06 August 2013

A patriotic citizen obtains perspective

[In a parallel universe called Humility]
"I supported our troops in their efforts to rid the country of the terrorist menace.  I am grateful to them for many reasons.   I cheered their victories for they were my triumphs too.  I sang their praises for they, most of all, were deserving of praise; they put their lives on line for me.  The immense relief of finally being able to live in a terrorism-free country blinded me to some ancient truths. 

"The security forces that felled Prabhakaran of the LTTE were the same men and women in uniform who had struggled but failed in their mission for a quarter of a century.  Today, as I reflect on the question ‘why not before?’ I realize that all the equipment, training, numbers, intelligence and synergy among the forces would have come to naught without the green-light, confidence and determination of the political leadership.  On that occasion, for once let’s say, the political leadership did not waver, did not lie, and most importantly shared the sentiments of the vast majority of the people.  I knew that terrorism could only be defeated militarily and was confident that our forced could get the job done.  The political leadership shared this view, obviously.   Our troops delivered.  I cheered.
"What I forgot in the rush of joy at war’s-end is that it was produced by a key convergence: the sentiments and aspirations of the masses being shared by the political leadership.  That kind of agreement on one matter does not imply agreement on all matters across the board. 

"The political leadership can (and will, if history means anything) deploy troops to achieve ends that may not be to the liking of vast sections of the population.  Troops follow orders.  They are deployed, most often, when other state agencies have failed to resolve a particular problem.  They are a last line of defense, sure, but what they are defending could be people’s interest (shared by the political leadership) or political interest (irrelevant to the general public).  They can err, they can be excessive.  What I forgot was that they follow orders and that the order is not always mandated by the people.

"I should not give blank cheques to anyone.  Not the troops, not the political leadership.  I can cheer of course, but not without relinquishing my right to criticize."   



sajic said...

Is a 'patriotic citizen' expected to cheer the armed forces when they attack patently unarmed citizens who protest in a cause? Why are soldiers in battle gear sent to quell a protest,even if it turns angry, when the country has an adequate police force with riot squads?

Anonymous said...

What is most disturbing is the attitude of the authorities to justify the attack on the unarmed citizens by announcing that first the unarmed citizens have shot at the forces. Who on earth would take this seriously.