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Saturday, May 07, 2005

New Sisyphus responds to Newshog

Last Friday I wrote a post on the UPC, click here to read it, which linked to this post about the elections in Ireland and terrorism. For original political commentary New Sisyphus, the author of the post, a State Department employee, is by far my favorite blogger.

So when fellow Unpaid Pundit Corps member Newshog, another blogger I respect a lot, commented that New Sisyphus was wrong, and either ignorant or "blinkered," I copied Newshog's comments and posted them in New Sisyphus's comment area.

New Sisyphus has replied, in a timely, classy, and comprehensive fashion, in an update to his original post. I've cut and pasted his commentary on Newshogs commentary below:

A regular reader, Harkonnendog, posts in the comments section a reply from a Scot friend regarding this post. We post that reply here, along with our own responses. (We have taken the liberty of correcting small spelling errors in the post, since they are obviously the result of haste and not a lack of basic grammatical knowledge.)

I read the post you linked to, and I have to say the author is either blinkered by his own agenda or knowingly filtering the facts to fit that agenda.

We have no agenda except the defeat of terrorism. In Northern Ireland, this means opposition to both physical force tradition Republicans and so-called “Loyalist” terrorists. We did not knowingly leave out any facts, though, as we will spell out below, we welcome any facts our Scottish friend can add to the debate.

The simple truth is that the DUP are as connected to Unionist terrorists as Sinn Fein are to Republican ones. Both the UDA and they are simple criminals, hiding their money-making schemes of drugs-dealing, arms trafficking and extortion rackets in the streets of Ireland behind the sectarian cloak of Protestant vs Catholic and Unionist vs Republican.

We are in full agreement with our correspondent on the point that Sinn Fein are connected to terrorists. On the DUP point, we are much less sure. There is no doubt that the more rapid elements of the DUP, including its leader Paisley, harbor no deep regret at the existence of Loyalist terror. That said, we also have never seen any evidence of coordination or cross-membership. If the DUP is merely a Loyalist terror front, then why the PUP and other openly Loyalist parties? Sinn Fein’s leadership is co-existent with the IRA’s Army Council, as has been widely known for years. Certain elements in the DUP may take pleasure from Loyalist acts, but do not—so far as we know—direct them. If our Scot analyst has established facts to the contrary, we would dearly love to see them demonstrated.

The failure of the latest accord is purely down to one fundamentalist politician with close ties to terrorists. Ian Paisley of the DUP demanded that photos of the destruction of IRA weapons be a condition of signing the accord, a move that his own Protestant faction would never have agreed for the weapons of the UDA, their own terror group. His cynical demand would have meant the humiliation of his enemies, a move to which he knew they would never agree. The backlash from that demand took certain IRA extremists out of the control of their central leaders for a while. Paisley's actions were in perfect keeping with the profile of a man who has made famous the phrase "we will never surrender, never, never, never."

We are at a loss to explain why a demand for physical evidence of decommissioning is extreme, regardless of source, or how one man from a (formerly) minority party could wield such all-encompassing power. Sinn Fein/IRA freely signed up for the process, as one may recall. If Sinn Fein/IRA was going to be spooked by some posing by the “reverend” on this point, they were never very serious to begin with. Note especially that this really boils down to excuse making: Sinn Fein/IRA did not live up to its freely undertaken obligations under the Agreement because Paisley was embarrassing them.

Interestingly, Mr. Paisley likes to style himself Reverend Paisley. His doctorate is an honorary one, bestowed by the Bob Jones University, in South Carolina, famous for it's rule against interracial relationships amongst it's students, the anti-Catholic zeal of founder Bob Jones and that same founders letter of congratulations to President Bush on his re-election which exhorted Bush with the words "you owe the liberals nothing". Ian Paisley is certainly the ideological peer of Bob Jones. When Dublin's Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, invited him to breakfast at the Irish Embassy in London recently, he insisted on having two hard-boiled eggs, which he could break open himself. This, he explained to Mr Ahern, was to ensure that he couldn't be poisoned.

Okay, we get it: you don’t like Paisley. You’re not alone on this judgment. In fact, we share it. Yet, your argument never deals with the whys and wherefores of how, exactly, almost the entire Unionist community has been driven into his party’s arms. Could it be that the shameful appeasement of both the Irish and British Governments have driven a community that took a true leap of faith for peace into the arms of a man who told them all along they would be played for fools?

You see, it is idiots like this on both sides who have ensured the political divide has widened for their own self-aggrandizement.

The “a pox on both their houses” stance inherent in this statement is just more avoidance of the adult moral responsibility to make judgments. Fact is, the Unionist community made a clenched-teeth move for peace and supported a leader who could take them there. This fact was judged as weakness by both Labour and Conservative residents at No. 10 as well as by the IRA. The result, as we noted above, is clear: the Unionist community now knows it is all alone, that it has no partner for peace and, thus, has reached for the most anti-Agreement leadership it could find.

As for the "Clinton-sponsored" peace process...the fact that Clinton had anything to do with it was scarcely registered in Ireland or the UK. The same goes for Bush's intervention more recently. Both are regarded as amusing attempts by the Big Guy O'er the Water to pretend he knows what the fuck is going on in the Old Country.

We agree so far as Bush is concerned; however, all sides have stated publicly and often that the Good Friday Agreement would not have been possible without the direct, personal intervention of President Clinton. No serious observer of the political process would agree that the President’s involvement “was scarcely registered in Ireland or the UK.” A simple Google search on the relevant terms will reveal facts strongly to the contrary, and readers are invited to investigate and judge for themselves on this point. To cite just one obvious example, former Senator George Mitchell, Clinton’s personal envoy, was the main mediator during the final and crucial stages of the Agreement’s drafting.

Americans, according to the extremists on both sides, are good for money but don't expect them to understand more than the surface appearances or, heaven forbid, make sense.

We have no doubt that this is a widespread belief in the British Isles, which goes a long way towards explaining why such little real understanding of American or American political goals exists there.

We may or may not be making sense, but the fact is an election has just been held and both parties that brought about the Good Friday Agreement have been wiped out. This is either due to the fact that the Agreement was not sufficiently thought-out or enforced, as we argue, or because one minority party leader was a big old meanie.

You be the judge of which is likelier.

This is an example of what the UPC is meant to do- bring left and right together in civil debate- counteract the blogosphere's tendency to become a place where people preach to the choir- seek capital T Platonic Truth whether we believe in it or not- and, you know, so on and et cetera. Huge kudos to New Sisyphus, whose blog I urge you to bookmark and read every day. And huge kudos to Newshog for remaining civil while disagreeing vehemently- not that I'd expect any less from him, of course.

I hope you'll keep the debate going, Newhog.


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