“But one hopes for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland..”

Out-going Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s declaration to the US Congress yesterday, live-blogged by Shane, that “Ireland is at peace” [in our time? – Ed] could be viewed as a declaration of the end of US political involvement here.. Maybe.. Mary Alice Clancy emailed a link to a March 2008 article by her Phd thesis examiner, Brendan Simms, of the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge and co-President of the Henry Jackson Society, which sketches out the international dimension, “From Spanish intervention in Ireland during Elizabethan times..”.

Interestingly, Simms places the “liberal interventionism” of Mitchell Reiss here amidst a US strategy of “the export of democracy” – a theme which was explored by Adam Curtis in part three of his documentary series The Trap.If you can find it Curtis’ programme is worth watching, in particular, as one of his criticisms of that US strategy in the past was that it, more often than not, resulted in incomplete, or partial, versions of the democracy intended.

And, as Simms notes at the end of his article.

Of course, even now American policy in Northern Ireland has never been just about those “dreary steeples”. One of the reasons US diplomats have followed developments there with such interest is their hope that some insights can be applied to Iraq. That in itself is neither surprising nor reprehensible. But one hopes for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland that they are looking for a compromise involving (some of) the extremes, rather than a “deal” which simply carves up the province between them.

The Iraq connection continues. And the “peace walls” mentioned in this report may have created “a potentially permanent concrete patchwork quilt of sectarian and ethnic zones.”

Sound familiar yet?

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