Sound familiar yet?

According to the BBC, UK Foreign Secretary Ed David Milliband and US envoy Richard Holbrooke want to transpose the Northern Ireland Process™ to Afghanistan.

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.”

[Haven’t we heard this before? – Ed] Of course, the desired objective may differ from the actual destination.. Adds From the Guardian report

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.

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Familiar colonial story – fight, fail and feck off.

  • chris

    Fair play to the afghanis every body bag they send back to Britain is another slice of victory !

    Ulsterization ? you tit

  • cynic

    ” dialogue would not work with the Taliban as they are just too fundamentalist.”

    Ah but thats what they said of teh DUP once….

  • Bruiser

    David Miliband is the Foreign Secretary not his brother Ed.

  • Imagine, the Taliban wearing Armani suits and buying holiday homes in Pakistan.

  • Big Maggie

    David Milliband has some good ideas but this isn’t one of them. I’m looking at it from a woman’s point of view.

    The Taliban are notorious even among fellow-Muslims for their hardline attitudes towards women, a ban on female education being among the lesser evils.

    Afghan society needs root-and-branch changing. It isn’t the men like the Taliban fighters who are the root cause of the misery there but the rottenness of the culture. This is the big difference from Northern Ireland: there’s nothing much intrinsically wrong with both NI cultures. In a couple of decades we’ll have ironed out our differences—says she optimistically :^)

    John Kennedy,

    You’re a very naughty boy for sneakily advertising your wares free on Slugger but your comment made me chuckle!

  • ezypezy
  • Brenno

    Ah, the irresolvable question of how to ‘get tae fuck’ out of the whole mess before the British public gets really pissed off (see polls here – )

    Whilst I am continually, tear-jerkingly proud of how Northern Ireland has managed to pull itself out of the abyss, I remain sceptical about how transferable its lessons are. Afterall, as bad as The Troubles were, Northern Ireland has never been a failed state, riven by constant Cold War/ civil war conflict (involving serious firepower and engagements) for the last thirty years.

    Plus, to negotiate, you must have the right pre-condiiotns i.e. a unified body , with a chain of command which can enforce the agreements made at the top, on the men at the bottom. the Taliban have never really come close to resembling the unified body that the IRA were (even when the Taliban ran the country in the Nineties, it was more a case of peace between warlords in their personal fiefs).

  • Britney Spears

    [i]David Milliband has some good ideas but this isn’t one of them.[/i]


    He’s a jumped-up photocopy boy, completely out of his depth and causes offence everywhere he goes.

  • Big Maggie


    Like this one:

    “Mr Miliband set out a six-point plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

    “The proposal calls for tight measures to halt the spread of atomic weapons, cuts in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals and the activation of a global test ban treaty.

    “It also urges help for countries seeking peaceful nuclear energy and new talks to ban fissile material.

    “Mr Miliband said that the growth of civil nuclear power was essential, partly to combat global warming. If that were to equip more countries with nuclear weapons however, then governments would have to repair the fraying web of arms control treaties.”

    And the last “jumped up photocopy boy” I spoke to didn’t sound much like the Milliband you’ll find featured here.

  • Britney Spears

    Jesus Christ, nice one Dave. Going where others have failed miserably. Woooh, I’m blown away, Maggie, by this intellectual tour de force. Doesn’t sound like he’s jumping on the Obama-Medvedev bandwagon or reading straight from a FCO brief at all now, does it?

    And what have North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and the mad Ayatollahs said in response to these truly groundbreaking plans?

  • Big Maggie


    “And what have North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and the mad Ayatollahs said in response to these truly groundbreaking plans?”

    I’m in a good mood today so I’ll share a little web secret with you. You can find answers to those questions and more here.

    Tell them Maggie sent you :^)

  • ezypezy

    Poor Bloody Arabs

  • Maggie, I googled said questions and the reply from all aforementioned parties was very similar. It went along these lines:

    “Fuck off you spineless, out-of-your depth, living off your father’s name, jumped up photocopy boy. And tell your irritating little brother, he of the nasal ‘I’ll save the world’ persuasion, to do likewise”

    Well my Farsi, Korean, Hebrew and Urdu and are all a little bit rusty at the moment but I’m pretty sure that’s a fair reflection of their collective attitudes.

  • Britney Spears

    And Maggie, they mentioned something about a banana but I couldn’t quite work out what they were getting at.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re. treatment of women.

    The current government spoke in favour of/introduced* husband’s right to rape his wife if she plays hard to get for a few weeks.

    Not sure the Taliban’s attitude to women is a justification for waging war/not seeking peace as there are clearly ‘cultural’ issues seperare from the Taliban at play.

    *not sure if actual law

  • Brenno

    Christ, I wasn’t expected START-level nuclear discussions but can we leave the polly-bashing out of it.

    Now, what substantive comment have you got to say about Miliband’s comments. I’ll agree that none of it is new or indeed radical, but do you disagree with his diagnosis?

    I am pro-nuclear power/ anti-weapons. Looking att he current arms control framework it just seems to be more and more inadequate by the day, for preventing the spread of nukes.

    Now, I am not saying that we should just junk the NPT; nor am I saying that it hasn’t managed to significantly slow down the spread of nukes. But, like the fifty-year old framework of the Security Council (as an example) it needs to be built upon to find a new way to accommodate 21-st Century power structures.

    This is not as heretical as some anti-nuclear advocates might think. After all, nobody considered using Congress of Vienna-style diplomatic structures in the post-WW II era.Century.

  • Brenno


    The law in question was passed by the Afghan legislature, but in response to international outrage, the President has not ratified it as yet.

  • Big Maggie


    “Not sure the Taliban’s attitude to women is a justification for waging war/not seeking peace”

    I suggest that if you were an Afghan woman you’d think otherwise.

  • Dave

    It’s more a case of trying to pacify/appease the Pashtuns (who number about the same percentage of Afghanistan’s population as Catholics in Northern Ireland). Like the Provos, the Taliban draw their support from this minority constituency, so the occupying powers will need to include this group in their puppet administration if support for the Taliban is to be substantially undermined.

    Whether or not the Taliban can be used to endorse the legitimacy of the occupation is the same way that the Provos were used to endorse the legitimacy of the occupation in NI remains to be seen. I seriously doubt it.

  • Dave

    “The minority should be led to support or at least acquiesce in the constitutional framework of the state in which they live.” – Margaret Thatcher

    What a smart lady. 😉

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re. Engleze spies.

    “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.”

    You have to just love the image of the Sir Philip Bodger and Lord Bilger sitting round the table at Thames house and concluding that the very best strategy to secure the peace in Norn Iron was to help the Provos flatten London’s finacial centre -and then convince their own government that their policy of trying to criminalise the Provos was wrong.

    Perhaps by the same logic MI5 was involved in 9 11 so they could invade Afghanisatn and put the Taliban in government.

    Very, very, smart feckers these intelligence guys.

    Maggie Mor,

    I think you have missed my point – the treatment of women is not just an issue which relates to the Talbian – as the West is now supporting a regime that has “passed” ( see post above ) legislation allowing for the rape of women in marriage.

    The West simply should not, and will not, continue the war simply because it disagrees with the social policy.

    If, as it seems likely, the West will have it’s arse kicked like the Ruskies before them and the Englezes in the 19th century before that, they have an obligation to make peace with whatever unpleasant feckers they find there in an effort to reduce the risk to the West and Afghanistan’s neighbours even if that means putting the Taliban in government.

  • Big Maggie

    Very well, a Shorley Beag :^)

    I did miss your point. Sorry if I offended you.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Although the temptation is always there on this page, this insurgency is not comparable to the PIRA’s campaign.