Irish Independence, Democracy, Neutrality and the United Nations

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The Irish Times (IT) use of polls by TSN/MRBI has always been one of the most useful contributions to political debate in Ireland. A key point, however, is that they only provides a view of what the people think in response to the particular question at the time they were asked.

When Ben Tora (IT 23/5/03) says we have a canny electorate as a result of the latest TSN/MRBI poll result, it suggests they were not canny when the same polls were showing they did not support the use of Shannon to help the American Empire conquer Iraq. They changed their mind not because of a sudden injection of cannyness, but because of a sudden injection of fear.

This right wing government threatened the people that if they did not change their mind, the US multinational corporations would withdraw from Ireland. A large percentage of the Irish people, so threatened, decided to touch the forelock to the Empire.

Neither should that considerable minority of us that remain committed to Irish Independence, Democracy, Neutrality and a transformed United Nations take a high moral tone approach. People have a right to be scared. They have jobs, they have a responsibility to their families, and survival is a very strong instinct. The question now is, who long will the fear last? The US budget surplus measured in trillions of dollars a few years ago is now a budget deficit of trillions of dollars. An American Empire where 43 million Americans are functionally illiterate, where 1% of the population own 38% of the wealth where 39 Million Americans have no health care, where weekly earnings are falling, where CEO's earn 200 times the pay of the average industrial worker, where the Emperor has just got the support for $726 billion in tax cuts for the rich is the kind of Empire Ahern and Harney like.

By allowing Shannon to be turned into Imperial outpost they have terminated the long-standing policy of neutrality and ensured that Ireland is now a member of the Coalition of the willing, a vassal state of the American Empire. The Government will now have to "stand by their friends" as Bush invades and conquers Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba etc.

However, the Bush Empire will not last. At some stage the workers of America who earn 200 times less than Bush's CEO supporters will stop being mesmerized by Fox and CNN. The massive American peace movement (see www. will restore the powerful American anti-imperial and democratic traditions that helped end the Vietnam War.

The reality was that the largest mass public demonstrations against the war in Ireland were part of a Hugh global opposition to American Imperialism, including many million Americans. It is this fact that totally undermines the typical Anti-American slur by Tora on those of us that oppose the war and the militarisation of the EU.

The division is not between Americans and Irish. The division is between those that support Imperialism and those that seek a global order based on justice, as reflected, for example in George Monbiot's latest book, 'The Age of Consent'.

Finally, there is the issue of the Future of European Union. The government quiet rightly, wants taxation of Irish people to be an issue to be decided by an Irish Government elected by the Irish people. Nobody is accusing them of being "anti-European". The Peace & Neutrality Alliance want an Independent Irish Defence and Foreign policy to be decided by an Irish Government elected and responsible to the Irish people, yet we are accused of being, "anti-European".

PANA believes that a willingness not to die in other people's wars is at least as important as paying taxes. While there is a strong Imperial and Home Rule tradition in Ireland, after all, it was only 84 years ago Dail Eireann declared our Independence, PANA seeks to build an alliance of all those who support Irish Independence. We oppose the steady but incremental efforts to transform the EU into a Federal state, even as a counterweight to the US. There is no such thing as a good Empire, there is no such thing as a "social Europe" that will be both Imperial and benign. A European Federal state with its own Constitution will inevitably turn into an Imperial state. Its "peacemaking" will become just like the conquest of Iraq, which happened because Bush wanted US/Israeli control of the oil and water resources of the region. Future EU "peacemaking" will just be more of the same. A "common defence" even on a case-by-case basis, will quickly turn into a "common attack". If the polls show that 58% support it, then the fault lies with PANA, not the people. We need to try harder to put our case for the United Nations rather than the US or EU as the institution through which we should pursue our security concerns.

The United Nations is in need of transformation. But it is the only inclusive global body committed to global security. Rich white Christians from the US or the EU are just not capable of bringing global justice. In today's world interests and values are the same. Either we, the people of the world, work together through the United Nations or we die together. There is no other choice.

Roger Cole (Chair)
Peace & Neutrality Alliance.

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