On Thu, Apr 27, 2000 at 04:15:51PM +0100, Rob Harris wrote:
> >You omit the fact that even if Sinn Fein is willing to
> >take a moderate route and go into disarmament talks, they *can't do so*
> >unless they can pursuade the Provisionals to go along with them, and that
> >the Ulster Unionists are in the same bind vis-a-vis the UFF and UVF.
> The above is true, but again, irrelevant. My gripe is with the source of all
> of this, the republicans. If they vanished, the problem would vanish, it's
> as simple as that.
I don't think so. The republican movement is a symptom, not the cause
of the problem. It's become a self-perpetuating symptom, true, and its
extremists today arwe responsible for massively aggravating the situation,
but at the time the movement got started -- in the 1960's -- it was a
civil rights movement. And it had legitimate reasons for existing.
Those issues have mostly been addressed; indeed, fixing them was obvious
vital -- from the point of view of the British government -- as early
as the early seventies. (The original point behind the imposition of
home rule in 197x was to pull administrative power in the province
out of the hands of a group that was using it to institute systematic
ethnic discrimination: unfortunately it came too late, coincided with
the insurgency, and _looked_ like a dictatorial imposition of martial
law.) The problem is, the political inequality of the 1950's and 1960's
lent the republican movement a sense of injustice that fuelled what
in Maoist doctrine is a stage 1-2 insurgency: make the populace *feel*
aggrieved, then carry out one or two actions that force the government
to respond by putting troops on the street, and you can generate a state
of emergency quite easily.
In the 1970's, NI deteriorated into a situation where the perceived
injustices generated a state of emergency, which fed upon itself. Every
protestant or catholic murdered by a paramilitary group was a martyr who
generated recruits for the para- militaries on the opposite side. Violence
spiraled, feeding on itself.
> And so why are they causing this problem? Because they
> want power, that's why - and feel that mob rule in NI and bombing of
> innocent men, women and children all over the UK is an honorable method of
> achieving this.
It's about as honourable as the UVF's methods, of shooting protestants
and catholics who marry each other. Of butchering people believed to
sympathise with the republicans. Of treating *all* catholics as the
The only difference between the two sides is that the UVF isn't interested
in blowing up people on the mainland. Otherwise, they're both a bunch of
bloodthirsty gangsters. The reason for this is that a leaderless insurgency
splinters, and hands power -- the power to set the agenda -- to the most
radical members of the movement. Those who are _not_ bloodthirsty gangsters
are at the mercy of the gangsters; if they repudiate their actions, they
lose any possibility of moderating them.
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