Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Hell freezes over in Northern Ireland

with 9 comments

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams. Credit: Reuters

Note that the above picture has not been retouched in any way, this meeting just took place in Northern Ireland. The man on the left is Ian Paisley, leader of the Protestant DUP. The man on the right is Gerry Adams, leader of the mostly Catholic Sinn Fein of Northern Ireland. The Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. These two men just agreed to a historic power sharing deal in Northern Ireland. OK, they did refuse to shake hands, but this is still an amazing photograph. These two men have been sworn blood enemies for decades.

In other words, this is like a photo of George Bush and Osama Bin Laden sitting down at a table together. Twenty years ago if a person was so foolish as to suggest that negotiations with the notorious IRA might be a way to stop their terrorism and bring peace to Northern Ireland, they risked laughter if not physical attack from many Britons. The IRA was the original terrorist organization, the people who invented the modern car bomb attack. The idea that the IRA could be negotiated with was scoffed at by all and sundry!

There are two points I would like to make here. The first is that this meeting and agreement is a very good thing. The situation in Northern Ireland has been improving slowly but steadily since all parties sat down and began negotiations in the early nineties. There have been fits and starts, but one of the world’s most intractable conflicts has reached a peaceful settlement. Who would have guessed?

Well, me for one. Which is the second point, this picture is proof that the mantra “we can’t negotiate with terrorists” is just that, a mantra. Or by the more proper term, propaganda. When anyone tells you that “we can’t negotiate with terrorists,” show them this picture. If one of the most long running religious conflicts on the planet can be solved with negotiation, obviously negotiation should always be an option. When people refuse to talk to their enemies, they are choosing perpetual war. Is that what people really want?

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
—Abraham Lincoln

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central for illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image.)


Written by unitedcats

March 27, 2007 at 10:10 am

9 Responses

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  1. “When people refuse to talk to their enemies, they are choosing perpetual war. Is that what people really want?”

    I don’t think this has been put quite this succintly in the public conversation about the “war on terror” and that is one reason why people swallow the crap we’ve been asked to swallow.

    Thanks for stating it so clearly.


    March 27, 2007 at 11:55 am

  2. This is good news.. but it is between two at odds over land/government more than god..
    This is sadly NOT the case with the radical islamists who want to convert the world back to their style of reality in 800 A.D.

    These two Westerners have a better chance at success due the enormous common ground they share culturally. Sadly their is no such common ground between the West, and those who veil their women, or kill them for being raped :(


    March 28, 2007 at 5:57 am

  3. The strongest motivator to the end of the “Troubles” was the common man and their choice for peace.
    Please note that the two individuals in the picture are “former” terrorists.


    March 28, 2007 at 1:12 pm

  4. Hi Doug!

    Ian is an old friend–he is looking mighty old. Of course he would probably say the same about me.

    Thanks for the memory–small world!



    March 28, 2007 at 5:42 pm

  5. Oh, and please allow me to correct In2. Ian was never a terrorist–where did you get that?



    March 28, 2007 at 5:45 pm

  6. Jack..UDP,UVF anti Catholic bigot and a force against anything that wasn’t him that’s his resume.


    March 28, 2007 at 6:01 pm

  7. Hi I2–I don’t know what UDP and UVF mean, but how does bigot translate into terrorist?


    March 28, 2007 at 7:16 pm

  8. […] didn’t “learn to live with” terrorist attacks, they sat down at a table and negotiated and end to the madness. This kind of stupidity and ignorance of history is how we have made such a mess in Iraq, and why […]

  9. […] situation in northern Ireland was only solved when the British government swallowed their pride and sat down at the negotiating table with their enemies. General Petraus is either a complete ignoramus, or he is assuming the typical […]

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