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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 113

Lalin's Column: Task Forces (TFs) – ‘Extra Ordinary’ Fears of Militarization

By Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando

NGOs to the right of them, WOGs to the left of them, NGOs, WOGs, and politicians with our blood and our money on and in their hands, to the front of them, volleyed and thundered, the Task Forces … boldly they rode into the maws of the ‘extra ordinary’ fire of the ‘fundamental rights’ grapplers (Apologies to Lord Byron-Charge of the Light Brigade)

There is in SL a coterie of ‘extraordinary’ self-appointed fundamental rights (FR) grapplers. They include all in the who’s who of anti-majority strategists (Friday F, Savi, Radi, T’Rani, Paki, Bopi, Kishi, Sampi, Ali, Nirmi and 2 fugitives, one in Germany and one from Hong Kong. They were shattered when the LTTE perished in 2009. They were silent when the Easter bombings in 2019 and a robbery of the Central Bank valued at US$ 11 million took place in 2015 and 2016. Their nightmares are actually about Rajapakses.

They have now gone berserk after the Supreme Court in June 2020 threw out their objections to the President’s action in dissolving Parliament. They, with a nod to humility, believe that “those of us who still believe in democracy and the limitation of state power” (pg 6 Sunday Island 28 June 2020) are the only people who understand what FR, justice, and democracy really mean”. One even admits “most people thought that the petitioners were just being nasty”. How absolutely right they were!

This gang’s wish now is to bombard the west and alarm its lackeys in SL with predictions of a military state to come. They wish people to imagine that SL, like Prussia under Frederick the Great, may become an army that has a country, rather than the other way around. That is their life work.

The appointment of military very heavy Task Forces (TFs) to tackle SL’s ills has sent them into a spin. The TFs missions are to correct SL’s forward path so that a ‘disciplined, virtuous and lawful society’ would emerge and secondly, end the decades-old, politically nursed, rape of her archaeological sites in the East and elsewhere. So what is the objection, the task, or the taskmasters?

What actually worries them is that the TFs, dominated by men with the daunting military, considerable academic prowess, and proven competence in administration will be successful and make the government impregnable.

The COVID 19 TF’s success led by the Army Commander flattened this lot. They had hoped and prayed in early March 20, that the government (treated as the enemy) would collapse, oblivious as always to the monstrous fate that awaited the vast majority of the people. That miserable wish was revived when SL had a surge of positive virus cases recently.

While the West tumbled in Corona avalanches, SL prepared for post-Corona - to tackle a bleak, probably catastrophic, financial challenge that is global. Without waiting for western or divine intervention or the country’s potentially able but cowed bureaucracy to spark, SL had to be given a blood transfusion. Two Presidential Task Forces (TFs) were appointed. They have given SL hope and sent the FR gang spinning.

There will surely be more TFs to come. Their competency and loyalty are never in doubt. Drug runners, criminals, bent public officers, especially in the police and prisons, are being roasted. Is this what sends the coterie to man panic stations under the FR flag?

The aging FR defenders, spinning dreams of fissures between the President and the PM, bombarded the media with many an SOS for ‘Cabinet’ and PM rule. Their sudden ache for the PM is pure hypocrisy.

A female academic in 2015 headed a Yahapalana TF ‘to eliminate violence against women and children’. It had no military input and predictably had no effect. For over 60 years the universities with cowardly VCs have been an underworld of disgusting, appalling, systemic, evil, cruel and sadistic violence for new entrants, not only women. The JVP backed ISUF are the perpetrators, responsible for several deaths even after their reign of terror in 1989. The JVP and their new fugitive recruits lead the charge against ‘militarization’.

Another FR pusher on 21 June to denigrate the TFs gave details with assorted graphs of the world’s military regimes covering the last 2 centuries. He believed this would impress those he despises. He challenged them to show even one such regime that was good. Being very sly, he did not go back to earlier history to look at regimes that were essentially military and had produced the world’s greatest civilizations.

On 19 July having switched horses in midstream by joining the JVP, this opportunist exhibited bits and pieces of military history to adjust his stance. He brought Julius Caesar, Octavian (Augustus Caesar) and Napoleon into a free for all. Readers were gratuitously told Augustus did better than Caesar and both were better than Napoleon. What all this has to do with SL and the TFs is a bit obscure. He somehow connected all this confusingly with SL's President and the TFs. He also threw in Lee Kuan Yew for good measure. LKY however would have had no truck with dissidents and would have been ruthless with insurgents.

In case the SL’s drummers and organists for FR and democracy have forgotten, the world’s greatest leaders were unmatched military leaders from Alexander, Caesar, Augustus, Asoka, Saladin, Akbar, Suleiman and Shaka to Churchill, de Gaulle and Eisenhower, among others. Finally, it was Claudius (10 BC to 54 AD) who ensured that no future emperor could rule without the support of the army. Does much of it ring an SL bell? Are these trembling FR aficionados trying to sweep out coming tsunamis with brooms?

This FR lot before scattering what is left of their bountiful brains in the FR frenzy should have looked at Israel and Singapore today. Those 2 countries are smaller than SL but are amazing, world-class, and very rich. No one would deny their superlative ability to develop their countries. Their defense budgets are respectively US $ 15,582 b and US $ 10,196 b with a population of 8.8m and 5.6 m in a land area of 22,145 sq. km and 585 sq. km. No one calls them military states. (SL’s defense budget was US $ 1710 m in 2018).

They are often compared to Sparta that fascinated the ancients. All its citizens were experts in the military arts and had rigorous physical training and education regimen. True to the laws of their country 300 made the ultimate sacrifice at Thermopylae battling 15 - 20,000 Persians. That is what military men do when facing fearful odds. There’s no need to dwell on what SL’s defenders of FR and democracy would do in similar circumstances.

Like in Sparta, everyone is liable for compulsory military service in Singapore and Israel. Their leaders and all adults (less Haridis in Israel) have all had to serve in the Armed Forces. Yet no one speaks of militarization or authoritarian rule in either country. SL has a National Armed Reserve Act modeled by Israel. It has never been enforced by its UNP authors for reasons well known.

The Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong, held the rank of Brigadier in a 72,000 defense force that has one million reservists. Expected to be the Commander of the Army, he however retired after 13 years of service to take up to politics. He had served in the Artillery (like Napoleon) having followed his parents to get a first-class degree from Trinity College, Cambridge University. He also attended the US Command and General Staff College like several senior SL officers. His cabinet is replete with ex-service officers. The difference from SL is that they do not use their military ranks. It’s FR and democratic credentials are not challenged.

The Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu was a Special Forces (Sayarit Matkal) officer who joined his army after the Six-Day war (1967). He fought in the Yom Kippur war (1973). He was wounded once. (His brother Yonathan led the Entebbe (Uganda) counter hijack terrorist raid during which he died). He retired to get into politics after becoming a captain. He became the youngest Israeli PM in 1996 and the longest-serving PM after he became PM for the second time in 2009. Everyone in the cabinet as in Parliament has served in the Israeli Defence Forces and has a reserve obligation. That service is not a disqualification to lead the country, not just TFs. Israel’s democratic traditions are sound even if its treatment of the Palestinians is counterproductive.

SL’s President who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel was wounded once in action (Vadamarchchi-1987) and later survived a suicide bomb attack whilst serving as Defense Secretary, a retired Major General was wounded several times like many others and survived. Should their lifelong commitment to protecting the lawful government, even if it need to be at the cost of their lives, be questioned? Especially by those who have a pathological fear of the majority?

The trumpeter on the ills of military leaders for civilian governance has now come out in true colors as a candidate for the JVP that engaged in two insurrections and has never expressed remorse. About 60,000 were killed in less than 2 years the last time alone. That is at the rate of more than 3,000 people a month. That party’s leader was the most diabolically evil man ever to be born in SL. This hypocrite sees no contradiction in his FR posture by stating the JVP has a ‘good record’ for the last ‘30’ years. He had hoped to deceive readers as to what the JVP was before. In like manner, he limited examples of military rulers to the last 200 years to exclude the greatest leaders of all time. What an incredible humbug!

This man, pathetically ignorant of the professional and academic depth of the Armed Forces in every aspect of governance, blissfully believes the TFs will also fail as the ’vacuous’ military is “ignorant of economics” He should know that the Defense Forces budgeted expenditure in 2019 was the US $ 1710 m and in 2019 it was Rs. 306 billion of a state budget of Rs 4,376 billion. If he thinks that bookkeepers control defense force's budgets, he can pass for an idiot. It is a far cry from the US 7.90 m defense budget in the pre-Counter terrorist days that would have delighted FR freaks.

Even in the USA, military appointments include the Department of Homeland Security and US Health and Home Services. The defense secretary Dr. Mark T Esper graduated in 1964 from the USA Military Academy West Point , served in the 101 Airborne Division(1990-91), and served in the Gulf War in the infantry. It doesn’t cause waves in the most powerful democracy. Like the Singaporeans and Israelis, Esper does not use his rank while in civil service. SL’s Defence Secretary is an infantryman too and has also got a doctorate.

Great writers too like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky; poets like Sassoon, Owen, and Graves served in the military in the war. That did not diminish their great work. Classical music of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Haydn, and Mozart among others was inspired by martial deeds, fittingly.

SL must now wait for the ‘militarized’ TFs to report back to the President. They are under no illusions about the challenge’s SL face. SL should not worry much about the crusaders for past darkness, neck cutters (with blades) and head splitters (with axes) who are now FR lovers.

The contract the soldier and no one else has with the nation is that he must do his duty even at the cost of his life. SL needs such caliber of men at this time of exceptional crisis. There is no expectation of reward or gain. Nothing should debar them from doing their duty in the TFs just because they did their duty wearing the nation’s uniform.

Just a thought. The Kings of Germany and Russia were called Kaisers and Czars - after Caesar. The Kings of Lanka were called Rajas!

- Asian Tribune -
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 Lalin's Column:    Task Forces (TFs) – ‘Extra Ordinary’ Fears of Militarization
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