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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2004

Lalin’s Column: Victory in War- SF gets it right finally

By Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando

FM SF has got it dead right when in an interview with the DM (he has had many ever since Gen Kamal Guneratne published his book ‘Road to Nandikadal’) he said”Victory has many sons so they say. No one can write books fabricating lies about the war”. He has wanted the Army to take action on Gen Guneratne, who retired before his book was published, for what he has written.

He further said that 20 Formation Commanders of the Army and he were going to write about the war too. Will those 20 commanders be put off by SF’s threats on Gen Guneratne? Let’s hope there won’t be ‘fabricated lies’ or plain ones in them. Admiral Karanagoda former Commander of the SL Navy too has written his memoires “Adhishtanaya” (Defeat of the LTTE: Role of the Navy) but SF has not commented on it.

Now SF’s quotation is not what Tacitus Agricola said or meant. Nor is it what Mussolini’s son in law Count Ciano said: “Victory had many fathers. No one wants to recognize failure”. Neither is it what John Kennedy said after his disastrous Bay of Pigs, Cuba invasion:”Victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan”. These are commonly known. SF’s is an unfathomed gem.

“This is an unfair thing to say about war. Victory is claimed by all. Failure to one” (Tacitus Agricola 98 AD)

At long last SF has recognized what the people know; that it is the ‘sons’ that brought victory in 2009. It was not even the grandmother who claimed 75% of it in 2016 after deciding to concede the Jaffna peninsular to the LTTE in 1996.She had accepted the recommendation of her two Generals in command in Jaffna. Fortunately for SL, her panic stricken, ill advised acquiescence to her jittery Generals was reversed by the steadfastness of the troops (sons) and intervention of more astute and bold men.

So from now on SL should not see unseemly squabbles about who won the war. As SF says it was the ‘sons’ .These must be the 23,000 officers and troops who died, three times that number who were wounded like him and the about 400,000 who fought in the tri forces over 30 years of deadly conflict. They, faithful to their comrades, regiment, ship, base and country, obeyed orders military and civilian without question. It sent so many of them to death. Finally they overcame the terrorist foe that some until 2006 thought invincible.

As for”writing books and fabricating lies” let’s leave it to the readers to decide and for history to record. 100,000 sons and daughters of SL paid with their lives for a war started by President JRJ when he declared ‘war on the Tamils’ and not just the terrorists in 1977.He then lost total control of SL in 1983 for one shocking and horrible week. There after the so called ‘international community’ (IC), (actually only the West of 195 countries in the world - less Taiwan), declared SL a pariah. The same IC is being assiduously cultivated today by the very people who were with JRJ then, but kept quiet thereafter.

Some political leaders succumbed to their fears and appeased the terrorists. Thousands were killed during four phoney peace talks and yet the politicians persisted. They too should contribute to SF’s search for the truth. Some wrote that their ‘Bellies’ were white and heaped gifts, compliments and concessions on to the terrorists. The true colour of all the ‘bellies’ involved will surface as more books are written.

Let SF’s quest for truth be fulfilled. Like Gen Kamal Guneratne’s 'Road to Nandikadal' (15,000 books were sold in one week) it will have a cathartic effect on SL’s search for the truth that led to 100,000 deaths. Those responsible will not be able to hide, dodge, evade or escape.

Lincoln was credited with winning the American Civil War that had over 600,000 dead in nearly 3 years. Few outside the USA even if they remember his great Generals like Grant and Sherman (‘I will make Georgia howl’) would ever think otherwise. In France it was Prime Minister Clemenceau, the ‘Tiger’ that is credited with leading France to victory in WW1 not Marshal Foch the greatest French General after Napoleon or Petain. In UK it was Churchill, not his Chief of Staff Alanbrooke and Generals like Montgomery and Alexander, (all FMs) who is credited with GB’s victory in WW2. In the USA it is Roosevelt, not Eisenhower or McArthur, who is credited with leading them to victory in WW2. It was Stalin not Marshals Zhukov or Konev that led Russia to victory in WW2. It was Ben Gurion, not his Generals, who is credited for leading Israel to victory in war.

One thing is clear. If SL had lost, it is the C in C in the hot seat who would have been the ‘one’, the ‘orphan’, not anyone else.

“This is an unfair thing to say about war. Victory is claimed by all. Failure to one” (Tacitus Agricola 98 AD)

SF and his brilliant young Commanders can rest assured that the victory that SL won in May 2009 ranks as much a decisive victory in war as that of the Allies over Germany in WW2, although clearly not on the same scale . Objectives were achieved completely at all levels. It was a definite success. Peace and conciliation followed. Wars fought since from Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan have not ended in complete peace. When Bush declared victory over Iraq on board a USN aircraft carrier (1991) the US had only about 150 KIA. It rose to over 4,500 thereafter and still counting. Falklands has not been given up by Argentina. Even Vietnam, after defeating the USA in the 1970S, went to war against Cambodia.

- Asian Tribune -

Lalin’s Column:   Victory in War- SF gets it right finally
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