Neutrality and dangerous alliances

Veteran journalist, Robert Fisk, has been an eyewitness to many global conflicts. In his most recent article, Fisk observed that the war in Iraq- now claiming officially 4,000 US lives and many multiples of that number of Iraqi casualties– has shown the true value of neutrality.

  • “Hence the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war is being analysed with cool – albeit slightly smug – detachment in Ireland.” .. Fisk

    ‘Rendition’ jets back in Shannon

    Neutrality can also be interpreted as standing idly by.

    Supporting the formation of the PRM can hardly be portrayed as the Republic’s finest act.

  • Typical British idealism from Robert Fisk. He wants everybody to believe in an eye for an eye and no compromise just so that he can feel that justice has been done.

    An eye for an eye leaves us all blind. It doesn’t answer Bloody Sunday, Fallujah, Iraq in general, or Palestinian problems. John Hume was right. Dialogue and compromise is always needed. Or else we get what we had here, an unending Apocalypse of violence.

    For more information on the literal Apocalypse in the North, click on my name and then “Revelation”. Northern Ireland is not just a failed political entity, but a Biblical hotpot.

  • Chris Donnelly

    He wants everybody to believe in an eye for an eye and no compromise just so that he can feel that justice has been done.

    Actually, if you read or listened to Fisk regularly, you’d know this simply isn’t true John.

    For more information on the literal Apocalypse in the North, click on my name and then “Revelation”. Northern Ireland is not just a failed political entity, but a Biblical hotpot.

    Oh, I simply can’t wait John! Will I find it in this episode if Gerry ‘666’ Adams is still tempting people with forbidden fruit- maybe, dare I say it, ORANGES???

  • Shore Road Resident

    I don’t understand why this piece concluded “so much for the flags in St Patrick’s cathedral” other than Fisk just wanted to write it. A bit of a mess overall, really, switching backwards and forwards between praising and condemning some types of violence and some types of neutrality.

    May I make a request here that the numerical nutter be banned? The only number he needs is the number for Purdysburn.

  • Moochin Photoman

    John you are deluded to think that Fisk is spouting British Idealism.

    “An eye for an eye leaves us all blind” is i believe a quote from Ghandi

  • PeaceandJustice

    To Chris Donnelly – Given the thousands of people your organisation (Sinn Fein PIRA) murdered and injured across the British Isles and further afield, you obviously believed (or still believe?) in the principle of murdering people if it furthers your objectives.

    Yet your post above talks about the true value of neutrality. Most Unionists don’t think the RoI was neutral when it came to the setting up of SF PIRA to murder people. Most Unionists don’t think the RoI was neutral when it came to bringing members of SF PIRA to justice. Indeed the RoI allowed terrorists like Owen Carron to be teachers in their schools while on the run from another EU country. Polluting the minds of another generation …

  • Séamus

    A very disappointing piece by Fisk. He’s clearly deluding himself if he believes that the 26 Counties is neutral in regards to the US-led occupation of Iraq.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Well said.

    SRR

    The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

    Chris Donnelly

    Oh, I simply can’t wait John! Will I find it in this episode if Gerry ‘666’ Adams is still tempting people with forbidden fruit- maybe, dare I say it, ORANGES???

    I know you simply don’t care, Chris, that your leader will one day be regarded as the Antichrist by everyone, even by republicans, many of whom still go to Mass, though in truth never really understood, like you, the difference between an eye for and eye and Christian forgiveness.

    And what is it about these republicans. All they ever do is try to out-evil people but they never accept that the source of that evil is in their ideology. Republicanism is all about out-eviling people, through violence but also through psychology and they think that I’m wrong to put that number on Gerry Adam’s name. Get real.

  • We have no air defence capability and a fishery protection navy, who are we trying to fool? Ireland is a country which has been able to play at being nuetral thanks to its favourable geographic position and the implicit protection of NATO. Really neurtral countries, Sweden and Switzerland for example, have conscription and large defence budgets.

  • jaffa

    A comparator for Ireland (and we’re busy copying each other’s Navy at the moment) might be New Zealand. Both have populations of 4.3 Million, strategic maritime / fishery protection interests and while neutral/anti-nuclear and therefore not in ANZUS / NATO remain “very very good friends” with the US.

    The Kiwis have sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Ireland spends more than New Zealand on defence (mostly salaries I’d guess).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures#Chart_by_country_or_organization

  • Chris Donnelly

    John

    Will you please keep going? My sides are starting to hurt….

    PJ
    and on and on and on…..Do you ever stop to consider that you are vulnerable to similar ripostes about unionist/ loyalist/ British state attitudes to violence throughout the decades/ centuries?

    ‘Murdering people to further objectives’ was how an Empire was established and maintained, and unionism/ loyalism has been similarly willing to resort to arms to further its objectives in Ireland.

    Now care to discuss the main points raised by Fisk?

  • NZ is a country that’s *really* protected by its location and it would be interesting to have the comparitive percentage of GDP figures.

  • Chris Donnelly

    ‘Murdering people to further objectives’ was how an Empire was established and maintained, and unionism/ loyalism has been similarly willing to resort to arms to further its objectives in Ireland.

    Given that your above statement is true, an eye for an eye is logically therefore the basis of violent (not physical force) republicanism. Wasn’t it therefore just learned stupidity for republicans to continue advocating going down that route.

    Isn’t violent republicanism all about blind rage and not about reason, as Mark Durkan has said.

    In other words isn’t the reason that the British government are bending over backwards to accomodate Sinn Fein to do with the fact that they are a bunch of emotional cripples and headcases who would have and have destroyed things for everybody else because they don’t get their way. You can’t negotiate with people like Sinn Fein, you can only pretend to accomodate them.

    Over 1,800 people were killed by the IRA for Stormont government and an SDLP settlement. It was a good job God intervened (through 666 Gerry Adams, etc., you so mock) to stop this conflict or it would have gone on indefinitely because of Sinn Fein nutters.

    Robert Fisk is very sociable and will adapt his views for different audiences. He must think that the Belfast Telegraph is a republican paper.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Shore Road Resident – “A bit of a mess overall, really, switching backwards and forwards between praising and condemning some types of violence and some types of neutrality.”

    Agreed.

    Chris Donnelly – “and on and on and on”

    I don’t support terrorism. What about you? Do you still support murdering people to further your goals if the circumstances are right – in a later ‘phase of the struggle’? Putting bombs in shopping centres? Murdering men, women and children? How do you explain the joys of terrorism to the kids you teach e.g. Warrington? Maybe you get advice from Owen Carron.

    Or perhaps you are ready to apologise to the majority of people on both sides of the border – some of them have had their lives ruined by the actions of SF PIRA death squads.

    While we are waiting for your apology, may I suggest you don’t start threads on the true value of neutrality – given your association with murderous gangsters.

  • jaffa

    Eamonn,

    If we can trust wiki Ireland’s is 0.7% and New Zealand’s “1%”.

    New Zealand’s GDP/head is just 63% of Ireland’s though (lot’s of currency effects I’d say).

    There’s something nice and symmetrical about defence spending figures which are roughly in line with foreign aid targets rather than grossly exceeding them.

    I found this link to NZ’s new UN mission support ship (based on an Isle of Man ferry!) which apparently Ireland has plans to copy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMNZS_Canterbury_(L421)

    Ireland’s modern military mission seems (as Fisk implies) like one she should be proud of. I get the impression Fisk wishes the UK would adopt a more similar position.

    Not sure how Ireland’s defence forces might adapt in a UI though. Would a use be found for a Northern recruited air assault battalion?

    A nerdy question maybe but the Scots Nats played strongly on the loss of Scottish Regiments in Britain’s reoganisation.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘While we are waiting for your apology’

    tell you what P&J;you can have an apology, but lets do things chronologically shall we? in other words where is the aopology to nationalists in the north for the years of unionist misrule and for the refusal to accept the democratic will of the irish people by refusing to accept home rule and thus having their nown little sectarian Rhodesia established. any chance???????? didn’t think so.

  • “A nerdy question maybe but the Scots Nats played strongly on the loss of Scottish Regiments in Britain’s reoganisation.”

    yes indeed they did. all a bit odd really, as if SF had been campaigning for the retention of Irish regiments or something. yes I know, it’s different but still….

  • PeaceandJustice

    RepublicanStones – “where is the aopology to nationalists in the north for the years of unionist misrule”

    Where is the apology to the Protestants in the RoI who suffered discrimination, violence and mis-rule. Many were forced to leave.

    Now I understand that like Chris Donnelly you have supported Republican death squads in the past. So I don’t expect you to understand my comments to Mr Donnelly about starting threads on the true value of neutrality, given your own association with murderous gangsters.

  • BfB

    ‘neutrality’ my ass. Hiding behind one skirt or the other, while the tiger fill up the coffers. The only time the modern Irishman grows any balls is when he leaves the island. The bunch left behind is an effeminate bunch of poofs. Well written though.
    Tsk tsk.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Eamonn: “We have no air defence capability and a fishery protection navy, who are we trying to fool? Ireland is a country which has been able to play at being nuetral thanks to its favourable geographic position and the implicit protection of NATO. Really neurtral countries, Sweden and Switzerland for example, have conscription and large defence budgets.”

    Switzerland is a veritable fortress, with every man of gun bearing age with a gun to bear, not to mention 1000+ rounds a year to practice with a year under dint of law. This says nothing about the fortifications about the place, on top of its natural advantages, what with the mountains and the banks…

    jaffa: “There’s something nice and symmetrical about defence spending figures which are roughly in line with foreign aid targets rather than grossly exceeding them.”

    A pity about the fact that most of Europe, in NATO and out, are defense free-loaders, not to mention that “soft power” is just appeasement, re-packaged for the 21st century…

    That said, there *is* something comforting about a Germany with fat, out-of-shape soldiers addicted to cigarettes…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/06/germany.armedforces?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews

  • Harry Flashman

    *Veteran journalist, Robert Fisk,*

    And purveyor of all round codswallop and twaddle, you know only this very week he said there was no connection between Islam and terrorism.

    No none at all, absolutely none Bobby, just ask all those “jihadis”, “mujaheddin” and “fedayin” who cry “Allahu Akbhar!” as they fight against the “infidels” and “crusaders”. No Fisky there’s no link whatsoever between Islam and terrorism at least not in your parallel universe.

    Clown.

  • Dread Cthulhu: so you agree with me.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Where is the apology to the Protestants in the RoI who suffered discrimination, violence and mis-rule. Many were forced to leave.’

    would you like to elaborate here P&J;, are you suggesting that the decline of the percentage of the proteatant population in the south had nothing at all to do with intermarriage, emigration, increased birth rate among them ‘aul fenians, but just your ‘accusations’. I don’t remember the southern govt frog marching protestants to the docks and aiports and forcing them to leave, so what do you mean?. Care to elaborate or just ignore the facts.
    and as regards neutrality P&J;, what on earth would you know about it?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Eamonn: ” so you agree with me. ”

    Whole-heartedly.

    Contrary to popular belief, I do occasionally agree with other posters. I simply wanted to expand on the Swiss commitment to defense, including the entrustment of the tools of violence to the general public.

  • PeaceandJustice

    RepublicanStones – “would you like to elaborate here”

    The following in from a book review in the New Stateman in 1998 regarding Protestant Unionists in the RoI:

    “There were many small farmers, some of them as poor as their Catholic neighbours. After independence, many members … felt that, in the words of one boarding-house keeper, ‘no Protestant will ever get fair play in the Free State’.

    Many Protestants disappeared by absorption, not least thanks to the Vatican’s Ne temere decree (always bitterly resented by Protestants in countries where they were the minority), according to which all children of mixed marriages had to be brought up as Catholics.

    Many others, however, had been driven out by brute force, along with some Catholic loyalists who had served in the British army or the Royal Irish Constabulary. But if Catholic loyalists were traitors in republican eyes, Protestants were the tribal enemy.

    Protestant small businessmen were run out of Monaghan; Protestant farmers around Carrick-on-Shannon were subjected to ‘continuous persecution’, a contemporary report said, and left for the North; near Clonakilty, a Unionist JP and his son were forced to dig their own graves before they were shot by republicans, who then hanged the JP’s nephew.

    That last was in west Cork, the heartland of the republican insurrection which simmered after the Easter Rising and boiled over in the Anglo-Irish Troubles of 1919-21 and the still more brutal Irish Civil War of 1922-23.

    The conflict there was at its most brutal, close to ethnic cleansing – and no one can call that phrase excessive …

    … widespread illusions persist about Irish republicanism, whether 80 years ago or today: above all, the illusion that it was or is non-sectarian.

    The Irish know better. In an admirable recent article in the New York Review of Books, Fintan O’Toole described the IRA’s campaign of communal violence in Northern Ireland over the past quarter-century. Quite apart from well-publicised bombings in Enniskillen or the Shankhill Road, there was a systematic policy of killing only sons of Protestant farmers in western Ulster, a most effective form of ethnic cleansing.

    The story had been similar in west Cork 50 years before the Provisional IRA was even named. More than 200 big houses were burnt throughout Ireland in the lustrum after the first world war, symbols of the ascendancy class swept away in a frenzy of destruction. But the republicans’ principal target wasn’t Anglo-Irish landlords. During 1919-23 they shot 122 people as “spies and informers” in Cork. That number included 17 farmers, 25 unskilled labourers and 23 unemployed.

    In the Bandon district of County Cork, for instance, Protestants accounted for one in six of the population until the Troubles. It was there, in and around Dunmanway, on the nights of 27-29 April 1922, that ten people were shot by republicans. They included James Buttimer, an 82-year-old retired draper; Ralph Harbord, curate of Murragh; Alexander McKinley and Robert Nagle, both aged 16; and Jim Greenfield, a “feeble-minded” farm servant. None was rich or propertied. All were Protestants.

    The republicans’ justification – if the word applies – was revenge for attacks on Catholics in Belfast, about which southern Protestants were said to have remained silent. As Hart shows, that was untrue: in the months before the massacre, ‘there were frequent Protestant meetings and letters to newspapers condemning the northern pogroms’. This violence, Hart concludes, ‘did not seek merely to punish Protestants but to drive them out’, and it succeeded. A witness reported that ‘for two weeks there wasn’t standing room on any of the boats or mail-trains leaving Cork for England’, while others escaped to Ulster, part of a general exodus that sheds bleak light on those sharply declining Protestant numbers.”

    So RepublicanStones, when you are looking at such issues, you might want to take into account the nine-tenths of the iceberg that is south compared to the exposed one-tenth which is north.

  • National Geographic

    Britain is an island.
    Ireland is an island.
    Neither can be an isle of the other.

    The British isles are to the east of Ireland. Grouping them together would then correctly be the European Western isles, or the North Atlantic Archipeligo.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Cat cut your tongue?

  • Corkman

    Bandon, Co.Cork.

    Maybe these people sided with the enemy during an Independence war, instead of staying neutral as many of all faiths did. They picked the wrong side, Catholic & Protestant collaborators.

  • RepublicanStones

    it seems P&J;your fond of cutting and pasting, so if you’ll oblige me…….

    ‘The claim has been made that the Protestant minority was alienated, humiliated and largely silenced.
    This is nonsense.
    With the setting up of the Irish Free State, the Protestant minority remained in as strong a position as ever and were, if anything, more secure.
    They retained their land and property rights and maintained a very much over-representative position in the law and the judiciary, banking and insurance and in the professions, commerce and industry.
    This was certainly very different to the treatment meted out by the winning side in the aftermath of the Elizabethan wars, the Cromwellian period, the Williamite wars and after 1798.Fourteen Protestants were elected to the Dail in 1927 and special appointments of Protestants – many of whom had been militant unionists – were made to the Seanad to ensure more substantial representation there.
    Proportional representation was retained and this provided a political voice for the small minority of Protestants.
    There were some 60 English peers who still held Irish titles and lands in Ireland.
    In later years Protestants went on to hold the position of President of Ireland.
    It’s worth pointing out ,even if it’s not mentioned here that the Ne Temere decree usually pops up at this stage in this specific debate.
    This decree was issued in 1908 and – while certainly insensitive – was intended more as a control measure for Catholics rather than an attack on Protestants.It also emanated from the Vatican and not the ROI.With this rule in force,over which the ROI had no control,it was Catholic fecundity and not Catholic oppression that ate away at Protestant numbers -at least until 1960.
    Insensitive it may have been, but it did not rate in the same realm of cruelty as did the Penal Laws introduced in the early 18th century after the Glorious Revolution.
    I would suggest that most Protestants in the Republic perceive themselves as Irish and feel no need for the patronage of some of their extreme co-religionists in NI.This would seem to be supported by a recent survey of Protestants in Donegal where most perceive their identity as Irish Protestants.
    Certainly the Irish Free State was no paradise for the first 50 years or so of its existence but arguably Protestants fared better economically than Catholics who left in their hundreds of thousands.
    However the stability developed during the years following independence was almost unique in western Europe and in recent years the Republic of Ireland is emerging as a prosperous and hopefully more tolerant and mature society.
    No Protestant family gets attacked here as happened in NI to a clergyman who wished a Happy Christmas to a Catholic priest and was forced to leave the country.
    No Protestant family gets attacked here as happened to the family of Eddie Ervine in the north when he went to live in Dublin.
    Irishmen of the Protestant denominations have not abandoned their faith and their country because they ceased to have the support of the English government.
    The decline in numbers of Protestants in the south in the early years had perfectly understandable reasons and has nothing to do with any fear of hostility.
    They possess almost the same amount of property which they had when the state was set up.
    Though they are less than five per cent of the population they retain 30 per cent of farms over 100 acres and some well known concerns,which were Freemason bailiwicks, did not employ a Catholic in administrative positions until after the second world war, a matter which was only remedied by the emergence of the trade unions.
    Two of the first presidents of the state were Protestant and I would point out that both the two ladies who became president have not had
    the slightest hesitation in opposing the teaching of the Catholic Church and its practice. There have been two Protestant deputy Prime Ministers –the first being a Belfast Presbyterian –Ernest Blythe.Contrast that with the record of the Stormont regime 1921-1971.
    Sophistic justification will always be found.Some unionist propagandists (who fortunately are not typical of all unionists) in general find the erroneous model of predatorial South versus victimised Protestant North addictively comfortable and tend to become quite aggressive with anyone who tries to remove this psychological crutch…’

  • RepublicanStones

    (contd)

    ‘In an article in the Irish Times published on 7th September 1996, Dr Garret FitzGerald explains that previously, nobody seemed to examine emigration from the south in religious terms. However he highlights a distorting factor, namely the higher rate of attrition in the early days of the state when life expectancy was not as long as it is now. The number of people dying before reaching their 30s or 40s was as high as 15%, half as great as emigration itself. It’s a lot smaller now, thanks mostly to improvements in medical care, hygeine, nutrition etc.
    As for the emigration rate, there was a significantly higher level of emigration by Protestants than by Catholic young people in the pre-war period. Since 1945 this has been reversed, the Protestant emigration rate is now much lower than that of Catholics. Dr FitzGerald continues:

    >>”It may be recalled that in this column of November 8th last year, I reported that the latest (1991) census data for religion shows that 40 per cent of Protestants here are engaged in higher-income employments, (viz. administration, management, the major professions, or ownership of large farms) as against 20 per cent of Catholics. It might be helpful if these facts were better known to unionists in Northern Ireland. ”

    In other words, southern Protestants are actually prospering and doing very well for themselves. There is no evidence of any maltreatment in this day and age.

    A former fundamentalist Free Presbyterian, who used to contribute to the talkback board, once went tentatively to Dublin to examine the ‘plight’ of southern Protestants. He found no ‘plight,’ only a group of contented people who were living out their lives in peace.
    Here in the Republic no oppression of the Protestant population has occurred similar to that endured by Catholics in Ni 1921-1972.. It is offensive to citizens of the State to suggest otherwise. The Republic has been based on equality from top to bottom. Hence, unlike Britain, a Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or Jew is free to seek election to the office of President. However look eastwards to Britain and a totally different state of affairs exist. Under the antiquated Act of Settlement a Catholic cannot inherit the throne. That is but one example of a state not completely purged of sectarianism.. Thankfully we here in the South can say with not just a tad of pride, that since 1920 we have established a State that has made all feel welcome and valued – something which the more extreme type of Ulster unionist never sought to do. Had they bothered to do so, they might have been able to live today without the siege mentality and Nationalists might not have been as eager for Irish unity. But the opportunity was squandered.
    A standard put down for Cold War western communists was the question why,if their system was so great,there was nobody attempting to get across the Berlin wall from *west to east*.
    Accordingly the $64,000 dollar question:
    If the ROI is so horrendous why is there not a stream northwards of distressed southern Protestants? Since the early 1960’s the Protestant proportion of the ROI population has been rising and the Catholic proportion falling (Central Statistics Office).Looks like the South is bent on exterminating it’s Catholic population so that the Protestants can take over whatever is left .Since the early 1960’s the Protestant proportion of the ROI population has been rising and the corresponding Protestant proportion in NI falling.Looks like,if you are a Protestant in Ireland,that the ROI is the place to be.’
    (Thnx to Obj)

    P&J;, if you still believe that the ratio of protestants declined in the south primarily due to nefarious activities…..wake up, pick the cornflakes off your face and go to school.

  • PeaceandJustice

    To RepublicanStones – so according to your Sinn Fein PIRA manual, nothing much bad happened to Protestants in the Republic – despite the evidence posted earlier. Protestants either had to go along with whatever the state said or keep their heads down. There was no room for Unionism in the RoI – and this was ‘policed’ by violence and the threat of violence. Something you would know a lot about.

    It’s clear that Sinn Fein PIRA doesn’t like the truth – as they want to keep claiming that they are the Most Oppressed People Ever.

  • RepublicanStones

    what manual????
    straws….clutching….LOL

    it seems your attempt to make a few instances seem the norm has been shown to be a falsehood. keep screaming at the evidence. and keep throwing the wild accusations about, throw enough shit against a wall and some will stick seems to be your method…..sad little man.

  • Séamus

    What book is that a review of? And who’s the author?

  • Séamus

    Wait, never mind. P&J;was quoting from a review of a book by Peter Hart, whose work has been challenged and refuted quite well already.

  • PeaceandJustice

    When Protestants are murdered, tortured and driven from their homes, Pan-Nationalists want to cover it up. Yet when some Roman Catholics were shot on one particular bloody Sunday, we get endless reports of injustice, oppression, discrimination etc etc.

    Pan-Nationalists on here are just showing themselves to be first class bigots who believe that no one suffered except themselves. Back to the title of Most Oppressed People Ever.

    The book review I quoted from was from R B McDowell’s Crisis and Decline – The Fate of the Southern Unionists

  • RepublicanStones

    P&J;…..pan-nationalists this, pan-nationalists that, you sound like a paisleyite from the 80s. which is where you and your version of history belong. the truth hurts, it just cause your in too much pain to see it.

  • Alan

    Peace and Justice, why don’t you also list the atrocities meted out to Catholics in Cork and elsewhere in the South during the civil war? Why do you pick out Protestants who suffered and forget that the very same Republican gunmen murdered Catholics just as viciously in that period of Irish history?

    Does that not prove to any honest person that the religion of Unionists isn’t the issue; the fact they pledge allegiance to a foreign country and not Ireland is what arouses bitterness.

    The savage civil war in the South proved that whether you were Catholic or not didn’t matter, Irishmen would kill each other over Ireland’s freedom.

    So why then is it so amazing to think they would kill Protestant Irishmen too? Anyone who got in the way of Ireland’s freedom was going to be in danger; Catholic, Protestant or dissenter.

  • “whether you were Catholic or not didn’t matter”

    Alan, I remember looking at some statistics for killings in and around Cork for that era and IIRC the ‘strike rate’ against Presbyterians was about 5 times their proportion of the population.

    Also, the Free State had already been established at the time of the Civil War.