As part of this, Mr Miliband said current insurgents should be reintegrated into society and, in some cases, given a role in local and central government. In doing so, he said a distinction should be drawn between “hard-line ideologues” and Jihaddist terrorists who must be fought and defeated from those who could be “drawn into a political process”. Those who had either been coerced or bribed into joining the insurgency could play a constructive role if they disowned violence and respected the Afghan constitution, he said. “These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course.”
It would be a mistake to imagine that this kind of behind-the-door talking is the product of enlightened pacifistic thinking, learned not at Sandhurst but rather from the works of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. As several former Provisional IRA members have pointed out, the “back channel” was one cog in the British government’s counter-insurgency machine. While MI5 agents persuaded leading Sinn Féin figures in secret, sometimes in the parlours of republicans’ houses, of the necessity of politics and politics alone, that same intelligence service was running high-ranking agents inside the IRA who were not only disrupting paramilitary operations but also, it now appears, guiding the movement’s strategy.
And From Mark Devenport’s diary
Jeff Dudgeon sent me a copy of his News Letter review of John Bew, Martyn Frampton, and Inigo Gurruchaga’s new book “Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country”. He distills the book’s message as “terrorism thrives on talking, unless already in yield mode. And that state force works.” It is, I suppose, working out when an organisation might be entering “yield mode” which is the difficult part.