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Fonseka's arrest

Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka's arrest came as no surprise, though he may have been confident that the government would fight shy of taking him in. His confidence may have prompted him to challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a few hours before the military police descended on him, to arrest him. It is a supreme irony that on the eve of the recently concluded presidential election Fonseka threatened that, in the event of his victory, he would haul up some serving military officers including those who led the war in the Vanni and killed Prabhakaran, before a military court for allegedly having engaged in politics. He also vowed to throw his political rivals behind bars first thing after victory!

Charges against Fonseka are now known to the public. Among them are questionable arms deals, an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government and assassinate the incumbent president and causing rifts in the army during his tenure as both the army commander and Chief of Defence Staff. Military Spokesman Maj. Gen. Prasad Samarasinghe told a TV channel yesterday that military laws applied even to the ex-servicemen within six months of their leaving the army.

The Opposition has condemned Fonseka's arrest and accused the government of a witch hunt. True, the unfolding drama is not without the trappings of a witch hunt and one may have reservations about the course of action that the government has embarked upon to deal with its erstwhile friend. But, the blame for Fonseka's plight must be apportioned to the Opposition, which tried to use that warrior as a cat's paw to pull political chestnuts from the fire.

Gen. Fonseka need not have suffered this kind of humiliation. He could have remained CDS for several more years and retired gracefully without being dragged into the cesspit of politics. We, in our small way, tried to dissuade him from falling for the wiles of bankrupt politicians, but to no avail. They who are crying blue murder about a witch hunt against Fonseka, remind us of a scene from Macbeth, where three witches meet the eponym upon a heath near Forres and greet him: "All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!"

In Fonseka’s case, the JVP, the UNP and the SLFP (M) or their leaders, desperate to cover up their political impotence and nudity, played the three witches and polluted Fonseka's mind after the army's spectacular victory in the Vanni. Fonseka took their 'prophesy' seriously and tried to be king only to find himself in deep trouble.

These crafty politicos also likened Gen. Fonseka to General Dwight Eisenhower, who went on to become US President. Fonseka with a massive ego to nurse fell for their tricks hook, line and sinker. Eisenhower was never in an indecent hurry to stand for presidency, unlike Fonseka.

Little did Fonseka realise that it was Gen. Douglas MacArthur's political fate, and not Eisenhower's, that awaited him. President Truman's famous words about the ambitions of Eisenhower and MacArthur come to mind; ‘the nation's two greatest heroes seem to suffer from either 'Potomac fever' [desire to share State power in Washington by being appointed or elected to positions of government] or 'brass infection'.

Our generals seem to suffer from Diyawanna (or Beira?) fever besides 'brass infection'!

As for Gen. Fonseka's arrest, it is hoped that the government and the army will operate within the confines of the law without succumbing to prejudices, political or otherwise. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.

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