Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God Save the Queen

Martin McGuinness telling the Queen,
"Slan agus beannacht" ("goodbye and godspeed")


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with "former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander" Martin McGuinness late last month, called by the press "the ultimate moment in Northern Ireland peacemaking." This is remarkable in many ways.

First, it reinforces our position that warring parties must eventually reach an accord. The IRA, dubbed variously a terrorist organization and a revolutionary military organization has been fighting Britain for the unification of Ireland for almost 100 years. They did this by targeting British interests in a low intensity conflict (LIC) using terror tactics.

Reconciliation and political accommodation are necessary to address long-standing grievances. Although the official party line in the U.S. and Britain is that we do not negotiate with terrorists, this stand is obviously not unequivocal. The English abandoned their military approach to Northern Ireland in favor of a non-military one.

Facing the end of empire, the English are loathe to succumb to the terror, and have given as good as they got. The IRA were painted as thugs who murdered innocent civilians, though they often put out a warning before their bombings. The Queen suffered the murder of her cousin, Lord Mountbatten.

At least, NYT columnist MoDo called it "murder"; in fact, it was a targeted assassination. This parsing of terms is important, since in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) the United States kills people every day but never calls it murder; instead we interdict, neutralize or eliminate a threat.

Next, the recognition of former IRA leader Martin McGuinness as a "Commander" lends military legitimacy to the group. During the struggle, England refused to recognize the military nature of the IRA and so did not grant Prisoner of War status to captured IRA personnel (much as the U.S. fails to accord this designation to those whom it fights in its current wars in the Middle East.)

When was the last time anyone called anyone in the al Qaeda chain of command a "Commander", or afforded them any military dignity? We make reality by the labels we bestow.

It is instructive to note that many world leaders have started their careers on the terror side of the equation. Luminaries like Gerry Adams and McGuinness have attained center stage and are now viewed as legitimate power brokers.
This morphing into positions of legitimate leadership is the logical course for a LIC leader to follow.

This event suggests that the PWOT © has been a colossal cock up, and must eventually be settled by non-military means.

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]


  1. Oh, the things we do for England.

  2. "When was the last time anyone called anyone in the al Qaeda chain of command a "Commander", or afforded them any military dignity?"

    We call them "Commanders" all the time, shortly after we kill them and explain to everybody who will listen how killing this particular individual will change everything. And then it doesn't.

    We are very short on military dignity for al Queda leaders but I don't think that would change much if the only thing we did was give them dignity. Al Queda didn't start this because we didn't give them dignity, they started it because they don't like what we are doing.

  3. The thing this really highlights is the questionable nature of all these secretive "targeted killings" we're doing and that Mr. Khan discussed in a recent post.

    Aside from the whole moral issue, and the whole "letting the chief executive assassinate people in secret is really more of a sort of royal privilege kind of thing" issue, is the problem that even if these killings weren't "wrong" or a dangerous way of enhancing executive power without check or balance, the whole point of having a the republic conduct its business (largely) in public is that secret deals have often turned out to be foolish and stupid, ranging anywhere from irritatingly to disastrously so.

    From what I can tell a hell of a lot of the people we're killing may be "dangerous". But some are clearly not, and if that's the case, how the hell do we know that we're not killing someone who, say, might be willing to make a deal further down the road? What if the Brits had executed Anwar el Sadat for his collaboration with the Nazis in 1942? What if we had executed Aguinaldo in 1900? What if Gandhi or Nehru had been executed in 1943? What if the Brits had capped this guy in 1979? Would he have been replaced by some firebrand nut who would have preferred to destroy Ireland in order to save it?

    The problem with decisions made in secrecy is that the groups making the decisions - without external oversight - tend to become captives of their own groupthink - hence the stupid. These killings, and the PWOT in general, seem to me to have already becoming a self-licking ice cream cone, and, as Fouche', secret policeman though he was, would have warned us, is WORSE than a crime.

    It's a mistake.

  4. I only hope I live long enough to see some Republican president shaking hands with a Taliban leader in a ceremony wearing a "please kill me" smile while he's being burned in effigy by his more wing-nut cousins back home.

    Ahhh... history.

  5. The Queen may have forgiven her cousin's targeted killing, but there are others who have not forgotten that day. Mountbatten was not alone when the bomb went off. There were also two young boys that died in that killing, a 14-year old and a 15-year old, and a twin brother of one of them that was blinded and elsewhise seriously injured. An 82-year old widow aboard also died. What were their crimes?

    F#ck McGuiness and sh7t on the IRA. Why do we give them a pass but not the terrorists from darker climates. They deserve the same as OBL. May they rot in Hell.

  6. On the positive side, a Londoner friend said that Prince Phillip simply turned and walked away when McGuinness attempted to engage Phillip in conversation.

    Good on you, Sir!

  7. Pluto,
    i do not accept the assertion that AQ started all of this.
    This would imply that we have been passive players, which is far from the truth of the matter.
    It takes 2 to tangle, or so said my Dad.

  8. Leon,
    Today is my day to be a naysayer.
    The Taliban ain't the enemy.ISN'T IT AQ?
    Tha talibs were just a convenient whipping boy for a frustrated American leadership.
    Hell, if i were Talib i would never deal with America, since we are as mindless in our violence as is the AQ.
    Will we ever have a AQ leader supping in the White House?

  9. Anon. jul 12/945,
    I certainly hear you, but we in America drive the hell outta Toyota/Japanese cars.
    You Brits sure roll tight in a BMW.
    If we in western society can't believe in, or be bound by Christian, and humanist thought , then how do we ever expect to deal with AQ???!
    The green and orange have been at it since the Boyne.There's plenty of blame on both sides.
    Bombs are nasty stuff and are totally indiscriminate, and are terror tools, even if they don't detonate. I wonder why we love them so , just b/c they are gps guided. Are Arab kids less valuable than let's say-a Mountbatten related kid.???
    As a side cmt-if u notice the hand shaking took place in a cinder block hall way in a isolated stair well.This is not indicative of a total rapprochment.
    Top of the day to you.

  10. jim - Well said! Enuf is enuf is right. But as far as the Japanese cars go, blame some other Americans, as I still drive Detroit Iron.

    Amazing to me that the Boyne, fought over 300 years ago primarily between the Dutch and the French is still a matter of vengeance by both sides of the Irish religious divide.

  11. mike,
    The template is ominous.
    If it takes us good white god fearin' christians 300 years to even begin to resolve our problems then......???!?

  12. I've got to agree with jim, Anon; you don't make peace because you love your enemies. You make peace because making war, especially prolonged war, is bad for you and your friends.

    Look what fetishizing the sectarian war in Ireland has done to that society.

    Were the innocents killed with Mountbatten any more innocent than those shot down on 30 JAN 72? Should I hate the old Japanese man I meet in Portland who fought in the Philippines in 1942 for the Bataan Death March How long do you spend before the dead can bury their dead?

    And - in this particular case - how clean are Philip's or any other British royal's hands of the blood of Irishmen and women when the ultimate cause of this entire goddamn disaster was the English desire to rule Ireland regardless of what the bulk of the Irish wanted? Where do you stop assigning blame for the bloodshed?

    At least now there seems to be a plurality of people on both sides willing to grit their teeth, shake hands, and walk away. The alternative is, what..? Keep on hating, feuding, and killing? Nurse the old grievances so that down the road the smallest nudge or sidelong look seems like a casus belli?

    And this is praiseworthy...why?

    As a soldier I have no problem with fighting and killing. Peoples and nations do it all the time when they cannot come to an agreement. But also, as a soldier, I see and have seen what happens when peoples and nations let the fighting and killing seize them rather than the other way around. If I have to shake the hand of a vicious murdering bastard that that war has made a "leader" to end that war, then as a soldier I'd do it. Wash my hand afterwards, perhaps, but do it, bury my dead, and move forward.

  13. anon:

    Sassenachs will not get much sympathy on this site.

    But it does seem strange to me that Mountbatten was targeted by the IRA. Wasn't he for the unification of Ireland? And a 79-year old, a hero of the Royal Navy at Namsos and Crete. Yeah, that sure changed some Brit minds (snark alert).

    He was even called a good egg by Stilwell who hated Limeys more than he hated Chiang and Chennault. As the last Viceroy, he pushed for Indian independence. You would think that the IRA would have made more progress towards their goal by picking a different target.

  14. mike,
    the point is to do terror that is so violent that it invokes an over reaction by the gov't.
    The ira targeting achieved this goal.
    You are using logic and this same logic is inapplicable to T's.

  15. Mike: Exactly. The point was that being a "good egg" was the same as being a "good German" when you were looking at Britain through IRA beer goggles. They wanted the Brits to be savages by being savage to them. And to some degree it worked. To a greater degree - as guerrilla and terror war nearly always does - it also helped make the societies it affected more brutal and more violent. About what you'd expect when you get people who are careless about killing get into the biz.

    But...think about it this way. If we're going to start throwing stones about vicious barbarism, who gets the bigger stone - the IRA murderer who blows up a yacht and kills a dozen innocents...or GEN Curtis Lemay, who sits in an office and develops a plan which burns the cities of Japan to the ground and kills hundreds of thousands of innocents.

    Lemay knew; he himself said that if Japan had won that he and his staff would have been executed as war criminals.

    But his bombing campaign also helped END the war and the killing...

    So, again, I can't see any "good guys" here. Both sides fought dirty, because that's what fighting does. Both sides killed and maimed innocents.

    There are a handful of wars I can think of where one side was genuinely "right" and fought purely to defend themselves. But most wars, like most things in human existence, are characterized by a hopeless mess of tangled motives and actions. I don't see how picking one side and calling them names does anything but help continue this sorry business.

  16. Chief,
    per your last cmt.
    I hope i stay OT since this was our raw entry.
    I have a guy on Raw ragging my ass about nation building, socom , etc... to include the Rwanda situation. Throw in a dash of morality.
    Well here's my point-Take a total, whichever one blows up ur skirt.
    _All the people killed by the US in nation building and Coin which is obviously a moral endeavor b/c Why i can't discover. How many dead in VN??I've read 2 1/2 million while we were there and the agent orange/clusterbomb deaths continue unabated. How many killed in Afgh and Iraq???
    -Now compare this to the rawanda massacres/genocide.
    Taken in this perspective Terrorism is childs play.
    The ira are negligible compared to nation state violence.
    Same same AQ.

  17. Looks like the IRA now is using lawyers instead of bombs. They threatened a lawsuit against ABC for calling the 72 victims 'IRA protesters'.

    They got a full apology this morning.