When An Insurgency Ends

Hitchens tries to draw some lessons from the end of the insurgency in Sri Lanka last week:

It's just not true, as some liberals tend to believe, that insurgencies, once under way, have history on their side. As well as by nations like Britain and Russia, they can be beaten by determined Third World states, such as Algeria in the 1990s and even Iraq in the present decade. Insurgent leaderships often make mistakes on the "hearts and minds" front, just as governments do, and governments are not always stupid to ban the press from the front line, tell the human rights agencies to stay the hell out of the way, and rely on the popular yearning for law and order. It can also be important to bear in mind, as in Sri Lanka became crucial, that majorities have rights, too.

Andrew Exum doesn't seem to agree:

If anything, this conflict has shown why the United States and its allies cannot prosecute counterinsurgency campaigns in a firepower-heavy, enemy-centric way. The human cost of this conflict has been horrific, and just before the surrender, calls were mounting for a freeze on international aid to Sri Lanka. An investigation into war crimes also looms. So while an insurgency has finally ended, I am not sure what lessons the United States and its allies can draw from the performance and employment of Sri Lanka's security forces.

Mia Bloom's article from yesterday's WaPo also takes a different tack:

To counter the Tigers, the government implemented a policy of targeted assassination and did it with amazing accuracy. And though they did kill off the entire LTTE leadership in the end, Sri Lanka would do well to keep in mind that in other parts of the world, killing the leadership simply radicalizes the next generation and does not resolve the conflict.

This is not how terrorism ends, but it could be an intermission.