The Shocking Untold Truth about the IRA Peace Deal
Posted on June 21st, 2009

Dilrook Kannangara

IRA has been a sensible rebel group. Unlike “terrorist” groups, they didn’t hold on to the impossible and the unachievable. They budged from their stance and made peace possible. The IRA was fully under the control of its political wing, Sinn Fein. This is remarkable for a rebel group that managed to succeed in its fight. In wide contrast almost all other rebel/terrorist groups fighting today are led by ruthless militiamen. Shutting the door to reality and reason is considered to be the mark of their true leadership. Compromise is not in their vocabulary and accepting coexistence is treason. Due to these reasons, rebel/terrorist groups around the world led by militiamen over political elements will eventually fail.

 However, the IRA/Sinn Fein didn’t achieve success on the political front initially. They were flatly rejected by the British. As a result they had to force their way into the attention of the British. What a journey it was!

 Clashes between religious sects in Ireland has a long history. It eventually turned into a free-Ireland movement. British troops engaged the rebels and fighting went on for a long time. Scores died in the fighting. However, the IRA made a strategic decision firstly to protect themselves and their kith and kin and then to beat the British. It dawned upon them that only upon vanquishing the British arrogance can they make their demands clear. Beating the British militarily is out of the question. Instead a prolonged terror campaign would achieve much more.

 There was another choice. It was about the casualties the IRA intended to inflict on the other side. As the war involved heaps of retaliatory strikes from both parties, the death count was almost equal between the parties to the war during the time of the “Troubles” from 1969 onwards until the peace treaty. Given the fewer numbers in the Republican camp compared to the British forces, Republicans suffered relatively more when their fighters were killed. Had the retaliatory attacks escalated to the levels both groups threatened, a sizable proportion of the population would have been wiped out in Ireland but with little or no impact on Britain, population wise. Simply the Brits had the numerical superiority. This realisation led the IRA to reduce the number of their kills than they would have liked to. Instead of a killing priority, they adopted economic terrorism against the British.

 This way they could avoid the wrath of retaliatory killings to a great extent as the numbers killed was very low. At times IRA even alerted Britain to facilitate the safety of civilians. They went to extraordinary measures to protect civilians and carefully targeted the British economy. Their weapon of choice was the car bomb.

 Initially attacks took place in Ireland and then the IRA graduated to attacking British targets in London, Manchester, etc. The car bomb was very effective as the size of explosives carried in a car is huge compared to a bomb carried by a human. Devastating effects of the bomb was increased by the use of readily available materials after a simple process of boiling. IRA car bombs shook Britain and caused an immense blow to the economy. Billions of pounds in direct damages and many times more in indirect damages took a very heavy toll. Unlike the 9/11 attacks which costed much more for the US, IRA attacks on the British economy didn’t cease with one attack. It was almost impossible to stop the car bomb because millions of vehicles had to be stopped, screened and checked. Secrecy associated with the car bomb was an additional boon for the rebels.

 Militarily the British could do nothing to counter the effects of IRA attacks. Britain had to play by the IRA rules. Britain couldn’t assert its numerical advantage as the war moved away from killing. It couldn’t retaliate IRA attacks on its economy. Obviously Britain cannot be bombing Irish economic centres in retaliation!

 Ultimately the British realised that they lost it to the IRA. The car bomb changed the history of the world. Peace with the IRA through Sinn Fein was back on the agenda. A series of discussions took the peace process forward and culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. IRA agreed to decommission weapons and since then peace has dawned both in Ireland and the UK relative to the times gone by. Come to think of it, it was the car bomb that changed the course of the war and peace and the inability of the British troops to respond adequately to it.

 The channels used by the IRA to force total submission on the British are still there. Any terror group could do it. The Glasgow attack may be an attempt to use those channels by Al Qaeda who has mastered it in Iraq, Afghanistan, US and many other places. When Britain boasts about the peace deal with the IRA, it avoids telling why it went to peace with the IRA! It was the British defeat and complete inability to overcome the defeat that forced peace with the IRA.

 It should be appreciated that Britain was indeed lucky to have a sensible rebel/terror group headed by respectable political figures as its enemy. Other countries are not so lucky. IRA was an exceptional rebel/terror group. On the other hand the democratic world must come to terms with the weapon that changed history in the 20th century. Unless it can be controlled and overpowered, it will strike again. The democratic world cannot bow down to violence; it must act decisively. Something got to change or we are in for another defeat elsewhere.

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