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Comparing Sri Lanka and Colombia

A Research Paper presented by:

Fabio Andres Diaz


in partial fulfilment of the requirements for obtaining the degree of



Conflict Reconstruction and Human Security

Members of the examining committee:

Professor MansoobMurshed

Professor Helen Hintjens

The Hague, TheNetherlands
November, 2011


This document represents part of the author’s study programme while at the Institute of Social Studies. The views stated therein are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute.


Postal address: Institute of Social Studies

P.O. Box 29776
2502 LT The Hague
The Netherlands

Location: Kortenaerkade 12

2518 AX The Hague
The Netherlands

Telephone: +31 70 426 0460

Fax: +31 70 426 0799



List of Tables 6

List of Figures 6

List of Acronyms 8

Abstract 9

Chapter 1. Introduction 1

1.1 Introduction 1

Protracted and intractable conflicts (Coleman, 2000; Zartman, 2005) present a major challenge to scholars studying civil wars, and ‘complex’ wars (Kaldor, 1999; Kalivas, 2001; Kalivas, 2010). Their resolution and comprehension tends to be difficult and complicated, with no accepted frameworks for understanding why peace initiatives so often fail (Kalivas, 2001). The usual frameworks proposed for conflict solution include: negotiations, third party intervention and mediation, development programmes, as well as policies geared towards social change which eliminates the social injustices and structural violence thought to underpin violence and grievances (Ballentine, 2003; Jacoby, 2008). However, these efforts have not proven to be effective methods of achieving peace in very protracted conflict situations like Sri Lanka and Colombia (Sørensen, 2001; Toft, 2010; Walter, 2004; Lutwakk, 1999). Therefore, this study reassesses an old framework. What about reconsidering the military solution’s ‘end’ to civil violence; the imposition of peace through force of arms? In other terms, this study will look at war as a means to achieving peace in civil warenvironments. 1

To explore this question, I present here a comparative study of war as a means to achieving peace in Sri Lanka and Colombia. The military solution is considered by some to have brought about an ‘end’ to 26 years of civil war in the former (Arambewela, 2010; Shastri, 2009; Devotta, 2009). In the case of the latter, the Colombian conflict has dragged on for more than 50 years(Chernik, 2005; Sanin, 2005; Bushnell,1996), with a policy of all-out war having been in place for the last 8 years (2002-2010). This study will explore, compare and contrast both cases. The aim is to deepen our insight into the underpinnings of how military approaches have gained momentum in each country, what the logic was behind this shift in policy towards ‘peace’ (in both cases the military option emerged after a failed peace process). The examples demonstrate, in the case of Sri Lanka, a ‘successful’ military option, and in the case of Colombia, what might be considered a ‘marginally successful military option.’ 1

1.2 Two countries in a nutshell 1

1.3 What it is all about: All-out War 4

1.4 Validity and Justification 5

1.5 Objectives 6

1.6 Research questions and working hypotheses 6

1.7 Structure of the document 7

Chapter 2. Colombia and Sri Lanka: from colony to all-out war 8

2.1 Introduction 8

2.2 Colonial times: seeds of destruction? 9

2.3 The struggle after independence: looking for a nation and finding civil war 11

2.4 War as a phoenix phenomenon 13


2.5 Post 9/11: Justification, endogeinity, and discourse 17

2.6 Conclusion: new wars and the offspring of 9/11 19

Chapter 3. A theory of practice? The All-out war solution. 20

3.1 Introduction 20

3.2 All-out war: a solution for failed peace processes? 20

3.3 All-out war –a conceptual primer? 23

3.4 Achievement of ‘peace’through war, Sri Lanka and Colombia 24

3.5 Conclusion 30

Chapter 4. Theory,contradictions and practice: ontologies, ‘state’ making, and development 31

4.1 Collateral damage: weak foundations of the all-out war theory 31

4.2 Big Bang: ‘‘Tillian’’ Wars 33

4.3 Death (practice): Is war producing a particular model of development and state making? 38

4.4 Conclusion: Biases and implications 42

Chapter 5. Conclusions and reflections 43

References. 45

Luttwak, Edward N. (1999) ‘Give War a Chance’, Foreign Affairs 78(4): 36-44. 50

List of Tables

Figure2.1 Map of Colombia showing the DMZ 14

Figure2.2 Map of Sri Lanka showing the area claimed as Tamil homeland 16

Figure3.1 Military spending as proportion of the GDP 25

Figure2.2 Military expenditure of Colombia and Sri Lanka 25

Figure3.3 Size of the insurgent forces 25

Figure3.4 Size of military forces in Colombia and Sri Lanka 25

Figure3.5 GDP growth in Colombia and Sri Lanka 26

Figure3.6 Battle deaths related to the Colombian conflict (according to two different sources) 28

Figure3.7 Battle deaths related to the conflict in Sri Lanka 29

Figure4.1 Quintessential elements of the ‘give war a chance’ theory 33

Figure4.2 Size of the military forces, government expenditure and revenue in Colombia 35

Figure4.3 Size of the military forces and revenue in Sri Lanka 36

Figure4.4 Revenuesand taxes on income in Sri Lanka 36

Figure4.5 Government Debt 40

Figure4.6 Economic openess 40

Figure4.6 Political terror scale for Colombia and Sri Lanka 40

Figure4.7 Displaced population of Colombia 41

List of Acronyms

FARC -Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia

ELN -Ejercito de LiberacionNaciona

AUC -AutodefensasUnidas de Colombia

CGSB -CoordinadoraGuerrillera Simon Bolivar

JPV -JanathaVimukthiPeramuna

JHU -JathikaHelaUrumaya

LTTE - Liberation Tamils of Tamil Elam

SNL - Sri Lanka NidahasPakshaya

UNP -United National Party

PTOMS - Post Tsunami Operation Management Structure

SLMM -Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission

EU -European Union

US -United States

OAS -Organization of American States

DMZ -De-militarized zone

HRW -Human Rights Watch

ICG -International Crisis Group

ICRC -International Commission of the Red Cross

UNHR -United Nation Human Rights Commission

UNHCR -United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

CSO -Civil society organization

DDR - Disarming, demobilization and reintegration

GDP -Gross domestic product


This paper investigates the emergence of a military approach as a means to solving protracted civil conflicts in the particular cases of Sri Lanka and Colombia. The article attempts a comparative study of the military alternatives emerging as an end to civil war in both countries. The approach adopted is to study the emergence of these military options within the context of each country’s history and to assess whether the call for war was merely a consequence of the war on terror, or driven by internal elements. The paper explores the epistemological groundings and pitfalls of the all-out war theory informing this approach, before reassessing the significance and validity of the theory in relation to Sri Lanka and Colombia. Finally, the liberal peace framework is used to approach an understanding of how development is being conceptualized through the practice of the all-out war theory in these two countries.

In order to do so, this document performs a comparative analysis, as well as an historical study of the evolution of both conflicts, incorporating elements of discourse analysis. The document also explores the notion of ‘‘Tillian’’ wars from an agent based perspective, not only to establish the logic and validity of these approaches, but also as a means to understanding possible solutions to protracted and intractable wars.


Civil war, conflict resolution, peace settlement, military victory, agent based theories, Colombia, Sri Lanka, protracted conflicts.

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