The Corner

Re: Forked Tongue


You posted, inter alia:

“Looking at Northern Ireland, I don’t think that it is much of a precedent

either. As you know, most Brits on the mainland have never considered that

province to be fully, well, British. They didn’t in 1970. They don’t now. I

suspect that, if you’d polled them in 1970 most mainlanders would have said

that they wanted the people of Ulster to sort things out for themselves,

almost regardless of what resulted. That hasn’t changed over all this time,

and I think it’s that attitude, rather than weakness in the face of terror,

that has allowed the UK to acquiesce in the rise to ‘respectability’ of the

loathsome Gerry Adams.”

Replace “Northern Ireland / Ulster” by “Iraq” or “the Middle East,” and you

pretty much make my point.

And I am sorry to be cold eyed about it, but the pluck and spirit you see

right after a bombing, though certainly cheering, has nothing to do with,

and no effect on, long-term policy trends. After the Christmas bombing of

Harrods department store in (?) 1987, Dennis Thatcher ostentatiously went

shopping at Harrods. I cheered him then, and I would cheer him now. But

look! Here comes Gerry in his limo…


I would not expect people to say anything else in today’s circumstances; but

see above. Blair himself does not have a strong grip on the electorate –

he was re-elected in May by just 36 percent of them, remember — and while

his party troubles seem to have subsided, his party is still Labour, with a

base of loony ant-American leftists. (That Ken Livingstone who so stirred

your blood on the telly this morning — the Mayor of London — back in the

1980s had a bust of Lenin in his office.) The Iraq War is deeply unpopular;

the War on Terror widely scoffed at. I suppose the scoffing will subside

for a day or two, but no-one’s mind will have been changed.

I am afraid that in democratic societies, terror and counter-terror play out

on a calculus of benefits and losses, as seen by the broad public. “What is

the benefit to us, to me and mine, of a strong forward counter-terrorist

policy? If my govt. can cut a deal and get us off the hook with the

terrorists, as they did with the IRA, what is the downside?” These are the

questions people ask. The answers may not be the ones you like.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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