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Abstract

Many of the violent conflicts of the post-Cold War period have involved peoples who have historically been victims of interstate politics. Compromise is highly problematic in contexts of this kind, given that sovereign powers tend to attach the label ‘terrorism’ to acts of resistance and the resistance tends to claim an experience of injustice. Given a situation where compromise is seen by actors on both sides to be impossible, how would anything other than a ‘rotten compromise’ be possible? The article develops a framework called the Warden's Dilemma which is then put to use in the empirical exploration of two historical cases: the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland in 1980–81 and the martyrdom of Polish Solidarity's priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, a few years later.