Conservative Rapprochement Bias

Meet the FOCRs? I’d really like to call it the FOCR Theory (Favoritism of Conservative Rapprochement), but let’s just call it Conservative Rapprochement Bias (CRB). Conservative Rapprochement Bias is the propensity for diplomatic breakthroughs to be initiated or codified by political conservatives. The phrase “Conservative Rapprochement Bias” is not an attempt to be derogatory, but to be descriptive; more moderate protagonists and those with a wider viewpoint are often already committed to change, so the gamechanger occurs when conservative or extremists commit to change or peace.

I wrote about this years ago and called it Narrowism. At the time, I defined the phenomena as a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. That definition certainly describes the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In that situation, there were four Northern Irish political parties, as well as three nation-states party to the negotiations. The three nation-states (The US, UK, and Ireland) all wanted a deal. Among the Northern Irish, there were the more mainstream parties that desired a deal, namely the Social Democratic and Labour Party of John Hume, and the David Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party. Those two Nobel Laureates deserve all the praise that the peacemakers received, but the deal was never a deal, until the other two parties with narrower and more politically extremist parties agreed to the Agreement, or at least participated in the result. The extremist Loyalist, Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), initially participated in the negotiations but withdrew when his ideological mirror, Gerry Adams of Sein Fein was allowed a seat at the table following his Nationalist party’s paramilitary (terrorist) affiliate the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced a ceasefire. My point is, negotiations between centrist Nationalists like SDLP, and center Loyalists like UUP, was never going to end The Troubles. The Troubles ended when the IRA announced a ceasefire, Gerry Adams and Sein Fein took their seats at the negotiating table and, post Agreement, Ian Paisley’s DUP took control of the new government after winning the plurality of seats and, ultimately, with Ian Paisley becoming First Minister in 2007.

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Yes, the Good Friday Agreement is a perfect example of Narrowism, however, when I proposed the term in 2011, I was naïve. Narrowism is certainly valid, but I now see the phenomena differently. I know believe that the more common pattern is Conservative Rapprochement Bias.

Sometimes that Conservative Rapprochement may even play out within a side of the political spectrum. Look at the US Civil Rights movement: It took a conservative Southern Democrat and master legislator like LBJ to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Would Southern Democrats ever accept a deal brokered by Northerners like JFK, had not been assassinated?

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Let’s look back at a few examples of the Conservative Rapprochement Bias:

1972, US President Richard Nixon travels to China and meets Mao Zedong. Would a President Eugene McCarthy have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader?

On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of the conservative Likud Party, not the liberal Labour Party of Yitzhak Rabin or the centrist party of Yigael Yadin.

In the 1980 Election, candidate Ronald Reagan ran for president against Jimmy Carter railing against Iran and called Russia the Evil Empire, but later the Reagan Administration coordinated the infamous Iran-Contra deal with Iran, and Reagan sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev on multiple occasions. To paraphrase my earlier rhetorical question, would President Jimmy Carter have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader? Or a President Mike Dukakis?

We already discussed that in the Anglo-Irish peace process, nothing mattered -not only Gerry Adams came to the table- but moreover, the Agreement didn’t truly matter until Paisleyists took ownership of the new government. When political extremists like Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, or even Yassir Arafat as another example, when the political extremists (or even terrorists or former terrorists) participated in peace talks, THAT’S when peace happens. Hardline soundbites like, “The US does not negotiate with terrorists” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different.

I would even point out that it was a conservative US Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), but on the other hand, there hasn’t been a liberal SCOTUS since the Warren Court ended in 1969. More to the point, it was also the transitionally conservative Burger Court that legalized abortion, banned the death penalty… most recently, it was the conservative Roberts Court that not only legalized same-sex marriage as mentioned before but also confirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

[As I said, hardline soundbites like, “No ‘bamacare” and “Repeal Obamacare” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different when a person or a party has to govern, not just criticize. Heck, the repeal shouters even changed their mantra to “Repeal and Replace,” and it’s still the law of the land… but I digress.]

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Back in 2008, former Presidential candidate William J. Bennett wrote in the National Review: “Barack Obama’s position on negotiating with U.S. enemies betrays a profound misreading of history,” adding that if Obama were to meet with Iranian officials, “he will lower the prestige of the office of the president.”

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And now we have, not kimchi, but Kim-Trump: The Singapore Summit. The reclusive leader of one of the most reclusive regimes in the world, travelled 3,067 miles to meet with the man who has described Kim as:

“North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons.”
~Sept. 16, 2015~

“Rocket Man [who] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
~September 19, 2017~

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea… is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people”
~September 22, 2017~

And, finally, on November 11, 2017, the President of the United States referred to Chairman Kim as “short and fat.” Perhaps even the same words General George Washington used to describe King George III or perhaps it was what Abraham Lincoln called Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis?

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When US President George W. Bush uttered that infamous phrase ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, it got all of our attention. For some of us who follow international relations closely, personally I wondered why “W” baited the Iranians since the Iranian government had just shared their intelligence on Afghanistan with the US military in September and October of 2001… just 3 months earlier… but anyway…

Most people, and the media, we knew what he meant, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Libyans, and the North Koreans… the Bush Administration was serving notice to these rogue states. In fact, one of those rogue-states, Libya, straight-up capitulated and offered to give up its WMDs programs. To an extent, it hurts me to admit it, but the Libyan reaction to the 2002 speech is an example of saber-rattling actually working as an instrument of peace, to an extent.**

  • Libya, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil. Done. Credit given to Bush 43.
  • Saddam’s Iraq, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Done. Credit (as it were) given to Bush 43.
  • Iran, neutralized by the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework. **Done. Credit: none.

What???? The Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And they were *all* somehow duped?

Under the Corker-Cardin framework establishing oversight of the Iran deal, Congress could vote to approve or disapprove of a final deal, determining whether Obama has the authority to temporarily lift Iran sanctions needed to implement the Agreement. If Congress fails to pass disapproval of the deal — or if Congress does pass a disapproval measure, then fails to override Obama’s veto of it — the deal would move forward.

And it did. The Corker-Cardin framework provided Congress with the right to review the Iran Agreement, regardless of what you’ve heard spun by the pundits.

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No sitting-President of either political party has ever met with the leaders of North Korea. This policy was to avoid legitimizing a rogue-state as well as to hold onto that strategic carrot in order to draw concessions from North Korea. And now, like the US Embassy move in Israel, the United States has given up a negotiating item, for apparently nothing in return. But, the reaction to Trump’s meeting with the dictator of North Korea?

Senator McConnell praised the “historic first step” and noted that it was “the beginning of the arduous process,” but he said, “I support the goals contained in the statement and I remain supportive of the administration’s mission.” On the Iran Agreement, Mitch McConnell criticizes Iran nuke deal as “windfall” for Tehran…

On the Iran Agreement, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said, “It is an agreement that will reward a violent, terrorist regime. Instead of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, it merely delays it. This deal is shortsighted and dangerous for our security.” But of the Trump-Kim Summit, Rounds said: “Good news coming from Singapore. @POTUS has made early strides in making our world a safer place. A lot of work to do yet.”

And how about this for sarcastic bitterness:

Of Obama and the Iran Agreement, Jim Risch (R-ID) said: “This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires.”

And of Trump and North Korea? Risch said “If Barack Obama had accomplished what Donald Trump just accomplished, they’d be calling for the stonemasons to get out to Mount Rushmore and put off his head on Mount Rushmore. This is a historic occasion.”

Hahahahahaahhaha…..

Personally, I’m kinda wondering what exactly Trump *has* accomplished besides a handshake that North Korea has been seeking for decades, and now the regime received without capitulating on anything.

On Trump and North Korea, Sen. James Inhofe (OK) said “I do not trust Iran who has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism for generations, and I have no faith that President Obama’s deal will change the irrational and dangerous behaviors of Iran’s government leaders,” so I guess I’m really curious how Inhofe feels about Kim and his country’s history of bank fraud, cyberterrorism, saber-rattling and breaking of promises to South Korea as well as US Presidents of both political parties….

Here ya go: Of Trump and North Korea, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) even said “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen,” and even praised Trump for being the first person to ever get Kim Jong-un’s attention and for playing him “like a fiddle.”

Really? Inhofe knows this already? Isn’t it equally possible that Kim played Trump like a fiddle?

The truth is that we won’t know for a long time whether President Trump gave away the cow for free, or if he was the one who started the North Koreans down the road to peaceful coexistence. John Delury, a North Korea watcher and professor at Yonsei University, thinks that it’s even possible that Kim Jung Un is creating a détente with the United States to pivot out of China’s orbit. At this point, who knows? Certainly not I…

But what I do know, is that there is a hypocrisy in the rightwing media (not that there’s not a blindness in the leftwing media on other issues), that there is a selectivity in history and an inconsistency in opinion on international rapprochement initiatives.

Perhaps it’s just partisanship? Or perhaps it’s just that the worst of partisanship is what ultimately becomes the dominant narrative in history. I hope not.

As I said, the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And somehow *all* six parties are incompetent and have somehow duped?

To be fair, North Korea and Iran are not in the same place in their nuclear research and capabilities. And that’s some of the reason for the confusing messages out of some conservatives. After all, North Korea’s research has been entirely weapons-based, so *if* (and that’s a huge if) North Korea stopped its nuclear weapons research, then it would be stopping all of its current nuclear work.

Iran’s nuclear research is much more sophisticated and more of a dual-tracked research. Iran has civilian nuclear research programs as well, so the Agreement honors civilian research.

So, on Trump and North Korea:

Sen. Jon Ernst (R-IA) can say that she was “excited about the opportunity.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) can say the “critical summit is happening because of President Trump’s leadership and unwavering resolve to make the world a safer place,” and added that “[t]he Trump Administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) can say a “big opportunity” and “clearly there has been progress.”

But on Iran, the same three said:

Ernst: “This to me is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran…This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities.”

Purdue: “This deal won’t prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state — it just delays it,” and “As I’ve said all along, I cannot support any deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”

Sullivan: “Principal objective of Iran negotiations was to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This #IranDeal does NOT do that.”

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These statements, to me, are a lot more consistent than the statements by Inhofe, Risch, Rounds, and McConnell…

Ernst, Purdue, and Sullivan are correct. The Iran Agreement does not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 10 years if the Iranians want to. It was never intended to. The Agreement was intended to create breathing room, for Iran to be integrated into the world economy for a period of ten years, so that, as a member of the world economy, there would be a disincentive for Iran to throw those incentives away after ten years of participation in the international system.

Whereas the Trump Administration has, at this point, not offered North Korea the path to peaceful nuclear technology as Iran has been guaranteed, and at this point North Korea is still expected to terminate its nuclear weapon programs in perpetuity as South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and the former Soviet Republics outside of Russia have all done.

Two different nation-states. Two different nuclear programs.

So, the issue isn’t so much about the “deal” but about the reception of engagement with rogue leaders and rogue states.

  • Nixon meets Mao, and is praised.
  • Reagan meets Gorbachev, and is praised.
  • But Clinton normalizes relations with Vietnam, and its criticized.
  • Clinton allows Gerry Adams a visa to the US as part of the Northern Irish Peace Process, and its criticized.
  • Bush pressures UK PM Tony Blair to release the PanAm 103 bombers to reward Libya, and its ignored by the public.
  • Obama normalizes relations with Cuba, and its criticized.

Yes, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro, and it’s the end of the world, but President Donald Trump shakes hands with the leader of a rogue state one called a member of the Axis of Evil by President George W. Bush and…

Sen. Jim Inhofe says “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen.”

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The two most consistent voices have been Ben Shapiro and Jim Geraghty:

“I’m not certain why meeting with Kim without preconditions is suddenly a grand coup when we would have gone nuts had Obama done the same,” said conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who criticized Obama back in 2009 and is now often critical of Trump.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wondered the same. “Remember how much we condemned then-senator Barack Obama’s pledge to ‘meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?’ That wasn’t wrong,” Geraghty wrote.

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Yes, Conservative Rapprochement Bias is a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. While “not fair” it is none the less true that there is a pattern in politics, sociology, psychology, and religion that the seminal events are most often decided when those with the narrowest perspective agree to change or compromise.

As Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.” And here we go again…

The Other Guy Did It Too (May 17th)

The Other Guy and the Lack of Secondary Biligerant Accountability

On this day, May 17, 1974, thirty-three civilians were killed and 300 injured when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) detonates four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. It was the deadliest attack of the Troubles and the deadliest terrorist attack in the Republic’s history.

There are credible allegations that elements of the British state security forces helped the UVF carry out the bombings, including members of the Glenanne gang. Some of these allegations have come from former members of the security forces. The Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Justice called the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces. Just the month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organization, meaning the UVF was not considered a terrorist organization at the time of the May 17 bombing. Excuse me?

The bombings occurred within the context of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike, which was called by hardline loyalists and unionists in Northern Ireland who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement. Specifically, they opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists and the proposed role for the Republic in the governance of Northern Ireland. The strike brought down the Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly on May 28, 1974.

Ironically, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, on which the current system of Northern Irish devolution is based, closely resembles the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement.

Let’s take another look at these UVF loyalists that few outside of Ireland have heard of, as well as their friends the UDA:

1968

  • The UVF carried out three attacks on Catholics in Belfast. In the first, a Protestant civilian (Matilda Gould) died when UVF members tried to firebomb the Catholic-owned pub beside her house but accidentally struck her home.
  • In the second, a Catholic civilian (John Patrick Scullion) was shot dead as he walked home. In the third, the UVF opened fire on three Catholic civilians as they left a pub, killing one (Peter Ward, a native of the Republic of Ireland) and wounding the other two.

1969

  • The UVF planted their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin
  • The UVF detonated bombs in the Republic of Ireland. In Dublin, it detonated a car bomb near the Garda Síochána central detective bureau. It also bombed a power station at Ballyshannon, a Wolfe Tone memorial in Bodenstown, and the Daniel O’Connell monument in Dublin.

1971

September Loyalists formed the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The group would quickly become the largest loyalist group in Northern Ireland. What? Who are these guys?

In addition to the loyalist paramilitary group known as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the UDA/UFF was responsible for more than 400 deaths. The vast majority of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, killed at random, in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants. Other High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham’s and James Murray’s bookmakers’ shootings, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. Most of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward bombings in the Republic of Ireland were executed as well. While the UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994 and ended its campaign in 2007, some of its members have continued to engage in violence.

For example:

Also in 1971:
McGurk’s – the UVF exploded a bomb at a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast, killing fifteen Catholic civilians (including two children) and wounding seventeen others. This was the highest death toll from a single incident in Belfast during the Troubles

1973

The British government outlawed the “UFF” in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not proscribed as a terrorist group until August 1992.

Oh, and the Sunningdale Agreement was signed. You know, the one that was agreed to under a different name in 1998? 25 years later… all the violence, what was the point?

1974

Dublin and Monaghan bombings – the UVF exploded four bombs (three in Dublin, one in Monaghan). They killed thirty-three civilians and wounded a further 300. This was the highest number of casualties in a single incident during “The Troubles”. It has been alleged that members of the British security forces were involved. The UVF did not claim responsibility until 15 July 1993.

1975

  • The UVF tried to derail a train by planting a bomb on the railway line near Straffan, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland. A civilian, Christopher Phelan, tried to stop the UVF volunteers and was stabbed-to-death. His actions, however, reportedly delayed the explosion long enough to allow the train to pass safely.
  • Miami Showband Massacre– UVF volunteers (some of whom were also UDR soldiers) shot dead three musicians (Tony Geraghty and Fran O’Toole, both from the Republic of Ireland, and Brian McCoy, a Northern Irish Protestant), members of the Irish showband called “Miami Showband”, at Buskhill, County Down. The gunmen staged a bogus military checkpoint, stopped the showband’s bus and ordered the musicians out. Two UDR soldiers (Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville) hid a time bomb in the bus, but it exploded prematurely and they were killed. The other gunmen then opened fire on the musicians and fled. Three UDR soldiers were later convicted for their part in the attack, which has been linked to the “Glenanne gang”
  • The UVF killed seven civilians in a series of attacks across Northern Ireland. Six were Catholics (Frances Donnelly, Gerard Grogan, Marie McGrattan, Thomas Murphy, Thomas Osbourne, and John Stewart) and one was a Protestant (Irene Nicholson). Four UVF volunteers (Mark Dodd, Robert Freeman, Aubrey Reid, Samuel Swanson) were killed when the bomb they were transporting prematurely exploded as they drove along a road in Farrenlester, County Londonderry, near Coleraine.

1976

  • The Reavey and O’Dowd Shootings– the UVF shot dead six Catholic civilians from two families (one group was a trio of brothers; the other was an uncle and two nephews) in co-ordinated attacks in County Armagh. An officer in the RUC Special Patrol Group took part in the killings, which have been linked to the “Glenanne gang”.
  • The UVF launched gun and bomb attacks on two pubs in Charlemont, County Armagh, killing four Catholic civilians (Felix Clancy, Robert McCullough, Frederick McLoughlin, and Sean O’Hagan). A British Army UDR soldier was later convicted for taking part in the attacks Nine civilians were killed during separate attacks in and around Belfast. After a suspected republican bombing killed two Protestant civilians (Robert Groves and Edward McMurray) in a pub, the UVF killed three Catholic civilians and two Protestant civilians, all males (Samuel Corr, James Coyle, Edward Farrell, John Martin, and Daniel McNeil) in a gun and bomb attack at the Chlorane Bar. In a separate bomb attack on the International Bar, Portaferry, County Down, the UVF killed a Catholic civilian. The UDA/UFF also assassinated a member of Sinn Féin, Colm Mulgrew.
  • The Ramble Inn Attack– the UVF killed six civilians (five Protestants, one Catholic) in a gun attack at a pub near Antrim. The pub was targeted because it was owned by Catholics. The victims were Frank Scott, Ernest Moore, James McCallion, Joseph Ellis, James Francey (all Protestants) and Oliver Woulahan, a Catholic.

1989

Twenty-eight members of the British Army (Ulster Defence Regiment) were arrested on suspicion of leaking security force documents to loyalist paramilitaries

1991

The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) (acting on behalf of all loyalist paramilitaries) announced a ceasefire lasting until 4 July. This coincided with political talks between the four main parties (the Brooke-Mayhew talks).

1992

  • Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting – the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for a gun attack on a bookmaker’s shop on Lower Ormeau Road, Belfast. Five Catholic men and boys were killed (Christy Doherty, Jack Duffin, James Kennedy, Peter Magee, and William McManus). Nine others were wounded, one critically. This was claimed as retaliation for the Teebane bombing on 17 January 1992. In November 1992, the UDA carried out another attack on a betting shop in Belfast, killing three Catholic civilians and wounding thirteen.
  • And, the UDA was finally proscribed as a terrorist organization by the British government. Gee, thanks.

1993

  • Castlerock killings – the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for shooting dead four Catholic civilians and a PIRA volunteer at a building site in Castlerock, County Londonderry. Later in the day, it claimed responsibility for shooting dead another Catholic civilian in Belfast
  • Greysteel Massacre– the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for a gun attack on the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel, County Londonderry. Eight civilians (six Catholic, two Protestant) were killed and twelve wounded. One gunman yelled “trick or treat!” before he fired into the crowded room; a reference to the Halloween party taking place. The UFF claimed that it had attacked the “nationalist electorate” in revenge for the Shankill Road bombing

1994

  • Loughinisland – the UVF shot dead six Catholic civilians (Eamon Byrne, Barney Greene, Malcolm Jenkinson, Daniel McCreanor, Patrick O’Hare, and Adrian Rogan) and wounded five others during a gun attack on a pub in Loughinisland, County Down.
  • The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) issued a statement which announced a ceasefire on behalf of all loyalist paramilitaries. The statement noted that “The permanence of our cease-fire will be completely dependent upon the continued cessation of all nationalist/republican violence.”

1996

Drumcree conflict – the RUC decided to block the annual Orange Order march through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. In response, loyalist protestors attacked the RUC and blocked hundreds of roads across Northern Ireland. Eventually, the RUC allowed the march to continue, leading to serious rioting by nationalists across Northern Ireland.

1998

Drumcree conflict – the annual Orange Order march was prevented from marching through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. Security forces and about 10,000 loyalists began a standoff at Drumcree church. During this time, loyalists launched 550 attacks on the security forces and numerous attacks on Catholic civilians. On 12 July, three children were burnt to death in a loyalist petrol bomb attack. This incident brought an end to the standoff.

2007

  • The UVF and RHC issued a statement declaring an end to its armed campaign. The statement noted that they would retain their weapons but put them “beyond reach.”
  • The UDA issued a statement declaring an end to its armed campaign. The statement noted that they would retain their weapons but put them “beyond use.”

2010

  • It was announced that the Ulster Defence Association(UDA) had decommissioned its weapons in front of independent witnesses
  • The UVF were blamed for shooting dead former Red Hand Commando member Bobby Moffett in broad daylight on Shankill Road, Belfast. The killing put the UVF’s claims of weapons decommissioning and commitment to peace under serious scrutiny.

2012

In 2012, the De Silva Report revealed that 85 percent of the intelligence the UDA received had been supplied by the British security forces.

The Other Guy, and the mentality of “but he did it too”

As mentioned, in the podcast on Second Fiddle Belligerents and the Absence of Justice, there is also the lack of international accountability applied to these perpetrators of violence that I call “second fiddle belligerents.” Secondary belligerents seem to both escape international accountability as well as avoid responsibility for domestic accountability. While the international community notes the difference between individual major and minor war criminals, the supposition negates itself if those secondary belligerents do not hold their war criminals accountable. The absence of justice may be a result of domestic disinterest, a lack of international pressure, or the collapse of the nation-state and/or its government.

For example, in the Balkan Wars which began when Slovenia seceded from the Yugoslav Federation on June 25, 1991,  Serbia and Croatia quickly sought, not to reunify Yugoslavia, but to create a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croatia. The primary victim of these landgrabs was the Bosnia-Herzegovina; the Serbs infamously created the Republika Srpska to legitimize their landgrab, but it is lesser well-known that the Croats similarly created the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia within the territorial boundaries of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Franjo Tuđman, the President of Croatia, crush Croatian Serbians, supported the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, and on March 25, 1991, Tuđman met with Slobodan Milošević met at Karađorđevo where he may have discussed the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia.

The Croatians are as responsible for the Bosnia Genocide as the Serbians. The so-called Loyalist organizations of Northern Ireland are as responsible for The Troubles as the Irish so-called nationalist organizations. Violence is violence. Crimes against humanity are, as the term suggests, crimes against all of us, regardless of the numerical stat sheets of organizations that murder civilian populations.

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Yes, on this day, May 17, 1974, thirty-three civilians were killed and more than 300 injured when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) detonated four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, within the Republic of Ireland. And yet, how many recognize loyalist organizations as terrorist organizations as readily as the names of the IRA, Provos, and other republican organizations are called-out for their own heinous crimes?

 

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor

Thank you for listening! And Remember, Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunger Strikes and Self-Immolation (May 12th)

Image result for buddhist monk burning vietnam photographer

How far would you go to stand up for what you believe in? Would you kill for your beliefs? Would you die for your beliefs? Would you, commit suicide, as a means of political protest?

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Today, on this day, May 12, 1981, Francis Hughes starved to death in the Maze Prison during the 1981 Irish hunger strike. The Irish prisoners were objecting to the treatment they were receiving by the British prison authorities, and they were wanted political prisoner status to be granted to Provisional IRA prisoners. Following in the footsteps of India Independence leaders -most notably Gandhi, the Irish nationalists organized a Hunger Strike in 1980, and another strike in 1981. Bobby Sands (March 9, 1954 – 5 May 1981) was the leader of that 1981 hunger strike. Now, it should be noted, Gandhi was a pacifist and these IRA members were part of a violent terrorist organization. This narrative is not as an endorsement of the prisoners’ violence either in prison or before, but a recognition of a milestone in “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland’s history.

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But how can a person shut down hunger? Hardwired into our being is a sense of self-preservation…

In 1975, Article 6 of the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo stated that doctors are not allowed to force-feed hunger strikers. They are supposed to understand the prisoner’s independent wishes, and it is recommended to have a second opinion as to the capability of the prisoner to understand the implication of his decision and be capable of informed consent. Having said that, it is US Federal policy that when “a medical necessity for immediate treatment of a life or health threatening situation exists, the physician may order that treatment be administered without the consent of the inmate.”

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Apparently, some things are worth dying for, or at least risking one’s life for. And, respectfully, it seems to me that donning the uniform of our nation-state is relatively easy… After all, with the exception of the Vietnam era, there is a national admiration that goes out to those in uniform… and some perks too: Preferential boarding on Southwest Airlines, preferential hiring in some police departments, GI Bill, VA Housing Loans, etc., etc. Now, I’m not suggesting that soldiers don’t deserve it, nor am I saying that soldiering is not hard work. What I am saying, is that it’s not an incredibly difficult moral decision to wear one’s countries uniform. However, what if one doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the nation-state, then that’s a harder situation to put on the uniform, and perhaps it is an easier decision to raise weapons against the nation-state.

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For example, also on this day, May 12, 1885, the four-day Battle of Batoche ended with a decisive rebel defeat. The rebels were the Métis people who had organized the North-West Rebellion against the Canadian government. The Métis are a people in Canada who trace their descent to First Nations peoples and European settlers, though only 1.7% of the Canadian population. They are now recognized as one of Canada’s aboriginal peoples under the Constitution Act of 1982, along with First Nations and Inuit peoples.

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On this day, May 12, 1998, the Trisakti shootings, or the Trisakti Tragedy took place at Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia. A planned non-violent protest against the Suharto government started at the university on the 12th May 1998. By 10:00, over 6,000 students, lecturers, and staff had assembled in the university parking lot; the demonstrators began the protest by lowering the Indonesian flag to half-mast.

While the demonstration was primarily a protest over the declining economy, it is worth noting that the Indonesian government had a history of repression as well. The 1965 Tragedy in which 500,000 Communists were systematically murdered; later declared a genocide by an international tribunal, which also found the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia were all complicit in the crimes.

The Papua Conflict between the Indonesian government and the indigenous populations of Western New Guinea (Papua) since 1962, the East Timor Genocide (1975 to 1999)… Indonesia seems to have a propensity to use military force -with weapons supplied by the US and US allies- on ethnic, religious and ideological populations.

And May 12, 1998, was no different. During a demonstration against President Suharto, Indonesian soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors. Four of the students (Elang Mulia Lesmana, Heri Hertanto, Hafidin Royan, and Hendriawan Sie) were killed and dozens more were injured. The shootings caused riots to break out throughout Indonesia eventually, in fact, leading to Suharto’s resignation.

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What about self-immolation: Remember Thích Quảng Đức, the famous Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death on June 11, 1963. [Photo Credit: (AP), Malcolm Wilde Browne]. He was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the American-supported South Vietnamese government of Ngô Đình Diệm. John F. Kennedy said in reference to the Thích Quảng Đức picture, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” That photograph of the self-immolation is as powerful today, as it was then…

Even today, we see Tibetan monks and even civilians using self-immolation as a tactic to bring attention to the Hanification of Tibet and the repression of Tibetan culture, religion, and political self-determination…

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Even in the US, there have been a series of hunger strikes in the extrajudicial detention in the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. Apparently as early as 2002, then 2005-2008, and as recently as 2013, there have been hunger strikes by the detainees. Records show more than 80 inmates weight dropped below 100 lbs during the peak of these strikes. The organizer of many of these strikes, Shaker Aamer, was later repatriated to Saudi Arabia when the US Government admitted there was insufficient evidence for trial.

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Self-immolation and hunger strikes. How far would you go to stand up for what you believe in? Would you die for your beliefs? Would you, commit suicide, as a means of political protest? Buddhists monks have done it. Today, on this day, May 12, 1981, Francis Hughes starved himself to death in the Maze Prison of Northern Ireland. Those Northern Irish Catholics also killed for their, albeit twisted means, but their belief in the right of the Irish to be independent of the UK, just like the Métis organized the North-West Rebellion against the Canadian government although the rebellion was ultimately defeated on this day, May 12, 1885. And May 12, 1998, was no different. Four students were killed and dozens more were injured while demonstrating against the autocratic rule of President Suharto…

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What would you die for? I know many of us would die for our family and friends, but Americans are blessed to live in relative safety compared to the rest of the world. What ideas would you die for, what principals would you sacrifice yourself for. Many of us would also probably defend our own demographic tribes, such as our government, as well as justice for our ethnic, religious and racial communities… would that we stood up as easily for other ethnic, religious, national and racial communities. Today, the Rohingya of Burma are dying, today the civilians of Yemen are dying by American weapons being used by Saudi forces, today the Syrian Civil War continues into its year… civilians that don’t look like many of us, Muslims who don’t pray like many of us, people that don’t live in our neighborhoods… It’s easy to stand up for our community and our beliefs, too bad we can’t stand up for other communities and people with differing political or religious beliefs as readily…

And that’s what happened This Day in Today…
Remember,
Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.
I am, Tom Keefe, the Babbling Professor!
Thank you for listening!

American Double Standard

I write this as a proud Irish-American who strongly believes that the partisan of Ireland in 1922 was illegal. The British and Ulster Unionists gerrymandered a border to artificially create a rump-Ulster that would have a majority of Unionists. That having been said, there is a double standard being applied to Hamas by Western media and many Americans in general. The IRA and its political wing, Sein Fein, ran a terrorist organization and stood for political office. While the vast majority of the IRA and Sein Fein have since renounced violence, that was not so from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. During that time, many Americans donated money to support the IRA, Sein Fein, and like-minded pro-IRA organizations. It has only been now, since 9/11, that Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like Peter King have distanced themselves from Gerry Adams.

My point is this: a lot is being made about Hamas pre-election polls. Americans and Israelis are complaining that Hamas can not be part of the Palestinians government because they are, and support, terrorism. While no one would criticize Israel for not wanting to sit down with terrorists, Americans of both parties did force the British to sit down with terrorists. In addition, the PLO and Yasser Arafat were terrorists and/or supporting terrorists when the Americans of both parties made Israel sit down at the Madrid Conference and Oslo Accords. So what is the difference between the IRA, the PLO, and Hamas? All are terrorist organizations. All want to be part of the political process. We’ve said yes to two and now we’re criticizing Hamas?

Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1563119.stm
http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/081005/weldon.html
http://www.strategypage.com/onpoint/articles/20010822.asp
http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/004065.php
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201943.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_accords