The Search For a Compromise
Thursday, July 16, was supposed to be a great day for Ireland. It was supposed to mark the most important event in the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement: The election of a joint Catholic-Protestant ruling cabinet.
On the day of the meeting at Stormont, First Minister David Trimble’s chair was empty. The chairs to be occupied by the Ulster Unionist (Protestant) party were empty. Ulster Unionists, led by David Trimble, refused to sit in an assembly with representatives of the Catholic Irish Republican Army (ira) while the ira remained armed. The Irish “peace process” bogged down.
Sinn Fein, the political wing of the ira, talked of postponing the May 2000 deadline for voluntarily disarming (decommissioning) the ira. U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who brokered the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement, was recalled for discussions with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
The peace process was going nowhere—fast! Why?
Because, as with all similar deals where one of the negotiating parties is backed by an armed terrorist organization, it is the armed party that holds the whip hand.
Without a clear commitment to disarm from the ira, the Unionists simply felt too threatened to proceed. The sham Good Friday peace accord had been negotiated between representatives of the Protestant and Catholic communities with no guarantee or commitment written into it requiring the ira to disarm. So, essentially, it contained only a vain hope. An empty hope of peace between the armed and the unarmed.
This has been the great fault with the whole Irish “peace process”: the effort of the lead negotiators on the U.S. and British sides to seek a workable compromise with a group of terrorists armed with masses of weaponry stockpiled in secret arsenals.
A Matter of Trust
As British Prime Minister Tony Blair sees it, “It is a matter of trust. Will Unionists really share power with non-Unionists [Catholics]? Will [Catholic] republicans really give up the gun?”
In speaking of trust, it is important to note that Britain’s most successful prime minister since Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, stridently declared during her term of office, “Never negotiate with a terrorist!” The ira certainly knew where they stood with Mrs. Thatcher.
They also know where they stand with a weak-willed British administration. Mr. Blair is not asking for the ira to disarm as an act of good faith to ensure success of the Irish “peace agreement.” No. He is merely asking for their word, for a statement committing to disarmament.
The basic question is not how or when or even if the ira will give a written undertaking to disarm. The fact is, any such undertaking by the ira would be worth exactly the price of the paper upon which it is written. The word of the ira is worth the same as the word of the plo, Shining Path, the Sandanistas, the Red Brigade, the Barder-Meinhoff gang, the anc or the kla. It is the word of a terrorist. The same as the word of Yasser Arafat, who on the one hand signs a peace accord with Israel to promote a so-called “peace process,” and on the other declares to his followers, “We will not rest till we have driven the Israelis into the sea and our Palestinian flag flies from every building in Jerusalem!”
This is exactly what the ira wants in Ireland. They simply want the Protestants out! Out of the government, out of Ireland! They want a nationalized, catholicized Ireland, completely separate from Britain—and they won’t rest till they get it! All we see—the “peace process,” the decommissioning agreement, the joint Protestant-Catholic parliament—is but a means to that end.
“The search for a compromise.” That’s the basic weakness in the Irish peace process and in all of the so-called “peace processes” that have emanated from late 20th century diplomacy. At best, a compromise will buy time. It will never solve dissension between disagreeable opinions. Such has been the history of every shabby “peace process” negotiated by Western diplomacy since this very phrase became fashionable.
A Test of Will
Not since the days of that venerable statesman Winston Churchill have Sinn Fein had a British prime minister tough enough to face them down and enforce the British government’s will upon the ira.
In 1919, with the ira newly formed, Winston Churchill was given the job (as secretary for war) of solving the Irish question. After his experiment with the brutal “black and tans” volunteer force proved abortive, Churchill felt that the Irish situation would have to be settled politically.
Michael Collins, political leader of the ira, came to London to negotiate with Churchill. This great British statesman negotiated with the terrorist representative the only way he knew how. He offered to Collins two alternatives—submit to the British government’s direction, or face all-out war—war with the full power of Great Britain and all the weight of her standing army behind it. Collins took the obvious choice. With a treaty signed between what was now known as the Irish free state and Great Britain, Collins returned home. The British withdrew all their troops from Ireland. Michael Collins declared as he farewelled Churchill, “We could not have done it without you.”
Yet, the Catholic Irish republicans soon proved that they wanted nothing more and nothing less than all of Ireland, including Protestant Ulster. They assassinated their own leader, Michael Collins, and brought upon Ireland a civil war—a war which goes on in today’s continuing, wearying struggles between Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland.
Britain has no Churchill, no Thatcher in the ranks of its present government. It has no person of such gigantic integrity in the ranks of those who follow behind. Britain’s leadership is simply living through the painful days of spiritual blindness and intellectual cowardice prophesied by Almighty God: “And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you…. And I will break the pride of your power” (Lev. 26:17, 19).
In these negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland, given the British government’s dearth of leadership, it is ira/Sinn Fein that holds the trump card.
The weakness of the Belfast agreement, concluded on Good Friday 1998, is that it contains no deadline for disarmament. The strength of ira/Sinn Fein in the “peace process” is their maintenance of a huge secret arsenal with enough machine guns, automatic rifles and semtex explosives to carry on their cowardly attacks well into the next century. “The ira was virtually certain to retain enough arms to mount an offensive if it becomes dissatisfied with the progress of the new peace agreement” (International Herald Tribune, Oct. 27, 1998).
Almighty God prophesied that a condition would prevail in His own Church in the times within which we live today which would parallel that in society. We live in a time of the greatest deceit (Rev. 12:9, 12). It is a time in man’s history where deceivers preach “peace” while their true intentions are to divide and conquer. Behind such a mask, the perpetrators of evil have seduced God’s own Church into blindly following a way that leads to destruction (Isa. 59:3-8).
Of the same spirit are those who loudly cry “peace, peace,” and yet who would lead Ireland and the British up a blind alley which is piled high with explosive semtex at its end. “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14).
Tradition holds that the prophet Jeremiah is buried on the Island of Devenish, near Inniskillon, county Fermanagh, Ireland. How ironic that his inspired words, penned by his loyal scribe Baruch, would be written right here in the land of Jeremiah’s exile, Ireland. Words so descriptive of Northern Ireland’s condition today.
In the meantime, a rising European power watches from across the North Sea—watches the once-great Britain rip itself apart. Watches its struggle with a band of common brigands who, it so happens, are of the same religion as the rising beast power—and whose mother nation, Ireland, is already fully ensconced as a member of that euro-federation. Bible prophecy predicts it is this very federation which will soon enslave Britain—the jewel in their crown, “Mary’s dowry,” the wayward “daughter,” after whom the Vatican has lusted from the time of its genesis.
Watch for more violence, more bloodshed in Britain and Northern Ireland, before this “peace process” meets its sad conclusion. But as you watch, do so crying out to Almighty God for the bloodshed and carnage to cease, and for Him to ever hasten the day of His Son’s return to this earth to establish the only “peace process” that will be sure—a peace process which will endure, without compromise; which will put down all rebellion, all terrorism, and usher in the day when all mankind will live in unity and harmony, under the true justice of His rule of law which alone will guarantee true peace on earth—forever!