Peter’s guide to peace processing and the lesson for Iraq…

ACCORDING to his own website, wannabe deputy prime minister Peter Hain said in January: “I don’t think you could make comparable points about Northern Ireland and Iraq.” However, this is June, so the Secretary of State for Here has compiled a list of six “fundamental principles” from the Northern Irish peace process that should be implemented in, errr, Iraq. They’re copied below the fold, with Northern Irish translations, should anyone in Iraq be reading.:: The need to create space and time, free from violence, in which politics can develop;

I thought about consulting David McNarry on this point – he’s an expert in the political space-time continuum – but sadly he was on another planet at the time. Roughly translated: secure a ceasefire and make sure it lasts, in the hope that those with political ambitions can outfox those with a more militant outlook.

:: The need to identify key individuals and constructive forces in all sides of the conflict;

Find out who can be bribed with power and who genuinely wants a fair and peaceful settlement.

:: The importance of inclusive dialogue at every level, wherever there is a negotiable objective, and avoiding or resolving pre-conditions to dialogue, which can strangle negotiations at birth;

Find out who can be safely ignored – generally, those who genuinely want a fair and peaceful settlement, as they had no guns to start with. Pretend to like the people with the guns. Don’t ask them to put them down just yet, in case they get itchy trigger fingers.

:: Taking risks to sustain that dialogue, even if it means “talking to the enemy”, to underpin political progress;

Negotiate with terrorists.

:: The alignment of support of national and international forces;

Call the Americans in, though this tactic has been more successful in Northern Ireland than in Iraq.

:: The micro-management of a conflict at the highest political level.

Get Tony to come Here to make another promise he can’t keep. Alternatively, hire a castle for the weekend.