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Irish Neutrality is not Obsolete

category national | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Thursday April 20, 2017 23:55author by 1 of indy - ShannonWatch Report this post to the editors

In an article published in the Irish Times on April 8th, the paper's former foreign correspondent Patrick Smith claimed that the concept of neutrality was obsolete for Ireland. In a response published on April 14th John Maguire outlines why that is not the case. ShannonWatch has reprinted his excellent letter in full on their website and it is reprinted here too.

Patrick Smyth declares Irish neutrality obsolete (Opinion 8th April 2017), a report which manages to be simultaneously old and false news. Despite frequent P45s and applications of the last rites, neutrality just won't bow out. Maybe one reason is that it is endorsed by 78% of Irish people (RedC, 2013).

But maybe we're 78% wrong, and should be guided by Mr Smyth's chosen witnesses? These hail from other non-NATO EU countries, and display 'a pragmatic understanding and a candid discussion of strategic realities.' Such qualities should indeed inform a genuine debate about Irish defence policy - but they might not lead us where Mr Smyth would wish.

He rightly deplores the legal and ethical fudge labelled 'military neutrality', but it is not clear that we should drop the noun rather than the adjective. Nor might we thrive on his alternative product 'military nonalignment', even when obtainable, free from 'particular virtuousness' and 'ideological connotation', through all good think-tanks.

Ideology is in the mind of the beholder. It is not evident what clarity is achieved by Mr Smyth's preferred terms, or precisely how they are better, legally or ethically, than those he deplores. What they certainly do is nudge us towards absorption in NATO-based EU military structures.

I have reread Mr Smyth's article at least three times, astonished that he can discuss our future defence policy without once mentioning the UN. Even the EU's recent Rome Declaration, which he quotes in part, concedes it will be 'engaged in the United Nations'; how very civil of them!

The UN indeed has severe problems, often self-inflicted. But the 'rule-based multilateral system' vaunted by the Rome Declaration is greatly to blame for undermining and side-lining the UN, and the 'rules' it follows are all too rarely those of international law.

Is it 'particularly virtuous' to ask whether that system has made our world better or safer in recent decades? Former President Mary Robinson has called the Afghanistan and Iraq wars 'really very damaging.' The response to that damage through expanding military force has proved catastrophic.

Mr Smyth mentions 'the absence of direct security threats to this island', but argues that we should be motivated by the 'very real threats our partners see' for example in the Baltic. However, such threat-perceptions ignore how far the NATO-based system has played into President Putin's hands by reviving cold-war-era fears of encirclement.

A central strand of Irish neutrality derives from our history of 'great power' domination. Our Constitution commits us to promoting peaceful conflict-resolution under international law. Neutrality in this context is far from indifference: it is a clear commitment to the ordinary lives and communities facing devastation by armed aggression.

Was John F. Kennedy naïve or indifferent when, in the last days of his administration, he insisted against all the mandarins on negotiating neutrality for Laos, and even proudly saw it as a template for the rest of his foreign policy?

Related Link: http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/state-s-brand-of-neut...37655
author by disappointedpublication date Fri Apr 21, 2017 23:51Report this post to the editors

"However, such threat-perceptions ignore how far the NATO-based system has played into President Putin's hands by reviving cold-war-era fears of encirclement."


Good letter however I'm somewhat disappointed to see that Shannonwatch has bought into the US propaganda about Putin being evil and is routinely
regurgitating it in it's communications.

Putin is merely the patriotic leader of a proud independent people who are in a desperate existential battle for survival against a superior and belligerent force
intent on dominating them, taking their resources, silencing their dissent and integrating them into a global system of control.

I guess if you repeat something often enough, even people who really should know better eventually start to parrot it as truth too. :-(

author by Bengtpublication date Sat Apr 22, 2017 07:42Report this post to the editors

Russia is being encircled provocatively by USA--led NATO. What kind of regime is Putin leading, however? Is it democratic? Do dissenting journalists move freely without threats to personal safety? What about the clampdown on Jehovah's Witnesses? (JWs were among the assorted categories of political prisoners in Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago.) And the ex-communist party bosses are economically in cahoots with the oil, gold and natural gas oligarchs. Not a nice country to live in.

author by fredpublication date Wed Apr 26, 2017 01:17Report this post to the editors

Half the foreign journalists that "report" on Russia are nothing but cheap propagandists paid by western interests to badmouth them on the world stage
and if I were russia I'd keep tabs on the bastards too! They are mostly up to no good at all.

As for NGO's, half them are funded by the likes of NED and we all know what monkey business they get up to. Russia was right to crack down on their
foreign funded " fostering democracy" activities. (translation: deliberately attempting to create unrest and start off another colour revolution).
We've all seen what effect 5 billion of US/NED "fostering democracy" money has had in Ukraine. Not pretty!

Russia would be naive not to see this and not to take measures to protect themselves and limit the damage.

The fact is, NGOs from foreign countries are watched and have to register in the US too but nobody brings that up
The US cracks down heavily on dissent too (see 8000 arrests in occupy wall street and all the military equipment and snipers brought in for ferguson protests).
The US government spies on EVERYONE as we know thanks to Snowden. Especially social activists.
But of course that is different. If the US government spy and crack down on dissent it's considered "freedom and democracy".

Russia should be left alone, but there is far too much money at stake in military sales. The US hates any country willing to stand up to it on the world stage.
It is spiteful, deceitful and vengeful and it never forgets. Plus demonising Russia is just so profitable and has the added bonus of weakening Europe by
driving a wedge between it and Russia. Because otherwise it might pose a serious threat to US economically if Europe were to have a really strong healthy relationship with Russia.

As for the European leaders, they do what they are told, probably in many cases just for US money, or in others, to appease the worlds biggest bully to avoid getting on their shitlist.
Because we've all seen what happens to countries / people on their shitlist

author by Bengtpublication date Wed Apr 26, 2017 08:44Report this post to the editors

At the US embassy in Ballsbridge there are often queues of Irish people waiting to apply for green cards so they can emigrate to the USA and find satisfying careers. There are no similar queues for working visas at the Russian embassy. Police violence against Wall Street occupiers and against Black Americans are reported in newspapers and on television. Brutalised protesters in Russia don't get equivalent coverage in the Russian media.

author by fredpublication date Thu Apr 27, 2017 00:21Report this post to the editors

a few people swallowing the american dream bullshit they are fed over and over proves nothing.
"It's called the american dream because you have to be asleep to believe it" - George Carlin

As for the media, well all media distort and lie. Russia is no different. But still, you do have many anti putin TV channels and newspapers operating in Russia.
In the US however, only 6 corporations own most of the news outlets and they are pretty much all in lockstep, Bought and paid for. And they are always trying to get RT, the one russian news outlet, closed or blocked. Free speech rules! Yay! (but only as long as it's saying what we approve of it seems!!)
Press TV, Iran's broadcasting network was blocked already from the sky EPG. So much for dissenting news outlets in the west!!

You have a very naive and rose tinted view of western freedom of speech. No surprise there since the daily bath of propaganda we are immersed in is all pervasive and very effective indeed

author by Bengtpublication date Fri Apr 28, 2017 00:25Report this post to the editors

I am devastated by your refutation of my illusions about the USA. I now realise that if I want happiness in life I've got to apply for a work visa in Russia. I might marry a Russian woman with an engineering degree and live with growing babushkas in Eastern Siberia.

author by fredpublication date Fri Apr 28, 2017 05:11Report this post to the editors

I doubt any sensible russian woman would be daft enough to fall for a spoofer like you! :-D
Find yourself a nice amoral US democrat female. A much better match!

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