The quick way to settle differences

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Good news: there’s not as much violence around as there was. That’s on the domestic level and the international level. For example, violent crime in 2014 in the US was down 4.4% – the lowest since 1948. In the UK the drop was even more striking : 10%.

Various reasons are given for this. Some say that the number of incarcerations, particularly in the US, discourages crime. Others point to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras. Other say it’s because we’ve got an ageing population in the West – criminals can’t run as fast as they used to.

And, amazingly, there are fewer deaths in war.  The past ten years have seen fewer battle fatalities than  any previous decade. Mind you, that’s compared to a pretty ghastly set of decades before that – think of WW1 and WW2. Then think of the Cold War between the US and the USSR – it remained cold and didn’t, despite a number of near shaves, spill over into outright confrontation.

Maybe we’re getting a bit smarter. As a guest on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme said this morning, violence is an incredibly dumb way to resolve problems. We disagree on something. I kill you or you kill me. Now we don’t disagree, because one of us is dead. Stupid or what?

Here in our own little tormented NE corner, as Alastair Campbell pointed out in BBC NI’s The View last week, our society has been transformed. Yes, there’s violence – that attack on the PSNI car two days ago, for example – and yes, there’s bigotry and hatred. But there’s a general acceptance that we have to address our differences through discussion and political means, not with guns and explosives.

The irony of all this, of course, is that this weekend, the British Labour Party is in crisis mode. Why is that? Because Jeremy Corbyn isn’t fit to lead them, let alone lead his country. How do we know that? First, he said he wouldn’t press the nuclear button; and now he’s said he’s not in favour of Britain joining the Bombing Club in Syria. There’s talk of his being dumped by the party – imagine a man who’s reluctant to kill people daring to claim leadership of a political party.

Violence here may have decreased, but there is still a hard core that chafes at the restrictions of politics. Violence on the international stage may have declined, but the two main political parties in Britain seem determined to see that it doesn’t die out. And yes, Virginia, that’s the same two political parties that lectured us again and again during the Troubles, that we should seek to resolve our differences amicably.

Hypocrisy and stupidity: a formidable combination.


11 Responses to The quick way to settle differences

  1. Jim.hunter November 28, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    • Jude Collins November 28, 2015 at 11:09 am #


  2. Sherdy November 28, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Not like you Jude to seem so naive as to accept statistics on the war dead.
    You don’t mention the source of the graph, but just like history being written by the victors, i would assume your graph was drawn by the aggressors, either American or British, who may be better at their artwork than they are with honesty.
    Their calculations are possibly a guesstimate of combatant casualties, but the unfortunate innocents, or collateral damage, don’t ever seem to come into the calculations.
    Jeremy Corbyn is an unfortunate man who seems to have principles he would like to hang on to, but day by day he is being pressurised by his own party into conforming with their idea of what they want as a leader, as opposed to what the party members wanted.
    The ‘land of hope and glory’ brigade will push, pull and twist him until they either they destroy him or he decides to was his hands of their power play and walks with his principles, into the political sunset.
    If this happens the Labour Party will become unelectable for a generation, which will mean these Labour warmongers being powerless for the rest of their lives.
    First thoughts are we will forever be dominated by the Tories, but, human nature being what it is, some other party will rise out of the Labour ashes, and hopefully believe that you don’t have to be a wholesale murderer to successfully lead the people and the country.

    • jessica November 28, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

      “If this happens the Labour Party will become unelectable for a generation”

      Sherdy, it looks to me that the british Labour Party will already be unelectable for a generation if the UK in this current format even survives that long.

      Bear in mind, the continued uninterrupted election of a tory party will trigger another scottish independence referendum ad the scare tactics will not thwarte a yes vote a second time under such conditions. Even brown could no longer stand on the side of UK and would have to back independence.

  3. jessica November 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    “Other say it’s because we’ve got an ageing population in the West – criminals can’t run as fast as they used to.”

    Makes it all the more impressive if our numbers are greater.

    It would be nice to think it was down to less poverty and better living standards but I would say it is more likely down to how fast the word spreads via twitter and internet with mobile phones capturing everything in real time making it harder to get away with anything.

    There is possibly also a decline in alcohol related incidents with pubs becoming more family oriented with food etc,,, since the smoking ban and less money for consumption. Many pubs are definitely empty now compared to my youth when you couldn’t have had enough of them.

    Times are definitely changing, let hope it remains for the better.

  4. Iolar November 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Tory MP’s will spend time this weekend contacting Labour MP’s in order to gain support for yet more bombing in the Middle East. There will be less attention paid to the Chancellor’s climb down over tax credits as the Tories continue to erode standards of living.

    Many of the “democrats” who are keen to bomb the Middle East demonstrate contempt for democracy as expressed in the ballot box. Let us not forget it was the Mubarak regime that attempted to thwart the Muslim Brotherhood’s democratic mandate under a legal pretext. Mohamed Morsi won the presidential election in 2012. He was the first democratically elected civilian President of Egypt. Morsi was overthrown by a military junta in 2013.

    President Allende had a democratic mandate in Chile until he was overthrown by a military junta in 1973. General Pinochet got a warm welcome in Britain from Mrs Thatcher who also demonstrated contempt for Bobby Sand’s electoral mandate as she eulogised the sanctity of British democratic institutions.

    Writing in the Guardian today, Jonathan Freedland states,

    “… it’s Jeremy Corbyn having to clarify that, yes, if a homicidal terrorist were massacring people on a British street, pausing only to reload, it might be OK to stop him with a bullet.”

    Perhaps Mr Freedland needs to engage in some serious research about the Cairo Gang and The Force Research Unit before he uses emotive phrases. Perhaps he missed the member of the Force Research Unit who not only boasted about shooting innocent civilians here but went on to state he would do so again.

    Mr Corbyn is keen to wage war. A wage war. A war that will improve standards of living. No one will be killed or maimed in his war. The world would be a safer place if electoral mandates were treated with respect and military juntas regarded as “terrorists.” Lives need not have been lost in Chile, Egypt or Ireland. Citizens in the Middle East have Human Rights which ought to be respected also.

  5. Jim Lynch November 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Marine Corps General Smedley D. Butler.

    In 1935, Butler wrote a book entitled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.

    It is strongly suspected John F. Kennedy was eliminated because he was a pacifist at heart he wanted to stop all wars. Of course that would mean the money flow would stop also.
    Compare J.F.K to G.W. Bush and you’ll get the picture.

  6. Perkin Warbeck November 28, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    One was reminded of Mark Twain’s take on war recently, Esteemed Blogmeister: ‘God created war so that America would learn geography’.

    One first encountered the quote in action about five years ago when finding oneself on a shuttle bus from one’s hotel to one of the many terminals in Dallas Airport. And sharing it with a group of young shaven-headed Texan farmboys in battle fatigues who were on the first leg of a long journey to Afghanistan.

    They were preternaturally quiet for a group of bubas of that age cohort. But then that was understandable. As I looked at them, a mixture of Wasp, black and wetback, I found myself wondering how many, if any, would not be returning. I reckoned similar thoughts were a factor in their silence. Not to mention the possibility of receiving a Dear John letter, even if there was no one of that name among them.

    Mark Twain’s observation would lose nothing if America were replaced by Britain. For the latter too were on a learning geographical curve to even more exotic destinations.

    More recently, one found oneself at another similar setting: a bus stop, this time. Five days or so ago, one found oneself being asked for advice regarding bus destinations by one’s a neighbour, a veteran of life’s battle.

    -You’re Irish, mate?

    I answered in the affirmative and asked if he had ever been there.


    His boots had indeed been on the ground of Down, and judging by his appearance (one does not ask a gentleman his age – it’s a gender equality thingy) one suspected he belonged to the pre-Dirty Thirty War era.

    This was one’s opportunity to enquire if he had ever seen the elevated Down team of the early 60s training there. But the bus arrived before one could the o. could knock. It is part of the CLG legend, and may even be true, that a factor in that unforgettable (one almost wrote unputdownable) team was the advantage of being able to train under lights which the BA Camp in Ballykinlar afforded them.

    That there was a floodlit field there one found not at all improbable: Ballykinlar is a mispronunciation of the original leprechaun: Baile Coinleora / Town of the Candleabrum.

    And then there was that three-branched candleabrum of a half forward line – O’Neill, McCartan and Doherty – which shone so brightly they got Sam to play it again.

    There is too a French connection of sorts. This team of Red and Black proved to be pioneers of Gaelic football by being, amongst other things, the first team to wear black togs in Croke Park.

    Brendan Behan (although no Pioneer) even word a red and black rosette on his lapel bearing the admonition to ‘Up Down!) as he stepped off the Aer Lingus Comet in Idlewild airport, New York on the quare fella’s way to give his regards to Broadway.

    And while there is no Stendhal Stand in Croke Park (as distinct from the unfinished Edwin Drood End) a French novelist of that name did write a novel of the same name (Le Rouge et Le Noir) which was also a pioneering work of art in its own particular field, literature. Stendhal focused on the vicissitudes of the human condition in a way which had not been attempted before in the novel.

    Not, indeed, the only similarity between the Irish and the French in the current fraught situation. Or, indeed difference, given the tendency of the mop of life to flip-flop.

    There was then John Phillip Holland, the leprechaun-speaking Christian Brother from County Clare who has, erm, gone down in naval history as the man who invented the submarine and there is now Francois Hollande (no relation) who has gone up in the ratings for his tendency to favour the torpedo being dropped from on high.

    Le ‘e’ n’est pas sans significance, peut etre: it stands for elevation, non?

  7. Dara November 29, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Armies getting better at killing civilians? Shíl mé go raibh na milliúin dúnmharaithe ar na mallaibh…

  8. Dara November 29, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Great article Jude, mar is gnách, some food for thought here too just in case we get lulled into a false state of security…