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US can't fight terror like N. Ireland

By LISA TROSHINSKY, For United Press International

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Terrorism is more easily fought when its underlying ideology is weakened; when neighboring countries support the terrorists' moderate, not militant, faction; when there is firm public opinion from those who are being attacked; and through suppression and penetration, according to Nobel Laureate David Trimble.

Trimble, the first minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, spoke Tuesday at a think tank forum in Washington sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute's New Atlantic Initiative.

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He received the peace prize with John Hume for work in securing the Belfast Agreement, the ongoing peace process between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to end 30 years of terrorism, which includes a cease-fire by the Irish Republican Army.

Although these principles are helping bring harmony to Northern Ireland, albeit painstakingly, Trimble doesn't envision them as a model for the war on terrorism being waged against al Qaida and affiliated groups.

This is because there is no moderate position taken by al Qaida that others might encourage, no strong resolution on the part of Americans to engage in a long-term war against terrorist enemies, and few American allies in the Middle East, he said.

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"(The United States) just relying on its sophisticated armed forces won't do it," Trimble said. "Turkey, which has a moderate administration, and Egypt are pivotal (allies), and I wish the European Union would treat Turkey well," he said. "Iraq and Saudi Arabia are militant aspects of the problem."

Another potential problem for the United States in its fight against terrorism is its use of the publicly supported crime-driven approach, through the FBI, which arrests culprits once they commit a crime, he said.

"Our approach was an intelligence-driven approach that identified key players, but didn't arrest them," he said. "If you take a person out, what will result is that a new person will come in to replace him. You're more successful by leaving people in position, monitoring them and disrupting their activities. It also helps if their activities are centralized. The centralization of the IRA helped us.

"But I'd be cautious about the proliferation of too many agencies that might have rivalries," he added.

Although the United States might not be strong in human intelligence among Islamist terrorist organizations, using technology for surveillance is very helpful and can easily be done, as in the monitoring of cell phones, Trimble said.

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The crumbling of the Soviet Bloc and the formation of the European Union are other factors that helped bring an accord to Northern Ireland, he said.

"The collapse of communism was significant. Northern Ireland no longer had support from the motherland of revolution. The failure of revolutionary states undermines terrorists; shows that democracy is the better way of proceeding," he said.

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