Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cheering For Goliath

Entropic Memes has some interesting commentary on the recent defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, better known simply as the Tamil Tigers:
It’s kind of a shame, really, because I always liked the Tamil Tigers (and, to be honest, have always kind of secretly supported most ethnically-motivated secessions.) Yes, yes, I know they’re considered “terrorists”, and I know that supporting them is frowned upon by the government. And, yes, a lot of their actions (recruiting child soldiers, for a start) were, frankly, reprehensible. Ignore the politics and rhetoric for a moment; the Tigers had style.

I think that at some point in the future, when the whole post-9/11 obsession with “terrorism” fades, people are going to look back at the Tamil Tigers and realize that they were the last great “freedom fighters” on the planet. I mean, come on - a thirty-something year-old insurgency with a quite effective navy and air force? How can you not like that?
On one level, I can understand the admiration. There's that natural affinity for the underdog, especially when the messy details of the conflict are obscured by distance and media indifference. But while I understand the motivations, I can't share the admiration, and it goes far beyond the child recruitment problem — though honestly, that ought to be enough. For one, chalking up the Tigers' designation as terrorists to a "post-9/11 obsession with 'terrorism'" is a bit ironic when they are the group generally credited as having invented the suicide vest and the VBIED and perfected their use over the last 30 years. Tactics aside even, the Tigers have dragged their country through three decades of conflict for the sake of an independent Tamil "homeland", the prospective residents of which have never been shown to support this pipe dream. Not that the Tigers ever cared much what other Tamils wanted; indeed, the worst atrocities of this conflict have been perpetrated by the Tigers against war-weary Tamils denounced as "collaborators". This is one "classic David-vs-Goliath matchup" where I'm happy to see the giant win.

No comments: