Terrorist leaders are not benevolent men inclined to make peace but vicious bullies. The IRA was the Islamic State of its day. Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan are similar wars. In these, an insurgency like the IRA/Sinn Féin mix is the main problem.
A proven solution is the rule of law, where police intelligence dominates because investigative practices fail. The approach - widely misrepresented and commonly misunderstood - devastated the IRA. Some terrorists were killed, most were in prison, many were on the run, and the rest feared the same fate. The IRA was forced into a ceasefire.
Had this been disclosed in promoting the peace, nations would have benefited and lives saved. But the political endgame was botched. Unrepentant insurgents in government tainted security to sanitise their past. IRA leaders became peacemakers. Others contemplating conflict watched. Al-Qaeda was encouraged. New York's twin towers stood tall. Peace had a price.
"William Matchett's Secret Victory provides a vital case study in counterterrorism at a time the West needs every lesson it can get. It may deal with Ireland, but it provides vital insights into both the value of human intelligence and the limits of force." (Anthony H. Cordesman, Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C.)
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