The Sri Lankan government has made headlines across the world after ending the 25-year Tamil Tiger rebellion, a victory that The Washington Post's editorial board called a rare and "reversal of fortunes." But what does it tell us about other struggles? While the United States grapples with two wars abroad against fierce insurgents, one school of thought is that Sri Lanka has proved something.
But did Sri Lanka really set an example?
Yes, according to this editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Four years ago, the newly elected government under Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to launch a fullscale military offensive against the Tamil Tigers, investing massive amount of resources in military and counterinsurgency resources. That very determination, according to the Journal, gave Sri Lanka an edge against one of the most skillful insurgents ultimately defeating them.
No, writes Bobby Ghosh of Time. While Sri Lanka might have set a great standard militarily, Ghosh thinks that other countries fighting insurgency should not attempt to follow its lead because the costs at which Sri Lanka won the war amount to thousands of lives. "Rajapaksa's triumph has come at a high cost in civilian lives and a sharp decline in democratic values — and he is no closer to resolving the ethnic resentments that underpinned the insurgency for decades," he writes.
Of course, it's hard to rain on the Sri Lankan government's parade right now. Still, a shunned group will only stay dormant for so long. If a democratically elected insurgent group can come back to threaten a country, it's even more likely for a violently repressed group like the Tamils.