Template For Defeat

Pádraic Mac Coitir, a longtime republican activist and former prisoner, views what is happening with ETA as a victory for counter insurgency strategy.

We all have an opinion on armed struggle, whether it be here in Ireland, Palestine, Sri Lanka or Euskadi (The Basque Country). The common denominator between the struggles that took place in those countries, and many more was the desire for National Liberation. I would argue they were/are noble struggles and the people had the right to take up arms.

Of course armed struggles and wars must come to an end some day and in many cases negotiations between the warring factions were initiated. However, the situation in Sri Lanka was different in that the Tamil Tigers were almost wiped out by the Sri Lankan government which was supported by many countries that continue to oppress others throughout the world. The Palestinian struggle continues with no sign of an end to it. The Zionists have no interest in sitting down with anyone bar the collaborators in the PA.

Tomorrow ETA decommission the last of their weapons and that will be the end of them. Many in that organisation were heavily influenced by Sinn Féin and indeed the ending of their struggle is very similar to what happened here with the final act of surrender by the IRA in July 2005. What has ETA achieved? Of course I don't know what is going on behind the scenes but if they had have looked closely at our situation they would have seen that SF and the IRA have got nothing from a long drawn out armed struggle. There are approximately 400 political Basque prisoners still in gaol, most of them scattered hundreds of miles from their homeland. The Spanish government wants to humiliate ETA and while that is happening they will drip feed some concessions.

Yesterday I listened to a client called Pádraig O'Malley on BBC radio talk about resolutions to conflicts. His voice went through me. And bad as that was, he sounded very patronising. He went on about how 'old foes' eventually came around to respecting each other.

I would argue that in recent conflicts the only ones to benefit were the oppressors. I'm not being judgemental about other struggles but I have an opinion and I despair at times when I see members of SF and Brit spooks try to lecture others and claim our struggle is a template for others. It's a template for defeat.


  1. Yes Pádraic a chara in total agreement ,if those in leadership role in ETA took time to see how little or nothing "peace" brought to the people in S Africa or norn iorn other than line the pockets of the well placed few, maybe that's their plan or should I say Kitsons well placed agents working from within to destroy the movement and make sure by the removal of weapons that resurrection is virtually impossible,sound familiar a chara ?they are now like the victims of the catholic church well and truly fucked ...

  2. ETA's surrender mirrors the IRA's in many ways. A long war only benefits the state as it has more resources and time to wear down and infiltrate the terrorist's operations. Also like the IRA they did not have the complete support of their own community. Incidents like the Hipercor bombing in the 80s when ETA murdered 21 civilians including women and children and the kidnap and murder of Miguel Angel Blanco had a profound effect on the Basque population who demonstrated in their thousands against ETA. Like the IRA they believed their campaign was justified at the beginning but their their excesses and inhumanity weakened their cause. In the end state actions and their own community's call for peace led to failure.

  3. I get the impression it wasn't only the oppressors who did well in the end at all. Protected species were no doubt doing very well indeed all along the road to eventual pre-planned capitulation when the time was right. Just a matter of removing sufficient 'staunchers' and letting a deep enough degree of fatigue set in. Then 'Michael Collins' himself could stand with the enemy denouncing former comrades as traitors. A coming out of the closet moment when the coast was finally clear enough. The GFA and the peace process here is a template for a successful exit strategy for long term career scoundrels. With the blessing of a majority who were always opposed to the struggle in the first place.

  4. Thanks for publishing this here Chopper.

    My sympathy with ETA died once they killed Yoyes in 1986. Hopelessly incapable of allowing dissent and critical reflection. Maybe something else they learned from the Shinners.

  5. Peter,

    the state wearing down "the terrorists" operations ...

    The Spanish state was up to its neck in terrorism: It fought a dirty war, used torture, extra judicial executions, disappearances. In the North when the state did this it kept its government ministers at arms length. Not so with the Spanish. It brought them to the illegal detention centres prior to ETA activists being given the coup de grace.

  6. Without being totally conversant with ETA, the ending of their struggle without even a pretence of concessions from Spain renders its struggles end qualitatively different to the Irish struggles end. It will be interesting to contrast the longevity of the two defeats in this respect.

  7. Didn't know much about their struggle and still don't. But there is no reason not to suppose that their leadership is anyway less vulnerable than here! Anti-insurrection tactics are tactics still applicable irrespective of geographical location.
    On another note....an ex blanket man very recently described ETA to me as Spanish UDA....he was scathing of them and their struggle and became extremely agitated at why the Republican Movement ever supported them....i count this guy as a sound inteligent republican and one who isn't one of the sheep...until I read about the other side of this conflict I shall keep an open mind but thought it interesting to hear them described as such and by a republican too....especially since the both were always portrayed as brothers on arms

  8. Yes ETA killed for a cause but like us uts ended in defeat why dudvi bother?