`You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,` said the legendary US President Abraham Lincoln. Nothing is truer of the LTTE than these words of wisdom. Some of its fronts which keep its violent campaign going may have succeeded in hoodwinking the international community for `some of the time` by masquerading as charities but now they are getting unmasked.
The US has designated the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a notorious LTTE front responsible for fund raising and procurement for the separatist war in Sri Lanka, and decided to freeze all the US-held TRO assets. Perhaps, this is a bigger blow to the LTTE than its proscription in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organisation and its designation as a Global Terrorist Organisation in 2001. For, those bans didn`t have the desired impact as regards fundraising and procurement, which its fronts continued not so clandestinely. When the LTTE was banned in the US, it may be recalled, the late Anton Balasingham boasted that bans would have no impact, as the LTTE had ways and means of circumventing them. He was right! But, with the ban on the TRO, the Tigers have come up against a brick wall.
The US action, which needs to be lauded by everyone abhorring terrorism, couldn`t have come at a worse time for the LTTE. The Navy has destroyed most of the LTTE rogue vessels with lethal cargo on board, worth millions of dollars. Trapped in the Wanni, the LTTE has no way of replenishing its arsenal. Worse, the military is poised to move in anytime. It was only the other day that India sent a strong message to the LTTE by arresting two of its staunch supporters, Vaiko and Nedumaran, who tried to take out a rally to condemn the killing of Tamilselvam. The Central Government of India has socked it between Chief Minister Karunanidhi`s ageing eyes that the sky is not the limit in pulling for the proscribed LTTE. (Former Chief Minister Jayalalitha is contemplating legal action against Karunanidhi for eulogising Tamilselvam.) Karunanidhi has chosen to take it all lying down without flying in the face of the writ of the Centre.
The LTTE and its sympathizers may have pinned hopes on a few British MPs in their pocket to achieve deproscription. Adjournment debates in the British parliament and statements by some British lawmakers in their favour may have boosted their morale and raised their hopes. But, their hopes were dashed when Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told Parliament the other day that his British counterpart had assured him that the LTTE ban would stay in Britain.
In France, the Tigers are having hard times due to the silent but effective operations by the French police to curb their activities besides a number of raids and arrests carried out so far. True, the LTTE still enjoys support in Norway but the problem is that Norway is not the world. And Norway has pathetically failed to influence the EU`s LTTE policy. It fought quite a battle to prevent the EU ban, but in vain.
The LTTE poses no threat to American interests as such but the US appears to have realised the danger of its arms smuggling network spread all over the world and its links with other terrorist organisations. The biggest challenge that the world faces today is terrorism, which has mutated into forms which are resistant to conventional remedies like military action and political solutions.
All it took to wipe out nearly one half of Europe`s population in the 1340s was a rat as well as a flea. Together, they spread Black Death, which carried off over 70 million people across the world?about 30 million in Europe alone. The coming together of the various terrorist groups equipped with massive funds, sophisticated weapons and a blind following with cadres ready to commit suicide at the behest of their leaders has the potential to wreak far greater havoc on the planet than a pandemic. So, in a world fast moving towards a global village, the emergence of terrorist groups capable of defying even the powerful nations is a worrisome proposition for the sole superpower.
In battling elusive terrorism, the powerful countries have fared no better than their small counterparts. Al Qaeda is running rings round the mighty US. In Iraq the genie is out of the bottle and the US-led forces are at a loss as to how to control the near anarchical situation, where terrorism is thriving. In Britain, terrorists are destroying her democracy from under its foundation like bandicoot rats.
Terrorists are becoming more and more innovative and destructive. They have graduated from hijacking jets to using them as missiles. No longer can any country differentiate between `our terrorists` and `their terrorists`. India made that mistake as regards the LTTE and has paid dearly for that blunder. Today, it has had to provide special security to its nuclear facilities in the south in view of LTTE threats. The US has had to protect itself from its erstwhile pet terrorists who once fought its enemies in Afghanistan.
The world powers appear to have realised at long last the need to battle terrorism in all its manifestations if their interests are to be protected. That may be the reason why the EU and the US have decided to clamp down on terrorist activities regardless of their flaunted causes.
The US ban on the TRO sends a clear signal to the LTTE: In trying to carve out a separate state, it is only ploughing the sea. As US Ambassador in Colombo Robert Blake told the press yesterday afternoon, the LTTE needs to realise the futility of its war effort and return to the negotiating table forthwith. The US position on the LTTE has been consistent and it has always asked the outfit to eschew violence and opt for a negotiated settlement. One cannot have any difficulty in agreeing with the US on this score.
It is now up to Prabhakaran to stop the war he resumed last year and prevent any more bloodshed. The best war is the war that is not fought.
Will the LTTE heed the US call?