The President himself has recently acknowledged the importance of Strategic Studies and national security when he recently stated “the country’s national security and territorial integrity would never be compromised”. In the light of this statement the closure of the office of Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defence comes as a surprise. Devoting special attention to ‘Strategy’ both during a conflict and in the period after that is absolutely vital for our national security and to establish stable and lasting peace.
With the closing of this office, one is left to wonder whether these decision makers fully understand the relationship between Strategy and the concept of Security; along with the concept of Security goes Power. Do we have the power to control our destiny? To the extent that we do not have the power to control our destiny, to that extent our so-called sovereignty is impaired. Since we do not have the military power to ensure our security, we have to resort to ‘soft power’ or Diplomacy or Persuasion to safeguard our Sovereignty and Independence. This is where the intelligence agencies and agencies such as our Strategic Studies Institute of the Defence Ministry, which has been wound up, and the Foreign Ministry come into play.
Yes, Diplomacy, Intelligence gathering and international co-operation are vital and this is where Strategic Studies, and the office of Strategic Studies become important. Do we today have a political, economic and social strategy to consolidate the peace we have achieved? This I believe was the role of the office that has been closed down. Almost all developed countries recognize the importance of having a strategy and having agencies in their governments to advise them on strategy. The subject is also taught in Universities in developed countries.
I have had a personal interest in the subject and therefore have followed the work done by this agency, which had the good fortune of having a wholly committed, professional officer as its chief who worked tirelessly on a strategy to professionalize the police service in particular. It is indeed a pity that we closed this important agency; we have shot ourselves in the foot.
Now that Parliament has been dissolved and a caretaker administration is in place until the next government is formed after the forthcoming general elections, what is the ‘position’ or status of the decisions with regard to certain important matters such as for instance the Recall of all heads of Missions, some Service Chiefs, merely because they had been appointed during the Rajapakse Government, without examining their performances (yes,some were Service Chiefs and another an Indian expert) and the closure of offices such as the office of Strategic Affairs of the Ministry of Defence, to mention just a few instances, this was not in the national interest; should not such actions be suspended until such time as the new government is in place?
I do hope that those now involved in decision making would re examine their decisions without prejudice and think in terms of our national interest. I do not think that in this Information Age one needs to re-explain or re-emphasize the importance and significance of Strategic Studies --- so let us see the immediate re establishment of this office which does not need to await a new administration.
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