Friday, April 28, 2006

Other People's Lives

(First posted on Nittewa on the 22nd of August. Republished here in light of the recent warmongering statements made by Sittingnut, Sophist, Indi etc)

There's a cold war era saying about the work of the CIA which was very popular among the US military. They used to joke that the CIA's motto should be 'We bet your life'. This was because the decisions that the US Government made based on the information provided by the CIA would directly impact the lives of those serving in combat zones.

What Indi, the JVP, the PNM, the JHU and other war-mongering pseudo-intellectuals in Colombo do not realise, or do not care about, is the fact that if Sri Lanka were to return to war they would not be the ones who would pay the price.

Let us for a moment forget about the people living in the North and East, because as far as the war-mongers are concerned the protection of their lives or their rights is secondary to militarily defeating the LTTE, a bloodthirsty terrorist group. Remember when Albright said that the death of Iraqi children was the price they had to pay for defeating Saddam? Sounds pretty much the same.

Let us for a moment forget about the LTTE members who would die in a war, because as far as the war-mongers are concerned they're terrorists and anyone who throws in his lot with a terrorist group should be killed.

(I will explain why I have done this leaving out later)

Let us think only of our valient, brave, patriotic Sri Lankan Military (dare I call it the Sinhala Army?). If those who shout for war finally get what they want, then it's going to be the soldiers in the front lines who have to do the actual fighting. Indi, Wimal Weerawanse, Athuruliye Rathna and the others will sit at home watching the day's news on TV and notching the score like it was a cricket match.

"Twenty two LTTE terrorists killed in an ambush. Ten SLA soldiers also gave their lives for the motherland in this encounter"

Whao! 22 - 10. What's that come to? That's 12 up for us! Time to go out and have a drink to celebrate this victory boys! Molly's or Clancy's? Or does anyone want to do some karaoke?

That's all it is to them. Those ten soldiers who died mean nothing to them. They are merely statistics. Not real human beings. They did not have mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/wives/sons/daughters/friends/neighbours. They did not have a home. They did not have a family to feed. They did not have younger siblings or children to keep in school.

The biggest misconception among these people is that the people in the Sri Lankan military have joined it out of patriotism. These soldiers are young men from poor familes in the South who have been forced into service because of the lack of employment opportunities. A consistently failing economy (brought on by massive defense expenditure over 20 years) drives these sons of farmers to join the only sort of employment which requires nothing more than the ability to close your eyes and pull a trigger.

They do not hate the LTTE, they do not love Sri Lanka any more than the average Sri Lankan, but they have to keep their families from starving.

So they join the military and die at the hands of the LTTE or the incompetence of their own leaders so that Indi, Wimal, Athuruliye and the bunch can teach the LTTE a lesson. They will not see their siblings or loved ones die because they live in Colombo, far far away from the war. To them it is an abstract game that must be won at any cost.

I live in Colombo, far far away from the the. I am not willing to join the army. I am not willing to die to defeat the LTTE. I want to live the good life as much as any of these "patriots" do. But that takes away from me the right to gamble with other people's lives, and the right to ask them to die for me.

If I think the LTTE needs to be defeated militarily then I should be willing to do it. How can I live with the knowledge that out there young men who don't want to die, who don't have issues with the LTTE are dying because I shout my ass off online? I don't think I would be able to live with something like that running through my head. If there is a return to war, I should shout out 'not in my name'.

Indi will never join the army. Wimal Weerawanse will never have the balls to pull a trigger. The monks shouldn't be screaming for war anyway!, well at least if they understand anything about Buddhism.

These people who scream for the destruction of the LTTE have not met the women of the Mothers and Daughters of Lanka. They have not met Visaka Dharmadasa, mother of a soldier missing in action, who would easily explain to them what the war can take away from you. They have not met Margret Hewage, the mother of a PoW, who could explain to them how there are some things worse than death. They have not met the Martenstynes who could explain to them how war can leave an entire family in limbo.

They do not care about these people, they care about the politics. Much like the leaders of the USSR sacrificed millions of people to protect their politics, so do these war-mongers try to yell louder than each other that the LTTE needs to be defeated, to protect their politics. Only their lives and their politics have any value to them.

Will these people who do not attach any value to the lives of the soldiers of the Sri Lankan military give any thought to the death of innocent Tamil civilians in the Vanni or LTTE cadres?

Ultimately, they gamble with other people's lives. Because other people lives mean nothing to them.

good post. kudos.
Is your solution to say 'We abhore all violence!' and accuse others of not doing so when it is their fate and not yours involved in the matter?

You may have a cleaner conscience and a place to go tomorrow, but for many others whose lives are directly threatened by violence, resistence to violence through violence is not a choice.

But all this is academic. Question is, what do you do to people whose heads are filled with one agenda to feel like changing their ways? Where do you draw the line between pacifism and mollycoddling violence?
Good post. Well written. I never thought of going to war in those terms, though I confess in hindsight it is rather obvious. It has given me a different persepective. Thank you.

I have a question, I agree with some things that you say but you do come across as a bit naive. After all, normal conventions of war don't really apply here. My question is, do you really believe that this problem can be solved through negotiation, or are you just playing devil's advocate?
RE: My question is, do you really believe that this problem can be solved through negotiation, or are you just playing devil's advocate?

Neither, in my humble opinion.
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