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Über dieses Buch

This book is exceptional in defending the ‘dirty politics’ of the Northern Ireland peace process. Political actors in Britain, Ireland and the United States performed the peace process and used ‘political skills’, often including deception and hypocrisy, in order to wind down the conflict and achieve accommodation. These political skills, it is argued, are often morally justifiable even as they are popularly condemned. The Northern Ireland peace process has been highly successful in reducing violence and an accurate understanding of its politics is an important contribution to international debates about managing conflict.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Prologue: “Of Course We Fucking Lied”

Abstract
The Prologue argues that at the time of the IRA ceasefire in 1994 Northern Irish actors and audience were polarised after 25 years of violent conflict. Idealists argue that a ‘straight talking honest politics’ is possible. Populist Idealism contrasts the ‘pure people’ with the ‘corrupt politicians’ suggesting that there are ‘common sense’ solutions to toxic political issues. Realists argue that a ‘straight talking honest politics’ is impossible and leads, inevitability to disillusion. Performing the Northern Ireland Peace Process uses a theatrical metaphor to explain the deceptive political or theatrical skills that were used to achieve accommodation on 10 April 1998. A more explicit and wide-ranging moral defence of these political skills is offered than political actors can or will make for themselves.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 2. The ‘Real’ and Theatrical Politics of the Peace Process: Beyond Idealism and Conservative Realism

Abstract
This chapter evaluates key academic explanations of the peace process. Idealist Neoconservatives argue that the IRA was defeated and so cannot explain the intractability of the negotiations and the compromise outcome. Cosmopolitan Idealists are confounded by the failure of civil society and the triumph of the politicians. Conservative Realist Consociationalists make unrealistic assumptions about the ability of political actors to act in benign ways, reach agreement and then impose this on a deferential population. A Constructivist Realist approach is described that employs a theatrical metaphor. This can provide a more realistic framework for understanding the ‘real’ politics of the peace process. The Idealist political culture of Northern Ireland, however, rejects the pragmatic Realist skills that could lead to a deeper consolidation of the peace process.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 3. ‘A Tragedy Beyond Words’: Going Beyond the ‘Front Stage’ Performance of British Policy

Abstract
The misperception by republicans and loyalists of British policy is one of the most profound tragedies of the recent conflict in Northern Ireland. These misperceptions led both to reject a power-sharing settlement in 1974, which was similar to the Belfast Agreement 1998. This chapter uses a theatrical metaphor to argue that British policy towards Northern Ireland since 1972 was characterised by continuity and tactical adjustments in pursuit of powersharing and an Irish dimension. This settlement was pursued—and the options of Irish unity or integration into the UK rejected—because it was thought most likely to result in a stable Northern Ireland. For republicans and loyalists the Good Friday Agreement 1998 was, as Seamus Mallon aptly put it, “Sunningdale [1973] for slow learners”.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 4. Academic Actors Take to the Stage: Neoconservatives and the ‘Defeat’ of the IRA

Abstract
‘Idealistic’ Neoconservatives have attempted to capture the Northern Ireland peace process in the global debate on whether to ‘talk to terrorists’. They argue that the British government did not talk to IRA terrorists until they had been defeated. The government did not cross ‘red lines’ or compromise ‘democratic norms’. This chapter argues that there is little evidence to support the Neoconservative claim that the IRA was ‘defeated’. Conservative and Labour governments demonstrated a pragmatic Realism and did cross ‘red lines’ and compromised democratic norms in order to achieve a more peaceful future for the people of Britain and Ireland. Talking to ‘terrorists’ can be, depending on context, a very effective way of ending armed conflict.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 5. Scripting the Peace Process: Choreography and Theatrical Skills

Abstract
The key dilemma faced by politicians during the recent peace process has been how to wind down the ‘war’ and win sufficient party and audience support for an accommodation between unionists and nationalists which falls so far short of previous expectations. This chapter describes the contrasting scripts that were prepared to convince key, rival republican and unionist audiences to support the peace process. Republicans because they thought it would lead to Irish unity, and unionists because it strengthened the Union. The pro-Agreement parties attempted to shift opinion towards accommodation through a range of political or theatrical skills and choreography—or lying and manipulation. Co-operation between rival actors ‘behind the scenes’ has contrasted with the ‘play acting’ of conflict ‘front stage’.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 6. An ‘Inconvenient Truth’: The Deception at the Heart of the Peace Process

Abstract
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Chief of Staff and key negotiator on the Province, Jonathan Powell, have admitted that they used deception to advance the peace process in Northern Ireland. This chapter argues that the Labour government deceived the people of Northern Ireland about the implications of the Belfast Agreement (BFA) to secure a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum on the deal in May 1998. The British Prime Minister was prominent among those arguing that there would be decommissioning before either paramilitary prisoners were released or Sinn Féin sat in government. This misrepresented the Agreement but succeeded in achieving sufficient support among unionists for the deal. The next chapter defends the morality of this deception.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 7. Defending the Political Morality of the Peace Process

Abstract
Deception has played an important role in advancing the Northern Ireland peace process. This article discusses the morality of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s deception to secure a ‘Yes’ vote during the referendum campaign on the Good Friday Agreement 1998. This chapter explores the morality of Blair’s deception from both Idealist and Realist, and nationalist and unionist, perspectives. The Idealist argues that morality does and should play an important role in politics. The Realist approach, by contrast, argues that morality is not, and should not be, influential on politics. A Constructivist Realist argument is advanced which combines Realism and Idealism to defend Blair’s deception as ‘honourable’.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 8. ‘Peace Within the Realms of the Possible’? The Performance of Political Change

Abstract
David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (1995–2005), had what could be described as a ‘Damascene’ conversion from hardliner (1995) to champion of the Belfast Agreement (1998). The UUP leader mounted a Conservative Realist defence of the Agreement against hard line Idealists in the Democratic Unionist Party who attacked him for deceit, hypocrisy and betrayal. He also defended himself from attacks by nationalists and civic unionists who accused him of not selling the BFA, for having an incoherent and contradictory ideology and for being sectarian. This chapter uses a theatrical metaphor to make a more explicitly Realist defence of Trimble’s leadership by looking beyond the sound and fury of the propaganda war fought out on the front of the political stage.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 9. All the World’s a Stage

Abstract
This chapter argues that the principal Irish nationalist script exaggerates the role of the international, in particular the US, in the peace process. The US President took his cue to enter the stage from the Irish and British governments. His role was to perform in support of the ‘pan-nationalist front’ in order to persuade the IRA that ‘unarmed struggle’ would be more successful than ‘armed struggle’ in driving back the British ‘pan-unionist front’. The US President played his role in the charade by attacking the British government and demonstrating to a hardline republican audience the power of pan-nationalism in the negotiating process. The US performance, however, was too impressive, underlining unionist isolation and undermining the peace process.
Paul Dixon

Chapter 10. Finale: Populist Idealism or Pragmatic Realism?

Abstract
The ‘On the Runs’ controversy of 2014 contrasted the pragmatic Realist political skills that brought peace and the populist Idealist expectations of the audience, media and the publicly expressed views of most political actors. Actors and audience want the peace but are reluctant to face up to the ‘political or theatrical skills’, including deception, that were used to bridge the gap between a (still) polarised audience. The pragmatic Realism that was successful in Northern Ireland was also successful in South Africa. Nelson Mandela explicitly rejected his depiction as a ‘saint’, embraced pragmatic Realism and the ‘theatrical’ skills of a political actor. Yet although there is evidence to suggest that Realism is effective, it is an unpopular approach to politics.
Paul Dixon

Backmatter

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