Velupillai Prabhakaran: LTTE’s Guerrilla Generalissimo
One thing you have to give the doomed Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka credit for: their supporters sitting in comfortable first-world cities have no shame when it comes to begging for help. Militarily the Sri Lankan Tamils are o-vuh, but when it comes to demanding favors from people who have every reason to hate their guts, these guys are world-class. For some hilarious examples of propaganda from a doomed army, check out the LTTE’s glossy but totally insane website, Tamilnet.
Today’s headline on their site is this little classic: “99% of Norway Tamils Aspire for Tamil Eelam.” “Eelam,” y’unnerstan’, is their fancy name for the independent Tamil state they want to create in Sri Lanka, the “E” in “LTTE.” Anyway, what this headline means is that they rounded up the Tamils living in Norway and herded their frozen asses into a Sons of Knute meeting hall in Oslo and lo’n’behold, 99% of those poor flotsam (should that be “flotsam” or “flotsams”? Not sure) turned out to be in favor of dear old Eelam. The fact that they were ten thousand miles away from Sri Lanka, where the government artillery was shredding the last backyard-sized scrap of land in “Eelam,” didn’t faze those Norwegian diehards one bit.
These guys have no shame at all. They’d probably be willing to go on Flava Flav’s “Workfare for Overage Street Ho’s” show, they’re so shameless. They even, believe it or not, called for the US to save them with “gunboat diplomacy.” I kid you not.
After decades of playing the bold revolutionaries, they’re actually screeching for American destroyers to rescue them. Ah, it’s a fun world as long as you remember we’re all garbage at heart.
Now that the Tamils’ great Sri Lankan kingdom has been whittled down to about ten acres of blasted scrub, they’re so desperate they’re even tying up traffic in Toronto by way of attracting attention to their sad little plight that they totally brought on themselves. The Canadians are giving it their typical mealymouthed cowardly PC response, “We understand your frustration,” while these losers tie up the biggest freeway in Toronto.
But my favorite little desperate gesture from the Tamils is the way they’ve reached out to Sonia Gandhi, the big Indian politician, to ask for help.
Which is funny because Sonia happens to be the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991. And who sent the bomber? Nobody but the LTTE, the Sri Lankan Tamils’ great liberation army. Yup, they didn’t like Rajiv’s policy on Sri Lanka so they sent him the LTTE version of a strip-o-gram: a zombie girl who shimmied right up to Rajiv at a rally and pulled her own string. It stripped her all right; it stripped the flesh off her and Rajiv and anybody else within the blast radius. Scorched-earth erotic dancing. The ultimate Bollywood closing number.
And now that the LTTE is cornered like a weasel with its foot in a trap, they actually have the gall to ask for her help. This is why I could never be in politics: you have to have the ability to forgive people. I’ve never forgiven anyone in my life. I don’t even get the concept. If something was bad, something offended you, then it stays that way. It doesn’t turn nice because a little time has passed. I never did get that idea. But Sonia just sat up on a dais in Chennai and listened to a bunch of old LTTE supporters read poems about the glorious Tamil martyrs—you know, like the girl who erased Sonia’s hubby—and politely remind them that India can’t interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, bla bla bla. I guess that would’ve been sweet, in a quiet way, but me, I’d want to offer the Sri Lankan army the full support of every fighter plane the Indian AF can send down there. “Oh, I’ll help your friends in the LTTE, all right: I’ll help them all be reincarnated as tapeworms after we send the Indian Air Force down there to wipe out your last-ditch bunkers! Oh yeah, my little Tamil buddies, we’re gonna put on a little air show for ya, we’ll call it the Rajiv Gandhi memorial air munitions display because after all my hubby was a pilot back when he was alive before you turned him into blackened meat, remember little buddies? Yeah, and anyway the Indian arms industry needs a showcase, let the world media see what our new air-to-ground munitions can do to a bunch of losers who tried to set up a 19th-century rebel empire and found out it’s not so easy any more.”
That’s what I’d do. But Sonia’s a patient sneaky lady, a good politician, and she remembers that her party owes a lot of its power to the fact that it carried all the Tamil districts in the south. So she just smiles while the Sri Lankan army grinds the LTTE to death.
There’ll be many a dry eye when those bastards are gone. All over the world, governments are quietly chortling, even while they tsk-tsk in public. The Tamils got way above themselves, and nearly everybody is happy to see them fall.
The real question is, what happened to turn a really impressive, powerful guerrilla army like the LTTE into this pathetic dead-ender comedy skit, hanging on to its little “sovereign state” in somebody’s backyard banana grove while the army arty shreds the leaves?
I’ve written about the LTTE before, used to admire the bastards for their sheer ruthlessness and the way they bridged the gap between conventional and guerrilla war-making methods (read this and this), but it’s beginning to look to me like that strategy of the LTTE’s where they try to cross over from guerrilla force to a “sovereign state,” with its own uniformed armed forces and government and liberated territory, backfired real bad on them. They’d have been better off skulking in the scrub hoping to cause enough trouble to be bought off. Now they’re going to be just plain wiped out. That’s the trouble with doin’ it old-school: the old-school end game for a defeated conventional army is total annihilation.
The LTTE was doing so well as a guerrilla army that it did what winners usually do: find some way to push its luck and turn victory into defeat. It’s weird how you see that pattern everywhere you look, from corporations that are good at doing one thing they make tons of money and then put it in some totally unrelated business they know zero about, to armies that figure winning a battle is a sign you should go pick on some bigger, badder enemy (See Wehrmacht 1941).
The LTTE started way back in the 1970s, when guerrilla armies were a growth industry. They won over the Tamils in Sri Lanka by being more hard-ass than any of the older Tamil militias, and they proved it by just plain wiping out their wimpy rivals, like the TELO.
You have to remember how different the world looked when people like the LTTE’s Dear Leader Prabhakaran made the career choice to become a guerrilla generalissimo. And you have to remember that in the kind of hellhole he grew up in, it really was a career choice. There weren’t many others, and guerrilla had a rockstar appeal compared to the other options, like starving schoolteacher or smalltime farmer. This was before the IT industry turned the Tamil part of India (basically the SE quadrant of the Subcontinent) into Silicon Valley East. Back in them days, the quickest way to have dinner with the big folks was to control a bunch of malaria-ridden skeletons waving AKs.
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