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July 03, 2009

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

Michael Totten interviews Robert Kaplan on, amongst other things, how not to conduct a counter-insurgency against suicide bombing fanatics.

Unless you are planning to end the war, obviously. Best carry on with hacky sack and concerts for Darfur/Tibet/Rwanda/etc/etc as this sort of soft power has prevented so much needless suffering and injustice.

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.

It was Red China wot won it, btw, and this may be the enduring lesson for the West, a civilization with its head up its collective ass and increasingly unwilling to lift a finger to defend itself.

Medium term thinking suggests it is time to teach your children Mandarin. And to get used to ceding the right of way on the sidewalk.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 3, 2009 08:47 AM