08 July 2005
There is no reason to think that Britain will stand up to terrorism

Over the last few hours I have heard it said from several quarters how Britain will stand up to and defeat the perpetrators of yesterday’s atrocities in London.  Which staggers me.  I find myself wondering what on earth makes them think that.  All, and I mean all, the evidence is that British politicians will talk tough before conceding.  Here is a list (by no means complete) of British acts of weakness in the face of the IRA, every single one of them made after earnest speeches championing the virtues of democracy decrying the vileness of terrorism and claiming how we would never, never give in:

  • the creation of no-go areas
  • the abolition of the B Specials
  • 1972 talks with the IRA
  • the abolition of Stormont
  • Sunningdale
  • the weakening of internment
  • the abolition of internment
  • the introduction of religious discrimination laws
  • allowing the Irish government a say in Ulster affairs
  • concessions to the hunger strikers
  • 1993 talks with the IRA
  • negotiations without disarmament
  • allowing the IRA into government without disarmament
  • the release of IRA convicts
  • the rerouting of Orange Order parades
  • the abolition of the RUC
  • the destruction of army bases
  • the abolition of the right to self-determination

The last few were all made by Tony “we must never give in to terrorism” Blair.

It is, of course, possible that for once the British government will demonstrate some backbone.  There are significant differences between the IRA and al-Qaeda.  The IRA’s aims are limited - as yet it has no claims on the British mainland.  The IRA’s propaganda is more effective.  The IRA has never done something so outrageous that the government has had to act.  But that can change.  Al-Qaeda can learn.

The British government has a lot to prove.

Mark Steyn seems to agree with me.

Update 09/07/05.  Bearing in mind the comments a couple of further points:

1.  You should never make concessions to terrorists even if those concessions are perfectly sensible.  It only encourages them.

2.  We would all like to live in a world where we can be nice and win - just like in Hollywood.  But what if that isn’t an option?  What if the options are a) be nice and lose and b) be nasty and win?  Me?  I’ll take b) every time.

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  1. There are indeed significant differences between the stated aims of the IRA and those of the current Islamofascists. The IRA had a legitimate political objective, therefore talking to them made pragmatic sense. Former terrorists become world leaders when the political aims are limited and the perpetrators feel that there is no legitimate alternative to their actions.

    The current situation is one where the British government has no option but to remain firm. If the withdrawal from Iraq is one of the stated aims, then that is impossible until the situation is stable enough. If it is anything to do with Palestine then that is out of their hands. Ultimately, there is an Islamic fundamentalist drive to impose Islam worldwide, so appeasing them over territory will never satisfy them. They regard Jihad as something they have to do to rid the world of western influence that they see as corrupting - there’s no negotiating with that. Blair will have to be tough because there is no alternative - his back is against the wall.

    Posted by Mark Ellott on 08 July 2005 at 10:41am

  2. “The IRA had a legitimate political objective”: its objective is the ethnic cleansing of the Unionist population from Northern Ireland.  You reckon that legitimate?  Localised, perhaps, not legitimate.

    Posted by dearieme on 08 July 2005 at 02:58pm

  3. A united Ireland.

    Posted by Mark Ellott on 08 July 2005 at 04:03pm

  4. Interesting list, but I’m confused. Are you sugesting that some of these
    “weaknesses” are bad thing?

    the abolition of the B specials: -
    wise up. Not before time, vile hit squad

    the abolition of internment: -
    As a teacher in Belfast in the 70s my father regularly had to visit
    Springfield Road barracks to try to get some of his pupils out, who had
    been “lifted” the night before. The youngest of these was 11 years old,
    and had been held without charge and with no communication with his
    parents for 2 days. Yeah, that was a fantastic show of British strength.
    You must be so proud.

    the introduction of religious discrimination laws: -
    ...and you have racial equality laws in the rest of the UK. Is that
    weak?

    allowing the Irish government a say in Ulster affairs:-
    oh for FFS

    the rerouting of Orange Order parades:-
    it may be their culture, but you’ve clearly never been up close to one.
    And its Parades in general - Belfast’s proposed Gay Pride march is up
    before the same commission

    the abolition of the RUC:
    - you make it sound as if we are left with no police force, when in
    fact the PSNI is much, much better. I personally know of 3 people who have joined the PSNI who would have had to follow the traditional “want to be a policeman, have to go to London to join the Met”

    Posted by Incredulous on 08 July 2005 at 08:48pm

  5. Patrick, the point you appear to be missing here is that of context. The British Government’s involvement in Irish history is hardly a clean one. Therefore, when the IRA sought negotiation following their ceasefire, to acquiesce was a pragmatic and sensible thing to do.

    Following your reasoning, there would still be a white minority government in South Africa, as talking to the ANC - a terrorist organisation - would merely encourage them.

    So while I broadly agree with your position, I tend to do so in the context of the individual situation and would never completely reject the opportunity for a peaceful negotiated resolution.

    Posted by Mark Ellott on 13 July 2005 at 04:00pm

  6. The IRA are a gang of murdering thugs -linked to many other terrorist organisations around the world. Your orginal post is 100% correct - the UK Government are appeasers with the moral backbone of a jellyfish. Their problem is..how to appease the Jihadi. They appeased the IRA by sacrificing the tenets of democracy in NI. I wonder will they embrace dhimmitude a la Spain - graduated and all the time claiming that they are going to leave “no ston unturned” in their resolute battle against Islamofascism.

    Posted by David Vance on 15 July 2005 at 10:28pm

  7. Mark,

    The South African Government didn’t make concessiosn to the ANC until after Mandela had renounced terrorism and stated that he believed the tactics he had chosen as a young man had been the wrong ones.  Mandela, in fact, is the classic example of rehabilitation of an offender.

    Patrick,

    In case you didn’t already know, Churchill agreed with you.  He wrote that what he had wanted to do was to absolutely unequivocally defeat the strikers at Tonypandy and then give them everything they’d asked for.  He also wrote that most people had trouble grasping his reasoning.

    Posted by Squander Two on 18 July 2005 at 07:46pm

  8. The IRA came back to strength in the 1970’s because of the suffering the Irish people.  Thank God so many British people ‘understand’ the principles of why the IRA did what they did for the sake of basic justice and human rights.  I know there is an opinion from the right wing Nazi Union Jack Flying Stiffs the we are still in the years of ‘Rule Britannia’, but they are in the minority now.  The British public have always loved the Irish people even throughout the darkest decades.

    Posted by Billy on 21 July 2005 at 02:13pm