Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Can We do to Al-Qaeda what Britain did to the IRA?

The cover story of this month’s Atlantic is well worth reading, as it tells the inside story of how the British government infiltrated and destroyed the Irish Republican Army. In the 1970s the preferred tactic for dealing with IRA terrorism was internment--something like what the Bush administration has been doing. It was a colossal failure. Only in the 1980s, when the British began recruiting insiders, did the IRA begin to crumble. Today, of course, it is insignificant.

But let no one think that this is a peaceful option:

British spies subverted the IRA from within, leaving it in military ruin, and Irish Republicans—who want to end British rule in Northern Ireland and reunite the island—have largely shifted their weight to Sinn Féin and its peaceable, political efforts. And so the Dirty War provides a model for how to dismantle a terrorist organization. The trick is to not mind killing, and to expect dying.

Well worth reading, and well worth thinking about. Of course, for all we know the administration might already be implementing this strategy. I hope so.

Discussions - 8 Comments

An eerie article, with stories of British intelligence operators setting up their own spies to kill each other. A Machiavellian lesson for treating one’s friends as one’s enemies.

Does it require a subscription? I can’t seem to access the story.

Where’s the guy who must know more about this than anyone else who comments on these blogs?

Coughlan, what are you doing? keeping us in suspense? Weigh in, buddy!

Does it require a subscription? I can’t seem to access the story.

I suppose it does. I’m a subscriber, and I’ve registered at the site, so it comes up on my computer without asking for a username or password. Sorry--you’ll have to get the dead tree version.

Coughlan, what are you doing? keeping us in suspense? Weigh in, buddy!

I couldn’t read the article! Honest Guv. Besides, I didn’t see much that I disagreed with in the preamble.

I guess you are interested in the kind of bind this might put me in vis a vis my attitudes to the US?

Not at all. I wish the US would try infiltrating Al-Quaida. That puts the focus and the casualties where they belong.

As an aside, the UK tried internment ala Gitmo, and gave it up as a bad job. Too many innocent people scooped up in security sweeps, and it became clear that it was fuelling the "insurgency".

The UK, the Irish, the Spanish, the Germans and the South Africans have truck loads of relevant material that the US should be examining. You guys could learn a lot.,11008,958560,00.html

Good article on the subject. Nasty, devious, illegal and immoral. But certainly beats bombing from the air.

This looks like impeachment material to me.

This looks like impeachment material to me.

Probably. You can’t legalise this kind of thing, but a true patriot would gladly sacrifice their political career for the good of the Fatherl... nation.

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