A few weeks later, Kaplan evaluates Sri Lanka successfully ending a quarter-century insurgency:
So is there any lesson here? Only a chilling one. The ruthlessness and brutality to which the Sri Lankan government was reduced in order to defeat the Tigers points up just how nasty and intractable the problem of insurgency is. The Sri Lankan government made no progress against the insurgents for nearly a quarter century, until they turned to extreme and unsavory methods. Could they have won without terrorizing the media and killing large numbers of civilians? Perhaps, but probably not without help from the Chinese, who, in addition to their military aid, gave the Sri Lankan government diplomatic cover at the UN Security Council.
These are methods the U.S. should never use. But the fact that this is what it took for the Sri Lankan government to subdue the Tamil Tigers makes clear just what a hard grind lies ahead for the U.S. in Afghanistan.
(Photo: An injured man is taken to a ward in the main hospital of Colombo on February 20, 2009 after he was wounded following a rebel Tamil Tiger attack. Tamil Tigers carried out a kamikaze-style attack in Sri Lanka's capital late tonight, smashing a light aircraft into the main tax building, killing two people and wounding 50, officials said. Sri Lanka's air force said anti aircraft guns shot down one of the light aircraft that had flown over the tightly-guarded capital while the remains of the second was found inside the Inland Revenue building, which caught fire. By Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty.)