Cal  Thomas

Donaldson says he believes the terrorist attacks in the United States nearly three years ago have "helped us" in that Adams knows any terrorist incidents here would "close the doors of the White House to him." At this stage of the peace process, he says, Adams "doesn't want to be a pariah."

Fringe groups, called paramilitaries, continue to be a problem. They are self-appointed small organizations that have commissioned themselves to "defend" with arms their causes and to carry out terror attacks on those they believe get in the way of their objectives.

These groups are mostly composed of young, uneducated and bitter young men. Donaldson says their leaders wear "gold chains and drive fast cars" and serve as role models to people who have none. Donaldson believes if a lasting peace is to be attained in Northern Ireland, paramilitary members must be persuaded to seek an education and jobs, rather than the gun.

Even if the legislative assembly is restarted (after four suspensions since 1999) and even if things progress politically to the point of a consistently working and cooperative government, Donaldson predicts the unionists will prevail by virtue of the large Protestant majority here.

The big question remains whether those who have relied on the gun to get them this far will put aside violence and continue on the political path or take up arms again if their political objectives are not quickly achieved. Arms may have helped get them to this point, but democracy is their only future hope. Will they be smart enough to realize that? More importantly, as Donaldson asks, can they deliver their constituency and all of their leadership?

Those answers may come next month.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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