On Ireland’s Mission Civilisatrice in Mali

This is a response to an editorial entitled 'Mission to Mali' published by the Irish Times, on the subject of Ireland's participation in a joint deployment in Mali alongside British forces.

Imagine if during the past 40 years the British Army had decided to bomb the Bogside and West Belfast from the air in order to ‘defeat the brutal militias’ who were ‘terrorising its population’. Imagine if the Irish Times welcomed such aerial bombing, describing it, in the clinical term it uses here, as an ‘intervention’. The situation is somewhat different, but not the impact on human life of such bombing.  
 
For all the affinity the Irish Times feels with the United Kingdom, a visiting martian might think the recent history of the British Army in Ireland would still inform its analysis of colonial powers re-asserting themselves in other parts of the world, affording it some degree of critical scepticism. But what do martians know anyway?  
 
What is ‘normalised’ relations with ‘the British’ these days? Prince Harry, the grandson of the monarch, so fulsomely welcomed to the 26 counties, is exalted as a hero for blowing Afghans to bits with an Apache helicopter (perhaps EADS may introduce a helicopter called ‘Fenian’ one of these days), and you can be arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy on the internet. Meanwhile, there is a whopping great MI5 headquarters, just up the road in Belfast. Does Ireland have a whopping great military intelligence headquarters somewhere in Norfolk? 
 
What is stunning –and near criminally stupid- about this piece is how it pretends that the United Kingdom is in any position to teach anyone anything about human rights. If the United Kingdom were a planet from another galaxy, you could understand the Irish Times getting the wrong end of the stick. But there are ample examples of the grossest human rights abuses, including indefinite internment without trial, torture, and murder, perpetrated by British state forces in Ireland. These abuses continue right up to the present, as illustrated in the case of the incarceration of Marian Price. What is more, they are well known to many people, even to those who live in a bubble in and around Dublin 2.  
 
Many such abuses will never be investigated. What this joint deployment shows is that the Irish government –and by extension the Irish establishment- is concerned more with defending the interests of former colonial powers abroad –their access to uranium, for instance, in the case of Mali- than it is with justice for people in Ireland. And the victims of such ‘interventions’, as far as they are concerned, do not even exist.

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