The mess the IRA is in…

The Economist is no passive cheerleader for the Bush White House, but it’s North American column – Lexington warns that “Gerry Adams should not underestimate the mess the IRA is in“:

The White House has stopped short of knee-capping Mr Adams. It carefully failed to invite Northern Irish politicians of all stripes to its lunch, not just Mr Adams. It also arranged a meeting between Mr Adams and America’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss. If Mr Adams can persuade Tony Blair that he is serious about restarting the peace process, George Bush will surely play along. But White House people say that if Mr Adams can’t persuade Mr Blair, then he is in danger of getting on the wrong side of America’s war on terrorism.

Mr Bush’s critics like to focus on the internal contradictions of the “Bush doctrine” on terrorism, and its tolerance of Mr Adams has been a conspicuous example. But David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter who is now at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that the significant point about the Bush doctrine is not its short-term contradictions but its long-term potential to reorder America’s foreign policy. People who think they can hide in the policy’s contradictions are sooner or later exposed. It is happening to Syria; it could happen to Mr Adams.

Whatever the limitation on the damage done this week to the party’s core support in the US:

Perhaps Sinn Fein can change its ways. But so far the signs are not good. This week Mr McGuinness warned the McCartney sisters to stay out of politics, as if Sinn Fein has a veto over who can take part in democracy. If Mr Adams doesn’t mend his party’s ways, come next St Patrick’s Day he won’t even be able to count on an invitation from the usually flexible folk at the Council on Foreign Relations, let alone lunch at the White House.