Military Solutions and Final Solutions

10 January 2007

There is no military solution to the ethnic problem. Military solutions are for military problems. An ethnic problem requires an ethnic solution. Sinhalese extremists turned a political problem into an ethnic problem. The LTTE turned the ethnic problem into a military problem. Now we have both. The ethnic problem is the existence of a Sinhalese majority and a Tamil minority in a single country and that they don’t seem to get along. The military problem is the existence of an illegal armed group using terrorist tactics under the aegis of fighting for minority rights. We need to solve both these problems.

The fact that most Sri Lankans are unaware of the greater political backdrop their country resides in, and that they’re unaware of the lessons of history, is evident from their acceptance of the term “Final Solution” — the notorious phrase used by the Nazis to mean the extermination of the Jews. Most educated westerners would run screaming if they were to hear the term “Final Solution” in connection to any ethnic issue. Yet it is the same phrase some Sri Lankan leaders are using to describe the mysterious silver bullet that is going to solve the ethnic problem once and for all.

What the solution is to the ethnic problem is not yet clear. But as for the military problem the solution is the disarmament of the LTTE, either voluntarily or by military engagement or by a combination of both. The rationalization of this solution comes from the principle of Uniform Application of the Law. An acquaintance of mine summed it up this way: “If you kill one person, you get to go to jail. If you kill a thousand, you get to go for peace talks”. But on the other hand, it is a fundamental right of a citizen to take up arms if his government fails in its obligation to protect him. This is why the ethnic solution is also necessary. So long as the government of Sri Lanka is failing in this duty, a disarmament of the LTTE will be a unilateral solution many will not accept.