Would a short all out military campaign in 1978 have finished off the IRA?

From this evenings RTE news. We haven’t yet come to the end of the insights to be had from the British state papers released under the thirty year rule. The papers reveal a row between the then RUC and British army about how to finish off the IRA, the British military General prefered a short all out military campaign to finish off the IRA in 1978. So would a swift military campaign by the British in 1978 have finished off the IRA? Do you think the IRA were finished off, and if so by whom, or did they fight the British military to a standstill?

A difference of opinion too, between Jim Callaghan and the British army, who wanted to send 1 para into South Armagh, a controversial move after Bloody Sunday, Callaghan claimed that the catholics were feeling sensitive and there was no need to make them feel any worse than they do. But they went in anyway due to an increase in IRA activity. More in the footage….

  • Mack

    What would have been the long term consequences of prosecuting a short all out war on UK soil? Think about the effect on Ireland (Republic) rather than just Northern Ireland.

    Would the British Army have to make incursions into Irish territory to kill or apprehend IRA suspects residing there? What effect would that have had on public opinion in the south, and by implication the make-up of the Irish government?

    I suspect, forcing a British invasion of Ireland, by first gaining control of the sourthern state then leveraging it to escalate a conflict, would have been an IRA man’s wet dream.

    They could then properly claim they were representing the majority in British controlled Ireland. The Nordie IRA descend a line from those who rejected the 1921 treaty, that course of action could rewind the clock to 1920. Right where they wanted to be..

  • Driftwood

    The Mafia were never ‘defeated’ either, or the Colombian Drug cartels, both of whom have much in common with the IRA. The British Army (or any army) cannot defeat crime. They could hold the line, but scum like Pablo Escobar, Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams,Ian Brady,Lenny Murphy, Al Capone etc exist in all societies. So it goes.

  • The Raven

    And do we think that the British Army never made incursions into ROI to pick someone up, or indeed “off”, if they really needed to? Just a point.

  • wild turkey

    The question posed is this. Would a short all out MILITARY campaign in 1978 have finished off the IRA?

    Right. To be clear at the outset. I am not drawing any political parallels, equating PIRA political objectives or theoretical basis with the Taliban,Mujahedeen, etc. etc. etc..

    But strictly from an admittedly amateur analysis would a short all out military campaign have accomplished the american/brit military aims in Afghanistan 2008? I will be the first to acknowledge this may be a pisspoor analogy. But it is worth considering if the will, prowess, resources and political circumstances exist/existed to realistically have achieved such an aim. Of course this also begs the question of just what ultimately constitutes an all out military campaign, regardless of its duration. Bombs on Hanoi and Haiphong anyone?

    Personally, I suspect the question, and its military framework, is mis-specified and wide, very wide, of the mark.

  • blinding

    I hope this was not just another one of those boasts often heard about other conflicts

    “it will be over by christmas”

  • Mack

    The Raven

    They were not enough to destabilise the state.

    But loyalist bomb attacks in the south seemed to be perfectly correlated to key Dail votes / debates. With a goal of forcing a security clamp down here, rather than destabilisation. Who knew they were such sophisticated followers of the Oireachtas?

  • Kathleen

    Personally, I suspect the question, and its military framework, is mis-specified and wide, very wide, of the mark.

    Well no, since it was actually being considered. But I do think we’ve learnt a lot about military campaigns since 1978, and one thing we’ve learnt is that military soloutions don’t work, people have got to sit down and talk at the table, whether it was the IRA, or in Gaza now.

    Thats my tuppence worth anyway.

  • wild turkey

    Kathleen

    Ya know, I do not attribute the ‘question’ to you.

    Your blog is useful as it alludes to the essential point that during the cold war, the mindset of ‘western’ political/military establishment devised strategies, allocated resources, basically thought, in terms of the third world war as oppossed to war in the third world. (by the way, nothing pejoritive in using these terms, check out Barbara Tuchmans The March of Folly, chapter 4).

    What it comes down to is really the old saw about politicians and generals fighting the last ‘war’. That is the the mindset and the framework that, I suggest, should be critically assessed…and that is before addressing any ethical and moral considerations!

    well that’s my dimesworth

  • Killing all IRA terrorists would have been an excellent idea. The British Army, of course, had the capability to wipe them “off the face of the earth”, (to borrow a phrase) but what was missing was the political will. The sad thing is that the “Let’s Talk” mindset of latter day morally bankrupt liberal equivocaters prevailed and so the murdering IRA killers were rewarded for their terrorism, to the pleasure of some, but the chagrin of any decent human being. The best reason for the Army doing what the General suggested was that dead terrorists tend not to kill. And if, by dying, they recruit more to the cause of terrorism, then that exposes the degeneracy of their community, which in turn should then be penalised.

  • Mack

    David Vance

    Do you think that the effects of such an action would have been to destabilise the Irish state (making it susceptable to a take over by Provisional Republicans) leading to a greater medium term problem?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yeah Dave. When has a military force ever wiped out an illegal armed group for more than the short term ?

  • Greenflag

    Kathleen,

    ‘one thing we’ve learnt is that military solutions don’t work’

    Some people may have learnt that but most of the world ignores this ‘fashionable ‘ finding . A cursory glance around the world’s trouble spots would show that many countries still ‘believe ‘ in military solutions . The USA has about 10,000 nuclear weapons but they are ‘terrified ‘ of Iran getting their hands on 1 . Israel has 200 nuclear weapons yet they kill 450 Palestinians including women and children in response to one Israeli death ?

    By 1978 power had been taken away from Unionist politicians and anybody who has read Thatcher’s biography will know that she had little respect for the ‘capabilities ‘ of Unionist politicians. When she got into power she had no interest in restoring ‘Stormont ‘ and when she signed the Anglo Irish Agreement -Paisley called her a ‘traitor ‘.

    We should remember the situation as it was in 1978 . Although Unionist politicians were removed from wielding governmental power within the NI State. the UDR , RUC, and many Loyalist paramilitaries were heavily armed and would have backed up any British attack on Irish people in Northern Ireland . We also need to remember that the 1969 situation did not degenerate into a mini genocide of Northern Irish Catholics by Unionist and Loyalist paramilitary forces mainly because of the presence of the British Army on the ground in NI.

    The difference between a genocidal war even of mini variety and a civil war is usually because in the former one of the sides is not armed . That was largely the case in Northern Ireland pre 1969 . There was no IRA and 95% of weapons were probably in the hands of the Unionist tribe . Had the British Army not been sent in there is no doubt in my mind that Unionists would have driven most Northern Ireland Catholics out of NI and murdered tens of thousands .

    The Southern Government knew that was a strong possibility thus the arming of the nascent Provos by CJ Haughey , Blaney and Boland etc. Once the IRA got their hands on enough weapons and the British Army was in situ then the threat of a major civil war diminished considerably .

    This does not mean it could never happen again in the future . A British political withdrawal from NI could very easily result in sparking off the conditions which could make an ‘island ‘ civil war possible . This is presumably why the whole issue of ‘border referendums ‘ and when and how they would /could/might /should take place has been fudged to such a degree that Mr Adams can now bleat about a world wide ‘tour ‘ to persuade the rest of humanity of the ‘benefits’ of Irish unity .

    As an Irishman I find this abysmally stupid and a waste of time and money . There will be no United Ireland until such time as Irish Nationalists in Northern Ireland outnumber British Unionists by a significant margin and even then it’s problematical . And worst of all not worth the bother .

    Let nationalists and republicans instead focus on a fair repartition of Northern Ireland drawn up and implemented by a neutral international agency .

  • William

    #9 from David Vance rings bells with me….terrorists really understand only one thing…hit them back and give as good as is given…as David says, there wasn’t the political will to take on the terrorists…the UK preferred to do what an Arab once said; they, ‘Sell their friends to buy their enemies’. Perfidious Albion existed and the good loyal people of Northern Ireland were sold out to such an extent that we now have 5 terrorists in our Government.

  • edward

    Dave

    the poltical backlash of all out war against South Armagh would have so outstripped any temporary benefit that the mere concept of all out war is silly in the extreme.

    nIreland has cost the english considerably in international reputation, all out war would have truly ended the empire, even in concept. Imagine the english being thrown out of the Commonwealth!

  • Mack,

    Interesting point. I guess that the Irish State is bigger, better and stronger than the psychopaths (and their mouth-pieces)in the IRA.

    Stalin,

    Al Queda in Iraq ain’t looking too good these days. Thing is, the more dead terrorists there are the less the terror they cause.

    William,

    Yes, I was just thinking how many faces would be missing from our wonderful new Executive if, for instance, the IRA commander in Londonderry who authorised the Claudy bombing and the IRA leader in Belfast who authorised the La Mon house hotel atrocity had been wiped off the face of the earth? Tears in Slugger, I guess.

  • Edwin

    David Vance is the only person here with any moral clarity. You don’t negotiate with those who oppose you. You wipe them out!

  • Given the nature of some of your comments I have removed from my own site, I detect a sock-puppet. You do not negotiate with terrorists, you wipe them out. That’s the meme.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Perfidious Albion existed and the good loyal people of Northern Ireland were sold out to such an extent that we now have 5 terrorists in our Government.”

    Yep William, but what created these terrorist monsters?

  • Jimmy Sands

    I think if history has taught us anything it is that a successful response will involve both political and security elements. Neither on its own will succeed. The belief on the one hand that shooting bad people can be avoided, and on the other hand that it is all that is required, are equally misguided.

  • What people like David Vance and the 1978 General failed to understand, and what Callaghan and the Brits in general didn’t fail to understand, at least after the very start of the Troubles, was that even in places like South Armagh support from the IRA was far from universal, and commitment to the point of actually risking getting yourself killed was even rarer.

    There is no way that a British state mobilised on a serious war footing for a number of years could have failed to defeat the IRA. They would also have had to fight a vastly bigger and better personnelled IRA than the one they actually did face. The cost in British Army lives alone would have vastly exceeded what actually did happen in real life, and it doubtful whether the British public would have long tolerated a war that would have required enormous financial and human costs and for an Iraq style ‘surge’ would have required at the very least a wholesale call up of reservists, and may well have involved an inevitably escalating series of highly dangerous incursions into the territory of the Republic. Don’t forget, the Brits with any brains had already learned why they more or less lost in Cyprus but won spectacularly in Malaya in the 1950s.

    It is also doubtful that senior figures in the British military would long have borne it. Remember that 1978 was probably the year when NATO was at its weakest point facing the Warsaw Pact on the Central Front in Germany, with Britain in financial chaos, the US Army in post-Vietnam chaos, the French largely detached from NATO and the Bundeswehr probably the only component of NATO land forces that was both numerically significant and reasonably competent. The Soviets had yet to get themselves caught up in the meatgrinder of Afghanistan, the Reagan-Thatcher-Kohl spending splurge of the ’80s had yet to happen and the massive technological gap the West had already opened up on the Soviet bloc was still a few years off paying real military dividends.

    I know this is psychologically difficult for people like David Vance to accept, but leave the whining about liberals aside and ask yourself what the average Tory Colonel on the Surrey Heath cares about more? A few UDR soldiers dead in Fermanagh or the Red Army cantoned in Ostend and Vlissingen and Tu-95s dropping bombs on RAF Lakenheath? The British Army was never going to subordinate perparation for World War Three to the Northern Ireland conflict.

    It would also be cute to think that the lesson of Northern Ireland is that all wars are futile and we all need to sit round and talk. As an evil pinko liberal I would like to think so too. But, let’s be honest; within the frame of reference of their own strategic goals, as opposed to those of the Unionists, the Brits won in Northern Ireland. The Brits have never had any real affection for the Unionists, nor any real desire to preserve the Union, but instead wanted to force some sort of political settlement that allowed them to disengage militarily and psychoglically while ensuring that IRA bombs didn’t explode on the British mainland and they didn’t have a civil war on their doorstep. The exact constitutional implications of the disengagement were of second order importance at best.

    That’s essentially what they’ve achieved, and from 1976 on, the number of people killed in troubles-related violence in and outside of NI in any year never exceeded the number of people killed on the roads in NI in any year. By the early 1990s, with the technological advantage of the Brits adding to their manpower and money advantage, the IRA were a pale shadow of the former selves in Northern Ireland and the continental bombing was petering out. The IRAs GB operation was still in full swing, but IRA mainland campaign of the 1996-7 period not only saw the England Department seriously compromised, but also saw the South Armagh Brigade lured into carrying out operations well outside their home territory, and screwing them up badly.

    Most wars ultimately are won by the side with the greater resources applied to the conflict. The Brits won because they could out-personnel and outspend the IRA by a massive margin without spending enough money or losing enough men for it to become a serious political issue in Britain, their equipment for intelligence gathering was better by several orders of magnitude by the late 1980s and with a cheerful degree of disregard for their own laws they manipulated informers to spread FUD and paranoia within the ranks of the IRA.

    I’d suggest the Unionists pining for the boys with the red berets to in with SA-80s blazing go back to the bedtime read of Andy McNab and Tom Clancy with a box of Kleenex.

  • PaddyReilly

    In the first place, Britain under the Labour Party has never promoted military adventures in Ireland and always done its best to calm the situation. The Labour Party was in power in 1978: ergo no campaigns of this sort.

    In the second place, where has the British Army achieved anything with its former Empire except prolong the agony and put off by a few years the inevitable day of withdrawal? The last hundred years represent the bear market of the imperial venture. It’s been downhill ever since the Boer War.

    Violent deaths reached an all time high in 1972, thanks to Bloody Sunday, and have been declining ever since. Obviously a campaign like this would have caused a second spike in 1978. Naturally the Conservatives achieved this after a fashion by getting back in power in 1979.

  • cynic

    I suspect this report is a misreading of what was really going on.

    In 1976 the lead in security operations was taken away from the Army and given to the RUC under the ‘way ahead’ doctrine of treating terrorism as a breach of the criminal law. Surprise, surprise the Army didn’t like this and just 2 years later were jostling for position and trying to grab back control from the Paddies.

    By that stage the Labour Government was falling apart, an election was imminent, the UK was up to its neck in major public spending cuts as a result of its forced deal with the IMF and it was an opportune time for a power grab, but it didn’t work.

    So perhaps this was more about politics and protecting military budgets than anything practical on the ground. Generals always love to talk about short sharp campaigns as they are politically attractive. The need for a big push is also very useful in fighting off defence cuts to the infantry.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/dec/30/james-callaghan-missile-defence-fears

  • borderline

    Well written Sammy Morse.

    David Vance et. al fall into the trap of thinking oh there’s 800 IRA men. We know who they are – in we go and kill them all. End of problem.

    Firstly you haven’t got a certified, accurate membership list so you won’t get them all, and you will get a good many who weren’t in the IRA in the first place.

    So now you have say 150 extremely angry IRA men, and 1000 men who know a good lad who was killed and are willing to join up. Backed up by 10 000 willing to support the movemment and maybe 1000000 happy to finance it.

    Any more cunning plans, Mr Vance?

  • NCM

    Borderline, same dynamic as Iraq, Afghanistan, and soon-to-be Gaza. And since the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns were won decisively years ago and haven’t posed any difficulties at all since (and I’m sure Gaza will soon see the error of their ways and love all-things-Israel and never again pose any trouble), what could have possibly gone wrong with an all-out campaign against the IRA?

  • Harry Flashman

    “When has a military force ever wiped out an illegal armed group for more than the short term?”

    Oh let’s see the Plains Indians of the United States, the Communist insurgents in Malaya, Indonesia, Chile and Argentina, the anti-Communist insurgents of the Baltic states and Cuba, the Mau Mau in Kenya, the Biafrans in Nigeria, the Karen in Burma, the Hmong in Laos, ZAPU in Zimbabwe off the top of my head, plus you could also say the anti-Treaty IRA in the Twenty-Six Counties and come to that the present day IRA in Northern Ireland don’t look as if they’ll be making a come back any time soon

  • PaddyReilly

    the anti-Treaty IRA in the Twenty-Six Counties

    You mean De Valera’s men? Fianna Fáil? They’ll not be coming back, that’s for certain.

  • Harry Flashman

    “They’ll not be coming back, that’s for certain.”

    Indeed not, when they had been comprehensively defeated by the military forces of the Free State they regrouped as a parliamentary political party and accepted the status quo of the Twennty Six Counties.

    They were defeated by the government army in other words.

  • cynic

    Borderline

    I agree in part with your analysis. It was the wrong strategy and was rightly rejected.

    But do remember what eventually happened. Through intelligence work the IRA was so penetrated that it became operationally ineffective. Yes it could still mount attacks and some bits were more resistant than others, but very often the bomb ‘failed’ to go off or the bullet ‘misfired’ and the probability of being arrested and put in jail went up dramatically. The security department became pre-eminent in follow ups on failures – and who do we now know was running this?

    Alongside this the British actively encouraged the political development of the movement and channelled it into politics waiting for the day when the population would realise that violence was wrong and counter-productive.

    Much more effective than just throwing the green army at them.

  • Jo

    An “all out” war in NI in 1978 would, beyond any doubt, have involved extensive civilian casualties, as indeed the “all out” attacks by Israel against Hamas in 2008,have demonstrated.

    Those supporting this approach would have supported the equivalent *solution* in NI.

    This would, correspondingly have involved Catholic casualties far exceeding those at La Mon. But then again, they would just have been catholic corpses. Advocating mass murder like this is to support terrorism. To argue, therefore that ALL terrorists be “wiped out” would logically mean suicide.

  • PaddyReilly

    They were defeated by the government army in other words.

    Defeat, in your terminology, is a bit like the word “cure” in the mouth of doctors who claim they can cure cancer, when what they mean is they can delay death from it by 6 years.

    Possibly those 6 years are worth having if you are a person, but in the case of political institutions, they merely serve to sour relationships for an extra generation.

  • Harry Flashman

    No Paddy, the IRA in the Free State were defeated, no question about it, they fought the forces of the Free State and those forces beat them. The Republicans following their defeat went on to pursue a democratic political path within the confines of the Free State, that was their perogative as well as conclusive evidence that the Free State had beaten them militarily. There is no need to tie oneself up in logical and rhetorical knots, it’s quite simple really; the IRA in the Free State were beaten soundly by the Army of the Free State.

  • Genghis

    No one wanted to wipe out the UVF terrorists. Why?

  • Mack

    Harry & Paddy – The truth lies somewhere in between – I read Tim Pat Coogan’s autobiography recently, by the sounds of it the FF’ers used pretty rough house tactics after the war was over to ensure their voice was heard the loudest. I don’t think NI was the main issue for them either..

  • No one wanted to wipe out the UVF terrorists. Why?

    The UVF weren’t planting bombs in London, so the Brits didn’t care, and they were occasionally a useful tool to use in spreading FUD and paranoia among the Ra.

    The mainstream RUC actually did a pretty good job in rolling up the UDA and UVF in the late 1970s and early-mid 1980s. Being less well ordered and motivated than the IRA they were vastly more susceptible to FUD and outright bribery. The problem was, a new generation of phychopaths like Wright and Adair took over after the removal of the old drunken sots who really preferred running shebeens to shooting Taigs.

    Special Branch and elements of the Brits liked playing silly games with Loyalists because it made them feel like characters in a Tom Clancy novel, and if a few innocent people got boxed, well, hey, that’s war. And they were only Fenians, and probably Provo-sympathisers to boot. You don’t know what scum people like me wade through to allow you namby-pamby liberals to sleep easy in your beds at night. Do ya, punk? Well, do ya?

    Unionist politicians were politically impotent after 1972, and both Unionist parties were deeply compromised by contacts with, and fairly widespread dual membership in Loyalist paramilitary groups.

    The SDLP naturally thought that Loyalist paramilitaries were bad and ought to be taken seriously as a menace to society, and so did us namby-pamby Alliance libruls, but were were politically impotent too. It is sobering to think that the UDA was only made illegal in 1992…

  • circles

    Would a short all out military campaign in 1978 have finished off the IRA?

    No.

  • cynic

    Paddy

    You don’t like the word ‘defeat’. OK so let’s put it this way.

    “The British strategy meant that the IRA failed to achieve its declared objective. Instead it was so undermined and riddled with agents that it became operationally ineffective, its leaders were brought to realise that political action stood more chance of progress than military action and public opinion moved away from supporting republican violence.

    In the end as part of the price of peace the IRA was forced to give up its weapons, dissolve itself and settle for a deal that affirmed Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in the UK until the majority decided otherwise.”

    Will that do.

  • cynic

    “Unionist parties were deeply compromised by contacts with, and fairly widespread dual membership in Loyalist paramilitary groups”

    Errr… where did that come from?

  • PaddyReilly

    Cynic

    I -and HF- were writing about the anti-treaty IRA and the Free-staters, if you look carefully. The Freestaters were so successful in their campaign against the IRA forces that the forces took up politics and have been in power almost ever since.

    Equally the British campaign against the Mau Mau— do me a favour—are you telling me the British war aims were to get the Mau Mau to behave in a more acceptable political fashion so the British could depart for ever?

    But as for the Northern experience:- sounds more like an armistice to me. Funny that the British troops have all gone away, you’d think in a defeated country they’d need to stay in occupation.

    To buy 15 years remission from cancer is I suppose a very good result as far as oncologists go. But there must come a time, even before the end of those 15 years, when the patient realises that there has been no cure.

  • PaddyReilly

    The truth lies somewhere in between

    The truth lay somewhere in between. From today’s vantage point we know that the Free Staters lost.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>I’d suggest the Unionists pining for the boys with the red berets to in with SA-80s blazing go back to the bedtime read of Andy McNab and Tom Clancy with a box of Kleenex.<< In hindsight wouldn't it have been better for the Brits to go in Waco Dave style and shoot all these bloodthirsty Unionist types. It would have served to protect the Loyalists who were exorted to do their dirty work for them, allowed the Brits the time and space to negotiate a fair and early settlement. And given these guys a taste of that which they would have given others.

  • Whilst I appreciate that it virtually an article of faith here on Slugger that it is wrong to confront and kill terrorists, one must temporarily at least a little reality into such thinking. As Harry Flashman points out, it is quite possible to use force to wipe out illegal armed groups. All that is required is to have a superb Army – which the British Army assuredly is. Then, you need the political will to use them as required. Dead IRA, UVF and UDA men tend not to kill.

    I also note the suggestion made by some moonbats here that Roman Catholics and IRA were inseparable and that any assault to wipe out the IRA would have lead to horrendous casualties amongst the minority population. Total bilge and I am reminded of my next door neighbours – RC’s whose son proudly served his country in the British Army. Those in the minority community who supported the murder campaign of the IRA are akin to those in Gaza who support the murder campaign of the Hamas savages -and would consequently hardly have been in a position to complain if they suffered casualties.

    Sammy Morse is astounded that the UDA were outlawed as late as 1992. I am more disgusted that IRA terrorists now sit in government but Sammy’s outrage doesn’t seem to stretch that far. I am outraged that UVF and UDA terrorists are courted by the great and the good (Hello President Mary) – is Sammy?

    The reality is that Northern Ireland has accepted the institutionalising of terrorism and my contention is that had we wiped the terrorists out – as the General recommended, this immorality could not have taken place. That may disappoint the terror appeasers here but I suggest that would have been a price worth paying.

  • borderline

    It’s nowt to do with appeasing terror Mr Vance, it’s to do with the reality of the situation.

    Harry F is correct in his examples of insurgent groups being defeated, but I am sure he will acknowledge that there are plenty of examples of insurgents who were not defeated.

    The classic counter-example is the victory of the VietCong over the U.S.A. And don’t tell me the USA didn’t try hard.

    The question here is whether the IRA in the 1980s would have succumbed to ‘immediate and terrible force’ to borrow a phrase.

    Given the entrenchment of the IRA in the Nationalist communities, particularly in east Tyrone, South Armagh, and on the Southern side of the Border, I don’t think so. There was no ‘entrenched reporting’, there was a democratic Govt. in Westmister with Irish Catholic descent MPs and there was the whole world looking on.

    It wasn’t a lack of political will, more lack of political possibility. Napalming border areas might appeal to yourself as a viable tactic, it doesn’t mean it would have worked.

    In the end, what beat the IRA was what they used themselves 60 years earlier – intelligence and informers.

  • Richard James

    “Unionist politicians were politically impotent after 1972, and both Unionist parties were deeply compromised by contacts with, and fairly widespread dual membership in Loyalist paramilitary groups.”

    Ok Sammy, can you give us some kind of list of Unionist politicians who held dual membership of Loyalist paramilitaries? And perhaps under you real name, so that the same individuals will have fair recourse to repudiate your allegations.

  • NCM

    Borderline: “The classic counter-example is the victory of the VietCong over the U.S.A. And don’t tell me the USA didn’t try hard.’

    Yes, in fact the US managed to kill about 1 million enemy combatants and 2 million civilians in the process. That’s at least giving genocide the old college try.

  • Borderline,

    Au contraire – policy followed has had everything to do with appeasing terrorists. That’s what is celebrated in the Belfast Agreement. But on topic, a sustained elimination of IRA terrorists, the arrest of all who supported them, the destruction of all their arsenals and the removal of their finances – would have gone a long way to keep insurrection down. I do agree that intelligence and informers did indeed play a major role in beating them but I would have preferred to see IRA killers in their coffins, not our government.

  • Jimmy Sands

    It’s blue sky thinking like this that led to victory for the Black and Tans and has helped make Israel the oasis of peace it has been for the last 40 years. I’ve never heard such gibberish.

    “I would have preferred to see IRA killers in their coffins”

    What ever floats your boat. Grab a shovel and head to Milltown. I can think of more pleasant sights myself.

  • RepublicanStones

    The attitude of certain posters, Metallica fans no doubt…’Kill ‘Em All’, is quite laughable. For that to succeed, the word all would need to encompass every Irishman, Palestinian, Iraqi etc etc, depending on which conflict your talking about. Basically genocide. Because there was/is and will always be plenty of family/friends/compatriots willing to step into their shoes.

  • Ri Na Deise

    RS

    Its hardly surprising that some these embittered bigots have genocidal wet dreams. Shure another famine wouldnt go astray on the oirish either eh Vance?

  • Ok Sammy, can you give us some kind of list of Unionist politicians who held dual membership of Loyalist paramilitaries? And perhaps under you real name, so that the same individuals will have fair recourse to repudiate your allegations.

    Nope, because I have better things to do that be sued, but on a similar thread I take it the lack of pen and paper evidence leads you to disbelieve the accusations that Gerry Adams was a senior IRA figure? You can live in denial all you want, or you can look back at publications like the Shankill People, Combat and even mainstream newspapers especially in the 1972-4 period when everyone was less circumspect.

    In the end, what beat the IRA was what they used themselves 60 years earlier – intelligence and informers.

    Yes. And, unlike 60 years earlier, a massive technological advantage.

    Sammy Morse is astounded that the UDA were outlawed as late as 1992. I am more disgusted that IRA terrorists now sit in government but Sammy’s outrage doesn’t seem to stretch that far. I am outraged that UVF and UDA terrorists are courted by the great and the good (Hello President Mary) – is Sammy?

    In many ways both these steps are outrageous and would not be borne in a normal civilised country, but while Sinn Féin are in government and they are not a party that exactly sits at number 1 on my ballot paper in elections, the IRA are out of action and as a democrat I respect their mandate. I note David has less problems the the political descendents of the Irgun (who murdered British civilian government workers in cold blood, seeing them as ‘occupiers’), nor does he even notice when one School of the Americas paramilitary linked party joins or leaves the government in various bits of Latin America. David’s opposition to terrorism is, as always, contingent on the terrorists being in some way ideologically opposed to him.

    nny that the British troops have all gone away, you’d think in a defeated country they’d need to stay in occupation.

    Only if you assume the British were fighting a country and their aim was to defeat it. Of course, the Brits weren’t fighting a country but one large-ish and a few small insurgent groups and their aim was to create a situation where thjeir troops could pull out without a potentially escalating civil war on their doorstep and without bombs going off in London. British policy in Northern Ireland had everything to do with Britain and nothing to do with Northern Ireland. Or do you think the Brits were still trying to steal our land and exploit our (limited) resources by 1969?

    Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is just as silly a fictional filter through which to view the Northern Ireland conflict as Tom Clancy.

    The Freestaters were so successful in their campaign against the IRA forces that the forces took up politics and have been in power almost ever since.

    Which is why the aims of the Republicans in the Civil War have long since been achieved and Ireland has long since been united… or, maybe, errrr….

  • Rory Carr

    This blythe assumption by this fellow, David Vance, that ‘any decent human being’ must be one who agrees with his savage world viewpoint and that those who do not only serve to demonstrate the ‘degeneracy’ of the community to which they belong and therefore worthy only of eradication, ‘taking-out’, ‘offing’ might be considered alarming if the fellow had any influence upon any significant number of people. We must simply trust that he does not.

    It is true that such perverse fantasy is played out constantly in the computer war-games of alienated juveniles and all that is missing in Vance’s sad scenario is a forceful sexual element as in say, Lara Croft or those games influenced by Japanese manga. But then the reduction of the enemy to a sub-human level, as happens to all those who would oppose Grand Master Vance’s whim, in itself creates a precondition that is necessary for the darkest unspoken fantasies to have their secret play.

    It is no wonder that he becomes so irritated with our fellow commenter, Edwin, who, whether slyly or inadvertently, exposes his Dr Strangelove tendencies.

    It is commentary such as that by Vance that demonstrates why the emergence of the Provisional IRA was not only inevitable but a necessity. The reaction by unionism to any hint of democratic reform of the Northern Ireland statelet was one of reaction and rejection of those who attempted such reform and their replacement by hardliners whose only policy was, in line with Vance’s thinking, to beat disloyal subjects back into their place. The IRA allowed the Irish Catholic community to resist such attempts and the recruitment to its ranks following immediately upon the attempt to ‘take out the IRA’ by murdering civilians on Bloody Sunday might demonstrate to Vance that the community from which these new recruits sprang was ‘degenerate’ but, along with the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin, demonstrated to the British and Free State governments that any further such adventures were not politically feasible and demonstrated to the world that there was something really rotten in the make-up of this strange, truncated little backwater.

  • Richard James

    “Nope, because I have better things to do that be sued, but on a similar thread I take it the lack of pen and paper evidence leads you to disbelieve the accusations that Gerry Adams was a senior IRA figure?”

    You would only be sued if the politicians you named felt confident you couldn’t support your allegations. If they did hold dual membership of a Loyalist paramilitary then it is unlikely they would bring an action. So spit out some names, or we can safely dismiss you as a liar.

    And I’m afraid you can’t make a comparision with Adams. Of course I believe he was a senior IRA member. But you haven’t named a Unionist politician for me to answer a similar question.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Nonsense. Morally the only difference between Paisley and Adams on terrorism is that Adams got his own hands dirty.

  • edward

    where did Gerry ever get his hands dirty? I would say Paisley’s hands are far more directly involved as we know for fact that Paisley belonged to and help create a paramilitary otganization that imported weapons into nIreland

  • Sarah Lavender

    edward

    “nIreland has cost the english considerably in international reputation, all out war would have truly ended the empire, even in concept.”

    I agree with the general point but object your conflation of ‘the english’ with the british state. Possibly one of the reasons that an all out campaign would have backfired is that it would have woken up the british nations to what was happening on the island next door.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I suppose another key difference between the two is effectiveness. Paisley actually achieved the very thing for which Adams struggled his entire life: the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government.

  • edward

    Sarah Lavender

    Except here, outside of the western European Archipeligo, the english are the british state and I suspect that is accurate more often then not with in the archipeligo

    If Canadians are going to Scotland or Wales they say that, if they are going to the United Kingdom then we know they are off to England.

    Ireland is just Ireland

  • cynic

    Paddy Reilly

    “Funny that the British troops have all gone away, you’d think in a defeated country they’d need to stay in occupation.”

    The problem is that you are swallowing the SF line that the English occupy this part of Ireland. They don’t. We Prods / Unionists do and for example most of our families have been here longer than most Americans can trace their history on that continent. So we aint going anywhere. This is our land.

    An armistice? Well that’s what ended WWI wasnt it? Terminology is irrelevant. What matters is that the IRA lost. Was defeated. Beaten. Whatever term you want to use. Objective not attained. Guns given up. Dissolved. But as part of the ‘process’ of assimilation this has been soothed over to keep as many as possible on side. Poor things. It’s been a big shock for them.

    As for the English troops leaving well, that depends how comprehensive the defeat was. In this case it was total. SF have been assimilated into constitutional politics.

    But the Brits have kept 5000 or so troops here. The normal garrison strength in this sort of area in the UK. And of course they are not an occupation force but OUR troops as we are part of the UK. Signed, sealed, voted on and constitutionally delivered by both communities

  • PaddyReilly

    What matters is that the IRA lost.

    No, the IRA weren’t defeated and the British Army weren’t defeated either. That’s why the negotiations took so long. Letting the whole of the IRA out of jail went far beyond anything I would have considered reasonable. It was a fudge, a negotiated agreement.

    For the time being, the number of pissed off Unionists, as represented by the TUV, seems to exceed the number of disaffected Republicans in RSF. And obviously, as time progresses, with Unionism losing ground at every election, it looks more and more like it’s going the Nationalist way.

    Of course I could be wrong. Maybe TUV DUP and Conservatives will each win a seat in the forthcoming Euro elections and the Nationalist vote will go down the pan. Maybe David Cameron’s candidate will win West Belfast for the Tories. We shall have to wait and see.

  • Harry Flashman

    Borderline: “The classic counter-example is the victory of the VietCong over the U.S.A. And don’t tell me the USA didn’t try hard.”

    Ok without sounding like some deranged American wingnut I’m afraid a little bit of historical perspective is required here, in fact the Vietnamese guerrillas were actually defeated by the US conventional military, the Tet Offensive was one last desperate throw of the dice and at the end of it the Viet Cong were utterly incapable of continuing fighting. They were in other words militarily defeated by a conventional army.

    However they won the political battle and in a democracy like the US that is what counts (not so sure the Soviets or Chinese would have conceded so easily to manufactured domestic public opinion, there wouldn’t have been such manufactured public opinion of course). The US then decided to pull out and leave their South Vietnamese allies to fight on by themselves against the regular North Vietnamese Army, they held their own until the US Congress (shamefully in my humble opinion) refused to supply them with any more equipment and the massively Soviet supported North Vietnamese Army won a conventional military campaign.

    Sorry for the history lesson but worth bearing in mind when you hear that the US military was defeated by little fellows in black pyjamas and with cut up tyres for sandals, it’s a nice story but unfortunately a myth.

  • Dewi

    “without sounding like some deranged American wingnut”
    Hmmm…..evidence of US military victory Harry? – Like capturing Hanoi? – admittedly beating the North maybe not the objective – in which cause by what objective criteria do u claim US victory?

  • RepublicanStones

    The mass exodus in Saigon had nothing to do with the US losing. As this pic shows !

    http://polosbastards.com/pb/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/Copter.jpg

    It must have been a Redskins game they were gettin a lift to.

  • Harry Flashman

    South Vietnam was defeated in a conventional war by the Army of North Vietnam, this occurred two years after the US military disengaged from Vietnam.

    The Viet Cong were beaten by the end of Tet, historical facts is historical facts boys, no matter how much spin you try to put on them.

  • Dewi

    Come on Harry – elaborate – you know the viet cong and the North were the same team. Despite horrendous losses Tet did the job of persuading America that they were losing.

    Cronkite

  • edward

    Harry

    you are the first person I ever met that tried to argue that Vietnam was an american victory! And I have met some american trolls that make me look like the new kid on the block

    It is truly amazing how vare revisionism can stray from reality

  • fionn

    “(not so sure the Soviets or Chinese would have conceded so easily to manufactured domestic public opinion, there wouldn’t have been such manufactured public opinion of course).”

    Of course, because the Chinese or Russians governments never manufacture public opinion.

    lol

  • Guppy

    Note the released southern papers tell of the Foreign Minister O’Kennedy making a big diplomatic issue over Roy Mason’s post-La Mon remarks that the perpetrators probably fled across the border while the state’s security experts were telling him 100 or one third of the most aggressive IRA men were operating into the north from the southern side of the border.

    Perfidious or what?

    Explains why the war went on for 40 years.

  • Harry Flashman

    “you are the first person I ever met that tried to argue that Vietnam was an american victory!”

    And where did I say that edward? Try reading what I wrote again.

    Dewi

    I concede that Tet was a political victory for the Viet Cong but militarily they were slaughtered, look it’s a simple matter of historical record Dewi, I’m not making this stuff up. I am trying to disillusion the misty eyed romantics here who think that barely armed guerrillas defeated the United States Army, they didn’t. The North Vietnamese army otherwise known as the Hanoi branch of the Soviet Red Army defeated the South Vietnamese in a conventional land war, this occurred two years after the US military had left Vietnam.

    Try reading history folks, not propaganda.

  • Greenflag

    HF ,

    ‘Try reading history folks, not propaganda.’

    Who’s history ? I don’t recall reading any American historian calling the American sojourn in Vietnam a ‘victory’ . In fact during the Iraqi war much comment was heard from military spokespersons and American right wing politicians of the need to avoid another Vietnam like defeat . Even Senator McCain was long winded on the need to stay 100 years if necessary to achieve ‘victory ‘ ?

    The West has been in retreat from Asia since 1905 approx . The British , French , Dutch and Portuguese Empires have long since been expelled or withdrawn . The Russian (Soviet Empire ) came to a premature demise though it’s failure to defeat Afghanistani ‘nationalism ‘

    The USA and Israel are the last remaining western political players in Asia and their efforts are restricted to the Middle and near East for the primary purpose of gaining control or leverage of the world’s last remaining oil supplies .

    We do not yet see any moves towards ‘democratisation ‘ in now capitalist /communist China . As much of America’s remaining heavy industry is ‘nationalised ‘ and the banking and financial services sectors now in the hands of the State it’s becoming more difficult to separate the Chinese model from the American except of course at ‘election ‘ time .

    As to your point about the Tet ‘slaughter’ of the Viet Cong . The British Army was surrounded and defeated at and the French Army at the Maginot line but there are no historians I know of who proclaim that the Germans won World War 2 ?

    Winning a battle is not the same as winning a war . The latter nowadays usually involves a lot more than a ‘military’ solution . The Israelis are aware of the distinction even if their present policy presents evidence to the contrary:(

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    God luv ye Harry, but you are good for the craic!

  • Sarah Lavender

    Edward

    “Except here, outside of the western European Archipeligo, the english are the british state”

    I do apologise. Here was I thinking it was up to me to decide my national identity when of course its up to people ‘outside of the Western European Archipeligo’ to decide.

    The English weren’t the british state when they objected on masse to the british state’s invasion of Iraq and I don’t think they would have ‘been’ the british state in an all out attack in Ireland. They only got away with sending the army in on that island by selling it on this island as a ‘peace-keeping’ mission, ludicrous as that is.

  • edward

    Sarah

    I disagree they got away with sending the army into that other island precisely because it was an other island

    And the point I was trying to make is that in most of the world british is synonymous with enlish and not with the UK. I frankly don’t see any homologous british = Uk identity except in nIreland where its used more as a denial of their Irishness

  • Dewi

    “They only got away with sending the army in on that island by selling it on this island as a ‘peace-keeping’ mission, ludicrous as that is.”

    At the desperate request of Gerry Fitt IIRC – not as ludicrous as it sounds Sarah. Error was :
    i) Not to abolish Stormont simultaneously
    ii) Not to involve Irish troops in Nationalist areas

  • andy

    I have to disagree – slightly – with Harry.
    I read an interview between Giap (I think) and an American General which took place in the late 70s. The American general stated that the US would have won the conflist – eventually. The Vietnamese dude conceded that – but then pronounced it irrelevent (for the reasons of domestic US opinion as stated by Harry above).

    The tet offensive is widely held to be a military defeat but political victory for the VC.

    However, they were still fighting by the end of the war. Given the resources fo their enemey, this is a type of victory.

    In fact the Old IRA were on the brink of defeat before the treaty according to Collins, although most people (I think) would concede they were broadly speaking, “victorious”

  • Granni Trixie

    David Vance:
    You seem to be making the case of the ends justifies the means but how would such methods inspire confidence in the rule of law?
    Also, if one subscribes to a cultural analysis of the troubles (in addition to structural change), then picking off the IRA would never work.

    I am happy to be in what you call the “Lets Talk” mindset and believe that “dialogue” is a little examined, but infuential, ideology in NI. So we are never going to agree are we?

  • cynic

    “No, the IRA weren’t defeated and the British Army weren’t defeated either.”

    Paddy

    I am sorry. Do keep trying but yes they were defeated – comprehensively defeated – and as the years roll by the degree of penetration and the extent to which they were ineffective are becoming more and more clear. Remember that in most wars defeat doesn’t come with the annihilation of the opposition. It comes through encirclement and enfeeblement. Eventually will is sapped and weapons abandoned. Look at the process and that is what has happened.

    The duration of the negotiations has been more about helping them to come to terms with the scale of their defeat. All those comrades lost, people murdered and for what? A few seats in a Stormont Assembly with a Unionist majority and a constitutional guarantee that NI will remain in the UK?

    The entire peace process is the outworking of British strategy. The IRA didn’t attain their objective. What’s more they (and the community) signed up for a new constitutional deal with NI firmly embedded in the UK. At the end you even had the situation where Jonathan Powell was giving Gerry a hand to write his speeches!

    It’s politics for slow learners.

  • PaddyReilly

    The IRA didn’t attain their objective.

    But what was their objective? For the more emotional ones it was to get revenge for their dead friends and relations and end the military occupation of their hometowns, internment and juryless courts. For the more calculating ones, it was to advance themselves into positions of power. Both of these have been achieved, as far as I can see.

    As for the Unionist objective, I can’t see that it was to go into coalition with Sinn Féin. Which is why Unionists appear to be the more pissed off of the two groupings.

    The entire peace process is the outworking of British strategy.

    Which is to get tf out in order to do something profitable with its troops.

    A few seats in a Stormont Assembly with a Unionist majority

    Earlier in this thread I think it refers to the 1978 Labour Government as dead on its feet because it was down to a majority of one. Well, the Unionist majority at Stormont and among the Westminster MPs is…er…one is it not?

    So from the Nationalist point of view, living through the last decade or so of the Unionist statelet is like watching your team make its way to the top of the league. Sheer unadulterated pleasure. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Pleasure delayed is pleasure augmented.

  • Harry Flashman

    GF

    “I don’t recall reading any American historian calling the American sojourn in Vietnam a ‘victory’”

    Like edward I suggest you start working on your basic English comprehension skills, they appear to be sadly lacking. At no stage did I say Vietnam was a US victory, I was pointing out the blindingly obvious fact that the Vietnamese did not win a guerrilla war, far from it, the guerrillas were trounced, the Vietnamese won through conventional regular forces fighting ordinary land battles against another conventional army.

    Look at the iconic pictures of the North Vietnamese takeover of the Saigon parliament, see that fuck off big T-37 tank ramming down the gates? Yes, well guerrillas don’t use them and the men swarming over it into the grounds of the parliament are wearing conventional khaki uniforms of the regular North Vietnamese army and it ain’t Viet Cong guerrillas in black pyjamas who are flying overhead and bombing the presidential palace either.

    You and Dewi seem to believe in the romantic version of history rather than the prosaic rather more factual one, presumably you also believe that the French Resistance threw the Nazis out of France and the million American, British and Canadian troops marching down from Normandy were an irrelevance.

  • Dewi

    Harry – from Celtic speaking WW1 soldiers to Obama v McCain I don’t think we have ever agreed on a single issue. Xerses v Leonidas ? What’s your view?

    1) I think the Normandy landings would have worked without the Maquis.

    2) I don’t think the NVA would have won without the VC effort.

    Is that fair?

  • Harry Flashman
  • Harry Flashman

    “Harry – from Celtic speaking WW1 soldiers to Obama v McCain I don’t think we have ever agreed on a single issue.”

    Perhaps Dewi (although I don’t think we ‘disagreed’ about the WWI soldiers I was genuinely curious), but it is still a pleasure debating with you because you are one of the few posters here who always manages to keep it civil.

  • Dewi

    I have no dispute with that vid or your facts. Just that:

    “I don’t think the NVA would have won without the VC effort”

    Do you agree with that statement Harry?

  • Harry Flashman

    Well no actually, the VC had been largely emasculated by the time Tet finished, ie March 1968, look at the date of the fall of Saigon, April 1975, the Vietnamese won by dint of old fashioned infantrymen and artillery pounding away at the infantrymen and artillery of their enemies.

    It suits the idealised nature of the Viet Nam war which has moulded our generation in the same way as WWII did our parents’ to believe in the romantic idea of hardy little fighters with coolie hats and Kalashnikovs defeating a mighty power by fighting from tunnels under ground. Unfortunately that’s largely nonsense. The US had contained the VC and figured that South Vietnam could do the fighting against the North by themselves when they pulled out (due to domestic political pressure rather than any actual military defeat) in 1973.

    The South was able to continue fighting for another two years after the Americans had gone home, they fought well and bravely but in the end the US shamefully cut off supplies to them while the Soviets continued pumping billions of dollars of aid and equipment to the NVA thus enabling them to win in 1975. The role of the VC was largely as a local terrorist movement designed to sow fear and death among local Vietnamese, as a military force fighting against the military of the US they lost, every time right up until their final defeat in Tet (albeit giving the Yanks the shock of their lives and turning drunks like Walter Cronkite against the war).

    The North Vietnamese won against their Southern counterparts by plain old fashioned regular army units. No need to give the VC who were anyway an irrelevance by ’75 any mythical status which they frankly don’t deserve.

  • J O’Donovan

    First the man: David Vance’s posts are indicative of why Unionists got the whirlwind they deserved. Like the Israelis, they have a strong fascist streak in them.

    Now the issue: The Civil Rights Movement would have broken the Brits, who shot it off the streets in atrocities like Bloody Sunday and who derailed it by using MI5 controlled outfits like PIRA. The early OIRA/NICRA analysis was pretty much spot on. PIRA ultimately served the interests of FF/MI5 etc.
    The fact that PIRA shopped for weapons in the USA and not in places like the North west frontier where war winning chopper busters are available tells its own story. The fact that the CIA was dripping them weapons to stop them shopping where they should have been shopping came out several times in US courts.
    Vietnam in this context is a red herring and the above analyses are some of the most simplistic I have ever seen. The US terrorist forces werre trained to fight one war: a war against the USSR in Central Europe. When the VC pulled Thet on them, thgough all the initial advantages lay with the VC, they were fighting the game plan the Yanks had been trained for.
    I often observe these posts but do not post. However, the vitriol of Mr Vance made me post. If the Provos hadn’t derailed the Civil Rights Movement, Ireland might have rid itself of this detritus.
    Alas!

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flashinthepan ,

    ‘Like edward I suggest you start working on your basic English comprehension skills, they appear to be sadly lacking.

    Eh ? Who is edward ?

    Comprehension starts with the comprehender . To wit –

    ‘At no stage did I say Vietnam was a US victory,”

    And if you read my post carefully before rushing off to ‘retaliate’ you would have noted that I did not state that YOU said that Viernam was a US victory . I said to that NO American historian I know of has claimed that Vietnam was a US victory . Unless of course you happen to an American historian in which case you would be the first 🙂 Forty years late with your assessment but being 40 years ‘late ‘ seems to be a talent much prized in Norn Iron;)

    ‘You and Dewi seem to believe in the romantic version of history rather than the prosaic rather more factual one’

    Can’t speak for Dewi but I have never been accused of being a ‘romantic’- either in reference to history or anything else .

    ‘presumably you also believe that the French Resistance threw the Nazis out of France’

    Naw we know there were more French collaborators than members of the Resistance and we also know that the the million American, British and Canadian troops marching down from Normandy moght well have been an irrelevance had it not been for the several million more Russians pressing on the German eastern front .

    The VC iirc made South Vietnam ‘ungovernable ‘ and thus ‘softened ‘ up what was left of the place for a Northern takeover when the Americans withdrew .

    The main point is that Vietnam is now neither a French nor American colony . The only places in Asia which still have a ‘foreign’ political and military western presence are Iraq , Afghanistan and Israel . From the rest of Asia any direct Western (European /American ) political authority has been ‘removed ‘

  • Elliot Mitcham

    There are foreign troops stationed in Israel?

  • Jo

    This is true lunacy:

    “a sustained elimination of IRA terrorists, the arrest of all who supported them”

    This would mean the arrest of everyone who voted SF, as the advocate believes that SF and the IRA are and were one and the same. Unless, of course, you happen to be Catholics who have a serving soldier. But bullets do not swerve to avoid such.

    So, arrest thousands of poeple, Catholics to a man/woman. Presumably some might have resisted arrest. And be shot so resisting. Say one in ten. So, thats several thousand killed who did not bear arms. Arresting thousands of people would require hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers. The British Army had, in 1978, approximately 167,000 soldiers in uniform.

    Such a world where this repression could be seriously thought about exists only in the minds of the certifiably insane. It bears no reszemebamnce to either praticalities or indeed political reality.

    However, advocating such violent tactics in 2008 constitutes incitement to terrorism. All such inciters should be “wiped out” (unquote).

    Ok with me.

  • Jo

    “David Vance’s posts are indicative of why Unionists got the whirlwind they deserved. Like the Israelis, they have a strong fascist streak in them”

    I must object to this. Vance is not an electable Unionist, a fact of which he should be reminded everytime he castigates the Assembly to which he failed to be elected.

    I and many others happen to be power-sharing supporting Unionists. Talk talk rather than war war is the only rational way forward. It is regrettable that Vance et al terrorised this country into rejecting power sharing in 1974 only to face demographic realities in 2007/09.

  • Yvette

    “Well no, since it was actually being considered. But I do think we’ve learnt a lot about military campaigns since 1978, and one thing we’ve learnt is that military soloutions don’t work, people have got to sit down and talk at the table, whether it was the IRA, or in Gaza now.”

    A military solution created the state of Israel and talking would have created nothing.

    One of the scary things, for soldiers, and I’ve seen it in Armenia, Bosnia, Lebanon, is that they fear people taking their ‘war’ and hiding it in a jumble of UN papers.

    A war, is to be cherished, as a friend, because it generates policy, it does most of the difficult thinking.

    So long as the war is there, one hasn’t lost.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    borderline: “The classic counter-example is the victory of the VietCong over the U.S.A. And don’t tell me the USA didn’t try hard. ”

    Actually, the VC were a dead letter, with Tet being the dying gasps of the movement, with heavy NVA participation. Militarily, that was the North’s Bulge offensive. The failure was of will, not of arms. Rather than recognize the Tet offensive for what it was, the pols in DC saw it as a sign of a vital enemy. The battlefield victories were surrendered by men in suits.

    And, no, borderline, the US didn’t try especially hard — if they had, they would have fought the war like a war, rather than some silly police action.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    per Wikipedia (FWIW):

    “The initial Vietcong attacks stunned allied forces and took them by surprise, but most were quickly contained and beaten back, inflicting massive casualties on the communists. The exceptions were the fighting that erupted in the old imperial capital of Huế, where intense fighting lasted for a month, and the continuing struggle around the U.S. combat base at Khe Sanh, where fighting continued for two more months. Although the offensive was a military disaster for Vietcong forces, it had a profound effect on the American administration and shocked the American public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the communists were, due to previous defeats, incapable of launching such a massive effort.”

  • Dewi

    Failure of will
    Supports Dread and Harry’s thesis of “lack of will”. Certainly doesn’t contradict the hypothesis that VC actions in the South were fundamental in undermining the will of the American people and thus winning the war.
    “US didn’t try especially hard”
    Probably the worst effect of the US intervention was the collateral destruction and death in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. If US had upheld the Geneva accords and forced Diem to hold elections pre 1956 as agreed then Ho Chi Minh would have won. I never really held much belief in Ho Chi Minh et al as puppets of the Soviets or the Chinese – the US just dealt with the wrong people.

  • Dewi

    Yeah Dread (on Tet) – that’s how you win wars. Some of the VC/NVA actions seem to have been suicidal (Saigon Radio Station and US embassy for instance). More VC dead in this few weeks than American losses in the whole war. What did Uncle Ho say? “You can kill 10 of us for every 1 of you and we’ll still win” (something like that anyway)

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dewi: “Yeah Dread (on Tet) – that’s how you win wars. Some of the VC/NVA actions seem to have been suicidal (Saigon Radio Station and US embassy for instance). More VC dead in this few weeks than American losses in the whole war. What did Uncle Ho say? “You can kill 10 of us for every 1 of you and we’ll still win” (something like that anyway) ”

    Do you believe everything that strange men tell you, Dewi?

    American carrier-based attack craft were flying sorties against “fuel depots” of a half dozen drums that might be at some grid coordinate, while giving strategic targets in Hanoi and Haiphong a pass for much of the war. You don’t win wars playing “battleship” with minimally important targets.

    As for Laos and Cambodia, were the VC not there, using these nations as staging grounds and logistical routes, the US wouldn’t have gotten involved.

    As for the VC, they were a dead letter, militarily speaking, following Tet. The Republic of VietNam fell in 1975, two years after the US Congress cut off military supplies and seven years after Tet

    From Wikipedia (Viet Cong):

    “he Vietcong nonetheless proclaimed the operation successful and created a “Provisional Revolutionary Government” in June 1969. The breakup of larger Vietcong units increased the effectiveness of the CIA’s Phoenix program (1967-72), which targeted individual leaders, as well as the Chiêu Hồi Program, which encouraged defections. By the end of 1969, there was no longer any communist-held territory, or “liberated zones,” in South Vietnam, according to the official communist military history.[23]”

    And

    Vietnamization

    “The severe communist losses during Tet allowed the U.S. to gradually withdraw combat forces and to shift responsibility to the South Vietnamese, a process called Vietnamization. In 1970, the communists revised strategy to rely on the North Vietnamese regular army as opposed to the Vietcong. The 1972 Easter Offensive was a direct North Vietnamese attack across the demilitarized zone between North and South.[25]”

  • Dewi

    All of that stuff is true Dread (apart for the “dead letter” bit – severally damaged sure) but none of it contradicts the thesis that the VC were instrumental, and Tet critical, to the Vietnamese victory. Why do you think the Case-Church amendment was passed?

  • Dewi

    “By war’s end, the Vietnamese had been fighting foreign involvement or occupation (primarily by the French, Chinese, Japanese, British, and American governments), for 116 years”

    From Wiki – that’s dedication for you!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dewi: “All of that stuff is true Dread (apart for the “dead letter” bit – severally damaged sure) but none of it contradicts the thesis that the VC were instrumental, and Tet critical, to the Vietnamese victory”

    The VC were a dead loss, Dewi. The NVA won the war once the Democrats in Congress abandoned them.

    Vietnam was a military victory and a political loss. Did the VC win a propaganda victory? Yeah. Did the accomplish anything of real value? No. They certainly were “instrumental” to the North’s victory.

    What was instrumental to the Communist victory was the mismanagement of the war by the Kennedy and, especially, the Johnson administrations.

  • Dewi

    “What was instrumental to the Communist victory was the mismanagement of the war by the Kennedy and, especially, the Johnson administrations.”

    Popular Vietnamese support for National liberation from foreign interference fairly critical also do you think? On a fairly high level if the US were that bothered about the dangers of Communism some help to Hungary in 1956 would have been a bit more ideologically consistent?