Sunday, October 24, 2021

Civil Wars: Is there anything we can learn from Northern Ireland?


Northern Ireland. Death rate of civilians per 1000
Gardencountry, one of my readers, called my attention to an interesting essay written by Samuel Culper. The topic is the civil war (The Troubles) in Northern Ireland. This is one of the templates suggested for the unwinding that MIGHT happen here.

The map shown above is at the "Ward" level. Each ward is approximately 4000 people. Wards are smaller in cities and larger in rural areas.

The first observation, one that is very important, is that almost 25% of the area or 15% of the population had ZERO civilian deaths during The Troubles. Another 25%/15% had deaths at a level that was 10% of the highest rate Wards.


As might be expected, the very highest rates occurred in cities. But even there, there were many Wards with ZERO or extremely low civilian death rates.



The areas that are circled in red are anomalies in that they are rural areas (i.e. large Wards in land area indicate low population density.

Religious composition by Ward. Green means more Catholic. Orange means more Protestant.
The general belief is that most of the violence was Catholic-on-Protestant. The anomalous areas had Catholic majorities and bordered (nominally Catholic) "Southern" Ireland.

A few possible hypothesis:
-Ethnic Cleansing. The case against is why THESE Wards and not the others with similar C/P ratios?
-Strategic importance. Presumably, these are Wards where weapons were entering the country and potentially being cached.
-Toxic relationship between Police State and residents. This hypothesis is not necessarily in competition with strategic importance hypothesis.

At this point, I strongly lean toward the "Strategic Importance" hypothesis for those Wards that have exceptionally high civilian death rates. That is also true for urban Wards.

The fact that a neighborhood might have high strategic importance means that there are many soft or exceptionally lucrative targets. Shipping, warehousing and tourism tend to be located in choke-points and be of historical, strategic importance.

Mapping that observation back to the United States, 2021...legacy cities like Chicago, New York, St Louis, New Orleans, L.A.-Long Beach and Washington D.C. have historically been of high, strategic importance and would be good places to avoid. For that matter, Orlando and Las Vegas would be good places to not-be due to the tourist angle.

Analogs to the circled Wards are harder to identify but borders that are porous to people are porous to weapons. The Rio Grande valley and the counties in N.M., AZ and CA bordering Mexico could turn into hell-holes.


  1. The coming 'festivities' will be very unpleasant. And while there may be some similarities to the "troubles" in Ireland there will be a lot of differences.

    First of all is the sheer size of the US. Most of the violent areas in Ireland were within an hours drive or so. In America it takes DAYS to drive cross country.

    Next up is the amount of weaponry available here. Even at the height of Irish unrest the amount of lethal hardware available there pales to insignificance compared to what is here in America.

    Finally the sheer number of divisive factors. In Ireland it was mostly along religious lines.....with those religions dictating political outlook. America is a far more diverse place ethnically and politically. So there will be a lot more grudges to be settled and hatreds to manifest. So while there are some lessons to be learned from the Irish and the violence that happened there it's not going to be much of a template for what's coming here.

  2. A good point. The Northern Ireland had, mostly, 2 groups involved, in the US there will be more - my guess is at least 6 major factions, but it could easily be more, with regional variations thrown in also.
    We already know areas to avoid; those will get worse. Some areas will probably be safe, and others I have no idea on.
    For example, will homogeneous areas with a major highway through them stay safe, or will the highway draw problems to it?
    One thing that will make a big difference is the availability and cost of fuel. The harder it is to afford, the closer problems will stay to home areas (rural areas will face their own set of problems if this happens).

  3. "The Rio Grande valley and the counties in N.M., AZ and CA bordering Mexico could turn into hell-holes."

    If the reference is for the RGV of Texas (adjacent to Brownsville Texas, mouth of the Rio Grande River and border with Mexico), very possible. the Anglo - Tex-Mex get along pretty well with each other, but this area of border is a virtual highway of illegal crossings from the south. No need to risk crossing the Mexican desert to Cali-Az-NM, closer by a wide margin. Crossing the Texas Brush Country in summer has a high body count, with virtually no natural water sources and softer sands which slow foot traffic. Like walking beach dunes but with lots and lots of thorny growth.

    The population here is very high now, about 5x higher than my childhood (50 years), well over a million souls on our side, far higher if counting Mexican cities of Matamoros and Reynosa.


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