Monday, March 26, 2007

The Sheep Shall Lie Down With the Lions

Why are these men smiling?
The news that the leaders of Northern Ireland’s dominant rival groups have met face-to-face for the first time and agreed to form a joint administration for the long troubled province is an historic breakthrough. If it sticks.

The sitdown between Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and the Rev. Ian Paisley, the Protestant leader, came more than four years after Northern Ireland’s local government was suspended in October 2002 after a dispute over espionage activities by the Irish Republican Army.

I'm not quite ready to exhale on this one, but Buckarooskiddo at Make It Stop! Make It Stop! puts the agreement in an appropriate historic context:

"Think anti-Communist crusader/Red baiter Richard Nixon going to China in the early l970s, Anwar Sadat heading to Jerusalem in the early l980s, for that matter Reagan summiting and reaching agreement with Mikhail Gorbachev as the Cold War waned. Those are the kind of analogies appropriate to the agreement . . .

"Some will say this means the IRA and Catholics 'lost,' since their goal was not just to force the British army out of northern Ireland, but to bring about the union of British northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. In truth, though, everybody won in this outcome, because the future of the region will now be resolved peacefully, through the democratic process, with the consent of the governed. And that qualifies as a genuine miracle, a shaking of the earth, if you consider the 3,000 victims of this conflict, the years of poverty and dislocation, the blighted lives and the unremitting bitterness on both sides . . . I often believed that it was hopeless, that this conflict was a geopolitical fact for the forseeable future, like the Cold War. I'm so happy to be proven wrong today.

"Look up into the sky towards the east . . . I think you might see some green and orange pigs flying on the horizon."

More here.

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