Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Gerry Adams' predictably psychopathic view that the murder of two soldiers by the Real IRA was merely a tactical error points up only too clearly how little interest Sinn Fein has either in democracy or in the wishes of the people of Ulster. Ancients would not be surprised. For them a 'peace process' implied the cessation of the 'war process', and a 'war process' could be ended only by a treaty which committed both parties to an agreement that the likes of Adams and his kind could never agree.

Ancient treaties involved various technical details: the status of the two parties (equal, or did one hold the whip hand? ); the length of time during which the treaty was to be in force; the handover of prisoners (and sometimes of goods or land); an exchange of hostages and the length of their detention (it was important to ensure that they were of high social status because, if not, both sides would have fewer qualms about breaking the treaty); the erection of pillars, usually in sanctuaries, available for all to see, inscribed with the terms of the treaty; and the precise form of oath, taken in the name of the gods who would feel insulted were it broken, to ratify the deal (a typical formula was 'I shall abide by the terms of this treaty honestly and sincerely'). …

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