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Military matters redux May 19, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Not sure I like Stephen Collins piece here in the IT from recently. Not for the broad thrust which – to my mind – argues that the right decision has been taken in relation to remaining within the EU, which is fine. And as he notes is strongly supported by polling. Remarkably strongly… something that bears further analysis…

A RedC poll commissioned by the Irish European Movement, which was published this week, contained some very interesting findings.
A whopping 88 per cent of people agreed that Ireland should remain a part of the EU despite the departure of the UK.
Support runs at 99 per cent among full-time students and 90 per cent among young and middle-aged people aged 18-44 years.

Nope, that’s all fair enough as Britain shuffles away in its ever increasingly right wing direction as Brexit looms. What isn’t though is this…

Even more interestingly, 57 per cent supported increased EU defence and security co-operation, even though the case for it has hardly been made.

For yes, Collins is exercised by the following:

For more than 40 years, Irish governments have been content to take all the benefits the European Union has to offer while remaining semi-detached from some of the big concerns that confront the rest of the bloc.
EU security and defence is just one issue on which Irish politicians have run a mile from for fear of having to confront redefining what neutrality means in the modern world.

Here’s the thing though. The instant that the EU puts overt pressure on us to abandon military neutrality is the instant we should reconsider our membership. It is as simple as that. This state has every right, rights written into treaties, to maintain that stance and rhetoric about the ‘modern world’ is entirely irrelevant. And it would be no harm for Collins to reflect upon the fact that in this ‘modern world’ Ireland isn’t the only ‘neutral’ within the EU. And in states like Austria as is reasonably well known there’s no popular support to change that situation.

He drags out the line:

When the State first applied to join the then EEC in the 1960s, then taoiseach Seán Lemass remarked that if Europe was worth joining it was worth defending.
By the time we actually joined, the issue was pushed to one side for fear of stoking up domestic political opposition to the accession process. Since then, almost everybody has hidden behind the empty formula of military neutrality.

But he well knows that for those inclined in the direction of such adventures there are supra-national entities such as NATO extant. Moreover what security cooperation (as distinct from military cooperation) is necessary can be engaged with in a manner that doesn’t infringe our neutrality.

What’s depressing is the sense that Collins has a view of the world where military engagement is central to national and international identity – where it becomes a fetishistic expression of modernity. The absurdity of this in material terms, in relation to this island, underscores the near irrelevance it has. Of course Ireland is fortunate due to location but that’s no small thing in itself. It’s not something to be dismissed or ignored but rather celebrated. We’re surely not been quite so fortunate in other respects given our location.

And another person follows on from Stephen Collins in arguing that Ireland should – in the aftermath of Brexit, change its policy on neutrality. Again, it’s not that Laffan is wrong throughout the piece she writes on certain issues, not least tax, but in the following she makes the same error Collins does, arguing as if the r27 are of one mind and one stance.

Moreover, a second sacred cow needs attention and that is the Republic’s policy of military neutrality.

And:

Irish policy in this regard was always conditioned by the safety of its geographical location.
However, the return of hard geopolitics in a world of Putin and Trump challenges European security and means that the State’s neutrality deserves sustained scrutiny.
The so-called triple lock which binds the State into a UN resolution before committing to the deployment of Irish troops does not do justice to the Irish Republic.
The consent of the Oireachtas should be sufficient for such a move, and the Republic should take full part in the further development of the EU’s security capacity.

Why? Again, what pressing urgency is there to do so? And furthermore what precisely does she think Ireland should or can do, or indeed the EU likewise?

For there’s another aspect to this. For all the rhetoric the idea of ‘hard geopolitics’ is actually underpinned by ‘soft power’, not military might. Assuming that it is indeed correct that the Russians are utilising cyberwarfare etc this is a sign not of a deterioration or their coming dominance but rather the constraints on the use of military means. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest it is a sign of weakness, but it is a sign of limits.

And while it is entirely right that this state should engage in security, in the broad sense of the term, matters, the idea of engagement in military aspects is for the birds – and she ignores the reality that NATO is the vehicle of choice for most in regard to that. I see no reason to engage with joining them. So, we’ve nothing material to contribute. It is tokenism of the worst sort and it is not fit for purpose in relation to the actual challenges ahead. It is a diversion of the most useless sort and entirely unnecessary.

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Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2017

Perhaps they coudl make an argument based on the success of military interventions by NATO powers. Were there any?

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GW - May 19, 2017

They’ve been hugely successful at bombing the crap out of people in the Middle East, North Africa etc. and turning many states into ‘failed states’. The consequences speak for themselves.

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2. GW - May 19, 2017

Absolutely with you there.

The ignorance of journalists like Collins about the rest of the EU’s positions is typical.

And even countries that are members of NATO there is a wide-spread opposition to military adventures. For instance Germans oppose (or opposed in 2014 to be exact) the stationing of German troops outside Germany by a ratio of 2 against to every one for.

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3. Ed - May 19, 2017

‘The return of hard geopolitics’ – oh, for those carefree days of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, with their sidekick Blair in tow, when geopolitics was soft and squishy, like a marsh-mellow. As people in the Middle East could no doubt attest. The Venn diagram between people who talk about Ireland adjusting to ‘the modern world’ and people who would have loved to see a contingent of Irish troops deployed in Iraq is a circle.

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GW - May 19, 2017

Yep – and kudos for the maths-literate comment.

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4. GW - May 19, 2017

Many citizens in Eastern EU member states from the former Soviet block remain very pro-NATO, however.

For understandable historical reasons and one has to be sensitive to that.

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5. An Sionnach Fionn - May 19, 2017

The eagerness of certain journalists and academics to send off other people’s children to kill or to be killed never ceases to amaze.

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Starkadder - May 19, 2017

Can you say “armchair warriors”, anyone?

(What’s the Irish for “armchair warriors”? Something like
“saighdiúirí atá ina suí i cathaoireacha”, perhaps?)

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2017

Yeah there’s a strong whiff of that

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6. Dr. X - May 20, 2017

Just a wee reminder: this September 11th, it’ll be 16 years since the present conflicts began. And have things got better? No, they’re worse. And this is the shambles the pro-war lobby would have Ireland join.

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7. EWI - May 20, 2017

It all deoends on the framing of the question: ‘should we get involved in creating disasters like Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan’ would see an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the Irish public (no matter what the NATO leg-humpers over at IrishMilitaryOnline might claim).

The creeping NATO-isation of the DF has been going on for twenty years, in nomenclature, equipment and doctrine. Not to mention all of the ‘training exercises’ (and that mysterious non-Irish soldier involved in the recent range accident).

I would guess that removing the greatest obstacle to this process is at least part of the reason for the recent love-bombing of the Irish population by British and NATO military visits, and honouring British war dead even in the 1916 ceremonials.

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8. Roger Cole - May 22, 2017

The IT encouraged thousands upon thousands of people to fight and die for the British Union, but even he knows he would have some difficulty continuing to support the British imperial tradition, so for some considerable time he and the IT have advocated the transformation of the EU into an imperial Superstate with its own Army, which we should be willing to die to “defend”, so there is absolutely nothing new in what he is saying. PANA was established 21 years ago to oppose his values, and while we have won some victories, Collins and his supporters have been winning with over 2.5 million + troops having landed in Shannon Airport. Let us be very clear. Ireland is NOT NEUTRAL, it is not MILITARY NEUTRAL. The six counties have been part of NATO since its foundation and the 26 counties is a US Aircraft Carrier. PANA has sought to build a broad based anti-imperialist alliance for 21 years, and in doing so we are part of a tradition established by Tone and Connolly. One of the key reasons why Collins is winning is because there is no “debate” whatsoever. RTE, the IT and the rest of the corporate media do not allow any debate because the all agree with Collins, they all want us to fight and die for the European Union in the way they wanted us to die for the British Union. Maybe all these young people want to die for EU, maybe as I am a similar age to Corbyn I am out of touch with young people. All I can say however, like as what happened in the 1914-18 war, as their body bags start coming back from yet another imperialist war they will change their mind. Finally, in the UK, the young people according to polls are supporting Corbyn, so maybe Brexit was not such a bad idea after all.

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9. ivorthorne - May 22, 2017

It seems like for all of my life, people have suggested that somehow Ireland will be forced into NATO through the EU etc. It has not happened and by all means there is no support for joining NATO.

As for increased security cooperation within Europe and the EU, in principle, I have no problem with that. Sharing intelligence about ISIS and Al Queda benefits us and everyone else. If Russia invades Poland, I think that we should not be neutral so mutual defense pacts are about as far as we’ll ever go.

Truth is, nobody cares enough about Ireland’s military for it to be worth their while convincing us to join NATO etc. Wars will not be decided because the DFs are involved or not. We’ve got enough capacity to do the odd UN mission and that frees up the larger nations resources so they can put more effort into their various military follies.

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EWI - May 23, 2017

It seems like for all of my life, people have suggested that somehow Ireland will be forced into NATO through the EU etc. It has not happened and by all means there is no support for joining NATO.

But, it *is* happening, and you can see the progression down through the years (even more so from the inside). We’re now in PfP, which is NATO-but-for-a-small-step. At some future point the Irish establishment are going to overnight switch from the ‘nothing to see here’ spin (utterly false) to claiming that we’re already practically in, so what’s the big deal? It’s an old trick.

The Dáil gave no permission for Irish troops to be involved with the Western invasion of Afghanistan, but there we are (under the ill-advised exemption for a small number of troops to be deployed without Dáil approval).

As for increased security cooperation within Europe and the EU, in principle, I have no problem with that. Sharing intelligence about ISIS and Al Queda benefits us and everyone else. If Russia invades Poland, I think that we should not be neutral so mutual defense pacts are about as far as we’ll ever go.

You’re conflating policing matters with war. And for all the rubbish about using the euphemism ‘defence’, that’s what military alliances are about.

Truth is, nobody cares enough about Ireland’s military for it to be worth their while convincing us to join NATO etc. Wars will not be decided because the DFs are involved or not. We’ve got enough capacity to do the odd UN mission and that frees up the larger nations resources so they can put more effort into their various military follies.

NATO is both a military and political alliance, and we still have legacy credibility as a post-colonial, non-aligned neutral which is of political benefit to others.Take Chad. EUFOR Chad/CAR was established as a ratcheting-up of France’s war within the borders of its former colony, with a battalion or so of Irish dumped into a colonial conflict to provide political cover (and probably bait for an escalation). The Irish so-called ‘force commander’ was safely left behind in Paris, and a local French officer assumed actual command.

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10. Roger Cole - May 23, 2017

ivorthorne, you make my point. You think if Russia invades Poland, Irish people should die defending Poland on the grounds that, I assume, that for you, the EU is a state, where Poland has the same relationship to the rest of the Republic of Ireland as Kerry. Of course there is not a shread of evidence that Russia intends to invade Poland. Finally, read the terms of the Lisbon Treaty.

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yourcousin - May 23, 2017

Roger,
I know right? Next thing you know ivorthorne will be saying Russia invaded Ukraine. I mean it’s not like they were making a hypothetical case using a historical example?

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EWI - May 23, 2017

Russia ‘invaded’ Ukraine, but the US ‘invaded’ Syria. Do you see where the problem might lie in tying ourselves to the great powers and their games?

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yourcousin - May 23, 2017

I’m not here to apologize or make excuses for America’s foreign policy in the Middle East. But I would hope folks appreciate the fact that Russia outright annexed Crimea and has essentially annexed portions of Ukraine and Georgia.

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