Winning the War: Evaluating the Impact of API WENUWEN API

Michael Roberts

During the course of my regular visits to Sri Lanka in the 2000s for familial and research purposes I happened to see a television programme that focused on the armed services of Sri Lanka in a captivating manner so as to encourage recruitment. That short burst of pictures and text surprised me. “Api Wenuwen Api” (“We for Us”) was a far cry from the wooden and prosaic campaigns associated with government departments. It was slick, catchy and motivating.

I have since discovered that it was initiated in 2007 and designed by a professional advertising agency located in Colombo: namely, TRIAD ADVERTISING. Their own resume of the programme Api Wenuwen Api is now featured as an independent posting in thuppahi.i

  66-THOPPIGALA 22-md 33 Commando units mark the capture of the LTTE’s mani stronghold at Thoppigala in the eastern Province in August 2007

K 131a -- old 71a-MR==Fony-May 2010 President Rajapaksa and General Sarath Fonseka mark the victory in May  2009  with a symbolic handshake

Api Wenuwen Api is now known to have contributed to the continuing enlistment of volunteers to the Sri Lankan Army, Navy and Air Force in the late 2000s. An official letter of thanks from the Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, speaks of its “phenomenal success,” while explicitly refusing to specify statistics.ii However, figures from elsewhere indicate that the SL Army recruited as many as 36,021 and 33,457 personnel in 2007 and 2008 respectively (De Silva-Ranasinghe, “Good Education,” 2009g: 5). As the phrase highlighted in red indicates, in my conjecture many factors contributed to this tale of mobilisation and it may be erroneous to attribute a revolutionary impact to Api Wenuwen Api. Continue reading

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Ball-by-Ball through Wikileaks: US Embassy Despatches from Colombo, 2009: ONE

Ball-by-Ball through Wikileaks: US Embassy Despatches from Colombo, 2009: ONE

The issues associated with Eelam War IV and its last stages have drawn a huge array of reports, books, essays, video presentations and commentary. For a single mind to secure mastery of the material is a gargantuan task, well-nigh impossible in fact. Though I have essayed commentary on the topic from early 2009,[1] I meet new facts and useful new contentions on a regular basis.[2]

Recently, this problem has been exacerbated. An old treasure trove has reached me through the good offices of Citizen Silva.[3] This is the result of the espionage work of Julian Assange and those associated with WIKILEAKS: they have disclosed the whole range of American official documents from the Sri Lankan end. My store now has those in the years 2005-2010. As my initial foray I am slowly working through those for the first half of 2009.

ROBERT O BLAKE  M rajapaksa

Here I introduce a partially distilled summary of selected despatches from US ambassador Robert Blake (or his aides) to their superiors in the State Department in Washington. I do so in temporal sequence. More will follow from time to time. I encourage readers to essay commentary. In due course I will fashion an article myself. Continue reading

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“We for Us” OR Api Wenuwen Api, mobilising enlistment for war2007

1_Api-Venuwen-7-(S)_1 (4)


The year was 2007, the Sri Lankan Forces were facing their darkest hour. The ceasefire had been breached, dashing the hopes and dragging the morale of an entire nation down. The Tiger rebels were stronger, having reinforced and strengthened their positions during the ceasefire. The armed forces were taking a battering on the battlefront as well as in the media, and inevitably, in the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans. Continue reading

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Buddhist Belief & Practice in the Sri Lanka Army

Daniel Kent, of University of Virginia via

To refrain from taking any life is Buddhism defined. How then do Buddhist soldiers go to war in the full knowledge that they are required to perform a deed which ensures negative karma in this life and the next? Daniel Kent, Assistant Professor in religious studies at the University of Virginia presents some startling insights resulting from research and discussion with soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army.

Download his doctoral dissertation,  [Shelter For You, Nirvana For Our Sons: Buddhist Belief and Practice in the Sri Lankan Army (2008) [PDF file]. Continue reading

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The LTTE and the Lost Quest for Tamil Separatism

Neil De Votta, in Asian Survey Vol. LXIX, No. 6, Nov-Dec. 2009 …. access via University of California Press and

DE VOTTAAbstract: The ethnocentric policies successive Sri Lankan governments pursued against
the minority Tamils pushed them to try to secede, but the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) immanent contradictions—the quest for state-building and independence juxtaposed with fascistic rule and terrorist practices—undermined the separatist movement and irreparably weakened the Tamil community. The Sri Lankan government’s extra-constitutional counter terrorism  strategies under Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa helped defeat the LTTE,
but the attendant militarism, culture of impunity especially among the defense forces, and political machinations bode further ill for the island’s democratic and polyethnic future.
Keywords: Sri Lanka, LTTE, eelam, terrorism, Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism Continue reading

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War, Emotions and the European Civilizing Process. The War-Related Affects from Feudal to Industrial Warfare in an Eliasian Perspective

HELMUTHelmut Kuzmics, from the University of Graz/Austria …. a paper originally presented at the Interdisciplinary Collaboratory ” Norbert Elias:  Emotional Style and Historical Change,” held on 14-15 June 2011 at the University of Adelaide

The Problem[1]

There exists a basic consensus that guides public opinion within Western, particularly European states, referring to war and other acts of inter- or intrastate violence. It is pacifist and tends to treat all these events as simply “irrational” or “uncivilized”. Resulting from this attitude – which is also often not devoid of a dismissive or derogatory element – two quite differing types of judgement emerge: The first type regards war as atavistic and time-bound. War can or should be overcome with the progress of mankind. The second type – maybe a bit paradoxically – treats war and violent conflict as endemic to human nature and, therefore, unchangeable in its “essence”. This duality of judgment also extends to the field of the human sciences themselves. Two voices shall be picked out here. In Norbert Elias’s (2000) theory of ‘Civilizing Processes’, reality and experience of war are situated historically. In one of the most surprising and original recent interpretations of war, Van Creveld (1998: 319) has stressed its basically unchanging character, including the motives and causes for war. For him, the male fascination for war is deeply rooted in needs that can be summarized vaguely as the appeal of danger, the wish to prove manliness, by all means not guided by rational interest or profit-seeking. War is rather a transcendental game with ultimate seriousness and should be distinguished from throwing atomic bombs, massacring innocent by-standers or committing mass-suicide. Declared war-aims are irrelevant to a deeper understanding of war – sacred soil, god, fatherland, nation, race or social ideals are not important per se, but because people – or better: men –fight and die for them. This readiness to sacrifice one’s own life is the main criterion that distinguishes war from other forms of collective violence; without this, even the best-equipped armies of the world would degenerate to mere bugbears. Van Creveld, thus, emphasizes the unchanging, eternal nature of war, and since he sees it, essentially, not as a means for achieving certain goals but rather as a means in itself, he can accept the various forms in which war occurs, also their arbitrariness, as long as men fight for something; and they will do so for a very long time to come. Continue reading

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Reviewing the SOOKA Report and NGO Manoeuvres

The Sooka Report: How NGOs serve government …… by CSI

Many of these NGOs espouse the universalist language of human rights, but actually use it to defend highly particularist causes: the rights of particular national groups or minorities or classes of persons.”– Michael Ignatieff, I. Human Rights as Politics. II. Human Rights as Idolatry, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Princeton University, 4-7 April 2000, p.291[1]

Yasmin sooka

The Political Context:  Ever since the end of the civil war brought peace to Sri Lanka, there has been a concerted attempt in the Western media to criticise and undermine the victory Sri Lankan won against the LTTE terrorists (the “Tamil Tigers”) in 2009.

The most notable examples of this have been the series of highly misleading news reports issued by Channel 4 news on “Sri Lanka’s killing fields” which allege widespread and systematic killing of civilians in the final months of the conflict. Continue reading


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