18th, May 1997

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Coup de grace

Operation “Jaya Sikurui” promises to deliver the coup de grace to the LTTE domination of the northern province.

With its successful completion, the Vavuniya-Jaffna line of communication, which is the umbilical cord linking the Jaffna peninsula, the foci of the Eelam militancy, to the multi-cultural mainland of the country, will be re-established after more than a decade of disruption.

Even with this battle won, the LTTE has yet to be defeated. However, the opening of the life line to the north signifies the re-union of communities.

Though this promises hope, the war itself is a long way from being won. One could win all the battles and yet lose the war. The United States’ defeat in Vietnam is the best example of this.

Wars are fought on three synergetic levels — the tactical, the operational and strategic levels. The first two involve actual combat and so concerns the armed forces. The strategic level involves the use of national power to achieve the objectives of national policy. This involves the use of political, economic, psychological and military forces in a coordinated effort to assure victory.

The opening of a land link to the peninsula is but the physical aspect of the national objective. Political, economic and psychological strategies have to follow any success on the ground. Otherwise the battle won will be a meaningless waste of human endeavour, life and money.

Wars and conflicts in their own way generate dynamics which are environmentally destructive. Fifteen and half years of conflict in the north and a JVP insurgency in that time have contributed to brutalise our society. Confrontational politics and political patronage, unbridled free market forces and the lack of national direction have further exacerbated socio-political disparities and the break-down of law and order.

Fortunately this has not yet reached anarchical proportions but it portends to do so.

Increasing armed gang violence, casino murders, politically linked thuggery, arrogance of nouveau riche and the ostentatious progenies of politicians, the wealthy and the corrupt are manifestations of a degenerating society. A new breed carrion who have skimmed profits from the war, the arms peddler and their uniformed and civilian cohorts, the arms smugglers and their patrons add to the increase in danger which threatens the security of this nation.

In this climate, the impotency of the Police by political patronage raises serious questions. This is not a recent manifestation but a malignancy for which all political parties in the country must shoulder blame.

The war in the north must be left to the armed forces and the battle for law and order be left to the Police.

As Clausewitz has warned “the first, the supreme, the most far reaching act of judgment that a statesman and commander have to make is to establish.... the kind of war on which they are embarking.”

This applies to any war. The war to preserve the sovereignty of Sri Lanka, whether it be against militants, insurgents, gang lords, hooligans and their patrons must be identified and stamped out by the forces specialised to do so without fear, favour or interference from those with parochial interests.

Unless this is done, and done now, we will be flung from the narrow threshold of sanity, onto which we now cling, into the abyss of anarchy.

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