Monday, June 12, 2006

Occupations in Ireland and Iraq.

Much has been made recently of Ken Loach director of the Wind that shakes the Barley comparing the British Occupation in Ireland to the American Occupation in Iraq. And Indeed he is right there is a comparison to be made but it is not the one he is making.

The British occupation in Ireland was a bit like Saddam’s regime in Iraq. A Non-democratically elected government that gave the minority power over the majority. Where in Iraq it was the Sunni’s in Ireland it was the ascendancy. While the Irish did have the vote and the ability to elected people to Westminister they always elected people from various Nationalist parties. These parties aim were for Home rule for Irish control of Irish affairs. Until a parliamentary crisis in 1910 required the Liberals to give Home Rule nothing was coming. Even then what was been given to the Irish was far far less then they wanted. Is it really democracy when the will of the people is not listened too?

The Iraq war was not approved of by the Iraqi government neither was the 1916 rising. However once the country was given true democratic self-determination these two things were approved. The first Dail in 1918 elected Dev the only survivor of the 1916 rising leader. The Iraqi parliament also democratically elected has given its backing to the American forces.

Also in 1919 the League of Nations did not recognise Ireland initially but eventually did with Ireland playing a large role. likewise neither did the United Nations recognise the need for Iraqis to have freedom but eventually they did recognise the government and perphaps Iraq will play a big role in the UN in the future.

The Black and Tans were a brutal force in Ireland. Burning houses killing and generally being brutal. The same can be said for the insurgents, a minority organisation fighting and terrorising the population who disagree with them. Now the (Old) IRA like the American were fighting for the people for freedom while both have and did commit terrible atrocities it does not take away from the basic principle of the issue and that being standing up for democracy.

So maybe Ken Loach’s next film will be about American soldiers in Iraq showing them ini a good light and winning the Palm D’or. Some how I doubt it.

After typing this I found Niall Stanage on Comment is Free made a simular point.

4 comments:

smiffy said...

"The Black and Tans were a brutal force in Ireland. Burning houses killing and generally being brutal. The same can be said for the insurgents, a minority organisation fighting and terrorising the population who disagree with them. Now the (Old) IRA like the American were fighting for the people for freedom while both have and did commit terrible atrocities it does not take away from the basic principle of the issue and that being standing up for democracy."

That's a bit of a stretch. One doesn't have to support 'the insurgency' (and, of course, there's more than one 'insurgency' in Iraq) or even oppose the US presence to think that the idea that the American soldiers are there fighting for 'freedom' is far too rose-tinted a view of them.

The US military is there because that's where it was told to go. While individual soldiers might personally support the ongoing attempts to create a government in Iraq, most of them are in the country because they're forced to be there, faced with a population that doesn't particularly want them around (again, not the same as supporting the insurgency, but the best evidence we have is that Iraqis don't really want the US around - the real question is when they should leave) and which they don't really understand or empathise with.

It's that situation which brutalises both the US soldiers (who don't have the same experience of dealing with a hostile civilian population that the British military do), and which leads to tragedies/massacres like the Haditha one.

The Black and Tans didn't act in the way they did because they were politically opposed to Irish independence; it was because they were a bunch of thugs (although I understand that Loach doesn't present it as quite that black and white, but I haven't seen the film yet, so I have to wait and see) used by others who were politically motivated. And while the average US solider mightn't be quite as unpleasant as the average member of the Black and Tans, the situation they find themselves in means they far more closely resemble the 'Tans than the 'insurgency' does.

Anonymous said...

"faced with a population that doesn't particularly want them around"

That's true to a certain extent but here's the key difference: the U.S. Army is protecting the Iraqis from being blown to pieces by terrorists (so the population recognises that these troops have to stay) whereas the Black and Tans were in this country to intimidate those looking for freedom.

Anonymous said...

"The first Dail in 1918 elected Dev the only survivor of the 1916 rising leader."

Not to be nitpicky but Michael Collins and Sean Lemass, among others, survived the rising too.

Simon said...

that should read 1916 leaders. Which would be wrong as countess markeviz also survived. So fair kop