What Others Are Saying

August 09, 2007|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In James Michener's novel Poland, a leftist resistance fighter is infuriated when another commando expresses misgivings about Soviet aid against the German occupation. "Do you reject the great victories the Russians are giving us?" he barks. "I shall accept the soldiers marching in," says the second fighter, "but I want them to march out again."

British troops marched into Northern Ireland 38 years ago as peacekeepers. Radical elements in the province undoubtedly would see more than a passing similarity between Polish life under Soviet hegemony and life in Northern Ireland under London's rule, but others would call it differently.

The end of July marked the official terminus of the British army's "Operation Banner" in Ulster. When the troops arrived in the region to curtail Protestant-Catholic violence, they hardly could have foreseen that their mission would last almost four decades. Perhaps the lesson for a world scarred by bloody and seemingly intractable conflicts is that a fanatical fixation on clear-cut triumph for one's own cause will not bring peace.

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