Recently the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels (the official name being the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE) broke down and there has been a rapid escalation of violence with large numbers of casualties on both sides and, inevitably, civilians bearing the brunt of it and being forced to flee their homes.
The US government has been trying to get the warring parties to desist from fighting and get back to the negotiating table, and two senior State Department officials have gone to the region to try and move the negotiation process along.
The United States has said that it strongly supported peace talks between Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers as there was no military solution for the conflict in the island nation.
But the US also asserted that it would not deal with the rebels who use reprehensible and bloody tactics to kill innocent people.
“We believe that there is no military solution for this kind, and we are strong supporters of negotiations,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told a round table of South Asian journalists.
Meanwhile Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, said that “hostilities must cease and both sides need to exercise maximum restraint.” He went on:
“We are pleased that the government and the LTTE are committed to peace talks to go to Geneva and to begin discussions again.”
“We think it is important to discuss all the issues. It is also important to begin a process that can lead to a serious negotiation, and eventually, to a political solution with legitimate interest of all the communities: of Tamils, Muslims of Sinhalese,” Mr. Richard Boucher told the press.
“It can be accommodated with a unitary Sri Lanka.”
Accepting that a military solution was not likely to occur shows a sense of realism, and encouraging talks and negotiations are worthy goals. The reason I highlight them is because the Tamil Tigers have been designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization. Hence these actions seem to be in contradiction with the oft-stated US government policy of never negotiating with terrorists or with so-called state sponsors of terrorism.
I have never agreed with that policy. You should be willing to talk with anybody because that is the only way you get to understand your opponents and it may even lead to a non-violent solution.
But it looks like the US policy applies only to selected groups of terrorists. Or perhaps the US government does not talk to certain ‘terrorists’ not out of any lofty principle, but because it serves their own political interests.
POST SCRIPT: Privacy? We don’t need no stinkin’ privacy!
Here’s a wonderful and short animated cartoon about the NSA wiretapping of phones.