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Victory in a war is determined by the political leadership – Minister Sarath Weerasekera

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by Saman Indrajith

The then corporal of the school cadet platoon is today a cabinet minister, while the sergeant of the same platoon now is an opposition MP, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera told Parliament on Thursday.

Participating in the budget debate under the expenditure heads of the Ministries of Defence and Public Security, the Minister said that Gampaha District SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, in his speech said that he (Fonseka) gave leadership to the army to win the war and the corporal, while he was the sergeant of the school cadet platoon has now become a cabinet minister.

“It is true. I was the corporal in the cadet platoon when Fonseka was the sergeant. Today I am a cabinet minister,” Weerasekera said.

Field Marshal Fonseka: I said so without any ill-will. I wish you all the luck with your appointment. I am only asking you to take care and be vigilant of those on your side today.

Minister Weerasekera: I don’t think that our past would hinder any of us doing our duties and our present positions will harm our friendship.

Minister Weerasekara however said that he disagreed with Field Marshal Fonseka’s view that political leadership should be deprived of the credit of victory for the war. “I was one of the five top military personnel honoured at the end of the war. I admit that the army went from strength to strength under Field Marshal Fonseka, but I have to say that the victory of a war is determined by the political leadership. War is an extension of politics. There can be politics without war but there cannot be war without politics”.

He said that World War II was won by Winston Churchill. It was lost by Adolph Hitler. The names of generals and admirals come only after those names. Today, thousands of people in Vietnam are walking thousands of miles braving the sun and rain to come and respect Ho Chi Min, the political leader of the Vietnam war. They don’t come to respect the war winning general Vo Nguyen Giap.

There is a museum in honour of Ho Chi Min and no museum in the name of General Giap. Similarly, when General MacArthur tried to extend the Korean war up to China, the then US President Harry Truman removed him and appointed General Matthew Ridgeway in his place. That is how the politicians decide the outcome of a war. So it is always the political leadership that determines the victory of war, the Minister further said.

“We know that in 1987, we were very close to ending the war with the Vadamarachchi operation. The then political leadership got cold feet when India dropped lentils from the air and stopped the operation. We still remember the tears in the eyes of General Denzil Kobbekaduwa for depriving him of victory. Similarly, on May 19, 2009, we saw the end of Prabhakaran. Several days prior to that David Miliband from England and Bernard Kuchner from France came to pressure the then president and defence secretary to stop the war. If the then political leadership decided to stop the war, you would not become a hero today”, he added.

Field Marshal Fonseka: I spoke about soldiers. You speak about politicians. 



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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