Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Human Rights & War Don't Mix

Under pressure from Western countries and human rights organizations, Sri Lanka apparently promised to avoid using "heavy artillery" as it attempts to finish off Tamil Tiger resistance. But Human Rights Watch says they are using "heavy guns" anyway, and killing civilians.

"Recent satellite photos and witness accounts show the brutal shelling of civilians in the conflict area goes on," said Brad Adams, the Asia director of HRW. "Neither the Sri Lankan army nor the Tamil Tigers appear to have any reluctance in using civilians as cannon fodder."
Guess what? That's called war. Sri Lanka is attempting to crush Tamil Tiger resistance. The Tigers follow no "rules" of war, carry out terrorist attacks, employ child soldiers, and hide amongst civilians who they use as human shields. But the Sri Lankans are supposed to hinder their own military operations, and put their own soldiers at greater risk, all in the name of human rights. The idea that Sri Lanka can't use artillery because they might kill civilians is completely idiotic. Why not just tell them they can't fight at all?

The Obama administration has been involved in the West's efforts to restrain Sri Lanka, interference that is both unnecessary and dangerous. It is unnecessary because it is none of our business what Sri Lanka does in quelling a separatist movement. The area has no particular strategic interest for the U.S. But more importantly, such action is dangerous to U.S. interests. If we recognize a principle that outside states, let alone human rights organizations, can dictate what weapons can and cannot be used during military operations, that principle will be used against the U.S. in the future. 

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