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Living with terrorism, working with the "enemy"

By itsbruce in Op-Ed
Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 11:39:18 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

I live in London. Bombs kill people here. I am one year older than the current "troubles" in Northern Ireland and the threat of terrorism has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My younger brother, an RAF pilot, is forbidden to wear his uniform on the streets of his own country because it would make him a target.

Many of my colleagues are Irish Catholics. Most of them have at least some (and often more than some) sympathy for the aims and methods of the IRA. One of them was in the past an active fundraiser. To that man my brother and I (who have never worn a uniform) represent legitimate targets.

How I deal with this may be relevant to you.

When my brother joined the RAF, my mother wanted a picture of him in his new uniform. So that Christmas he brought his uniform with him to our family home in Scotland. Traditionally all our parents' important photographs of us are taken outside with the house behind us. But this time my brother put on his uniform in his bedroom, stood in the hallway to be photographed and then changed back into civilian clothes. Though his politics and choice of career mark him out in our family, we are proud of him. But the furtiveness of the whole procedure took something away from it.

At the end of the week he went back to his (constantly guarded) station. He then drove to the local town, absent-mindedly leaving a suitcase in the carpark. Station security destroyed it in a controlled detonation as a suspect device.

These incidents may seem trivial but they introduced an element of anxiety and fear that has never left our family life.

For the last ten years I have lived and worked in London. Bomb scares, bomb threats and real bombs have been a regular feature of life. I don't want to over-dramatise this: it's been a while since IRA bombs caused large-scale death and destruction in the UK mainland. I wouldn't begin to compare the element of danger in my life to that of someone living in Northern Ireland, let alone any of the far more dangerous and unstable parts of the world. But when the litter-bins disappear from all the busy public places (bombs may be hidden in them), when the center of your city has a permanent security cordon placed around it, when a bomb goes off on the bridge you crossed that morning or smashes the windows of a friend's offices, when you don't talk about your brother's travel arrangements outside of the family, when all of this becomes so familiar that you can't remember things being different and a rocket attack on a government building draws comment more for its novelty value than its threat to life - when all that is true things are wrong.

So how should I see my colleagues? My grandfather hated all the Irish, my uncle won't stock Irish butter in his shop. They would certainly see my colleagues as the "enemy". Should I be showing them the same hostility and suspicion?

That's the point of this article: not to say that I live under the daily threat of death, because I don't. But every day I work alongside people from a community which has been involved in a low-intensity war with my own for the past thirty three years (not to mention most of the last millennium). If my brother were to die at the hands of Irish Nationalists, should I demand retribution against that community?

Well, I don't treat them with hostility or as my enemy and I'd feel like a damn hypocrite demanding blood-tribute. All of them know someone (friend or family) who was killed in the conflict, their families live with an environment of violence and hatred which makes trivial the minor disruption to my own life. Some of them are old enough to remember the signs in London boarding houses which said "No Blacks, Dogs or Irish".

This does not mean that I accept the tactics of the IRA in any way. And if they killed my brother I know I'd be wanting to kill someone, somewhere to answer for my family's pain. But there are some other things I know:

  • I know that my own country's history in Ireland is a bloody one, even if what my great grandfather may have done to someone else's great grandfather is no justification for killing someone today.
  • I know that elements within my own government and security services have tolerated, ignored and at times sponsored the Loyalist terror groups. Many in the Nationalist community - even those who don't support the IRA - see the IRA as their community's only defence against those terror groups (and against us).
  • I know that much of the population of the UK see the whole conflict as nothing to do with them but as a fight between two mad tribes over the sea, even when confronted with direct evidence of UK complicity. (And I know that this refusal to accept responsibility helps convince many Nationalists that violence is the only solution).
  • I know (and my compatriots on k5 may attack me for this) that most of the members of the IRA are neither mad nor cowards, however much I may be disgusted by their actions and the reasoning by which they seek to justify them.
  • I know that we can never achieve a military victory over the IRA and that attempting one will only cause more death and pain, maybe for another millennium.

The Peace Process, such as it is, is the only hope for all the communities involved. Nobody is going to like it, nobody is going to get what they want, nobody is going to win any kind of victory except the kind that comes from not living with violence and death (possibly the only real victory there can be).

Knowing all this, my colleagues and I get along pretty well. Though this is easier for me than for them: this is my home but while it is a friendly enough place for them to work today, it wasn't so in living memory and the future holds no guarantees.

That's just my view, though. Many of my compatriots see it differently. My brother, for example, doesn't think we should be making peace with the IRA. Who he thinks we should be making peace with, I'm not sure. The Belgians, possibly. Actually, that's a bad joke. He wants a military victory - which is a worse one.

Then there are my friends who work in the Docklands area (and who were lucky not to be killed when the IRA detonated a huge bomb nearby). They have spent the last few days telling anyone who will listen that they have no sympathy for the distress of Americans today. They think that until the US extradites those of its citizens who collect money and arms for the IRA, the US should itself be under sanction as a terrorist state. If they thought the UK had the muscle they'd feel perfectly justified in taking direct action. (This may just be a bloody-minded way of saying "Now you know how it feels" but I think they're more than half serious)

How much of this is relevant to the current situation in America? Do the various views described above have any parallels in the various ways Americans are trying to deal with Tuesday's atrocity? You decide. I just want to say this: depending on how you look at it, we in these little islands have spent either my whole life or the last thousand years shouting for victory and retribution. Only as each of the several sides has begun to acknowledge the futility of "victory" has any hope of peace and sanity approached (and this may yet fail).

But then, no side here has right entirely on its side. Maybe you are different.


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Terrorism in the UK
o Has nothing to do with the WTC 8%
o Isn't terrorism, it's what the Brits deserve 6%
o May have parallels with the WTC but a military solution will work for America 4%
o Has close parallels with the current US situation 72%
o Has a military solution, you traitor 3%
o Means nothing to me 4%

Votes: 61
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by itsbruce

Display: Sort:
Living with terrorism, working with the "enemy" | 52 comments (52 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
A perspective I've been looking for (4.18 / 16) (#1)
by FuzzyOne on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 03:07:43 AM EST

On the morning of 9/11, I attended a conference in the US where the speaker, a UK resident, gave the keynote speech. At the time of the speech, the attack on the WTC was known to have occurred; the decision was made (wisely, IMHO) to continue with the conference so as not to "give in" to the goal of the terrorists.

However, the speech went on with two of the four large projection screens in the conference hall silently showing live coverage of the events in NYC. As I half-listened to the speech, watching as the second WTC tower crumbled on the screen in an almost surreal scene, I wondered what this speaker, who lived amid real threats of terrorism in his home country, thought of the most significant taste of terrorism on US soil in terms of his own experience.

This piece helped fill in those blanks.

+1 and thanks.

There are some parallels, but... (3.23 / 17) (#2)
by JetJaguar on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:47:44 AM EST

First, I must admit that I am not an expert on the conflict in Northern Ireland. My knowledge of the details are somewhat sketchy, so the parallels that I might draw may be weaker (or stronger) than the reality of the situation.

I think (and maybe I'm wrong about this) that there is at least one big difference between the Ireland conflict and what's happening in the middle east. It seems to me that (as many of the fundamentalist leaders seem to indicate) they view western civilization in general as a pox, something that must be destroyed for the good of mankind (or Allah). I don't believe the problems in Ireland run this deep (or if they are that deep, they are still different), as the IRA doesn't seem to be interested in destroying the UK, they have a certain agenda and demands, but the destruction of every living Brit doesn't really seem to be high on the list. In other words, the way you live, the way you have chosen to live your life (overall), your very existence, is not something that a member of the IRA sees as a threat...eg, you don't hear members of the IRA calling the British gov't, the "Great Satan." So, in that sense I think the situation is different.

However, I think your overall point, that the peace process is everyone's only hope, is probably correct. I think the US would much rather make peace with the countries (and the people) in the middle east rather than have to go after them with military force, but, it seems that every other week there is some radical religious group calling for the annihilation of the US...getting people like that to the negotiating table is extremely difficult as long as they are able to drum up more followers willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause. As long as these people see the west as a civilization to be destroyed, peace is probably impossible...and lot of people on both sides are going to pay the ultimate price for this insanity.

These fanatics will not succeed in destroying western civilation, they can make life hard and frightening, they can hijack every commercial aircraft we own and crash one into every major city, but none of those acts will give them victory... Just as sending in ground troops into unsympathetic countries is likely to not be very succesful either. I just hope it doesn't take us too long to learn this lesson, but I fear the worst.

The Reason (3.12 / 8) (#4)
by NotZen on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 12:38:04 PM EST

The Reason why these extremists think that western society is a pox is that they have been badly affected by western (frequently USA) influence. Bin Laden, for instance, attacks the US because they prop up a corrupt Saudi Government.

[ Parent ]
Sigh... (3.84 / 13) (#5)
by JetJaguar on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 01:11:51 PM EST

This is true, but only up to a point. You can't blame the US for every problem in the middle-east. Many of the troubles there go back long before the US held any influence and power. It may be true that we (the US) have exacerbated some of the problems, but we are not ultimately responsible for every bad thing that happens over there.

As for Bin Laden's hate of the US, it goes far deeper than propping up the Saudi government. The fact is that Bin Laden is far and away much more conservative than the Saudi government, you only need to look at those who support him to see that. If he (or someone he supports) were in power in Saudi Arabia, things would be much worse there than they are now.

You also seem to imply that US influence is the only thing keeping these people down. Not so. Their own governments screw them over far worse than anything the US has done, imho. However, it's more than simply western political influence that's a problem, they are afraid of the western way of life. Our freedom of expression, our liberal social attitudes, our entertainment, the breadth of our civil rights. Many see that as a means for corrupting thier way of life (and their children). To merely say that US foreign policy is the sole reason for all of this mess is, I think, a really narrow point of view.

Anyway, my point was not to get into a debate over the reasons behind this. I just wanted to concur with the original article that it is likely that the peace process is the only hope for everyone here. Neither military invasions nor terrorist attacks are going to resolve the trouble we are facing, they will only escalate the hostilities rather than defuse them.

[ Parent ]

consider it this way... (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by Danse on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:37:11 PM EST

Their governments may be the ones screwing them over and acting like a stone resting upon the people. When the US acts to support those governments, they see us as the elephant sitting on top of the stone.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Only... (2.00 / 2) (#15)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 06:30:18 PM EST

... the great mass of the elephant doesn't give a shit to be sitting on a stone. It would rather find a chushy recliner and eat some chips while watching the t.v.

One thing the terrorist groups and other malcontents haven't really tried is nicely asking the elephant to move (in a language it can understand). They seem to choose violence as the first option.

They are like a child whose parents would have gotten them some ice cream if the child had asked, but since the child threw a fit without trying the polite route, the child deserves no ice cream and some punishment.

[ Parent ]

The elephant has its reasons (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by driptray on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 07:55:29 PM EST

the great mass of the elephant doesn't give a shit to be sitting on a stone. It would rather find a chushy recliner and eat some chips while watching the t.v.

One thing the terrorist groups and other malcontents haven't really tried is nicely asking the elephant to move (in a language it can understand).

This wins the award for naivety. The US installs reactionary dictator types as leaders in foreign countries for a reason. It's not done casually, or mistakenly, and its not something that would be gladly abandoned for the cushy recliner of foreign affairs, whatever that might be.

The elephant sits on the stone because it thinks that doing so is furthering its interests. The elephant is completely unconcerned with the people getting squashed by the stone.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
But... (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:30:16 AM EST

... it isn't the mass of the elephant that installs dictators in foreign countries. That is done by relatively tiny groups of power hungry control freaks, not the greater mass of people. However, you're right about how the greater mass doesn't care much about those crushed under the stone (I never claimed otherwise); what they do care about is the irritation that sitting on a stone can cause. Sadly, since they aren't the power hungry, they don't do much about it, as long as the irritation isn't great, and the elephant stays put.

Strange, you start off with an insult, and I'm the one getting the rating of 2.

[ Parent ]

Part of the peace process (4.80 / 5) (#10)
by mrsuit on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:43:36 PM EST

You can't blame the US for every problem in the middle-east.

Doing so would be very naive but it should be clear to everyone especially the US public that your country isn't seen in a very favourable light because of the actions of your government and agencies like the CIA. This hatred will not disappear until a peace process is started(if ever) and one of the main components of this process will have to involve the US govt re-evaluating its foreign policy, ie. trying to help overthrow(or fund) a government in a remote country half way across the world should not be a concern. These "science experiments" have back fired way too many times, a couple that come to mind is helping to get Saddam Hussein in power and giving the Taliban $43 million to help combat the war against drugs.

However, it's more than simply western political influence that's a problem, they are afraid of the western way of life. Our freedom of expression, our liberal social attitudes, our entertainment, the breadth of our civil rights. Many see that as a means for corrupting thier way of life (and their children).

Yes and no. That's a valid argument but you are only correct to a certain extent. I have lived in several countries in the middle east for about 10 years and I can assure you that they try their best to censor whatever information they feel the public should not be aware of, whether it's in the newspapers, tv, internet, etc; and they are quite efficient when it comes to that.

I feel very uncomfortable when I think about the future because tempers are flared and now more people aren't thinking very rationally. I guess it's just the pessimist in me but it will take a long time for peace to ever be an option in the middle east just because of the number of issues/conflicts involved.

[ Parent ]

huh? (2.00 / 1) (#9)
by Danse on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:38:23 PM EST

but, it seems that every other week there is some radical religious group calling for the annihilation of the US

Which other groups have done that? I haven't heard of any. Links?

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
well (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by Delirium on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:57:48 PM EST

Well, Iran for a while used to call for the destruction of the "Great Satan," but they never really bothered to actually try to do anything towards that end.

[ Parent ]
bin Laden is not the only terrorist (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by JetJaguar on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:50:09 PM EST

Remember, there are many terrorist groups through out the middle east, hamas, hezbollah (sp?), and many smaller splinter groups, none of whom think of the US in friendly terms. They all tend to be radicals prone to extremism though. I don't have the references handy, but iirc there was a "meeting" amoung all the terrorist groups recently, where the number of different groups represented was rather large (although the number of members in any particular group is probably small).

[ Parent ]
ok.. (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Danse on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 07:05:50 PM EST

AFAIK, those groups aren't after the total destruction of all Americans. They have specific goals regarding their governments and territory. Other than that, they probably wouldn't cause us any problem.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Yeah, except that... (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by JetJaguar on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 07:22:11 PM EST

One of the outcomes of the meeting I was refering to, was a general consensus that they should try to attack or harm the US whenever possible.

I'm sure there are groups that probably aren't concerned with the US at all, but it seems like most of them are (at least the ones we know about).

[ Parent ]

of course... (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by Danse on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 08:45:51 PM EST

We support governments that are trying to kill them too. I don't see why they wouldn't view us as the enemy.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Another example. (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by galazi on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 11:54:06 PM EST

A Hezbollah leader, Hussein Massawi:

We are not fighting so the enemy will offer us something. We are fighting to wipe out the enemy.

This was probably aimed more at Israel than the US, but I don't recollect Hezbollah being too fond of the US either!

[ Parent ]

An apology (4.60 / 23) (#3)
by TheophileEscargot on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 12:16:24 PM EST

As another London K5 reader I'd like to see if I can clear up some misunderstandings.

Britain has been dealing with terrorism for decades. In the process, we have made lots of mistakes over the years. In dealing with terrorism, making mistakes costs lives.

In the last few days, several British K5 readers have been posting comments and diaries with advice on dealing with terrorism. This has caused a lot of offence to Americans, many of whom feel this is none of our business. In general, we have not been intending to patronize or offend. We just don't want the U.S. to make the same deadly mistakes that we have made.

I would like to apologise to any Americans who have been offended by anything I have posted, or any other Briton has posted, on this topic over the last few days.
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

Expertise (3.77 / 9) (#6)
by davidduncanscott on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 02:19:54 PM EST

See, here's the deal. It looks to me like the Troubles have killed some 125 people in Britain over the course of your lifetime. On the other hand, here in Baltimore, Maryland, we're feeling prety good because our annual murder rate dropped below 300. Even if I include the deaths in Ireland itself, I get about 108 per year, a little less than in Memphis.

So, when it comes to killing, we figure we're the professionals, and we don't need any namby-pamby amateurs from the UK telling us what to do. In fact, we don't really need terrorists -- we were killing each other just fine before they came along.

Remember -- think globally, slay locally.

[ Parent ]

Terrorism != Killing (4.16 / 6) (#12)
by tlhf on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:09:39 PM EST

Just a short comment: The article was about terrorism, and not killings.

It's very important to draw that line. For example, the Manchester bomb, which blew up in the middle of the city in which I live, killed not a single person. This was due to adequete warnings from the IRA, who planted it. Yet the act was still clearly terrorism. As far as I know neither Memphis nor Baltimore, Maryland have ever been bombed by terrorists over political conflict.

And as Terrorism != Killings, your criticism questioning the helpfulness over British advice over the subject is void.

[ Parent ]

Hrm (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by Aztech on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 06:30:02 PM EST

That was more by luck than design, there were numerious bombs that killed and maimed many people, I think the Birmingham bombings were amongst the most callous, two bombings going off in packed bars within minutes of each other without warning. Whatever your cause, the wanton killing of innocent people doesn't help anyone in the longrun, whatever the Machiavellian plots.

Generally if you don't intend to kill people you don't plant bombs. Terrorism by definition is making people fearful of going about their daily business, by making people question their own safety because of the threat to their lives.

As for NI in general, the troubles have been going on well before I was born so I have no idea what it was like previously, as a kid I had to exit shopping centres because of bomb threats a few times, the cameras and not having dustbins in prominent places is nothing out of the ordinary, in fact I didn't really think about that until it was mentioned in the article.

As a kid I used to ask my father about NI, but he always had a general indifference having seen the same thing going on for years. I nearly put it down to ignorance but seeing a bunch of people arguing about some kids going to school a couple of weeks ago I started to understand that indifference. It's not ignorance because I understand the problems too well, but constant scenes akin to a bunch of children squabbling breeds apathy year after year. Above all this, at least now they're talking, and whatever the problems in the peace process hopefully time and dialogue will lead to a semblance of normality.

If I'm not an indifferent old man in 40 years time then they would have done their job.

The extremists who plotted the tragic events in America don't really bare a direct relation at all, they don't have a political ends, it's just misguided propaganda vented entirely the wrong way, you can't seem to talk to these people either, there is no mediation when the other side just wants you dead by any means. There is absolutely no humanity or sense of fair play with these people.

[ Parent ]
We've been scared before (4.00 / 4) (#21)
by davidduncanscott on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 09:54:19 PM EST

I'd like to point out the opening lines of the article, particularly the second:
I live in London. Bombs kill people here.

I think death has a fair amount to do with fear (probably why terrorists don't jump out and say, "BOO!"), and I think it's valid to compare your 125 deaths with 168 in Oklahoma City. I might throw in the Puerto Ricans who wounded five Congessmen in the US Capital in '54, never mind their attempt to kill Harry Truman in 1950. Lockerbie is your town, but the plane was ours. Hell, here's a whole list of attacks against Americans. Oddly enough, we haven't panicked and actually nuked anybody yet.

I do have a larger point than cheap irony, however, and that's more serious irony. Many of my countrymen are walking around saying that they "don't feel safe anymore", when just a little while ago "violent crime" was at the top of many people's list of major issues.

Though both crime rates and the perceived severity of the problem are on the wane, crime remains a top public priority. It ranked third out of 15 issues tested in with 72 percent calling it "very important" in their vote for president.
(ABC News)

Five thousand people is a hell of a lot of people. It takes us nearly 44 days to kill that many Americans on our highways, and and almost 60 days of just plain suicides. Hell, that's not quite four whole days of American cancer, and now we're terrorized?

I realize that the sense of malice is new, but I live in a town where children get shot in drive-by's, and I think maybe indifferent killers are worse. It's hard to say, but I'm not sure that I wouldn't rather die for somebody's cause than for my nifty shoes.

Besides, without getting into the Irish Problem too much, I don't think anybody would claim the UK has solved it. Near as I can tell, armed incursion followed by extended occupation is the best you have to offer, and I'm hoping we can do better. They're not terribly impressed with guns in the Middle East anymore.

[ Parent ]

It's everthing to do with the british. (2.33 / 3) (#32)
by QuantumG on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 08:51:27 AM EST

I dont know, but maybe if you hadn't put together a nation of people who are universally hated by their neighbours and then supported them for the last 90 years we wouldn't be where we are today. The US has just been following the lead of the UK, supplying billions of dollars and weapons to Israel. So the bully gets a rock thrown through his window. Big deal. Innocent people died because they blindly supported a government which stomped on the throat of some people who dont take it lying down. But the possibility of a terrorist action actually awakening the people it is aimed at (and understand that, terrorist acts are aimed at the people themselves, not the government) is so low I dont understand the use of them anymore. Why has no-one taken responsibility? It's all senseless.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Revenge is the same to all people (4.56 / 16) (#7)
by erichuf on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:14:55 PM EST

Many Americans complain that the British do not understand what the Americans are feeling, therefore you should not criticize us. I am an American, but I cannot say what the "Americans" are feeling. I can only say what I feel.

The argument that you must be an American to understand America, or that you must be an expert on Northern Ireland to pass judgement on that area, is nonsense. None of us speak for a nation or has a god-like understanding of the world. This argument is simply a convenient way to dismiss an opinion that you do not like. The Brits and others should feel free to discuss their opinions about us, just as we Americans freely pass judgement on you.

While Northern Ireland and America have different problems, revenge is the same regardless of the nation, race, or religion. There is only one type of human on this planet, and we all have the same emotions.

The reason fights got started in Northern Ireland is different than the reason the Americans and the Arabs started fighting. However, today most of the fighting is for the same reason; specifically, revenge.

And the effects of revenge are the same to all of us; namely, it makes for an unpleasant life for everybody involved.

America may become like Northern Ireland; ie, a nation where security systems are extreme, where bombings occur on a routine basis, and where businesses avoid setting up shop.

Americans may ruin their nation. The world may move the financial operations out of New York if more bombings occur, and Ameican businesses may move more operations overseas also.

More details at:


Anti-Irish in the UK = Anti-Arab in the US (2.87 / 8) (#20)
by cyberformer on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 09:48:32 PM EST

The terrorism in Britain/Ireland is on a much smaller scale than in the US (more people died in the WTC alone than in 30+ years of the "troubles"), but there's one important parallel: the scapegoating of innocent people.

In the UK, this meant that Irish people were rounded up and locked in jail for many years after bombings in Birmingham, and later released after they were proven innocent. In the US, we're already seeing random attacks on ordinary Arabs and Muslims (exactly what the fundamentalists want, of course --- they can't stand to see people of their own race and religion living peacefully among the infidels). We may see innocent people convicted too, except that the death penalty means they will never be released.

It is not about numbers (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by amanset on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 07:18:32 AM EST

Terrorism isn't about how many people you kill - it is about disrupting life and scaring the shit out of people.

The US will heal. The amoutn of dead people was tragic, but soon enough things will get back to normal. Terrorism is about people being scared over a long, long period of time.

[ Parent ]

Presumptions (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by Aztech on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 07:18:49 AM EST

"In the UK, this meant that Irish people were rounded up and locked in jail for many years after bombings in Birmingham, and later released after they were proven innocent."
First of all you make that sound like hundreds of civilians were locked up without reason or trial, the six people who were convicted for the Birmingham bombings were given due process and had a trial like anyone else and were found guilty by the standards of the time, they weren't just locked up.

"Proven innocent" is an entirely subjective term, their original case was found to be unstable, which meant their conviction was unsound, that meant technically they were not found guilty in the eyes of the law, which in reality is often a far cry from being "proven innocent". Which is often why you see murders walking out of court free, the murder knew he did it, the police knew he did it, but the evidence isn't there to support a conviction.

It seems you just picked up on an arbitrary paragraph from a link I posted earlier, oh my... you are nave, remember the actions in a court room often bear no relation to reality, especially when they're politically motivated.

It's not worth commenting on such things unless you know the nitty gritty behind such cases.

[ Parent ]
My view of the nitty gritty. (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by ambrosen on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 07:51:20 AM EST

"Proven innocent" is an entirely subjective term, their original case was found to be unstable, which meant their conviction was unsound, that meant technically they were not found guilty in the eyes of the law, which in reality is often a far cry from being "proven innocent". Which is often why you see murders walking out of court free, the murder knew he did it, the police knew he did it, but the evidence isn't there to support a conviction.
I think that you may be forgetting that the overturning of the Birmingham 6 verdict was one of the instrumental factors in the disbanding of the West Midlands Police Serious Crimes squad who were behind many other serious miscarriages of justice. My reading of the Birmingham 6 case is that they just picked up a bunch of people who were Irish, and sufficiently long-haired and on the fringes of society that they "seemed like" terrorists, and then they beat the shit out of them till they signed a confession.

Of course, what you say can often be the case, but on this occasion it seems like the Police just had to blame someone, and this rush to blame someone led to 6 innocent men losing 20 years of their life. I think that this time around, the rush to blame someone for this incomparably huger attack will cause a lot more suffering than that.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

Nitty Gritty (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by Aztech on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 08:36:14 AM EST

Because of the state of the Serious Crimes Squad it cast a shadow over any case with their involvement, and rightly so.

It was no doubt a miscarriage of justice because of the problems relating to the confessions however there was a large of circumstantial that cannot be explained away very easily, obviously that alone is no basis for a conviction in a court of law but in reality it's far from proving them innocent. Even if the conviction was actually sound (not saying it was), just the mention of the Serious Crimes Squad was enough to bring the original trial into disrupt.

Of course the failings of the Justice system I mentioned before are ultimately its virtues, you should not be convicted unless they are absolutely sure you are responsible, consequentially it also means a lot of guilty people walk free.

I took offence at the original thread because they were trying make out great numbers of the Irish population of Birmingham were "rounded up" like sheep and lead into jail for 20 years without due process, which is obviously not the case.

The situation of Bin Laden quite a predicament, he has no respect for the western justice system so a conviction or even dispensing of him in a military strike will do nothing apart from making him a martyr. In this case we are dealing in crazed fanaticism without any political motivations, which is quite different from the Irish troubles.

[ Parent ]
History (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by Fenian on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 09:18:05 AM EST

First of all you make that sound like hundreds of civilians were locked up without reason or trial

I know you were talking about the Birmingham Six, but if you go do a search on internment in Northern Ireland, you'll find that in a more general context this was exactly the case. Sorry to contradict you, but it's a fairly important issue when discussing the conflict in Northern Ireland.

[ Parent ]
IRA & B6 (none / 0) (#50)
by ardeel on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:57:06 PM EST

Did the IRA ever say that these guys weren't involved? I don't remember...

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (4.00 / 3) (#23)
by j zeet on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:23:25 AM EST

Right on man! Thanks for that look inside. Theres lot's of attitude going around everywhere. Sounds like everyone at the top level is locked into their various mindsets. I believe your problems are the same as mine. But, we have a chance to change it on our level, people to people. The only good thing about this whole miserable situation is that it unites people in ways they never see as possible. Your brother sounds like a good man, doing his duty. The RAF have a tradition of service and they back it up with their lives, and the RAF covered everybody's butt during WWII. Wish him well for me and tell him to cover his six. Theres got to be genuine change before guys like him are going to be able to relax and let some of the past go. This a time of great potential for change for the good though. People are talking and not jumping blindly into things. We are trying as hard as we can to understand this and put it into perspective. I've been listening a lot to everyone. We were just having our first cups of coffee when this all went down. We were just waking up so to speak on many levels. It helps to remember that there is a whole community of folks in north america that know whats going on, that would rather fly in a load of food than bombs. That don't like whats happened in our name. And a whole bunch of people determined to change things. There are some really good folks here, they believe in honesty, fairness, honor and duty. And there are lots of the same with you. Unfortunately theres also a lot of the same camped out on the border right now wondering what the night will bring.I'd sure like to know whats on their minds tonite. You know it's so simple, what goes around, comes around. And we will come around eventually to sharing the resources of this planet fairly. One things for sure it ain' gonna be easy mate. It helps me that your trying.

America funding terrorism (4.14 / 7) (#24)
by TeeJay on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 04:52:52 AM EST

Hey - if America, as a country, is 'at war' with terrorism, does that mean they will stop funding terrorists in Northern Ireland?

America != American IRA supporters (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 06:18:34 AM EST

I think you have to make that distinction.

Certainly there should be a law, international law I mean, that forbids funding of groups that wage war without adhering to a minimum of civilized standards.

Ah, forget it. Who will force any goverment (specialy powerful countries) to comply. There are some countries that are OK to create international courts of justice as long as they are not under its juridiction, or that refuse to hand over suspects because the por soul helped them in a previous war (unfit to face trial, mmmmm).

No hope, it is a free for all, I kill yo, you kill me. We have just to wait until idiots begin using atomic bombs....

"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
[ Parent ]
That is an important distinction to make (4.50 / 4) (#26)
by itsbruce on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 06:42:53 AM EST

And if it's an important distinction to make with one nation or people, then it should be used when dealing with all nations and people. Unfortunately, too many people are reacting like this:

I would like the US to send the message that attacking us is, on the whole, a bad idea. That if you attack us, we will come and kill you, and your family, and their family, and all your friends, and your friends' friends. We will take away your friends' government, reduce all their property to rubble, make all their money disappear, and ensure that their family name disappears forever from this earth. I want this message to be sent loud and clear, and if you don't like that, I want it also to be clear that I don't care.

If the people calling for that kind of response get what they want, then a lot of innocent people will die. Will the people who have called for this accept their responsibility for this in the same way as they have been so keen to have their "patriotism" heard and recognised?

--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.
[ Parent ]
Giving blindly (3.75 / 4) (#29)
by amanset on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 07:24:54 AM EST

What worries me is the amount of people who gave to Noraid thinking it was some nice sweet charity, maybe by giving money in a pub or buying something at a sale, not knowing that they were funding terrorism.

Much like you cannot blame the whole of Afghanistan for what happened to the WTC, you cannot blame the whole of the US for the IRA's funding. You can, however, expect an apology from the US government for not cracking down on it. The government didn't do the funding themselves, but they knew it was going on and funding of terrorism is funding of terrorism.

[ Parent ]

IRA "terrorism" vs. WTC attack (3.16 / 6) (#33)
by Fenian on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 09:09:06 AM EST

There are two important points I'd like to make here. First, I should mention that I am an American who supports the IRA cause (as my username makes obvious to those who recognize it), but has never donated money or arms. I disagree with methods that attack civilians indiscriminately (the Omagh bombing by the "Real IRA" comes to mind). But having read quite a bit of Irish history, I can understand why they feel like they have no other recourse besides violence. The IRA actually DOES serve a defensive role for the Nationalist and Republican communities of Northern Ireland. And as the writer of the article said, the British government has actually condoned and sponsored many of the Loyalist paramilitary groups (who are every bit as bad, and often worse). So I have a little bit of trouble seeing the IRA as solely a terrorist group. Especially recently when they have shown a much greater degree of respect for the peace process than most of the Loyalist groups.

My second point (and the two are largely connected) is the immense difference between the IRA and the group that conducted the attacks in the US last Tuesday. The IRA's fight can legitimately be described as a civil war. The IRA is fighting a war against a foreign occupying force. A force that has committed some pretty ugly crimes against the native people. Crimes that have taken place both recently and over the last eight centuries. The writer of the original article is the only British citizen I have ever heard to actually admitt to this, and I have a huge ammount of respect for him for this. I could name many attrocities committed by the British government in Irish history, but that would be a little off my point, and I don't really want to attack the British here. Osama bin Ladin can not cite such historical animosity. His attacks are on our way of life. It is the very freedoms that make the US the great nation that it is that also make us a target for people like bin Ladin. Our freedoms threaten his traditionalist way of life. They have shown to be infectious, and especially hard-line Islamic governments like the Taliban are afraid that our way of life might spread to their country. The point here is basically that while the UK could escape the danger of IRA violence by pulling out of the Six Counties (probably a bad idea without at least some sort of treaty accepted by both Loyalists and Republicans), there is nothing we can do short of giving up our very way of life.

So, in response to TeeJay's post, there is a world of difference between the IRA and the people who attacked the United States last Tuesday. I'm not saying that the IRA hasn't done some pretty bad stuff, but it just does not compare.

[ Parent ]
Attacks on the American way of life (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by Gully Foyle on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 09:40:14 AM EST

Well, I don't agree with your reasoning. The US is hated by many people because of their foreign policy. Not their freedom. If Britain could escape from the terrorists by withdrawing from Ireland, then the US could escape by withdrawing from the Middle East. Neither one of those would be a particularly good solution, and neither one is likely to happen any time soon.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

I see no difference (4.33 / 3) (#36)
by bil on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 10:44:29 AM EST

Osama bin Ladin can not cite such historical animosity.

Anti American Arab terrorists can cite (off the top of my head):-
The shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner (290 dead inc. 66 children).
The bombing of Tripoli and Bhenghazi killing 37 (including a 15 month old child)
The bombing of a pharmacutical factory in the Sudan
The firing of Cruise missiles at Osama last time (at least one of these cruise missles apaprently failed to hit the COUNTRY it was aimed at.

Thats without getting into acts by Isreal supported by the US, or acts against Iraq during the Gulf war, or the deaths caused by the onging sanctions etc etc.

And those are just the ones this white, athiest, UK citizen, who has never been within 1000 miles of Turkey let alone Afghanistan, can remember.

The British have committed attrocities in Ireland over 800 years of occupation (despite what you think many, probably most, British people would accept this), and they have reaped what they have sown, the fenians, the IRB, the IRA, 100+ years of terrorism and attrocities committed in return. (Did you know the time bomb as well as most of the philosophy of modern urban terrorism was invented by the Irish to kill English people? I didn't untill recently. I also heard that the IRA debated the use of chemical and biological weapons. Support your local peace process!!)

The British have done some very dubious things in Ireland. Similarly the US has done some very dubious things in the Muslim world. If it now begins to reap the consequences, well I cant say I see that much difference (except the scale of the destruction obviously).


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Still Different (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by Fenian on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:16:22 PM EST

This is a reply to comments by both bil and Gully Foyle.

There are still some major differences. First, I do not believe that the United States govermnent would ever deliberately target civilians as such. That's not to say that civilian casualties won't happen, just that they were not the goal. The British have targetted civilians (both Bloody Sundays come to mind). Also, the United States, while it usually enforces UN resolutions (albeit selectively) is not the system. The British and later Loyalists created in Northern Ireland a system of institutionalized religious discrimination. Catholics were at a huge disadvantage in just about every way. And this was enforced by the system. That's why the British finally re-instituted direct rule. But it didn't really get better then. The RUC (the police force) has been complicit in quite a few assasinations (civil rights lawyers/solicitors Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane[sp?] come to mind). Finally, as a matter of day to day life, people in the Middle East do not need to fear random attacks by Americans. One of the biggest reasons why the IRA exists is to protect the Catholics of Northern Ireland from the various Loyalist paramilitary groups and even the RUC.

That said, I strongly support the peace process in Northern Ireland (despite being totally unable to understand some things like the Loyalist objection to reforming a clearly corrupt and unjust police department and "justice" system). As far as I can tell, so does the mainstream IRA (obviously, this is not referring to radical fringe groups like "Real IRA"). But to say that giving money to Sinn Fein/IRA and giving money to bin Ladin are equivalent is not reasonable.

[ Parent ]
Really? (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by Best Ace on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:29:48 PM EST

'I do not believe that the United States govermnent would ever deliberately target civilians.'

Well, I wonder. Even if we discount the bombings of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Vietnam because the US had declared war (in all these places the targeting of civilians was at best indiscriminate), there is still the US backing of terrorist regimes that do target civilians deliberately. To take the example of East Timor, the US supplied arms, money and training to the Indonesian regime, with the full knowledge that genocide was being committed (over 200,000 deaths since the 1975 invasion). Now you might argue that here, it was not the US government deliberately targeting civilians, but this is surely semantics. The same is true in Nicaragua, and other examples abound. It seems that none of us can take the moral high ground on this one - neither the US, the UK or Arab terrorists.

'...the United States, while it usually enforces UN resolutions (albeit selectively)...'

This is true only inasmuch as the US simply vetoes any resolutions it does not agree with. It was not so long ago that Clinton justified tolerating Russian excesses in Chechnya on the grounds that sanctions have to be imposed by the UN, where they would be vetoed by Russia. It was not pointed out to him that the annual calls for the US to end its sanctions against Cuba are regularly vetoed by the US (usually with the sole support of Israel).

I seem to have digressed here. I have to agree with your points about the systematic discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland. However, I cannot see how you can both support the IRA and yet abhore violence and terrorism. I would have thought that the non-violent SDLP was closer to your views than the IRA/Sinn Fein.

To get back to the original comment, I do not see why the US cannot ban the funding of the IRA, like it does other terrorist organizations. It smacks of double standards, especially given Bush's pronouncements on declaring war on terrorism.


[ Parent ]

Violence (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by Fenian on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:55:31 PM EST

I just wanted to clarify that I never claimed to abhore violence. I think it is unfortunate, but there are time when there is no other recourse. What I do abhore is the deliberate targeting of civilians who are not working for the enemy power. I don't know a whole lot about the tactical situation involving the bombing of Tokyo. I have studied Hiroshima and there are a number of good reasons for that particular attack. First, it was a military target (Moscow would have been hit with about 40 thermonuclear warheads had the US and Soviet Union ever really gotten into it, but that was entirely for military reasons). Second, having studied the casualty figures from the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific there is absolutely no doubt that more people would have died on each side in an invasion of the home island than died in both nuclear blasts combined. I'm not talking about collateral civilian casualties. I'm talking about deliberate attacks on civiliand.

Not really sure what to say about East Timor. I don't know much about that situation.

I would be opposed to banning support monetary support of the IRA for a couple of reasons. First, (if I understand correctly) most of it is funnelled through Sinn Fein which is a legitimate political party. Second is the issue I've raised in both of my other posts about the IRA existing largely to protect Catholics/Nationalists in Northern Ireland. The IRA is not a black & white case of a terrorist organization. (Radical groups like Real IRA and Continuity IRA probably are, though.)

Just to address your point about me supporting the SDLP instead of Sinn Fein, I have a very large ammount of respect for Gerry Adams and co. Adams has proved time and again that he cares very much about the people he represents. Going door to door talking to constituents is something that all politicians should be required to do. I haven't really heard anything like this about the SDLP guys (which doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't happened).

[ Parent ]
Deliberate attacks on Civilians (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by amanset on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:37:12 AM EST

Kent State University.

I'm sorry, but the "Sinn Fein legitimate political party" line is nothing more than a joke. Jerry Adams saying that he cannot speak to the IRA, but will consult them, is a joke. Any man and his dog knows exactly the connection between Sinn Fein and the IRA. Personally I don't care who the money is funnelled through, the money is used to fund terrorism. You can try and pretend it doesn't so you can sleep at night, but it does.

Frankly, since Martin McGuinness finally admitted that he was a senior IRA member in the 1970s the whole link between Sinn Fein and the IRA is even more clear.

Finally, if the IRA exists "largely to protect Catholics/Nationalists in Northern Ireland" can you please explain:

  • Aldershot 1972
  • London 1973
  • M62 1974
  • Guildford 1974
  • Birmingham 1974
  • Balcombe Street Gang 1975
  • Brighton 1984
  • Warrington 1993
  • Bishopsgate 1993
  • Canary Wharf 1996
  • Manchester 1996

[ Parent ]
And (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by odaiwai on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:34:46 AM EST

Maybe Fenian would also like to explain:

  • The IRA's involvement in drug running,
  • The IRA's involvement in kidnapping in the Republic in the 1970's and 1980's,
  • The IRA's involvement in armed bank robberies in the Republic,
  • The IRA's involvement in protection rackets in Construction sites in the North?

(Mind you, the unionist organisations like the UVF and the UDA are just as bad)

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

IRA defending nationalists? (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by oconnoje on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:23:19 AM EST

The IRA has killed more Catholics than any other group involved in the Troubles (including the British Army, the RUC and the loyalist paramilitaries). So much for them being defenders of the nationalist community...
[ Parent ]
Interesting Statistics (none / 0) (#47)
by Fenian on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 08:42:26 AM EST

I hadn't seen those and they are pretty interesting. Though, you'll still find that the IRA's killing of Catholics represents a smaller percentage of their total killings than the UVF's killing of Protestants.

I think I need to make one thing very clear. I absolutely realize that the IRA has done some pretty horrible things. Both sides of that conflict have. No doubt there. And I certainly do not support many of the things they have done. odaiwai listed quite a few good examples. So did amanset. As far as Kent State goes, it might compare to the second Bloody Sunday.

None of that changes the fact that if it weren't for the IRA, Catholics would most likely still be living under the boot-heels of the Loyalists. I'm not saying that the ends justify the means, just pointing out that some of has resulted in some sort of progress. And more recently, IRA/Sinn Fein have been some of the strongest supporters of the peace process. I know there are some hard-liners in the IRA who simply hate all Protestants and would like nothing more than to drive them all out of Ireland. But it looks to me like the main-stream, when presented with a plausible peaceful route to justice have put down their guns. No, they haven't destroyed them yet. Considering why they exist to begin with, I can see their perspective. The Loyalist community has shown its willingness to sabotage the peace process at every turn (look at Ian Paisley).

So yes, I know the IRA's done some pretty bad shit. In fact, I have a feeling Michael Collins would be flipping in his grave over some of it. But recently they have also demonstrated a clear willingness to use peaceful means to achieve justice. That is a major distinction. I think simply the fact that two old IRA men like Adams and McGuinness are such strong supporters of the peace process speaks volumes there.

[ Parent ]
Legitimization of violence (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by Best Ace on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:45:22 AM EST

'I just wanted to clarify...'

Sorry, I misunderstood. Yet you claim that violence and terror are acceptable as a last 'recourse'. In seeking to legitimize violence in one area, you are by default seeking to legitimize violence in any area where there are age-old grievances and oppression. There is a slippery slope between your position on Ireland, and that of the WTC attackers.

It is not enough to use the relative scale of atrocities to justify one but not the other. In terms of principles, they are one and the same. To defend the IRA/Sinn Fein on the grounds that they are not a 'black & white case of a terrorist organization' is equally misguided imho: If they see violence and terror as in any way acceptable, as you accept, then if Dubya declares war on terrorism, he must set his sights on the IRA/Sinn Fein just as much as on Bin Laden. Others have already pointed out many incidents where deliberate targetting of civilians has been made by the IRA. This most definitely was NOT a last recourse, and in themselves, these incidents make any partial jutification of their status suspect.

Finally, your justification of fund-raising in the US on the grounds that Sinn Fein are separate from the IRA is also dubious. Adams and McGuinness are both former IRA members. They regularly take to the stand in public with former terrorists and prisoners, and it is surely naive to suggest that money going to Sinn Fein does not find its way to the IRA.

If I were to set up a political party in the US with the express intent of raising money for Osama Bin Laden, but with an acceptable public face (maybe campaigning for aid for Afghan orphans), would you be happy? If your answer to the question is no, then ask yourself what the differences are between this scenario, and Sinn Fein.


[ Parent ]

Two points (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by bil on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:46:57 AM EST

There are still some major differences. First, I do not believe that the United States govermnent would ever deliberately target civilians as such.

The sanctions in Iraq? The targeting of a pharmacutical factory in the Sudan?

The British have targetted civilians (both Bloody Sundays come to mind).

The "your side kills civilians, our side makes unfortunate mistakes" logic smacks of propaganda. In truth however the IRA have never been averse to bombing bars (Guildford, Woolich, and the Birmingham pub bombings, which I can tell you from experiance happened miles from the nearest military target), shops (Manchester, Harrods in London, and Warrington which killed two children), office blocks (Canary Wharf, and the Baltic exchange), major roads (the names of which would mean little to you), etc I could go on. None of these attacks happened in Northern Ireland, so the excuse that they were trying to protect Northern Irish Catholics from Loyalist terror groups (who have never operated on the mainland) is blatently false, none of them were attacks on military targets (or even political, or judicial targets) so no excuse there, most of them arn't even major economic targets.

One of the biggest reasons why the IRA exists is to protect the Catholics of Northern Ireland from the various Loyalist paramilitary groups and even the RUC.

Interesting to note that the RUC is almost entirly a protestant force because the IRA have a tendacy to kill Catholics who join it (they are seen as traitors). Of course the other reason its mainly protestant is that Northern Ireland has for centuries been a majority protestant region (a fact that seems to be lost on many republicans).

Finally, as a matter of day to day life, people in the Middle East do not need to fear random attacks by Americans.

If they didn't before they do now...

There are some differences between Ireland and the Middle East to be sure, but there are lots of similarities too. I get the feeling that most Americans would see them too if they wern't quite as close to the situation.


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

To play the part of devil's advocate... (4.25 / 4) (#37)
by MDFresh on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:26:51 AM EST

The US way of life is something that many people are saying to be infectious. The word infectious can be used to denote both positivity and negativity. Positively, the infectious nature of the freedoms offered by the United States of America can show nations that live under a traditionally repressive way of life that each and every person is entitled to their own rights and freedom. In this sense, it would be correct to say that the states are do-gooders and are merely showing others the freedom they deserve. Negatively on the other hand, the word infectious can be used to give the impression of a malice spreading throughout an organism. North America is a largely capatalistic/consumerist society. There are advertisements almost everywhere you go. The goal of any good corporation is to continually grow, drawing more and more of the world's population into it's reign of products. I have heared that it is within Coke's mandate to become the most consumed beverage in the world including water. The argument that I propose here is that the United States have been taking part in their own takeover of nations by introducing Consumerism there. The sweatshops overseas, MacDonalds everywhere you go, Coke a world-recognised soft drink.... There is no reason that the states should have been attacked for this, but I do believe that there must be a realisation for why the attack happened. Perhaps the traditionalist way of life felt threatened by seeing his friends working at good ol' Mickey Dee's flipping burgers....

[ Parent ]
Convenient rationalisations (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by itsbruce on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:13:17 AM EST

This is oversimplification and rationalisation, which is always how the death of innocent strangers is justified. The people who died in the pub bombings of Manchester and Birmingham were no more implicated in British policy in NI than the office workers in NYC were in US foreign policy (rather less, in fact, given the power and influence of most of the companies in the WTC). Those in the US who supported these actions, financially or morally, were just as guilty of supporting terrorism and murder as those who give aid and encouragement to Bin Laden. The relatives and friends of the Birmingham and Manchester dead have as much right to demand violent retribution against the perpetrators and everybody who aided them as Americans do today.

You can sympathise with the reasons that lead to bombs being planted in pubs? Well, other people can sympathise with the reaons that lead to planes crashing into buildings. You don't like that? Well your stated moral stance gives you no place from which to object.

Something else you might chew on is that the Loyalist communities have been in Ireland longer than your ancestors have been in America. The traditional solutions sought by both sides are based on nationalism and in that situation nationalism is no answer at all (if it ever is, anywhere).

--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.
[ Parent ]
Keep Reading (1.00 / 1) (#49)
by Fenian on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 10:47:32 AM EST

We've been over most of this. Please read the rest of the discussion.

[ Parent ]
Put Bin Laden in charge of New York schools? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by epeus on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:23:22 PM EST

The current British government has spent the last few years freeing terrorist murderers from prison, conceding moe and more to the Sinn Fein/IRA to keep them in the 'peace process', while they vacillate and equivocate over handing in their weapons. The Sinn Fein have cabinet positions in the NI Government, including the position of Education Minister, held by Martin McGuinness, a 'former' IRA commander who was reported in court to have fired the first shot that triggered the 'Bloody Sunday' deaths. And still the IRA splinter groups plant bombs to maim civilians. 'No recourse besides violence'. Bollocks. They use violence or the threat fo it to blackmail the weak British govenrment into giving into all their demands. 'An armalite [rifle] in one hand and a ballot box in the other' is still their strategy. My grandmother's two brothers were shot dead by the British 'Black and Tans' during the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, but she never supported the IRA, and nor do I. You should be ashamed of yourself.

[ Parent ]
I agree but, as an Irishman, here's my angle (none / 0) (#52)
by HereticMessiah on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 01:36:48 AM EST

I doubt this will be read, but I'm posting it Irregardless.

Some Background

There are two countries on this island: The Republic of Ireland ("The Republic") & Northern Ireland ("The North").

I come from Sligo, a county in the Republic regarded as Border County (a county in the region bordering the North). I'm currently living in Cork, the Republic's largest and most southerly county. It's also one of the most rabidly republican counties in the country.

On the North's Future

I'm sick of the situation up north. So much so that I truly wish it was possible to detach the the North from the rest of the island politically. Here's what I mean:

It's my hope that Northern Ireland is turned into a Soverign state that has no political dependence on either the UK or the Republic. This is not a popular opinion, but it's one that might lead to a kind of victory: a cessation of violence.

Most problematic in this might be that a form of apartheid may arise in the North if it were independent. To prevent this, some sort of watcher group made up of unbiased outsiders would have to have a form of presidential control over the new state. By presidential, I mean in the same capacity as the Republic's President who acts as the Constitution's guardian. Ultimately, this body would only intercede if one group used its dominance to the detriment of the other.

This solution allows both sides to determine their own future, be it as an independent state, as a part of the Republic, or as part of the UK. It also might give both sides a chance to see what it's really like to have to work together for their mutual benefit rather than suckling at the teat of the UK taxpayer. Not many people outside of these two islands realise what a fiscal black hole the North is.

On the UK

Whatever may have happened in the past doesn't matter anymore. I don't understand these people who watch British television, eat food imported from the UK, read British magazines & newspapers, buy goods manufactured in the UK and yet still say they hate the UK. The closest I come to this is that I believe that the money the Republic had to pay during its foundation to, in essence, buy the country's land should be paid back to the state, and repaid with interest. The very concept of a state having to buy its own territory having become free is strange and unusual, not to mention unjustified. But I digress...

The UK is just another country to me. It has no special place in my heart.

On Terrorism & Its Defeat

Terrorism in all its forms is repulsive. But it cannot be defeated through direct means. Terrorism is a kind of Guerrilla Warfare - it continues indefinitely until one side gives up. A conventional army cannot win against a guerrilla army.

The Americans are faced with fighting a "New Kind of War" - fighting against guerrillas. They won't win, because it's not a new kind of war, just one they've never fought. They'll disregard the mistakes made and lessons learnt in other parts of the world. The Irish War of Independence was a guerrilla war. It wasn't won by defeating either side but by the British giving in.

If the US wants to win a terrorist war, they have to try something similar: get the other side to give in or fade away. In the case of the middle east, this can only be done through enlightening the grass roots. This means not forcing them to mirror the US politically or culturally: if they wish for a monarchy, let them have it; if they want to establish a communist state, let them; if they want to form some other kind of government, let them. Surely the point is to give self determination to the people?

Part of the reason why the US is disliked in some parts of the world is due to its habit of forcing its culture on others, though its corporations are to blame more for this than its citizens. A read of Alain De Botton's "The Consolations of Philosophy" is due by many in the American establishment, if only on respecting the cultures of others.

---- [Oh, to be able to add <hr>s...] ----

There is more I want to say, but it's late and this phone call's expensive so I'll finish now. If anybody wants me to continue, reply and I'll post a followup in reply to this one. Thanks, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything in this posting. This has been completely train of thought and probably needs some editing but who uses `Preview' anyway... ;-)


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Living with terrorism, working with the "enemy" | 52 comments (52 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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