The Lessons of Sri Lanka: Human Rights Complex Strikes Again

As I have often mentioned here, Charles Jacobs HRC predicts that if the perps in human rights violations are “people of color,” then the human rights community has nothing to say. Sri Lanka is a QED for the theory.

Michael Totten reports a conversation with Robert Kaplan about, inter alia, Sri Lanka (HT Fat Man):

MJT: So you just got back from Sri Lanka. What did you see there? What did you learn?

Kaplan: … Sri Lanka defeated, more or less completely, a 26 year-long insurgency. They killed the leader and the leader’s son. But there are no takeaway lessons for the West here. The Sri Lankan government did it by silencing the media, which meant capturing the most prominent media critic of the government and killing him painfully. And they made sure all the other journalists knew about it.

MJT: Wow.

Kaplan: There are a thousand disappearances a year in Sri Lanka separate from the war. Journalists are terrified there. The only journalism you read is pro-government. So that’s one thing they did.

The Tamil Tigers had human shields by the tens of thousands, not just by the dozens and hundreds like Al Qaeda. They put people between themselves and the government and say “you have to kill all the people to get to us.” So the government obliged them. The government killed thousands of civilians.

MJT: Tamil civilians?

Kaplan: Yes. They killed thousands of civilians in the course of winning this war. It acted in a way so brutal that there are no lessons for the West.

MJT: Would you say it was as brutal as Russia’s counterinsurgency in Chechnya?

Kaplan: Yes. It was. The U.N. is investigating whether as many as 20,000 civilians have been killed during the last few months.

* * *

MJT: Sri Lanka has been fighting this counterinsurgency for decades. Have they slowly made progress all this time and have now finally finished it off, or was there a tipping point recently where a seemingly endless conflict just ended almost suddenly?

Kaplan: The Sri Lankan government was elected in 2005 to win the war. And it has done that. Extremely brutally. It’s a government that’s very nationalist Sinhalese Buddhist. These are not the Richard Gere’s “peace and love” Buddhists. These are the real blood and soil Buddhists, where Buddhism is like any other religion when it’s threatened and it’s defending a piece of territory. It can be very brutal.

It was elected to win the war, which it interpreted from the voters as a right to silence the media and to fight without any restrictions.

MJT: It does work, though, doesn’t it?

Kaplan: It does work, yeah.

MJT: Not that we should do it, of course.

* * *

MJT: So there are no lessons at all? Nothing for the U.S., Israel, or Pakistan?

Kaplan: No.

MJT: Only moral lessons, perhaps. Yes, this works, but it would take an awful lot to get us to fight that way again.

I think there are many lessons to be learned. Kaplan’s simplistic answer is just intended to say, “we can’t do what they did.” Granted. But we still have to fight vicious enemies who turn their own civilians into human shields, and we have to find solutions.

In the meantime, we can certainly learn about the hypocrisy and viciousness of the alleged “human rights community,” especially the UN. While Israel reels from lawfare because of an operation in which hundreds of civilians were killed going after an equally vicious enemy, Sri Lankan’s celebrate in the street and the MSNM gives them something of a pass.

As for the UNHRC, they fulfill Jacobs’ expectations spectacularly.

The response of the UN?

China, Cuba, Egypt and 26 others on the 47-member council voted in favor of a resolution that described the conflict as a “domestic” matter that did not warrant outside interference. The council also supported the Sri Lankan government’s decision to provide aid groups only with “access as may be appropriate” to refugee camps.

Twelve mostly European countries opposed the resolution after failing to get support for a resolution that criticized both sides.

And with all this lack of interest, it looks like the 200,000 refugees may never go home.

Surely there’s much to be learned from all this, no?

18 Responses to The Lessons of Sri Lanka: Human Rights Complex Strikes Again

  1. Tom says:

    So ? The left’s control over newspapers comes from intimidation. So how do you intend to break it, except with intimidation of your own ?

    Once one side draws a gun, the other side has no choice, but to retaliate with bigger force, or die.

  2. E.G. says:

    See: “And the World is Lying – The Plight of the Refugees”, and “War Crimes – the lie that Israel is committing war crimes” in particular, here:
    http://www.mideasttruth.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=26

    And “WAR AND PROPAGANDA CRIMES” here:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dgpc4hc9_99qwsq9csd

  3. oao says:

    Once one side draws a gun, the other side has no choice, but to retaliate with bigger force, or die.

    oh, but the other side does have a choice: try to appease the side with the gun to please not shoot. and it continues to do so even after aeveral shots.

    often it does even provide more guns.

  4. [...] Augean Stables This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 and is filed under News & Analysis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. « N. Ram Rajapaksa’s laundryman ? [...]

  5. oao says:

    must read:

    The Real Quagmire in the Middle East
    http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/07/the-real-quagmi.php

    generally right, but there are several flaws.

  6. Lorenz Gude says:

    “Yes, this works, but it would take an awful lot to get us to fight that way again.”

    I too would grant that trying to deal with asymmetrical war more inventively and intelligently is the moral thing to do. All praise to the improvements in Iraq brought by Gen Petraeus and the IDF between the 2006 conflict and Cast Lead. But states have a responsibility to maintain order. After 23 years of negotiations and even allowing Indian peacekeeprs into Sri Lanka decisively finishing the Tamil Tigers was the right thing to do. Fanaticism only goes so far before balance is restored.

  7. oao says:

    After 23 years of negotiations and even allowing Indian peacekeeprs into Sri Lanka decisively finishing the Tamil Tigers was the right thing to do. Fanaticism only goes so far before balance is restored.

    there is no moral position that requires one to bleed to death or commit suicide. what it does require is to try everything possible to minimize innocent death and suffering, but at some point you gotta survive.

    the arab-israeli conflict is WAY past that point.

  8. Cynic says:

    oao,

    Just read your link to MJT:

    But he managed, with some difficultly, when he worked as an IDF prison guard at Ketziot during the first intifada to kindle a rocky but enduring friendship with his prisoner Rafiq Hijazi.

    That is pure Hope&Change logic. Rocky but enduring until when? Rafiq returns home?

    Goldberg: I think there’s a great opportunity right now for a Sunni-Jewish convergence. The Sunni Arab states and Israel have, for the first time, a common adversary. There’s some promise in that. If the Israelis are smart, they’ll exploit Arab fears of Iran. And if the Arabs are smart, they’ll exploit Israeli fears of Iran. The common fear of Iran might produce some more flexibility on both sides, even flexibility on the part of Saudi Arabia.

    Great opportunity? Based on might produce
    and some promise?

    And when the Israelis and the Arabs have exploited each other to a successful conclusion, then what?
    Just chuck Islam out the door?

    produce some more flexibility on both sides, even flexibility on the part of Saudi Arabia.

    Why does Goldberg not enumerate the things Israel must do to show more flexibility and why does he not explain to us what the Saudis are likely to be flexible on? Certainly not on Islamic dictates.

    The Arab Muslim Middle East has 300 million people. It has a very hard time treating Coptic Christians with equality, treating Maronites in Lebanon with equality, treating Southern Sudanese in an equal way, treating Kurds in an equal way, and dealing with Jews – not only in their national expression, but even as minorities within their own countries.

    And black Muslims in Saudi Arabia? Pity Goldberg didn’t journey to Jedda.

    Fitzgerald: Arab racism and black Muslims

    Assessment for Darfur Black Muslims in Sudan

    The trouble with Black Muslims

    First of all, I came from a country where there are Muslims. Those who have Arabic features assume superior position over those who are black. In many instances, the black Muslims are totally disregarded, treated as inconsequential.

  9. Cynic says:

    Carry on reading the article and come across this:

    MJT: You wrote during the Gaza war that Operation Cast Lead would probably work, but that nothing in the Middle East seems to work for very long. Why do you suppose that is? It seems to be true, but I’m not exactly sure why.

    Because the West continues to bail out the Arabs. They won’t let them suffer reality but stimulate all that H&C which clouds things for the next outburst, all to the disadvantage of Israelis and Arabs.

  10. oao says:

    Just read your link to MJT:

    it gives you valuable information to witness that if even an israeli westerner like goldberg, with his background, persists with hope/change, what is the change that the average westerner, ignorant and stupid as the education system leaves him, would comprehend what’s going on here?

    one of the best chroniclers of the arab-israeli conflict is efraim karsh. i’m reading a long piece of his in hebrew about oslo — a must read. arafat was crystal clear about oslo being a tactic to destroy israel in both word and deed, yes the world has ignored it to this day. in particular it was known to the israeli left responsible for oslo. yet they continued with the charade and conscessions — the “trojan horse” policy.

    this tells how how how hard it is for people to accept harsh reality and how they prefer, as ray tells us, to believe what feels good. the problem is that you ignore reality at your peril. no matter how good it makes you feel, it will at some point explode in your face.

    Because the West continues to bail out the Arabs. They won’t let them suffer reality but stimulate all that H&C which clouds things for the next outburst, all to the disadvantage of Israelis and Arabs.

    that’s what i have been claiming persistently here. but even though his reason tells him that, he still clings to hope and change. which tells you how strong the denial is. this is a case to which ray’s theory applies.

  11. oao says:

    i mean, how can a westerner comprehend this?

    PMW: Suicide bomber’s children shown re-enactment of mother’s death on Hamas TV kids’ show
    http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2009/07/pmw-suicide-bombers-children-shown-re-en/index.shtml

    and accept it within a hope and change framework?

    it MUST be ignored.

  12. oao says:

    must read:

    Alexander Maistrovoy: A Pinnacle of Self-Destruction
    http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2009/07/alexander-maistrovoy-a-pinnacle-of-self-/index.shtml

    geez, now where did i hear this before?

  13. oao says:

    and here’s the evidence to goldberg’s admission coupled with the lack of comprehension:

    Savages: Hamas Broadcasts Cartoon Mocking Shalit, Obama Pours Millions More Into Hamas Coffers
    http://www.mererhetoric.com/archives/11275707.html

  14. oao says:

    Top Obama aide invites head of terrorist-linked org to join administration task force
    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0709/emerson070909.php3

  15. Rich Rostrom says:

    MJT: Would you say it was as brutal as Russia’s counterinsurgency in Chechnya?

    Kaplan: Yes. It was. The U.N. is investigating whether as many as 20,000 civilians have been killed during the last few months.

    Kaplan is unfair to Sri Lanka. The Russians killed far more than 20,000 people in Chechnya – at least ten times more, and possibly fifty times more.

    The Sri Lankan army may be charged with causing the deaths of human shields while attacking LTTE forces.

    The Russian army used its much greater firepower with complete indiscriminacy. Furthermore, there is much evidence of Russian troops in Chechnya engaging in rape, looting, and extortion.

  16. [...] forget calling for an independent UN inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka. In defending his organization to Goldberg, Roth later commented: We report on Israel. Its [...]

  17. oao says:

    The Russian army used its much greater firepower with complete indiscriminacy. Furthermore, there is much evidence of Russian troops in Chechnya engaging in rape, looting, and extortion.

    i very much doubt kaplan has deep knowledge of either. these are superficial people whose audience is even more ignorant than they are.

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