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Selected Writings - Chandiravarman Sinnathurai
The Principle of Pre Emption - A Modest Assessment
12 January 2006
The US is very much like the ‘benevolent’ wizard of Oz. The Sri Lankan conflict have been led up the garden path since September 2002 by an Oslo-initiated Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) down the proverbial “Yellow Brick Road” in order to engage in the so-called peace negotiations .
All along in this process the Tamils have had a sneaky feeling that the wizard of Oz is behind the curtains pulling the strings in order that the end result might calibrate with the geo-political grand design. Now that the CFA has almost turned into a Scare crow; the peace process < http://www.ltteps.org/list.ltte?folder=5 > likened to the Tin Man is in desperate need of oiling. The Lanka Lion which unfortunately has no moral courage has “entertained” the lip-synching of Oz. The satellite ‘mini me’ Oz (i.e.; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka) has roared warnings against the Tamils [Please refer Appendix I].
This is not the first time, it must be underscored that a US Ambassador has breached his protocol and meddled in the internal affairs of a country. This of course reflects badly on the Executive Presidency of Sri Lanka.
The innocent Tamil Dorothy however, even with the help of her so-called “vernacular of the peasantry” has managed this time round to lift the curtain of duplicity. Lo and behold, Professor Marvel – the wonderful wizard of Oz is caught red-handed pulling the strings on the contraption called ‘Divine democracy’ – the empire of Oz exists in the world to reign by threat and intimidation! This well-oiled machine of Puppeteer manipulation and domination has been forced to reveal its velvet gloved iron fists. It seems nevertheless such wizardry has not brought the desired effect – at least on the dispossessed Tamils – in which we include the hill-country Tamils and Tamil-speaking communities. (Please refer Appendices II – III).
Let’s freeze the image of the allegory; which of course aids us to imagine the context. Against this back drop, we will now invoke the principle of preemption to the current situation.
The principal axis of our argument is that, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) has primarily a dual duty to perform:
a) As a sole representative movement of the dispossessed Tamils it has a moral obligation to the Tamil nation to preserve their rights, taking to heart that ‘Human right is more important than peace’.
b) As a sole military system of the Tamils [as opposed to the defective and misleading argument that the Tigers are a bunch of terrorist] the Tigers have the right to self-defense and more over the right to protect the Tamil homelands and its people.
The fact of the matter is that the Tamil Tigers are not trying to encroach into the Sinhalese territory nor are they plotting to take over the whole island. The battle lines are very clear. The primary objective of the Tigers is to recover the lost sovereignty of the Tamils. Amidst this debate of human bombs post 9/11; we must nevertheless note that the Tamil Tigers are motivated by practical and tactical considerations and have used this strategy solely against strategic military targets. The Sri Lanka Forces have no volunteers for such a martial pursuit; however they have constantly targeted on non-combatant Tamil civilian population.
The doctrine of preemption is not a new concept. It has been used in the past by the US and other Western powers. They have employed such strategy to eradicate threats that have been deemed “imminent”. It is commonly termed as the principle of “anticipatory self-defense.” The Bush administration invoked this principle, as the world knows, in the run up to the recent Iraq war. The CIA deceptively invented a “fact” called the WMD threat as a pretext to capture Iraq.
Herein below some of the historical cases on preemptive attacks for consideration:
* British attack on USS Caroline (1837)
* The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
* The Six-Day war (1967)
* The Israeli Bombardment of the Iraqi Nuclear reactor at Osirak (1982)
* The Cruise Missile Strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan (1998)
* Kosovo (1999)
* Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (2001)
In all of these above attacks the predominant principle was self-preservation and immediate eradication of threat – perceived or real. As pointed out earlier [LTTE responsibility (2)] one would argue, that the Tigers in the present sliding- in-to-war context [The SL forces have killed, abducted and raped many Tamil civilians and attacked Tiger camps in spite of CFA] are hard pushed by circumstances to potentially initiate preemptive attacks on Sri Lanka forces / hard targets purely on the basis of real threat and invoke the right to self-defense including the protection of Homeland and its civil society. Jurisprudence on the part of the Tigers, one hope, is restraining from such strikes. Any how, patience can not be over stretched.
In light of these atrocities however, the Tamil Tigers have the right to invoke the principle of self-defense judiciously. In order to legitimize preemptive strikes the Tigers no doubt have, an obligation to abide by international law. Such lawful action would also endorse, one would argue, the integrity of the Tamil military system. Further more, such actions based on protection of one’s civil society would legitimize the Tamil struggle’s moral and ethical standing internationally. The conflict is not between a legitimate army and a hit-and-run guerilla force any more. One the contrary, the conflict is arguably between two legitimate standing armies: Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka. One would therefore assume, given the circumstances, it is perfectly understandable that the Tigers could be concentrating primarily on preemptive strikes rather than retaliation. Unfortunately, such is the hard truth of the gruesome reality of war.
At this point one would do well to remind our selves the Bush Doctrine’s 3 core elements: 1) Prevention 2) Preemption 3) Defense.
Having reached the breaking-point on prevention via CFA and a duplicitous peace process the Tamil Tigers would find them selves, no doubt, focusing mainly on preemption and defense. The last minute dash for peace by the IC does not unfortunately help the civilian populace particularly in the North east Tamil territories.
The SLMM [Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission] have reported CFA breaches from both sides. Having said that we must add, on the 14th of January 2006, the SLMM decided to vacate their offices in the Eastern city Batticaloa, [and also possibly from Trincomalee] owing to an attack on them perpetrated by quisling forces. If such an attack is possible on an international body, one is only left to imagine what sort of danger the local Tamils are left to face in the hands of such monstrous forces!
The Sinhala state cunningly used the CFA period and did the following two most damaging things:
1) It engaged in a nefarious war along with SL Military Intelligence Wing and the splinter Paramilitary and renegade mercenary groups. By employing this strategy the State successfully silenced most of the vociferous Tamil public intellectuals and opinion makers; News Paper and broadcast reporters and journalists; human rights activists and Tamil parliamentarians.
2) It went behind the backs of the Tamils and tried to convince the West with its charm offensive that the Tigers are a bunch of terrorists [in order to include them in the international proscription list] and therefore the propaganda was that peace is impossible owing to a carefully crafted “no-partner myth”. The sales pitch was that how we could have a terrorist group as partners in negotiation for peace. The West in its fatal obsession with terrorism swallowed such a myth hook, line and sinker. Colombo with the hiring of sophisticated PR firms convinced the Western power brokers with the idea that the peace equation is therefore unreliable. A serious concern however arose here. In order to continue their corporate investments and Development exploits in “that part of the world”; the West needed stability in the region! So naturally, the unanimous chorus on the support for peace process was purely a mercantile decision. Human rights or self-determination of the Tamils were of course less of priority.
Should the peace process were to genuinely yield fruit, it is only possible by taking a firmer stance. Within the realm of international diplomacy, the De facto state officials could be assertive in representing the Tamil public opinion and swiftly preempt in initiating a clear-cut policy: the likes of S.P Thamil Selvam (LTTE Political Wing/Peace Secretariat; ‘Castro’ (LTTE International Relations); Nadesan (Tamil Eelam Police) ought to be presenting to the UN via the peace interlocutor a comprehensive peace-package. The UN is bound by moral obligation, if not any thing, to a people who are struggling for their UN recognized self-determination and therefore cannot be seen to be showing total disregard to such a move for peace.
One would have thought, the package from the De facto state would categorically state that this conflict cannot and will not be solved by adhering to the unitary constitution of Sri Lanka. That is the historical fact and the crux of the fundamental grievance of Tamil people. Alternate models of governance including a two-state solution will have to be genuinely explored as a primary building block to peace in the region within a specified time-frame. Decolonization of traditional home lands and withdrawal of state forces have to be part of the deal without any conditions. Pussy footing around the periphery of the central issue has yielded nothing but blood, sweat and tears to the wounded Tamil nation. Lest we forget, it is no hyperbolical statement to say that the Tamils have endured for over half-a-century the use of WMD: ‘weapons of mass slaughter and destruction’.
This writer would not totally exclude the opinion that peace processes are a good thing. The ones who hold such view might be right; but their explanation is not yet convincing. Such processes might include a pile of saccharine tablets and insufferable rightness. However, my contention is that these talks hardly ever translate into tangible results and change one iota in the appalling conditions in which especially the poor and the destitute masses are caught up in.
The Tamils have learnt from the suffering of the Palestinians < http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Jan06/Larsson12.htm > . Con Hallinan, a Foreign Policy Analyst (University of California) recently noted the following – Excerpt:
‘The settlements, and the network of roads and tunnels that service them, turn living in the West Bank into a nightmare. Gerald Kaufman, a member of the British Parliament who recently led a Parliamentary delegation to the West Bank, told the Guardian that there are 600 fixed checkpoints, plus hundreds of “flying checkpoints,” which “make free movement almost impossible.” He concluded that the “motivations of this policy is to make the lives of Palestinians so intolerable that they get out.” ’
‘A recent European Union (EU) report came to very similar conclusions, drawing special attention to what it called the “annexation” of East Jerusalem in “violation of international law.” ‘ ‘East Jerusalem produces more than three times the GDP per capita as the rest of the West Bank, and is what the EU report calls the “political, commercial, and infrastructural center of Palestinian life.” As chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says, “Without the economic engine of East Jerusalem as its capital, there can be no viable Palestinian state,” adding, “Without a viable Palestinian state there can be no viable peace.” ‘ [Con Hallinan, Israel & Palestine: A Way Out? – January 4, 2004]
The Tamils have designated Trincomalee [Tirukkonaimalai] as Tamil Eelam’s capital. It is indeed their historical homeland. Being a famous port city it will no doubt be an economic engine. Should there be an Eelam War IV the Tigers would be geared to reclaim the port-city. By reading the signs none would be surprised, in the event of wresting control of Trincomalee, the resurgence of the people would exert pressure on the Tamil Tigers to not hesitate to unilaterally declare the state of Tamil Eelam.
It is worth noting here the words of the late Professor Wilson, a widely-respected Political Scientist and a life-time observer of Ceylon / Sri Lanka politics:
“When partition does take place it will be based on a unilateral declaration of independence and not with the consent of India” (A. J .Wilson, The Break up of SRI LANKA, University of Honolulu Press, 1988).
The peace-interlocutors will need to take seriously into account that the ground reality suggests without a viable Tamil Eelam there can be no viable peace. According to Con Hallinan drawing from the Palestinian experience, no amount of Oslo Accords can assure peace with dignity to the Tamils. Most politically astute Tamils, knowing the Sinhala State sectarian mind-set, would therefore view the peace talks as nothing but a Pummathu [Puppet show].
Herein below we quote Hallinan:
‘According to Kapeliouk, the Palestinians were wary about Camp David because Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak refused to lay out a pre-talk proposal. But because the Palestinians were also worried that if they refused to sign on, Barak and President Bill Clinton would paint them as obstructionists, they agreed to the negotiations.’ ‘Sure enough, when the Palestinians got to Camp David they were handed an offer they could only refuse: Israeli sovereignty over the Haram al Sharif, Islam's third holiest site; continued Israeli presence in the West Bank; no sharing of Jerusalem; and no plan for the 3.1 million Palestinian refugees. To top it off, Barak insisted nothing be written down.’
‘The Palestinians countered with a proposal to give up 9% of the West Bank, agree to Israeli sovereignty over settlements in East Jerusalem, and to find a solution to the refugee issue that “would not threaten Israeli demographic and security interests.” ‘ ‘The Palestinians also wanted this in document form because they felt that by not insisting on specific language concerning the settlements they had been burned in the 1993 Oslo Accords. At the time, the Palestinians assumed Oslo meant the settlements would be frozen until a final agreement was worked out. Instead, Israel doubled the settler population and built more than 40 new ones.’
‘The U.S.-Israeli response was “take it or leave it.” Arafat said no and for most Israelis and virtually all Americans (Europeans and the rest of the world never thought the Camp David proposals were fair) the Palestinians got tagged as the bad guys’
A similar scenario is already in progress in the Tamil Eelam-Sri Lanka conflict.
The British Philosopher Ted Honderich defends the so-called Palestinian terrorism against Israel as a moral right. Honderich calls it “terrorism for humanity”; and as the ONLY effective means of freeing Palestinians from Israeli domination. Similar logic equally applies to the Tamil struggle against the Sinhala hegemony. Tamils ought to resist armed occupation by the Sinhalese and categorically refuse to be “citizens of an occupied country”.
A right to self determination is meaningless with out a remedy; without a reasonable probability of achieving its ends. The million dollar question nevertheless is whether the Oslo-inspired peace process would guarantee to the Tamils their self-determination.
Like the Palestinians the Tamils ought to be wary of any road map to peace. It could very well be a trip to nowhere – like the Yellow Brick Road. In the end, it is always the Tamil Tigers who get tagged as the bad guys; and the Tamil community apportioned the derision of being obstructionist!
Hence, this writer has a dim view of the current peace process.
We would therefore conclude that the over riding principle of self-determination to the Tamils could be rightfully exercised in the current hostile climate by strategically invoking the principle of preemption – which of course is essentially the anticipatory self-defense. Your guess is good as mine. Yes, there is of course plenty of historical precedence set by “our” wonderful wizard of OZ. There are compelling reasons to be over the rainbow!
Principally, the anticipatory self-defense should also be the Tamils’ moral right.
US gives tough warning to LTTE
Poorna Rodrigo in Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka, January 11, 2006
In the aftermath of a spate of killings in the North-East and fears of war, US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead yesterday warned the LTTE that if it chose to abandon the search for peace, the Sri Lankan military would emerge “stronger, more determined and capable”.
Addressing a luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka and attended by top business leaders, he said US military assistance to Sri Lanka would continue but was quick to add that such assistance did not mean the US feared that war might erupt.
“We want to make it clear. The LTTE will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military. We want the cost of a return to war to be high,” he said.
The strong warning came a day after President Mahinda Rajapakse met the envoys of the Tokyo donor conference co-chairs—the US, the EU, Japan and Norway—to brief them on the crisis situation and reassure that the government would act with restraint.
The ambassador said US military training and assistance programmes, including efforts to help with counter-terrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, would help to protect the people and defend Sri Lanka’s interests.
Answering a query whether he foresaw the possibility of the country being plunged back to war, the ambassador said the US hoped the peace process would hold despite the regular ceasefire violations.
“Let me make it clear. Our military assistance is not given because we anticipate or fear a return to hostilities,” Mr. Lunstead said. “We want peace. We support peace. And we will stand with the people of Sri Lanka who desire peace,” he stressed.
The ambassador praised the government’s restraint in the face of provocative attacks by the LTTE. He called upon the LTTE to take part in the development of the country but stressed the rebels must renounce terrorism “in word and deed and become responsible participants in Sri Lanka’s future”. The ambassador reiterated the US would fully support a peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict within unified Sri Lanka.
Hitting out hard at the LTTE leadership, the ambassador questioned their qualities and motives when they continued to pursue violence even when the benefits of peace were obvious”.
“What kind of leaders block their people from realising their most fundamental democratic aspirations? What kind of leaders allow their people to suffer from lack of investment and industry?” he asked.
The US envoy called upon both government and the LTTE to resume peace talks immediately but refused to comment on the dispute between the two parties regarding the venue for such talks.He called on the business community to take a “binding interest” in the peace process since peace and the economy were inevitably inter-related.
“You need to take an active role in both promoting the process and educating the country about the benefits of its success or the consequence of its failure,” he said.
V.Thangavelu, TCWA - (TAMIL CANADIANS WRITER’S ASSOCIATION)
Source: Thamil Vaddam Internet News Group, January 10, 2006 Toronto
His Excellency Jeffrey Lunstead
US Ambassador for Sri Lanka Colombo.
Your outburst against the LTTE is unwarranted, uncalled for and totally biased. You seem to be oblivious by design or through inadvertence to the ground situation in the Northeast.
You have held out a threat that “if the Tigers chose to "abandon peace," they will face a "stronger, more capable and more determined" Sri Lankan military.” No doubt this will be sweet music and will certainly embolden the racist Sinhala government! When a superpower like US drunk with power holds threat to a small nation trying to shake off the hegemonic rule of the Sinhalese we have no choice but to stomach it! US is a country that has got away with the illegal invasion of Iraq on false pretext! Little surprise iconic singer-turned-activist Harry Belafonte called American President George W Bush the 'greatest terrorist' of all time! How else he could have described with more than 50,000 Iraqis killed by the US and UK forces using smart bombs and precision bombing.
Thamil Nation is a small Nation, but a proud Nation. We are proud of our 2,500 years history, language and civilization. The language we speak is 2500 years old and our Thamil grammar treatise is 2,300 years old! When the Westerners were jumping from tree to tree the Thamils were enjoying a civilization far superior to Greeks and Romans!
I don’t want to sound xenophobic but just a reminder since you have threatened to teach us a lesson just like you are teaching the poor Iraqis!
You seem to feign ignorance of the fact that President Mahinda Rajapakse came to power promising to jettison the federal model, concept of Homeland, self-determination, expel or curtail Norway’s role as the facilitator. In other words Mahinda Rajapakse showed his back to the Oslo Declaration and put the clock 50 years back to the Bandaranaike era!
You claim “"Through our military training and assistance programs, including efforts to help with counterterrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, we are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its people and defend its interests" but Your Excellency which people you are referring to? It cannot be Thamil people since more than 1,000 families have fled from Sinhala army controlled Jaffna to LTTE controlled Vanni during the last one week!
Your Excellency either you are suffering from selected amnesia or feigning ignorance of the following killings, rape etc committed by the Sinhala occupation army since Mahinda Rajapakse came to power!
(1) The rape and murder of 19 years old Thamil girl Eliyathamby Tharshini on December 16, 2005 by Sri Lanka naval personnel at Pungudutivu which has deeply wounded the psyche of the Thamil women.
(2) The dastardly murder of Joseph Pararajasingham, M.P. on December 25, 2005 at St. Mary’s Church while attending midnight mass by Sri Lankan army intelligence and/or para-military groups.
(3) The shooting of 5 innocent Thamil students on January 02, 2006 at Trincomalee by a Special Task Force dispatched by defence advisor H.M.G.B. Kotakadeniya, a notorious racist and stalwart of the Jathika Hela Urumaya.
(4) The daily arrests, cordon and search operations, extra-judicial killings, assaults, sexual harassment and disappearances by the Sinhala army
As I said at the beginning Thamil Nation is a small Nation but a proud Nation. If a super power wants to exterminate us so be it! But our people will not die kneeling, they shall die standing! Once again Your Excellency has confirmed that US will be a better country without George Bush and without your self! This is not my view; half the American people say so!
V.Thangavelu, TCWA - (TAMIL CANADIANS WRITER’S ASSOCIATION)
Source: Thamil Vaddam Internet News Group
APPENDIX III E.S.Rajah Toronto, Canada
Source: Antanna Internet News Group
His Excellency Jeffrey Lunstead
US Ambassador for Sri Lanka
January 11, 2006
I am totally disappointed to note your Excellency's address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka Monday January 9th, 2006. Your Excellency made reference to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE), if LTTE choose to abandon the peace talk that LTTE will face "stronger, more capable and more determined"
Sri Lankan military.
His Excellency's urge on LTTE to abide the peace process but not the Sri Lankan hawkish state rulers and its armed forces shows unfair treatment towards the Tamils. By indirectly implying that you and the US government will help the Sri Lankan Military, Sri Lankan hawkish rulers and its armed forces will use the excuse to rampage on Tamils to suppress their legitimate voice in their pursuit of longstanding freedom struggle.
It look to me as if your Excellency is another casualty of the well oiled PR machines of Sri Lankan State to come up with the one sided threat to the LTTE.The recent increase of brutal killings, rapes, harassments, and assaults of Tamil civilians were carried out by Sri Lankan state armed forces with the aim of silencing Tamil people in their legitimate struggle for freedom and dignity.
Should you closely monitor the situation in Sri Lankan, the state rulers and armed forces are on rampage against Tamils in North & East and violating the CFA with impunity as they are gang raping, murdering, assaulting and harassing Tamil civilians almost every day for the last few weeks. I would like to draw your attention to few of the horrific rapes, murders, assaults, mass arrests and disappearances committed by state forces within space of last fifty days.
a) A young woman Miss.Ilayathambi Tharshini in Jaffna gang raped and murdered by Sri Lankan Navy personals on December 16,2005.
b). Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham MP, Executive member of the commonwealth Parliamentary Association and a democratic Tamil leader brutally shot and killed on December 25th 2005.
c) A sixteen year old boy was brutally murdered by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in front of his parents in Jaffna.
.d) Execution type of murders of five young Tamil students by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in Trincomalee on January 2nd, 2006.
.e) Fifty-years-old Thambu Nadesu, from Saraswathy Lane in Puthur East, was asked to come out of his house for investigation by state armed forces and was shot outside his house on Tuesday Jan.10, 2006.
.f) A Tamil school girl, was forcefully taken away by four Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers between Kondavil and Thirunelvely junctions in Jaffna on Tuesday Jan.10, 2006.
.g) Kandasamy Shanmuganathan, 31, a civilian, was shot dead by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops Sunday January 9th, 2006.
.h) Tamil Students, teachers and Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University assaulted by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in a democratic rally on the young woman's rape and murder.
.i) Tamil Parlimentarian assaulted Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in a democratic rally on the young woman's rape and murder.
.j) Sri Lankan Military troopers and the Colombo Police have arrested 920 Tamils, including 105 Tamil women, in a joint cordon and search operation in Colombo on January 1, 2006.
Tamils were forced to seek a solution, and chose to use arms as a last resort. History says occupying and oppressing alien forces have met with violent resistance from the oppressed people, because it is human nature to resist occupations with all means available, so that one can live with freedom and dignity.
America and International community should not be deceived by the well oiled PR works of the Sri Lankan State. America should not join hands with a discriminatory Sri Lankan government when hawkish rulers of Sri Lanka and its armed forces indiscriminately killings Tamil students, women, children, teachers and prominent democratically elected politician like Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham MP in a Church during the midnight mass service.
America and together with international community should stand with Tamils who have suffered for last five decades under the Sinhala hegemony rules in Sri Lanka and be on the side of Tamils in their legitimate thirst for their own freedom, sovereignty and dignity like any others in this world.
I thank you for taking time to read this and your kind attention of this matter.
E.S.Rajah Toronto, Canada
Source: Antanna Internet News Group