A Birthday tribute to Dr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
By Dr.Telli C.Rajaratnam
June 20, 2010

Reflections of a Patriotic Legend of our times
Defense secretary's strategy: Military necessity

"Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them"-William Shakespeare

Born Great
"Born great" has two possible meanings: either being born to a great position, such as that of an hereditary monarch, or possessing natural talents and/or virtues of an exceptional kind. Clearly not everyone born to a great position is worthy of it, and relatively few have the qualities of a great leader. The greatness of certain offices can rub off on their occupants, who may not otherwise have qualities out of the ordinary. Some appear to have the gift of leadership, but are found to lack it when tested. Others are recognized as "born leaders" and exercise effective leadership up to a certain level, but prove disastrous failures beyond that level. It is very hard to judge the point beyond which a person will be over promoted.

Achieved Greatness
"Some achieve greatness" denotes, above all, those whose greatness is self-made. But all of the really great leaders must be regarded as achievers, whatever their advantages of birth and training. Alexander the Great was born to kingship and inherited a strong army. With Aristotle as his tutor, he was perhaps the most privileged person, educationally, that there has ever been. Nevertheless, what he achieved in his short life was beyond anything that could remotely have been expected of him. Much the same is true of Julius Caesar. He was a young Roman aristocrat whose career began as a demagogic politician, but who turned out to be a military commander of genius. The trajectory of his career could never have been predicted.

Napoleon is the supreme example of the utterly self-made leader - the man who "achieved greatness" by his own unaided efforts. When he was on his way to St Helena, he was still slightly younger than John F. Kennedy at the time of his assassination. And Napoleon was not a millionaire's son. Of course, he was privileged in another way, having the good luck to be born in a revolutionary period, when opportunity beckoned to a man of his phenomenal talents. But luck is a precondition of most human achievements. Natural leaders know how to exploit their luck.

Greatness Thrust upon him
Most of those who achieve anything in the world are ambitious, and some have very exalted ambitions which they have never the chance to realize. A few rise higher than they or anyone else could have imagined, and then prove equal to the challenge. Like those born to great offices who prove, against the odds, worthy to hold them, such people have "greatness thrust upon them".

Of all the qualities needed for leadership, only one is indispensable - courage. Without it, all the others are more or less useless. Courage has been shown by all who we recognize as true leaders, from Alexander to Thatcher. A leader must have the ability to take hard decisions and calculated risks. Leaders have to give courage to others, while creating the illusion that they know exactly what they are doing.

The Legend Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
Dr.Gotabhaya was born great, achieved greatness and has greatness thrust upon him by his absolutely raw honesty which is not tolerated by terrorists and militants. He is a courageous Gentleman and knows not fear. Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa stands in par with Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napolean and even Julius Caesar. Under his leadership as Secretary of Defence the LTTE was eradicated. In no other country where terrorism exists have they been able to eradicate terrorism. As all human beings, we have short memories. More so, for patriotism. People tend to forget the most important factors which have historical value. The most memorable historical factor was winning the war. The joint effort of the Armed Forces under the able directives of the Defence Secretary Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to rescue the Nation from the evils of Terrorism.

Dr.Gotabhaya was born on 20 June 1949 and it is my privilege to pay tribute to the Greatest Defence Secretary in this world who won the war against the LTTE - a Leader who liberated this country.

We now have freedom of movement, development and more Tourists coming into this beautiful isle. Citizens of Sri Lanka and the citizens of other countries whose citizenship of origin was Sri Lanka are coming into Sri Lanka after several years owing to the peaceful situation created by our Defence Secretary and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We as citizens of this country must remember that if not for Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa this country will be in disaster.

He assumed duties as Secretary, Ministry of Defense, Public Security, Law & Order on 25th November 2005.

He joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1971, spent twenty years in service, and held the appointment of Deputy Commandant of Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in 1991 and, as a Lieutenant Colonel was Coordinating Officer of Welioya area from 1990 to 1991. Prior to that, he was the Coordinating Officer of Matale District and the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment from 1989 to 1990. He has also held numerous other positions in the Sri Lanka Army such as Instructor, Adjutant, and Staff officer to the Operations Officer commanding contingents.

During his military career, he has been awarded the President's Commendation letter by former President J R Jayewardene and medals for valour in combat such as Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP) Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) - by former Presidents R Premadasa and D B Wijetunga. He has also received a commendation from the Commander of the Army for his bravery in action.

He has commanded many anti-terrorist operations in the North and East in different capacities. Among them was his Command of the 1st Battalion of the Gajaba Regiment in the important Vadamarachhci Operation in 1987 and Operation Thrividabalaya in 1990 respectively, to rescue Jaffna peninsula and the Jaffna Fort from terrorist control.

He completed his basic officer cadet training at prestigious Military Academy at Diyatalawa and proceeded to Pakistan to complete the Young Officers' Course at Rawalpindi and later the mid-carrier course at Quetta. He had advanced training in Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare at Assam, India. Later in his career, he graduated in advanced Infantry Training from Infantry School Fort Benning, USA.

As a staff officer, he completed his Staff Course at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, India in1983. He obtained his Masters degree in Defence Studies from the University of Madras in 1983. He has also obtained a Postgraduate degree in Information Technology from the University of Colombo in 1992.

He is a revered figure in Sri Lanka for leading the military operation which drove out the opponents from the entire Eastern Province of the country.

He was the grundnorm for the victory of the 2009 war against the LTTE. In recognition to the services rendered to the Nation, The University of Colombo conferred a Doctorate to him.

Victory at War
Our Air force Pilots have returned to base. The air strikes have halted. The Naval boats have slowed their speed. The Army has slowed its pace. Aggression against innocent people by the LTTE and the Terrorists have been halted. When the President ordered our armed forces into combat as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he had three clear goals: to enable the Tamil people, the victims of some of the most vicious atrocities in the North due to terrorists and militant groups, to return to their homes with safety; to destroy the LTTE; and to deploy our armed Forces to protect all the people of the North. Those goals were achieved. Unnecessary conflict has been brought to a just and honorable conclusion. He survived an assassination attempt in December 2006

Duty towards Nation
We have sent a message of determination and hope to the entire world. Think of all the millions of innocent people who died in this bloody century because democracies reacted too late to evil and aggression. Because, the duty of the Defense Secretary was well performed, the past is gone not with helpless indignation, but with a hopeful affirmation of human dignity and human rights for the 2010. In a world too divided by fear among people of different racial, ethnic and religious groups, he has given confidence to the friends of freedom and pause to those who would exploit human difference for inhuman purposes.

Sri Lanka still faces great challenges in this world, but the Defence Secretary will meet them. He can successfully maintain the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

The current trends in international affairs relating to Sri Lanka with the war against terrorism and how the world looks at us owing to the accusations made against us by vested interests and whether we have overcome the difficulties and convinced the world that we were justified in doing what we had to do is yet to be seen. The recurring problem of accusations is a result of the frustrated Tamil militants overseas trying to revive the LTTE for their own survival.

Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has taken effective measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the developing nations and work towards a new international political and economic order that is fair and rational. To respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all countries and resolve internal conflicts. The affairs of each and every country should be left to its own people to decide. Global challenges should be tackled through international co-operation and co-ordination.

All countries should foster a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation and fully respect the diversity of world civilizations, and should seek consensus through dialogue, co-operation through consultation and development through exchanges.

Solidarity is strength
History tells us that solidarity means strength, progress and success. Peace, co-operation, development and progress are what the entire international community is hoping and striving for. The developing nations must continue to work closely together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation and raise their voice and strengthen their position in international affairs if they are to secure their fundamental interests.

UN should accept Military Necessity
One of the magnificent achievements of the UN has been the transformation that has taken place in global opinion on the relationship that should form between the governing and the governed, between the government and the citizen. It was on the basis of the moral authority of the General Assembly's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the determined endeavors of the Commission on Human Rights, that this transformation was achieved. The dignity of the individual has now, largely as a result of United Nations leadership in the field of human rights, been placed, as it should be, among the priorities of national and international attention.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is not limited in scope to ensuring the observance of human rights by Governments alone. The Declaration has a far wider purpose: the observance of human rights by all governmental and non-governmental parties alike.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration, which requires that everyone has the right to life; and the provisions of Article 30 of the Declaration prescribes that: "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein".

An act of terrorism by a non-governmental entity against civilians is surely a violation of the human rights of its victims and, surely, a crime against humanity as well.

We know the horrific consequences of terrorism: the horror; the thousands of unsuspecting innocent lives lost or maimed, the thousands of families then left to grieve; the countless personal tragedies that terrorism leaves. The horrors of terrorism have devastated the country and have cast a heavy burden on successive governments and the nation including all of us and on humanity as a whole. There are also the larger disruptions of national stability and order as well: of the economy and the customary ways of life.

We remember the bombing of the Central Bank, the adjacent buildings, the Temple of the Tooth Relic and other temples, the buses and trains in Sri Lanka where numerous people of all communities were killed, injured, the numerous innocent civilians who were killed and each of us would have a story to tell about the injuries sustained or the deaths of our loved ones.

All LTTE militants terrorized their own people. They never changed - they earned money and still are marketing the ultimate objectives of terrorism by slandering the Government. We will always be affected by the memories of the damage caused by the terrorists- this we shall carry with us for as long as we live.

The terrorism of September 11, 2001, in the USA gave rise to a "coming-together" of the people, in the finest traditions of humanity. On September 12, the Security Council and the General Assembly convened to express: their collective condolences; an unqualified condemnation of terrorism: a determination that those responsible should not go unpunished; and firm concurrence that terrorism threatened the foundations of human society and order and would need to be, and must be, globally removed.

The late Lakshman Kadirgamar is remembered to have said "A criminal organization - whether involved in rebellion against a State or not - must depend for its sustenance outside the law. For its massive operations and massive weaponry, massive collections of funds are continually required. As funds available for criminal activities within a State, especially a developing State, are inevitably small, and the monitoring of their collection and disbursement relatively simple, fund collection for such activities is carried out abroad - through international criminal networks, of course - and also, as in all criminal enterprises, through knowing or unknowing front organisations or other entities that now proliferate in many forms, in many countries - often in the guise, sadly, of charitable groups or groups ostensibly concerned with human rights, ethnic cultural or social matters.....The many disparate forces for international terrorism do not come together in one monolithic whole. They are variously inter-connected in numerous ways and their international networks are extensive. They are mutually supportive and communicate through the global underworld of crime when special missions are afoot. If international terrorism is to be ever removed from our midst, we must begin with the recognition that international terrorism is a form of global criminality. We must not let ourselves be deceived by the artfully crafted cloaks of false pretensions. It is the method of terrorism as in the murder of innocent civilians and the defiance of the sanctity of life - that defines terrorism."

Dr.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary was able to direct the Armed Forces to go ahead with their assertive, offensive and defensive action which led to the victory over the LTTE. It is in this connection that the President liberated the Tamil people. The exodus was like Moses giving freedom to the Jews from Egypt. But the difference is that the Tamil people were liberated by President Rajapaksa, while some of our friends overseas have from time to time been misled by those marketing terrorism for their own corporate interests. We should therefore not be surprised that allegations of civilian casualties in the present times generate from certain corporate interests involved in international terrorism and their complex trade beneficiaries.

Military Necessity
Over thirty years or more, we have not been able to solve this problem. We required a balance between the need to achieve a military victory and the needs of humanity. In this sense, necessity has been viewed as a limitation to unbridled barbarity. The application of the doctrine of military necessity makes use of the principle of proportionality as a mechanism for determining the positioning of a fulcrum between these competing poles. Using proportionality thus gives effect to the recognition that the choice of methods and means of conducting war or armed conflict are not unlimited.

The means and methods of conducting war operate to achieve a particular military objective, which consequently assists in achieving a larger political objective.

While necessity might determine the legitimacy of the armed attack, proportionality determines the amount of force that might be used. In a sense, necessity operates at a macro level, while international humanitarian law operates at a micro level, though both might lie on the same continuum given the difficulties in the transition.

This difficulty is most apparent when the principles of necessity and proportionality have been incorporated into conventional international law, particularly international humanitarian conventions. The development of these conventions and the application of these principles require some consideration if one is to arrive at an understanding of their application in a modern armed conflict. The distinction in the Sri Lanka situation is that it is within our territory.

Military Necessity has been described as "a basic principle of the law of war, so basic, indeed, that without it there could be no law of war at all." The acceptance that, while the object of warfare is to achieve the submission of the enemy, which may require the disabling of as many enemy combatants as possible, this should only be achieved in a manner that does not cause any unnecessary suffering or damage.

This limitation to the means of waging war is not, however, necessarily humanitarian in nature, and much of the early restraints were based on economic, political, and military considerations. However, the need for a balance between the considerations of humanity and the military actions necessary to win a war is regarded as defining the very nature of international humanitarian law, making military necessity a central principle in this balance.

The 'principle of distinction' is fundamental to humanitarian law, but its precise content varies according to the kind of conflict. In national liberation struggles - and international armed conflicts - the distinction is between 'civilians' and 'combatants.' Combatants have no right to life under humanitarian law. Every individual is classified as either a combatant or as a kind of protected person, such as a prisoner of war (a captured combatant) or a civilian. An individual's rights change when his classification changes. A civilian has the right not to be targeted for attack and the right to receive some protection from attack. If the civilian joins the armed militants, he exchanges the rights of a civilian for the rights of a combatant. A combatant has the right to take part in hostilities.

Diplomacy misconstrued
We look for diplomacy. But there is no diplomacy with some of those opposed to us. We do not consider them opponents, but they oppose every conceivable move we make to develop the country. Sometimes, there is no compromise with such people, no meeting of minds - no point of understanding - so we would have a just choice -defeat it or be defeated by it. This is where there was a necessity for military intervention. We learnt that however much we strive for peace, we need a strong defense capability where a peaceful approach fails. Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far greater.

In conclusion, may I cite the great General George S.Patton, Jr.,: Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee of Thy great goodness to restrain this immoderate weather with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously harken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. AMEN.

(The writer is the author of Selected Essays of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. ISBN 978-955-51312-2-3 and The Dawn of Sri Lanka: The Miracle of Asia. Selected Essays of the Patriotic Legacy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (ISBN-978-955-51312-3-0) tellicrajaratnam@gmail.com