14 February 2008 Edition
Counter-revolutionary news fare
THE most (counter) revolutionary change taking place in Irish foreign policy over the last 30 years – from relative neutrality and a non-aligned position to that of Western fig-leaf – reached an almost final conclusion recently with the Irish Government’s agreement to hold the line for the French in their neo-colony of Chad.
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has tried to warn of the dangers, both human and political, posed by this desperate scramble to war by our officer class and establishment.
However, the media has been uncritically supportive of the march to war in someone else’s country, where someone else’s population will be suppressed, and where someone else’s oil (or whatever else the West wants from Africans) will be fought for in a “peace-enforcing” operation.
The politics of language are never so important as when a war is being fought or contemplated. Rebels become terrorists or guerrilla fighters, depending on which side one supports, and people are either killed or murdered, depending on the same criteria. But the efforts of The Irish Times to present this military adventure into an African country many miles away as some sort of selfless, heroic mission deserves attention.
An editorial this week describes how Ireland’s Lieutenant-General Nash, based Paris, is “overall commander” of the EU force even though its 3,700 force is dominated by 2,000 French troops and its operational commander on the ground is French. The Irish Times believes that while Chad is “a former French colony and part of that country’s sphere of interest in Africa”, the EU force should still be supported and that it can be seen as separate from the French military – who have another 1,200 or so troops stationed there already. (Interestingly, it’s not a distinction that the rebels seem inclined to make.)
The same editorial notes, by the by, that “tension over oil resources in
Sudan and Chad involving Chinese and US interests” is a factor in the geo-political situation there. Well, how about that! However, the bulk of the newspaper’s commentary is composed in that unique Dublin 4-speak about ethnic divisions, peace-keeping, moderation and so on, in the usual Western liberal language deployed to disguise a land grab or occupation in defence of Western interests.
No Irish soldiers should have to die in this unworthy exercise.
NEWSTALK 106 radio often succeeds in its effort to be fresher and more irreverent than the stuffy luvvies in RTÉ but it has reverted to PC revisionist form in what could have been an interesting exercise in its Saturday evening programme, Talking History.
Presenter Patrick Geoghegan drooled and slobbered over David Trimble’s sometimes speech-writer and aide, Paul Bew – actually
Baron Bew of the British House of Lords, although Geoghegan failed to inform listeners of this dubious honour in a valiant effort to deflect Irish prejudice against ‘The Quality’.
Bew has written a book called Ireland: The Politics of Enmity, 1789-2006, in which he outlines the hatred (Irish, not British, of course) that has apparently driven Irish history over the last two centuries. In his book, Bew characterises the 1798 Rising as driven by hatred rather than revolutionary fervour and goes on to deny that 19th Century Irish landlords were the responsibility of the British. Moving on to the 20th Century, he describes civil rights marchers at Burntollet, who were attacked by loyalists and the RUC, as having unearthed “ethno-nationalist animosity and hatred”.
Geoghegan purred and cooed through an interview with the baron as the latter praised John Redmond to the heavens, condemned John Mitchel for impugning Britain’s genocidal motives during the Famine, and generally rubbished Irish republicanism.
When he had finished gurgling in ecstasy at Bew’s take on Irish history in an interview in which he refused to confront or even query a single one of Bew’s unionist assertions, Geoghegan described Bew’s book as the best of 2007. It was embarrassing to listen to.
MOST newspapers take themselves far too seriously in an effort to add credibility and substance to their outpourings, but while one expects this in the Sunday Independent, it is rarer in the Tribune. However, the claims made in that newspaper last Sunday were most amusing.
According to Suzanne Breen last Sunday, “The North was put back on terror alert last week following an interview with the Real IRA leadership in the Sunday Tribune” and, following various threats made in that interview, “the PSNI took the warning seriously”.
The Irish Independent reported – some four days after the interview – that “intelligence” reports had galvanised the PSNI into alert mode. The Irish Times pointed out that the PSNI themselves had warned the previous week, some days before the Tribune interview, that there could be attacks from dissident republicans. Not even An Phoblacht would describe Breen’s articles as “intelligence” reports but it seems her newspaper wants to take the credit for informing and directing PSNI operations.