To some of the “mistakes” mentioned by you in relation to the Tigers, if one is to be honest and frank, one should add, “crimes and sins”. Regarding “sins”, a lot of what they did is abhorrent in the eyes of all religions but “sin”, I think, can also have a non-religious application, namely, the violation of our common humanity. The catalogue of mistakes, crimes and sins is long: I don’t think they need listing to you. But
* if there was brutality, there was also incredible bravery;
* if there was strategic foolishness, there were also instances of tactical brilliance;
* if there was cynicism, there was also idealism;
* if there was megalomania and the lust for power on the part of some, there was also self-denial and self-sacrifice on the part of many.
It’s difficult to hold a balanced view (what’s more, one that is situated in historical context). Most of us slip into either total defence or total condemnation: it’s so much easier and convenient.
A desperate people – repeatedly disappointed and disillusioned; systematically subordinated; periodically set upon and assaulted – saw the LTTE leader as the much-needed, and long-awaited, “saviour” who would bring them freedom and dignity. No “price” seemed not worth paying.
Early military success can be fatal – see, among others, Napoleon and Hitler – in that it leads to
(1) belief in one’s invincibility and, with that,
(2) the refusal to listen to other voices, to reject any form of compromise: success and power leading to arrogance and cruelty.
Then followed the mistakes, crimes and sins we talked about.
Nor should one forget “9/11” and the “war on terror” that soon followed. The world changed but the LTTE leader didn’t: he was unable and unwilling to adapt: Charles Darwin’s thoughts on evolution and survival also have a political application. To attempt to understand is not necessarily to exculpate. I offer my “reading” and welcome your input – be it modification, amplification or correction.
The Tamils have endured the unendurable; they are, at present, shattered and exhausted. They need time – though that time is used by the government to consolidate occupation, and to further emasculate a defeated people. Hopefully, future generations, having learnt lessons, will shape – as far as they can – a different, a more successful, and a happier future.