Another One Bites the Dust

It went unnoticed by most of the Western media, but a reasonably momentous event took place over the weekend – the Sri Lankan rebel group the Tamil Tigers were pushed back from their last remaining stronghold, essentially ending the 38-year-old insurgency. Oh, the government troops will continue “mopping-up” operations for a few weeks, but it’s for all practical purposes over.

It’s kind of a shame, really, because I always liked the Tamil Tigers (and, to be honest, have always kind of secretly supported most ethnically-motivated secessions.) Yes, yes, I know they’re considered “terrorists”, and I know that supporting them is frowned upon by the government. And, yes, a lot of their actions (recruiting child soldiers, for a start) were, frankly, reprehensible. Ignore the politics and rhetoric for a moment; the Tigers had style.

I think that at some point in the future, when the whole post-9/11 obsession with “terrorism” fades, people are going to look back at the Tamil Tigers and realize that they were the last great “freedom fighters” on the planet. I mean, come on – a thirty-something year-old insurgency with a quite effective navy and air force? How can you not like that?

I think, ultimately, the Tamil Tigers’ desire – need – to hold physical territory of their own (secessionist movement, remember?) was what did them in. Oh, they had the territory well-fortified – bunkers and other fortifications, land mines galore – but having actual territory gives your opponent – in this case, the government of Sri Lanka – something to attack. And, for all their capabilities – the Tigers were still launching air raids (!) on government forces as recently as last October – the rebels didn’t really have the artillery and other heavy weaponry needed to defend their positions against the combined might of the Army. When the conflict was waged asymmetrically, the Tamil Tigers kicked the government’s ass every time. Eventually, though, the government made the major commitments necessary to take on the Tigers on their own ground, and in a conventional, force-upon-force conflict the Tigers put up a good fight, but were simply out-matched.

It was a classic David-vs-Goliath matchup, and one that lasted more than three decades. The underdogs no doubt provided a lot of inspiration to other, similar rebel movements around the world, and provided no small amount of entertainment for the rest of the world, but eventually, as tends to happen in these sorts of faceoffs, the Goliath won. C’est la guerre, and all that.

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on January 27th, 2009| Comments Off on Another One Bites the Dust

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.