The Saville Report and Andrew Sullivan [cross-posted from Z-word]

[by Eamonn Mcdonagh — cross-posted from Z-word]

The publication of the Saville Report into an atrocity carried out by the British Army in Northern Ireland in 1972 has tempted Andrew Sullivan to write a post of remarkable stupidity.

This panicked murder of unarmed civilians was the Brits’ Gaza moment (along with their Cheney moment in instigating the torture of terror suspects in prison).

As anyone who has had a moment to glance at the report or knows anything about the recent history of Ireland is already aware, the soldiers of 1 Para were anything but panicked. They were pumped up and raring to go, the people who panicked were the demonstrators when the Paras opened up on them with their 7.62mm rifles.

The entire history of the last forty years suggests something else as well: that Irish terrorism was not defeated by force of arms, or brutality, or collective punishment. It took negotiations with the worst parties, a stoic acceptance of some terrorist violence because the attempt to stamp it all out only made it worse, economic growth, and insistence on the most logical partition.

Sullivan seems to think that the IRA entered negotiations from a position of strength. It did not. It only became seriously interested in negotiations when its capacity for violence had been greatly reduced by a 20 year counterinsurgency campaign that included mass internment without trial, juryless courts, interrogation techniques amounting to torture and the deniable targeted assassination of activists.

After thirty years trying to destroy Northern Ireland the IRA essentially settled for  a role in administering it and the release of its prisoners on license. The British state is still in full control of the main levers of power and that’s not likely to change anytime soon, or ever.  The Provos essentially entered into negotiations to see what sort of terms for giving up their struggle were on offer and not in any attempt to achieve those aims by peaceful means.

If  the Israel-Palestine conflict was to  be settled in a similar way to the agreement that ended the conflict in Northern Ireland then Gaza and the West Bank would become autonomous parts of Greater Israel and Hamas and Fatah would send MKs to the Knesset.

And can anybody guess what he’s on about when he talks of “and insistence on the most logical partition.”???  The border between Northern Ireland and what was first the Irish Free State and is now the Republic of Ireland hasn’t moved a millimeter since 1922.

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