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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

History Repeating Itself? Lebanon and Northern Ireland

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Having difficulty trying to see beyond the number's game in relation to the conflict in Lebanon and Israel, I come up with an analogy. It seems from my perspective that Israel's incursions are equivalent to what might have happened in a parallel universe twenty years ago, if at the height of the Northern Ireland conflict the UK government had sent Tornadoes across from RAF Lossiemouth to blitz North and West Belfast where IRA support was at its strongest. If such a blanket atrocity had happened, it is hard to imagine peace having come about today; equally, it is certain that without an intense military and intelligence operation taking place on the ground rather than from 30 000 feet, terrorist activity would have been far worse than it ever was in reality.

But recognising how the analogy does not quite fit the current conflict in the Middle East balances my impulse to condemn Israel outright. In the Northern Ireland situation, the IRA and Sinn Fein were like Siamese twins: respectively terrorist and political organistions conjoined physically and ideologically, yet in some sense recognisible as separate entitities. The UK government and Unionist parties could never have sat round the Stormont table with the IRA, but with Sinn Fein as their representatives a solution was workable, albeit uneasy. Back in Lebanon, and Hezbollah have been, rightly, condemned for using civilian areas as their base for militaristic operations. But by far the more dangerous merging of civilian and terrorist lies in the fact that Hezbollah is simultaneously a party in democratic politics and armed conflict. Negotiating a settlement through peaceful means is therefore going to be all the harder, many times more so than the resolution to the Northern Ireland conflict was.

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Posted by Alistair at 9:27 am


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