Humanity demands fairness and goodness. Even in war civility is the way for a more peaceful world. That’s what our instincts say and that is what is most ethical.
However, when one goes back to history, one sees that those who were ruthless and not shy of completing a hostile exercise to its logical end were more successful. Whether it is right or wrong.. good or bad, the truth is that the in war and infighting half-way never works. Either you go the full way or don’t start at all.
If you look at the Islamic conquests, the European invaders, including the British and the US in WW-II against Japan, one would see that the reason why they changed the history was that they ruthlessly put the opposition down. They would either kill everybody en-mass or they would take them as slaves. All these examples (except to some extent, the US action in WW-II) are examples of aggression and not self-defence. Whether the proponents put a cloak of religious expansion and spreading the “love” of their Prophet or Leader, cannot hide the aggressive intent.
Nevertheless, If you are fighting opposition in a war then civility in the war of treating your opposition with humanity has not been a best practice. We, in India, have been the prime exponent of that – from Prithviraj Chauhan (against Ghori) to Indira Gandhi (in 1971 against ZA Bhutto and Pakistan).
Again, I know our culture does believe that being good to your opponent in war IS a virtue but if you would read history you would realize that it is somehow not the best practice.
Sri Lanka has been suffering for decades now from Tamil terrorism. The Tamil “tigers” were like mad warriors on hire for money as terrorism had seeped deep into their blood. ISI could hire LTTE operatives for a few thousand dollars to do suicide bombings or terror attacks anywhere in the subcontinent. Sheikh Hasina’s assassination attempt by LTTE financed by ISI was a prime example of that. There was NO way to clearly separate a “Normal and peace-loving” Sri Lankan Tamil from a “terrorist Sri Lankan Tamil”.
That terrorist machine has finally come to an end.
Today, the news came that Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the 54-year-old founder-chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); and his son Charles Anthony along with LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman, Sea Tiger chief, Soosai were dead. As the Sri Lankan forces kept on the offensive despite the international pressure, and the interference by politicians from Tamil Nadu like DMK’s Karunanidhi – the SL forces finally got their most coveted prize – Prabhakaran. He is finally gone and the force that had made terrorism into an art is finally winding to its demise.
Prabhakaran was trying to get out of the war zone in a battered ambulance but was surrounded by the Government forces and the ambulance was burnt and 3 bodies were recovered from it.
Terrorism has no business in civil life and the only way to END terrorism is to completely and comprehensively crush it. I know it all sounds de-humanizing but one has to very clearly understand the meaning of Ahimsa in the broader context – specifically when faced with a violent foe.
Ahimsa cannot be in context of “a” person. It has to be in the context of the Universe as a whole.
Destruction is as much a property of the Universe as Creation is. The predominance of hatred in the Universe is – Ahimsa. It is not that “IF” you fight (and/or kill), but ‘WHY” you fight (and/or kill) that matters.
There are times when even Saints have taken up arms. In ancient Vedic scriptures, Ram and Krishna, Parashurama, even teachers like Dronacharya had taken up arms. In written and known history, Guru Gobind Singh was the prime example. From Guru Tegh Bahadur’s quiet sacrifice to the violence of his son, Guru Gobind Singh was a giant leap in “Ethics and Religion” but in spiritual terms, it was a continuation of action for duty and duty ONLY.
It is very important to discern who will one consider practicing Ahimsa and who practiced Himsa.
When arms are taken up to save one’s self or one’s own, then it cannot be brushed aside as Himsa against the Universe. When you destroy – ANYTHING.. even break a fruit from a fruit tree or as a carnivore kill a smaller animal – MORE than is “Absolutely” required, then it is surely Violence.
Carnivores like Lion etc. do kill but not for “game”. They kill “just enough”.
“Intelligent” nature can be accused of demonic behavior – “Unintelligent” nature (or nature with no “mind” of its own) cannot be. It is following the simple law of nature. Law of Nature is neither Violent. Nor Non-violent.
However, whether you want to kill to survive or kill for the game and for expansion, if you are on the battlefield, then it is foolish to go back without a decisive victory. It is interesting that in the Vedantic context, War and Ahimsa has never been considered antithetic. Rather, War is treated like any other duty. Like eating is for a Lion.
So when Prabhakaran was killed it was a victory for humanity.