The “Sri Lanka Option”


On the trip to Cambodia I finally had some time to read Jon Lee Anderson’s excellent New Yorker Article on the counter-insurgency in Sri Lanka. Because the piece isn’t available online (except for this Scribd posting which I don’t expect will stay online for long), I thought it worthwhile to share some quotes:

The Sri Lanka option”:

In military circles around the world, the Sri Lanka option” for counter-insurgency was discussed with admiration. Its basic tenets were: deny access to the media, the United Nations, and human-rights groups; isolate your opponents, and kill them as quickly as possible; and segregate and terrify the survivors—or, ideally, leave no witnesses at all.

It ain’t over till it’s over…

From the military’s perspective, the war continued. The L.T.T.E. inculcation of the youth—this is a big problem for us,” he said. The Army needed to maintain a presence in the north to insure that Tamil radicalism never started again. To gather intelligence, another senior officer told me, it had infiltrated the Tamil population and installed electronic surveillance systems.

China is probably our biggest single investor.”

In the not too distant future, Sri Lanka may be seen as an early skirmish in a new Great Game” of influence between China and the United States and their proxies. Sri Lanka has read the situation and seen that the West’s influence is diminishing,” Harim Peiris, a Sri Lankan political analyst, said. So this government has made some strange friends: Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, Russia, and Japan. China is probably our biggest single investor. These are softies’—soft loans without pressure.

When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

Murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty,” he wrote. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

If you can find a copy, it really is worth reading the whole thing…