May 18, 2009

An Insurgency Ends

Just arrived back at the desk after a weekend away and discovered the over 200 unread email messages waiting for me. Apologies to anyone trying to get in touch with me -- it might take a while for me to respond.

I have to mention, though, the end (?) of the LTTE's long struggle against the government of Sri Lanka. Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead, shot by Sri Lanka's security forces, and the white flag has been raised.

But if anything, this conflict has shown why the United States and its allies cannot prosecute counterinsurgency campaigns in a firepower-heavy, enemy-centric way. The human cost of this conflict has been horrific, and just before the surrender, calls were mounting for a freeze on international aid to Sri Lanka. An investigation into war crimes also looms.

So while an insurgency has finally ended, I am not sure what lessons the United States and its allies can draw from the performance and employment of Sri Lanka's security forces.