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Discussion Starter #1
I grew up watching the news coverage of "The Troubles" and you always hear about terrorism by the IRA. Lately I've been reading up and it's interesting to note that almost all IRA terror incidents were in retaliation to terror by the UDF loyalists who always seem to "shoot first". I guess that's just our pro-British stance in America and our "Special Relationship"; which I support. But the Brits screwed up in Ireland about as bad as you could possibly muck things up.

I grew up always hearing that the IRA were Marxists. The IRA in Dublin were Marxists, but the Provisional IRA in Belfast were Republicans to the core and firmly rejected Godless Marxism.

On the gun side, I read that the IRA managed to get their hands on about 1,000 AR-18's which they universally loved, and even wrote little folk songs about. What I'd like to know is, where the hell did they get them? Steal them from a police armory or something, they were made by Sterling around that time.

Anyhow, I'm finding it interesting how "free" our press really is these days.
 

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Kevin Gibson said:
I grew up watching the news coverage of "The Troubles" and you always hear about terrorism by the IRA. Lately I've been reading up and it's interesting to note that almost all IRA terror incidents were in retaliation to terror by the UDF loyalists who always seem to "shoot first". I guess that's just our pro-British stance in America and our "Special Relationship"; which I support. But the Brits screwed up in Ireland about as bad as you could possibly muck things up.
In my estimation, both the IRA (and/or certain elements thereof) and the British (and/or certain elements thereof) were ....to put it bluntly, nasty thugs.
The British played hardball in Ireland in a nasty way and the IRA elements were also awful thuggish, probably largely in response.

Interestingly I was vacationing in London in 1992 staying at an Army & Navy Club only accessable by Americans by being a friend of a member. At some zerodarkthirty hour a loud boom rang out, then the sounds of sirens and ambulances and firetrucks.
It was a BOMB! The IRA had blown up a... wait for it ............. wait for it...........

...a telephone booth.

Wow!
It was almost comical in a way ..... but the IRA was just delivering a message ; "we're still here!" They neither expected or wanted casualties by blowing up a telephone booth (a small bomb) at zerodarkthirty.

ANOTHER tidbit; a friend of my father's working in Scotland in the mid 1980s received mail from his bank in Texas which in turn prompted a visit from British MI5.
Why?
The letter was about opening an Individual Retirement Account.
Think about the initials .... and you can understand why he wrote the bank and told themn NEVER to send him a letter with those initials on the envelope ....:rolleyes:
Bureaucracies .... they're the same everywheere......:help:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
In my estimation, both the IRA (and/or certain elements thereof) and the British (and/or certain elements thereof) were ....to put it bluntly, nasty thugs.
The British played hardball in Ireland in a nasty way and the IRA elements were also awful thuggish, probably largely in response.

Interestingly I was vacationing in London in 1992 staying at an Army & Navy Club only accessable by Americans by being a friend of a member. At some zerodarkthirty hour a loud boom rang out, then the sounds of sirens and ambulances and firetrucks.
It was a BOMB! The IRA had blown up a... wait for it ............. wait for it...........

...a telephone booth.

Wow!
It was almost comical in a way ..... but the IRA was just delivering a message ; "we're still here!" They neither expected or wanted casualties by blowing up a telephone booth (a small bomb) at zerodarkthirty.

ANOTHER tidbit; a friend of my father's working in Scotland in the mid 1980s received mail from his bank in Texas which in turn prompted a visit from British MI5.
Why?
The letter was about opening an Individual Retirement Account.
Think about the initials .... and you can understand why he wrote the bank and told themn NEVER to send him a letter with those initials on the envelope ....:rolleyes:
Bureaucracies .... they're the same everywheere......:help:
That's hillarious. Yeah, I've heard some other funny stories about the whole affair.

I see that Senn Fein and the IRA were on the moral high ground. They began as a force to just provide security for Catholics in Protestant areas, and do community activism for equal rights; much of it modeled after the US equal rights marches.

The terrorists who were in the PIRA truly were thugs. There were some political attacks that were well thought out, but for the most part, it was indiscriminate killing that often resulted in the killing of Catholics right alongside the Protestants. And it seems that both the PIRA and Ulsters attracted some rather low rent street thugs with IQ's about the same as their shoe size. The Ulsters (UDA/UDF, and others) seemed to be far better organized, and in general I think they did have some brighter bulbs. The IRA spent as much time infighting as they did fighting the Brits and the loyalists. Had they not, The Troubles would have been settled right after Thatcher went out. I have a real affinity for the Iron Lady but she played it all wrong in Northern Ireland. But given the times, and all that was going on, and considering mindsets back then; I'm not sure I would have done any different if I were in her shoes. When you're raised English and people start attacking England, it's hard to have a good sense of humor about their cause when they're attacking your homeland.

I think it's funny that the IRA was considered some of the "best terrorists" in the world. In my readings I can see some kernels of brilliance here and there, but for the most part, I see a LOT of incompetence, infighting, and just plain backstabbing. I haven't see that kind of incompetence or disorganization in Hezbollah.
 

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I don't recall whether it was Hamas or Hezbollah (or both), but different factions were/are fighting on different sides of the Syrian civil war.

The various IRA factions did train in the Bekka Valley alongside a wide variety of progressive political elements including the gents mentioned above.

I fail to find any moral ground for those who bomb innocents and children. Sorry about that chief.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't recall whether it was Hamas or Hezbollah (or both), but different factions were/are fighting on different sides of the Syrian civil war.

The various IRA factions did train in the Bekka Valley alongside a wide variety of progressive political elements including the gents mentioned above.

I fail to find any moral ground for those who bomb innocents and children. Sorry about that chief.
The moral ground comment was on the causes of the Troubles, not the actions taken forth. There were no "good" guys in that conflict. The IRA bombed and murdered innocents. The Ulsters bombed and murdered innocents. The British Army bombed and murdered innocents. The whole situation brought out the worst in everyone.
 

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Kevin Gibson said:
The British Army bombed and murdered innocents. The whole situation brought out the worst in everyone.
Maybe it's the anglophile in me but the way the British behaived with regards to the Irish problem has always perplexed and concerned me. They comported themselves remarkably poorly in many ways -- I'd have thought better of them, really.
But Kevin is right when he observes "(t)he whole situation brought out the worst in everyone." It did that -- in spades.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think when you look at the UVF and how well organized they were, that says a good bit about how the Brits got on the track they did. The UVF carried out several bombings that they blamed on the IRA, in an effort to their their PM ousted, and it worked. So from the very beginning, the UVF were the aggressors (although I'm sure they felt they were just taking preemptive action), but managed to quite successfully portray the IRA (who almost didn't exist at the time, at least not in Belfast) as blood thirsty terrorists who are going to kill everyone. So they set the tone, and that tone held for long enough for the IRA to actually organize and live up to the expectation that was set for them.

Hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy for me to sit here and say the IRA had the moral ground to begin with, and they did. But I think WHILE IT WAS ALL UNFOLDING, you had the "fog of war" and it was very difficult to see what was really going on. And for crying out loud, you'd EXPECT the Brits to come down on the side of the Loyalists instinctively anyhow.

The UVF goaded the IRA and the IRA obliged (always handy if you can get your enemies to do what you want them to do), and eventually the Army whom originally came there to as a true neutral (but after the RUC got into an un-controlled riot), became hostile toward the Catholics. All of that built up to Bloody Sunday, and it was just outright war after that, with all sides acting quite shamefully.

So while the Brits acted abhorrently, I think an historian should always try to gauge how events happened, WHEN THEY HAPPENED, and how they happened; not how we figured out they happened 30 years later. So while they did screw up badly, I can see how any logical thinking person could be lead down the path they went.

The smart thing would be to go in, and put and end to all the BS that was going on. Make the people of Northern Ireland treat Catholics as equals, stop the gerrymandering, and allow non property owners to have a vote. But if they did that, then the UVF would have entered into warfare with the Brits. So the Brits were in a crap situation, and they were going to catch hell no matter which way they went. The smart move would have been to use the time since WWII to slowly implement those changes so things didn't come to a head, but no one saw fit to do that.
 

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And of course, all the restrictive weapons laws in the UK started out as the means to 'solve the Irish Problem'. Pity our home grown "progressives" don't read history rather than ideological cant.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
And of course, all the restrictive weapons laws in the UK started out as the means to 'solve the Irish Problem'. Pity our home grown "progressives" don't read history rather than ideological cant.
William,

I'm a little further through the book and I can't even begin to say how utterly true that statement is. The Provisional IRA was formed after many Catholic homes were burned and Catholics were ran out of a neighborhood by the Loyalists. Apparently the "charter" of the IRA is the defense of Catholics when the law fails, and in that instance there was a huge failure to defend. So the "Official IRA" in Dublin who had become Marxist and political had disarmed, that's when the North made the Provisional IRA whom were formed for armed struggle and the defense of Catholics.

The incident in question was a mob of Protestants who threw Molotov cocktails into a dozen or so homes of Catholic residents while the Royal Ulster Constabulary just stood by and looked on. It immediately made me think of the quote from 9th Circuit Justice Kozinski…

"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed-where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."
So the Provisional's were formed to counter the Ulster Defense Force (which was a terrorist organization), and defend in the cases where the official law enforcement refused to do their jobs. The book says there were many who had been armed in the past and who were convinced to lay down their arms, and then had to sit by helplessly while this out of control mob did their business. So one of the first acts of the Provisional IRA was to get arms for defensive and offensive operations.

This is such a case study of where groups of people who are somehow ideologically opposed (Protestant vs. Catholic) can degenerate into horrible oppression. If there are two groups, one of those groups will be with the government, and the other will generally not have the support of the government. If you're not on the side of the government, and you're not armed, you're screwed!! And that's the situation that Catholics found themselves in the late 1960's.
 

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Sounds almost like how the Sicilian Mafia originally started as a kind of "well-armed Neighborhood Watch", but wound up corrupted.

Yet one more illustration of how the very best intentions can be found paving the road to Hell...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sounds almost like how the Sicilian Mafia originally started as a kind of "well-armed Neighborhood Watch", but wound up corrupted.

Yet one more illustration of how the very best intentions can be found paving the road to Hell...
Northern Ireland is a weird case. The terrorism started with the Protestant/Loyalist's who were "given a pass" by the government. The IRA's terrorism started off as retaliatory to show that if you bomb our people indiscriminately, we'll bomb you back; indiscriminately.

While many would disagree with me, I consider terrorism a legitimate warfare tactic when all other tactics have failed. At some point, most nations will employ some terror tactics in an effort to induce a political change. The US bombing of Dresden, and the fire bombing of Tokyo were both deliberate acts of terror on non-combatants with the intent of inducing a political change.

The IRA resorted to terror as a retaliation of the terror violence they were on the receiving end. So I think in the beginning, their tactics were just. But as we know, war brings out the worst in everyone, and things got well out of hand.

Had I been in their shoes, I would have considered any military, police, or political target valid. Civilian terrorism is abhorrent though, even if they are a population that supports and approves of the oppressive government and their actions.

All of this is rather eye opening to me just how complex the situation over there really was. And how bad and very one sided the reporting that made its way to the US was.

I mean put yourself in their shoes. In a month's time, 3 bombs go off in your neighborhood, and all 3 times, you don't really know who did it other than, those people on that side of town. What do you do?
 

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Kevin Gibson said:
The US bombing of Dresden, and the fire bombing of Tokyo were both deliberate acts of terror on non-combatants with the intent of inducing a political change.
Meh .... I sorta wanna disagree that it was terror as it was "total war" -- something we don't have the cojones to do today. But the motive (inducing political change) really was the same. And certainly if you were there it was TERROR.
Dresden infuriated Hitler to the point he nearly ordered POWs to be killed .... though he relented. So when trying to act in a way that "induces political change" there's a good lesson; 'be careful what you wish for.':rolleyes:
 

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Meh .... I sorta wanna disagree that it was terror as it was "total war" -- something we don't have the cojones to do today. But the motive (inducing political change) really was the same. And certainly if you were there it was TERROR.
Dresden infuriated Hitler to the point he nearly ordered POWs to be killed .... though he relented. So when trying to act in a way that "induces political change" there's a good lesson; 'be careful what you wish for.':rolleyes:
Well said my friend.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This books is fascinating to read, it's almost like it was the inspiration for the book "Unintended Consequences". A disarmed IRA found themselves completely at the merciless mercy of the RUC and the British Army.

THIS is why you don't allow your government to disarm you. Because you may find yourself being oppressed by a group that the government supports, and when that happens, you're NOT going to get any government protection.
 

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Lately I've been reading up...
William, I'm a little further through the book...
I get the impression that this thread is is reference to a particular book, but I'll be darned if I can find mention of it's title anywhere. I'm sorry if I'm missing something, but if you guys are talking about a book, would you please let us know which one? I, for one, might like to read it.
 

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I get the impression that this thread is is reference to a particular book, but I'll be darned if I can find mention of it's title anywhere. I'm sorry if I'm missing something, but if you guys are talking about a book, would you please let us know which one? I, for one, might like to read it.
Sorry sir, this is the specific book I'm reading: A Secret History of the IRA: Ed Moloney: 9780393325027: Amazon.com: Books

Kinda pecking away at it, not binge reading. I'm just shy of half way through, into around 1971-72 where it starts to get really ugly.

It's making me re-think much of the morality of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. I can see situations where it makes sense (and Northern Ireland could be a case study), but I'm still repulsed by the killing of innocent, non-combatants.

What's surprising though is how this turned out to be a case study for NEVER disarming; EVER!!!

And although gun rights are never mentioned in this book even once, I'm getting the message crystal clear. Yeah, I know it's unlikely we'll ever be placed in the same or similar circumstances, but you just never know what history is going to throw at you.

I know the IRA "disarmed" in the early 2000's, but I'm betting there are still stockpiles of guns somewhere. They HAD to have learned that lesson after 1969. I'll bet any citizen of Belfast who lived there in 1969 would tell you to never let the government disarm you.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So I'm into the '80's not and I'm seeing that the IRA is wising up; they're not the incompetent bumblers and they have things well fleshed out. By 1979 they did away with the regional military structure (a battalion for a certain geographical section), which let the British always know who the players were for any given incident. So the IRA developed the cell system that's common with every terrorist organization today.

Beside the acts of terrorism, their constant struggle is still getting firearms to defend neighborhoods. Just SO many lessons in this book about not disarming.

Also I'm realizing that what I mistook for brilliance/competence on the part of the Loyalists and UVF, really was just a well planned incident knowing that if they did it, the incident would never be competently investigated. Pretty easy to be a sneaky terrorist if the government and military has your back.
 

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Ummmm. More like they adopted the cell system 'cause it was doctrine for the folks they were getting their training from. Sounds like the author is doing a wee mite of apple polishing.

Decades ago, some high falutin' publisher here in the US found them a reporter who knew nothing of 'the troubles' and sent him over there to investigate. I think he eventually did a book, but I read a couple of his articles, interesting read. One of his comments that rings true is that neither side never forgot nor forgave. He wrote about a story he was told one night and the next day went to the British Army to get a response about the alleged atrocity. He was flabbergasted when the PR officer admitted it, but then asked if he'd been told when it happened? No? 1615, the battle of the Boyne (IIRC). Story told like it'd happend the week before.

The seeds were planted by William of Orange who found himself with a lot of unemployed former soldiers and decided to use them to take over Ireland so they wouldn't loot England. I had distant relatives involved.
 

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I don't recall whether it was Hamas or Hezbollah (or both), but different factions were/are fighting on different sides of the Syrian civil war.

The various IRA factions did train in the Bekka Valley alongside a wide variety of progressive political elements including the gents mentioned above.

I fail to find any moral ground for those who bomb innocents and children. Sorry about that chief.
Just like in Ireland .. the difference with Hamas and Hezbollah is which sect of Muslim's they are affiliated with.

I had a friend that was born and raised in South Africa and is Caucasian. He once told me that the reason that the "Whites" were in power when they were a minority was that there were over 16 different tribes in SA and they HATED each other with a passion! Apartheid rules were in place to keep the tribes from killing each other. After the overthrow and government takeover, they fled the country and have commented at how there is so much more killing/death now that Apartheid has ended. (Not my statements or opinion ... just saying what was told to me).
 
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