Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

By Robert I. Rotberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Sri Lanka's Civil War: From Mayhem toward Diplomatic Resolution

Robert I. Rotberg

SRI LANKA'S bloody civil war is at least sixteen years old. This book analyzes that war, the ethnic and religious antagonisms that fuel it, the political miscalculations that precipitated it, and the mistrust which permeates both battling sides. Even more, this is a book about peace, how to achieve it and keep it. It is about the consequences of peace and the post-war reconstruction of the now divided country. It is about Sri Lanka's economy and a potential peace dividend.

Peace eventually comes to divided societies riven by war. This book suggests how that peace could be encouraged and sustained, and how even societies as fractured as Sri Lanka can hope to come together and reverse the tragedies of the recent past. Yet this is a tough-minded book, not one written by Pollyannas: the myriad problems of Sri Lanka are viewed through uncompromising lenses of realism.

In mid- 1999, as in the middle of most years since 1983, it was evident to observers in Sri Lanka and those outside that the army of the country had not and would not soon crush the guerrilla soldiers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The insurgency would not soon be ended, as President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government kept assuming, by a military victory on the battlefields of the north. Despite numerical superiority, the 143,000 person government army had still not managed to gain battlefield superiority over the LTTE, whose troops number fewer than 10,000.

In late 1998, the army tried and failed to remove the LTTE's control over the road north from Colombo and Kandy through Vavuniya to Jaffha. Despite taking

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