Category Archives: nationalism

Violence in Sri Lanka: Slipshod Scholarship

Michael Roberts

I recently circulated a whole set of articles by some Muslim scholars (located in the Eastern Province and abroad) as well as a few others in Western universities — mostly written in the 2011-19 period. I am beginning to go through them slowly when I can carve out time for this set of tasks. A few have focused on the incidence of crime and communal violence in the post 2009 period.

What strikes me on reading these ventures is the limited degree of reading of past works that has been pursued and the appalling gaps in their background – lapses which also impinge on their comments on the death toll in the last stages of Eelam War IV.

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USA’s Imperialist Advances by Stealth? Goodness Gracious Me!

Michael Roberts

In my readings of her past work, Shenali Waduge tended to go overboard in several of her claims, while also displaying one-sided Sinhala chauvinistic leanings in her assessments. But her recent article in Lankaweb, entitled “US in Sri Lanka since 2015 – turning Sri Lanka into a Neo-Colonial Military Base,” addresses a wide range of issues, including some that are looming over Sri Lanka today. It is also marked by considerable industry and embraces an extended sweep of time.

COMSTOCK 3

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USA’s Delta Force and the Baghdadi Killing

Jon Lockett, in SUN, 28 October 2019, with this title

THE special forces unit which hunted down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is so secretive even the Pentagon doesn’t admit it exists. Delta Force — set up by a US commander who served with the SAS- – only recruits the best of the best and plays by its own combat rules.

 Delta Force - known for its state-of-the-art equipment - was set up by a US commander who served with the SAS
Delta Force – known for its state-of-the-art equipment – was set up by a US commander who served with the SAS
In military circles it is known simply as ‘The Unit’ and is tasked with handling the most dangerous and specialised missions in the world.

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Political Currents Past and Present bearing on the Sri Lankan Dilemmas Now

 DCP Amarasekere[i], in Island, 28 October 2019, with this titleBeyond the story of doom: the social base of ‘new authoritarianism’ in Sri Lanka”

With only a few weeks left for the 2019 Presidential Election, two questions seem to dominate our social conversations and news coverage: “who will win?” and “what will be Sri Lanka’s political destiny?” In the absence of country-wide scientific polling, the first question is typically answered by using anecdotes, quasi-scientific, social media or social network specific speculations or gossip.  The second question, which categorically stems from the liberal quarters of society, is a long-winded lament about the “cruel dilemma” of having to choose between a “neo-conservative” coalition and weak political formations putting up a brave fight to hold on to the last straw of the country’s democracy.

NM Perera at hartal 1953 and SWRD for Sinhala Only in 1956

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The Presidential Race: Samarasinghe’s Evaluative ‘Punches,’ II and III

SWR de Samarasinghe

ONE: “Premadasa’s Candidacy – Bringing Democracy to the UNP Machine,” in ISLAND, 8 October 2019

The two major political parties, in the south, have had a long tradition of being managed more like private clubs belonging to a particular family cabal than vital public institutions in a democracy. Whoever happens to be the leader has had an iron grip on the party. There is little inner-party democracy in such a set up. The significance of Sajith Premadasa’s victory over Ranil Wickremesinghe in the fight for the UNF presidential candidacy has to be evaluated against such a background

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Narendran’s Critical Dissection of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Victory Day Speech on 18th May 2009

Rajasingham Narendran, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, 19th May 2009, where the title is “A Response To The President’s Address On Victory Day”

I read with much interest the President’s ‘Victory Day’ speech at the Galle Face Green, yesterday [18th May 2009], reproduced in CT.   While I agree with much of his recount of recent history, there are glaring gaps in the story he recalled.  Further, he has failed to address the current concerns of the victims his forces liberated, at all.  I have selected some sentences and sections from his address to express my concerns.

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The Sri Lankan Army in Its First Decade, 1949-59

Jayantha Somasundaram, in Island, 10 October 2019, with this titleSri Lanka Army At Seventy: Recalling The First Decade”

Under the terms of the Defence Agreement, signed in November 1947, between London and Colombo, a British officer, the Earl of Caithness was seconded, in 1948, as military advisor to the Government of Ceylon. During World War II, Brigadier James Roderick Sinclair, 19th Earl of Caithness CBE DSO, had led his regiment the Gordon Highlanders, through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany.

Earl of Caithness

Brigadier Caithness proposed to the Ceylon Government, that the soon-to-be formed Army consist of an infantry battalion, an artillery regiment, signal, supply, ordnance, electrical and mechanical, and medical units; a works services engineering detachment to maintain buildings, a military police section and a training depot. Such a modest military establishment would only require one per cent of total government expenditure, and its personnel would, initially be drawn from the Ceylon Defence Force (CDF), the volunteer Army that had existed since 1910.

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