International monitors report that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) has scrapped all its weapons. Northern Irish Protestants remain understandably skeptical, but this move, even if it is incomplete, represents the biggest thing in the troubled Northern Irish counties since the potato famine.
And here is the question posed by SWNID: why has the IRA agreed to disarm now when it has adamantly refused for a generation? Is it merely coincidence that it does so in a world whose sole superpower is carrying out a war against terror, in which its President has declared that people are either with the superpower or with the terrorists? Is it merely coincidence that Gerry Adams faces a British PM who is an unflappable ally of the superpower in that war?
Or to put it another way, to what degree did the IRA realize that this is the worst moment in history to be engaged in a long-term terror campaign?
So this is another victory in the war on terror, of the kind seen already in Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon or Qadhafi's surrender of his atomic weapons program. A bad actor on the world scene counts the cost of being a bad actor and decides to give up his bad acting, at least in part, and the part is better than none. It will be awhile before Northern Ireland is as peaceful as Denmark, but it will also be awhile before the IRA does what it has done in the past.
This also points the way to a future victory in the war on terror, this time in Iraq. That way is patience. The British have been fighting and dying to establish and protect liberal democracy in Northern Ireland for over thirty years. They're getting somewhere now, thanks to ignoring all the protests, too many on this side of the pond, demanding that "Brits get out of Ireland," and the analyses that the problem was permanently intractable.
Sometimes you just have to keep doing what's right for as long as it takes.