By Mick Hall
In a recent column in the Guardian newspaper, Jonathan Freedland was unrestrained in his praise for the north of Ireland peace process, which he claimed not only brought the Provisional IRA’s armed insurgency to an end, but has also opened a new chapter in the often troubled and violent relationship between the Irish people and the UK State. He then went on to inform his readers that due to the Good Friday Agreement’s “obvious” success, it should be emulated elsewhere in the world in an attempt to solve some of the planet’s more intractable political problems.
Whilst there is no doubt that the ending of the PIRA’s military campaign is to be welcomed -- for a host of differing reasons it had clearly run its course -- but to move from that to endorsing in its entirety the Good Friday Agreement is another matter. One can only hope that the current leadership of Sinn Fein, or their successors, will come to understand that the north of Ireland’s peace process -- along with its twin, the Oslo Accords -- were never designed to resolve the core issues that brought about the Anglo-Irish and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. They were simply a means to close down militant opposition to the occupying powers while willing these conflicts to future generations; and in the process maintaining the status quo, whilst placing the blame for these conflagrations onto the victims of the occupying powers -- those who resisted the undemocratic partition of Ireland and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
That Mr Freedland appears to have also swallowed the UK government’s pretext for the continued occupation of Iraq is amply demonstrated when he calls the Iraqi resistance ‘warring factions’, who would do well to follow the example of the Provisional Republican Movement by endorsing an Iraqi version of the Good Friday Agreement. Freedland writes as if the US/UK military occupiers of Iraq are some impartial and neutral force who have not impacted upon how the various insurgent groups in Iraq inter-relate with one and another.
Still, we should hardly be surprised that Mr Freedland, as a supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, takes this line. For at the core of the north of Ireland peace process was the pretext that if only the Protestants and Catholics could get on together and that pesky PIRA would shut up shop, then all will be well and life could go on (after a little tinkering with the political structures) much as it did before 1969, with the Stormont parliament resurrected for good measure.
Of course what this fails to address is the core problem which caused the violence of the past 30 odd years, the continued presence of the British state in Ireland and the undemocratic statelet they established in the Six Counties. Plus, the running sore of the fact that Ireland was partitioned after the British Prime Minister of the day David Lloyd George, threatened the representatives of Dail Eireann with a “terrible war” if they failed to agree to the partition of Ireland by refusing to sign the Treaty document. True, this happened a long time ago, but those who say ‘forget the causes of Irish partition’ are often the very same people who correctly say that it is just that the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe has ended.
Much the same is true of the Oslo Accords, which started from the false perception that it was not the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza which had to be dealt with first, but the Palestinian Intafada. For the powers that be had told all those who were gullible or desperate enough to believe such tosh that until it was brought to an end, Israel could not be expected to come to the conference table to announce the IDF’s withdrawal from the Occupied Territories.
What this amounted to in reality was to reward the transgressor whilst demanding that their victims walk across hot coals and eat sackcloth and ashes in the process. Since thenm this so called peace process has become farcical, if not Kafkaesque, with the Palestinian people being told to jump through one hoop after another which benefited their tormentors -- until it reached the nonsensical stage when they were told the peace process would collapse if they did not deny the very government they had just elected democratically to represent them in any negotiations with their Israeli occupiers.
Equally worrying for the future, is that these so called peace processes have managed to legitimise the status quo for the original transgressors, the UK and Israeli State’s, by turning the truth on its head. This is epitomized by the fact that both the British and Israeli government’s have issued statement’s along the lines of. “We no longer have an economic, military or selfish reason for staying in the north of Ireland/the West Bank”, when the situation on the ground proves the exact opposite.
To understand this, one only has to listen to the Palestinian farmers in the West Bank whose land was stolen to build Israeli settlement’s by the score plus the obscene and illegal security wall. Or the Irish people who live in full view of the massive new MI5 headquarters that has been recently constructed in the north of Ireland. If the UK State has no selfish or strategic reasons for being in Ireland why have they built this new building to house their security services?
To go back to Mr Freedland’s wish for other oppressed peoples to emulate the two aforementioned peace processes, I would pose these questions. Is the north east of Ireland still unjustly partitioned from the rest of the Irish nation? [The answer is yes.] Is the West Bank still under the control of the Israeli armed forces and the Gaza strip under siege by the IDF? [Again, yes.] So pray tell, what useful good would it do for say the Iraqi insurgents to follow the example of the two so called peace processes? None I would suggest, because if they were to do so they would have to recognize that the US army of occupation has a legitimate right to be in Iraq.
One only has to read the statement below which is taken from the UN Charter to understand this is not so and that all freedom loving people should throw their weight behind those who are calling for the only just solution in Iraq, the immediate withdrawal of all US/UK forces currently occupying the poor abused Iraqi Nation:
“The Unalienable Right of All Peoples To Self Determination and the Legitimacy of Their struggle Against Foreign Domination and Subjugation by all Means.”
* First published at Mick Hall’s blog at https://organizedrage.blogspot.com/