Barker's reaction to my
review of Black Operations, it seems that a few
clarifications are necessary.
a spelling mistake, Mr Barker's name was wrongly spelled.
I apologise for this. However, this spelling mistake
was corrected in the version of my review published
in the February 2004 edition of Fortnight.
writing that "the book is not as bad as one
could expect from journalists of the Irish Star and
with a foreword by Victor Barker", I had
in mind the fact that given the hostility of both
Mr Mooney and Mr Barker to Real Republicans, the book
could have been a long hysterical attack against the
Real IRA and the 32CSM with calls for more repressive
measures. Experience of other books written by journalists
of the Irish Star, like Paul Williams for example
(I invite Mr Barker to read my critique of Crimelords)
shows that they often get the basic facts wrong. My
point was that Black Operations is not like
Barker, for understandable reasons, is a staunch critic
of the Real IRA. It was an interesting idea to write
a book length critique of the Real IRA. However, the
book fails to meet its objective, and this is something
that Mr Barker repeats in his reaction to my review.
one (no matter what their religious or political
beliefs) has the right to kill innocent human beings
in pursuit of their own ends and to use terrorism
and intimidation to further their cause. It is time
that the REAL IRA faced up to the enormous toll
of human suffering that their evil deeds caused
to the bereaved and injured on the 15th August 1998
and to seek the forgiveness of those who they have
so deeply wronged."
problem with such a statement is that it is just a
moral/humanitarian critique of the Real IRA. With
political movements, moral/humanitarian critique is
not sufficient, what is required is a political critique.
One of the points of my review is that the authors'
critique of the Real IRA fails because it does not
criticize the organization at a strategic and organizational
level. If Mr Barker is interested in critiques of
Republicanism, I would highly recommend to him Henry
Patterson's The Politics of Illusion or MLR
Smith's Fighting for Ireland? The Military Strategy
of the IRA. Those works develop the sort of critique
that Black Operations fail to make.
the devastating effect of Real IRA activities upon
its victims should not be ignored. Joseph Conrad was
right when he wrote of that there were "conspiracies
of fatal destiny", resulting in the deaths
of innocents "whose catastrophic character
cannot be argued away by sophisticated reasoning or
persuasive eloquence" (The Secret Agent).
have no doubts that many people will be touched by
the fact that Mr Barker will run the London Marathon
to raise money for some of the victims of the Irish
war. But we should also keep in mind that the whole
issue of the political, legal and moral definition
of the "victims" and "perpetrators"
is still a very contentious one (so is that of compensation,
recognition and forgiveness): just think of the problem
of 'second class' victims, perpetrators who are simultaneously
problematic are the political implications of running
for the families of Victims of Republican
Terrorist and Loyalist Terrorist Violence and
the PSNI benevolent fund. The implication,
in terms of victims and perpetrators, is that the
conflict in the North is blamed on illegitimate terrorist
violence, the actions of the agencies of the
State being regarded as legitimate and not being blamed
for the part they played in the conflict. There was
not a real conflict, simply terrorist violence. It
is thus not surprising that Mr Barker does not include
the families of victims of state violence on his list.
While running for the victims families is entirely
praiseworthy, the political implication are more questionable.
I believe that it is only through the confrontation
of conflicting views that our ideas are able to positively
evolve. For intelligent Republicans, dialogue is essential.
I invite Mr Barker to have a look at The Other
View journal (and perhaps contribute?) where Republicans
and their enemies discuss their differences in a constructive
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