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Thread: Northern Ireland (merged thread)

  1. #41
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    Seems like it to me. I think Max Boot made that point well in his The Savage Wars of Peace, about the many small wars America fought pre-WWII, mostly with Marines in Central America, and largely out of the public eye.

    Whether this still holds true in the age of the internet and instant global media coverage is another question.
    This has come up before, and I tend to believe you're correct, GS. Although there are other factors that can come into play as well (mainly politics). For example, if a popular leader sends troops into an area where only a few are killed over an extended period (and that leader enjoys the support of the press), the situation is manageable. If those conditions are not in place (as in media interest, lack of domestic popularity and/or a sudden spike in losses) then it's not so easy to maintain.
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  2. #42
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    Default Small Wars and Media

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    This has come up before, and I tend to believe you're correct, GS. Although there are other factors that can come into play as well (mainly politics). For example, if a popular leader sends troops into an area where only a few are killed over an extended period (and that leader enjoys the support of the press), the situation is manageable. If those conditions are not in place (as in media interest, lack of domestic popularity and/or a sudden spike in losses) then it's not so easy to maintain.
    There is also the reverse of this rule, especially in the golden age of European imperalism and colonialism. What I am referring to was the role of the jingoistic press (also very real in the US). Three cases pop into mind:

    A. The British press and Chinese Gordon's failed attempt--he paid with his head--attempt to embarrass #10 Downing into intervening against the Mahdi.

    B. The follow up to the Gordon episode some 15 years later when the French sent a mission to claim Fashoda'; this threatened the UK considered its own turf in the Sudan and Uganda. This necessitated the reconquest of the Sudan. The British press role in whipping up the enthusiasm for this was large. Indeed it was Winston Churchill's first stab as a correspondent; one literally nearly cvut short in his ride with the ill-fated 21st Lancers at Omdurman. (see photo below of Omdurman monument)

    C. In the case of the US, one has to look no farther than the USS Maine as a cause celebre for getting the US into a war with Spain.


    I would say in the modern age, the same reverse rule can apply. Consider our intervention in Somalia, once driven by the viedo camera and pictures of dying Somali chldren. Our exit from Somalia would be driven by the very same phenomenon, media coverage of the Task Force Ranger fight.

    In the backlash of Somalia, we would not respond to the Rwandan genocide six months later despite media coverage of the slaughter until the refugee crisis (again covered by the media) made it impossible to ignore.

    Finally I would offer that similar pressures continue to push for an intervention in Darfur.

    Best

    Tom
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    I agree that the press can and is playing a role in the Darfur issue. I can definately envision US troops there. However, I don't think these people have thought this through, which seems surprising given the backlash with Iraq. If we intervene in Darfur, we will certainly face opposition that will likely take the form of an insurgency (Janjaweed) with support by the Sudanese government. This is essentially a mirror image of Iraq. And when it happens, the two-headed monster of the press will turn on the military. Its a lose-lose situation.
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  4. #44
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    I agree that the press can and is playing a role in the Darfur issue. I can definately envision US troops there. However, I don't think these people have thought this through, which seems surprising given the backlash with Iraq. If we intervene in Darfur, we will certainly face opposition that will likely take the form of an insurgency (Janjaweed) with support by the Sudanese government. This is essentially a mirror image of Iraq. And when it happens, the two-headed monster of the press will turn on the military. Its a lose-lose situation.
    You are correct in saying that Darfur is not the good guys--bad guys scenario played out in the media and among the various interest groups looking to stimulate an intervention. Recent reporting suggests that supposed enemies have allied with each other in attacks on others. the complexity of the Sudanese arena is deceptive. Various interest groups in the US and elsewhere have for years portrayed the North-South dispute as one of Muslim versus Christian, prompting an almost knee jerk response from interest groups to "save" the southernors. Neither side in that dispute had or have clean hands and the southern rebels themselves killed many a fellow southernor over the years. The Darfur/Kordofan dispute was pretty much an Arab versus Arab affair but it too has morphed and developed linkages with the North-South conflict. I would offer that our best course of action is to support the African forces already deployed and stay the hell out of the arena.

    best

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    I agree that the press can and is playing a role in the Darfur issue. I can definately envision US troops there. However, I don't think these people have thought this through, which seems surprising given the backlash with Iraq. If we intervene in Darfur, we will certainly face opposition that will likely take the form of an insurgency (Janjaweed) with support by the Sudanese government. This is essentially a mirror image of Iraq. And when it happens, the two-headed monster of the press will turn on the military. Its a lose-lose situation.
    If this is to be believed, troops (not US) are on the way: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2174209.ece. Started a thread about it in the Africa section.

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    From the Jan-Feb 08 issue of Military Review:

    Northern Ireland: A Balanced Approach to Amnesty, Reconciliation and Reintegration
    Since 1969 the United Kingdom has attempted to resolve conflict in Northern Ireland through amnesty, reconciliation, and reintegration (AR2). Conflict resolution in Northern Ireland presents valuable lessons for any student of AR2 because it is a rare example of such processes in the context of a Western liberal democracy. This discussion surveys British AR2 efforts, framing them as a case study to help with understanding how these three concepts functioned in leading to peaceful resolution.....

  7. #47
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    The author of this report is a very good friend of mine, and it's about the best COIN study ever done by the UK.

    However, there are simply too few, if any, similarities between NI and Iraq. The UK fired more rounds in 1 year in Basra than they fired in 30 years in Northern Ireland.

    The real benefit of NI to other COIN environments was that the UK has developed a highly effective and professional approach to COIN that most other armies, (exception being the IDF) have lacked. When, at the height of the violence, PJHQ asked UK troops if they thought the ROE were too restrictive, the answer was generally no. Everyone understood what was professional, and what was not. - That is about the best lesson anyone can take away from the UK NI experience.

    ...and yes, I think we won. We convinced the IRA that whatever they did, the British Army would never leave.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ...and yes, I think we won. We convinced the IRA that whatever they did, the British Army would never leave.
    Do you think that is what did it or do you think that once the Catholics felt included in the political process that the support for the Provos dried up?

    SFC W

  9. #49
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Do you think that is what did it or do you think that once the Catholics felt included in the political process that the support for the Provos dried up?

    SFC W
    Definitely a factor, as concerns the moderate Catholic community, but the Republicans, in the shape of Sinn Fein, never gave up there support for the (P)IRA
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  10. #50
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    JSOU, Oct 08: What Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency: Revision and Revelation
    .....The lavishly praised techniques of the British Army in Northern Ireland were deemed applicable to the blast-furnace streets of Iraq. The acclaimed British military historian John Keegan opined: “As the entry into Basra was to prove, the British army’s mastery of the methods of urban warfare is transferable. What had worked in Belfast could be made to work also in Basra, against another set of urban terrorists, with a different motivation from the Irish Republicans though equally nasty.” Until recently this represents the prevailing consensus about Britain’s counterinsurgency prowess in Northern Ireland and elsewhere....

    .....Rather than dealing with Iraq or Afghanistan, this essay seeks to strip away some of the overly varnished veneer from the Northern Ireland example or at a minimum present a deeper understanding of Britain’s much proclaimed counterinsurgency effectiveness in attaining peace and stability. Let us look beneath the plaudits for the British Army’s small-unit patrolling and keen intelligence capability to examine what changes took place within the society itself to bring about tranquility and peace to that troubled corner of Ireland.....

  11. #51
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    Default I'll be back with a full comment

    This latest commentary will take time to print and read. First glance the language is rather odd, especially for an author from that conservative think tank viewpoint.

    Another time.

    davidbfpo

  12. #52
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    Default Brokering the peace

    Came across this podcast by Peter Hain, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, talking in London in December 2008 on the peace process: http://www.mtcmedia.co.uk/icsr/seminar.php and the podcast is 27 minutes long. Interesting summary and points.

    This thread could fit elsewhere and took time to choose here.

    davidbfpo

  13. #53
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    Default Op Banner

    Op Banner was the British Army's name for their operation in Northern Ireland and one of the army's authors of a report on the conflict recently spoke:
    http://www.militaryhistorysociety.co...etingNotes.doc

    davidbfpo

  14. #54
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    Earlier in 2009 at the University of Oxford, as part of a series by a specialist department on war, there was a seminar on 'Detainees in Northern Ireland' by a historian from the UK Staff College and just found a short report. The seminar is a rather bland title for internment and hard interrogation in 1971: http://ccw.politics.ox.ac.uk/events/...09_bennett.asp

    This is from the conclusion:
    Enacting deep interrogation in Northern Ireland, despite warnings about the consequences from military advisers, proved a hugely symbolic moment in alienating an entire community. Once allowed the notorious five techniques by their political masters, military commanders were reluctant to give them up, devising elaborate schemes for retaining them in the face of widespread political outrage in Britain and abroad.
    davidbfpo

  15. #55
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    Default Talking to Terrorists: is not the whole answer

    Comments on the peace process in Northern Ireland / Ulster pop up in the oddest places. This might be better in a thread on talking to he taliban, but there isn't one - according to my memory.

    Published earlier in 2009 was a book 'Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country', by John Bew, Martyn Framptom, and Inigo Gurruchagaby. The book's website: http://www.talkingtoterrorists.org/blog/main.php

    In a review by the conservative US think tank, AEI, on their new defence site, note the author Gary Schmitt is is ex-Project for the New American Century: http://www.aei.org/article/100871

    The review highlight:
    According to this marvelous new study, there are serious reasons to doubt that the model of conflict resolution relied on here is an accurate account of what actually happened in Northern Ireland and, therefore, a realistic guide for dealing with similar terrorist insurgencies.
    Another UK conservative comment: http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/stories.asp?id=1194
    On the basis of the British experience in Northern Ireland, it is now widely argued that talking to terrorists is a pre-requisite for peace, and that governments should avoid rigid pre-conditions in their attempts to bring extremists into the political process...But does this understanding really reflect how peace was brought to Northern Ireland? And can it be applied to other areas where democratic governments face threats from terrorist organisations?

    In challenging this idea, the authors of "Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country" suggest that what really matters is not the act of talking to terrorists itself, but a range of other variables including the role of state actors, intelligence agencies, hard power and the wider democratic process. In some cases, talking can do more harm than good. But above all, there is a crucial difference between talking to terrorists who believe that their strategy is succeeding and engaging with those who have been made to realise that their aims are unattainable by violence.
    Clearly some of the lessons learned could apply to Afghanistan as Schmitt's review indicates.

    davidbfpo

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    In some cases, talking can do more harm than good. But above all, there is a crucial difference between talking to terrorists who believe that their strategy is succeeding and engaging with those who have been made to realise that their aims are unattainable by violence.
    I think that says most of it.
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  17. #57
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    Default Twentyfive years on - a victim reflects

    Twentyfive years ago today the Provisional IRA (PIRA) nearly decapitated the UK government, with a bomb left in the hotel used by Mrs Thatcher and others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brighton_hotel_bombing

    Lord Tebbitt has written this article, he was trapped in the blast, with his wife: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...hton-bomb.html

    A shorter podcast is within this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8301851.stm and an excellent, fifty minute documentary by Peter Taylor: http://www.viddler.com/explore/An_Finineach/videos/7/

    Patrick Magee the man convicted of planting the bomb was released as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

    davidbfpo

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    Default Northern Ireland in retrospect

    After 12 years and thousands of witness statements, the official "Bloody Sunday" inquiry report was issued today--you'll find the full text here.

    According to the BBC report of PM Cameron's statement to the House of Commons:

    Bloody Sunday killings 'unjustified and unjustifiable'
    Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 17:06 UK


    The Bloody Sunday killings were unjustified and unjustifiable, the Prime Minster has said.

    Thirteen marchers were shot dead on 30 January 1972 in Londonderry when British paratroopers opened fire on crowds at a civil rights demonstration.

    ...

    Fourteen others were wounded, one later died. The Saville Report is heavily critical of the Army and found that soldiers fired the first shot.

    Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "deeply sorry".

    He said that the findings of the Saville Report were "shocking".

    A huge cheer erupted in Guildhall Square in Derry as Mr Cameron delivered the findings which unequivocally blamed the Army for one of the most controversial days in Northern Ireland's history.

    ...

    Mr Cameron said:

    • No warning had been given to any civilians before the soldiers opened fire
    • None of the soldiers fired in response to attacks by petrol bombers or stone throwers
    • Some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to help those injured or dying
    • None of the casualties was posing a threat or doing anything that would justify their shooting
    • Many of the soldiers lied about their actions
    • The events of Bloody Sunday were not premeditated
    • Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, was present at the time of the violence and "probably armed with a submachine gun" but did not engage in "any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire"

    The head of the Army, General Sir David Richards, said he fully supported Mr Cameron's apology.

    ...
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    The sad follow on from here is that:

    Bloody Sunday: Soldiers may face prosecution over 'unjustifiable' killings

    I agree with the following quote from the news article:
    Lord Maginnis of Drumglas, an Ulster Unionist peer, said the report was "one-eyed" in its emphasis on just 14 of the 180 violent deaths in the province in the preceding year.
    As per my comments on Algeria... why single out these acts?

    By all means prosecute these soldiers if there is a case to answer but lets see the next inquiry into the other deaths begin immediately.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-15-2010 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Add quote mark

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Unsurprisingly the strong feeling in my quarters is that it would be duplicitous at best if soldiers were prosecuted for past wrongs committed in the heat of the moment, when under the Good Friday Agreement terrorists received an amnesty.

    It will be interesting to see what the various Republican agendas in Northern Ireland will make from this.

    Of note, although it rarely makes the news, is that the levels of terrorist violence in Northern Ireland have (IMHO) now passed those seen in the 1990s and are approaching 1980s levels. They do not make the news because they do not have the Sein Feinn propaganda machine behind them and they have been largely ineffective in killing people (although marginally more effective in maiming). As ever though, with trial and error they are gaining in competence.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-15-2010 at 11:14 PM. Reason: 1980s rather than 1080s
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