torsdag, juli 28, 2005

Peace in Ireland?

The IRA has declared today that they are ending the armed campaign, and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has told the British and Irish governments and unionist leaders to "Seize the moment". This brings new hope to the Irish peace process, and the Troubles started in the late 1960's after decades of discrimination against the Catholic minority can finally come to an end. Hopefully, the people in the north of Ireland will be able to decide their permanent status for themselves in democratic forms.

The Irish experience can give ideas to those who are waging the War On Terror of today. To fight terror with supreme force seldom works when trying to build peace. There will always be new young and angry men and women who are ready to die for what they believe in. And there will never be economic resources enough to get absolute security in cities with populations as large as the whole of Sweden.

Peace can only last when built on justice. If the occupation of Iraq would end and a true peace process based on the UN Resolutions would take place in Palestine, recruitment to al-Qaida and other terrorist organisations would be much more difficult. And the world would be a much safer place.

By the way, the BBC has a very useful site on the Anglo-Irish conflict.

4 kommentarer:

McGregor sa...

You are right of course that there cannot be a purely military solution to political problems Peter. However there is a limit to a comparison that can be made between what the IRA have done since 1916 and what Al-Qaeda is doing today.

For a start, you cannot avoid expressing some view on the validity of the political aims of an insurgency. I think that an end to British involvement in Ireland is good. I think that the imposition of theocracy is not good.

Secondly, there is a political solution that can be sought in Ireland, and now it has been achieved. A political solution based on equality in the north and all-Ireland political institutions which give Unionists and Republicans enough to allow them a stake in the political process.

I don’t think anyone really thinks that we could reach a political solution of this type with al-Qaeda do they? What political institutions and laws would they like us to consider?

It seems to me that there has to be a political approach to rebalancing the world’s power structures, reducing the hegemony of the USA and rebuilding the UN. Israel’s occupation of Palestine should end regardless of whether it makes it safer for me to travel to work each morning.

But we can’t make deals with people who behead trade unionists in Iraq. There is no political solution to an ideology like that. And until we accept that there must be a security aspect to the solution of terrorism - abroad, and on the streets of London - we are in danger of becoming irrelevant in the debate.

Loyal Subject sa...

I have to disagree with you Mcgregor. Al-Qa'eda and the IRA are essentially the same - people who will kill to achieve a political aim. David Morrison of the Labour & Trade Union review argues that Al-Qa'eda don't want to change Western civilisation just its policy to the Islamic world. I.e they should remove US and allied troops from Arab soil. This is neither more or less legitimate than the demands of the Irish terrorists. Its just their methods are more deadly.

On 1 November last year Osama bin Laden relayed a message on Al- Jazeera: "Free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain why we don't strike, for example, Sweden."

If Morrison is right then they don't want to change our civilisation just our foreign policy. Something which I would be opposed to - but that may not be true for some other readers of this blog!

Peter Gustavsson sa...

I both agree and disagree with what you're saying.

Firstly, not all IRA volunteers are nice guys ready to stand down when the political goals are achieved. I think we will see hardliners and pure criminals who "continue the armed struggle" in some way in Ireland. Wars tend to destroy peoples' minds, no matter where they come from and how fair their demands were from the beginning.

Secondly, it was right to have a security aspect on the IRA and it is still right to have a security aspect on both Republican and Unionist paramilitaries. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't IRA still hold the record of killing innocent people on the streets of London? There is a reason that there hasn't been any bins in the London tube for ages. My point is not that you should ignore the threat people are feeling for terrorism.

My point is that you should take that fear seriously, while at the same time doing all that you can to take away the inequalities that are the basis for terrorist recruitment. (Fight crime AND the reasons for crime.) To escalate a conflict is not always the best way to solve it, even if it can be politically popular in the short perspective.

It takes a cool analysis of how to avoid new terrorist attacks and how to make those who support these deeds becoming more and more doubtful on if they are doing the right thing. These attacks are cheap to do - all that takes is some explosives and a couple of people who are ready to die for the sake. You can accomplish some things by security thinking, sure, but the war can only be won in people's minds.

Al-Qaeda must be seen in a context of the tearing down of hope in Muslim communities in the Middle East and in the Western world. Arab nationalism (Naser, Arafat, even the Baath movement in the beginning) has failed to deliver economic development and an end to subordinance under the West. In our communities, the Labour movement has failed to deliver jobs and equality. When this happens, people go to other places looking for solutions. Even if these "solutions" offered are terrible and scary.

As you say, no one wants to negotiate with al-Qaeda. This would have been the case even if it wouldn't have been impossible as there is no central command for them anymore and the terrorist cells act independently. The negotiations must be with those who are credible and that have just aims. (No one wants to negotiate with Real IRA either - Gerry Adams has to appease them but that is seen as his job on his side of the deal.)

The Palestinian Authority is such a party (don't forget that the PLO was also seen as terrorists a couple of years ago). I have no doubt that there are people in Iraq who can win the trust of the most of the radical groups while being on the side of democracy and human rights. (Remember, for most Iraqi people the issue is not sharia laws, it is about the end of the occupation and to live in peace and prosperity without oppression.)

AND domestic policy must be radically improved so that all citizens get decent jobs and good welfare. I don't think 18 years of Thatcherism followed by 8 years of New Labour is a good environment to avoid minority groups becoming increasingly angry with society...

Roger sa...

"Al-Qa'eda and the IRA are essentially the same - people who will kill to achieve a political aim"

And that statement is not true for what Army?