Thursday, July 28, 2005

Happy Ending: The Irish Republican Army has agreed to disarm. That won't mean much until it actually happens. And Northern Ireland will still face threats from the remnants of the organization, with "violent extremists" continuing to conduct terrorist attacks just because that's what they've always done. Old habits die hard.

But the agreement is significant. After decades of war and centuries of animosity, a bloody chapter in Irish history may be coming to a close.

Many factors probably went into the IRA's decision, not the least of which is that the public's tolerance for terrorism has gone down to zero, what with all the recent Al Qaeda attacks. No one confuses terrorists for freedom fighters anymore.

I hate to speak prematurely, because we have yet to see whether the violence really will dissipate. But the fact that the IRA is agreeing to disarm shows that a War on Terrorism can be won.

Winning the War on Terrorism won't mean that terrorism will cease to exist. That's never going to happen. But just remember, we won the Cold War against Communism, after decades of confrontation and deadly military operations, and Communism still exists. The point is that it's not a significant threat to us anymore.

If the agreement goes through as planned, the IRA will cease to be a terrorist threat. It took decades to get to this point. But this was an unconventional war, and both sides had to adjust to the changing realities on the ground.

We're still learning our enemies, and we have to face them on a global scale. There is no quick fix to our fight, but we can't enter the confrontation meekly. And in the end, I believe we'll not only be doing ourselves a service, but we'll be helping the people of the Middle East by slowly changing the culture there from one of violent desperation to that of prosperity and freedom. It may take awhile, but this is a fight worth waging.


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