The fading light of international interest…

Jim Dee, Daily Ireland’s former US correspondent, has a think piece for Foreign Policy In Focus in the US on the Peace Process. His judgement: the blame for the lack of a deal rests on Ian Paisley. Much of his Irish analysis focuses on the last year, but the most interesting aspect is the effective withdrawal, if not departure, of the US as a major player in brokering a deal. Northern Ireland barely figures in any of the Bush administration’s Foreign Policy concerns.

Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut who was instrumental in getting Bill Clinton interested in Ireland, said the White House has no leverage with unionists. “It has nothing to give them, or take from them,” said Morrison. “This is not a priority for the Bush administration. And all the rest of this Kremlinology is a waste of energy. It is not a priority. Their priority is Iraq.”

One Washington insider with many years of involvement in Irish affairs was even more blunt about the state of play: “Who’s worried about Ireland? It doesn’t matter. Nothing bad is happening in Ireland. They can play silly deckchairs-on-the-Titanic games, but there is nothing there. There’s no iceberg. So who cares?”


  • smcgiff

    It’s even a mistake to call it the ‘Peace Process’ – It’s only one of many, and not a very big one at that. It got a lot of coverage because it just wasn’t cricket for such shenanigans to be going on in a decent, democratic, western country.

    But on the scale of things, with the likes of N. Korea kicking around a nuclear football the NI peace process doesn’t rank all that high in the scheme of things.

  • William Joyce

    Well that’s enough about me. Now what do you think of me?
    So goes the thinking in the six occupied counties. Mad Dog Bush has Balkanized Iraq in the interests of Israel, he has turned Afghanistan into a killing field for British squaddies, etc etc etc. North Korea is flexing its feeble muscle, Iran is nuking up, the fascists of Israel got a bloody nose, an axis of good is forming in Latin America, England can’t even beat Macedonia, Scotland has turned the natural order of things on its head and you wonder why Paisley’s parrot saying Never Never Never is not front page news worldwide? Maybe if the RIRA started whacking GIs but evven that might not make the cut in Paris Hilton obsessed America

  • lib2016

    The point is that the British Army is wanted elsewhere, nationalists see their political position coming along steadily if rather more slowly than they had hoped, and unionists have been effectively sidelined both in terms of the loyalist capacity to make trouble and any political impact they could hope to make at Westminster.

    The GFA will be implemented over the next few years and the DUP are starting to make moves towards powersharing even if some of their supporters on this board aren’t yet on message.

    Ah well! Maybe the inclusion of so much of the DUP top brass in yesterday’s meeting with the local representatives of the anti-Christ will finally wake them up. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that and unionism of whatever variety is wholly dependent on the British.

  • circles

    “Who’s worried about Ireland? It doesn’t matter. Nothing bad is happening in Ireland. They can play silly deckchairs-on-the-Titanic games, but there is nothing there. There’s no iceberg. So who cares?”
    I really appreciated this comment! Hopefully our little local political superstars will one day realise that if they were singers they’d have about as much relevance as Daniel O’Donnell has on the world stage (or less). They have really a very simple job to do – the population isn’t so big the infrastructure is fine, just do the effin politics!!!!

  • aquifer

    Bow Woodward is suggesting that Bush has very little attention span at all. Lets pray that the unionists cannot get Rumsfeld interested in Ireland.

  • Paisley schmaisley.

    Christ, it’s not like wasn’t feckin’ obvious.

    Any adult who has raised children knows the absolute truth that if you tell the kids to take the garbage out by 9 o’clock that there will be flies buzzing over the pail until 08:59:59.

    Meanwhile NI’s vigorous active inaction until the fated November day is boring the tits off us.

    Now if you guys could go nuclear ……..

  • Armed Atheist

    There never was that much real international interest; it was a media creation. The Northern Ireland troubles were very popular with journalists because they could dress up like a war correspondent, fly off to a nice little English speaking country and stay in a pleasant hotel and get pissed, photograph some soldiers pointing their guns at civilians in the street and a few murals while they’re at it, mouth a few sanctimonious platitudes and then off home without even a mosquito bite or a dose of the thruppenies.

    All this media coverage gave already head-up-the-arse NI politicians delusions of grandeur.

    Kill GI’s? Who cares, plenty more where they come from – kill a few journalists, western ones only, none of your Aljazeera characters, they get cruise missiles with their room service all the time and no one bats an eyelid. Nothing satisfies the voyeuristic desire of the media for vicarious emotion like a martyred fellow colleague.

    And then there’s the film – Jerry Bruckheimer would be on this immediately – He’s been racking his brains on how he was going to make Vernonica Guerin 2. I’m pretty sure Val Kilmer is going to want to play Gerry, and I hear William Macy has been working on his accent for his dream role – Martin McGuinness. As for Big Ian – Charlton Heston, Moses himself has to be. I think you’d need CGI for Bertie though and Peter Robinson won’t be in it.

  • AA,

    You really should read the linked article. However much people may sympathise with your frustration, US involvement has been measureably scaled down. That’s not a question of media coverage.

  • Armed Atheist

    Well Mick you’re right I didn’t refer to the essence of the article concerning US involvement, merely and facetiously to the solipsistic sense that people in Northern Ireland have of entitlement to centrality in world affairs, and who can blame them when they’ve become used to being media darlings.

    I find the mirror-image of this self-importance in certain Americans (and others closer to home) who bizarrely think that “Irish-Americans” are a voting-bloc or political collective of some sort: a force to be reckoned with in American politics whose opinions on foreign policy you’d better listen to if you want their votes, and if they graciously condescend to fix the oul’ sod with a Peace Process then you’d better work on it or else.

    I decry analysis such as the following from the article:

    “Republican Party strategists are keenly aware of the potential electoral importance of pleasing the large numbers of Irish-Americans who care about the peace process.”

    Bollocks. Outside of a mixed bag of ageing Irish-American politicians (not remotely as important as people in Ireland think), technocrats, academics and journalists and others with a professional interest, very few of the Americans who (increasingly dubiously) culturally identify as Irish Americans are aware of or care about the peace process. And no it’s not because they’re ignorant or stupid or any of the usual prejudices it’s because they have priorities.

    There’s no votes in it. Irish-Americans predominantly live in “Blue States” which don’t vote Republican anyway, the issues that have traction for the Republicans with them are things that are nationally attracting Catholics to the Religious Right – abortion and gay rights for example.

    OK so there are the Irish-Americans who are 100% invested in a peculiar boozy tear-stained-emerald-isle cult of victimology. They’re the ones who are still buying commemorative AK-47’s complete with notches to denote British soldiers supposedly slain with them in pubs in slums like South Boston. How relevent are they?

    In my opinion Americans of whatever purported provenance now have a siege mentality, their attitude to foreigners of any stripe inceasingly boils down to “Do you like us or do you hate us?” Guess who Bush found most sypathetic when he met with NI’s politicians.,2933,215267,00.html

    Funny stuff.

  • GrassyNoel

    Well it’s not even much of a British priority anymore so how could you expect it to be a priority for the US?

  • lib2016

    It doesn’t have to be much of a priority for the US. All that’s required is for the next US President who will probably be a Democrat elected with support from the Clintons (unless of course it’s Hillary herself!) to say ‘Get out of Ireland’ and the Brits will immediately say ‘Rightio, chaps!’

    Happened at Suez which was much more important strategically and it will happen here.

  • smcgiff

    And if the US told the UK to get out of Scotland would they?

    No – neither is it even remotely likely that the US will tell the UK to get out of Ireland or that the UK would take heed.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    Can I have some of whatever you are on, I would love to live in your fantasy world for a few days.

  • Attributing Irish influence to the blue states misleads these confused Nordies.

    Whites in America are politically split very evenly. That is why the political survivors court the splinter groups. An example is Bush’s courting of the black vote earlier this year. It’s was not cynicism, it was damned smart politics.

    The Irish-Americans are the second largest splinter group in America, following the German-Americans. At 10.9% they are no longer king makers but by region, say 11.8% in flyover America and 8.8% in the South they are a potential swing vote to screw any candidate. And that does not count the percent or two in each region that claim to be “scotch-irish”. Count the “scotch-irish” and they and the irish make up the largest white minority in the South.

    Both groups can largely be counted upon to vote very conservatively and have done so since they deserted McGovern in 1972. They can also be largely counted on to support a romantic view of Ireland. When electoral votes are won by a few hundred votes it is the wise pol that does nothing to piss them off.

  • smcgiff


    I missed your post on first reading. See below for considered response…

  • Armed Atheist

    smcgiff – lol!

    Smilin’ Jim’s – Thanks for the statistic but I still don’t get it. So 10% of Americans say they are Irish-Americans, so what?

    How much influence do the Irish lobby have in Washington? I’ve been told they’re on par with the Greeks, way, way behind the Jews and the Cubans who have tiny populations – so much for the 10% of the population. I’m also told the Irish Lobby depends on one man – Ted Kennedy – for status and that when he’s done so is the Irish Lobby.

    Voting patterns in Irish-Americans are identical to whites at large – fifty/fifty to each party. Where’s the voting bloc? The Irish lobby in Washington are all Democrats. Why don’t Irish-Americans buck the pattern for their demographic and give any type of statistical bump to the party of the Irish lobby if Irish issues are important.

    The only recent media presence of the Irish-American lobby concerned the US-UK Extradition treaty and the Nat-West Three. The Irish lobby, characterised in the media as being still oblivious to the Good Friday Agreement and the conversion of the IRA swords into plough-shares, resisted ratification because it will make it easier to extradite Irish Republicans from the US for trial in Britain. Peace process? What peace process?

    The “Scotch-Irish” thing just confuses me. Yeah, hill-billies = billy-boys I understand that much, I just don’t understand how they add to this supposed Irish-American voting bloc. Maybe the sectarian nature of Northern Ireland politics has warped my brain.

    Anyway in the absence of any really juicy sensationalist media coverage from Ireland, and I’m not talking about a baby down a well, nothing that happens in Ireland will impact the consciousness of Americans.

  • Thanks for the statistic but I still don’t get it. So 10% of Americans say they are Irish-Americans, so what?

    Now you Nordies know why I avoid yanks so much. They never get it and they write too much.

    In Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000 several thousand votes carried the day. I sell the paddy wanabees that candidate X will cutoff all aid to Ireland. There ain’t no aid to Ireland but the average voter couldn’t find the island on a map so how the hell would he know? Suddenly X’s numbers are going soft, all it takes is 3-4% and X is in the toilet.

    Now all I have to show Karl Rove is that I have the power to really screw up his numbers if I don’t get what I want. If I get what I want I send Fr. McManus to chap his lips on X’s ass and X wins.

    What I can destroy I control.

    As to the Scots-Irish they AND the catholic Irish-Americans, they mostly think that Darby O’Gill is a documentary and that the ‘SDLP is the Irish railroad. You can do a lot with large groups of stupid people like that.

    Like help elect Bush twice.

    Now go ahead, tell us you still don’t get it.

  • Armed Atheist

    Settle down there Smilin’ Jim. I’m not a yank; I’m a goddamn yoorupeean and it isn’t really that I don’t get it – that’s just my Old World manners.

    Here’s the thing. If Americans are as dumb as you say, and Irish-Americans are such a swing vote (in Ohio and Florida no less), and the Ireland card up the sleeve of Karl Rove et al is so powerful, then how come nobody has ever used it?

    2000 and 2004, two extremely tight races, if you’re going to use your secret weapon and have all of these Darby o’Gill lovin’ simple folk flock to your banner now would be the time. Never happened. Why not? What are they waiting for?

    The US is in an election cycle right now. The Republicans are suddenly looking weak; that liberal media of yours is saying they could lose the House! No problem, we’ve got 10% of the population, a number only a bit less than the Blacks, who will vote for any eejit who puts on a pair of kelly green trousers, an aran sweater and a tam o’shanter hat.

    Bush has done zero for the peace process: well now here’s the Democratic Irish lobby’s big chance to recapture their strayed flock. It could be the push they need to put them over the top. Right?

    For the owners of the secret knowledge know they can break the deadlock in American politics! Verily they wield a mythical weapon, long rumored and spoken of in awed whispers in the halls of power, a large group of stupid people who can be harnessed to the will of those brave enough to say the hidden words of power – “Erin Go Bragh!”

    I don’t believe it: no evidence.

  • I’m a goddamn yoorupeean

    That explains everything

    The examples I gave were an example on how niche groups are energized to do a party’s bidding, not an assertion that they were actually used in those specific races. I was also not trying to convince you, only the Nordies that the northeast is not the only tail that wags the Yankee dog.

    The Ohio and Florida examples were merely to demonstrate that pivotal margins here are micron thin. The secret to winning the Ohio and Florida races was not energizing a splinter group but in having the power to deny an opposing racial group the right to vote.

    You are correct in that they didn’t have to call in the wannabe paddy vote in 2000 and 2004: THEY HELD IT CAPTIVE since Kingl, Walsh, et. al. are such highly visible Republican supporters of the peace process (if not Sinn Fein) AND, since both Gore and Kerry were pro choice. The clueless part carried the rest.

    I see the Republicans holding Irish-America firmly captive for the foreseeable future. The page scandal may move some of them off the reservation this year. I remain skeptical about any large scale desertion since Catholic Irish-America has put up with paedophile priests without deserting the Catholic Church and therefore how is Foley’s reported sex with consenting age kids really going to drive them all into the camp of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank?