Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

US bigwigs put our humble standing into perspective

It is often said that the US is the biggest island in the world and that most of its citizens know little about any country beyond its borders. That would seem to be borne out by some of the members of the US government's foreign affairs subcommittee who revealed that their depth of knowledge about Northern Ireland was very shallow indeed.

But then we often have a very inflated view of our own importance. During the Clinton presidency we were given a priority in foreign affairs far beyond our strategic position in the world. However, now we fall far down the pecking order. Even Richard Haass, who spent six months here wrestling with our Troubles legacy, referred to us yesterday as North Korea – perhaps an indication that Northern Ireland is somewhere he never wants to return to.

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