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Make Terrorism History
After decades of bombing, the IRA won their peace. After bombing Madrid, the terrorists achieved regime change in Spain, and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Why shouldn't the London bombers expect to succeed?

Britain is soft on terrorism.

The IRA bombed civilians, politicians, Royals, the military and horses. Sometimes they gave warnings, sometimes they didn't. They sometimes planted secondary devices to kill those fleeing from the first blast. They sometimes packed bombs with nails to cause maximum injury.

Yet many IRA terrorists have been released early from prison. Their crimes have been legitimised - apparently indiscriminate murder for political reasons is a lesser crime than murder for any other reason. Their sins have been excused and now Sinn Fein/IRA members serve in the institutions of state in Northern Ireland and the UK. Indeed, the government in NI is deliberately structured so that Sinn Fein have a guaranteed proportion of power, even though they are a minority party. They had the RUC disbanded, and the Maze decommissioned.

Gerry Adams said yesterday: "I have sent a message of sympathy and solidarity to Mr Blair and the London Mayor Ken Livingstone. On behalf of Sinn Fein I offer my sincere condolences to the victims and the families of those killed and injured and to the people of London."

Rather different from the days when his organisation was doing the killing.

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You have to make an accommodation with the terrorists some time, or the violence will go on for ever. The trick is to stand against them to the point where you're not giving them too much by negotiating, but you will have to give something. It will always be a matter of opinion as to what constitutes "too much".

It's true that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, no matter how unpleasant we may consider the terrorist. It's right in the shorter term to take an absolute view on terrorism to prevent it making easy gains. Each side will try to wear the other down; but in the longer term there will come a time when both sides can gain more by negotiation. Inevitably some people will be upset by that, because it's not exactly "fair"; but failing to give way a little actually builds support for the terrorists and helps them to continue.

What's a bit worrying about the current wave of terrorism is that it's less obvious that any concessions could be made which would satisfy the terrorists. Most terrorists are "reasonable men" in the sense that they can balance what they want against the likelihood and pain of achieving it and can, as a result, be brought to the point where it's not worth continuing. Suicide bombers who don't seem to have specific political aims are a different kettle of fish.

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