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US riots are eerily reminiscent of the Troubles

IRA soldiers in Belfast with a drogue bomb in 1987

August 28, 2020 - 7:00am

The growing number of deaths from America’s ongoing political violence, as armed demonstrators shoot each other on the fringes of street protests, naturally evokes comparison to civil wars past and present, as commentators and ordinary US citizens alike wonder how close they are to the abyss. One thing that becomes very clear is that talk of civil war, to Americans at least, evokes their great 19th century conflagration as the archetype: without massed ranks of uniformed volunteers fighting pitched battles over territory, they argue, can it really be a civil war?

From a British perspective, a more obvious parallel, though far from perfect, might be the 20th century Northern Ireland conflict. The images of rival militias parading around and facing off in America’s small towns are deeply resonant of the 1914 Home Rule Crisis, which brought the entire United Kingdom to the brink of civil war — a spectre averted only by the more spectacular disaster of World War I, which, for all its horrors, at least took place overseas. 

The historian Dan Jackson’s excellent blog post on the Home Rule Crisis highlights the performative, processional aspects of these displays of popular support and armed might on Ireland’s city streets. And it is not difficult to see echoes in America’s armed standoffs, where the primary purpose seems not to intimidate the opposing side directly, but rather to place pressure on the state and the media through the barely-veiled threat of violent confrontation should their demands not be met.

The Irish analogy works well for the later phase of Ireland’s enduring conflict, too. Instead of serried ranks of disciplined soldiers facing each other on the battlefield, the Northern Ireland conflict, especially prior to the events of Bloody Sunday and the consequent sustained IRA insurgency against the British Army, looked closer to the troubles now developing on the other side of the Atlantic. 

As highlighted by the powerful recent BBC series on the Troubles, the Northern Ireland conflict was entered into by as much by accident as design, with politicians stoking tensions that they soon were unable to control. In Northern Ireland, the early protests — explicitly inspired by the black American civil rights movement — soon devolved into rioting on one hand, and an excessive use of force by the state’s security forces on the other. 

Tribalisation developed into both the formation of rival armed militias, and the collusion of the security forces, both perceived and real, with one faction against the other poisoned the political process. With dramatic exceptions, episodes of violence were largely localised, and in the background, ‘normal life’ continued much the same as usual, except everyone was more fearful and depressed.

It’s not a perfect analogy, of course, though as an example of the descent into bitter civil conflict in a liberal democracy, it might be a more useful parallel than the American Civil War framework so many commentators are trapped in. Of course, social media makes the events in the US something new entirely, a novel phase of conflict where every killer becomes a celebrity, every death a meme, and the primary battleground being fought over is the online narrative. Like Tolstoy’s families, civil conflicts are each unhappy in their own unique ways, and what’s developing in America now might well become the new and unhappy benchmark other troubled liberal democracies will anxiously measure themselves against.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

No, the US riots are ‘eerily reminiscent’ of Dostoevsky’s ‘Devils’. Just a bunch of wicked, mindless thugs burning, looting and killing for no good reason whatsoever.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Sadly I can only give you one uptick. You referred to one of my favorite writers FD.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Sadly, Jeremy has embarrassed his antecedents once again with his twattle.

Christopher chrispalin
Christopher chrispalin
3 years ago

“IRA soldiers in Belfast with a drogue bomb in 1987.”
“IRA criminals in Belfast with a drogue bomb in 1987.”
There, fixed it for you.

mccaffc
mccaffc
3 years ago

Christopher, If you let them have their claim to be soldiers, progress can be made by reference to war crimes. Deciding to target civilians is an unambiguous war crime. https://colummccaffery.word

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago

Well done Christopher, ye fixed it alright, by showing us what side you’re on, I wouldn’t choose any side as all three were seriously wrong in many if their actions, we should try to rise above our narrow perspective. We might be educated.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

People who get their jollies by blowing the legs off women and children are criminals, no matter what excuses they dream up to justify what they do.
Sometimes Liam, you have to face reality without flinching.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

It sounds virtuous to ‘rise above our narrow perspective’ by saying ‘all three were seriously wrong’, but I cannot accept that all sides were equivalent in their actions.
The IRA have always striven to appear as a regular army, equivalent, say, to the British army (or the Irish army, for that matter), but it might have been more successful if all its actions hadn’t been secret and criminal by all standards including the Geneva Convention.

RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
3 years ago

I fear you may be onto something, but to call pre-Troubles NI a liberal democracy isn’t quite right. It was a gerrymandered quasi-apartheid state, which was the catalyst for the rights movement in the first place.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Absolutely, Northern Ireland had hung like a putrefying Albatross around England’s neck since at least 1922. By 1969, as you so rightly say it was a gerrymandered, toxic hell hole, dominated by a voracious Unionist cabal, backed up its own para military police force, the ‘B Specials’. A more obese bunch of lacklustre bullies would be hard to imagine.

Had Harold Wilson had any real courage, we should have got rid of Norther Ireland there and then. As it was we had nearly thirty years of fairly low key murder and mayhem, before the US President dictated a quasi peace, and that is the crucial difference here.

The US, via the Kennedy clan, and their associated action group, NORAID were both the dominant and restraining influence that finally brought the conflict to a close. (perhaps temporary).

What “dominant influence” does BLM command? None. They are, as we used say “on a hiding to nothing”.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

BLM commands the slavish obedience of big businesses who have to virtue signal, celebrities, the popular media, and therefore the politicians.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Big business is by nature very fickle, and will “follow the money”.
Celebrities are, almost by definition brain dead cretins. Popular media and Politicians a combination of all the above.

In short none of them have either the grit or determination that drove the Irish to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of their a avaricious, although sometimes well meaning invader.

Rather like “Black Power” of the 60’s &70’s this BLM fracas will soon be forgotten.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I think it is time to face up to the question of race in the U.S. the problem has never been dealt with, and you can call them all names but all you do is continue the short-sighted policy that has been there since the Constitution. You could also start addressing your problems and reality and maybe that might get you somewhere. Name calling seldom works.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Do you mind if I ask, is English your first language, because this post is almost incoherent?
Would you like to try again?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Dank U, merci, obrigado dank u schon, sknaht rof taht.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

QED.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Almost all Americans are sick to the stomach of talking about race. It’s boringly lachrymose. BLM is not out for racial equality but vengeance for past deeds.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I can see that too.
In terms of the UKs colonial past we have ongoing vexatious claims for our past resistance during wars started by often Communist insurgents external to those countries.
People died and were injured fighting for a belief, perhaps. Now they want money too.
It’s revenge.
So often apologies are demanded outside of the context of shared anniversaries etc. on a repeated basis, ( I’ve felt bad for decades when Japanese leaders have done it), apologies made by people who didn’t do it.
The demands are passive aggressive behaviour. One step away from using a stick to get what they want.

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Black Power and the BLM movement will be forgotten? By whom?

Certainly not by the African American community, especially those who’s family or friends, or they themselves, who have been brutalised or targeted by the State or society at large e.g. Walking/Driving/Shopping/Sitting/Bird Watching/Entering their own homes etc etc etc while Black.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

No, sorry, but you’ve had it!
History takes no prisoners, so time to look forward not backwards, would you not agree?
.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
3 years ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

While there are some legitimate complaints about the specifics of policing – e.g, “Driving While Black” – here’s polling from June and July of this year on the question of “Would you rather the police spend more time, the same amount of time or less time as they currently spend in your area?”

Answers from black Americans: 61% said the same amount of time, 20% said more time, and 19% said less time. (As a comparison, non-Hispanic white Americans replied 71% same time, 17% more time, and 12% less time).

https://news.gallup.com/pol

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

As an Anglo Irish resident of an English Midlands steel town, predominantly peopled by Scottish émigrés, not once when I went about my work in the manner you just described, was I ever accused of racism. I stopped mainly Scottish walkers, motorists, cyclists, schoolkids, adults and sometimes it was brutal in response to immediate threat and open violence.
I carry physical wounds usually won by misplaced forbearance in dealing with a suspect. Now give me a gun and see who gets hurt.
That’s the reason for the mess in the USA.
And why should a cop die in the face of a cultural disagreement regarding whether the law applies to all people or just the majority that wrote it?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Try to remember DG, that you have two BLMs, one of them set up to discredit the other, are you saying both of them are slavish? Would you then say that anyone that is supported by big business is slavish? Are athletes who advertise for many big businesses unethical or slavish? What about governments who have long been sponsored via the lobby groups of big business, are they also slavish? Once we start throwing stones, when do we stop? Is BLM the only party who are slavish, a frightening, cyclopic attack on BLM I suggest.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Had Harold Wilson had any real courage, we should have got rid of Northern Ireland there and then.

It is often only a politician of the supposedly supportive stripe who has the clout to abandon an emotive liability. And Johnson proved that when he sold NI down the river with his Brexit deal.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

He hasn’t gone far enough, but it’s a reasonable start. His mentor, WSC was all for using the Navy to shell the place after the Curragh debacle of 1914.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

But Churchill wanted home rule to keep Ireland loyal to Britain. Home rule back then meant something like Scotland has now, and not total independence. So the shelling was of Belfast I assume.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

As I recall, a few Dreadnoughts in Belfast Lough would have done the trick.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Ireland was whole then and controlled variously, from the mainland. So WSC could have shelled any of the island if necessary, without it being war against another state.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

This characterisation is grotesquely overblown. There certainly were injustices based on sectarianism in NI prior to 1969 but the ‘toxic hell hole’ and ‘quasi-apartheid’ state are nonsense. Both sides had access to various state benefits and most importantly education (which was divided on religious grounds only because the Catholic Church insisted on it when the NI Govt tried to create a unified system in 1948), this resulted in the creation of an educated Catholic middle class. Everyone had the vote, the difference was that local council elections still had the same kind of property qualification as elsewhere in the UK previously. Religious discrimination was never prescribed in the very law and constitution of the country as it was in the Republic of Ireland.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

Also to call NORAID a ‘restraining influence’ betrays a laughable level of ignorance

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

Preceded by “dominant influence “
Yes?
“Restraining” was thrown in for fair play etc, if you get my meaning?

.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

No I don’t

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

The ever benign influence of the USA?

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

Ah yes, the old bucket collections in the Irish bars of the good old USofA.
And the old joke about if the Jewish feller in such a bar was a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew.
Ain’t the world complicated?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

Well, I didn’t say “quasi-apartheid “, but having ‘worked’ there from 1971-77 I can say it was a toxic hell hole. What about you?

Frankly it was astonishing that both sides could be so barbarian and primitive in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when the rest of Europe was finally. beginning to enjoy themselves.

Northern Ireland was a disgrace to humanity, and sadly the British Army, fresh from Aden was not allowed to “let rip” and lance the boil that so obviously festered on the backside of Great Britain. Even now the task in unfinished, would you not agree?

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Fresh from Cyprus doing UN peacekeeping too. Where incidentally, more British soldiers died in the so called police action than in open combat in Afghanistan.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

The EOKA campaign, as you so correctly state killed more than our ridiculous ‘adventure’ in Afghanistan and in a shorter time.

It was also a revolting campaign that involved women and children to a quite unnecessary and barbaric extent.

Fortunately the Goddess Nemesis arrived in 1974 in the form of the Turks, and killed or sodomised everything in sight, A fate that was so richly deserved.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

At least the British can’t be blamed for totally ignoring their past adventures. We haven’t simply walked away. Yet we are castigated for even that ongoing involvement.
Such a shame that in military casualty rates, at least, the sons do pay for the sins? of the fathers. Trouble is it is mainly the poor sons paying for the rich fathers of others that seldom face the same risks.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I was born and lived most of my life there from the sixties onwards, and quasi apartheid was said by the responder who agreed with you (it seemed more logical to include replies to both in one comment although a larger number of subsequent responses do make that less clear).

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

This comment is not true.

First, the political system in Northern Ireland was gerrymandered to work against nationalist voters. In 1920 the city of (London)Derry had a nationalist majority and elected a nationalist mayor. After the statelet of Northern Ireland was established the unionist government of Northern Ireland changed ward boundaries for (London)Derry so that there would be a unionist majority.

Secondly, neither the Irish Free State (1922-1948) nor its successor the Republic of Ireland ever prescribed religious discrimination in its constitution. In fact, both constitutions were highly protective of religious minority rights.

It worries me that there is someone who would write comments on this nature, either from ignorance or a desire to re-write history.

williamritchie2001
williamritchie2001
3 years ago

It’s an interesting article but the aims of American radicals seem more nebulous than those engaged in the troubles. Social justice is far less definite than a national border. The post religious context of the BLM protests also represents a profound schism with the sectarian conflicts in Northern Ireland.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago

“Social Justice” is a farce put forth by Soros and his paid, bought off minions and his solely owned DemocratSlaveryParty.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Gaffney

Way too simple and ignoring the mountain that is the gigantic problem the country has, even if Soros does spend millions, their legitimate complaints are out there, tarring them with the same brush is simplistic and involves amazing amounts of self delusion to take on board.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Gaffney

But social justice would be yours too. Is that a bad thing? Or is the gun and self reliance the only way?
Who’d ya call when your house is on Fire? Or are you truly that self reliant that you need nothing and no one?
Good luck building the road and the car that you will need to get to your self built business from your self built house.
I’m being rhetorical no insults intended. But you do already rely on social constructs so why not include social justice?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

The Detroit riots of 1967 killed 43. “Bloody Sunday”,1972, killed 13/14. QED.

David Zersen
David Zersen
3 years ago

Interesting reflection. I’m old enough to remember living near Birmingham in the ’60s when Bull Connor sicked the dogs on the crowds and friends in the North wrote (there was no email yet) to ask whether I was safe. A television camera can make localized rioting seem omnipresent and the whole world can be asking “is all California on fire?” or “Are all communities experiencing what Kenosha (a hour from here by car) is undergoing?” Historians can look for protoypes, linguitsts can seek a paradigm and psychologists can try to describe the herd mentality. There are truly many (Black as well as White) who feel trapped in crevices created by laissez faire capitalism, but there are also many who want to be where the action is. Some feel encouraged by cries for justice and others know they are being summoned by destiny to parrot incindiary shouts to burn and loot. And some who are hurt were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, in a diverse society the concern about prejeduce and racism has its place and there will never be a riot to end all riots (although something similar was claimed at the end of the great wars). We should continue to work for ideals like equality, justice and mutual love, but conflagrations like those in Kenosha don’t really solve anything and, thankfully, they are not everywhere. They suggest to some that police are archaic tools of an oppressive majority and that bands of social workers would serve society better. Here, across the rural, suburban and urban landscapes, where there are no television cameras watching, many covet the opportunity to have those discussions that open doors, build the community in which diversity is clelebrated and vote for the rule that gives greater opportunity to all. Kenosha is not everrywhere– and everywhere is not Kenosha. Or Minneapolis. Or Atlanta. This is a very large country! And TV cameras can both identify and misrepresent the truth.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  David Zersen

Interesting piece David, and quite rightly you state that the outdated police force are not who they say they are, I think the social worker statement is spot if you see the reasons for some of these shootings and how they were escalated by the police instead of being defused.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago

Tongue in cheek, perhaps; but will the social workers carry guns to enforce their requests and legally enforceable dealings with often recalcitrant clientele?
More seriously. Are you simply wanting infrastructure and non accountable staff to create a different social system?

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  David Zersen

Northern Ireland was mostly peaceful too even in its worst days. But the riots and bombs happened anyway. A low level conflict like that is survivable but hard to extricate from.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

“An acceptable level of violence” was how the Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling described it at the time.
Great, if you weren’t one of those who their legs blow off! Or even other ‘bits’!

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  David Zersen

Good one. Some cogent thoughts I had not considered. Cheers.

Shay McInerney
Shay McInerney
3 years ago

Interesting idea to which you can add an old grievance such as the famines of the 1840s. Is there also a parallel in that a large number of Irish did quite well out of empire, members of my own family living and working in the UK their whole lives. The Irish Home Rule movement being ultimately an ideological one arising from a middle class seeking power within their own communities. John Hume’s term “parity of esteem” seems particularly relevant.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Shay McInerney

The whole of Europe struggled during the famine of 1841.
At least according to Engels who was there prior to writing with Marx.
Nor does anyone want to address the famine of the late 1700s when Ireland ruled itself. When of course, death certificates to keep count, did not. exist
Utilising ancient greivances as in the modern America, has the same risks of rebuttal. Unless of course, shouting and fighting is what they want, regardless.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

Actually the parliament wasn’t really the Irish catholic majority ruling itself. It’s true that only the rich got into parliament anywhere in Britain and Ireland. In Ireland though the rich and therefore the parliament was largely Protestant, meaning of settler descent in the most part. They did close the borders to food exports though, so it’s a bad analogy. In fact home rulers in the early 19C were quick to make that point.

(Home rulers in the early 19C were often Protestants who wanted their parliament back by the way)

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Some gaps filled. But thanks for reinforcement, (and I’m of Irish descent), of the fact that all peoples had it hard during those periods. And nonetheless, Britain, was not directly responsible for the earlier famine becauseIreland was governed by Irish people, regardless of religious status.
Engles for example reported that during the 1840s, much of Europe faced hunger and that France had taken options and purchased food around the world but that the British (who he seemed to dispise), had not acted fast enough.
I don’t suppose the Highland clearances were pleasant either for another example.
Yet we still run a political system, pretty much based upon rules that allowed hardship for a majority then and often comparatively to modern ‘haves’ and leaders, now.
Non of what I write excuses any cruelty but it does show the duality of many peoples anger and thought processes.
Current BLM arguments split at testing into yet more accusations and often fallacious thinking and because it is now, and easy to follow, the protagonists seem to simply end up shouting and fighting for varying reasons.
e.g. We’ve moved from slavery being a reason to shout because I didn’t do it and they never have been slaves, to the doubtless, lasting effects of colonialism and questions along the lines of ‘ so what did the Romans ever do for us? ‘.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

It wasn’t governed by Irish people prior to the Union. That’s the point. Even if they were born in Ireland they considered themselves British or often English. The Anglo Irish were not converts to Protestantism but in most cases descendants of English colonialists. The feelings of Irishness varied across these groups but the elites were basically indistinct in culture, accent or education from their English cousins.

Nevertheless they closed the borders.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

When did ‘Ireland rule herself in the late 1700’s” exactly?

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Until 1801 There existed a Parliament that owed alliegence to the King. Not the British Parliament.
Prior to that there were various compromises in ruling. Nonetheless famines occurred over and again in Ireland prior to enforced union in 1801. I don’t doubt that similar hardship happened elsewhere but whoever strongly blamed their own government without overthrowing it or at least there being a valid record with figures.
For example earlier Irish famines saw an estimated 20 percent drop in population there.
But in 1840s the British actually began recording deaths and reasons.
Now think of Sarah Bryant, one of the first transported to Australia from England. It is alleged that almost her whole village starved so she stole to live.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

I don’t know if the US is on its way to the troubles, or that kind of low level civil war or not. What I can say is that they are trying to get there.

Yes there are problems with some cops and black people and historical wrongs in the US but the creation of two groups based on this – the oppressing Whites and the oppressed non Whites is ahistorical. If you have arrived on a H1B from India you just aren’t oppressed. And rather than encourage assimilation the logic of this encourages division – and as we have seen this division is manifesting itself in two separate parties – the Trump era republicans being increasingly the party of the whites, the democrats the party of non whites.

This has caused at an embryonic level the kind of party allegiance you get in Northern Ireland and other countries where votes are based on ethnic or religious basis. Not that the Democrats are Sinn Fein and the Republicans the DUP but that is where it seems to be headed.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

But most of the street protests seem to be led by young whites. Blacks only make up c14% of the US population, whereas the Catholics in Northern Ireland were over a third. So it’s not obvious the US electoral map could become so polarised in the racial way you mention, at least not without the Republicans winning by a large margin every time.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

But I recall that less than 3 percent of Catholics were involved directly. And directly did not necessarily mean fighting.

Dianne Bean
Dianne Bean
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Every presidential election year the US Democrats use race as a strategy. This year since they have such an extremely weak candidate they have gone all out with race capitalizing on the terrible death of one black man. The liberal media is running the narrative and we no longer have true freedom of speech. The race issue is being used for cover for Marxists. America really isn’t racist and many blacks are leaving the now extremist Democratic Party. The ones who speak up are demonized by the press.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago

The image at the top described as “IRA soldiers in Belfast with a drogue bomb in 1987” is incorrect, the IRA were not soldiers. If they were they would have operated under and been seen subject to the rules of war in which case they would have been wiped out by the forces of the British state rather than being installed in government.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

This is an interesting analogy, especially as the Troubles were also drenched in self-indulgent identity politics. I’ll have to think more about it.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I seem to recall making a similar if less studied observation in a post here, recently.
I too need to consider it more.

lisnalinchy
lisnalinchy
3 years ago

Disagree with the statement of the IRA insurgency being in ‘consequence’ to Bloody Sunday. The IRA campaign was already in full flow… In the Preceding Year 60 members of the security forces were killed.

Republicans were also responsible for many of the 89 civilian deaths. Teenage by-standers were killed in ambushes on security forces. Shops in protestant areas were deliberately targeted, killing 1 and 2 year olds. A dutch sailor was murdered in a dentists for making the mistake of speaking in an English sounding accent. Anyone with any connection to state apparatus was already a legitimate target. Customs officers were shot dead by snipers, etc., etc.

Faced with permanent IRA checkpoints and no-go areas for security forces, the exodus of the protestant population, with all their historic links to Derry and its walls had begun.

The IRA was, and remains a terrorist organisation – ‘soldiers’ should never be used to describe them.

Statistics and Chronology of Northern Ireland available here –
https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/o

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago

One (according to a British friend who is a retired LtCol of HMS this fellow is probably a fake), we, the USA is a Republic and not an evil, democracy, where mob rule is the norm. Second, we, the USA is not “liberal”. Oh, we have hotbeds of communism around (mostly the cities where these scum congregate) but overall America is conservative. Third, this fellow prattles on about entities of which he has not a clue. Unherd, you embarrass yourself again.

Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago

Hope it doesn’t come to it again but, if need be, “Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.”

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

That is contradictory, how can you fight and be right, unless of course, if you live in a cave.

Robin Bury
Robin Bury
3 years ago

The IRA were terrorists defeated by the British security forces over many years.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Interesting piece, but the Troubles arose out of a justifiable discontent, ie, being occupied by a foreign force. Whereas the current violence in America erupted out of a lockdown in response to a pandemic, sparked off by one incident of police brutality.

Even in a country as rich as the US, with it’s own constitution with equality at it’s core, there are bound to be inequalities, but there is the rule of law to deal with those, the violence therefore seems to be an hysterical response without justification, ie, the pandemic and ensuing lockdown drove some people mad.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Might need to check up on the history of the troubles.

The army was deployed to protect the Catholics against Ulster violence, following a particularly violent period of unrest. The UK government was intervening to prevent a potential civil war in Northern Ireland.

Whilst later there was most certainly a sense of “occupation” and we can debate all day the rights and wrongs and methods, the catalyst and beginnings of the problems came from sectarian violence and conflict, not from some oppression of the Irish by the British state

RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Indeed. You’re right in that it wasn’t as simple as a revolt against a British ‘occupation’ and that the roots are in sectarianism… but it started in response to dominance by the local Unionist majority and government. Not oppression by the British state, but by the NI one.
This is why the British Army came in – the Catholic community didn’t trust the apparatus of the local state. Sadly, things spiralled from there into a complicated mess.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago

The roots of the Northern Ireland conflict lie in the Plantation of Ulster in the 1600s. The fear of Ulster Unionists of an All Ireland Republic caused them to ‘break the rules of democracy’ which would eventually have led to some sort of ‘Troubles’ as the oppressed class pushed back.
To link back to the US, in Northern Ireland there was, as in every war, a ‘Them’ and an ‘Us’ – same as in the US now, although generally the sides in the US share local areas unlike in Northern Ireland.

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago

The options in 1912 were keeping the union or peaceful Home Rule under the Crown, supported by the great majority of Irishmen. The Ulster unionists were stirred up by inflammatory speeches by British Tories, above all by the leader of HM opposition, openly encouraging German-armed rebellion. The Tories and Unionists hoped to preserve the union by force; when that was clearly impossible they went for partition – creating extreme protestant rule in NI, fomenting extremist republicans in the South, getting rid of pro-liberal MPs from the south at Westminster, and keeping a block of tame Irish Tories there till the 1960s. That’s what Tories do.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago

It also displays the dangers of putting troops on civilian streets. People trained to kill, will do just that.
Didn’t Trump do that just recently? Didn’t he threaten more of the same?
I wouldn’t wish the NI scenario on any democracy. It can only ruin it.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Thank you for clarifying, my apologies, but nevertheless the violence in Ireland originated in causes that were reasonable, whether that was resistance to the British or on a more tribal level, so while the detail may have been incorrect I think my central argument still holds good.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

One incidence of police brutality you write, Claire. I suggest you type in ,”police brutality in USA’ in Youtube. The list is endless, the victims quite often totally innocent and this is long before the present problems. Now this is being shown to the world because of the mobile phones’ cameras, Claire do you honestly believe that it was less before the coming of the mobile phone?

ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago

The more footage that you see, and the background you learn, the more the police actions are justified, especially in the recent case. Little snapshots don’t provide a true picture, just a click-bait trigger

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

I think you’ve misunderstood my comment, just because I said that the BLM protests, riots and violence were sparked off by “one incident of police brutality”, ie, the killing of George Floyd, does not mean I think there have not been other incidents.
I would also point out that 48 police officers were killed in the US in 2019 and 56 were killed in 2018.
It’s important I think to face up to the dangerous reality of being a police officer in America, they also face brutality.

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
3 years ago

I suggest that you type in “police brutality in UK’, where you will get a similar list, implying that the UK is also a hotbed of police oppression. Points to learn from this are:

1 – the plural of anecdote is not data
2 – you should not trust the Internet to provide a balanced view of anything.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Spot on. The Grenadiers were offered tea etc. in the early days until IRA told Catholics to stop doing it. Source? My dad. Ex Grenadier of that period. And look at our surname. Things can be more complicated than which side you’re on. So why are we picking teams?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

sparked off by one incident of police brutality

There was no police brutality involved in the suicide of George Floyd.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

You could be right, we will have to wait and see the results of Chauvin’s trial for murder.
How he’ll get a fair trial though I don’t know.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

There is another aspect to GF killing. When stressed, time does funny things. One 3 second motorcycle crash and slide seemed to take minutes. I recall watching jumping gravel bits through the visor in slow motion even after decades.
I have also made violent solo arrests and awaiting almost immediate support sometimes seemed like hours.
Could the cop have vagued out?
He seemed to be watching what went on around him rather than the prisoner.
No excuses,he was involved in GFs death. But by how much?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

It wasn’t even a solo arrest, there were other cops there, and all of them made great efforts to help Floyd as he was in the process of dying of his lethal drug overdose. However there was nothing left to be done.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I’m not disputing how he died. But what I wrote, I have experienced. It is a thing, apparently.
Given the drugs part then the cop might get off with a slapping.
I once described a Motocross crash I’d had and it was doubted due to the details I gave.
Some months later, about 15 seconds of cinefilm turned up. It was as exact as I had described, even to which parts flew off and when.
Time changes under duress.