Disaster capitalism, neo-liberal peace and a return to war

With the end of peace in Sri Lanka, the time has come for a massive re-appraisal of the international community’s successes, failures and outright incompetencies in the name of rehabilitation, reconstruction and peace-building.

Peace in Sri Lanka is increasingly an international legal fiction – an assumption contrary to ground realities. The ebb of peace in the palm-fringed, tourist-friendly island is indexed in the return of 'dirty war', a rising body count, trickle of refugees to South India, as well as suicide bombings and barricades in Colombo. For the first time, there have been coordinated attacks on international aid agencies. As the head of the Scandinavian peace Monitoring Mission noted recently, there is an ongoing low-scale, low-intensity war.

Even though neither the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), nor the government has formally withdrawn from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), the new war continues the spiral of the (para-) militarisation of civil society, with a 'war economy' sustained by terror, taxation and international post-conflict and post-Tsunami reconstruction assistance. These trends point to the possibility that the current conflict may also achieve a self-sustaining momentum beyond ethnic minority grievances as it has done in the past.

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Himal Southasian