To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can’t think why no one has thought of it before. It’s so simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today. The moment the IRA blew up the Horseguards’ bandstand, the Government should have declared its own War on Terrorism. It should have immediately demanded that the Irish government hand over Gerry Adams. If they refused to do so–or quibbled about needing proof of his guilt–we could have told them that this was no time for prevarication and that they must hand over not only Adams but all IRA terrorists in the Republic. If they tried to stall by claiming that it was hard to tell who were IRA terrorists and who weren’t, because they don’t go around wearing identity badges, we would have been free to send in the bombers.
It is well known that the best way of picking out terrorists is to fly 30,000ft above the capital city of any state that harbours them and drop bombs–preferably cluster bombs. It is conceivable that the bombing of Dublin might have provoked some sort of protest, even if just from James Joyce fans, and there is at least some likelihood of increased anti-British sentiment in what remained of the city and thus a rise in the numbers of potential terrorists. But this, in itself, would have justified the tactic of bombing them in the first place. We would have nipped them in the bud, so to speak. I hope you follow the argument.
Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, we could not have afforded to be complacent. We would have had to turn our attention to those states which had supported and funded the IRA terrorists through all these years. The main provider of funds was, of course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem.
Where to bomb in America? It’s a big place and it’s by no means certain that a small country like the UK could afford enough bombs to do the whole job.
It’s going to cost the US billions to bomb Iraq and a lot of that is empty countryside. America, on the other hand, provides a bewildering number of targets.
Should we have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or should we have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like New York, Boston and Philadelphia? We could have bombed any police station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA sympathisers. On St Patrick’s Day, we could have bombed Fifth Avenue and scored a bull’s-eye.
In those American cities we couldn’t afford to bomb, we could have rounded up American citizens with Irish names, put bags over their heads and flown them in chains to Guernsey or Rockall, where we could have given them food packets marked ‘My Kind of Meal’ and exposed them to the elements with a clear conscience.
The same goes for Australia. There are thousands of people in Sydney and Melbourne alone who have actively supported Irish republicanism by sending money and good wishes back to people in the Republic, many of whom are known to be IRA members and sympathisers. A well-placed bomb or two Down Under could have taken out the ringleaders and left the world a safer place. Of course, it goes without saying that we would also have had to bomb various parts of London such as Camden Town, Lewisham and bits of Hammersmith and we should certainly have had to obliterate, if not the whole of Liverpool, at least the Scotland Road area.
And that would be it really, as far as exterminating the IRA and its supporters. Easy. The War on Terrorism provides a solution so uncomplicated, so straightforward and so gloriously simple that it baffles me why it has taken a man with the brains of George W. Bush to think of it.
So, sock it to Iraq, George. Let’s make the world a safer place.
TERRY JONES is a former member of Monty Python. This column originally appeared in The Observer.