Prof. J. Jinadasa, writing in the Sunday Times of December 13, had a piece of advice for those who insist that military generals lacking political experience cannot be good statesmen. The professor suggests that we read our world history, and the stories of two great military men who later became great statesmen –George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
George Washington, the founding President of the United States of America, was, in today’s jargon of political science, a rebel leader who rebelled against his King /Queen of Britain, the homeland of his immediate ancestors.
With years of experience in the regular British army, subsequently in the capacity of rebel leader, against whom there was little resistance compared with what it would have been like in present-day circumstances, Washington made a good president, mainly because he had no vested interests. He had not even bought houses in London. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander of the US forces in Europe during World War II, performed under Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander of the Allied ground forces that finally helped defeat Hitler’s axis of evil.
What is perhaps more important here is that neither Eisenhower nor Montgomery ever tried in their wildest dreams to claim that they, and they alone, gave sole leadership to the war effort. In fact, Montgomery, although a field marshal, was only Commander of the Allied Ground Forces, meaning that accountability as well as responsibility for war success was shared with the Air and Naval wings.
Let this be an eye-opener to all Sri Lankans aspiring to be Presidents or planning to cast their votes for a prospective President.