August 15, 2005

Terrorism Bush Doesn't Care About

Imagine if a terror group whose tactics had inspired Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaida managed to assassinate a prominent Saudi minister. Imagine Bush virtually ignoring it.

Of course, the only imaginary part is that this happened in Saudi Arabia. The Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers are the most likely suspects in the killing of Sri Lanka's foreign minister this past Saturday. Though the Tigers have denied responsibility for the assassination, their denial hasn't generally been considered credible. Emphasis mine:

Sri Lankans cremated their assassinated foreign minister Monday as the government urged the international community to clamp down on overseas supporters of Tamil rebels amid fears the killing could scuttle a three-year-old cease-fire.

... The rebels were among the first modern groups to use suicide bombings, and their movement remains on terrorist lists in five countries, including the United States and Britain.

The Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for the island's Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. The war killed nearly 65,000 people in this country of 19 million before the 2002 cease-fire. ...

The Tamil Tigers inspired terrorists around the world to use suicide bombings, demonstrating the effectiveness of a small and persistent resistance. While the rest of the world has been strenuously not caring, the Tigers have set up an autonomous parallel government within the ethnic Tamil region of Sri Lanka that considered the Sri Lankan foreign minister an enemy of the state:

... Kadirgamar had been instrumental in getting the Tigers outlawed as a terrorist organisation by the US and Britain and had known he was a target for a long time. He was protected by more than a hundred soldiers all the time.

Television newsreaders wore white, the traditional colour of mourning. But many in his own Tamil community called Kadirgamar a traitor.

... Relief operations for the tsunami last December brought the autonomous administration established by the Tigers in much of the north east of the country to international attention.

The rebels control a large area, running a parallel administration with an army, navy and even traffic police.

When the official slogan of US foreign policy was "better dead than red," the US government went out of their way to drag down any remotely leftist government so they couldn't set an example for others. While they were busy with this, they supported terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Central and South America. They stood by as it took root in Sri Lanka.

Islamic terrorists might be listening to bin Laden, but terrorists of all stripes around the world are probably watching the Tamil Tigers right now and planning for a day when they can reach their level of success. Maoist rebels in Nepal and Maoist and Islamic rebels in India must be particularly pleased by this turn of events, as the US sends the message that if terrorism happens in an Asian country with no oil, they can't be bothered to give a damn.

Oh yeah, that's right ... The US is too busy in a swamp of its own making to offer help to countries that might like to have some. Really, I think this is one of the worst things about the Iraq war (and what a long menu of choices that is,) that there are numerous countries whose governments would probably have jumped at the chance to have some help policing their country to prevent the kind of regular terrorist attacks that they face on a weekly or daily basis. The United States had an opportunity after 9-11 to park in Afghanistan and rebuild it while offering targeted assistance where it was desired, and we even would have had enough troops to do it. America could have displayed a new empathy with the rest of the world's problems and taken an opportunity to increase global stability. Too bad, for all of us, that Bush made such a bad choice.

The cavalry isn't coming anymore, it's otherwise occupied.

Posted by natasha at August 15, 2005 01:52 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

How would we solve the problems in Sri Lanka? From what I can tell, that country is basically a competitive democracy, with two large electoral alliances, with frequent changes of power when national elections are held. However, the Tamil minority are fairly adamant about having their own homeland, and most don't want to be part of a majority Sinhalese nation.

I think one of the big issues in either a political or a military solution is how much people hate each other. If they hate each other too much, a peaceful solution simply isn't possible.

There are a lot of people in both Iraq and Afghanistan that hate the USA and everything we stand for. We could be having the same kind of problems in Afghanistan if we had tried to remake that country in the same way we are trying to do in Iraq.

As for Sri Lanka, it is a lot better just to stay out of there. No reason to get entangled with a bunch of folks we don't know much about and who don't seem to have any quarrel with us. The Tamils and Sinhalese don't seem to get along with each other, but neither group seems to hate us very much at all. Nor does either group seem to pose any threat to us.

Posted by: Richard Pope at August 15, 2005 09:58 PM

My point wasn't that we should invade Sri Lanka by any means. It was that if we're really having a global war on terror, then we should either live up to that or redefine it as a global war on terrorists we find find bothersome to our interests.

Further, if the government of Sri Lanka or any other country were to come to us right now and ask for help in fighting terrorism in their country, we would have to say no. We no longer even have the credibility to act as a neutral mediator to try and work out an equitable agreement without the use of armed conflict, which I'd especially like to point out because guns aren't the only way to solve problems.

There are a lot of serious problems in the world, many dangerous conflicts and innocent lives in danger. Right now, we can't help them at all and that's just a damn shame.

Posted by: natasha at August 16, 2005 05:31 PM