Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Brexit, peace and borders

The Northern Ireland peace agreement would have been impossible without both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom being members of the European Union, and also without a Democratic administration in the USA committed to universalistic values. Needless to say, all of that is today in serious danger. The agreement was exemplary because it was based on the relativization of self-determination, the requirement of broad intercommunity majorities and the de facto disappearence of the border. Too much complexity for those in favor of "taking back control", who perhaps would have preferred a two-state solution building high walls and border patrols between the neighborhoods of Belfast. There was a great article yesterday in the New York Times about Brexit and Northern Ireland. It includes this:
"The most striking thing about Ireland’s only land border is its absence. No posts or fences mark its circuitous 310-mile length. There is neither razor wire nor checkpoints.
When, a couple of years ago, I often took a rickety bus from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland, I would occasionally pass the time by trying to figure out if we had crossed the invisible line based on when my cellphone switched providers. I was seldom certain. The hedgerows and fields, the fog-capped hills, look the same on either side.
Now, in the wake of the Brexit referendum, the border has returned to Irish politics. When Britain leaves the European Union, which is expected to happen some time before the summer of 2019, the undulating border counties will become a European Union frontier, raising the prospect of dislocation, violence and political disintegration in Ireland — and in Britain."
Thanks, Nigel and company.

No comments:

Post a Comment