By Shenali Waduge
There is just one word that describes why the West refuses to acknowledge Sri Lanka’s successful elimination of globally banned terrorist movement the LTTE – it is because of their Jealousy. This explains why Sri Lanka received very few bouquets and why the force of that envy produced the demand that Sri Lanka showcase its plan for post-conflict. Taking up that challenge through an indigenously designed 5R program, Sri Lanka’s post-conflict success signals the need to be prepared for another diplomatic attack or at best a UN confrontation and we expect that to be drawn up by the office of the UN Human Rights Chief.
The problem of envy has resulted from the success that a national army has shown against the odds when increasingly we are seeing a trend towards awarding private security contractors to handle offshore wars and conflicts. With the failure of one’s countrymen on foreign soil despite the need to secure or safeguard their foreign assets the “interventions” of nations has been through private companies as well as private security contractors. The success of Sri Lanka’s national army in spheres outside of their core activity is posing a major threat highlighted clearly by the comparisons of the two.
In Iraq following the US illegal invasion there are over 60 private security firms operating. Their crimes and violence continue unabated and those who are arrested go through a farcical trial and are either reposted or given trivial sentences.
On a daily basis the killings of civilians in Iraq are committed not only by US troops, much of the violence has been committed by Blackwater, a security firm with over 1000 staff in Iraq. It was in December 2006 that one such Blackwater employee shot and killed the Iraqi Vice Presidents bodyguard but two months later he was posted to Kuwait and there is word that Iraqi Government officials were bribed $1m for their silence when Blackwater staff shot and killed 17 civilians most of whom were civilians and children.
Private security with patronage of Governments have had no shortage of accusations which range from indiscriminate shooting upon civilians to even using child prostitutes in its office compounds for just $1.
In just over a decade Blackwater founded by Erik Prince a former Navy SEAL in 1998 has expanded to become a key US Government contractor.
It is responsible for protecting US diplomatic staff and their offices using small black helicopters and armed vehicles. So much so that in 2006 US classified it as part of the US Defense Departments “Total Force” – it is above all laws/US included. Blackwater’s first US Government contract came after 9/11 earning $736,906 – today it earns over $1billion from the US Government. Salaries of its staff are said to be as high $1000 per day.
Blackwater is certainly a force to reckon with and operates in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan while involved in training in many other countries. Blackwater became involved in the US for the first time when it was called to guard and police New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Blackwater subsidiaries Presidential Airways has a $34.8m contract to transport troops and supplies to Afghanistan while Greystone Limited offers “proactive engagement teams” as well as “defensive and offensive small group operations”. Another subsidiary – Jellyfish Intelligence provides corporate spying services for Fortune 500 companies.
Blackwater is known by several names/alias Xe and Academi LLC and its rebranded name of United States Training Center.
We are well aware that it is these private security firms that are functioning as paid mercenaries in all of the nations that US/West targets. It was the British Government that suggested to use these firms in Libya to bolster the revolutionary forces. It is no surprise when many believe that firms like Blackwater stationed in foreign countries are likely to be responsible for most of the bombings blaming them on terrorist groups so that they can engage in these countries diplomatically. One such case has been the accusation that CIA and Blackwater were responsible for the market bombing in Pakistan that killed over 100 Pakistani civilians but the blame was put on the Pakistan Taliban.
The very countries that have been quoting “human rights” and “democracy” are using these mercenary forces and watching them kill thousands of civilians, using unmanned drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Blackwater has also been engaged in Somalia against the Somali pirates.
There is a growing tendency world over to use these private security firms and the list of current clients include monarchs, governments, Monsanto, Walt Disney, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Chevron and even the Vatican and the likelihood of them taking over national armies is nothing to be surprised over when the future wars may likely to be to secure natural resources like even water!
Set against the obvious tarnished record of these private security firms who have been outsourced their roles by Western Governments we need to compare the success of a national army remotivated to wipe out terrorism that was likely to be used in a future scenario to upstage Asian nations.
To understand the nature of the achievement by Sri Lanka’s armed forces in crushing LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka, it is essential to know the type of terrorist movement the LTTE was. Unlike any other terrorist movement it was able to dislodge terror from air, sea and land. Its killings was not limited to Sinhalese, LTTE managed to wipe out all the learned moderate Tamil politicians, academics, scholars, artists, public servants and even clergy. Its operations were global with contract killing and training of foreign terrorists as well as running illegal narcotics, human smuggling, illegal arms, credit card scams and misusing foreign state social systems through the LTTE diaspora. The world watched doing nothing much except ban LTTE inspite enough of evidence of its recruitment of children as child combatants.
To eliminate this terror outfit is no small task. Where nations that have been illegally invaded on different excuses to liberate and bring freedom and democracy using not only national armies but private militaries have failed to bring law and order to these nations despite being on the ground over 10 years after the demise of their tyrant rulers, Sri Lanka’s success is naturally something to envy. Let us not forget that these developed Governments have done thing in decades to rehabilitate let a lone resettle a single civilian out of millions that are internally displaced or living as refugees in adjoining nations. We are talking about millions of civilians that the West is ignoring for decades!
Whatever the critics say promoting the argument that Sri Lanka’s armed forces committed genocide they cannot explain why they would spare close to 300,000 Tamil civilians sacrificing their own men to rescue these Tamil civilians. This certainly nullifies their lies. Sri Lanka is just a few inches from declaring areas free of mines (nearly 470,000 anti-personnel mines, 1,400 anti-tank mines and more than 388,000 unexploded improvised explosive devices have been recovered), it has resettled all but a handful of civilians and designed an indigenous rehabilitation program for former LTTE cadres to reintegrate them into society. There is no such programs that the forces that invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Haiti or Libya have designed and these people remain of an insecure future. Let it not be forgotten that while LTTE prevailed for 30 years the Government did not shirk from its duties to take care of its citizens in the north and continuously provided healthcare, education and utilities despite great risk to the lives of its officials. Much of the ground realities were kept hidden by foreign organizations operating in these terrorist controlled areas and one can only wonder why they would refuse to even provide some measure of input about the LTTE to a sovereign government at least for the sake of children that the LTTE for kidnapping. Whereas Sri Lanka’s armed forces have successfully run close to 11,000 ex-LTTE combatants and reintegrated them into society and all child combatants have been given a presidential pardon. Most of the de-radicalized former combatants are now either working in the civil defense force or involved in farming and development activities.
While nations where foreign armies and private militaries prevail Sri Lanka’s armed forces find themselves involved in civilian activities with a growing appreciation for the armed forces by the very people who were brainwashed to hate them. Why is it difficult to appreciate when the LTTE despite earning USD300m annually did pittance except procure arms and build sophisticated bunkers, Sri Lanka’s military is visibly seen repairing roads, railways and other infrastructure that the LTTE destroyed over 30 years, Sri Lanka’s military has even repaired Kovils and even built new ones something LTTE never cared to even think of.
Whilst people of the nations that continue to suffer foreign military presence wonder what their fate is likely to be the people of the northern and eastern areas are now enjoying freedom. They are able to travel freely without fear of bombs, fear of shooting and free to do what they like. People now travel north to south and south to north on a daily basis – there are no “LTTE immigration checkpoints” where people have to pay taxes either in cash / gold/sometimes even property! It is not the people of the north that complain of the presence of military but people living overseas and their cohorts living in Colombo! Why would the people cry foul over the military presence when the blood that they receive for their medical survival is supplied by Sri Lanka’s military. It is our awareness that amidst the diplomatic niceties of attempts for regime change is what promotes the calls such as “militarization” of the north. A good study of how regime change takes place will clearly depict these trends.
Sri Lanka’s military has expanded from its core areas. It is today a very professional force. Its training is not confined to military roles only. Its officers are continuing their education and training and with the discipline they achieve they can give the public sector a run for their money.
When forces of the developed world now deployed in the nations that they have militarily invaded or carry out limited military intervention have done little to secure our faith that they invaded out of concern for the people and not greed for the natural resources, Sri Lanka’s military has shown how a national army can do wonders.
As a national army it is fully aware of the terrain, it is closely debriefed on the situations and its intelligence services operate cohesively though with the continued foreign intelligence presence which we are well aware of we do not underestimate the agendas they are likely to carry out. Obviously they are all testing the waters to see what agenda is likely to work when required. It is upto us to all the while be alert.
It is the element of leadership skills and discipline that the armed forces feel proud of that prompted the inclusion of such training to bring about some dignity to the unruliness of the graduates who are under influence of foreign funded trade unions and political operators. Young people must understand the economic conditions that they come from and as young graduates before teaching the world any lessons it is they who must learn and improve their talents and skills.
There is nothing to be shocked about Sri Lanka’s armed forces being involved in civil activity. The Sri Lanka Army General Service Corps is a unit that was created in 1951 to provide logistics to regular and volunteer units by performing administrative, legal, agricultural projects, farming, education etc. Thus there are many military personnel who are legal officers, accountants, data processing officers of different ranks.
What is wrong for a developing country to utilize the services of its armed forces for additional roles like agriculture, livestock, farming, construction, education, training etc?
We cannot help that foreign Governments are envious of our armed forces and their achievement. It is something we are proud of and we are not ready to accept the fabrications that are being cooked up simply to embarrass them when it is clear that the national armies of these very foreign governments alongside the private militaries that they have hired in the countries that they have invaded have done nothing to really be proud of and it is a sad fate that the families of soldiers who return in coffins do not know the truth of why their sons/daughters were sent to these foreign nations at the cost borne by the taxpayers.
The views expressed are the author’s own.