Masters of arts in development studies

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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 4

List of Figures 4

List of Acronyms 5

Abstract 6

Chapter 1. Introduction 7

1.1 Introduction 7

1.2 Two countries in a nutshell 7

1.3 What it is all about: All-out War 9

1.4 Validity and Justification 10

1.5 Objectives 11

1.6 Research questions and working hypotheses 11

1.7 Structure of the document 12

Chapter 2. Colombia and Sri Lanka: from colony to all-out war 13

2.1 Introduction 13

2.2 Colonial times: seeds of destruction? 14

2.3 The struggle after independence: looking for a nation and finding civil war 15

2.4 War as a phoenix phenomenon 17


Also known as theIndian Ocean earthquake of 2004. 20

2.5 Post 9/11: Justification, endogeinity, and discourse 21

2.6 Conclusion: new wars and the offspring of 9/11 22

Chapter 3. A theory of practice? The All-out war solution. 23

3.1 Introduction 23

3.2 All-out war: a solution for failed peace processes? 23

3.3 All-out war –a conceptual primer? 25

3.4 Achievement of ‘peace’through war, Sri Lanka and Colombia 27

3.5 Conclusion 31

Chapter 4. Theory,contradictions and practice: ontologies, ‘state’ making, and development 32

4.1 Collateral damage: weak foundations of the all-out war theory 32

4.2 Big Bang: ‘‘Tillian’’ Wars 34

4.3 Death (practice): Is war producing a particular model of development and state making? 37

4.4 Conclusion: Biases and implications 40

Chapter 5. Conclusions and reflections 41

References. 43

Luttwak, Edward N. (1999) ‘Give War a Chance’, Foreign Affairs 78(4): 36-44. 47

List of Tables

List of Figures

Map of Colombia showing the DMZ 18


Map of Sri Lanka showing the area claimed as Tamil homeland 19


Military spending as proportion of the GDP 28


Military expenditure of Colombia and Sri Lanka 28


Size of the insurgent forces 28


Size of military forces in Colombia and Sri Lanka 28


GDP growth in Colombia and Sri Lanka 28


Battle deaths related to the Colombian conflict (according to two different sources) 29


Battle deaths related to the conflict in Sri Lanka 30


Quintessential elements of the ‘give war a chance’ theory 34


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


Size of the military forces and revenue in Sri Lanka 36


Revenuesand taxes on income in Sri Lanka 36


Government Debt 39


Economic openess 39


Political terror scale for Colombia and Sri Lanka 39


Displaced population of Colombia 39

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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