, 8:58 pm

 It is said that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan. Everybody now wants to take the credit for defeating terrorism. Those who opposed the war tooth and nail and condemned the military, during the height of the Vanni conflict, are now using former war-winning army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to score political points.

Fonseka has sought to settle old scores with SLPP presidential candidate and war-time Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa by claiming that the latter was not involved in planning military operations, which were prepared and executed by service commanders, according to him. Earlier, he claimed that the Navy had made no contribution whatsoever to the war victory, and it was only operating a fleet of ‘fishing boats.’ He seems to have changed his attitude towards the Navy, which was led by his bete noire Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda during the war.

Who really won the war? Was it Fonseka or the Rajapaksas or Karannagoda or the war-time Air Force Commander Roshan Goonathilake? We believe that it was the right combination that worked. Fonseka, no doubt, played a pivotal role in defeating the LTTE. So did other service commanders and their officers and men. The credit for that feat should also go to the police, who foiled many a terrorist bid to blast nerve centres in the city, and the Civil Defence Force personnel, the unsung heroes.

The war would never have been over but for the bold political leadership. Several army commanders before Fonseka failed to defeat the LTTE because governments under which they served lacked the courage to fight the war to a finish. Fighting was still on when Fonseka reached the retirement age and the then President Rajapaska gave him an extension in service at the instance of the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. That proves that the then government leaders had recognised Fonseka’s outstanding contribution to the war and wanted him to continue as the army commander. One can also argue that but for that extension, Fonseka would not have been the war winning army chief.

If the Navy, under Vice Admiral Karannagoda’s command, had not destroyed the LTTE’s naval wing, Prabhakran would have taken delivery of many more consignments of sophisticated weapons to match the army’s fire power, and the supplies to the North would have been crippled. It was the naval intelligence that revealed in early Noughties that under the UNP-led UNF government, the LTTE was using a fragile ceasefire to move its big guns to the East and North so as to have the Trincomalee harbour and the Palali airstrip within their range; it was preparing to mount simultaneous attacks on those facilities to cripple the supplies to the North. Had that plan worked, the troops would have been trapped in the North. When the LTTE pulled out of the ceasefire, it successfully targeted the Trinco harbour and the Palali airstrip but precautions had been taken to meet the threat.

The manner in which the Navy with the help of its meagre assets accomplished extremely difficult tasks such as destroying the LTTE’s floating armouries on the high seas may have made the commanders of the blue water navies turn green with envy. The Air Force neutralised the LTTE positions for the ground troops to advance. The STF kept the LTTE at bay, especially in the East.

Nobody would have been able to brag about the war victory if the political leadership had buckled under international pressure in 2009. The then British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner rushed here in a bid to stop the war, days before its conclusion. The army would have had to stop its advance if President Rajapaksa had given in to them.

Ironically, Field Marshal Fonseka has undertaken to protect national security as a member of a team that went all out to scuttle the country’s war effort and ridiculed him as a person unfit to lead even the Salvation Army. Those who praised him as the best army commander in the entire world now claim that they would have been able to win the war without him!

Fonseka’s contention that the political leadership and the Defence Secretary had no role to play in preparing the strategy to defeat terror is counterproductive. He aspires to be the Defence Minister in case of NDF presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa’s victory. Going by his aforesaid argument, he as the Defence Minister would have no role to play in preparing military plans in case of terrorism raising its ugly head again; that task would have to be left to the future military commanders, according to Fonseka’s own logic. In other words, in the event of Premadasa winning, to ensure national security, his government would need good military commanders and not a former army commander as the Defence Minister.

Fonseka should be asked whether he, as the Defence Minister of a future government, led by a group of opponents of war advocating appeasement, would be able to fight a war in case of terrorism re-emerging. The Rajapaksas need to be asked whether they would be equal to the task of countering terrorism again without military commanders of Fonseka’s calibre.

9 Responses to “Who won the war?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    The war was won by the military and the people.

    The political leadership was elected by the people with the specific demand that he finish off the LTTE. He was made to take this vow at the Temple of the Tooth in October 2005 by the then JVP and JHU.

    The composition of parliament was that JVP + JHU had 47 seats. Mahinda was forced to fight the war or suffer regime collapse and definite defeat at a parliamentary election.

    We all saw how the then sport minister was bringing the cricket WC 1996 cup with him. He claimed credit for the political leadership for it and also for the bronze (later silver) medal at the 2000 Olympics. But the real winners were …………lets say not looked after very well without going into details.

    As a nation we should be grateful for those who sacrificed to achieve great things. The key word is sacrifice. No sacrifice, no credit.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    @Dilrook,

    Your POLITICAL agenda again drives your statement “The war was won by the military and the people.”a
    The military and the people existed in the years PRECEDING the Rajapaksa Administration, but FAILED to WIN the WAR over 30 long painful years of INEPT Political Leadership!

    What made the difference? INSPIRED and DETERMINED POLITICAL leadership giving the POLITICAL & DIPLOMATIC COVER and LEADERSHIP, and the ARMS, LOGISTICAL MEANS and the FOCUS & MOTIVATION to the MILITARY and the PEOPLE to fight the war to AWE INSPIRING VICTORY!

    You can BLEAT TO THE CONTRARY until kingdom come to DIMINISH the contributions of the POLITICAL LEADERSHIP of the Rajapaksa Govt and to UNDERMINE their HARD EARNED REPUTATION as EFFECTIVE and INSPIRING Leaders, but we the Patriots of Sri Lanka will not SWALLOW your propaganda on the EVE of the LOOMING Elections, no matter how hard you try!

    You are doing AGAIN what you did before in 2014-2015: Leading a pack of ENEMY PROPAGANDISTS to UNDERMINE the ONLOY HOPE for a STRONG & RESURGENT Sri Lanka: A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under Gotabhaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa!

  3. Gunasinghe Says:

    Ananda, Now SF says he alone finished the war. What BS, Before war was ended SF came with bunch of army men to DC. We planned a reception in the hotel he was staying. Same day his wife was working on API WENUWEN API project and we did a little fund raising. In this event he gave a talk and he extolled Gota and MR for keeping the war going. I was surprised the way he changed after wining the war. He is a liar and opportunist.

  4. Gunasinghe Says:

    Ananda, Now SF says he alone finished the war. What BS, Before war was ended SF came with bunch of army men to DC. We planned a reception in the hotel he was staying. Same day his wife was working on API WENUWEN API project and we did a little fund raising. In this event he gave a talk and he extolled Gota and MR for keeping the war going. I was surprised the way he changed after wining the war. He is a liar and opportunist.

  5. Randeniyage Says:

    1. Jassim City was was built on prime forrest destroying Wilpattu surrounding and opened in 2014 by A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under ……..!

    2. Land supposed to be for a satellite city was leased to pave way for Hizbullah owned Shariya University by A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under ……..!

    3. LTTE provincial council to govern the north under Wigneshvaran ( beard Vasudeva’s BIL) was formed by removing the well run military administration by A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under ……..!

    4. 75% of the land was released to Tamils but not an inch was given to displaced Sinhalese land stolen by LTTE under A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under ……..!

    It is OK , if they acknowledge these crimes say sorry and show the people how a new administration would correct the the errprs, but instead they are convincing people that people were WRONG to vote them out !

    These guys shall be made to work hard and meet the demands of the real Sinhala people rather than awarding the leadership on a golden plate by Kevum Eaters. Otherwise it is clearly visible to people with no dirt in the eye to predict what would happen under a new A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under ……..! we cannot simply HOPE anymore.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    @Ananda

    No; I’m factual.

    The war was not won in 4 years. It was fought and won in 34 years. All governments contributed to the final win at different levels.

    e.g. Denzel, Hasalaka Gamini, Fazley Laffir, etc. also contributed to the victory. Their heroics relate to a period prior to 2005. One president sacrificed his life and another her eye. Do you belittle their contribution and sacrifices?

    The political leadership was elected by the people. So people get credit for it. What you say is true in ancient times. Not anymore.

    Just imagine there was no president and no parliament during the war. Would we not win the war? We could have won in 1975 itself.

    My agenda is the national interest and it is working. Sinhala voters are rightfully divided into various political camps. Contrary to what political supporters say, this actually strengthens Sinhala hand. Now all politicians are begging Sinhalese for support! If they went into one camp like cattle, they will be taken for granted.

    We already see results. TNA demands have no takers this time! CWC, EPDP, SLMC, Hizbullah group, Anandasangaree and ACMC have drastically reduced their demands. They know all major parties are busy trying to win divided Sinhala support and they get stepmotherly treatment.

    Just look at the promises targeting the majority. Never ending! Even those who introduced Sharia Banking, Vigneswaran, paid Zaharan, etc. are now waking up.

    Isn’t that great!

    My agenda is to bring dignity to the Sinhala voter and it is working. If Sinhalese are more equally divided, they get even more stremgth. Then we can demand things and both main politicians will agree. I blame useless so called patriotic parties like NFF, JHU, PJHU and MEP for not making good use of the opportunity and make Sinhala demands. If they are true patriots they should be making patriotic demands now with the threat of no-support. Shame!

    Mahesh or SF must promise a salary hike of 10,000 rupees a month to war heroes who won the war. And priority medical and education facilities without discrimination. They so deserve it for winning the war.

  7. Randeniyage Says:

    @Dilrook

    Have you seen this ? A STRONG DESHAPREMI Government under …….. done this ?

    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1yDrChkSC0”

  8. Dilrook Says:

    @Randeniyage

    If true, that is totally disgusting. If untrue, it is a criminal allegation.

    1. One allegation about a certain charity is true as far as I experienced. Ask any patriotic group that donated money for “ranaviruwos” and they will tell you this – if you want to help them, visit them and help them directly. I have visited a number of them and had food at their homes. First I felt guilty as they go out of the way to entertain you but saying “no” is disrespectful which I experienced the hard way. They will tell you how they were treated after 2009. One of them said – “kaariya kerena thuru kaageth rawatilla”.

    2. There is credible evidence presented by navy ratings that 65 navy personnel were used as toilet cleaners, domestic aids, cooks and dog groomers by a former minister at his various residencies.

    Ungrateful people allow this to happen and don’t oppose the abusers. People must be more grateful for those who won the war – the military and the people themselves.

    But if they believe political clans won the war, then in their world navy personnel deserve to be treated like this.

    3. Our best sniper left behind a poor homeless mother. She was given a decent house only in 2016.

    4. Some great war heroes who made a massive contribution like Mahesh, Travis (former army and navy commanders), Sooriyabandara (I personally met him) were removed from their work and had to go aborad to find work that were not even commensurate with their experience. But they had to feed their families.

    These are few factual evidence of how true war heroes were treated. All LTTE cadres and leaders were treated better. KP, Karuna, Daya Master, George Master and Pilleyan were VIPs.

    A nation of corrupted morality. It has no future.

    I appreciate the space given to air these views. I’m one sad patriot for the way our nation treat real war heroes and praise fake war heroes. Not at all surprising. We Sinhalese are a community that evicted Anagarika Dharmapala and hailed kalu suddas as heroes and defeated CWW Kannangara at elections over petty issues including religion while consuming the benefits he won.

    There are those who do the work and there are those who claim credit for others’ work – Gandhi.

  9. Randeniyage Says:

    The military and the people existed in the years PRECEDING the Rajapaksa Administration, but FAILED to WIN the WAR over 30 long painful years.

    1. Under one Leader the war was almost won with great number of lives lost but the leader feared invasion by India ( which was a real possibility), so he agreed to Federalization of the constitution. If he did not agree there is a strong possibility the we are the next State of India by now.

    2. Another wanted to chase out Indians and armed LTTE. This too appears to be patriotic at that instant ( India is foreign LTTE is local) but this leader turned a mass murderer and got killed by LTTE.

    3. Under the next leader, war went on with both victories and losses. A useless ceasefire was declared , a lot of betrayal took place. Rajapaksa himself tabled an extremely unpatriotic motion P-TOMS.

    4. One important fact is all these leaders feared loosing too many lives of soldiers as well as had a great difficulty in securing arms before 2001 New York attack. It became mush easier when the war on terror became a necessary and acceptable evil to the world.

    Considering all the facts, we can conclude that war was won by people and armed forces under a leadership which did not hesitate to sacrifice lives. therefore that leadership has utmost responsibility to remove Federal Constitution and unite the country as well as to look after the war heroes well.

    It is absurd to own the war victory by any politician.

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