The world still applauds the great effort that our government made in advocating negotiations for peace that led to a settlement, and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement on this island.
So why is our present government, rejecting neutrality, and refusing to lead the campaign for negotiations for peace to end the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Instead, we are parroting pro-western/NATO war propaganda, that Ukraine can win this war, with more weapons, and that at the same time we can help destroy the Russian economy.
PANA since the start of the war in Ukraine has called for an immediate ceasefire and for negotiations. Unfortunately, the response from Taoiseach Micheál Martin has always been increased EU militarisation, membership of NATO, whilst dismissing the right of Irish people to a referendum on this issue. NATO is now a global military alliance that works actively to spread nuclear missiles to its member nations in support of US militarism.
Roger Cole, Chairperson of PANA stated, ‘we reject the idea that the expansion of the NATO military alliance represents a legitimate response to the current war in Ukraine, when that alliance is dominated by imperial powers such as the US, UK, France, and Germany with their own bloody history of murderous imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and who continue to support brutal and oppressive regimes such as Israel and Saudi Arabia’.
The fact that ever-increasing energy and food costs, rapidly growing inflation and the cost-of-living crisis is the number one concern to Irish people and to the vast majority of people in the EU and elsewhere. This growing anger and increasing awareness of the geopolitical interests in prolonging this war may yet influence this government to accept the need for peace negotiations in Ukraine.
The Taoiseach has stated that Ireland is not a politically neutral country and that it needs to reflect on its military non-alignment. He then went on to state that Ireland would not need to hold a referendum to join NATO. This implies he favours Ireland’s inclusion into NATO, which would terminate its neutrality and cause a rise in defense spending. Ireland’s current €1.1 billion in defense spending makes up 0.3% of its national GDP. It is required of all NATO countries that they spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. This would mean defense spending would increase by at least €6.2 billion from current spending.
Recent research by the ‘European Council on Foreign Relations’ now show, while Europeans feel great solidarity with Ukraine and support sanctions against Russia, they are split about the long-term goals. They divide between a “Peace” camp (35 per cent of people) that wants the war to end as soon as possible, and a “Justice” camp that believes the more pressing goal is to punish Russia (22 per cent of people). (See link below)
So how representative is our Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other EU leaders who attended their consultative dinner this week in Madrid hosted by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain, for all 27 EU member states and all 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), demanding more justice or war against Russia.
To confirm this Press Release.
Tom Crilly, Communications Officer, PANA.
The trial of two more Shannon peace activists, Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling, begins at the Circuit Court in Parkgate Street, Dublin on Wednesday June 15th.
Over 5 years ago on 25th April 2017, the two men were arrested at Shannon Airport for allegedly causing criminal damage by writing Graffiti on a US Navy aircraft, and allegedly trespassing on the curtilage of Shannon Airport. It has been reported that the words “DANGER DANAGER DO NOT FLY” were written on the engine of the warplane, which was on its way from a US naval base in Virginia to a US air base in the Persian Gulf.
Over three million armed US troops have been moved through Shannon Airport since 2001 on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East and north Africa. This is in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. Shannon Airport has also been used by the CIA to facilitate its extraordinary rendition program that resulted in the torture of hundreds of prisoners.
Speaking in advance of the trial, a Shannonwatch spokesperson said "While justice delayed is justice denied, their trial is now scheduled to go ahead on Wednesday 15th June. However, while Edward and Dan are still alive and well, up to one million children have died since the First Gulf War in 1991 due to war related reasons. Nothing can be done to bring those innocent children back to life."
Roger Cole, Chairperson of PANA stated “No senior US political or military leaders have ever been held accountable for war crimes committed in these imperialist wars, and no Irish officials have been held accountable for active complicity in these war crimes. Yet over 38 peace activists, including the most recent case of US Veterans For Peace, Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, have been prosecuted for carrying out fully justified nonviolent peace actions at Shannon Airport in order to expose and try to prevent Irish complicity in these war crimes.”
Tom Crilly, Communications Officer, PANA,
Tel 0035387 2937558
WYNN’S HOTEL — DEFEND IRISH NEUTRALITY MEETING
Russia is now waging a horrific war against Ukraine. I don’t think anyone is optimistic about how it will end. But it will end. Ukraine is now awash with weapons and destruction but there is going to have to be a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement.
But what message are we and the rest of Europe taking from this conflict? Unfortunately, it is not that we must pull back from the abyss and the real threat of a nuclear confrontation, we must pull back from war-making and learn to cohabit this planet and concentrate on the Earth’s pressing problems of Climate Catastrophe, world hunger….. No. The Message we are getting is “Neutrality Bad/ Nuclear Weapon Blocs Good”. It is Orwellian.
A New Mind set is required: I never expected to be referring tonight to a shooting of school children in Texas. But look at the reaction of the Texas Governor Greg Abbot, Senator Ted Cruz, and the Texas Attorney General: they think controlling the guns is not the issue. What is required is more guns, arming the schools. Guns for Principals, guns for security guards.
And aren’t we witnessing a Texas Reaction here? Sweden and Finland are rushing to join NATO. The Irish Government is rushing to join an EU defence grouping, essentially the European arm of NATO.
But the Irish Government has a small problem. Or should I say a Big Problem. We the People. The latest public opinion polls, as you know, show that 2/3rds are wanting to retain our Neutrality. This is our best option to promote peace, as mediators, and UN peacekeepers—for which we have a long-standing celebrated reputation -- . I’ve quoted The Economist on this before, when they extolled Ireland’s ‘Soft Power’, stating that we had ‘a good claim to be the world’s most diplomatically powerful country”. (July 18, 2020, How Ireland Gets Its Way)
We are a small country. But a very visible one. Speaking in front of Dail Eireann in March at a protest in support of a People Before Profit’s Bill for a Referendum on Neutrality, now Senator Tom Clonan, retired Irish Army Captain and former UN peacekeeper, emphasised that if Ireland surrendered its Neutrality, if we merged into a EU defence force, we would become Invisible. Our diplomatic clout would be seriously diminished.
But this sadly is the direction Ireland is going. A 50% increase in our defence budget is now being proposed by Simon Coveney. A Commission on Defence has recently submitted a report and its recommendations for increased military spending (some of which is justified) have been embraced by the Government.
However, the report states that the chances of Ireland being attacked by a ‘conventional military force’ are low but that we need to develop more and enhanced military capabilities – with our Defence Forces and equipment to NATO standards and with interoperability with NATO – not so much to defend Ireland but primarily for use ‘overseas on peace support and crisis management operations”. [A major omission in the Report, when assessing the dangers of Ireland ever being attacked, is the Prime Target of Shannon Airport, a hub for US troops and military equipment on their way to warzones] .
There are many forces at play here. And the Generals pushing for military solutions are not confined to the armed forces. In Ukraine and the world over there are Generals at work of a different breed: General Dynamics, General Electric, and General Motors. ….
And as we all know, There’s no Business like War Business. All but four of the world’s biggest sellers of weapons have seen their share prices soar since the invasion began (and these are figures from two months ago, Open Democracy, March 17, 2022, ). And the War in Ukraine is providing a highly visible and effective showcase for all their deadly merchandise.
Ireland unfortunately is not immune to all this. We have to be aware that the push to end our Neutrality is not just a question of wanting to play with the Big Boys, or of ‘Growing up’ as some have put it, of showing solidarity with our EU partners, of being ‘Good Europeans’…. There is Money at play here.
According to the Irish Times (Conor Gallagher, April 25, 2022) there are 550 firms in Ireland active in the Irish defence industry and in 2019 the Dual Use export market was 2.4 billion euro, larger than Ireland’s beef exports market. Our military equipment exports more than doubled in one year, from 42.3m euro in 2019 to 108.5m euro in 2020. Our Government is actively encouraging the arms industry and actively embracing the defence components of the EU. There is a Security and Defence Enterprise Group within the Government, promoting Innovation and Enterprise in defence and there is a new grouping outside Government, formed by a former Army Cavalry officer, called the Irish Defence and Security Association, made up of small and medium enterprises and research institutes (including UCD)
Last November, Simon Coveney hosted a seminar entitled: “Support for Enterprise, Research, and Innovation in Defence”. It was supposed to be at the Aviva Stadium but reverted to a Zoom event, partly because of Covid fears, partly because of fear of protests. The blurb for the seminar extolled the networking possibilities provided by the event for the European Commission, the European Defence Agency, Enterprise Ireland and the European Defence Industry and an opportunity to explore avenues of funding from the EU’s European Defence Fund. And what a Fund that is! It has a budget of 8 billion euro for 2021 to 2027 for R and D across a range of military projects.
Over the Zoom, Minister Coveney emphasised the need to “develop and exploit emerging and disruptive technology developments to support defence capabilities, while also supporting wider access and market engagement for Irish research by academia and enterprise.”
Ireland contributes millions to the EDF and several contributors on the Zoom meeting emphasised that Ireland needs to get a ‘return on that investment’.
So the Weapons Industry is an ally of the Government in the move to end neutrality in favour of the Greater European Good. Good Europeans are well armed Europeans.
The direction in which all this is going was hinted at in a debate earlier this month at the Roger Casement Summer School in Dun Laoghaire. Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews, MEP, stated that Neutrality must be debated in terms of developments in Ukraine – echoing remarks from the Taoiseach and others – and then went on to say that our Triple Lock which prevents Irish troops being deployed abroad without a UN mandate should be ditched in favour of the European Council mandating where to send our troops and that he felt we should have a mutual defence policy within the EU. I believe he is echoing Government policy here and the direction they would like the Debate/ Citizen’s Assembly to head. It’s amazing how, on the one hand, those arguing in Ireland for closer EU defence, express a repugnance for nuclear weapons, yet they are willing to coordinate defence with a nuclear weapon State, France, and in partnership with the nuclear NATO alliance which is plugged into the EU.
What Europe and the World needs now is a challenge to military blocs armed to the teeth, not a glorification of them. In the 1990s, with the Cold War abating, there was talk of a Common European Home, of the strengthening of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which includes every country in Europe. What we need is more Neutral/Non-Aligned States, not fewer. That is the direction our thinking should be going.
Ireland is now on the UN Security Council and has just taken over the Presidency of the Council of Europe. Could we not expect some kind of mediation/ceasefire/peace proposal efforts coming out of the Irish Government? We are now occupying powerful diplomatic positions internationally. We should employ some of that Diplomatic Power we reputedly possess.
But could we at least put our minds towards ending this war rather than concentrating on how to end our Neutrality? Or have we already become Invisible?
If you listen to our government and the mainly pro-western narrative of our Irish media you may be surprised to learn that recent opinion polls in Ireland, including the last IPSOS poll in April 2022, show a clear majority of between 60-70% of Irish people in favour of retaining Ireland’s neutrality.
So why not join us at this public meeting hosted by the Irish Anti-War Movement and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance to hear why Ireland should remain a neutral country.
Public Meeting – Defend Ireland’s Neutrality
on Thursday 26th May in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin 1 at 7pm
Speakers include Carol Fox (PANA), Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Chris Andrews TD, Sen Alice Mary Higgins, Matthew Hoh (former US Marine & Pentagon), and Dr. Yurii Sheliazenko (Ukrainian Pacifist Movement) …Chair Sarah O’Rourke (IAWM)…
Access our poster advertising this event and a Zoom link here … https://irishantiwar.org/
PANA is opposed to the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the same way that we opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq by the US and their allies twenty years ago.
This war must eventually be ended, either through negotiation or by putting an end to us all through nuclear apocalypse. The belief by both sides that ending it later will be better is almost always catastrophically wrong. The unwillingness to end wars is driven largely by hatred, resentment, and the corrupt influences that create wars in the first place.
The Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres has proposed a ceasefire, urged a negotiated settlement, and met with the President of Russia despite opposition in the West to doing so.
Pope Francis has urged a ceasefire and negotiations, declared that no war can be justified, and encouraged workers to block weapons shipments.
The President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has urged pursuit of a ceasefire and negotiated settlement. Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio have even proposed a draft agreement.
The President of France Emanuel Macron has proposed a ceasefire, negotiations, and the creation of new non-military alliances.
The President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz have urged a ceasefire and negotiations.
The Chairperson of PANA Roger Cole has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and U.N. chaired negotiations, a negotiated settlement, that must come, and the sooner the better. A ceasefire need not wait for a resolution of all issues, only for a credible commitment to negotiate by all sides. Ireland as a neutral country should reject the EU/NATO narrative and lead the call for this ceasefire and a negotiated settlement.
Today May 4, 2022—Judge Patricia Ryan sent a clear message to protesters objecting to illegal US military flights through Shannon Airport by fining the Shannon Two 10,000 euros after they were convicted of interfering with the operation, management, and safety of the facility.
Ken Mayers (85) and Tarak Kauff (80) were first arrested on St. Patrick’s Day, 2019, at Shannon Airport for going onto the airfield to inspect US military aircraft or cause them to be inspected. They carried a banner that said, “U.S. Military Veterans Say: Respect Irish Neutrality; U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon.”
Roger Cole, Chairperson of PANA welcomed the release of our friends Ken and Tarak, thanked them for their courage and stated their action has helped to put their US government and their military on trial for killing thousands of people in their so called ‘humanitarian interventions wars’ throughout the Middle East and north Africa. They have also helped us here by exposing our Irish government who betray the Irish people’s concept of neutrality.
PANA would like to thank all those many supporters who have assisted and who have contributed towards the campaign to Free the Shannon Two since 2019, but remember the anti-war struggle continues so get involved and become active.
Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch stated “No senior US political or military leaders have ever been held accountable for war crimes committed in these Middle East wars, and no Irish officials have been held accountable for active complicity in these war crimes. Yet over 38 peace activists, including Mayers and Kauff, have been prosecuted for carrying out fully justified nonviolent peace actions at Shannon Airport in order to expose and try to prevent Irish complicity in these war crimes.”
The trial of US peace activists Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff is due to begin on Monday morning 25th April 2022 at the Circuit Criminal Court, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8.
Both are former members of the US military and Kenneth a Vietnam War veteran is now Contributing Editor of the Peace and Planet News, Quarterly Newspaper of the New York City Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Full Disclosure. https://peaceandplanetnews.org/
They were arrested at Shannon Airport on St Patricks Day 2019 whilst highlighting their opposition to US wars and that US war planes continue to make stopovers here in violation of Irish neutrality, Ken and Tarak were eventually released on bail to return home.
Video clip of our friends Ken and Tarak on one of their Freedom Walks around Ireland back in 2019 highlighting concerns about US war planes refuelling at Shannon Airport…
Roger Cole, Chair of PANA welcomed Ken, Tarak and Ellen Davidson to the National Executive Committee meeting of PANA that was held in the Irish Labour History Museum, Beggars Bush in Dublin on Saturday 23rd. and thanked them and the many thousands of Americans who are opposed to US imperialism and their never-ending wars.
The NEC welcomed the overwhelming public support for the retention of Ireland’s policy of ‘military’ neutrality, highlighted in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos poll, however members were very angry that our government continue to undermine this policy, and that Irish media continue to portray the US/NATO military alliance as the good guys in military conflicts around the world. PANA is opposed to the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the same way that we opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq by the US and their allies twenty years ago.
Taken from Nervous State's mix cloud page:
Nervous State returns, with an hour-long special on Irish neutrality in theory and practice.
Recent events in Ukraine have shook the political landscape across Europe,. Whilst Ireland is far from the frontline of the conflict, we can’t help but to be affected by it.
Voices calling for Ireland to abandon neutrality and join NATO have become prominent in our media and politics. For perhaps the first time since the outbreak of the second world war, the future of Irish neutrality going forward has come under serious question.
We’ll be considering the case for and against Irish neutrality, as well as just why the question has become so prominent in recent months. We’ll be discussing this with Dr Ben Tonra, Professor of International Relations at UCD, Roger Cole of Peace and Neutrality Alliance Ireland, Paulie Doyle, author of the recent article “The War On Ireland’s Neutrality” in Tribune Magazine and John Dolan, author and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast.
As the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the question of Irish neutrality is live again. Why is neutrality important? What is its origin and why should we maintain it?
Listen in to Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance being interviewed by Micheál Mac Donncha.
The Peace and Neutrality Alliance reiterates its utter and complete condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and is appalled at the utter disregard shown for civilian life and the consequent atrocities which have resulted, involving the murder of innocent parents and children.
The huge emotional wave of support for Ukraine across Europe and north America has brought us all together against the horror of this war, but there is a negative side. Those inflaming this crisis as a showdown between democracy and autocracy, between good and evil, are also making it harder to bring all sides together in a negotiated settlement that must come sooner or later.
Some Irish media commentators fuel this warmongering by suggesting the Russian war machine is weak, the Ukrainian resistance is stronger than expected, and with Western military aid and combat volunteers they can win this.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky makes a plea for a ‘no-fly zone’, for fighter jets, and more lethal weapons, whilst President Vladimir Putin boasts that he also has supporters, thousands of well-trained volunteers from a now destroyed Middle East region.
President Joe Biden has stated his full support for Ukrainian independence, but there will be no US troops on the ground in Ukraine, repeating ‘I am not going to start World War Three’. So, are we watching, some perhaps encouraging, an ongoing proxy war between the US and Russia that will evolve into an even more horrific Ukrainian bloodbath?
We cannot disregard the way in which NATO helped to bring this situation about through its treacherous and irresponsible reneging on the commitment given to Mikhail Gorbachev that, upon the Soviet Union withdrawing from Central and Eastern Europe, it would not expand into that area. The clear model for dealing with the state of affairs thus brought about would have been that of neutral Finland, whereby a cordon sanitaire of countries bordering on the subsequent Russian Federation would have been created from the Baltic to the Black Sea.However, one can only proceed now from where we find ourselves. In this context, PANA notes the recent statement of the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, obviously not made without the approval of Vladimir Putin. This outlined a solution based on
This is, in effect, a partial retreat by Putin from the policy of either just creating a puppet state in Ukraine or incorporating it in the Russian Federation and seems to have come about as a consequence of the failure by Russia to quickly subjugate Ukraine.
This could be used as an opportunity for a just resolution of the crisis on the following modified basis: (a) a bilateral ceasefire, (2) the acceptance by Ukraine of constitutional neutrality on the condition of being able to maintain adequate military means of self-defence, and (3) referenda in the Crimea and Donbass under the supervision of the OSCE to determine democratically the future of those areas, within or outside Ukraine.
The principles which should be adhered to are the sovereignty and independence of the Ukrainian people, on the one hand, and peace and security in Europe, on the other. The peoples of Europe cannot allow themselves to be used as pawns in a geopolitical chess game chiefly involving the United States of America and the Russian Federation.
According to Roger Cole of PANA, there is also ominously, a militaristic lobby in Brussels which sees a chance to promote an armed Euro-Federation dominated by a Franco-German hegemony. We cannot lose sight of the fact that there are two major blocs in this confrontation and that demands should be made of both to accept a realistic, reasonable, and democratic settlement.
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance opposed the invasion, conquest and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. In those days the Irish corporate media was willing to publish articles by PANA, as can be seen from the attached article, written by my on behalf of PANA and published in the Irish Times on Wed. Sept. 26, 2001, before the invasion. Of course, we lost, just as we did when PANA helped to organise a massive 100.000+ strong protest again the US invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq in 2003.
The Republic of Ireland backed the war on Afghanistan not just by destroying Irish Neutrality as stated in International law of the Hague Convention of 1907, and allowing millions of US troops land in Shannon Airport on their way to the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq by sending over 200 members of the Irish Defence Forces to take part in the occupation of Afghanistan directly under the command of the nuclear armed military alliance NATO.
Since then, the Irish corporate media has largely ignored PANA and other groups like Shannonwatch and the Galway Alliance Against War, despite numerous vigils pamphlets, Conferences ( especially the the Conference Against US/NATO military bases, Nov. 16-18, 2018 that packed Liberty Hall) and backed these wars. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also been strongly supported by every Irish Government since 2001. Since then the USA has also supplied massive amounts of weapons to terrorists in Syria. Did the same in Libya, and bombed it, destroyed it to such a degree, that slavery was restored restoration. It is very clear that the corporate media in Ireland that supported these perpetual wars (just listen to Morning Ireland) are shell shocked. Their entire strategy of supporting the US/EU/NATO doctrine of perpetual war has been totally defeated by the quick and decisive victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan, just as they were defeated in Vietnam, except even faster. There will be now a growing demand the US and its vassals also withdraw from, Iraq and Syria, end their support for the war on Yemen, and accelerate the opposition for their support for apartheid Israel.
It will also be very good news for the American people living in America, where now more dollars can be spend in America on Americans.
Faced with the real threat and horrific consequences of global warming the end of the doctrine of perpetual war, then maybe all the states in world can cooperate to provide a better future for our children. Finally, however, knowing how much NATO loves perpetual war, its a future that is touch and go at best.
Roger ColeChairPeace & Neutrality Alliance
The People’s Movement and PANA commit themselves to campaign for the State to immediately formally withdraw from all military an financial commitments under PESCO.
We are further agreed to campaign both collectively and individually for such a withdrawal.
We call on the support of local and national groups, organisations and elected representatives. We commit ourselves to work with all Oireachtas members that oppose PESCO and to encourage them to form an Oireachtas Group to further opposition within the Oireachtas and to provide permanent liaison.
We pledge ourselves to work with like minded groups within the EU also committed to exposing the accelerated militarisation of the EU. Where possible we will seek to establish local Irish peace groups to campaign for these objectives.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed anger and disbelief at the decision of the Irish Government to approve Ireland’s involvement in the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) at a recent cabinet meeting. The issue was raised by Sinn Féin TDs Sean Crowe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh during a debate on the issue in the Dáil yesterday.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“Article 29 (4) (9) of the Irish Constitution specifically states that the state will not adopt a common EU defence where such a defence would include the participation of the state. The government's decision to join PESCO runs totally contrary to that Article. “The clear aim of PESCO is to jointly develop the EU's military capabilities and to make them available for EU military operations.
“These missions are not confined to peacekeeping missions, and would allow the EU to intervene in conflicts such as those in Libya and Syria outside of UN and NATO structures.
“PESCO is being driven by France and Germany, both key members of NATO and in reality the strategic aims of PESCO are inseparable of that of NATO.
“By signing up to this, the Government would, as well as committing to provide troops to PESCO missions, be committing to trebling current spending on defence at a huge cost to the Irish people.
“The Minister for Defence has confirmed that the Government has approved a proposal to notify the EU of our intention to participate in PESCO.
“This flies in the face of the state's Constitution and, to add insult to injury, it appears that the Minister has not even taken the minor precaution of obtaining legal advice before proceeding with this reckless action. This is the biggest policy decision in relation to Irish Defence Forces since Irish soldiers were first sent on UN duties in 1960s.
“I am flabbergasted that the Independent Alliance ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross, and Finian McGrath agreed at Cabinet to this clear breach of Irish neutrality, a policy they stated in the past that they would protect and cherish. Maybe they should have thought about taking a real stand for world peace, by rejecting this.
“Despite being such a momentous decision and being at odds with what was promised and committed to during the Lisbon Treaty debates, Minister Paul Kehoe it seems is hellbent on rushing this through the Oireachtas with little debate. The government are expected to try and rush this volte-face through the Dáil with as little debate as possible in next fortnight.
“I am calling on the government to halt their headlong move into this fledgling EU Army and, in particular, I am calling on the Independent Alliance Ministers to stand true to their stated position, protect Irish neutrality and to reverse this Cabinet decision or vote with us in the Houses of the Oireachtas who want to see Irish neutrality protected and enhanced.”
Former NSA experts, now members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.
From the most recent to the VIPS Memo to President of July 24, 2017 (not to mention several earlier ones, including op-eds by Bill and Ray in the Baltimore Sun, over the past year)
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance was established to advocate an Independent Irish foreign policy, maintain Irish Neutrality and promote the UN and the OSCE as the organisations through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns. PANA therefore believes that the future of the European Union should be as an Association of Sovereign Democratic States without a military dimension. The Irish political elite seek to abolish an independent Irish foreign policy, destroy Irish Neutrality and pursue their security through the transformation of the European Union into a nuclear armed European Empire - a new Imperial State. They seek to effectively terminate Irish Army participation as a peacekeeping force in the United Nations and transform it into a regiment of the embryonic European Army, the Rapid Reaction Force. It is your choice to agree with the objectives of PANA or the elite. To help the elite, or defeat them.
The results of the referendums on the efforts of the elite to win show that an increasing number of the Irish people are deciding to defeat them. Over 38% of the Irish people voted against the Amsterdam Treaty, so if only 12% more of the people joined those already against the elite, and also voted against the Nice Treaty, they could be defeated. We should also be inspired by the defeat of the Danish elite by the Danish people in their recent referendum, for while joining the Euro was the reason for their referendum, the debate centred on the issue of Danish Democracy versus the European Empire. The Treaty of Nice provides the next opportunity for the Irish people who support Irish Democracy, Independence and neutrality to win. Firstly, we must be given the choice to vote in a referendum. The fear of defeat by the Irish elite was clearly exposed by their refusal to hold a referendum on Irish membership of Nato's PfP (a sort of FÁS training course for Nato membership) despite the fact that Mr Ahern had told the Dáil that it would be "fundamentally undemocratic" to join without a referendum; and their statements that the Nice Treaty does not need one. We demand a referendum. We demand a Protocol to the Treaty similar to that achieved by the Danish people which prevented them from having to participate in or pay for the militarisation of the European Union.
The elite's virtually secret negotiations on the Treaty of Nice are to be concluded in December 2000. The Irish Government have already said that there should not have to be a referendum. The Treaty of Nice will probably ensure that the Irish Government will retain the right to appoint a Commissioner. The elite will claim the fact that Ireland still has the right to appoint a Commissioner is a great victory while not making it clear that once appointed an Irish Commissioner swears loyalty to the European Empire. The Treaty will ensure more power is transferred from the Irish people and their elected assembly, Dáil Eireann, to the Council of Ministers through a massive reduction in the number of issues where the national veto can be applied. At the same time greater power is given to larger states like France and Germany as they will be given more votes and the issues on which majority votes are taken are increased. In short, the Treaty of Nice will mean a further diminution of Irish National Democracy, and a further step towards the formation of the Empire. The previous major step was the Amsterdam Treaty.
The elite deliberately held the referendum on the same day as that of the Good Friday Agreement which meant that the media gave it very little attention compared to the Agreement, so that there was scant coverage of the issues involved. Article J3 states, "The European Council shall define the principles of and the General guidelines for the common foreign and security policy, including for matters with defence implications." Article J7 states, "The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions relating to the Union, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, in accordance with the second sub paragraph (the merger of the nuclear armed WEU into the EU) which might lead to a common defence should the European Council so decide."
The movement in favour of Danish National Democracy is much more powerful than in Ireland, and their Government was forced to ensure a Protocol be added to the Treaty which stated, "With regard to measures adopted by the Council in the field of Articles J3(1) and J7 of the Treaty of the European Union, Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and the implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of closer cooperation between member states in this area. Therefore Denmark shall not participate in their adoption. Denmark shall not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures." PANA demanded a 'no' vote to the Amsterdam Treaty and its renegotiation so that the Irish State obtained a similar Protocol. PANA again demands a 'no' vote to the Nice Treaty if a similar Protocol is not added to it, to exclude Ireland from the militarisation of the EU.
Article J7.2 states, "Questions referred to in this article shall include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking." PANA, during the 'debate' on the Treaty, said this meant giving the right to the EU to become involved in war, and the elite totally denied it and called us "extremists and isolationists." Yet after the debate one of their members John Bruton, Leader of Fine Gael, said in the Dáil on the 22/10/99: "Peacemaking means imposing, by the use of force, peaceful conditions under the terms laid down by the peacemaker. It is very difficult to distinguish that from war making, unless one gets into subjective questions of motivation which are highly elastic." It is a reflection of the contempt for the people held by the political elite that they only admitted the real implications of the Amsterdam Treaty after the debate, and we can be assured they will adopt the same attitude to the Treaty of Nice.
As a consequence of the Amsterdam Treaty the European Union has already agreed to establish a European Army known as the Rapid Reaction Force. The Army will have a strength of approximately 250,000 which will be needed to place 80,000 soldiers into the field of conflict. This Army will be given the right to operate within a radius of 2,500 miles outside the EU. While nominally it will operate only with a UN mandate, as we have seen from the NATO war against Yugoslavia, the UN mandate will be ignored. This Army will be used wherever the EU elite wants to use it to defend the "interests" of the elite. When they are used, for example, to protect EU interests in the Caspian Sea, against people in the region who might seek to use the resource more equitably, then the local people are unlikely to distinguish between the "neutral" Irish Regiment of the Army of the European Empire and the other regiments any more than they did when the Connaught Rangers played the same role defending the "interests" of the British Union & Empire.
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PANA consistently argued during the 'debates' on the Amsterdam Treaty and Irish membership of NATO's PfP that Irish neutrality and Independence was being destroyed 'salami' style. The logic of which would be that the long and honourable tradition of Irish Army participation as a peacekeeping force directly under the auspices of the United Nations would effectively be terminated as the Irish Army became integrated into the EU/NATO military structures. Even Lieut. General Gerry McMahon(rtd), chief-of-staff of the Defence Forces from Feb. '95 to Aug.'98, a long time supporter of this integration process, has declared that the policy of the elite is a "desertion of the United Nations". In 1999 the Government signed up to the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS) in which it promised to provide up to 850 troops for UN Peacekeeping at any time. Yet the White Paper on Defence stated that this was "an expression of policy and not a binding commitment." In May 2001 the Irish UN Peacekeeping force in the Lebanon, our only major commitment to UN, will be terminated. Given the limited size of the Irish Army, the elite have had to make a choice: serve in the United Nations as a Peacekeeping Force or serve as a Regiment in the European Army (RRF). They have made it. They have rejected Ireland's peacekeeping role in the only global inclusive organisation committed to securing peace through international co-operation and collective security.
PANA strongly welcomes the success of the Irish Government and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs in achieving a position on the Security Council. It is exactly the kind of focus advocated by PANA. We need to have an Independent Foreign Policy advocated in a global framework. Yet if Ireland is to agree to a Common Foreign and Defence Policy with the other states in the European Union, how can it have an independent foreign policy? What difference does it make whether Ireland or Italy sits on the Security Council? There are a number of possible explanations. Firstly, a significant element of the elite secretly agree with PANA and, by ensuring that Ireland is on the Security Council, will expose the contradiction between an IIFP and the CFSP. Secondly, Ireland will simply vote for the CFSP on the Security Council, getting the perks instead of the Italians, while maintaining the illusion of Irish Independence in order to weaken the political forces, such as PANA, that genuinely support Irish Neutrality and an Independent Irish Foreign Policy. We can only hope that the first option is a real possibility, and a degree of support for it is validated by the New Agenda Coalition initiative.
The New Agenda Coalition brought together seven Governments: Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Slovenia and Sweden, which agreed to work for a new agenda to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. At the year 2000 NPT Review conference the state parties to the NPT accepted a new agenda for that objective. It has been a great achievement by the Irish Government. Yet as Patrick Smyth, the European Correspondent of the Irish Times pointed out, "it would not have happened within the context of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy". It is the most effective example of an Independent Irish Foreign Policy, where Ireland launched a global initiative with six other states, four of which were not, nor likely to become, member states of the European Union. It clearly exposes the fundamental contradiction between the two goals, Irish Independence or European Empire. PANA is now advocating its own initiative to further expose the contradiction by advocating a Neutrality Amendment Constitutional Bill.
The Irish Constitution, unlike, for example, that of Malta, does not enshrine Neutrality into the Constitution, the reason being that at the time of its adoption, there was overwhelming political support for it among the Irish people. When the 2nd World War broke, the entire Dáil, with only one exception, voted to support the policy of Irish Neutrality. Indeed, the political elite still declare they support the policy, yet, through their advocacy of the Amsterdam Treaty, their support for Irish membership of Nato's PfP, they in fact seek to destroy it. PANA, in order to further publicly expose their real policy, has sought support for a Neutrality Amendment to the Constitution which would amend Article 29.2 which reads; "Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination." by adding, "To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non membership of military alliances." PANA not only believes the vast majority of the Irish people still support Irish neutrality, but unlike the elite we believe it does not have its origins in the 2nd World War, but is deeply rooted in the struggle for National Independence.
Irish Neutrality was advocated by Wolfe Tone, Leader of the United Irishmen in a potential war between Britain and Spain in the 18th century. The United Irishmen sought to establish a United, Independent and Sovereign Irish Republic. They were part of an international democratic Revolution against Monarchy and privilege. They did so with the inclusive slogan of seeking to "unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter in the common name of Irishmen." They were ruthlessly crushed by British Imperialism and its Irish allies. The commitment to Irish neutrality was maintained in the 19th century by the Young Irelanders and the Irish Republican Brotherhood who, in the early 20th century, led the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. The Treaty which established the State and the subsequent steps ensured our right to Neutrality and Independence. This Independence was expressed through our support for International organisations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, initiating the Non-Proliferation Treaty and playing a key role in UN Peacekeeping. Yet those Irish that supported Imperialism while defeated did not go away. The tradition of Redmond and Lord Kitchener is now being revived. Instead of being "British" we are all "European". While once seeking Home Rule within the British Union, the elite now seek Home Rule within the European Union. They seek to do so because they now can identify with the rich elites from the United States and European States which seek to ensure the maintenance of a world economic order that has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The function of the NATO/EU military Force into which our Army (that was founded to establish and defend an Independent Democratic Republic) is now being integrated is to defend the wealthy, and their privileges.
The Tribunals have shown that the real electorate for the Irish political elite is those business interests that pay them vast amounts of money. Their loyalty is to the international political elite that are paid by the international business community. In that sense the elite are internationalists. PANA's Internationalism is of a different nature. We are building links internationally with those groups and organisations that seek peace by achieving social justice and a more egalitarian world economic order. We seek to build an alliance not only in Ireland but globally will all those groups that see an inclusive and Transformed United Nations which will according to the UN Charter, maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights, and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations. The choice is between the internationalism of the rich or the internationalism of the poor, the internationalism of privilege or the internationalism of democracy, the internationalism of the arms traders or the internationalism of the peace movement. The choice is between the United Nations or a European Superstate, between National Democracy or European Elitism. The Irish elite have already made their decision; we now ask you to make your choice. DEMAND A REFERENDUM ON THE TREATY OF NICE DEMAND AN ANTI-MILITARISATION PROTOCOL TO THE TREATY DEMAND A NEUTRALITY AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION Membership of The Peace & Neutrality Alliance is open to all individuals and groups that accept its objectives.
Speech of the Executive Secretary WPC Iraklis Tsavdaridis at the public meeting organized in Dublin by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) of Ireland on 24th March 2011 “The Peace Movement vs. EU and NATO”
Dear friends and comrades
First of all we want to thank the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) of Ireland for the invitation to come to Dublin and attend this important public meeting. We are very glad to be amongst friends and fellow fighters for peace, especially in these moments where another imperialist war has started against the people of Libya.
Coming from a country like Greece which is passing through a similar phase and situation in our economy like you here in Ireland, allow me to start with some words on this topic.
In both our countries the international economic crisis of capitalism has been used by the governments to put new and heavy burdens on the working class and popular masses, by cutting salaries, allowances and pensions, by de-regulating working relations and rights and by privatizing further state enterprises and social services to the detriment of huge masses in each country and by that guaranteeing the profits and privileges of capital and its class. Unemployment is increasing (in Greece officially 14,6%) and more than 20% of population is going below the official poverty line. Our both peoples are facing a common front of EU, IMF and local oligarchy, which are elaborating plans and programs of social cuts, while the foreign debts are still increasing along with the budget deficits. The big beneficiaries of the crisis are in both cases the Foreign Banks from Germany, France and UK, which are increasing their profits and revenues. The local banks in our countries are getting cash subventions and low rate loans in order to run their business. In both our countries we had very massive protests and manifestations, in Greece we had within one year more than 12 general workers strikes.
But there is not only poverty and unemployment in Greece and Ireland. There is also wealth and richness for the few. Recently for example a German magazine published information that the savings of Greek citizens only in Swiss Banks exceed the € 650 billions Euros. This is where the money flows to!
It is very interesting to observe how Democracy is being applied in Ireland (not only in Ireland of course). If a people, a nation does not agree to be part of the EU, or does not want to ratify an international treaty like the Lisbon treaty (or “European Constitution”) it has to go again and again to referendum till its outcome will comply with the needs and interests of the capital and of the monopolies.
While this economic crisis of the system is going on, the military expenses worldwide are reaching new record highs. In the year 2009 more than $1,5 Trillion USD was spent world wide, the half of it by the USA alone. The war industry is making huge profits and Imperialism is increasing its aggressiveness in all corners of the world, new wars and aggressions are on, while the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is still continuing.
Dear comrades and friends
The recent period several peoples of the Middle East and North Africa have shown with their massive uprisings that it is possible to achieve democratic changes and to get rid of totalitarian regimes. The massive popular participation especially in Tunisia and Egypt is an encouraging signal for all the peoples of the region and the world. The teachings of these uprisings are valuable for all of us. They show that it is not true that such revolts and upsurges belong to the past; that people can impose their will, despite the complex situation and the contradictions from case to case. We consider Libya to be a different case. We have no illusions about the character of the regime in Libya, particularly in the last years. The genuine and popular protests of Libyan people can not be expressed by some ex-ministers of Ghadafi and by a tribal competition within the Libyan society. The imperialists did everything to reach the decision of the UN Security Council for the imposition of a Non-Fly Zone in order to unleash a criminal attack on the country which has rich oil and gas reserves. This aggression like the previous ones against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq has many sides and aspects, but it has one thing in common with all the others. Imperialism, its leading forces and structures, is neglecting and violating every sense of International law as it was established for decades long and is carrying out a bloody war against a sovereign country, once again with the pretext of humanitarian intervention.
Imperialism is used to impose violent “regime changes”, even in cases which were serving long time their interests and collaborating with them. The cases of Mubarak in Egypt or Ben Ali in Tunisia, both outstanding members of the club of the Socialist International till their recent expulsion, shows how the imperialists are dealing with their collaborators after they have no use for them anymore.
Their goals and intentions are becoming meanwhile so obvious. We can even observe the different competitive interests which are clashing between the imperialists in the case of Libya, while altogether are bombing and attacking a country which was selling big part of its oil to the European Oil multinationals, namely British Petroleum and TOTAL. Is it a diabolic coincidence that the Libyan contracts with the French TOTAL expired just the day France started first its military attacks? Was it by chance that French President N. Sarcozy not only received the “opposition” forces in Paris but also recognized them as “legitimate representative of the Libyan people”?
The imperialist aggression against Libya has of course main and secondary “players”. France, the UK and USA have launched a full scale war, from air and sea. More NATO partners have announced their readiness to be part of the aggression like Norway, Denmark, Canada, and Belgium. From the Arab world two first class allies of imperialism have joined, the UAE and Qatar, while Saudi Arabia, first invaded Bahrain in order to “export Democracy” there. Greece and its government led by the President of the Socialist International G.Papandreou already gave all ports and airports, facilitating the military operations from the very first moment. But even the governments of other NATO states which are not openly participating in the aggression like Germany are not objecting the operations; neither will they veto a decision in NATO to assume the coordination of the operation “Odyssey Dawn” after the first week of bombings.
Developments prove that the inter-imperialist rivalries are more than ever existing, only that they do not mean anything positive for the peoples and their rights. We call upon all the peace loving peoples of the world not to accept and to fight back the decisions of the UN, of the willing alliance under the French President and of NATO tomorrow.
Just a few months ago when NATO held its summit in Lisbon adopting its “new strategic concept” we were stating that it constitutes a further expansion of NATO’s actions under new pretexts and “threats”, with the abolition of even the last respect to the International law and the founding charter of the UN, serving clearly and offensively the interests of the Multinational corporations and big International capital. NATO is the “world sheriff” which is becoming a force of execution of the arbitrary decisions of the UN and the case of Libya is one more example for the manipulation of the UN and its abuse.
The imperialists of the EU and NATO are speaking about International Law and the protection of the lives of civilians. Apart from hypocritical and dubious it is also of double moral. Where is the International law in the case of the Palestinian people who are suffering from a slowly genocide and are deprived of their right for an independent State, not to mention the dozens of resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the UN? Why the International Law is not applied in the case of the occupation of Western Sahara or the partial occupation of Cyprus till today?
In the course of preparations for the military aggression and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the main argument was that the regime in Baghdad was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Later, when this flagrant lie was revealed nobody amongst the governments of the EU or NATO raised the question of withdrawal of the foreign troops from Iraq, the killings of civilians and destruction went on and is still going on. Meanwhile the oil of the country is flowing under the US control and a puppet regime has been installed.
In the case of Afghanistan the US and its allies called for a “war against terror”, against the Taliban, which were trained, financed and guided for decades long by the CIA. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted again in a puppet regime in Kabul and in new records of the opium production and its export for use of the International drugs trafficking.
But also in the murderous 78 days long bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 by NATO, many lies have been revealed especially afterwards. The goal of USA, the EU and NATO to divide the former Yugoslavia in parts and create EU and NATO protectorates like the ones of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo was serving the goals of Imperialism in the broader region, their plans for the “Missile Defense Shield”, their interests in Central Asia and the “New Middle East Plan”.
The strategy of imperialism is very clear all these years, despite the contradictions or rivalries which appear from time to time. It is at least naive and dangerous if somebody believes that the various imperialist forces are different from each other or the one better than the other.
The WPC is proud for its firm and principle positions for more than 60 years towards NATO for example. Our peoples know that NATO was behind dictatorships and reactionary regimes and dozens of coups in all corners of the world.
The WPC did not discover NATO just recently, or only after the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq, neither did we ever believe that the new US President Obama would bring the slightest change in the US foreign policy, even before he was awarded with the Nobel Peace Price, which constitutes a farce for the award itself. The WPC never believed in the EU as a “democratic counter pole” to the USA. The imperialist character of the EU is clearly stated and reaffirmed in its Lisbon Treaty and on daily basis in various parts of the world. The EU’s complicity is visible in relation to the crimes against the Palestinian and Saharawi people who are under Israeli and Moroccan occupation respectively. The double standard policy towards the Israeli aggressions against Syria, Lebanon or the threats against Iran is speaking for themselves. The reactionary role of the EU is visible with the so-called “common position” towards Cuba.
All governments of the EU and NATO states share the responsibility for the imperialist crimes and plans of the two organisms. The whatsoever contradictions between the forces inside the NATO or/and EU or between them, are underlining only the fierce competition of their ruling classes for bigger shares in profits and markets. Thus we denounce not only NATO, but also each and every government which signs and steers its policies.
We are very concerned with the situation regarding peace and security worldwide. The preemptive doctrine of the USA, the new strategic concept of NATO, the militarization of the EU along with the abuse of the UN and the prevailing of the “law of the jungle”, creates an explosive framework for humanity worldwide. The WPC will keep on its firm positions and actions on the side of the poor and the oppressed, till the workers and the peoples will defeat imperialism in each country and worldwide. The future of humankind can not be seen in imperialist wars, occupation and social injustice.
The struggle continues the victory will be ours!
Vote on the Neutrality Bill in Dail Eireann which was defeated by a relatively narrow vote of 52-42
Forum DÁIL ÉIREANN AN DÓÚ DÁIL IS TRÍOCHA _______________ LIOSTA VÓTÁLA _____________
Ceist: "PMB: Thirty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill 2016 - Second Stage. Motion as amended: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.""
Tá - (45)
Staon - (0)
Níl - (0)
Not Recorded - (5)
Bailey, Maria. Barrett, Seán. Breen, Pat. Brophy, Colm. Bruton, Richard. Burke, Peter. Byrne, Catherine. Carey, Joe. Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella. Coveney, Simon. Daly, Jim. D'Arcy, Michael. Deasy, John. Deering, Pat. Doherty, Regina. Donohoe, Paschal. Doyle, Andrew. Durkan, Bernard J. English, Damien. Farrell, Alan. Fitzgerald, Frances. Fitzpatrick, Peter. Griffin, Brendan. Harris, Simon. Heydon, Martin. Humphreys, Heather. Kehoe, Paul. Kyne, Seán. Madigan, Josepha. McEntee, Helen. McLoughlin, Tony. Mitchell O'Connor, Mary. Murphy, Dara. Murphy, Eoghan. Naughton, Hildegarde. Neville, Tom. Noonan, Michael. O'Connell, Kate. O'Donovan, Patrick. O'Dowd, Fergus. Phelan, John Paul. Ring, Michael. Rock, Noel. Stanton, David. Varadkar, Leo.
Cannon, Ciarán. Creed, Michael. Flanagan, Charles. Kenny, Enda. McHugh, Joe.
Tá - (0)
Staon - (34)
Not Recorded - (9)
Aylward, Bobby. Brassil, John. Breathnach, Declan. Browne, James. Calleary, Dara. Casey, Pat. Cassells, Shane. Chambers, Lisa. Chambers, Jack. Collins, Niall. Cowen, Barry. Curran, John. Fleming, Sean. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Haughey, Seán. Kelleher, Billy. Lahart, John. Lawless, James. MacSharry, Marc. McGrath, Michael. McGuinness, John. Moynihan, Aindrias. Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret. Ó Cuív, Éamon. O'Brien, Darragh. O'Callaghan, Jim. O'Dea, Willie. O'Keeffe, Kevin. O'Loughlin, Fiona. O'Rourke, Frank. Rabbitte, Anne. Scanlon, Eamon. Smith, Brendan. Troy, Robert.
Butler, Mary. Byrne, Thomas. Cahill, Jackie. Dooley, Timmy. Martin, Micheál. McConalogue, Charlie. Moynihan, Michael. Murphy, Eugene. Smyth, Niamh.
Níl - (19)
Not Recorded - (4)
Brady, John. Buckley, Pat. Crowe, Seán. Cullinane, David. Doherty, Pearse. Ellis, Dessie. Ferris, Martin. Kenny, Martin. McDonald, Mary Lou. Mitchell, Denise. Munster, Imelda. Nolan, Carol. Ó Broin, Eoin. Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh. Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. O'Brien, Jonathan. O'Reilly, Louise. Stanley, Brian. Tóibín, Peadar.
Adams, Gerry. Funchion, Kathleen. Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Quinlivan, Maurice.
Níl - (6)
Not Recorded - (1)
Burton, Joan. Kelly, Alan. O'Sullivan, Jan. Penrose, Willie. Ryan, Brendan. Sherlock, Sean.
Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit
Níl - (5)
Barry, Mick. Boyd Barrett, Richard. Coppinger, Ruth. Murphy, Paul. Smith, Bríd.
Independents 4 Change
Broughan, Thomas P. Collins, Joan. Connolly, Catherine. Daly, Clare. Pringle, Thomas. Wallace, Mick.
Rural Independent Group
Tá - (1)
Staon - (2)
Grealish, Noel. Harty, Michael.
Healy-Rae, Danny. Healy-Rae, Michael. Lowry, Michael. McGrath, Mattie.
Social Democrats-Green Party Group
Staon - (1)
Not Recorded - (0)
Donnelly, Stephen S.
Healy, Seamus. Martin, Catherine. Murphy, Catherine. Ryan, Eamon. Shortall, Róisín.
Tá - (6)
Níl - (1)
Canney, Seán. McGrath, Finian. Moran, Kevin Boxer. Naughten, Denis. Ross, Shane. Zappone, Katherine.
The Dáil divided:
Tá: 52; Staon: 37, Níl: 42.
Tá, Deputies: Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin Níl, Deputies: Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Denise Mitchell
Bailey, Maria. Barrett, Seán. Breen, Pat. Brophy, Colm. Bruton, Richard. Burke, Peter. Byrne, Catherine. Canney, Seán. Carey, Joe. Collins, Michael. Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella. Coveney, Simon. D'Arcy, Michael. Daly, Jim. Deasy, John. Deering, Pat. Doherty, Regina. Donohoe, Paschal. Doyle, Andrew. Durkan, Bernard J. English, Damien. Farrell, Alan. Fitzgerald, Frances. Fitzpatrick, Peter. Griffin, Brendan. Harris, Simon. Heydon, Martin. Humphreys, Heather. Kehoe, Paul. Kyne, Seán. Madigan, Josepha. McEntee, Helen. McGrath, Finian. McLoughlin, Tony. Mitchell O'Connor, Mary. Moran, Kevin Boxer. Murphy, Dara. Murphy, Eoghan. Naughten, Denis. Naughton, Hildegarde. Neville, Tom. Noonan, Michael. O'Connell, Kate. O'Donovan, Patrick. O'Dowd, Fergus. Phelan, John Paul. Ring, Michael. Rock, Noel. Ross, Shane. Stanton, David. Varadkar, Leo. Zappone, Katherine.
Aylward, Bobby. Brassil, John. Breathnach, Declan. Browne, James. Calleary, Dara. Casey, Pat. Cassells, Shane. Chambers, Jack. Chambers, Lisa. Collins, Niall. Cowen, Barry. Curran, John. Donnelly, Stephen S. Fleming, Sean. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Grealish, Noel. Harty, Michael. Haughey, Seán. Kelleher, Billy. Lahart, John. Lawless, James. MacSharry, Marc. McGrath, Michael. McGuinness, John. Moynihan, Aindrias. Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret. O'Brien, Darragh. O'Callaghan, Jim. O'Dea, Willie. O'Keeffe, Kevin. O'Loughlin, Fiona. O'Rourke, Frank. Ó Cuív, Éamon. Rabbitte, Anne. Scanlon, Eamon. Smith, Brendan. Troy, Robert.
Barry, Mick. Boyd Barrett, Richard. Brady, John. Broughan, Thomas P. Buckley, Pat. Burton, Joan. Collins, Joan. Connolly, Catherine. Coppinger, Ruth. Crowe, Seán. Cullinane, David. Daly, Clare. Doherty, Pearse. Ellis, Dessie. Ferris, Martin. Fitzmaurice, Michael. Healy, Seamus. Kelly, Alan. Kenny, Martin. Martin, Catherine. McDonald, Mary Lou. Mitchell, Denise. Munster, Imelda. Murphy, Catherine. Murphy, Paul. Nolan, Carol. O'Brien, Jonathan. O'Reilly, Louise. O'Sullivan, Jan. Ó Broin, Eoin. Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh. Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Penrose, Willie. Pringle, Thomas. Ryan, Brendan. Ryan, Eamon. Sherlock, Sean. Shortall, Róisín. Smith, Bríd. Stanley, Brian. Tóibín, Peadar. Wallace, Mick.
John Lannon, Shannonwatch Speech given at Public Meeting 'US Army Out of Shannon; Troops Out of Afghanistan', Wynn's Hotel Dublin 27 May 2010. Organised by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM)
“We’d all prefer if there were no wars …”This is a quote from a Clare Fianna Fail TD, speaking on a local radio show in early May 2010. It was a few days after Omni Air International, the main airline company transporting U.S. troops through Shannon, stopped using the airport. They did so because of the volcanic ash from Iceland which was drifting in and out of Irish airspace. As a result of the pull-out, 30 workers were laid of at the airport and this prompted local media interest and discussion.
During the radio programme which I and two others took part in, it became clear that nobody knew if or when the U.S. troop carriers would come back, or even when a decision would be communicated to the airport authorities. Being a member of a government that has gone out of its way to help the U.S. in its so-called “war on terror”, bending their rules on neutrality to breaking point to do so, you might think the TD would have been given some indication. Especially since the U.S. President Obama expressed such gratitude for the use of the airport to our Taoiseach Brian Cowan when they met on St Patrick’s Day.
As it happens the Omni Air planes were back on Thursday 20th May. It was a return (as far as we know) to the routine 600 foreign troops a day through the airport. But given the speed with which the U.S. military carrier switched to a different route in early May, nobody should expect any job security based on their presence.
The arguments in favour of keeping the U.S military in Shannon usually come down to a few precarious jobs like the ones temporarily lost earlier this month. And the corporate investment fallacy. An Ireland Chamber of Commerce president in the U.S. said in 2008 that “the United States played an integral role in steering corporate investment into Ireland as a priority track in ensuring economic stability and accelerated growth”. This is frequently linked to the U.S. military use of Shannon - the argument is that refusing the use of our airport to their army will jeopardize the corporate investment. But the decision of Dell Computers to lay off 1,900 workers in Limerick in 2009 has shown that corporate decision making and U.S. army logistics are not that closely connected.
There is also perhaps a tendency to latch ourselves onto an imperial superpower that might throw scraps our way from their global pillaging. Given our proud fight against colonialism, this should present the main party in government in Ireland with a dilemma. But it doesn’t seem to … the sovereign independence that they as a republican party and we as Irish people claim to hold dear is being forsaken without the issue being adequately addressed in public discourse.
So we can put the economic arguments in favour of the U.S military business at Shannon to bed. It is of little economic benefit to the mid-West region. There is no investment by the U.S. military in infrastructure that could contribute to regional development. The airport has become an empty barn, apart from the 600 or so soldiers in combat gear airside. There is no attempt to promote tourism; there is no vision beyond short term financial gain by the DAA. In fact I would argue that economically Shannon Airport has been run down either by accident or design to the extent that jobs are immediately gone when one customer – the U.S. army - stop using it for a few days.
Granted, some money changes hands when these planes land. No landing fees charged as far as we know, but airport workers tell us that when a cargo plane contracted by a U.S. government department lands and is serviced, a credit card payment is often made directly to the Fixed Base Operator. The equivalent of our political brown envelopes - no questions to be asked about what or who is on board; just follow the instructions on the ramp chit and take the payment.
Sadly the Fianna Fail TD who claimed to be against war seemed quite happy with the war in Afghanistan and Irish involvement in it. We didn’t get around to debating the seven Irish soldiers serving in Afghanistan, nor do I don’t plan to cover it here. But it is worth noting that even by the measure of a “just war”, a somewhat flawed concept revived by President Obama at his undeserved Nobel prize acceptance speech, there is no justification for our involvement in this war of occupation. The six essential elements of a supposedly “just war” are: just cause, proportionality, proper authority, last resort, right intention, and reasonable hope for success. How many does the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan satisfy? None. Before I get back to the specific issues surrounding Shannon, I want to say something about the group I represent, Shannonwatch. We are a small group of peace and human rights activists based around Limerick/Shannon. In the tradition of the Irish anti-war protest that began almost a decade ago, we continue to hold monthly protest vigils at Shannon on the second Sunday of every month. We also do continuous monitoring of all military flights in and out of Shannon and through Irish airspace. Summaries are available on our website www.shannonwatch.org. For me there are four areas of concern surrounding the U.S. military use of Shannon, all based on legal and normative frameworks. They are:
Human rights laws and renditions Amnesty International, European Parliament, Council of Europe, and the Irish Human Rights Commission have all drawn attention to the use of Shannon in the shameful U.S. renditions programme. We (Shannonwatch) have logged known or suspicious planes landing there over the years. Even in 2009 some of these continued to use Shannon – and as we know the use of torture and CIA holding sites around the world is not a thing of the past.
A number of international treaties apply to Shannon in the relation to rendition flights. The main one is the United Nations Convention Against Torture which Ireland has ratified through the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention against Torture)Act 2000.
At European level there’s the European Convention on Human Rights. Ireland is also bound by this.
So Ireland has an obligation to arrest and charge anyone reasonably suspected of having committed torture. But the Gardai have always ignored requests to inspect suspicious planes – I was told on one occasion by a sergeant that this was a “policy decision”.
Aviation Law International civil aviation is governed by the Chicago Convention to which Ireland is a party. This is relevant in the case of the use of Shannon Airport by rendition planes. It is also relevant in relation to the movement of war munitions through Ireland by a foreign power. Article 35 states that “no munitions of war may be carried in or above the territory of a State in aircraft engaged in international navigation, except by permission of such State”.
The provisions of the Chicago Convention have come into effect in Ireland through the Air Navigation and Transport Act. Section 33 of this Act allows an authorised officer (a Garda for example) to stop, detain and search any person or vehicle on an aerodrome in the interests of safety and security. This would allow inspection of aircraft, but it has not been used to search planes suspected of involvement in renditions or possible illegal arms transportation as far as we know. However the Gardai regularly use Section 33 to impede peaceful protest and the monitoring of the US military planes, resulting in local activists being repeatedly ordered to leave the aerodrome, forcibly removed, or arrested.
The Chicago Convention clause about not taking munitions of war through a State’s territory is covered here in Ireland by the Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods Order. Any civilian aircraft seeking to land - or overfly - the State requires the permission of the Minister for Transport to carry military weapons or munitions. In 2009 the Minister granted 1,276 permits; the vast majority of these were from American civil airlines chartered by the U.S. military.
Apart from the Omni Air troop carriers there are several airlines landing at Shannon that are likely to be carrying cargo that is (a) a safety hazard for airport workers and visitors and (b) possibly used to commit war crimes or human rights abuse in another part of the world. For example
Incidentally the provisions of the Chicago Convention do not apply to military, customs or police aircraft such as U.S.Air Force jets as these are regarded as “State aircraft”. You have to ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs about these – not the Minister for Transport. But of course he’s not likely to tell you anything. Ministerial answers to questions relating to Ireland/Shannon/war tend to be very, very brief.
International Humanitarian Law
The protection of civilians from the effects of armed conflict is best known through the Geneva Conventions. But in the case of Shannon international humanitarian law is relevant in relation to the type of munitions that might be transported through the airport - or indeed through Irish airspace.
Neutrality Irish governments have claimed that allowing aircraft to use Irish soil does not constitute participation in any particular conflict and is compatible with a neutral stance. The relevant international law is the Hague Convention V – and even though Ireland hasn’t ratified it, a 2003 High Court judgement stated that Ireland was in breach by allowing US troops to use Shannon airport on their way to and from a war in Iraq.
Here are some of the statistics relating to Shannon in “neutral” Ireland:
Also of course under the 1954 Defense Act military personnel are forbidden to enter or land in the State while wearing a uniform, except with written Ministerial permission. However the U.S. Embassy sought and was granted permission for their troops to wear duty uniform in the “immediate vicinity of an arrival/departure airfield.” In other words they have been given carte blanche to behave as if they were at home at Shannon.
I want to finish by thanking the IAWM and PANA for organising this meeting. It can be a thankless task sometimes campaigning down in Shannon but we are determined to keep going. We need to re-energise the campaign – put it in the context of the corruption and the slipping of standards we have seen at the highest levels in this country; the lack of respect those who hold power have for the dignity and rights of ordinary people. The U.S. military at Shannon and the unjust nature of the war in Afghanistan have been removed from public discourse. Very few people even know that there are over 3,000 armed U.S. soldiers in Shannon every week. Or that we’re helping to foster instability, corruption and human suffering in Afghanistan by providing personnel to take part in the occupation.
The challenge for us all is to put this back on the national agenda. Even if the U.S. military do decide to pull out of Shannon permanently the next time a cloud of ash blows in, the campaign has not been won. We are still part of the global war industry. Our standards as an unaligned peaceful nation have slipped and they need to be restored.
The Ukranian regime that came into existence after President Yanukovich was removed from power on 22 February 2014 is illegitimate.
It is illegitimate because the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, did not follow the procedure to impeach and remove a president from power set out in the Ukrainian constitution.
Article 108 of the constitution specifies four circumstances in which a president may cease to exercise power before the end of his term. Those are:
The procedure for removal from office by impeachment is laid down in Article 111. It is not unlike that required for the impeachment and removal from power of a US president, which could take months. This makes sense, since it would be absurd to allow a parliament to remove a popularly elected president on a whim without proper consideration.
Thus, Article 111 obliges the Rada to establish a special investigatory commission to formulate charges against the president, seek evidence to justify the charges and come to conclusions about the president’s guilt for the Rada to consider. To find the president guilty, at least two-thirds of Rada members must assent.
Prior to a final vote to remove the president from power, the procedure requires
To remove the president from power, at least three-quarters of Rada members must assent.
The Rada didn’t follow this procedure at all. No investigatory commission was established and the Courts were not involved. On 22 February, the Rada simply passed a bill removing President Yanukovych from office.
Furthermore, the bill wasn’t even supported by three-quarters of Rada members as required by Article 111 – it was supported by 328 members, when it required 338 (since the Rada has 450 members).
According to Article 94 of the constitution, laws passed by the Rada require the signature of the President to come into force, so no law passed by the Rada since 22 February has been properly enacted.
Putin on legitimacy of Kiev authorities
President Putin questioned the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev at his press conference on 4 March:
“Are the current authorities legitimate? The Parliament is partially, but all the others are not. The current Acting President is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate President, from a legal standpoint. Clearly, he has no power. However, as I have already said, and will repeat: Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly legitimate President.
“There are three ways of removing a President under Ukrainian law: one is his death, the other is when he personally steps down, and the third is impeachment. The latter is a well-deliberated constitutional norm. It has to involve the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Rada. This is a complicated and lengthy procedure. It was not carried out. Therefore, from a legal perspective this is an undisputed fact.”
There is a fourth way – ill health – but, aside from that, Putin is undoubtedly correct.
Acting president not constitutional
The constitution was also breached when it came to the appointment of an Acting President. Article 112 specifies that “the execution of duties of the President of Ukraine, for the period pending the elections and the assumption of office of the new President of Ukraine, is vested in the Prime Minister of Ukraine”.
On 22 February, there was no prime minister – Mykola Azarov had resigned as prime minister on 28 January 2014 (when efforts were being made by Yanukovych to bring the opposition into government) and he hadn’t been replaced. Instead, the speaker of the Rada, Olexander Turchynov (a close ally of opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko) was appointed as Acting President on 23 February. He had become speaker the day before, upon the resignation of Volodymyr Rybak, an ally of Yanukovych, who resigned that morning because of ill health. The BBC reported that, according to Yanukovych, Rybak “was forced to resign because he had been physically beaten”. Whatever about that, Turchynov became speaker one day and Acting President the next, thereby securing the presidency for the opposition.
Government not representative of the east and southeast
The opposition then proceeded to set up a “government” which is not representative of the east and southeast of Ukraine.
What is more, the government contains five ministers, including the deputy prime minister, from the Svoboda (Freedom) party, led by Oleh Tyahnybok, which was described by the European Parliament as holding “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views” that “go against the EU's fundamental values and principles”. It seems to believe that Ukraine would be a better place without Russians and Jews. According to the BBC, in 2005 its leader signed an open letter to Ukrainian leaders calling for the government to halt the "criminal activities" of "organised Jewry", which, the letter said, … ultimately wanted to commit "genocide" against the Ukrainian people (see Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine's ultra-nationalists, 26 December 2012).
21 February agreement
Despite its illegitimacy and the ultra-nationalist credentials of some of its ministers, and the fact that it is not representative of the east and south-east of Ukraine, the EU (and the US) has backed the new authorities in Kiev wholeheartedly and the “prime minister”, Arseney Yatsenyuk, has been feted in Brussels (and Washington).
It is now virtually forgotten that on 21 February, the day before the President was overthrown, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland (Laurent Fabius, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Radoslaw Sikorski) acting on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (who was in Iran) had brokered an agreement which provided for very different governing arrangements for Ukraine. These arrangements included:
The implementation of these arrangements would not have involved any action in breach of the Ukranian constitution, unlike the removal from power of the President on 22 February.
This agreement was signed by President Yanukovych and three opposition leaders and supported by Russia – and it was wholeheartedly endorsed by Catherine Ashton on behalf of the EU:
“I welcome the agreement reached today by the President and the opposition leaders. This agreement opens the way for a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine. A democratic and peaceful solution is the only way forward. The EU has been very much engaged in all the efforts that led to this important breakthrough. I particularly commend the important work on my behalf of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland who facilitated this agreement. Implementation is now key. I call upon all signatories to respect the agreement and recall full Ukrainian ownership and responsibility for its immediate implementation.”
EU backs illegitimate regime
The opposition signatories did not honour the agreement and proceed to its immediate implementation. Instead, the day after they signed it, they reneged on it and backed the unconstitutional overthrow of a co-signatory to the agreement, President Yanukovych, and the establishment of a “government” representative of the opposition, and not a “national unity government” provided for in the agreement.
And what did the EU do then? It backed the new authorities, led by people who had made a deal on 21 February and reneged on it a day later. In a press conference, on a visit to Ukraine on 25 February, Catherine Ashton never mentioned the EU brokered deal of 4 days earlier in her opening statement, a deal which 4 days earlier she had said “opens the way for a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine”.
When she was asked about the deal, she muttered that “the situation has moved on”. Indeed it had, a President had been overthrown by unconstitutional means, which had it happened in other parts of the world the EU would most likely have condemned it. When asked if she agreed with the Russian government that “the situation in Ukraine is illegal”, she avoided answering the question.
Putin raises interesting questions
At his press conference on 4 March, President Putin queried why the 21 February agreement hadn’t been implemented:
“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that President Yanukovych, through the mediation of the Foreign Ministers of three European countries – Poland, Germany and France – and in the presence of my representative (this was the Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin) signed an agreement with the opposition on February 21.
“I would like to stress that under that agreement (I am not saying this was good or bad, just stating the fact) Mr Yanukovych actually handed over power. He agreed to all the opposition’s demands: he agreed to early parliamentary elections, to early presidential elections, and to return to the 2004 Constitution, as demanded by the opposition. He gave a positive response to our request, the request of western countries and, first of all, of the opposition not to use force. He did not issue a single illegal order to shoot at the poor demonstrators. Moreover, he issued orders to withdraw all police forces from the capital, and they complied. He went to Kharkov to attend an event, and as soon as he left, instead of releasing the occupied administrative buildings, they immediately occupied the President’s residence and the Government building – all that instead of acting on the agreement.
“I ask myself, what was the purpose of all this? I want to understand why this was done. He had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. Everybody agrees on this, everyone I have been speaking to on the telephone these past few days. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer. Did they wish to humiliate someone and show their power? I think these actions are absolutely foolish. The result is the absolute opposite of what they expected, because their actions have significantly destabilised the east and southeast of Ukraine.”
President Putin raises interesting questions.
David Morrison 12 March 2014
February 20, 2012 "Responsibility to Protect" as Imperial Toolby JEAN BRICMONTLouvain-la-Neuve
The events in Syria, after those in Libya last year, are accompanied by calls for a military intervention, in order to “protect civilians”, claiming that it is our right or our duty to do so. And, just as last year, some of the loudest voices in favor of intervention are heard on the left or among the Greens, who have totally swallowed the concept of “humanitarian intervention”. In fact, the rare voices staunchly opposed to such interventions are often associated with the right, either Ron Paul in the US or the National Front in France. The policy the left should support is non-intervention.
The main target of the humanitarian interventionists is the concept of national sovereignty, on which the current international law is based, and which they stigmatize as allowing dictators to kill their own people at will. The impression is sometimes given that national sovereignty is nothing but a protection for dictators whose only desire is to kill their own people. But in fact, the primary justification of national sovereignty is precisely to provide at least a partial protection of weak states against strong ones. A state that is strong enough can do whatever it chooses without worrying about intervention from outside. Nobody expects Bangladesh to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States. Nobody is going to bomb the United States to force it to modify its immigration or monetary policies because of the human consequences of such policies on other countries. Humanitarian intervention goes only one way, from the powerful to the weak.
The very starting point of the United Nations was to save humankind from “the scourge of war”, with reference to the two World Wars. This was to be done precisely by strict respect for national sovereignty, in order to prevent Great Powers from intervening militarily against weaker ones, regardless of the pretext. The protection of national sovereignty in international law was based on recognition of the fact that internal conflicts in weak countries can be exploited by strong ones, as was shown by Germany’s interventions in Czechoslovakia and Poland, ostensibly “in defense of oppressed minorities”. That led to World War II.
Then came decolonization. Following World War II, dozens of newly independent countries freed themselves from the colonial yoke. The last thing they wanted was to see former colonial powers openly interfering in their internal affairs (even though such interference has often persisted in more or less veiled forms, notably in African countries). This aversion to foreign interference explains why the “right” of humanitarian intervention has been universally rejected by the countries of the South, for example at the South Summit in Havana in April 2000. Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in February 2003, shortly before the US attack on Iraq, “The Heads of State or Government reiterated the rejection by the Non-Aligned Movement of the so-called ‘right’ of humanitarian intervention, which has no basis either in United Nations Charter or in international law” and “also observed similarities between the new expression ‘responsibility to protect’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’ and requested the Co-ordinating Bureau to carefully study and consider the expression ‘the responsibility to protect’ and its implications on the basis of the principles of non-interference and non-intervention as well as the respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty of States.”
The main failure of the United Nations has not been that it did not stop dictators from murdering their own people, but that it failed to prevent powerful countries from violating the principles of international law: the United States in Indochina and Iraq, South Africa in Angola and Mozambique, Israel in its neighboring countries, Indonesia in East Timor, not to speak of all the coups, threats, embargoes, unilateral sanctions, bought elections, etc. Many millions of people lost their lives because of such repeated violation of international law and of the principle of national sovereignty.
In a post-World War II history that includes the Indochina wars, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, of Panama, even of tiny Grenada, as well as the bombing of Yugoslavia, Libya and various other countries, it is scarcely credible to maintain that it is international law and respect for national sovereignty that prevent the United States from stopping genocide. If the US had had the means and the desire to intervene in Rwanda, it would have done so and no international law would have prevented that. And if a “new norm” is introduced, such as the right of humanitarian intervention or the responsibility to protect, within the context of the current relationship of political and military forces, it will not save anyone anywhere, unless the United States sees fit to intervene, from its own perspective.
US interference in the internal affairs of other states is multi-faceted but constant and repeatedly violates the spirit and often the letter of the UN Charter. Despite claims to act on behalf of principles such as freedom and democracy, US intervention has repeatedly had disastrous consequences: not only the millions of deaths caused by direct and indirect wars, but also the lost opportunities, the “killing of hope” for hundreds of millions of people who might have benefited from progressive social policies initiated by leaders such as Arbenz in Guatemala, Goulart in Brazil, Allende in Chile, Lumumba in the Congo, Mossadegh in Iran, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, or President Chavez in Venezuela, who have been systematically subverted, overthrown or killed with full Western support.
But that is not all. Every aggressive action led by the United States creates a reaction. Deployment of an anti-missile shield produces more missiles, not less. Bombing civilians – whether deliberately or by so-called “collateral damage” – produces more armed resistance, not less. Trying to overthrow or subvert governments produces more internal repression, not less. Encouraging secessionist minorities by giving them the often false impression that the sole Superpower will come to their rescue in case they are repressed, leads to more violence, hatred and death, not less. Surrounding a country with military bases produces more defense spending by that country, not less, and the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel encourages other states of the Middle East to acquire such weapons. If the West hesitates to attack Syria or Iran, it is because these countries are stronger and have more reliable allies than Yugoslavia or Libya. If the West complains about the recent Russian and Chinese vetoes about Syria, it has only to blame itself: indeed, this is the result of the blatant abuse by Nato of Resolution 1973, in order to effect regime change in Libya, which the resolution did not authorize. So, the message sent by our interventionist policy to “dictators” is: be better armed, make less concessions and build better alliances.
Moreover, the humanitarian disasters in Eastern Congo, which are probably the largest in recent decades, are mainly due to foreign interventions (mostly from Rwanda, a US ally), not to a lack of them. To take a most extreme case, which is a favorite example of horrors cited by advocates of the humanitarian interventions, it is most unlikely that the Khmer Rouge would ever have taken power in Cambodia without the massive “secret” US bombing followed by US-engineered regime change that left that unfortunate country totally disrupted and destabilized. Another problem with the “right of humanitarian intervention” is that it fails to suggest any principle to replace national sovereignty. When NATO exercised its own self-proclaimed right to intervene in Kosovo, where diplomatic efforts were far from having been exhausted, it was praised by the Western media. When Russia exercised what it regarded as its own responsibility to protect in South Ossetia, it was uniformly condemned in the same Western media. When Vietnam intervened in Cambodia, to put an end to the Khmer Rouge, or India intervened to free Bangladesh from Pakistan, their actions were also harshly condemned in the United States. So, either every country with the means to do so acquires the right to intervene whenever a humanitarian reason can be invoked as a justification, and we are back to the war of all against all, or only an all-powerful state, namely the United States (and its allies) are allowed to do so, and we are back to a form of dictatorship in international affairs.
It is often replied that the interventions are not to be carried out by one state, but by the “international community”. But the concept of “international community” is used primarily by the United States and its allies to designate themselves and whoever agrees with them at the time. It has grown into a concept that both rivals the United Nations (the “international community” claims to be more “democratic” than many UN member states) and tends to take it over in many ways.
In reality, there is no such thing as a genuine international community. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo was not approved by Russia and Russian intervention in South Ossetia was condemned by the West. There would have been no Security Council approval for either intervention. The African Union has rejected the indictment by the International Criminal Court of the President of Sudan. Any system of international justice or police, whether it is the responsibility to protect or the International Criminal Court, would need to be based on a relationship of equality and a climate of trust. Today, there is no equality and no trust, between West and East, between North and South, largely as a result of the record of US policies. For some version of the responsibility to protect to be consensually functional in the future, we need first to build a relationship of equality and trust.
The Libyan adventure has illustrated another reality conveniently overlooked by the supporters of humanitarian intervention, namely that without the huge US military machine, the sort of safe no-casualty (on our side) intervention which can hope to gain public support is not possible. The Western countries are not willing to risk sacrificing too many lives of their troops, and waging a purely aerial war requires an enormous amount of high technology equipment. Those who support such interventions are supporting, whether they realize it or not, the continued existence of the US military machine, with its bloated budgets and its weight on the national debt. The European Greens and Social Democrats who support the war in Libya should have the honesty to tell their constituents that they need to accept massive cuts in public spending on pensions, unemployment, health care and education, in order to bring such social expenses down to an American level and use the hundreds of billions of euros thus saved to build a military machine that will be able to intervene whenever and wherever there is a humanitarian crisis. If it is true that the 21st century needs a new United Nations, it does not need one that legitimizes such interventions by novel arguments, such as responsibility to protect, but one that gives at least moral support to those who try to construct a world less dominated by a single military superpower. The United Nations needs to pursue its efforts to achieve its founding purpose before setting a new, supposedly humanitarian priority, which may in reality be used by the Great Powers to justify their own future wars by undermining the principle of national sovereignty. The left should support an active peace policy through international cooperation, disarmament, and non-intervention of states in the internal affairs of others. We could use our overblown military budgets to implement a form of global Keynesianism: instead of demanding “balanced budgets” in the developing world, we should use the resources wasted on our military to finance massive investments in education, health care and development. If this sounds utopian, it is not more so than the belief that a stable world will emerge from the way our current “war on terror” is being carried out.
Moreover, the left should strive towards strict respect for international law on the part of Western powers, implementing the UN resolutions concerning Israel, dismantling the worldwide US empire of bases as well as NATO, ceasing all threats concerning the unilateral use of force, stopping all interference in the internal affairs of other States, in particular all operations of “democracy promotion”, “color” revolutions, and the exploitation of the politics of minorities. This necessary respect for national sovereignty means that the ultimate sovereign of each nation state is the people of that state, whose right to replace unjust governments cannot be taken over by supposedly benevolent outsiders. It will be objected that such a policy would allow dictators to “murder their own people”, the current slogan justifying intervention. But if non-intervention may allow such terrible things to happen, history shows that military intervention frequently has the same result, when cornered leaders and their followers turn their wrath on the “traitors” supporting foreign intervention. On the other hand, non- intervention spares domestic oppositions from being regarded as fifth columns of the Western powers – an inevitable result of our interventionist policies. Actively seeking peaceful solutions would allow a reduction of military expenditures, arms sales (including to dictators who may use them to “murder their own people”) and use of resources to improve social standards.
Coming to the present situation, one must acknowledge that the West has been supporting Arab dictators for a variety of reasons, ranging from oil to Israel, in order to control that region, and that this policy is slowly collapsing. But the lesson to draw is not to rush into yet another war, in Syria, as we did in Libya, claiming this time to be on the right side, defending the people against dictators, but to recognize that it is high time for us to stop assuming that we must control the Arab world. At the dawn of the 20th century, most of the world was under European control. Eventually, the West will lose control over that part of the world, as it lost it in East Asia and is losing it in Latin America. How the West will adapt itself to its decline is the crucial political question of our time; answering it is unlikely to be either easy or pleasant.
JEAN BRICMONT teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism. He can be reached at Jean.Bricmont@uclouvain.be
h3>Empire Carries On
by SHAMUS COOKE http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/19/syria-is-becoming-obamas-iraq/19/
In perfect Bush-like fashion, President Obama has invented a bogus pretense for military intervention in yet another Middle East country. The president’s claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons — and thus crossed Obama’s imaginary “red line” — will likely fool very few Americans, who already distrust their president after the massive NSA spying scandal.
Obama has officially started down a path that inevitably leads to full-scale war. At this point the Obama administration thinks it has already invested too much military, financial, and diplomatic capital into the Syrian conflict to turn back, and each step forward brings the U.S. closer to a direct military intervention.
Much like Obama’s spying program, few Americans knew that the United States was already involved, neck deep, with the mass killings occurring in Syria. For example, Obama has been directly arming the Syrian rebels for well over a year. The New York Times broke the story that the Obama administration has — through the CIA — been illegally trafficking thousands of tons of guns to the rebels from the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If not for these Obama-trafficked guns, thousands of deaths would have been prevented and the Syrian conflict over.
But even after the gun trafficking story broke, the mainstream media largely ignored it, and continued “reporting” that the U.S. has only been supplying the Syrian rebels with “non-lethal aid,” a meaningless term in a war setting, since all military aid directly assists in the business of killing.
The U.S. media also buried the truth behind the ridiculous chemical weapons claims by the Obama administration, which, like Bush’s WMDs, are based on absolutely no evidence. Having learned nothing from Iraq, the U.S. media again shamelessly regurgitates the “facts” as spoon-fed to them by the government, no questions asked. In reality, however, a number of independent chemical weapons experts have publicly spoken out against Obama’s accusations.
The U.S. media also refuses to ask: on what authority does the United States have to determine the usage of chemical weapons in other countries? This is the job of the UN. What has the UN said on the matter?
Top UN rights investigator Carla del Ponte said:
“According to the testimonies we have gathered, the [Syrian] rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas.”
Again, the “rebels” have used chemical weapons, not the Syrian government, according to the UN representative. Many analysts have pointed out the obvious fact that the Syrian government would have zero military or political motive to use chemical weapons, especially when they have access to much more effective conventional weapons. Obama’s Bush-like lies are too familiar to the American public, who overwhelmingly do not support military intervention in Syria, or giving direct military aide to the Syrian rebels.
What has the UN said on giving military aid to the rebels?
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called the Obama’s decision “a bad idea” and “not helpful.” This is because pouring arms into any country where there is a conflict only increases the bloodshed and risks turning the conflict into a broader catastrophe.
But like Bush, Obama is ignoring the UN, and there’s a logic to his madness. Obama has invested too much of his foreign policy credibility in Syria. His administration has been the backbone of the Syrian rebels from the beginning, having handpicked a group of rich Syrian exiles and molded them into Obama’s “officially recognized” government of Syria, while pressuring other nations to also recognize these nobodies as the “legitimate Syrian government.” Assad’s iron grip on power is a humiliation to these diplomatic efforts of Obama, and has thus weakened the prestige and power of U.S. foreign policy abroad.
More importantly, Obama’s anti-Syria diplomacy required that diplomatic relations between Syria and its neighbors — like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey — be destroyed. These nations have peacefully co-existed for decades with Syria, but have now agreed — under immense U.S. pressure — to sever diplomatic relations while helping destroy the Syrian government by funneling guns and foreign fighters into the country, further destabilizing a region not yet recovered from the Iraq war. Obama’s Syria policy has turned an already-fragile region into a smoldering tinderbox.
If Obama were to suddenly tell his anti-Syria coalition that he’s realized his efforts at regime change have failed and that he would instead pursue a peaceful solution, his allies and Middle East lackeys would be less willing in the future to prostitute themselves for the foreign policy of the United States; and the U.S. would thus find it more difficult in the future to pursue “regime change” politics abroad. If Obama doesn’t back up his “Assad must go” demand, the U.S. will be unable to make such threats in the future; and U.S. foreign policy is heavily dependent on this type of political bullying.
Furthermore, Obama’s anti-Syria puppet coalition is taking tremendous political risks when it shamelessly follows in Obama’s footsteps, since the U.S. is terribly unpopular throughout the Arab world. This unpopularity is further proof that the “official” Syrian opposition that is asking for U.S. intervention has zero credibility in Syria, since very few Syrians would like to invite the U.S. military to “liberate” their country, especially after the “successful” liberations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
Obama, too, is worried about domestic politics in his own country over Syria. He knows that Americans are sick of Middle East wars, while the American public is also worried that arming the Syrian rebels would mean giving guns to the very same people that America is supposedly fighting a “war on terror” against.
In response to this concern Obama has said that the U.S. will only give arms to “moderate” rebels. A European Union diplomat mockingly responded:
“It would be the first conflict where we pretend we could create peace by delivering arms… If you pretend to know where the weapons will end up, then it would be the first war in history where this is possible. We have seen it in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Weapons don’t disappear; they pop up where they are needed.”
In Syria U.S. weapons will thus end up in the hands of the extremists doing the majority of the fighting. These are the people who will be in power if Syria’s government falls, unless a full U.S. invasion and Iraq-style occupation occurs. It’s difficult to decide which outcome would be worse for the Syrian people.
It’s now obvious that President Obama is escalating the Syrian conflict because his prized rebels have been beaten on the battlefield. Obama has thus chosen the military tactic of brinksmanship, a risky strategy that involves intentionally escalating a conflict in the hopes that either your opponent gives in to your demands (regime change), or your opponent gives you an excuse to invade.
Here’s how former U.S. General Wesley Clark explains Obama’s brinkmanship tactic in a New York Times op-ed, which is worth quoting at length:
“President Obama’s decision to supply small arms and ammunition to the rebels is a step, possibly just the first,toward direct American intervention. It raises risks for all parties, and especially for Mr. Assad, who knows that he cannot prevail, even with Russian and Iranian military aid, if the United States becomes fully engaged. We used a similar strategy against the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo in 1999, where I commanded American forces, and showed that NATO had the resolve to escalate.
“The risk of going beyond lethal aid to establishing a no-fly zone to keep Mr. Assad’s planes grounded or safe zones to protect refugees — options under consideration in Washington — is that we would find it hard to pull back if our side began losing. Given the rebels’ major recent setbacks, can we rule out using air power or sending in ground troops?
“Yet the sum total of risks — higher oil prices, a widening war — also provide Syria (and its patrons, Iran and Russia) a motive to negotiate.” [emphasis added]
Clark’s innocent sounding “no-fly zone” is in fact a clever euphemism for all-out war, since no-fly zones require you destroy the enemy’s air force, surface to air missiles, and other infrastructure.
In Libya Obama swiftly turned a no-fly zone into a full-scale invasion and regime change, in violation of international law. A no-fly zone in Syria would also immediately turn into an invasion and “regime change,” with the possibility that the U.S. or Israel would exploit the “fog of war” to attack Iran.
All of this madness could be stopped immediately if Obama publicly announced that the Syrian rebels have lost the war — since they have — and will be cut off politically, financially, and militarily by the U.S. if they do not immediately proceed to negotiations with the Syrian government. But this peaceful approach will instead be ignored in favor of untold thousands more dead, millions more made refugees, and a broader regional fracturing of Middle East civilization.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at email@example.com
American Statement of Support for the Peace & Neutrality Alliance and Shannonwatch and their Opposition to Irish Participation in the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
As American peace activists working to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we support the efforts of our colleagues in the Irish peace movement to draw attention to and to oppose the use of Shannon Airport by the Pentagon as part of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In particular, we support the demonstration called by PANA & Shannonwatch for October 10, 2010, marking the ninth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy John Feffer, Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus* Tom Hayden, Peace and Justice Resource Center, Culver City, CA Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action Judith LeBlanc, National Field Organizer, Peace Action Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODEPINK Gael Murphy, Co-founder, CODEPINK Dave Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA Ray McGovern, Tell the Word, Church of the Saviour, Washington, DC Jake Diliberto, Co-Founder, Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan Seamus O'Sullivan, Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, American University of Afghanistan Michael Carrigan, Community Alliance of Lane County, Eugene, Oregon David Swanson, Founder, War Is A crime.org Mark D. Stansbery, Columbus, Ohio
*Affiliation for identification purposes only.
Dec 5 2009
Thanks to PANA for inviting me to speak at their 2009 AGM on behalf of Shannonwatch.
Shannon Airport is the embodiment of the erosion of Irish neutrality and of Irish involvement in the business of global warfare. Sadly a large share of its business now is US military stopovers, although Ireland claims to be a neutral country. A state that has had a proud tradition of peacekeeping with the UN is now trying to profit from immoral and unnecessary wars. But offsetting the loss of commercial traffic – due to the ending of the Shannon stopover, the downturn in the global aviation industry, and other factors – with war traffic is not something we can or will ever accept.
Since the start of this decade – soon after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers & Pentagon - the Irish government has made Shannon available to the US government. Its not the first time this happened – the US were also allowed to use Shannon during the 1991 Gulf War (bombers were seen at Shannon, en route to Iraq). But when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the Irish government stepped up its support for the imperialist warmongering and allowed them to use Shannon as a refueling stopover. As a result the majority of soldiers being transported between the US and Iraq for most of this decade have passed through Ireland.
We know also that Shannon has been used by the CIA as part of its so-called extraordinary renditions policy (a sanitised name for kidnapping and torture). This has been well documented by Amnesty International, the European Parliament and others. It breaches international human rights norms as well as Irish law – in particular the Criminal Justice Act – UN Convention Against Torture) 2000. For those of you who don’t know us, Shannonwatch is a group of peace and human rights activists based in the mid-west of Ireland. In the proud tradition of Irish anti-war protest, we continue to hold weekly protest vigils on the second Sunday of every month. We also do continuous monitoring of all military flights in and out of Shannon and through Irish airspace. Summaries are available on our website www.shannonwatch.org.
We work with media people who are still interested in investigating the cover-ups around Shannon, and with supportive politicians, to get to the truth of what is really going on in our “civilian” airport. Ultimately we want accountability from our government for the millions of lives we have helped destroy; for becoming part of an imperialist military power block driven by greed for energy resources; for the manner in which they took control of Irish foreign policy away from the people. And for the years of human rights abuse we have condoned & supported, and for the fact that we have covertly violated international and Irish law for most of this decade. We want it to end, and to ensure that it never happens again.
We often speculate about the real role Shannon has played in the wars of George Bush, in the renditions networks, and is now playing in Obama’s Afghanistan war. And about what deals have been done with the Americans in years past to give them open access to our runways. But we don’t even need to speculate – the known facts speak for themselves. Here are some of these facts …
Note: Civil aviation standards are governed by the provisions of the Chicago Convention, established in 1944, and Ireland is one of the signatories. Article 35 of this Convention states that “no munitions of war may be carried in or above the territory of a State in aircraft engaged in international navigation, except by permission of such State”. The provisions of the Convention have been put into law in Ireland through the Air Navigation and Transport Act (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods).
We were pleased to have had two conferences organised by PANA at Shannon in 2009. These recognised the importance of the airport issue in the debates around neutrality, Lisbon and so on, and reminded people that we too are guilty for the loss of many, many lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shannonwatch looks forward to continuing to work with PANA, the Irish Anti War Movement and others in 2010, to keep drawing attention to Irish complicity in war and human rights abuse at Shannon. We will continue the monitoring and publishing of flight data, and the monthly vigils (2nd Sunday of the month from 2pm – 3pm) will remain in place until the soldiers and the torturers are gone, or there is no-one left to protest. Together we will ensure that it is the former – and not the latter – that brings the protests to an end!
Opinion: The Army, born in a national struggle against imperialism, is being increasingly integrated into Battle Groups of the EU, a strategic military partner of Nato Roger Cole
A protest at Shannon in 2003 about US military equipment and troops passing through the Shannon Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson
Published: Monday, June 23, 2014, 19:07
"A small nation has to be extremely cautious when entering into alliances which bring it, willy nilly, into those wars... we would not be consulted in how a war should be started – the great powers would do that – and when it ended, no matter who won... we would not be consulted as to the terms on which it should end." - Taoiseach Éamon de Valera, Dáil Éireann, July 12th, 1955.
On February 15th, 2003, millions of people throughout the world marched in protest against the plan by the US and its vassal states to invade, conquer and occupy the secular state of Iraq. In Ireland well over 100,000 marched in Dublin against the war as did thousands more in Belfast. We failed.
The US and the UK invaded and destroyed the state, the consequences of which are continuing to played out in the current phase of the ongoing war on Iraq. Of course, the destruction of the state of Iraq and its replacement by a Kurd state, a Sunni state and a Shia state might be the outcome after a prolonged vicious and bitter war with the only winner being Israel, could be exactly what the US wants.
In Ireland, the Fianna Fáil party finally terminated the values of its founder, de Valera, and backed the war, destroying Ireland’s long-standing policy of neutrality as defined in international law by the Hague Convention of 1907 by allowing millions of US troops use Shannon Airport on their way to and from the war, and by voting against enshrining Irish neutrality into the Constitution (which was proposed by Sinn Féin and supported by Labour and independents).
Since then, the forces in favour of perpetual imperialist wars have grown stronger. Germany, which opposed the war in 2003, is now dominated by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a strong advocate of the Iraq war. France, which also opposed the war, is now an integral part of Nato, the nuclear armed military alliance dominated by the US. The state of Libya was bombed and destroyed by Nato. Every effort has been made by the US and its allies to destroy the state of Syria, as over the past few years it has actively supported the Salafi jihadi rebels, who are now taking over large parts of Iraq. The US is actively seeking a confrontation with Russia. With its “shift to the East”, the US also seems to want to take on China as well.
In Ireland, the Army, born in a national struggle against imperialism, is being increasingly integrated into battle groups of the EU, a strategic military partner of Nato. Despite the massive economic crisis no banker has seen the inside of a prison, but Margaretta D’Arcy, an opponent of Ireland’s support for the Iraq war, is imprisoned.
The Labour Party, which under the leadership of its then spokesperson on foreign policy, Michael D Higgins, in 2003 played a key role in opposing the Iraq war; in government it supports the aviation policy announced by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar on December 12th, 2012, in which he advocated “additional military flights” for Shannon Airport.
The section in the agreed Labour Party/Fine Gael programme for government which stated, “We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law”, has been rejected in favour of the additional military flights. With US president Barack Obama now sending US troops back into Iraq, one can only assume the Government will be pleased its policy of additional military flights through Shannon Airport will be a success.
However, the doctrine of perpetual war that was expressed in the Project for the New American Century produced in the 1990s is in trouble. Simply put, the American people are increasingly becoming tired of these never-ending wars.
The American people are beginning to say that it’s about time we focused on nation building at home. In the UK when for the first time since the 18th century a British prime minister’s proposal to launch yet another war, as David Cameron did, was rejected by the British House of Commons, a decision in no small measure due to the campaign by the Stop the War Coalition, a British peace group with which the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana) has a strong association. One suspects opposition to this doctrine of perpetual war is growing not just in the UK but throughout the EU. When UKIP and the National Front in France oppose these perpetual wars they are gaining support from voters who in previous years would have voted for parties such as the Democratic Socialists that used to oppose them.
The RedC poll commissioned by Pana in September 2013 showed 78 per cent supported a policy of neutrality and 79 per cent opposed a war with Syria without a UN mandate. Maybe the time is coming when article 2.4 of the UN charter that says all UN states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” shall be restored as the keystone of international law.
Finally, in the local elections in 1920, the Unionists and Home Rulers in Kingstown were replaced by an alliance of Sinn Féin and Labour councillors that changed its name to Dún Laoghaire as a symbol of their commitment to Irish independence. Some would now like it to return to its old name while a good deal more would like to call it Merkeltown. Those of us who support Irish independence, democracy and neutrality remain happy with Dún Laoghaire – but with more pride, more self confidence and a greater willingness to resist imperialism.
Roger Cole is chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance and was one of the main organisers of the demonstration in Dublin against the Iraq war on February 15th, 2003 © 2014 irishtimes.com
Since 1996 the Peace & Neutrality Alliance has campaigned for the right of the Irish people to have an independent foreign policy with Irish neutrality as its key component.
We therefore opposed the termination of that policy by the decision of successive governments of allowing millions of US troops use Shannon Airport in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
In September 2013 PANA commissioned RecC poll to ask the Irish people their views on a policy of Irish neutrality. The results (see attached) show that 78% of the Irish people support a policy of Irish neutrality. In the 18-34 age group support increases to 85%.
Now the crisis in the Ukraine could escalate from sanctions to war as it did in Iraq. However a war with Russia, a Second Crimean War, would be far more devastating than the wars on Yugoslavia, Afghanistan. Iraq, Libya, Syria etc, for the people of Ireland, especially as Mr. Gilmore, the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade has continued to reject the policy of Irish neutrality as advocated by PANA, a policy supported by the vast majority of the Irish people, and is determined to support the road to sanctions and war.
That Mr. Gilmore and the rest of the current Irish Government are heading down the road of sanctions and war with Russia will be a disaster for the Irish people, and PANA strongly opposes it. We call for the immediate restoration of an independent Irish Foreign Policy with neutrality as its key component.
This is especially that case with the crisis in the Ukraine. Dr. David Morrison, Research Officer of PANA in the attached document shows that the current Ukraine regime is illegitimate.
The Irish people are now facing a crisis that could transform into a major European war. In 1914 the vast majority of the then Irish political elite supported what became a major European war. Those that opposed Irish participation in that war, James Connolly, Padraigh Pearse, Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera and other's were despised and ignored by the then political elite. For PANA, however, they were and remain our hero's. They were people willing to stand up for Irish Independence, democracy and neutrality and who opposed Irish participation in an imperialist war.
That choice is with us again.
Roger Cole Chair Peace & Neutrality Alliance www.pana.ie
Six weeks ago UK Coalition government announced the outcome of its Strategic Defence Review. It signified the delay and cancellation of many defence projects - cuts in armed forces personnel, scrapping the fleet of Harrier Jump Jets, scrapping of the Nimrod surveillance programme, deep cuts in the order for F35 Joint Strike fighters and scrapping of the Arc Royal (Britain's only current aircraft carrier). The two new aircraft carriers which are currently being built in shipyards across Britain are to go ahead (because they are two expensive to cancel) but there will be no planes to fly from them for 10 years and even then only 12 planes per carrier. The closure of airbases such as RAF Kinloss and probably RAF Lossiemouth will mean thousands of job losses in the north of Scotland. So there are plenty of cuts planned in conventional defence.
But from our point of view the key issue was the announcement on Trident - Britain's submarine based nuclear weapons system. The project will be delayed with deployment put back by 4 years from 2024 to 2028 and the Main Gate (the announcement of the main contracts) delayed to 2016. The total number of warheads will be reduced from 225 to 180 and operationally available (or deployed) warheads reduced from 160 to 120.
In addition there is to be a delay in the decision about the production of a new warhead. We are told that this will not now be needed till at least the late 2030s and, therefore, a decision on this is not needed until the next parliament (after 2015).
We, of course, welcome all of this. It is a victory for common sense, a victory for the peace movement and one that was boosted by Britain's economic crisis and the squeeze on the Defence Budget.
The problem is that we still haven't stopped the Trident replacement project. The Initial Gate (the start of the detailed design phase) will go ahead and we expect it to be announced in December 2010 or January 2011. This will mean continuing to spend millions as the design process gathers pace and, of course, we are still spending almost £1bn a year on upgrading Aldermaston, Britain' bomb factory. All of this is clearly designed to keep both wings of the governing coalition happy. The Liberal Democrats will claim it as victory for their policy of opposition for like-for-like replacement, and the Tory faithful will be happy that the project has not been halted or cancelled.
How should we react to this situation? We should welcome the delay and the reduction in size of Britain's nuclear arsenal and the postponement of the new warhead. But we must point out two major contradictions in the government position.
Firstly, there is a huge mismatch between main the 'tier one' threats outlined in the Strategic Security Strategy - terrorism, cyber attack, civil emergencies, and instability and conflict overseas - and the government response. Are these actually threats in a military sense? How exactly do you make a military response to terrorism, cyber attack or civil emergencies? In particular, how exactly can you respond with nuclear weapons? This is a weapons system which is rooted in the Cold War past and is irrelevant to the threats we face today. Indeed, it could make things worse, as, for example, providing juicy targets for potential terrorists.
Secondly, in May this year (2010) our government signed up to a final document at the Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to 'accelerate concrete progress' towards nuclear disarmament. Going ahead with Trident replacement takes us takes us in opposite direction. It binds us into the possession of nuclear weapons for the next 40 or 50 years. We are thus breaking our international obligations. Britain, along with the other nuclear weapons states, signed up to this document. The majority of nations at the conference wanted something much stronger - a Nuclear Weapons Convention which would involve all nuclear weapons states joining a process with a clear timetable to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.
But perhaps the most positive thing about this delay in the Trident programme is that it keeps Trident as a live political issue up to and beyond the next general election. So far from closing off the issue, this partial victory can be springboard for building a broader and deeper alliance for outright cancellation of the project.
How can we build that broader alliance? There are new opportunities to work with disaffected Liberal Democrats, many of whom are upset about the abandonment of the their pledges on Trident and deeply unhappy about the savage programme of cuts in jobs and services launched by the Coalition.
Perhaps more importantly, there are new opportunities to work with Labour Party at all levels. Remember that many Labour MPs voted against Trident in 2007 and have not changed their position. Many others can be won to an anti-Trident position now that Labour is no longer on government. So also can many MSPs, councils and Labour party constituencies. This could strengthen the commitment of councillors to support the local authority Nuclear Free Zones movement and sign up to Mayors for Peace. Pressure from below could even shift the position of Parliamentary Labour Party and the new Labour leader Ed Milliband to an anti-Trident position. Already former Defence Secy Bob Ainsworth has suggested that the party needs to rethink its position on Trident.
Part of this process will be to develop our work with trade unions, especially those unions like UNITE and GMB who organise defence workers. The election of Len McCluskey as UNITE general secretary could be really helpful in that respect. We also need to link up with the growing anti-cuts campaign. Scrapping Trident and getting out of Afghanistan will save up to £7bn a year. This could be invested in jobs and services. It is, therefore, a key part of the alternative to a programme of cuts as outlined in the STUC's There is a Better Way campaign.
In addition we need to continue our work through Scotland's for Peace with our partners in the wider peace movement - the churches and faith groups.
So our demand to Scrap Trident is linked with the with demand for a global ban on nuclear weapons. We are not unilateralists. We are part of a global movement for peace which is getting stronger by the day and now encompasses the great majority of nations and peoples. And if we can get rid of Trident in Britain, and get these weapons out of Scotland, what a victory that would be for the global movement for peace. For the first of the original nuclear powers to say that nuclear weapons don't defend us, don't deter anyone and put everyone, including us, at greater risk, and we are getting rid of them. That would send shock waves across the world and what pressure it would put on France, the US and others to do likewise.
What are we doing in Scotland. Well, remember that all Britain's NWs are based in Scotland at Faslane and Coulport. In March of this year (2010) we held a demo in Edinburgh with over 1,000 in attendance demanding Cut Trident Not Jobs and a broad platform of speakers including First Minister Alex Salmond. In May of this year we held a post election conference entitled 'Trident - the first thing to cut' which helped chart the way forward in the new situation. In September (as part of Scotland for Peace) we launched a new campaign in the Scottish Parliament for a Nuclear Weapons Convention and produced a four page folder to help explain and popularise the idea. 80 attended including 10 MSPs from Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and the Greens. We also did a piece of research for British CND entitled 'Trident Jobs and the UK economy' . This was launched at the TUC in September showing that going ahead with Trident will destroy jobs across Britain. It put the case for defence diversification and posed the real alternative to weapons of mass destruction was to develop wave and tidal power.
In conclusion, getting the Trident project cancelled is not fantasy, it is now more possible today than ever. That's why we are in business. We still have much to do but there is every reason to be optimistic about the future.
The door to the sleeping compartment was flung open just as my friend and myself were had managed to fall asleep. ‘Passports, please’. My friend, a fluent Spanish speaker, translated. It’s the Spanish police. They say Portugal’s borders are closed and we may be thrown off the train at the frontier because of the NATO Summit conference in Lisbon. Sleep was even more difficult after that as we rocked and rolled across Spain. In the event the police did not throw us out at the border, nor did they bother with our two new friends on the train, Swedish young women who belonged to a peace group dedicated to non violent direct action. On arrival in Lisbon, we rushed to the international conference to hear the opening speeches from Sandra Monteiro of Le Monde Diplomatique in Portugal and Vitor Lima from the host Portuguese group PAGAN. There were also contributions from the International Coordinating Committee, including Reiner Braun from Germany, Arielle Denis from France and Andreas Speck (War Resisters International) Jan Majicek from the Czech Republic and the NO Bases Network and Jo Gerson from the American Friends Service Committee. Extremely interesting was the contribution from Shams Arya from Afghanistan – sadly revealing how desperate conditions were now in Afghanistan and his straightforward opinion that the presence of the NATO foreign troops would never ease the situation.
The rest of the day was divided into three workshop blocks. Yes, it was long but well worth it. As the Summit was due to publish its new Strategic Concept, that is NATO’s policies for the next few years, the first block focussed on different aspects of this for example, NATO and Afghanistan and NATO, War and Global Crises.
I convened a workshop on NATO and the Military Industrial Complex for which I had prepared a paper. Among other facts, I wanted to show how NATO is swallowing money and resource for the military and war making. Greece, for example, has recently spent $2 billion on buying 20 F16C52S and 10 F16D52s military aircraft from the huge military manufacturer Lockheed Martin. More than one delegate mentioned the contrast between the billions spent by NATO on weapons and war by NATO and the lack of money and resource for the stricken children, women and men of Haiti.
The group from the UK, mainly from CND, including the Chair, Dave Webb and the Vice Chair, Jeremy Corbyn MP, were of course involved in all the discussion on NATO’s nuclear policies. Among other concerns of delegates were the link with and the militarization of the European Union and the agreement with the United Nations which breaches the spirit and the letter of the UN Charter.
On the Saturday, which was occasionally showery but with bright sun, a rainbow appeared over Lisbon. We wondered about the symbolism. Certainly the demonstration and walk to the central square was peaceful and good-humoured. However the march had been organised by a (well supported) Portuguese political party of the left and, regretfully, they did not want the international group at the front. Nonetheless, we knew that, although probably because there was no violence, we did not appear in the mainstream press of the NATO member states, we were certainly filmed and interviewed by media outlets such as the Japanese press, Al Jazeera and some local press. My well travelled CND (peace symbol to our overseas friends) beret from behind apparently featured in many a picture! 45 people were arrested for non-violent direct action and blockading a road outside the NATO meeting, but they were later released.
More than 250 participants from 21 countries attended the conference and discussed non –military solutions to conflict and the dangers of NATO’s expansionist military policies. Using modern technology the debates and speeches at the conference were live streamed on the internet which gave the discussion a much wider global reach.
In the final statement, the conference members called for a just world without war and without nuclear weapons. They called for an immediate withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan. There was also a strong call for the removal of the five NATO/US nuclear armed bases from Belgium to Turkey. Members were united in their determination to continue their international cooperation. They would expose and campaign against the dangers of the NATO nuclear armed military, an undemocratic body which is continually expanding, now with links to, among others, Israel, countries in Africa and around the Pacific. This is an alliance which promotes the arms trade not disarmament.
As Reiner Braun said, on behalf of the International Coordinating Committee, ‘We have made a small step towards the de-legitimisation of NATO. Wherever NATO meets, where armaments and war are promoted, the international peace movement will be there.’
Footnote: 150 peace activists were not allowed into Portugal, including a bus load of Finnish peace activists and the internet organiser from Germany. Our long standing friend, Ben Cramer, (he recently published the booklet, the ‘Costs of Trident’) who came to represent the International Peace Bureau, was questioned for three hours at Lisbon airport.
* To ask the Minister for Defence the number of Irish troops deployed with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; their role and function in that conflict; the number who have taken part in the mission since its inception; the cost to the Exchequer of the deployment to date; if he has plans to withdraw Irish troops from this mission in view of the fact that it is led by a military alliance involving combatant nations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- DEPUTY CAOIMHGHÍN Ó CAOLÁIN.
* FOR WRITTEN ANSWER ON TUESDAY, 1ST DECEMBER, 2009.
Ref No: 44375/09
Minister for Defence, (Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D.): On 20 December 2001, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1386 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorising the establishment of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Ireland has participated in the NATO–led UN mandated mission since 5 July 2002, following the Government Decision of 2 July 2002, authorising the provision of seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the force. Over the past number of years the UN is increasingly relying on regional organisations such as the European Union, African Union and NATO to launch and manage operations on its behalf and under its authority.
Since 2002, the Government has reviewed and approved, on an annual basis, the continued participation by seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF. On 30 June 2009, the Government approved continued participation by seven members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF for a further period from July 2009 subject to ongoing review by the Department of Defence.
Since July 2002, a total of 140 members of the Permanent Defence Force, including the contingent currently deployed, have served with the force. The additional cost to the Defence Vote arising out of Defence Force participation in ISAF is approximately €270,000 per annum.
The seven Irish personnel currently participating in ISAF, comprising 4 Officers and 3 Non Commissioned Officers, are located in the two ISAF Headquarters in Kabul. The Irish personnel work in staff appointments in planning and administrative roles.
Decisions such as the continued participation of members of the Permanent Defence Force in ISAF and in other overseas missions, will be a matter for the Government in the context of the Estimates.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
Question 152: To ask the Minister for Transport the number of US troops bound for Afghanistan who have passed through Shannon Airport to date in 2009; if he anticipates an increase in numbers in view of the recent announcement by the US administration of the deployment of more troops in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46196/09]
Noel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
The Department of Transport does not collate information with regard to the number of military troops onboard civilian aircraft. However I am informed by the Shannon Airport Authority that some 243,000 US troops have passed through Shannon Airport in 2009 to date. My Department does not have information on the final destination of US soldiers on civilian aircraft that have stopped at Shannon Airport.
It is a matter for the carriers concerned as to where they choose to make a transit stop. It is not possible to say if the US administration’s recent announcement will have any impact on numbers of troops transiting through Shannon.
by VIJAY PRASHAD Published in CounterPunch.org
On the dusty reaches out of Sirte, a convoy flees a battlefield. A NATO aircraft fires and strikes the cars. The wounded struggle to escape. Armed trucks, with armed fighters, rush to the scene. They find the injured, and among them is the most significant prize: a bloodied Muammar Qaddafi stumbles, is captured, and then is thrown amongst the fighters. One can imagine their exhilaration. A cell-phone traces the events of the next few minutes. A badly injured Qaddafi is pushed around, thrown on a car, and then the video gets blurry. The next images are of a dead Qaddafi. He has a bullet hole on the side of his head.
These images go onto youtube almost instantly. They are on television, and in the newspapers. It will be impossible not to see them.
The Third Geneva Convention (article 13): “Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.”
The Fourth Geneva Convention (article 27): “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.”
One of the important ideological elements during the early days of the war in Libya was the framing of the arrest warrant for Qaddafi and his clique by the International Criminal Court’s selectively zealous chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. It was enough to have press reports of excessive violence for Moreno Ocampo and Ban Ki-Moon to use the language of genocide; no independent, forensic evaluation of the evidence was necessary. [Actually, independent evaluation was soon forthcoming from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, decisively debunking Ocampo’s charges. AC/JSC.]
NATO sanctimoniously said that it would help the ICC prosecute the warrant (this despite the fact that the United States, NATO’s powerhouse, is not a member of the ICC). This remark was echoed by the National Transitional Council, NATO’s political instrument in Benghazi.
Humanitarian intervention was justified on the basis of potential or alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions. The intervention’s finale is a violation of those very Conventions.
It would have been inconvenient to see Qaddafi in open court. He had long abandoned his revolutionary heritage (1969-1988), and had given himself over to the U. S.-led War on Terror at least since 2003 (but in fact since the late 1990s). Qaddafi’s prisons had been an important torture center in the archipelago of black sites utilized by the CIA, European intelligence and the Egyptian security state. What stories Qaddafi might have told if he were allowed to speak in open court? What stories Saddam Hussein might have told had he too been allowed to speak in an open court? As it happens, Hussein at least entered a courtroom, even as it was more kangaroo than judicial.
No such courtroom for Qaddafi. As Khujeci Tomai put it, “Dead men tell no tales. They cannot stand trial. They cannot name the people who helped them stay in power. All secrets die with them.”
Qaddafi is dead. As the euphoria dies down, it might be important to recall that we are dealing with at least two Qaddafis. The first Qaddafi overthrew a lazy and corrupt monarchy in 1969, and proceeded to transform Libya along a fairly straightforward national development path. There were idiosyncrasies, such as Qaddafi’s ideas about democracy that never really produced institutions of any value. Qaddafi had the unique ability to centralize power in the name of de-centralization. Nevertheless, in the national liberation Qaddafi certainly turned over large sections of the national surplus to improve the well-being of the Libyan people. It is because of two decades of such policies that the Libyan people entered the 21st century with high human development indicators. Oil helped, but there are oil nations (such as Nigeria) where the people languish in terms of their access to social goods and to social development.
By 1988, the first Qaddafi morphed into the second Qaddafi, who set aside his anti-imperialism for collaboration with imperialism, and who dismissed the national development path for neo-liberal privatization (I tell this story in Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, which will be published by AK Press in the Spring of 2012). This second Qaddafi squandered the pursuit of well-being, and so took away the one aspect of his governance that the people supported. From the 1990s onward, Qaddafi’s regime offered the masses the illusion of social wealth and the illusion of democracy. They wanted more, and that is the reason for the long process of unrest that begins in the early 1990s (alongside the Algerian Civil War), comes to a head in 1995-96 and then again in 2006. It has been a long slog for the various rebellious elements to find themselves.
The new leadership of Tripoli was incubated inside the Qaddafi regime. His son, Saif al-Islam was the chief neoliberal reformer, and he surrounded himself with people who wanted to turn Libya into a larger Dubai. They went to work around 2006, but were disillusioned by the rate of progress, and many (including Mahmud Jibril, the current Prime Minister) had threatened to resign on several occasions. When an insurengy began in Benghazi, this clique hastened to join them, and by March had taken hold of the leadership of the rebellion. It remains in their hands. What is being celebrated on the streets of Benghazi, Tripoli and the other cities? Certainly there is jubilation at the removal from power of the Qaddafi of 1988-2011. It is in the interests of NATO and Jibril’s clique to ensure that in this auto-da-fé the national liberation anti-imperialist of 1969-1988 is liquidated, and that the neoliberal era is forgotten, to be reborn anew as if not tried before. That is going to be the trick: to navigate between the joy of large sections of the population who want to have a say in their society (which Qaddafi blocked, and Jibril would like to canalize) and a small section that wants to pursue the neoliberal agenda (which Qaddafi tried to facilitate but could not do so over the objections of his “men of the tent”). The new Libya will be born in the gap between the two interpretations.
The manner of Qaddafi’s death is a synecdoche for the entire war. NATO’s bombs stopped the convoy, and without them Qaddafi would probably have fled to his next redoubt. The rebellion might have succeeded without NATO. But with NATO, certain political options had to be foreclosed; NATO’s member states are in line now to claim their reward. However, they are too polite in a liberal European way to actually state their claim publically in a quid-pro-quo fashion. Hence, they say things like: this is a Libyan war, and that Libya must decide what it must do. This is properly the space into which those sections in the new Libyan power structure that still value sovereignty must assert themselves. The window for that assertion is going to close soon, as the deals get inked that lock Libya’s resources and autonomy into the agenda of the NATO states.
VIJAY PRASHAD is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Irish Government is considering joining PESCO. This will be one of the most important decisions this FG/Independeny Alliance will ever make. There needs at the very least a serious debate on the issue, and in any genuine debate form all sides in the corporate media. On the evidence so far this is highly improbable, as is their total lack of coverage of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.
These are the key points.
An article about the recent signing up to Pesco: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/11/13/defence-cooperation-23-member-states-sign-joint-notification-on-pesco/#
1) the NATO dimension; 2) the necessity to increase defence spending ("regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms in order to reach agreed objectives",); and 3) that the Petersberg Tasks are not as innocent at portrayed. The underlying thread of supporting the arms industry is also a huge point. 2. Also this article from French TV (http://www.france24.com/en/20171113-eu-defence-defense-joint-military-development-cooperation-pesco) which has the following: "EU officials insist this is not just bureaucratic cooperation, but real investment that will help develop Europe's defense industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims. The EU, she said, has tools to fight hybrid warfare - the use of conventional weapons mixed with things like propaganda and cyber-attacks - that the military alliance does not have at its disposal."3. Also, this German news site: http://www.dw.com/en/pesco-eu-paves-way-to-defense-union/a-41360236 'EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense."The decision to launch PESCO indicates Europe's move towards self-sufficiency in defense matters instead of relying solely on NATO. The EU, however, also stressed that PESCO is complimentary to NATO, in which 22 of the EU's 28 countries are members.NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the launch, saying that he saw it as an opportunity to "strengthen the European pillar within NATO." Stoltenberg had previously urged European nations to increase their defense budget. "I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO," Stoltenberg said.4. Finally interesting document re EU/NATO Council Conclusions on the Implementation of the Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the EuropeanCommission and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-15283-2016-INIT/en/pdf
See the attached for more (word doc).
Let us fight for Global Peace, Disarmament and the End of NATO!
NATO will adopt a new strategy in its summit meeting in Lisbon from November 19th to 21st 2010. This new strategy should, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright , who fronted the NATO deliberations over the last couple of years, "lead NATO through the uneasy and dangerous times at the beginning of the 21st century".
Our first glimpse of this proposed strategy document is that it reflects pure militarism, continuation of the wars, especially in Afghanistan (where Irish soldiers and policemen fight) and, above all, further nuclear armament, including the first strike option. Press reports have said that a major innovation of this new NATO strategic concept is that the EU is now a"strategic partner," that is, a military partner of NATO.
The critique of the peace and anti-war movements is still necessary and correct: NATO is a dinosaur that should be abolished. A number of us who demonstrated during the last NATO Summit in Strasbourg 18 months ago, will be going to Lisbon to take part, with tens of thousands of anti-war and peace activists, in the NATO counter-Summit. If you agree with our stance - join us.
We’re fighting for a society that respects its citizens; fighting for a society where the rich and powerful should pay for the crisis they created. Fighting for a just society is part and parcel of fighting for a society with no wars... where our taxes are spent judiciously for proper health, good education for our kids and not on missile defence systems, nuclear submarines and more bullets and drones!!
Campaign for Social Europe Dalkey Business Centre, 17 Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin Contact: Roger: 087 261 1597 or Michael 086 815 9487
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been saying ‘No to NATO’ for many years. NATO is a military alliance which was formed before the Warsaw Pact. When the Warsaw Pact disappeared after the end of the Cold War, it had been understood that NATO would be dissolved too. But this was not to be. NATO had always been dominated by the US government and NATO had become one of the prime military arms supporting the US policy of, ‘full spectrum dominance’ and control over resources. After the end of the Cold War, plans were made not only to keep NATO but to expand the membership. Governments in central and eastern Europe turning away from totalitarian communism were keen to join this powerful ‘western’ alliance.
NATO has been expanding since its inception when the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in April 1949 by 12 countries. Now it is comprises 28 member states and 22 Partners for Peace. In addition the Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to make military links with Israel (many both inside and Israel and in the US would like Israel to be a NATO member) and countries in North Africa and the Alliance has links with Contact Countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. In Europe, NATO has reached Russia’s western borders. Its recent plans for expansion to include Georgia, the Ukraine as NATO, up to Russia’s southern borders, has caused more problems and was one of the factors in last year’s conflict in the Caucasus.
NATO’s policy continues to be ruled by the US and the UK governments, so now it embroiled in war in Afghanistan which is achieving very little except further suffering for the Afghan people and for the hundreds of families of the military killed and severely injured in the conflict.
The military industrial complex has played, and does play, a hugely important role in the expansion and policies of NATO. Looking back to the 90s, the Technical Director of Lockheed Martin was Chair of the Expand NATO Committee in the US. NATO works under a policy of ‘interoperability’ for the military equipment of the member states. So the more NATO expanded, the more sales improved for the US military contractors.
NATO had always since its inception kept a nuclear weapons policy, but in 1999 this was reinforced. The Strategic Concept affirmed that nuclear weapons ‘preserve the peace’ and that nuclear weapons provide the ‘supreme guarantee’ of the member states’ security. NATO also retained policy of first use of nuclear weapons. There was to be a ‘minimum nuclear deterrent’. When it is considered that the UK part of the US Trident arsenal, the four submarines at Faslane, equipped to carry over 1000 times the killing power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, are ‘integrated’ into NATO, it can be seen what a nonsense word ‘minimum’ is. Deterrent? Did the US 14 Tridents deter the September 11th attacks?
Three NATO members – the UK, the USA and France - are nuclear weapon states, but five states that are technically non-nuclear, Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey – maintain ‘a nuclear sharing’ agreement, which means that in time of war they could be given use of the 200 plus US nuclear bombs stored at the bases in their countries. ...It was NATO too which agreed to the military bases in Poland and the Czech Republic for missile interceptors and tracking radar to support US ballistic, so-called, defence. The UK had already agreed to the use of the Fylingdales and Menwith Hill bases in North Yorkshire. If nuclear armed NATO expansion had angered the Russian administration, the US push for the European missile defence bases angered them more.
All of the nuclear policies are in breach the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty where the nuclear weapon states signed up to bring about nuclear disarmament in ‘good faith’. So how can they support NATO’s nuclear policies?
Yet just this year in the government’s ‘Road to 2010’ report, it was stated,
‘The UK places great importance on the nuclear role of NATO, as reaffirmed by the declaration of Alliance Security issued at the 2009 NATO summit. …. We will continue to contribute our strategic nuclear deterrent to NATO’s collective security.’
NATO continues to pursue its disastrous war in Afghanistan; similarly it will pursue its nuclear armed policies, if we, the people, do not mount powerful pressure to change the militaristic drive. NATO is not acting in the interests of the mass of people. NATO itself has started a public debate on a new Strategic Concept, for which the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has called for the widest possible participation - as far as ‘Town Halls’.
So let us all join in. There will be an opportunity in Edinburgh 14/15 November when the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meets there. It is our role in CND and all the peace and social justice groups to expose the dangerous nature of this huge military alliance.
It was President Eisenhower who with brilliant foresight used the phrase ‘the military industrial complex‘, 50 years ago.. He said, in 1961, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”
He was right and nowhere has this been more true than in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. NATO had already become a huge force under the domination of the US and its close allies such as the UK, before the end of the Cold War. At the end of totalitarian communism and as the regimes began to tumble across Europe at the end of the 80s, NATO began to hatch its plan for expansion. The governments of Central Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – were eager to join this military alliance, as they saw it, which promised them defence against any rise of the USSR again and, in the case of Poland at least, their old enemy Russia. The eastern European nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were drawn in under the same arguments.
What of course was never explained to the populations clearly was that the new expanding NATO was not bringing security but dangers. NATO was growing heady with power as it had always been. It saw itself as dominating the world. You only have to look at the picture on the cover of the 2000 NATO Review. There is a map of the world; the area where NATO states are is a glowing golden yellow representing one is supposed to think, light, peace and goodness. The rest of the world is benighted in dark green and black.
This new global dominating NATO was not there for the well being of the citizens in the member states or indeed across the world. NATO was there as the military arm of the US ‘empire’ and to maintain power over resource for the countries of the global north.
NATO even managed, with little outcry, in October, 2009, to make an agreement with the United Nations. According to reports, Ban Ki-Moon was pressurised into signing the agreement by France, the USA and the UK. The agreement stated that ‘cooperation will continue to develop in a practical fashion, taking into account each Organisation’s (that is NATO and the UN) mandate, expertise, procedures and capabilities, so as to contribute to improving coordinated response to global challenges.’
This agreement goes completely counter of course to the spirit and wording of the UN Charter. How can the UN remain ‘independent’ if it is aligned with one large scale military alliance? The very opening words of the charter are, ‘We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,… are made hollow by this agreement. NATO does not prevent war, it provokes it and even now is carrying out a violent and futile war in Afghanistan.
So these are the pressures for the expansion of NATO which come from the western powers in pursuit of power and the energy sources. But what other pressures are there? Here we must go back to Eisenhower’s far-seeing speech and words. We could first look at the expansion in the 90s into Central and Eastern Europe. A key word is ‘interoperability’, an ugly word for an ugly policy. The new members of NATO’s military - land and air forces - had to be able to fly the same planes and drop the same bombs as the existing NATO states. That is the new NATO states were told to throw out the old Soviet military hardware and buy the new, bright and shiny American military hardware. These were countries which were, and are now, in extremely difficult financial conditions. In 1996, Bruce Jackson helped to found the ‘US Committee on NATO’. Now Bruce Jackson was also Vice President for Strategy and Planning at the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest manufacturer of military strike aircraft. Jackson was also President and Founder of the Project on Transitional Democracies which aimed at speeding up the ‘reform’ of the post 1989 democracies and bringing those countries into the ‘institutions of the Euro-Atlantic. The Euro Atlantic institution was NATO. As soon as the states of central Europe came into NATO, they had to be prepared to buy US planes and military hardware. Linked was yet another post Bruce Jackson held when he was the Chair of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) This was a body aimed at persuading the US public that a war on Iraq was need to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But the other agenda was to make sure US oil companies controlled the oil in Iraq – and of course the war brought about new sales of military hardware.
When we speak of military hardware, we should look at which countries have bought, or are buying, Lockheed Martin planes; a policy which was carefully planned over 15 years ago. Between 2006 and 2009, the Polish government which was, and is, the strongest supporter of the US government, bought no fewer that 36 F16C52s and 12 F16D 52s (each costing about $34 million) military aircraft.. Yet Poland is one of the poorest countries in Europe. At the same time another country which is in grave economic difficulties, Greece, bought in the last two years 20 F16C52 and 10 F16D52s, the latter order at a cost of $2 billion.
It never ends. Last year on the 10th anniversary of the NATO Strategic Concept, the Heads of State in Strasbourg asked the Secretary General to develop a new Strategic Concept, which is defined as an authoritative statement of the ‘Alliance’s objectives and to provide the highest level of guidance on the political and military means to be used in achieving them.’ It was termed a ‘major intellectual exercise’... So a conference was held in July, 2009, to launch the, so called, public debate.
Who would you invite to such a conference to give their advice? You or me or our representatives from civil society? Parliamentarians? Well, no, that is not who attended. NATO invited Madeline Albright, she who replied when asked about a possible half a million children dying under the sanctions regime, ‘We think the price is worth it’. NATO invited the Supreme Allied Commander - Transformation, James Mattis; the Chief Executive Officer of ENI and the Chairman of Lloyds (the world wide insurers) of London, the grandly named, Lord Levene of Portsoken (you might believe this was mediaeval times from the title). Lord Levene had good experience for this new role; he had been Chief of Defence procurement in the UK Conservative government in the 80s. NATO apparently wanted to start a dialogue between a wide range of experts and the broader public. The trouble is the broader public never really seem to have entered the picture.
Over the year there were also other documents published by ‘experts’. And who were these ‘experts’? One of great interest was the Strategic Advisors Group, (SAG) which was set up by the Atlantic Council to tackle the tough issues facing NATO. It was co-chaired by the Atlantic Council Chairman, General James L. Jones, General Brent Scowcroft and former Norwegian Defence Minister, Kristin Krohn Devold. SAG is hardly independent; it is ‘generously sponsored by the Scowcroft Group, EADS North America and Airbus’. All these are military manufacturers or military ‘advisors’! Now where are the likes of you and me?
This group of experts produced a paper for the Strategic Concept of ‘NATO’s Nuclear Policy in 2010: Issues and Options’. Not surprisingly, the Group came up with the recommendation that the new SC should not address nuclear sharing arrangements as, they said, ‘There is no consensus within NATO for withdrawal of existing weapons so to propose altering the existing arrangements would set off a deeply divisive debate on a marginal issue.’ Are nuclear weapons marginal? They were looking to ‘a more visible system to committing survivable nuclear forces to NATO missions’. What nonsense is that? What are survivable nuclear forces? Were they suggesting more money for more research into new forms of nuclear weaponry?
SAG came to the following conclusions.
The nuclear doctrine need to be up-dated : By focusing on deterrence of nuclear attacks Enhancing nuclear burden sharing beyond the ‘dual key’’ arrangements Pledging robust resistance to nuclear proliferation Supporting reduction in both strategic and theatre nuclear arsenals and Endorsing the long term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
But there are no positive steps to the latter mentioned. The rest is the same old story. There never was such a thing as ‘deterrence’; it is simple a useful policy presentation to allow the nuclear weapons states to continue to develop nuclear arms. Resistance to nuclear proliferation is a complete contradiction. It is NATO countries themselves, including the USA, the UK and France, which are proliferating nuclear weapons, while nuclear burden sharing is proliferation by another name….
But then look at the Group board members who come from, among others: Thales, EADS North America, Dornier Aircraft, The Cohen Group, the RAND Corporation, The Scowcroft Group, The Krull Corporation, The Spectrum Group Caplin and Drysdale, Deloitte….. There is one solitary member of the European Parliament. NATO policies are being forged by huge corporate companies - mainly American. The military industrial complex is well and truly with us – and thriving. It is helping to build yet again NATO’s deadly dangerous policies. We need to expose this because NATO policies are dragging the world into more and more conflict which neither protects the citizens in its member states nor those across the world. Bonanzas of weapons spending gobble vast amounts of money at a huge cost to the poor of the world.
Rae Street November 2010
On http://mcmilitary.org/en/afghanistan_deployment you can find the result of our project to Map the troop deployment to Afghanistan and the military infrastructure involved in this war. The overview is not 100% complete in terms of units and bases, but we have been able to cover the main forces in the most important European states. Concerning announcements of extra troops the overview is quite complete. We also tried to map the political debate: http://mcmilitary.org/en/political_debate_on_afghanistan. This stays a fragmentary picture.
Feel free to use this information for press or public work concerning the Afghanistan Conference in London on 28th January 2010. And feel free to contribute with information on deployments and the political debate in your country.
On the meeting of the Afghanistan-network in Berlin on 16 October one of the agreements was to make an inventory of the military bases involved in the Afghanistan-war. With this mapping project we have a first result, which can be developed further. This website will in a later stage be integrated in the www.no-bases.org-website and others, when technically possible.
Hans Lammerant Bombspotting - Vredesactie / ICC member No to NATO-network and No Bases-network www.bombspotting.org - www.vredesactie.be
‘Globalisation’ is a term that has suddenly become very common. It refers above all to the rapid increase in economic activity that is taking place across national boundaries. It includes the way that goods, services and financial capital are produced, traded and moved around the whole world. Globalisation has profound social and political, as well as economic, implications. It is stimulating a level of interdependence that goes far beyond the international trade and communication of the past. It is having an enormous impact on the lives of workers and their communities everywhere.
Globalisation could be beneficial. Trade has the potential to generate wealth, stimulate technological innovation that improves living standards, and bring ordinary people in distant parts of the globe closer together, increasing mutual understanding and spreading values of social justice. But this is not what is happening. At a time of unprecedented wealth and technological capability for some, the majority of the world's population finds that things are getting worse. The free market model of globalisation that is being promoted is focussed on the needs of business, particularly large-scale multinational companies, not on the needs of ordinary people. Workers everywhere are seeing an erosion of their job security, working conditions, and wages. Hard-won rights to organise trade unions and negotiate collectively with management are being undermined. Millions of workers, particularly in the developing countries and Eastern Europe, are experiencing greater poverty and hardship. The globalisation we are experiencing is increasing the gap between rich and poor, both within and between countries. Ever larger numbers of the poor are having to leave their traditional homes and migrate to wealthier cities or countries in the hope of earning a livelihood. Meanwhile very powerful media and entertainment corporations from the industrialised countries dominate and marginalise other cultures, languages, and ways of living and thinking. These trends encourage resentment and bear the seeds of conflict.
Today’s globalisation is sometimes portrayed as an inevitable, technologically-driven process that we must adapt to if we are to survive and prosper. But this is not true. It is being driven by a laborious process of international rule-making and enforcement by governments that support the needs of business above those of their own citizens. Meanwhile, the regulations that protect workers and their communities are being downgraded. Little wonder that many ordinary people have become angry or cynical at governments and democratic political processes. This lack of legitimacy will only worsen until people’s social, developmental and environmental concerns are properly addressed.
Today's globalisation is not providing the resources needed for living and working conditions to improve for the mass of the world's people. Rather, governments are all too often undermining workers' rights and conditions so that business can minimise its labour costs. Yet all workers have rights, as has been repeatedly agreed by the same governments over the past half a century. Four decades after signing the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, governments at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995 again committed themselves to: "safeguarding and promoting respect for basic workers' rights, including the right to organise and bargain collectively; the prohibition of forced and child labour; equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, and non discrimination in employment."
The body of the United Nations which oversees labour issues is the International Labour Organisation (ILO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. The ILO is the only international body that is tripartite, having representatives of governments, employers and workers. They come from 182 countries. At the ILO, the ICTU represents workers on the island of Ireland. One of the ILO's most important functions is the development of international labour standards. The ILO agrees Conventions which aim to create binding obligations on governments, and Recommendations which give guidance to governments on policy, legislation and practice. There are over 180 ILO Conventions and even more Recommendations. As well as basic trade union rights and freedom from harassment, coercion and discrimination, they cover many issues such as safe and healthy workplaces, hours of work, paid leave for agricultural workers, or contracts of employment for seafarers, etc. Establishing standards is one thing. Making sure they are observed is quite another. The ILO examines how governments are putting the standards into practice through legislation and activities. It can shame governments in the eyes of the international community. In the end, though, the ILO can only persuade governments; it cannot force them.
In 1998, the ILO adopted the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This says that certain rights are so fundamental that they apply to all workers, irrespective of whether or not their governments have signed up to the relevant Conventions, and no matter how rich or poor their country is. They are called the 'core labour standards'. They are:
All ILO member states are obliged to promote and realise these fundamental rights. It is clear, however, that many governments are ignoring their duties. They are instead undermining workers' fundamental rights in the interests of attracting investors in the global economy. Core labour standards are basic human rights that help people break out of the poverty trap. They are the building blocks of democracy, and crucial to the empowerment of working people, especially the poor and marginalised. Respect for the fundamental rights of people at work is essential if there is to be economic, social and political development for the whole world.
The right to form trade unions ('freedom of association') and to bargain collectively with employers are the fundamental rights of all people at work. These rights are laid down in two Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO):
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Read more about Congress’ Global Solidarity Work: www.ictu.ie/globalsolidarity
Other important links: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC): http://www.ituc-csi.org/ International Labour Organisation (ILO): http://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm Clean Clothes Campaign/Ireland : http://www.cleanclothescampaignireland.org/ Justice For Colombia: http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/
In September 2001, as Chair of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance which was one of the very few organisations in Ireland opposed to the then coming invasion conquest and occupation of Afghanistan by the US Empire and its vassal states I was asked by the Irish Times to write an article entitled 'Justice, not revenge, is the way to peace' which was published in the paper on Wednesday 26 September 2001.
The Afghan War has been a disaster for the people of Afghanistan. Soon after the US Empire also invaded conquered and occupied Iraq, It has spread the war to Pakistan and it also continued to give total support to the Zionist State of Israel as it seeks to crush the people of Palestine into submission.
In these continuing wars of conquest and oppression the Irish political/media elite with its absolute commitment to the neo-liberal militarist ideology has backed the US Empire to the hilt, destroyed the long standing policy of neutrality by turning Shannon Airport into a de facto Airforce base, sent Irish troops to fight in them, so for the first time since the 1914-18 war Irish troops from all parts of Ireland are taking part in an imperial war. These wars and the ideology that underpins it have also caused rapidly growing poverty and Ireland, and in the US, 40 million of its citizens are on food stamps. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the US citizens and the British people that oppose these wars.
In Ireland the Irish corporate media in response to this growing crisis virtually excludes PANA. The major conference which we just organised on the topic of an Independent Irish Foreign Policy in which we went out of our way to include supporters of this imperial ideology was virtually ignored.
So let us be clear. It is now the intention of the political/media elite in Ireland to support the coming US war on Iran. If the get their way will be a war that will make the Afghan War look like a teddy bear's picnic. PANA and the Irish Anti War Movement have worked closely together for nearly a decade now. But unless we can build a stronger and more powerful alliance we will not be able to stop the war, or at the very least, prevent the use of Shannon Airport in the coming Iran War. We need more than ever to campaign on the issue of the use of Shannon Airport. The PANA/Shannonwatch demonstration on October 10 to mark the 9th anniversary of of the Afghan War needs to be the start of revitalising struggle against imperialism and the born-again Irish Redmondites that support it.
Here is a PDF copy of the original article.
JAMIE SMYTH Irish Times Social Affairs Correspondent
IRISH-BASED firms exported €6.74 billion worth of components that can be used by the military and defence industries last year.
The trade in such items, referred to as dual use, was almost three times the value exported in 2008. New figures also show the value of military export licences issued to firms by the State increased to €32.5 million during 2009, up from €30.7 million a year earlier.
Amnesty International said yesterday the rise in such exports was “staggering”. It also criticised the Government for repeatedly failing to publish a promised annual report on military and dual use exports by Irish-based firms.
Dual-use goods are components, software or chemicals which can be used by military or defence forces as well as civilian commercial firms. Controls which prevent technologies falling into the hands of states accused of human rights abuses mean firms must apply for licences to export these goods.
Statistics on the value and destination of military and dual-use exports should be published every year by the Government under the terms of the Control of Exports Act 2008. But it has still not published an annual report on military and dual-use exports for 2008, the first year covered by the new export law.
“What kind of products are we issuing licences for? Where were they sent? Have we been exporting military technology to countries where they could be used in human rights abuses and attacks on civilians?” said Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland.
Amnesty says it has no problem with Irish companies manufacturing weapons or dual-use goods. But it says more transparency is needed to ensure any weapons containing Irish-made components do not end up in the hands of human rights abusers.
The NGO has identified several companies in the Republic, which it claims have exported either military or dual-use goods, such as Moog Limited, Timoney Technologies and Iona Technologies.
In 2007, Amnesty raised concerns about computer chips made by Data Device Corporation, a US firm which until recently had a manufacturing operation in Cork. The chips are used in Apache attack helicopters, which have been used by Israeli forces in incidents criticised by human rights campaigners
The NGO’s research was a factor that led the Government to tighten export controls in 2008.
Labour Party spokesman on foreign affairs Michael D Higgins said the Government’s failure to publish the promised 2008 annual report means no one can be clear where dual-use goods end up. “It is an appalling lack of transparency that the annual reports outlined in the Control of Exports Act have not been published. They should be immediately laid before the Oireachtas.”
The Government said last night it would publish the annual report shortly and include information on the destination of exports and detail on any new legislative developments. It denied that Irish-based firms were involved in the global arms trade. “No armaments are manufactured in Ireland . . . Some small amounts of controlled military goods are exported under license and in compliance with national and EU law. This situation cannot be interpreted as the country having an involvement with the global arms industry,” said a statement noted.
The increase in value of dual-use goods was revealed in a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment refused to answer a question on whether any licences to export military or dual use goods have been refused. it also does not release information on the identity of firms exporting dual-use or military components.
Shane O’Neill, chief executive of Timoney Technologies, a Navan-based firm that licenses military technology for export, said the rise in value of Irish exports in 2009 may reflect an increase in US defence spending.
He said developing products for the military was good for business and supported jobs. It should not be seen as a negative or in some way supporting despots abroad.
By Conor Ryan, Investigative Correspondent - Thursday, September 22, 2011 IrishExaminer.com
IRISH-BASED companies have been authorised to export over €10.7 billion worth of military related goods in the last three years. Almost €90 million of this was equipment specifically designated for ammunition and arms’ purposes, and included guns and weapons sensors. The remaining €10.6bn related to products that were so hi-tech the international community requires strict controls on their sale. These rules were developed in case the materials fell into the wrong hands. These so-called dual-use products were primarily electronic and telecommunications materials, which can be used for day-to-day purposes but have the potential for development by defence manufacturers. The export figures are contained in the first national report under the Control of Export Act 2008, which requires the Government to document the country’s involvement in the international arms trade. This covered the licensing regime for first three years of the act. Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said the information needed to be transparent. "The human rights, security and regional stability concerns which underpin export controls are of paramount importance to my department," he said. "The report marks a new chapter in communicating with civil society and others. What we do affects others, including concerned members of civil society and those who earn a living from international trade." The figures for 2010, when €1.5bn worth of military components were licensed to be sold, represented a significant fall on 2009, when licences were given for €6.7bn worth of deals. The department said a relatively small number of operators are licensed to export military-only equipment from Ireland. In total, they were given 98 approvals to carry out business internationally. Britain, Germany, the US, the Netherlands and Kuwait were the most valuable destination countries for Irish military products last year. In the broader "dual-use" category, the number of licenses issued in 2010 jumped from 345 to 715, despite a significant fall in the value of these deals. The department said the change was largely due to one unnamed company which dealt in multiple international shipments. Several licences relate to goods that never arrive in Ireland but are owned and controlled by firms based here. In the period 2008-2010 Irish-based companies were licensed to trade with countries including Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon. In 2009, Egypt was listed as the marketplace for 13 contracts worth over €100,000 each. The vast bulk of deals involved Britain, the US, Germany and China.
Editorial - Neutrality
The issue of neutrality is in the air again. It needs as a foundation a treatment of the one positive act of neutrality—the wartime neutrality—from the viewpoint that sustained it, and a cold look at the war in which it was sustained. And it needs to be understood that it was armed neutrality made effective by a will to fight
The neutrality of the Irish state in Britain's Second World War of the 20th century was a forceful action which depended for its effectiveness on the existence of a degree of military power and of willingness to use it.
Neutrality was maintained without the actual use of force against Britain, but in the certainty that any breach of it would be met by the reunited force of Irish nationality.
Irish military history in the twentieth century is officially unwritten because it is the history of the IRA.
The army of the Irish state has fought no war except the 1922 war against the elected Irish Republic, which is best considered as a proxy British war. It was Britain that enabled that anti-Republican army to exist. It could not have fought its war against the IRA if the British Government had not financed it, armed it and insisted that it should make war on the IRA.
It would not have wanted to make war on the IRA if the British War Cabinet had not insisted on it.
The 'Civil War'
That war between the Free State Army and the Irish Republican Army is called a Civil War but there were no civil grounds for it. It was not fought over some divisive issue that had arisen within the body politic, civilian or military, in 1919-21. Those who waged the Free State campaign against the Republic in 1922 had shown no yearning for the Crown in 1919-21. They fought for the Crown in 1922 only because the Crown threatened to mobilise the resources of the Empire for a comprehensive reconquest of Ireland if the Irish did not submit to its will.
A case can be made for the submission to the British Imperial will. It is the eternal case for submission to dictatorial Power. And it is the case that was made by many Free Staters. But it was not the case that was made by the Strong Man of the Treaty, Michael Collins, or by his political colleague, William Cosgrave.
Collins denied that he acted under duress when he made a deal with the British Government that was in breach of the terms set by his own Government. That is understandable. Saying that he submitted to the dictate of the overwhelming power of Empire when he signed the Treaty, and made his colleagues sign it, would have been an act of rebellion. It was necessary to say that he had freely accepted a good deal that was generously offered.
But that was a game that wouldn't play. The Treatyites won their 'Civil War'. But, since it was not a war for an ideal, they did not know what to do next with the Crown and the Empire for which they had fought.
A few, with Kevin O'Higgins as their standard bearer, tried to enter into the spirit of the thing that they had been obliged to fight for—Crown and Empire—but they couldn't bring it off. They were not to the manner born, and natives who copy it bear the mark of the slibhín, both in spirit and style.
Cosgrave tried to destroy the Republican principle in the populace by making the taking of the Treaty Oath not only a condition of entering the Treaty Dáil but of standing for election. He was willing to exclude representatives of the majority of the population from sitting in his Legislative Assembly in order to make a debating point about the Treaty in the mid-1920s, just as a couple of years earlier he said he was willing to kill 60,000 anti-Treatyites with British guns rather than negotiate an end to his 'Civil War'.
Unconditional Surrender—those were his only terms. He failed to get them. Arms were buried, to rise again. The populace, as soon as the prospect of a British terrorist re-conquest faded, voted Republican again. The Treaty Oath was circumvented by use of mere signatures without a Bible anywhere nearby.
Treatyism withered because it no longer knew what it was about after winning its 'Civil War'—which must be the only time the victor in a Civil War had no ideal to realise and therefore had to make way for those whom he had defeated in war without being able to poison their motives.
Historians of recent times have begun to write about a "physical force movement" pure and simple in Irish political history. I know of only one such: the physical force body armed by the British Government that fought a war without an ideal and then withered.
Britain, acting through Michael Collins, subverted a section of the IRA and caused it to make war on the other section. If Collins had not been armed by Britain, he would have lost the war which he chose to launch in July 1922.
But we must be charitable in these things. If he had not been armed by Britain, and if his every move had not been monitored by Britain, it is a virtual certainty that he would never have launched this 'Civil War'.
He was not a monster, after all. He was only a bungler, who greatly overestimated his influence with the IRA, and his manipulative abilities in his relationship with Whitehall.
The Free State Army won its only war and then it shrivelled. In victory it had to ward off a mutiny of Republican officers who had joined it on a false promise. Thereafter it was understood that the only war it would ever engage in was a war of the Crown and Empire.
The IRA was beaten in 1923 but survived. Fianna Fail emerged from it and took power before Britain was ready to call on the Free State for support in another World War, as it had called on the Home Rule Government-in-waiting in 1914.
Difficult though it is to imagine today, Fianna Fail was a Republican Party in those times. When Britain was ready for its next World War, in 1939, De Valera had been in power for seven years and Free State Imperial sentiment was demoralised and Fine Gael, emerging from its Fascist period, did not dissent when the Government declared that it did not intend to make war on Germany at Britain's call.
Churchill came to Office. He denied that the Irish state had the constitutional authority to make its own decisions on war and peace. The Irish Government, having repudiated the Treaty, took no heed. And Churchill did not try to make good his assertion that Britain had continuing Constitutional authority over the Irish state in matters of war and peace.
If he had acted, he would have been met by the re-united force of Irish nationality with the IRA at its core—the IRA having already declared war on Britain.
The Free State Army, fed by a new intake, substantially shed its Free Statism.
The war in defence of Irish neutrality in the World War did not have to be fought because it was taken to be certain that it would be fought if necessary.
The position of the Government was that, if the neutrality of the Irish state was violated by Britain, in the general war declared by Britain, it would resist British incursion by force—meaning, in Churchillian terms, that it would rebel against the Crown—and would ally itself with Britain's enemy.
This was stated in general terms—it would ally itself with the Power that did not invade it—but it was generally understood that the only Power that was likely to invade it was Britain.
Germany had no designs on Ireland—or on Britain either. It was Britain that declared war on Germany, in 1939, after five years of close collaboration with it. And Churchill declared that Britain had the right to occupy the Irish state for the purpose of making war on Germany.
Churchill chose not to occupy Ireland, but he said at the end of the War that this decision was taken on the ground of expediency, and that, if he had decided to occupy Ireland, he would have been within his rights in doing so. We can assume that the ground of expediency on which the decision not to invade was taken was the probability that invasion would have reunited the Irish national forces that had been broken up and set in conflict with each other in 1922, and the probable effect of a second Anglo-Irish War on American opinion, America being a fellow-neutral of Ireland for the first two years of Britain's war on Germany, and having within it a strong Irish component.
Was Churchill right in his opinion that, under the terms of the Treaty, the Irish state did not have the right to be at peace with the King's enemy? There is no system of law under which the matter can be judged. There is no objective right and wrong about it. If Churchill had decided to invade the Irish state, Parliament would have supported him, and the legality of the matter would have been settled by action.
Parliament did not recognise any judicial function in the state which could pass judgment on its decision, or any moral function either. In the English Constitution the Judiciary and the Church are instruments of the Government, as the Crown in Parliament. (And it is the purpose of Brexit to restore that Constitutional position, which was in danger of being undermined by membership of the EU.)
Nationalist Ireland had asserted itself as sovereign by the 1937 Constitution, and had made that sovereignty practically effective in wartime by securing British withdrawal from the Irish Ports in 1938. Differences between two sovereignties are ultimately resolved by war, which used to be known as "the reason of Kings".
Ireland in 1939 was by its own reckoning a sovereign state, although by Britain's reckoning it remained under British sovereignty on certain matters. Other states were in a similar position with relation to Britain. Two of them were Iran and Iraq. Each of them declared itself neutral when Britain launched its second war on Germany, and maintained diplomatic relations with Germany. Britain invaded both of them, remade their Governments, brought them into its war, and demonised as Nazi stooges the national Governments it destroyed.
If it had chosen to invade the Irish state it would undoubtedly have presented De Valera as a Nazi stooge—and George Orwell would have applauded. For ulterior reasons, not for reasons of principle, it chose not to invade—and as Churchill put it, he left the Irish to "frolic with the Nazis".
Empire v. League
In everything that it did in 1939-40—and for many years before 1939—Britain acted on its own Imperial authority. An international body existed: the League of Nations. The League was a largely British creation. But Britain chose not to act internationally through the League.
De Valera put much effort into the League in the mid 1930s before coming to the conclusion that it was a bogus institution that did more harm than good by fostering illusions. Britain created the League for a short-term purpose of its own in 1919, and then subverted it by giving priority to the Empire in international affairs.
We can assume that, if Britain had been acting as a member of the League, and if in 1939 it had dealt with Germany through the League, instead of acting unilaterally as an Empire, Ireland would not have been neutral. But, since it acted only as an Empire, De Valera acted as the leader of a sovereign nation-state whose credentials were still being questioned by the Empire.
The Empire declared war on the issue of Danzig—an inconceivably trivial issue on which to throw the world into war. Danzig in 1939 was an unsustainable remnant of the Versailles Treaty, which had been shredded by Britain during the preceding five years.
Danzig was a German city close to East Prussia, which was a physically detached region of the German state as reconstituted by Versailles in 1919. It lay within the territory of the Polish State, though not under its sovereignty. It was a kind of city state under the sovereignty of the League, but with its own Government. Relations of mutual hostility existed between Danzig and the Polish State. The Polish State had constructed the new port of Gdynia, rather than use the port of Danzig. There was in 1939 no possibility of bringing Danzig under Polish government without war, but it might easily have been transferred to adjacent East Prussia. And it was over this anomalous remnant of the Versailles Treaty—the rest of which had been shredded by Britain without reference to the League—that Britain chose to launch a World War—without reference to the League. And yet, accepting the Versailles Treaty was a condition of League membership!
Germany had been acting in breach of the conditions of the Versailles Treaty ever since Hitler came to power in 1933. It was able to do so only because Britain supported it.
Germany was not a major European Power when Hitler took Office in 1933. The responsibility to hold it under the Versailles conditions lay with Britain. The United States had repudiated the Treaty and disengaged from European affairs. Britain had established its ascendancy over France, and therefore actual responsibility for upholding the Treaty lay with Britain. What Britain was neither to uphold the Treaty, nor repudiate it, but destroy it piecemeal by means of particular bilateral arrangements with Germany.
Germany was a middle-ranking European military Power in 1939 only because Britain had decided that it should be so. It had a conscript Army because Britain allowed it. It had a Navy because Britain, under the Naval Agreement of 1935, authorised it to build one. It had merged with Austria because Britain permitted it, after having forbidden the merger of democratic Germany with democratic Austria. And Britain had broken up Czechoslovakia for it, giving it the Czech arms industry.
All of this was done outside the League. And then, when Britain in 1939 suddenly decided to make war on the Germany it had created, that too was done outside the League.
And De Valera did not comply with an international obligation to fall into line with the latest turn in erratic Imperial policy!
The Slibhín View
"Ireland managed to stay out of the war. Yet at the end he gratuitously stained Ireland's international reputation through offering his sympathies upon the death of Hitler to the German minister Edward Hempel. This act of diplomatic pedantry done in a fit of pique following a heated row with the overbearing American minister, put Ireland in the dock of world opinion as a neutral that mourned Hitler, and it did enduring damage to its post-war reputation. Dev's lame excuse that Hempel had behaved impeccably was simply not true. Furthermore, and unlike the Irish public at large, shielded by strict censorship, Dev knew plenty about Hitler's monstrosities across Europe…" (Eunan O'Halpin, in the Irish Times, November 3rd).
This fits in with the modern view, largely written by Irish slíbhíns, that the Irish lived in illusion during Britain's second war on Germany, mistaking the shadows cast for them, by a State that was only a short step away from fascism, for substance—not even allowed to know that there was a World War on because their shepherds assured them that it was only a local Emergency. We lived in the flickering darkness of Plato's Cave, seeing shadows with weakened eyes that would be blinded by sunlight, and then for a further generation we lived in mental darkness etc. And, if truth be told—and in the end truth must be told—it all had to do with the fact that we were ruled by priests who deprived us of the Bible.
A flock of Professors tell us that we called the World War "the Emergency". I was there and I know that we called it the World War. I asked my mother why it was happening and she explained that Britain seemed to need a Great War every generation. I don't recall that anybody thought that it was anything but a British War. Britain was the great war-making state in the world. And I recall a particular night when it was thought that the British Army would be back amongst us in the morning and preparations were made for resistance.
Towards the end of the War I was reading the papers, and the War was the big news in the papers.
The War was discussed freely. So were the post-War arrangements, particularly the Trials. Possibly the Trials were not as freely discussed in the papers as they were by the populace. The general opinion was that they were show trials, without law. I found out later that that was also the opinion of a senior American Judge, who refused to take part in them.
Ireland was not in the condition of Plato's Cave during the War, but a strong case could be made that University life in Ireland today is, in its History Departments, living in a Plato's Cave, in which it studies the world through shadows cast for it by Whitehall.
With what world opinion was Ireland's reputation damaged by De Valera's Neutrality policy? There wasn't any world opinion in 1939 or 1940. Britain declared war on Germany, with France in tow, and bungled it, and then denounced France for making peace with Germany, with the approval of its democratically-elected Parliament, in the war which it had declared on Germany, at the instigation of Britain, and lost.
Ireland recognised the Vichy Government as the legitimate Government of France. It recognised Petain as the legitimate President of France. Four years later Petain was sentenced to death as a traitor because he did not continue the war without an Army to fight it, and with the victorious enemy in a position to take over the state if it did not make an agreement. And I recall the view of the Slieve Luachra peasant that it would be an outrage on natural justice if Petain was executed.
Britain "fought alone" from June 1940 to June 1941—so it tells the world. By means of the Royal Navy, which still dominated the oceans of the world, it prevented a settlement of Europe with pin-pricks here and there, but it did not in any real sense fight the war. It had relied on France to do most of the fighting, as in 1914 and, when France fell in May/June 1940, it looked for somebody else to do the fighting—hoping it would be the United States.
But the United States was neutral, just like Ireland. And Roosevelt had won a third term as President by bending to the popular demand that there should be no American military return to the European mess.
And Russia was neutral too. And its propaganda was directed against what it described as British efforts to "Spread The War".
The two potentially dominant states in the world, which became dominant through the success of Britain's efforts to spread the war, stood, as neutrals, for the settlement of the European War in 1939 and 1940 and most of 1941.
They only went to war after they were attacked.
When do the shadow-watchers in Trinity College judge that a world-opinion came into being which judged neutrality in Britain's war on Germany to be indefensible? Surely not before the United States was brought into it in December 1941!
But, before America came in, Russia was in. The British refusal to allow peace to be made in Europe brought about the German/Russian War.
There was an opinion among the German military that Britain would settle if the Bolshevik State in Russia was knocked down. And there was an expectation, not only in Germany, that Russia would be knocked down easily because Stalin had destroyed the Officer Corps of the Russian Army with his insane purges.
But the Russian defences held firm, despite some initial reverses. And then the Russian will to fight, combined with population, resources and industrial capacity, ensured the defeat of Germany. And Britain became, in effect, an onlooker in the War it had started, engaging in some actions which in terms of the German/Russian War can only be regarded as skirmishes.
The most consequential British action was a provocation of Japan—its ally in the 1914 War—which led to its Asian Empire being swept away by Japan, never to be restored even though Japan was defeated by the USA in a separate war.
The USA entered the war in Europe only because Germany declared war on it when the Japanese/American War began. Japan did not reciprocate this German gesture by entering the war in Europe, i.e., the war between Germany and Russia. It had made a peace agreement with Russia, and it held to it until Russia broke it in 1945, when Japan was on the verge of collapse.
When the US was brought into the war in Europe it was eager to fight it, but Britain insisted on skirmishing for a further two years while the issue was being decided on the Russian Front. It held out against American pressure for engagement in France in 1942 and 1943, and only agreed in 1944 when further delay would possibly have brought the Russian Army to Calais.
The ideal outcome from the British viewpoint was that Germany and Russia should inflict irreparable damage on one another. Churchill could not say so at the time, but he admitted soon after that he had never seen Communist Russia as anything but the fundamental enemy. And he was concerned long before the end of the War that defeat of the incidental enemy against which the British war had been launched was bringing the fundamental enemy to power in Central Europe.
The War, as far as Churchill was concerned, was never about Fascism. Churchill was a Fascist. He said so plainly. He made a pilgrimage to Rome to do homage to Mussolini and to praise Fascism as the antidote to Communism. He was opposed to Appeasement, but what he meant by Appeasement was concessions that damaged the Empire—such as the transfer of the Irish Ports to the Irish state in 1938—which made Irish neutrality in the War a practical proposition.
Germany became an enemy because of the gross mishandling of British foreign policy, and not because it became Fascist. The war against Germany is represented as being an unnecessary war in Churchill's account of it.
Nationalist Ireland, as a principled neutral, was under moral obligation to produce a principled account of the war that accorded with its part in it. It failed to do so and allowed itself to be swamped with sub-Churchillian rhetoric.
A review in the Irish Examiner (20 October 2018) of an American book about Spain (Scots And Catalans by J.H. Elliott, reviewed by Frank MacGabhann), is illustrated with a portrait of General Franco, and the reviewer comments that the author—
"praises the Spanish 'transition' to democracy, which allowed lifelong fascists to become democrats overnight and left the crimes of General Franco go nearly 40 years unpunished in the interests of national harmony following Franco's death in 1975. Elliott might have mentioned that Franco remains the only European fascist dictator whose reputation is protected by the state that he so cruelly ruled over and who was allowed to die peacefully in his bed, unlike his allies, Hitler and Mussolini…"
Well, the War was Churchill's War, insofar as it was not Stalin's War, and Churchill, to the best of my recollection, was a Francoite. And Franco was not an ally of Hitler, only a fellow-Fascist. And Fascism was not internationalist. Nationalism was the whole point of it.
Franco might have put Britain out of the Second World War by making common cause with Hitler in 1940 and taking Gibraltar, instead of which he blocked Hitler at the Pyrenees—a thing which Britain chose not to do in the Sudetenland.
He deplored the Anglo/German War as a European Civil War, but was a de facto ally of Britain in it. He was only an ally of Hitler in the war on Russia. If the US had failed to pressurise Britain into opening the Second Front in 1944, the Red Army might have reached the Pyrenees and put paid to Franco, but there was never any prospect of Churchillian Britain doing that. And then in the 1950s Fascist Span became a pillar of the Free World.
As for Fascists becoming democrats overnight—how did Germany become a democracy almost overnight after 1945 if fascists did not become democrats on a mass scale? Opposition to Nazism had been scarce, but a moment later there were democrats in plenty—and Communist East Germany published detailed accounts of where they had come from.
But there was nothing wonderful, or fraudulent, about it, in the light of Churchill's view that Fascism was the means by which capitalist civilisation was saved from Bolshevism in Europe.
The notion that Ireland was a pariah in the post-War world because of De Valera's conduct in the war is a strictly Anglophile notion. Dev made a triumphal visit to India in 1948 just after it became independent. It is customary to treat India as a democracy, and if it is, then it was the most populous democracy in the world. And it was ruled by a political party that had refused to take part in Britain's War. The Government of India was in the War only because it was a Department of the British Government.
The Congress Party had demanded independence and, unlike the Irish Home Rule Party, without it refused to play a part in world politics in the service of Britain. It declared neutrality. And there was a strong movement in India, led by Subas Chandra Bose, that in 1941 allied itself militarily with Japan.
The British Government of India made use of India as a resource in the War, and in the course of doing so it caused a Famine in Bengal, 1943-44, in which the deaths were not counted carefully. The death of Bengalis through starvation weighed very light in the British scale of values. The Bengalis were, in the language of the eminent Liberal ideologue of Progress, Gladstone's lieutenant, Sir Charles Dilke, "a cheap people" (see his Greater Britain).
The Bengal Famine of 1943 is not mentioned at all in Churchill's History of the War, and Churchill's Nobel Prize-winning literature dominated academic history for a generation.
A recent account by an Indian, published in America, Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire And The Ravaging Of India During World War 2 by Madusree Mukerjee, says that, according to the best estimates, between one and a half million and three million Bengalis died in the Famine, while Britain had ample resources to relieve them, and that British conduct might have been prosecuted as a War-Crime.
But of course the victors are incapable of having committed War-Crimes!
There was, after 1945, a congenial world out there in which Irish neutrality against Britain appeared not only sensible but heroic. But it is a world about which Anglophile academia knows nothing.
The Northern War
The second Irish military action of the 20th century was the IRA war against the British State, on behalf of the Catholic community in the undemocratically-governed region of the British state that is called Northern Ireland. At one point in that war a British Army of 26,000 was deployed against the IRA.
I did not support that war. At the outset I proposed that the government of the Northern Ireland region of the British state should be democratised into the political system by which the state was governed. If that had been done, it is extremely improbable that there would have been a war. But it was not done, and there was a war. And, while I did not support it, I could not deny the evidence all around me that it existed.
The Irish State de-legitimised British sovereignty in the Six Counties by asserting Irish sovereignty over them. The IRA made war on the British State over this region of it. The Irish Constitution declared that British sovereignty in this region was illegitimate. But the Irish Government did not support the War launched within the disputed region, and did not even acknowledge that the Republican military action constituted a war.
And, when a settlement was made, Irish Governments would not even acknowledge that Republican actions had been military, but insisted on treating them as outbursts of criminality.
Ireland, according to the ideology of its State, has had no military history in recent centuries. It lives next door to, and heavily under the influence of, the most belligerent war-making state in the world in recent centuries. No other State in the world is in the same league as Britain when it comes to major war-making.
The Irish citizen, left with no Irish military history, is naturally subject to the gravitational pull of British militarism. And the more respectable the citizen, the more he lives in British military history. And the most respectable seem to feel that British war-making is next door to pacifism—if it is not the most effective form of pacifism.
These are the views of Brendan Clifford as a contribution to the neutrality debate, but they are not endorsed by PANA.
Is Obama's New Start treaty on nuclear reductions enough to revitalise US resolve on disarmament? - Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND Published on guardian.co.uk, Saturday 5 February 2011
The long-awaited New Start treaty, securing nuclear reductions between the US and Russia, enters into force this weekend. Hillary Clinton and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov are exchanging "instruments" at a security conference in Munich today.
This is an important moment for President Barack Obama, as despite the Republican resurgence in the US mid-term elections, he has finally been able to achieve the treaty, which has been one of his key foreign policy goals. Reducing the number of US and Russian deployed nuclear weapons, the treaty has been central to Obama's visionary goal – spelled out in Prague in April 2009 – of a nuclear weapons-free world. With the treaty's progress dogged by the vexed question of US missile defence plans and Russian hostility to them, the shift in the political balance in the US led to fears that it would fall at the ratification hurdle. In the event there was enough bipartisan support to get it through, subject to various provisos. In Russia, where the president's party has a huge majority in parliament, ratification proceeded smoothly.
Senate concerns focused on the right to keep developing US missile defence systems – excluded from the treaty text, but included in the additional paperwork, while Russia reserved the right to withdraw from the treaty if it considered its security impaired by such US developments. And coming up the political agenda was the question of Russian tactical nuclear weapons – landmines, artillery shells and short-range missiles. Russian stockpiles are larger than their US equivalents and Nato, as well as the Senate, has expressed renewed interest in the disparity, as revealed by WikiLeaks. As a Nato document notes: "Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal, estimated at 2,000-4,000 warheads, was cited as a particular threat, and Moscow's lack of willingness to engage in discussions on the issue was cited as troubling." Obama has recently told the Senate that he will seek to initiate negotiations with Russia on this matter within a year. But he may not get very far – Sergei Ryabkov, for the Russian foreign ministry, has said it is too early to talk about limiting tactical nukes.
So the question now is where Obama is going with his disarmament project – if indeed he can go anywhere, given the new political balance of forces. Although there is a strong establishment lobby to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in US military postures – Henry Kissinger and George Shultz are key exponents of this trend – nevertheless there are powerful forces at odds with this. There was much controversy about the deals Obama was reported to have made to secure New Start, including vast amounts of money for nuclear modernisation. So is there any mileage in further steps?
What Obama would like to do is clear enough, also set out in the Prague speech: to secure US ratification of the comprehensive test ban treaty, to work towards a fissile material cut-off treaty – ending the production of nuclear explosive material – and to secure nuclear materials worldwide to prevent terrorist access. Although some steps have been taken to achieve the latter point, notably at the April 2010 national security summit in Washington, what are the chances for the others?
Obama's recent state of the union address perhaps gives some pointers. While the president noted the achievements on nuclear reductions and security, he failed to indicate any forward programme of further reductions. And there was no reference to a world without nuclear weapons – the most popular feature of his Prague speech. Not surprisingly, Obama's address focused primarily on the US economy and matters of urgent domestic concern, but is the nuclear question just temporarily down, or is it out? US commentary suggests that the administration has not yet decided where it is going on the issue, but the outcome of its deliberations will be of major significance, and not just within the US. It would be a major setback for global security if the US reverts to the nuclear belligerence of former times.
By Selig S. Harrison This article appeared in the January 11, 2010 edition of The Nation. With the Taliban growing steadily stronger, 30,000 more US troops will not lead to the early disengagement from the Afghan quagmire envisaged by President Obama, even in the improbable event that Hamid Karzai delivers on his promises of better governance. What is needed is a major United Nations diplomatic initiative designed to get Afghanistan's regional neighbors to join in setting a disengagement timetable and to share responsibility for preventing a Taliban return to power in Kabul. The timetable should provide not only for the early withdrawal of all US combat forces within, say, three years but also for the termination of US military access to air bases in Afghanistan within five years. It should set the stage, in short, for the military neutralization of Afghanistan. A commitment to categorical disengagement has long been demanded by Taliban leaders as the condition for negotiations. It would test whether they are ready for the local peace deals that the Obama administration appears prepared to accept, or will insist on power-sharing in Kabul as the price of peace. Even without a regional diplomatic framework, such a withdrawal timetable would be desirable and will become increasingly inescapable; but its political risks can be minimized by mobilizing regional support for the political containment of the Taliban. Russia, India, Iran and Tajikistan all helped the United States to dislodge the Taliban in 2001. All of them, together with China, fear that a resurrected Taliban regime would pose a terrorist threat and would foment domestic Islamist insurgencies within their borders. Russia faces nascent Islamist forces in its Muslim south. India worries that Taliban control in Kabul would lead to more Pakistan-based attacks like the 2008 one in Mumbai. The Shiite theocracy ruling Iran fears that a Sunni Taliban regime would help the Sunni Jundullah separatist movement in the Iranian part of Baluchistan and Salafi extremists in other non-Persian ethnic minority regions. Tajikistan faces Sunni extremist groups led by Hizb ut-Tahrir and is increasingly unsettled by an influx of Afghan refugees, which could grow if the Taliban return to power. China is beset by Islamist Uighur separatists in Xinjiang. It is significant that all these neighboring countries are disturbed in varying degree by the expansion of US air bases near their borders; they recognize that no Taliban faction is likely to negotiate peace until the United States and NATO set a timetable that covers both withdrawal of their forces and closure of US bases. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's March 2009 proposal for a regional conference, revived recently by Henry Kissinger, has been ignored by potential participants because it assumes the indefinite continuance of a US military presence. Iran and India are already giving large-scale economic aid to Kabul. Both might well increase it if US-NATO aid diminishes. New Delhi is helping to train the Afghan police and is prepared to join the United States and NATO in their faltering efforts to train the army. China might well step up economic aid once the United States departs, as Li Qinggong, deputy secretary general of the China Institute for National Security Studies, hinted in a September 29 statement that also envisioned talks on "how to dispose of the forces of al-Qaeda" if and when the United States disengages and the possible establishment of "an international peacekeeping mission." Beijing is investing $3 billion in Afghanistan's Aynak copper mine and is "considering" a US request for help in police training. As members of a regional grouping known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, all of Afghanistan's neighbors signed a March 27 statement spelling out detailed action plans for counterterrorism and narcotics control. The culmination of a UN-led regional diplomatic initiative would be an agreement that would not only set a timetable for military disengagement but would also bar the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorism and seek to neutralize it as a focus of regional and major power rivalries. The agreement would be signed by the regional neighbors, the United States, NATO and others, like Saudi Arabia, that are playing a role in Afghanistan. Signatories would pledge to respect the country's neutrality, not to provide arms to warring factions and to cooperate in UN enforcement of an arms aid ban. Neutrality was Afghanistan's traditional posture during the decades of the monarchy, until Soviet intervention dragged it into global power rivalries. "The best and most fruitful policy that one can imagine for Afghanistan," said King Nadir Shah in 1931, "is a policy of neutrality." The late Zahir Shah continued this policy and expressed his dismay to me when the Bonn Agreement of December 2001, following the ouster of the Taliban, spoke only of "non-interference" and studiously avoided references to "neutrality" and "nonalignment." To be sure, one of Afghanistan's neighbors, its historic adversary Pakistan, created the Taliban and has continued to support it in the hope of establishing an anti-Indian client state in Kabul. But Islamabad would have two powerful reasons for joining in the accord and for stopping its aid. First, India, like other signatories, would be barred from operating out of Afghanistan militarily in the event of an India-Pakistan conflict and from using Afghanistan as a base for supporting Baluch and other ethnic insurgents in Pakistan. Second, the accord would be designed only to prevent the Taliban from re-establishing control in Kabul and using its local strongholds as a base for terrorist operations elsewhere, not to remove all Taliban influence in Afghanistan itself. Thus, Pakistan would still have political allies in future Afghan power struggles. At present, the United States is dependent on Pakistan as a conduit for shipping supplies to its forces in Afghanistan. Thus, even though Washington gives more than $1 billion a year in military hardware and cash subsidies to the Pakistani army, it has been unable to use the threat of an aid cutoff to curb Pakistan's aid to the Taliban. Disengagement would free the United States to use its aid leverage. Pressure from China, which provides Islamabad with fighter aircraft, would also help assure Pakistani participation in a regional accord. No UN monitoring system could completely seal off arms aid to the rival Afghan factions or bring an end to the competition between India and Pakistan for influence in Kabul; but a framework for regional cooperation could prevent a return to anarchy and civil war. The principal obstacle to a regional neutralization accord is likely to be the Pentagon's desire to have "permanent access" to its network of Afghan bases near the borders of Russia, China, Iran and Central Asia to facilitate intelligence surveillance as well as any future military operations. Some of the seventy-four US bases in Afghanistan have been developed for counterinsurgency operations and might be expendable. But the big airfields at Bagram and Kandahar, which accounted for $425.7 million in the fiscal 2008 Pentagon military construction budget alone, are expected to expand steadily in the years ahead. President Obama has yet to address the future of the air bases, and until he does, no diplomatic cover for US disengagement will be possible. The underlying issue that he confronts is what an "exit strategy" means and whether the United States will be using Afghanistan to further its global power projection long after he has left office and long after the Taliban and Al Qaeda are forgotten. About Selig S.Harrison Selig S. Harrison is the author, with Diego Cordovez, of Out of Afghanistan and author of In Afghanistan's Shadow. He is the director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
9th of June 2007 in Rome
On th 9th of June the president of the USA , George Bush, will come to Italy, invited by the Prodi Government in order to reinforce the italian military and political alliance with the United States. Today President Bush is opposed by the majority of the Usa people but still mantains the support of the military,oil, and weapon industries lobbies. Bush is the main interpreter of the will for world egemony of the USA ruling classes ; this will brings the USA, regardless of the government's turnover, to carry out military interventions, everywhere, with their army, with coup d'etat, with mass murders and attacks.
This hunger for absolute power makes war a real political strategy with the possibility to export conflicts from Africa to Asia,from Latin America even to Europe ( Balcans) and produces political and cultural subjection.
In Italy the right wing sees Bush as a benchmark, but also the Prodi government, elected in part thanks to the votes of the No War movement " without ifs and buts", is proud of the alliance with such an administration and is getting ready to welcome in grand style president Bush in Rome.
This subordination portrays also the purposeful military intervention policy that the Prodi government is practicing even though in the "multilateral" version, that is, "agreed" with the other politically powerful States. These politics are deep rooted in the logic of the war that push to mantain troops in Afghanistan, that visibily increased the military expenditures (+13% in the last budget law), that want to impose on populations united in the opposition new military bases like the one in Vicenza (but also in Cameri and in other places in way of expanding); that partecipate in the costruction of homicidal weapons like the war airplane F35 or the missile shield, and preserve the atomic bombs disseminated in our territory, like Ghedi and Aviano.
Its' this cultural and political subordination, that abandoned one of the cleanest experiences of italian pacifism, the one of Emergency, deceived and sacrificed to the Kharzai government and to their Secret Services that illicitly hold Rahmatullah Hanefi.
But war is war, indipendently from the vessils used to conduct it and must be strongly refused, like the military policy of our governament, that reconfirmed and promoted war missions.
Because of this, like many men and women all over the world and from all walks of life, we are preparing to welcome Bush like a real warmonger.
We do it for the tortured people of Guantanamo, for the people burned alive in Falluja, for the deported people, for those that are pent up in the internment camps spread out all over the world. But we do it also to say that another Italy exists.
An Italy that already lives in another possible and concrete world. Its' the Italy of the movements that struggle against military bases, against the environmental devastation, for social rights, against the centers of temporary detention, against the privatization of water and common goods theft, against military expenditures and global rearmament.
Therefore the nineth of June is an important day for the recovery of the path of No War movement in our country.
We want the italian troops withdrawn from all the war fronts, first of all Afghanistan; the closure of all USA and NATO military bases, the restitution of those places to the populations for civil use.We want Italy to exit from military alliances.
We require the removal of nuclear weapons and of the mass distruction weapons from the national territory.
We say stop to military expenditures; we refuse the Missile Shield and the new war planes, so that the dozens of billions euros could be used for education and public health services, for social services, environmental improvement, for labour and public welfare system.
We demand that the Prodi government obtain the immediate liberation of Hanefi and restitute to Emergency its proper role in Afghanistan.
We propose that the No-War Movement mobilization, that has already three important stages;
culminate on the 9th of June in a great popular mobilization in Rome that maks Bush and Prodi feel the opposition against the wars and agains the rush to arms, that DECLARES THE USA PRESIDENT AN UNWELCOMED GUEST and makes Prodi feel the refusal of war and militarysm, in accordance with article 11 of the Italian Costitution.
We join the population of Vicenza to state again to Bush the clearest determination and the strongest possible opposition against the building of the military base Dal Molin.
Confederazione COBAS, Global Project, Sinistra Critica, ATTAC, Rete sempre contro la guerra, Confederazione Unitaria di Base, Forum Palestina and many others organizations, networks, comitees and associations.
At a time of harsh cuts in social services, it is morally unjustifiable to spend money on weapons that should be invested in creating jobs and tackling poverty.
High levels of European military spending played a key role in the unfolding EU debt crisis and continues to undermine efforts to resolve the debt crisis, alleges a new report by Transnational Institute and the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade.
The report, Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military spending and the EU crisis, demonstrates how military budgets across Europe have been largely protected, at a time of severe social cuts. EU's military expenditure totalled €194 billion in 2010, equivalent to the combined annual deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain. The latest data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Institute suggests little change in these overall trends.
The report unveils how high levels of military spending in countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Spain at the epicentre of the euro crisis played a significant role in their debt crises. Much of the military spending was tied to arms sales by creditor countries like Germany and France.
In Portugal and Greece, several major arms deals are being investigated for serious irregularities. Yet creditor countries continue to hawk new arms deals to debtor countries whilst demanding ever more stringent cuts in social services.
The report argues that resolving the debt crisis will require cancellation of the debt tied to corrupt arms deals and a redirection of military spending towards social needs. It highlights research that spending on education and public transport creates double the number of jobs as investments in defence.
Report author Frank Slijper said: “Global military spending was still at a record €1.3 trillion in 2011 despite the global economic crisis. Even in Europe most countries still spend more than ten years ago. The only austerity that Europe really needs is one imposed on the military and the arms industry.”
“It is time for Brussels and EU member states to publicly acknowledge the 'elephant in the room' of the current EU debt crisis and that is the role of military spending. At a time of harsh cuts in social services, it is morally unjustifiable to spend money on weapons that should be invested in creating jobs and tackling poverty.”
The report Guns, Debt and Corruption has been released in the EU as campaigners in around 30 countries held over 100 events worldwide to protest record levels of military spending and to call for resources to be reallocated to anti-poverty and environmental sustainability programmes. For details of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, see: http://www.gdams.org
1. The report can be downloaded at www.stoparmstrade.orgFor more information, please contact Frank Slijper (email: email@example.com; telephone +31 (0)6 28504778)
2. Transnational Institute (TNI) was established in 1974 as an international network of activist researchers committed to provide intellectual support to movements struggling for a more democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable world. http://www.tni.org
3. The Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade - Campagne tegen Wapenhandel - is a small grass roots organisation founded in 1998 to fight one of the root causes of war: arms production and arms trade. www.stoparmstrade.org
4. The Global Day of Action on Military Spending brings together organisations worldwide to raise public awareness of the human costs of high military spending. It coincides with the annual release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures.
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance was established in 1996 to advocate that Ireland should have its own independent foreign policy, that neutrality should be a key component of this policy and that it should be pursued primarily through a reformed United Nations. Our vision of the future of the EU is as a Partnership of Independent Democratic States, legal equals, without a military dimension.
The United Nations with all its faults is the only inclusive global institution committed to collective security. The EU on the other hand is an institution dominated by states such as Britain, France and Germany with deeply rooted imperial traditions, whose elites having lost their empires in the 21st century seek by combining, to restore their imperial power in the world.
While there is an imperial tradition in Ireland, PANA belongs to that other deeply rooted tradition of independence, democracy and neutrality founded in Ireland by Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen in the 1790’s. While is open to all groups and individuals, we focus on seeking to ensure that as many groups that agreed with our objectives affiliated and do not have an individual based branch structure. Over 30 groups are now affiliated, the most recent being the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Shannonwatch.
It was established because we believed that the Irish political/media elite intended to destroy Irish independence, democracy and neutrality by integrating Ireland into the EU/US/NATO military structures in order to ensure Ireland’s full and active participation in the resource wars of the 21st century. We believed that an effort had to be made to bring together all the political forces opposed to this imperialist project and defeat them.
This commitment to a neo-liberal militarist ideology will have only one absolutely inevitable outcome. The military defeat of the EU/US/NATO axis and the collapse of the economy. All they offered is war and poverty. This reality is a great deal clearer now than it was in 1996.
The then leader of the opposition, Mr. Ahern professed his support for neutrality to the extent of calling for a referendum on Ireland’s membership of NATO’s Partnership for Peace. We did not believe him. On achieving power Mr. Ahern ensured Ireland join the PfP without the referendum. He ensured that there was a substantial increase in military expenditure focused on upgrading the Irish Army’s military equipment to be compatible with that of the NATO. So that while the Irish Army remained small (about 10,000), he increased the total military expenditure to €1billion per annum so that, per soldier, it became one of the highest in Europe.
Mr. Ahern in fact, played a key role in supporting and advocating all the growing military provisions of the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties.
His support for the Irish peace process should be understood as seeking to ensure not only that the 6 counties remained part of NATO, but also that the 26 county state became integrated into the EU/US/NATO structures. For Mr. Ahern, the peace process was in reality a war process so that all of Ireland and not just the 6 counties, became actively involved in imperial wars. Mr. Ahern is a true neo-Redmondite ensuring all Ireland support for the Imperialist wars of the EU/US/NATO axis in Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and possibly in Iran as well.
The reality is that the emergence of the EU as a militarised neo-liberal Superstate can only be understood as part of the process of the expansion of the EU/US/NATO axis. The key to this process has been the decision by the Ahern government to destroy the long standing policy of neutrality and to turn Shannon Airport into de facto US Airforce base in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. So far the EU and the states of the states of the EU support these wars by sending thousands upon thousands of troops to help (including 7 troops from this state).
PANA held the first demonstration at Shannon Airport in May 2002 and organised or taken part in many demonstrations about the use of Shannon by NATO forces since then including the massive demonstration in 15/2/03. By 2007 the numbers turning out on demonstrations but convinced that the Irish people still opposed its use, PANA commissioned an independent polling company Lansdowne Marketing at a cost of over €1,000 (a considerable sum for PANA) to ask the people about the use of Shannon Airport just before the last election. 58% were opposed and 19% were in favour. Even if in the unlikely event all 21% who had no opinion broke in favour of its use in war, a decisive majority were opposed.
It could be said that the process of Ireland’s integration into supporting these wars culminated in the use of Shannon Airport.
This process included a series of treaties including the Single European Act that initiated this political/military project, but it was the Maastricht Treaty that really accelerated militarisation.
The Danish people rejected the Maastricht Treaty and gained a number of key concessions by way of Protocols which are legally binding parts of a treaty, one which ensured that Denmark would not pay for or be involved with the militarisation of the EU. This Protocol was then added to the next treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty.
In our campaign against the Amsterdam Treaty, PANA focused on seeking to ensure that a similar Protocol be added to include Ireland. This demand has been central to our campaigns against the Nice Treaty and the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty.
The military provisions of the various treaties that sought to transform the EU into a centralised, militarised, neo-liberal superstate, or “Empire” as President Barroso calls it, are well documented on the PANA site: www.pana.ie
I intend to focus in my remaining remarks on what has happened since the Irish people were bullied and intimidated into reversing their decision to reject the Lisbon Treaty.
One of the key provisions of the Lisbon Treaty was Article 28 A(7) which provides a mutual assistance clause for all EU member states in case of armed aggression. It states:
“If a member State is a victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power, in accordance with Art.51 of the UN Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States. Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.”
PANA’s contention during the debate (such as it was) on the treaty was that this was a mutual defence clause that would make the last remaining competence of the Western European Union ( a European based version of NATO) redundant leading to its abolition. This view was supported by Andrew Duff MEP, Rapporteur of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lisbon Treaty.
As predicted the Western European Union has now been abolished thus validating PANA’s contention that the EU is committed legally to collective defence.
The Lisbon Treaty was also ensured the appointment of a Minister for Foreign, Security and Defence (called the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy) and Baroness Ashton of Upholland was appointed to the post. With a level of power sharing with other institution such as the EU Commission and the EU Council of Ministers (the EU Parliament seems to have lost out) throughout the world and allocating her budget.
Her budget over the next three years is €51 billion. Her own annual salary is €375,000. Her annual pension after five years is €74,000 plus a €530,000 lump sum payment. These massive amounts of money gives some idea of how much the rest of the members of the new EU Dept. of Foreign Affairs are being paid and why so much money was spent by the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs to ensure a yes vote so they could get a reasonable number of the jobs allocated to themselves.
She has also withdrawn her alleged opposition to the creation of an EU Military HQ and centralised EU Secret Service.
Crucially, the new de facto EU Minister for Foreign, Security and Defence Policy has control over the development budget. From now on Oxfam, Trocaire, Concern are to be an integral part of EU military strategy. One might say the EU elite with a bag of rice in one hand and a military drone in the other seek, via they're newly emerging EU State to dominate the world.
There is however one major problem. The people living in the EU don’t agree with this Imperialist vision. The crucial decisions that will lead to their defeat have already been made.
The first is that the Dutch people forced their political elite to withdraw 2,000 soldiers from Afghanistan. While most EU states including Ireland have not yet also declared their intention to withdraw their troops, when the Dutch troops leave this August this decision will accelerate the rapidly growing demand by the people from all the EU states to ensure their governments invest their diminishing resources to job creation at home rather than wasting money in an unwinnable war by also withdrawing their troops, will become unstoppable. For example polls in Britain show that 77% of the British people want them withdrawn and 65% of the German people want to withdraw their troops.
In short, the EU elite in Holland have lost control. The dam has broken. There is no way back. They will not be able to hold back the torrent that will destroy their dream of Empire.
This torrent will also sweep away the European Defence Agency which was to ensure the expansion of the EU military-industrial complex.
In recent visits to the Brussels both Clinton and Gates have called upon the EU to spend more money on weapons as unlike the US that spends over $1 trillion a year on defence, over 50% of its annual income, the EU states spend on 2% of its GDP (less than half that of the US). They have not received a favourable response. The EU elite under pressure to provide for health, education and social welfare for their own people from a declining income have to in fact cut military expenditure, all of which will leave the EDA underfunded and force the EU to ignore Article 28(3 ) of the Lisbon Treaty which said EU states to:
“undertake progressively to improve their military capability”.
The second key decision has been the fact that the role EU Battle Groups have been massively constrained by the judgement of the German Constitutional Court on the Lisbon Treaty that German troops can only be sent abroad by a decision of the German Parliament which the second key decision.
The whole point of the EU Battle Groups and the Lisbon Treaty was that they were military formations which could be sent to any part of the world via a decision of the EU Council of Ministers without reference to the national Parliaments or people.
While Article 28 allows for a small number of EU states to create military groups “in accordance with the principle of a single set of forces” (in short an army) with the Germans now not able to send its troops abroad without the consent of their Parliament the EU military force to be created via structured cooperation is now very unlikely.
Even the provisions that state; “Convinced that a more assertive Union role in security and defence matters will contribute to the vitality of a renewed Atlantic Alliance” are becoming meaningless as the people’s of Europe refuse to back their political/media elite as they send their armies, mercenaries and drones to perish in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The EU/US/NATO axis is being smashed to pieces on the rocks of the Himalayas as have so many Empires before them
Ahern, Cowen, Kenny etc did not lick their imperialist values off the stones. Up to January 1919 Ireland was part of a centralised militarised neo-liberal Superstate, the British Union. It sent its Battle Groups (which included large numbers of Irishmen) all over the world, using its military power to expand the Empire. They seek, like born again Redmondites to restore that tradition. They now celebrate Gallipoli, but for those of us who reject the Redmondite tradition, the lives of those Irish soldiers where lost in the service of a ruthless and vicious Empire.
The reality however is that no matter how much they call themselves European rather than Irish. No matter how much they identify more and more with Ireland’s imperial tradition such as Gallipoli, the Irish people will not go down that Imperialist road again.
For while they won the 2nd battle of Lisbon, it was Pyrrhic victory and they have cracked. Its rejection by the French and Dutch people and their need to spend € millions to crush the Irish people into the ground has drained the imperialists of their energy and confidence. This is a reality made manifest by their decision to appoint a complete nonentity, Baroness Ashton as the EU Foreign Affairs Minister.
Thus while the war between those of us who believe in the EU as a Partnership of Democratic States and those who want it to become an Imperial State is by no means over, we have already turned the tide. The Empire Loyalists are in retreat. As the neo-liberal militarist ideology cracks we need to
continue to build the links we have been developing with those in the other EU states and the United States even stronger and drive the stake deeper into the crack.
We should never underestimate them. For example the German SPD affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation in April 2010 published a strategy document which advocated even stronger EU/NATO links and the EU states should maintain a military force of 2 million soldiers financed by €2 billion a year.
They have no intention of giving up, but then neither do we.
Our vision of Europe as a Partnership of Independent Democratic States, without a military dimension operating through a reformed United Nations is more achievable now than it ever has been. We are building our own transatlantic alliance and our ability to ensure that Ed Horgan, PANA’s International Secretary regained his visa to attend a peace conference is the latest example of that process. The links between the progressive and democratic forces in the EU/US/NATO area are getting stronger.
Our victory is by no means assured but we should have the confidence to see it is a real option.
Speech to the Ireland Institute
Chair, Peace & Neutrality Alliance
International Peace Conference with the Irish Peace Society:
on Saturday 11 November 2006 at University of Limerick (John Holland Lecture Theatre, D1050)
Purpose of the conference:
09.30: Registration, coffee, informal networking, book-signing
10.00: Hans von Sponeck - Global confrontation, human security and the imperative of UN reform - followed by questions and discussion
11.00: Minute's silence to mark Armistice signing 1918 and all dead in wars since 1918
11.01: Gernot Biehler - Ireland's responsibilities under international law in view of unlawful wars - followed by questions and discussion
Workshop 1 Legal support for peace activists practicalities. Preventing conflict and creating peace by peaceful means.
Workshop 2 Airport neighbourhood watch practical issues for monitoring crime and militarisation of your local airport. Facilitated by Hourigan, Conor Cregan.
12.45: Book launch: A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanction Regime in Iraq by H. C. von Sponeck
Workshop 3 Strategic planning towards a diversity of strategies for the demilitarisation of Shannon airport facilitated by Kieran Clifford / Coiln hAiseadha
Workshop 4 The role of the individual in UNCIVIL society - upholding and enhancing the rule of law: practical, peaceful and legal approaches. Facilitated by Edward Horgan.
16.00: Craig Murray: Why torture is counter-productive
16.30: Closing Session Expert Panel: Hans von Sponeck, Gernot Biehler, Craig Murray
Bookings and enquiries (Admission free): - Edward Horgan firstname.lastname@example.org, 085-1026631 - Fraser Gray email@example.com, 087-4167849 - Coiln hAiseadha firstname.lastname@example.org, 086-0603818 .
Updates will be posted at www.indymedia.ie/article/79061
Rev. Livingstone’s book on the history of Fermanagh included a chapter on the famine years when the population fell by 40,000. However if the research for the book had been restricted to the columns of the local newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, it would have been difficult to know if there had been a famine.
Exactly the same applies to virtually our entire corporate media since the policy of Irish neutrality was terminated and millions of US troops land in Shannon Airport on their way to wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan where they are responsible for the death and injury of hundreds of thousands of people. While it is absolutely true that the corporate media is not a homogenous block and they take very different positions on a whole range of issues, apart from a handful of journalists when it comes to the these imperial wars, the entire Irish corporate media supports them. No Irish newspaper has called for the termination of the use of Shannon Airport by the US troops and the withdrawal of Irish troops from Afghanistan. When it comes to that issue, the vast majority of Irish journalists, columnists, economic and political commentators are little more than intellectual mercenaries for the neo-liberal militarist ideology that has dominated and continues to dominate Ireland. The media solve the problems arising from Ireland’s participation in wars, by giving them virtually no coverage, and all but ignore the Irish peace movement, which includes PANA, that opposes them.
The media could not ignore the 100,000 that marched against war on the 15th of February 2003, although the Sunday Independent did its best, as it headlined some story about President McAleese. In time, the demonstrations faded away and the media started to ignore the war. Before the last general election, PANA convinced that the people had not changed their minds, commissioned Lansdowne Market Research to carry out an independent survey on people’s attitude to the war. It showed that over 58% of people wanted the use of Shannon Airport by the US to be terminated. True to form, the media ensured the results were given little or no coverage and the use of Shannon by the US was not an issue in the 2007 election.
This process was repeated in the British 2010 election. Two newspapers, the Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday commissioned a poll which showed that 77% of the British people wanted the British soldiers to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. The issue was ignored by the rest of the media so the war in Afghanistan was not an issue in their election either. Like the use of Shannon in Ireland, it exposed the reality of what passed for democracy in Britain: that despite the results of the poll, most of the media and all the leaders of the three mainstream parties back the war.
The reality is of course is that the corporate media in Ireland is totally committed to the continuing dominance of the neo-liberal militarist ideology that justifies and supports these wars. It seeks to prevent any challenge by excluding, with rare exceptions, PANA and other anti imperialists access to the media. This is not a grip. It is a simple description of reality. Ignoring reality however does not stop reality. The tide is coming in, as King Canute pointed out nearly 1,000 years ago, cannot be stopped by simply ignoring it.
The reality is that the US and its vassal states like Ireland and Britain do not have the resources to fight and win their imperial wars any longer.
The real facts are that the number of US citizens on food stamps has now reached a record 40 million. The number of US homeowners behind on their mortgage repayments is at record levels. One out of every ten missed a payment in the first quarter of this year. 3-5 million more foreclosures are predicted. 1 in every 5 US children is below the poverty line. Official unemployment figures in the US show there are 15 million US citizens out of work. US Banks will be seriously affected by the massive cut backs being planned in the EU. JP Morgan Chase, for example, has a $1.4 trillion exposure in Europe. In the US, the real personal loss of income means that annual income is $500 billion less than it was sixteen months ago. US state and local government have cut their workforces by on average 65,000 a month and the political elite voted not to extend unemployment benefit. In short, as Prof. Elizabeth Warren has pointed out in her studies, the middle class of the US is being destroyed by the neo-liberal militarist ideology of the Bush-Obama Presidencies.
The US deficit as a % of GDP is now nearly 100% (up from 57% in 2007) and the US national debt is $689,000 per family when the average annual income per family is $63,000. Despite this, President Obama is spending $1 million per soldier per annum on the Afghan War and has just got an extra $33 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The total annual US military expenditure is over $1 trillion, the same as the rest of the world combined, at a time when the total expenditure of the entire world per annum is $60 trillion.
In simple terms, the people of the US are becoming impoverished. They can no longer generate the taxable income to sustain the revenue needed to fund the US Empires massive military expenditure to fight wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and maintain over 700 military bases all over the world, a number that does not include the de facto US base, Shannon Airport. The American Republic is being destroyed by the American Empire.
PANA in opposing the US Empire and the Bush/Obama Imperial wars is supporting the people of the US and their Republic in a struggle against their Empire. It makes PANA is one of the most pro-American groups in Ireland.
Instead of improving the quality of life of its own people the US Empire has borrowed the money from other states, for example, nearly 25% of its national debt is supported by the Chinese purchase of US Treasury Bonds. Federal interest on the bonds will soon reach 1/8 of all annual US tax revenue. The continuous purchase of US Treasury Bonds by China, Japan and other states cannot and will not continue indefinitely especially as their own financial surpluses will have to be diverted to the economic needs of their own people.
At the same time, China must also not be too pleased by massive US arms sales to Taiwan despite the fact that the recent China agreement with Taiwan suggests that the Taiwanese sees their future with China and not as a vassal state of a declining Empire. The decision of the US to humiliate the Japanese Prime Minister and forcing him to resign over the issue of the continuing US base in Okinawa can hardly be popular with the people of Japan and they too are sure to envision the end to their vassal status.
This decline in support by the vassal states for the US Empire is beginning to accelerate. They have withdrawn all their troops from Iraq. In August the Dutch government in response to the wishes of their own people will start the withdrawal of their 2,000 troops from Afghanistan. The Canadians will withdraw their troops in 2011. With massive cut backs in social welfare throughout Europe well on the way, the people in the different states in Europe will hardly accept an increase in military expenditure. In face of major cutbacks, people are much more likely to demand, like the Dutch, the withdrawal of their troops.
There are other examples of the emergence of a multi-polar world such as when the US allies made it clear they would not support Georgia that seeks NATO membership when it attacked South Ossetia and was crushed by Russia. More recently Turkey, an existing NATO member supported the Gaza flotilla and together with Brazil sought a settlement with Iran and opposed sanctions.
We should however not underestimate the deep held imperialist values of the political elite of the EU/US/NATO including Ireland. In response to the economic crisis German Chancellor has called for a single European currency and a single Army and increased the number of German troops in Afghanistan even though poll show that 65% of Germans want their troops withdrawn. There is already a NATO led de facto European Army with over 30,000 troops taking part in the Afghan War. Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, and the UK all have troops there despite opposition from most of their own people.
There are seven Irish soldiers serving with NATO in Afghanistan. The government says the cost is only €470,000 a year. However since the cost of each US soldier is $1 million per annum, we should take that declared cost with a pinch of salt.
PANA in the last few months campaigned within the Labour Party and it has now called for the withdrawal of the Irish soldiers from Afghanistan. At their recent Party Conference, delegates warmly welcomed the reiteration of opposition to the use of Shannon Airport by US troops by its spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Michael D. Higgins. This means that the Labour Party together with Sinn Fein and other progressive groups agree. The recent Irish Times TSN/MRBI poll, which is far more accurate than the Red Sea poll, showed that a Labour Party/Sinn Fein/Independent Left government is an option. Now PANA can campaign for a government committed to the withdrawal of Irish troops from Afghanistan, the termination of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops in the war and the restoration of Irish neutrality with evidence to show that this is a more realistic option that this can be achieved than it was at the last election. In truth, this opposition is as has been stated earlier, merely reflecting the growing global opposition the wars of the US Empire including among its vassals.
So while progress is being made among the opposition political forces, the same cannot be said of the existing government which is making no moves whatsoever to terminate the use of Shannon Airport in these wars or to withdraw troops.
There is however some evidence to show the ruling elite is divided. At a conference organised by the Finnish and Irish Departments of Foreign Affairs when it was pointed out that 77% of the British people wanted their troops to be withdrawn, while the EU military representative said public opinion did not matter, the representative of the Irish Dept. of Defence said a war could not be fought if their was no popular support.
At the same conference the issue of use the EU Battle Groups was discussed. It is clear that since the Finnish government is increasing the number of troops it is sending to Afghanistan and Irish taxpayers are going to spend an estimated €800,000 in 2010 to pay for Irish troops to have military training with the EU Nordic Battle Group that there will be a growing demand that the Nordic Battle Group be sent to Afghanistan. Therefore for the Irish peace movement has to highlight the issue of the EU Battle Groups especially as the government is considering integrating the Irish Army into a 2nd EU Battle Group.
I have focused on the effects of the war on the peoples of the US and Europe. While they are on the receiving end of social welfare cuts they have not suffered as have the people of Afghanistan where 142 babies die out of every 1,000 before they reach their 1st birthday and 50% of the population earn less that $2 a day. Faced with such poverty they are turning to growing poppies. From 2004-2010 the estimated number of hectares growing poppies grew from 25 to 90,000. If only a fraction of the $1 trillion President Obama and his Empire spends on war was spent aid then Afghanistan could look to a better future.
Finally PANA held its first demonstration against the Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan wars at Shannon Airport in May 2002. If the demonstration PANA helped organise with the IAWM and the NGOPA in February 2003 had not been so large, there is little doubt that the Fianna Fail/PD government would have sent Irish troops to Iraq and there would be a large contingent of Irish troops now serving in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, so far we have failed to defeat the Irish political elite. Since 1996 PANA has opposed Ireland’s integration into the neo-liberal militarist ideology of EU/US/NATO structures. We see our struggle against the militaristion of the EU and Ireland’s participation in the Iraq and the AF/Pak war, let alone the elite’s support for the crushing of the people of Palestine, as witnessed by CRH’s investment in Israel, Ireland’s support for Israeli membership of the OSCE and the purchase by the Irish Army of Israeli weapons, as being totally interconnected.
However, their imperial world is coming to an end, not so much from our efforts, but from its own internal contradictions. Our task now is to seek to ensure that as coming disintegration and collapse of the EU/US/NATO axis accelerates, what emerges is not one base on racist and fascist values, a realistic possibility as can be seen from the recent election result in Hungary and Holland, but on national democracy and social justice. This is not an easy task and as a small country we can only play a marginal role in that process. But the interconnections between all the social and political groups in Ireland, Europe and the US that has been built up during our campaigns against imperialism since 1996 can stand the test of time and lay the foundation for victory. The establishment of a united independent democratic Irish Republic with its own independent foreign policy with positive neutrality as a key component pursued primarily through a reformed United Nations remains PANA’s objective. Its achievement will be our victory.
Roger Cole Chair Peace & Neutrality Alliance
Bunaíodh Comhaontas na Síochána is Neodrachta i mí na Nollag 1996 i mBaile Átha Cliath. Tá cead isteach ag gach grúpa agus gach duine a ghlacann lenár gcúig chuspóir.
Tá réimse fairsing grúpaí agus méid breisiúil daoine aonair comhcheangailte le PANA.
Déanann PANA iarracht ar pholasaí eachtrach neamhspleách d'Éirinn a mholadh, neodracht na hÉireann a chosaint, agus Náisiúin Aontaithe leasaithe a mholadh mar eagraíocht trína gcuirfidh Éirinn a cúraimí slándála chun cinn.
Ba é an chéad fheachtas mór ag PANA cur in aghaidh Chonradh Amsterdam. D'iarramar aguisín, cosúil leis sin a bhí bainte amach cheana ag an Danmhairg, a d'fhágfadh Éirinn as míleatú an Aontais Eorpaigh. Ba é PANA an príomh-chomhaontas i bhfeachtas reifrinn a rinne iarracht ar dhiúltú don chonradh, agus vótáil 37 faoin gcéad den phobal ina choinne.
Méadú suntasach é seo ar líon na nÉireannach a vótáil "ní hea" i reifrinn a bhain leis an Aontais Eorpach cheana.
Ina dhiaidh sin chuamar i mbun feachtas chun a chinntiú go mbeadh reifreann ann sula rachadh Éirinn isteach sa PFP de chuid NATO. Chailleamar an athuair, mar gur cheangail an Rialtas leis gan reifreann. Ach arís nochtadh creimeadh neodracht na hÉireann.
D'eagraíomar comhdháil mhór ar leasú na Náisiún Aontaithe, a chabhraigh linn ár stádas méadaitheach mar chomhaontas a dhaingniú.
Chuamar i mbun feachtas in aghaidh Chonradh Nice, mar ar iarramar arís aguisín cosúil leis sin a bhí bainte amach cheana ag muintir na Danmhairge, agus an babhta seo bhuamar.
Níor mhór don Rialtas glacadh le Fógairt ar an Neodracht, aguisín leis an mBunreacht a chiallaigh nárbh fhéidir le hÉirinn cloí le comhpholasaí cosanta de chuid an Aontais Eorpaigh gan reifreann. Cé gur é irigh leis an dara reifreann, mhéadaigh ar an vóta ina choinne, in ainneoin na lamháltas.
Tá fianaise shoiléir ann, mar sin, go dtacaíonn timpeall is 37-40 faoin gcéad de mhuintir na hÉireann le neamhspleáchas, daonlathas agus neodracht na hÉireann agus go gcuireann i gcoinne chlaochlú an Aontais Eorpaigh ina ollstát cónaidhme.
Tá PANA i mbun feachtas anois in aghaidh chinneadh an Rialtais ar ligean d'úsáid Aerfort na Sionainne ag na Stáit Aontaithe ina gcogadh concais ar an Iaráic.
Tá Comhaontas na Síochána is Neodrachta comhcheangailte le Gréasán na Síochána agus na gCeart Daonna agus le TEAM (an Ghluaiseacht Eorpach i gcoinne Maastricht), a dhéanann iarracht ar ghrúpaí ar aon intinn leo a thabhairt le chéile san Eoraip agus ar chomhoibriú le grúpaí cosúil leo ar fud an domhain.
At about 3.45 pm on Sunday September 1st peace activists Margaretta Darcy and Niall Farrell were arrested in Shannon airport in the vicinity of the main runway. They were taken to Shannon Garda station where they were questioned and detained overnight. They were then brought before Limerick District Court at on 2nd September 2013 with Judge Eugene O’Kelly presiding. About 45 minutes after the arrests of Darcy and Farrell two other individuals, including photo-journalist and human rights activist Tommy Donnellan, were arrested several miles from the scene of the airport incursion. Tommy and his friend were later released without charge.
In a statement the Galway Alliance Against War said it wanted to highlight the use of the airport by the US.
"By allowing the US military to use Irish airspace and Shannon airport to wage wars we have become a willing accessory to mass murder. We have blood on our hands," the group said.
D'Arcy and Farrell have been charged over a similar protest at Shannon on 7th October 2012n when the perimeter fence was breached and an incursion made on to the runway.
They are due in court on the 11 September 2013 over the previous incident.
This is just one of very many incidents where peace activists have been arrested and subsequently prosecuted at Shannon airport while they were attempting to expose very serious crimes of torture, extraordinary rendition and crimes against humanity that have been facilitated at Shannon airport since 2001. No one has been arrested, charged or even investigated or questioned by Gardaí in connection with these most serious human rights abuses, or in connection with the facilitation of these crimes. Yet a large number of peace activists have been arrested and brought before the courts on spurious charges, most of which have been subsequently dismissed, most notably the five Catholic Workers who were acquitted by a Jury in Dublin, and Mary Kelly who was acquitted by the appeals court.
Surely its time the real criminals were brought to justice and that US military and CIA use of Shannon airport was prohibited.
When Niall Farrell was brought before the court Judge O’Kelly asked him if he wished to have a solicitor appointed to represent him, but Niall Farrell declined the offer and said he wished to represent himself. When Inspector Kennedy stated that Mr Farrell was arrested on the runway, Niall Farrell asked if there was proof that he was on the runway. Judge Kelly then intervened and said this hearing was primarily about a bail application and the main issues would be debated at a later hearing. When Inspector Kennedy referred to the seriousness of this matter, Niall Farrell stated that “all I want is peace” and their action was a statement about society and the issue should be the war machine and US military use of Shannon airport. Judge Kelly objected to political statements being made in court. Inspector Kennedy referred to the dangers of this incident and the issues of safety of the protestors themselves and the safety of airport staff and dangers to flights and air passengers. He said that all movements within the airfield were strictly controlled by Air Traffic Control. Niall Farrell and Margaretta Darcy had entered the airfield wearing orange boiler suits and carrying signs relating to the war in Syria. Photos had been taken by others of the incident and these photos were immediately published on the internet.
Judge O’Kelly asked if Niall Farrell was given bail for the incident last year and Inspector Kennedy said that the issue of bail did not arise on the previous occasion. Judge O’Kelly asked what were the penalties for this offense and Inspector Kennedy replied that the penalties carried a maximum of three years on indictment. Niall Farrell asked what about the other dangers arising from the US warplanes using Shannon, but Judge O’Kelly again ruled such matters out of order. Niall Farrell explained that the incident took place during a quiet window when no planes were landing, and Inspector Kennedy agreed that no aircraft were delayed on this occasion because of the incident, but he also explained (after being prompted by Judge O’Kelly) that Shannon airport was an emergency airport for all flights in the Western Europe region of the Atlantic and that aircraft could arrive unexpectedly at short notice. Niall Farrell asked if he was more of a danger than the military aircraft.
Judge asked Niall Farrell if he was prepared to give a written sworn undertaking not to trespass onto the airside area of Shannon airport between now and the completion of this case. Inspector Kennedy said that the Gardai also wanted the defendants to be prohibited from going anywhere near Shannon airport during this period. Judge O’Kelly did not agree with this and limited the bail undertakings to an undertaking not to trespass onto the airside area of Shannon airport between now and the completion of this case. After some discussion Niall Farrell agree to this undertaking. Judge O’Kelly then granted bail on their own recognisance of €1,000.
A similar but shorter “conversation” took place when Margaretta Darcy was brought before the court. There was a sharp exchange of views between Judge O’Kelly and Margaretta Darcy when the Judge tried to silence her when he claimed that her comments were “political”. "How can you try to depoliticise a political action" she asked him. The Judge threatened to have her removed from the court and held in contempt of court if she persisted in making political comments and a number of Gardai moved towards her at one point as if to remove her from court. Clearly the US military and CIA use of Shannon airport is a very political act, as well of course as being in breach of international laws, and involving the Irish Government, the Gardai and the airport authorities in being complicit with war crimes. The Judge seemed determined to silence this aspect of the case and if this behaviour by judges in this case continues, then the judges can be accused of failing to allow all the facts and factors in the case to be heard before the court, particularly the factor of the reasons and justification for the actions taken by Margaretta Darcy and Niall Farrell. Their actions were clearly taken in order to expose and try and prevent the far greater evil and crimes involved in US military and CIA use of Shannon airport. If they are denied the opportunity to explain this to the court, then a mistrial will have taken place. Eventually Margaretta Darcy also agree to the bail condition to give a written sworn undertaking not to trespass onto the airside area of Shannon airport between now and the completion of this case and both defendants were released on bail.
Shortly after this Niall Farrell got into a friendly conversation with one the Gardai during which Niall was complementing the hospitality of the Gardai at Shannon Garda Station during their overnight stay. It would then appear that Niall Farrell jokingly made what may have been an inappropriate remark to the Garda, as a result of which Niall was then arrested on the suspicion that he had made a threatening remark to the Garda. After a few hours questioning at Shannon Garda Station, Niall Farrell was released without charge on this last incident.
Both Niall Farrell and Margaretta were remanded in bail to appear at Ennis District Court on 11 September 2013.
The separate arrest of Tommy Donnellan and his colleague, who had recorded the presence of Margaretta Darcy and Niall Farrell during their protest, is of serious concern especially the alleged unduly rough manner of the arrest in which some photographic equipment may have been damaged and some alleged abusive comments made by one of the detectives concerning one of the protesters. The Gardai also impounded the photographic equipment, mobile phones, laptop computer, car and other equipment belonging to Tommy Donnellan and his friend, and told them they will be holding all these items for a period of at least 4 days.
The behaviour of the Gardai in all these matters is in marked contrast with the complete failure to search or investigate any of the US military and CIA aircraft that have transited through Shannon airport or to arrest any of the US war criminals that are known to have transited through Shannon. There also have been no arrests or Garda investigations into those Irish citizens, Irish Government officials, and Gardai who may have been complicit in the war crimes and acts of torture committed by US troops and US government agents who travelled through Shannon airport.
It is worth noting that Margaretta and Niall were both given bail on condition that they do not access the runway again until after both their cases are heard. The state is accusing them of having interfered with the "proper" use of the runway. Margaretta and Niall argue that they went on the runway to highlight the "improper" use of a civilian airport by the US military. President Higgins has called for "conversations" in public places about Irish society, GAAW wishes to hold the conversation about Ireland's role in foreign relations, on war and peace in the court. By agreeing this limited bail condition, the court appears to be accepting that the state has a case to answer over the misuse of Shannon airport by the US military and CIA associated aircraft. D'Arcy and Farrell informed the court (and the Gardai beforehand) that they would not accept any further limitation of the bail i.e. to include an exclusion order from Shannon as a whole. Their view was plain: if the US war machine can be in Shannon then so can peace activists who wish to protest peacefully against such misuse of the airport.
International conference jointly organised by CND (UK) and Mouvement de la Paix (France)- Saturday 5th March 2005- Mechanics Institute, Central Manchester, UK
This year sees the 60 th Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in 1945. Despite all the consequent death, devastation and suffering the world has not yet achieved a ban on nuclear weapons. Although as recently as 2000, at the UN Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the nuclear weapons states made an 'unequivocal undertaking' to take positive steps to nuclear disarmament, very little has happened. This year we must press governments to carry out their legal obligations to achieve global nuclear disarmament.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the military alliance which includes the USA and Canada, has been expanded to 26 states across Europe. Yet NATO is a block to the furthering of the aims of the N.P.T. as it still holds policies of retaining nuclear weapons, of using nuclear arms first and a policy of nuclear sharing so that the US can store nuclear weapons at bases on the land of non-nuclear weapon states. NATO's total military budget is over $400 billion.
The new European Constitution includes articles which support a European army, support for selling more arms from Europe and recommendations that member states should spend more on defence.
The above issues are urgently in need of public debate, because there is no doubt that people are seeking ways to achieve peace and human security.
Will they find it through military security? Can governments still threaten the use of nuclear weapons?
What is the effect of the spending of huge amounts of money on more advanced technological, including nuclear, weapons? If we are to change hearts and minds, how will we do it?
We will raise these questions in the workshops at the conference where every participant will have a chance to contribute. .
The speakers will include:
On Sunday, 6 th March , there will be a cultural programme including optional visits to the Imperial War Museum and the People's Museum. This is also Irish Festival Week in Manchester which includes music, concerts and craft markets.
You will receive a warm welcome in Manchester - we do hope you can come .
Registration forms and full information on the programme, accommodation and travel are available from Greater Manchester CND, 22a Beswick Street, MANCHESTER M4 7HR e-mail email@example.com , website www.gmdcnd.org.uk
Tel +44 161 273 8283 - Fax +44 161 273 8293
In 1996 the Peace and Neutrality Alliance was established to advocate that Ireland should have its own independent foreign policy, and that neutrality should be a key component, of this policy, which should be pursued primarily through a reformed United Nations and the OSCE.
The reason we did so was because we believed that the Irish political/media elite intended to destroy Irish independence, democracy and neutrality and to integrate Ireland into the EU/US/NATO/Israeli military-industrial structures to ensure Ireland full and active participation in the resource wars of the 21st century; wars in which the defeat of the axis was the only and absolutely inevitable outcome.
We campaigned against the steady process of the growing militarisation of the EU via the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, and the termination of policy of Irish neutrality by the decision to turn Shannon Airport into a de facto US air force base in March 2003.
PANA has been a small organisation, focused on research and seeking to build unity among all the groups opposed to this process, rather than building an individual based membership organisation. Therefore in November 2004 PANA organised a conference that brought together groups involved in opposing the neo-liberal agenda and the erosion of national democracy as well as those in favour of Irish neutrality and opposed to militarism, out of which grew the Campaign Against the EU Constitution-Say No to Lisbon Alliance.
Apart from having over 30 Irish groups affiliated to PANA we had also built up international links, in particular, with British CND, the Bertrand Russell Foundation and the Transnational Institute which had a similar analysis, as our campaign only makes sense if it is part of the larger international struggle against militarism and war.
During the campaigns on the 1st and 2nd referendums on the Lisbon Treaty we were able to not only build up a stronger broad alliance in Ireland but also international links with Die Linke in Germany, the Dutch Socialist Party and the Left Party in France. We also established our first tentative links with progressive forces in the US via Foreign Policy in Focus.
In both referendums the no side consisted of three groups, Coir, Libertas and CAECU. Coir and Libertas never mentioned war and militarism. Only CAECU made it part of its campaign against the treaty, despite the fact that the TSN/MRBI polls in May and June 2008 showed that concern over neutrality and militarism was a key issue in the decision of the Irish people to reject the treaty in 2008.
The no vote in 2008 was a great victory for the values of Irish Independence, Democracy and neutrality and a defeat for imperialism. But the elite learnt their lesson and decided immediately after their defeat to force the Irish people to vote again on exactly the same treaty. All the current affairs programmes from June 08 ensured that those who had played a role in the no campaign were largely excluded from debate; the corporate media provided massive coverage to the yes campaigners, the Forum on Europe that provided the opportunity for equal democratic debate was abolished, and so called “civil society” yes groups heavily funded by the corporate sector were established. Major corporations like Intel and Ryanair spent millions of euro advocating a yes vote. They won. It was a victory for imperialism. Our vision of a Partnership Europe, a Partnership of independent democratic states, legal equals, without a military dimension was rejected in favour of a centralised militarised neo-liberal Superstate.
But it was a pyrrhic victory. The EU elite were forced to ram through their new EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty without holding referendums in any EU state except Ireland. Their appointment of an unknown British Baroness as EU Foreign Minister was a real indication that it was a victory that had exhausted them.
The imperialist forces in Ireland, the bankers, the major corporations and their corporate media, the vast majority of the trade union leaders, the leadership of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Green Party and the Labour Party do not believe that they have suddenly converted the people who voted no in 2008 into active supporters of their emerging militarised, neo-liberal and centralised Superstate.
They know the reason, indeed the only reason, why people changed their mind was fear, a fear that grew out of the massive crisis caused by the values of the militarist, neo-liberal capitalist system which this elite have supported for decades and which were an integral part of the Lisbon Treaty. The elite was successful in convincing the people that bad as it was it would be even worse unless they reversed their decision. The 54% no vote in 2008 however, is far more reflective of the real level of resistance to their project than the 33% that voted no this year. The 2008 vote is the expression of popular vote that is achievable by the progressive political forces, especially if those political forces brought together in CAEUC consolidated into a political alliance.
Because that fear that turned 54% into 33% could turn into hate as the elite bail out their bankers and the rich via NAMA, impose massive cuts in the living conditions of the people and refuse point blank to introduce a wealth tax and a graduated income tax system which would ensure they, the rich and powerful, that did very well out of the so called Celtic Tiger would pay for the economic crisis for which they are responsible.
The people are now turning to Fine Gael and Labour because they are seen as the opposition, as no progressive alliance is being created. But it will not take long for the people to discover that FG & Labour support exactly the same imperialist values as Fianna Fail. In that context the demand for such a progressive alliance will become unstoppable and a key part of that process will be the growth in anti-imperialist values by ordinary members of the trade unions.
The existing trade union leaders are already being forced by their own members to take a more aggressive attitude to defend wages and working conditions. But most of these leaders have become an integral part of the ruling elite and they want to remain part of it. They did all they could, including advocating a deal to their members that ensures the existing class structure and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the elite remains unchanged.
But even if they had achieved such a local deal, they would not succeeded because the imperialist values that they endorse are only a reflection of values that are centred in the United States that leads this US/EU/NATO/Israeli axis, and it is about to disintegrate. The crisis in Dubai is only the latest example of this process.
The global leader of this US/EU/NATO/Israeli axis, President Obama, has made it clear he will escalate these wars by sending thousands of more US troops to Afghanistan. It will be a decision that will mean the destruction of the American Empire and its vassal states including the Republic of Ireland will not be immune from the consequences.
In response to these developments PANA needs to accelerate and deepen the strategies we have developed over the years for while PANA did all it could to build unity between all the groups opposed to imperialism, the result showed we were just not strong enough to win a second time against a very determined enemy.
We need to seek to establish PANA groups in every Dail and Northern Ireland Assembly constituency. The main purpose of these groups would be to do locally what PANA has sought to do on a national level. That is, contact local groups, such as the local trade union councils and other civil society groups and seek to ensure they affiliate to, or at least work with PANA. They can contact the local groups of the organisations affiliated to PANA nationally as well as those affiliated to CAECU.
We helped to establish CAECU to build links between the issues of war, neo-liberalism and democracy and the fact that it has agreed to continue is a very progressive development. It has the potential to build a stronger and broader national alliance. Whether they do so, does not depend on PANA, it depends on the willingness of the political parties that led the campaign to learn from the experience of victory, the experience that only through unity can we actually win.
We need to continue the process of building links with groups throughout the world, in particular with those in the other EU states and the US.
None of these developments can take place without the support of the existing affiliates.
As part of this process PANA should plan out its activities for 2010 with a focus on the following events:
1. A demonstration at the end of February outside ACRA Controls Ltd that makes component parts of the military drones used in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We hope to do so in conjunction with the IAWM and other progressive groups.
2. Organise a meeting of shannonwatch.org in March as part of the IAWM events.
3. Hold a conference on An Independent Irish Policy in September in Dublin by seeking to bring together all the international solidarity groups.
4. To begin the planning of another International Peace Conference in Shannon in 2011.
5. Hold at least one major demonstration at Shannon Airport, including an international “fly-in”.
The overwhelming reality is that the neo-liberalist militarist ideology that has dominated the world for the last 40 years is facing a massive crisis. The US budget deficit is now $1.4 trillion, 10% of its GDP. The US national debt as a % of its GDP has risen from 58% in the year 2000 to a projected 98% in 2010 and a massive 148% in 2018. This debt does not include the debts of its individual states nor the US states guarantee’s to its failed banking system. Since China and Japan own over 20% each of that debt via their ownership of US treasury holdings they are unlikely to buy more and if anything they will sell dollars to ensure a more balanced portfolio.
It is also having problems finding recruits despite rising unemployment. The US Army Times newspaper recently published an article stating that 33% of all US males between 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too fat. Which is another reason why it has to spend massive amounts of money on hiring mercenaries in firms like Blackwater.
In short, the US just cannot and will not be able to sustain its spending of 21% of its annual tax take on its military, especially when this figure does not include expenditure on nuclear weapons which are under the Dept. of Energy budget, and grants to foreign states which is under the control of the State Dept. The US Empire will self destruct as a consequence of the Bush-Obama wars, and if there is a massive run on the dollar, which could happen at any moment, then its destruction will be sudden and swift, as happened with the Soviet Union, which also militarily overextended itself. The figures speak for themselves. The US is spending $11 million an hour on the Afghan war alone. The $100 billion it sends in a year could provide all people in the 21 poorest countries in the world with clean water, primary education and healthcare.
PANA in advocating a rejection of the Bush/Obama militarist neo-liberal agenda is simply surfing the tide of history as they drive their Empire to its destruction. The consequence for those states that have decided to ally themselves with the US; for example, there are 35,000 troops from EU states including 7 from Ireland already in Afghanistan and they plan to increase that number by at least 5,000, will be equally disastrous.
Finally, in a few years time in 2016, PANA will be marking its 20th anniversary. These next few years have the potential to see not just a defeat of the neo-liberal militarist values in Ireland and the creation of a government committed to the values of independence, democracy and neutrality, but similar transformations in the political structure throughout Europe and the US.
In Ireland, that means continuing our campaign to terminate the use of Shannon Airport as a de facto military airforce base by the US and its allies and to eliminate the military provisions of the European Union. These are practical and achievable objectives.
For some that is far fetched, but the Soviet Union collapsed because of its commitment to imperial war in Afghanistan and very few predicted its demise. Can there be any real doubt that the commitment to imperial war by the US/EU/NATO/Israeli axis in Iraq, Afghanistan/Iran/Palestine and Pakistan will led to an even greater collapse of the dominant neo-liberal militarist ideology?
PANA and CAECU should play a role in that process. We should seek to ensure that the alternative that will develop out of its collapse is based on democratic values, as there is no guarantee that this will be the case. We have to continually work in building a network of contacts with other genuine civil society groups and those individuals in all the existing mainstream parties that have a commitment to democracy.
The absolute reality is clear. As the global crisis deeps it is only the agenda of the peace movement that can ensure stability and survival. The slogan of the peace movement; Protest and Survive, is more valid now than it ever was.
Roger Cole Chair Peace & Neutrality Alliance www.pana.ie PANA AGM 5/12/09
Bunaíodh Comhaontas na Síochána is Neodrachta chun polasaí eachtrach neamhspleách a mholadh, chun neodracht na hÉireann a chothú, agus chun Náisiúin Aontaithe leasaithe a mholadh mar eagraíocht trína gcuirfidh Éirinn a cúraimí slándála chun cinn.
Tá cead isteach ag gach grúpa agus gach duine a ghlacann lenár gcuspóirí.
** Nuacht is déanaí: Sínigh an achainí a iarrann reifreann a bhuanfadh an neodracht i mBunreacht na hÉireann (traschóipeáil comhad Word, 350 kb).
* Ailt: Neutral?? Ireland on the slippery slopes back to the Somme? le Edward Horgan, an Baile Nua, Caladh an Treoigh, Luimneach (13 Eanáir 2004)
Europe at the Crossroads: Health and Education as Business Opportunity? Páipéar eolais ón ngrúpa Democracy and Public Services in Europe (DAPSE) ar na forálacha i ndréachtbhunreacht an Aontais Eorpaigh a bhaineann an bonn ó smacht daonlathach ar chinnteoireacht san Aontas Eorpach agus a chuireann chun cinn liobrálú i dtráchtáil, oideachas, sláinte, agus seirbhísí cultúrtha agus closamhairc. (Nollaig 2003)
The power balance in an enlarged Europe (10 Nollaig 2003)
The Eropean Union: A Partnership of Democratic States Preasráiteas PANA ar Dhréachtbhunreacht an Aontais Eorpaigh (2 Deireadh Fómhair 2003)
- Tuilleadh alt >
Speech by Roger Cole to the 2010 AGM of PANA
On Saturday November 27 members of PANA took part in the 50,000 plus strong ICTU march in Dublin against the neo-liberal economic policies being pursued by the Irish/EU/IMF political elite. At that march the 1916 Proclamation was read out at the GPO and the call was made to build a new Republic.
A week earlier on Saturday November 20, members of PANA took part in the 40,000 strong Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation’s march in favour of peace and against NATO.
By participating in these two marches which are the latest expressions of the growing resistance against the EU/US/NATO political elite and their neo-liberal militarist ideology, PANA is making it crystal clear that it has maintained its core policy that this elite can only be defeated if there is no distinction make in the resistance whether it is the military, economic or political dimension of their ideology or whether it is national or international.
This analysis was the reason why PANA called a conference on November 2004 to build a broader alliance covering the economic and democratic as well as the military dimensions, out of which grew the Campaign Against the EU Constitution-Vote No to Lisbon which played such a key role in winning the first Lisbon referendum and in achieving a high no vote in the second, despite the €millions spent by the rich and powerful EU/Irish elite.
It was this analysis that ensured that CAECU was not disbanded but renamed the Campaign for a Social Europe so that a structure would be maintained to ensure that it was available when the broad alliance of all the progressive anti-imperialist groups again went into battle. It is the reason why members of PANA play an active role on the National Executive of the CSE.
We need to ensure that in 2011 the CSE website is revamped and that it plays a more decisive role in the economic aspects of the debate in the way that the PANA site does in the anti-militarist arena.
Since its foundation in 1996 PANA has always sought to build international links with peace groups in Europe and throughout the world. While in Lisbon PANA ensured that delegates attend conference organised by the CPPC and the World Peace Council as well as the conference organised by PAGAN and the No-to-NATO-No-to-War network at which as Chair of PANA I made a presentation on a workshop the links between NATO and the EU.
While at the CPPC/WPC conference, it became absolutely clear that the analysis presented there was virtually the same as PANA’s.
I therefore strongly recommend to the incoming NEC of PANA that we proceed to building stronger links with the WPC in 2011.
PANA is of course already linked with the No-to-Nato-No-to-War European network and we are honoured by their decision to ask PANA to host their Executive AGM in Dublin in April 2011.
Thus 2011 is sent to mark a major growth in PANA’s role in the European and global peace movements. We have always made the case that PANA has no right to exist except as part of the global peace movement. Our ability to mobilise support for the US Army out of Shannon Campaign by most of the US peace movement was a good example of the goodwill and knowledge that already exists in the US towards PANA.
Thus our input into that global peace movement has steadily grown over the years and hopefully 2011 will mark an acceleration of that process.
Throughout 2010 PANA has sought to highlight the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the American Empire in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. We have worked very closely with Shannonwatch in that process, a group that is now affiliated to PANA and is at the vanguard of that campaign.
We also decided in 2010 to organise a Conference on an Independent Irish Foreign Policy in order to restore the concept of the right of the Irish people to have their own foreign policy back on to the political agenda and to build stronger links with a wide a range of political parties and ngo’s involved in foreign policy issues. It was a very successful conference and we certainly achieved our objective in building stronger links with the ICTU Solidarity Committee, Trocaire, the Burma Action Group and many more. In fact, virtually every group involved in foreign affairs attended including a good few embassies.
However, once more, the corporate media gave this PANA event little or no coverage. Their focus instead was on the visit to this state by the war criminal Tony Blair. The lack of coverage can be easily explained by going on the PANA website and studying the amount of money paid to Irish journalists by the EU during the “debate” on the Lisbon 2 referendum. The reality is that most of the political and economic journalists have been little more than intellectual mercenaries for the EU/US/NATO elite. Nevertheless as the economic crisis deepens and their wars expand it is possible that more than a few Irish journalists are reconsidering their position.
PANA knows that there is no justifiable reason why the media should report our AGM, but we should in fact take it as a major complement that the corporate media decided to also ignore our major conference despite the wide range and inclusive nature of the conference. The reality is it does not want the people to know that PANA already has the status and ability to organise such a conference; neither do they don’t support the ideas and values of Irish Independence, Democracy and Neutrality advocated by PANA since 1996.
The truth, of course is that PANA is essentially just an idea. With a turnover of less that €10,000 what else can we be. It is, however an idea that stretches back over 220 years when Irish Neutrality, Democracy and Independence were first advocated by Wolfe Tone in his pamphlet ‘The Spanish War’.
There is a case to be made that it is an idea whose time has come again and events are providing real evidence for it.
Only a short while ago the leaders of the ICTU and newspaper columnists in the Irish Times were campaigning to force the Irish people to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. Yet on Nov 27 they organised a march to the GPO where once more the 1916 Proclamation was read, and this time to massive applause.
For the leaders of the ICTU and the more progressive elements in the media it is perhaps a case of Irish democracy for slow learners.
In the Donegal by-election the Sinn Fein candidate won and Thomas Pringle another supporter of PANA’s values did well, so a clear majority of the people there voted for people who are affiliated to or support PANA.
Therefore there is real evidence that we are living in historic times and the upcoming election could be the most decisive since 1918.
A large and substantial section of the electorate could not just humiliate Fianna Fail, they could also swing past Fine Gael and Labour, and on towards Sinn Fein and the United Left Alliance that were part of the Campaign Against the EU Constitution. After all, it was not that long ago that the majority of the people rejected the Lisbon Treaty and since then the campaign promises of the yes people have been exposed for the lies that they were.
PANA needs to draw up a series of questions to put to all the candidates so that is clear which of them do or no support Ireland’s integration into the EU/US/NATO military structures.
This is not guaranteed however. Even the emerging social democratic alternative led by TASC and Claiming Our Future has sought to ignore Ireland’s involvement in the imperial wars of the EU/US/NATO axis. It is a core part of our job to ensure they are not successful, and if the response to our leafleting of some of their events is anything to go by, they will not succeed. Wars like elephants in the room just cannot be ignored for long.
Finally, while all the attention has been on the economic crisis caused by our own neo-liberal militarist political/corporate media elite has focused on the EU, let me draw your attention to some other global events. Russia, China and Brazil have agreed to use each other’s currencies in bi-lateral trade, which will accelerate the decline of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.
This is happening at a time when the Commission established by President Obama is advocating the increasing of the old age pension to 69, cutting social security and reducing the tax for the rich people, all to ensure that the US Empire and its European NATO allies can continue their wars.
At their Lisbon Conference the NATO elite described the EU as a strategic (i.e. military) ally, they declared their intention to continue their imperial wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and to threaten war on Iran. They also decided to keep their nuclear weapons and on top of all that, to spend € billions on a missile shield against attack.
This is what the leaders of IBEC, the ICTU, the Fianna Fail Party, the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Green Party all supported when they forced the Irish people to reverse their decision on Lisbon. All they offered the Irish people is poverty and war.
PANA has opposed these warmongers since our foundation. We have sought to build an alliance that advocates Irish Independence, Irish Democracy and Irish Neutrality. If those that have opposed us in the past, like the ICTU and the Labour Party, are now changing, then we welcome that change. After all, James Connolly not only helped to found the ITGWU and the Labour Party, but he also founded the Irish Neutrality League in 1914.
In 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of foundation of the Irish Neutrality League, so let have hope that it is an event celebrated not just in the Ireland Institute by PANA, not just in Liberty Hall by SIPTU, but also by the Irish people in the New Irish Republic.
on Saturday 29th of November 2008 (11.00am –5.30pm) at the Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 Speakers include:
Admission is free, but donations will be requested.
All welcome but votes are restricted to paid up members For further information contact Roger Cole at 01-2351512 / 087-2611597
Hans van Heijningen
Hans van Heijningen was born in Naaldwijk - a small agricultural village between The Hague, Rotterdam and Delft - on 15th March 1953 and attended primary school in the village. He finished his secondary education at the Stanislas College in Delft. From 1972 to 1979 Van Heijningen studied sociology at the University of Amsterdam.
In 1980-81, Hans van Heijningen was a member of the executive committee of the soldiers' union VVDM, representing conscripts. Following his military service he worked as a neighbourhood development worker in Amsterdam.
In 1984 he left for Nicaragua where he would work until 1992, at first as a freelance consultant and journalist, and later, in the period of the Sandinista revolution, as a policy advisor to the Nicaraguan government and a researcher. From 1992 to 1995 Van Heijningen wrote a thesis on the relations between the peasantry and the Sandinista government, taking his doctorate in 1994 from the Catholic University of Nijmegen.
In addition to his thesis, he has written or edited numerous publications on Central America and has been a writer and editor at the Latin American periodicals Fuente, America Ventana and La Chispa. Hans van Heijningen was co-initiator of Attac Nederland, the Dutch affiliate of an organisation with branches worldwide which campaigns against neoliberal globalisation.
From 1998 to 2002 Van Heijningen worked as a coordinator of the development solidarity fund Solidariteitsfonds XminY in Amsterdam.
Via the anti-war movement (Afghanistan, Iraq) and globalisation initiatives he came into contact with the SP - www.international.sp.nl
From 2002 to 2005 he worked as a foreign policy advisor to the party's parliamentary group and was a member of the SP executive. In June 2005 he was elected General Secretary of the party.
Why Humanitarian Interventionism is a Dead End Beware the Anti-Anti-War Leftby JEAN BRICMONTLouvain, Belgium
Ever since the 1990s, and especially since the Kosovo war in 1999, anyone who opposes armed interventions by Western powers and NATO has to confront what may be called an anti-anti-war left (including its far left segment). In Europe, and notably in France, this anti-anti-war left is made up of the mainstream of social democracy, the Green parties and most of the radical left. The anti-anti-war left does not come out openly in favor of Western military interventions and even criticizes them at times (but usually only for their tactics or alleged motivations – the West is supporting a just cause, but clumsily and for oil or for geo-strategic reasons). But most of its energy is spent issuing “warnings” against the supposed dangerous drift of that part of the left that remains firmly opposed to such interventions. It calls upon us to show solidarity with the “victims” against “dictators who kill their own people”, and not to give in to knee-jerk anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, or anti-Zionism, and above all not to end up on the same side as the far right. After the Kosovo Albanians in 1999, we have been told that “we” must protect Afghan women, Iraqi Kurds and more recently the people of Libya and of Syria.
It cannot be denied that the anti-anti-war left has been extremely effective. The Iraq war, which was sold to the public as a fight against an imaginary threat, did indeed arouse a fleeting opposition, but there has been very little opposition on the left to interventions presented as “humanitarian”, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia to detach the province of Kosovo, the bombing of Libya to get rid of Gaddafi, or the current intervention in Syria. Any objections to the revival of imperialism or in favor of peaceful means of dealing with such conflicts have simply been brushed aside by invocations of “R2P”, the right or responsibility to protect, or the duty to come to the aid of a people in danger.
The fundamental ambiguity of the anti-anti-war left lies in the question as to who are the “we” who are supposed to intervene and protect. One might ask the Western left, social movements or human rights organizations the same question Stalin addressed to the Vatican, “How many divisions do you have?” As a matter of fact, all the conflicts in which “we” are supposed to intervene are armed conflicts. Intervening means intervening militarily and for that, one needs the appropriate military means. It is perfectly obvious that the Western left does not possess those means. It could call on European armies to intervene, instead of the United States, but they have never done so without massive support from the United States. So in reality the actual message of the anti-anti-war left is: “Please, oh Americans, make war not love!” Better still, inasmuch as since their debacle in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the Americans are leery of sending in ground troops, the message amounts to nothing other than asking the U.S. Air Force to go bomb countries where human rights violations are reported to be taking place.
Of course, anyone is free to claim that human rights should henceforth be entrusted to the good will of the U.S. government, its bombers, its missile launchers and its drones. But it is important to realize that that is the concrete meaning of all those appeals for “solidarity” and “support” to rebel or secessionist movements involved in armed struggles. Those movements have no need of slogans shouted during “demonstrations of solidarity” in Brussels or in Paris, and that is not what they are asking for. They want to get heavy weapons and see their enemies bombed.
The anti-anti-war left, if it were honest, should be frank about this choice, and openly call on the United States to go bomb wherever human rights are violated; but then it should accept the consequences. In fact, the political and military class that is supposed to save the populations “massacred by their dictators” is the same one that waged the Vietnam war, that imposed sanctions and wars on Iraq, that imposes arbitrary sanctions on Cuba, Iran and any other country that meets with their disfavor, that provides massive unquestioning support to Israel, which uses every means including coups d’état to oppose social reformers in Latin America, from Arbenz to Chavez by way of Allende, Goulart and others, and which shamelessly exploits workers and resources the world over. One must be quite starry-eyed to see in that political and military class the instrument of salvation of “victims”, but that is in practice exactly what the anti-anti-war left is advocating, because, given the relationship of forces in the world, there is no other military force able to impose its will.
Of course, the U.S. government is scarcely aware of the existence of the anti-anti-war left. The United States decides whether or not to wage war according to the chances of succeeding and to their own assessment of their strategic, political and economic interests. And once a war is begun, they want to win at all costs. It makes no sense to ask them to carry out only good interventions, against genuine villains, using gentle methods that spare civilians and innocent bystanders.
For example, those who call for “saving Afghan women” are in fact calling on the United States to intervene and, among other things, bomb Afghan civilians and shoot drones at Pakistan. It makes no sense to ask them to protect but not to bomb, because armies function by shooting and bombing.
A favorite theme of the anti-anti-war left is to accuse those who reject military intervention of “supporting the dictator”, meaning the leader of the currently targeted country. The problem is that every war is justified by a massive propaganda effort which is based on demonizing the enemy, especially the enemy leader. Effectively opposing that propaganda requires contextualizing the crimes attributed to the enemy and comparing them to those of the side we are supposed to support. That task is necessary but risky; the slightest mistake will be endlessly used against us, whereas all the lies of the pro-war propaganda are soon forgotten.
Already, during the First World War, Bertrand Russell and British pacifists were accused of “supporting the enemy”. But if they denounced Allied propaganda, it was not out of love for the German Kaiser, but in the cause of peace. The anti-anti-war left loves to denounce the “double standards” of coherent pacifists who criticize the crimes of their own side more sharply than those attributed to the enemy of the moment (Milosevic, Gaddafi, Assad, and so on), but this is only the necessary result of a deliberate and legitimate choice: to counter the war propaganda of our own media and political leaders (in the West), propaganda which is based on constant demonization of the enemy under attack accompanied by idealization of the attacker.
The anti-anti-war left has no influence on American policy, but that doesn’t mean that it has no effect. Its insidious rhetoric has served to neutralize any peace or anti-war movement. It has also made it impossible for any European country to take such an independent position as France took under De Gaulle, or even Chirac, or as Sweden did with Olof Palme. Today such a position would be instantly attacked by the anti-anti-war left, which is echoed by European media, as “support to dictators”, another “Munich”, or “the crime of indifference”.
What the anti-anti-war left has managed to accomplish is to destroy the sovereignty of Europeans in regard to the United States and to eliminate any independent left position concerning war and imperialism. It has also led most of the European left to adopt positions in total contradiction with those of the Latin American left and to consider as adversaries countries such as China and Russia which seek to defend international law, as indeed they should.
When the media announce that a massacre is imminent, we hear at times that action is “urgent” to save the alleged future victims, and time cannot be lost making sure of the facts. This may be true when a building is on fire in one’s own neighborhood, but such urgency regarding other countries ignores the manipulation of information and just plain error and confusion that dominate foreign news coverage. Whatever the political crisis abroad, the instant “we must do something” reflex brushes aside serious reflection on the left as to what might be done instead of military intervention. What sort of independent investigation could be carried out to understand the causes of conflict and potential solutions? What can be the role of diplomacy? The prevailing images of immaculate rebels, dear to the left from its romanticizing of past conflicts, especially the Spanish Civil War, blocks reflection. It blocks realistic assessment of the relationship of forces as well as the causes of armed rebellion in the world today, very different from the 1930s, favorite source of the cherished legends of the Western left.
What is also remarkable is that most of the anti-anti-war left shares a general condemnation of the revolutions of the past, because they led to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. But now that the revolutionaries are (Western backed) Islamists, we are supposed to believe that everything will turn out fine. What about “drawing the lesson from the past” that violent revolutions are not necessarily the best or the only way to achieve social change?
An alternative policy would take a 180° turn away from the one currently advocated by the anti-anti-war left. Instead of calling for more and more interventions, we should demand of our governments the strict respect for international law, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and cooperation instead of confrontation. Non-interference means not only military non-intervention. It applies also to diplomatic and economic actions: no unilateral sanctions, no threats during negotiations, and equal treatment of all States. Instead of constantly “denouncing” the leaders of countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Cuba for violating human rights, something the anti-anti-war left loves to do, we should listen to what they have to say, dialogue with them, and help our fellow citizens understand the different ways of thinking in the world, including the criticisms that other countries can make of our way of doing things. Cultivating such mutual understanding could in the long run be the best way to improve “human rights” everywhere.
This would not bring instant solutions to human rights abuses or political conflicts in countries such as Libya or Syria. But what does? The policy of interference increases tensions and militarization in the world. The countries that feel targeted by that policy, and they are numerous, defend themselves however they can. The demonization campaigns prevent peaceful relations between peoples, cultural exchanges between citizens and, indirectly, the flourishing of the very liberal ideas that the advocates of interference claim to be promoting. Once the anti-anti-war left abandoned any alternative program, it in fact gave up the possibility of having the slightest influence over world affairs. It does not in reality “help the victims” as it claims. Except for destroying all resistance here to imperialism and war, it does nothing. The only ones who are really doing anything are in fact the succeeding U.S. administrations. Counting on them to care for the well-being of the world’s peoples is an attitude of total hopelessness. This hopelessness is an aspect of the way most of the Left reacted to the “fall of communism”, by embracing the policies that were the exact opposite of those of the communists, particularly in international affairs, where opposition to imperialism and the defense of national sovereignty have increasingly been demonized as “leftovers from Stalinism”.
Interventionism and European construction are both right-wing policies. One of them is linked to the American drive for world hegemony. The other is the framework supporting neoliberal economic policies and destruction of social protection. Paradoxically, both have been largely justified by “left-wing” ideas : human rights, internationalism, anti-racism and anti-nationalism. In both cases, a left that lost its way after the fall of the Soviet bloc has grasped at salvation by clinging to a “generous, humanitarian” discourse, which totally lacks any realistic analysis of the relationship of forces in the world. With such a left, the right hardly needs any ideology of its own; it can make do with human rights.
Nevertheless, both those policies, interventionism and European construction, are today in a dead end. U.S. imperialism is faced with huge difficulties, both economic and diplomatic. Its intervention policy has managed to unite much of the world against the United States. Scarcely anyone believes any more in “another” Europe, a social Europe, and the real existing European Union (the only one possible) does not arouse much enthusiasm among working people. Of course, those failures currently benefit solely the right and the far right, only because most of the left has stopped defending peace, international law and national sovereignty, as the precondition of democracy.
JEAN BRICMONT teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism. He can be reached at jean.Bricmont@uclouvain.be.
A French version of this article will be published soon by the author.
 On the occasion of the recent NATO summit in Chicago, Amnesty International launched a campaign of posters calling on NATO to “keep up the progress” on behalf of women in Afghanistan, without explaining, or even raising the question as to how a military organization was supposed to accomplish such an objective.
Counterpunch Tells the Facts and Names the Names Published since 1996 Copyright © CounterPunch All rights reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org
The AGM of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance will be held on Saturday 18th of October from 2.00 – 5.00pm In the Students Hall, Belfield, UCD.
There will be reports from the Secretary, Treasurer, International Secretary and Chair.
There will be elections to; Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, International Secretary, PRO, Research Officer and 3 ordinary members.
There will be the following proposals to change the PANA Constitution:
Resolutions 2, 3, 4, 5, proposed and seconded by Des McGuinness and Noreen Byrne.
ULLA SANDBAEK MEP will give the AGM’s Frank Aiken Memorial Lecture. Ulla is a member of the Danish June Movement who campaigned against the conquest of Iraq and the militarisation of the EU.
The PANA AGM is open to the public, but only paid up members can vote.
22 November Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed anger and disbelief at the decision of the Irish Government to approve Ireland’s involvement in the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) at a recent cabinet meeting. The issue was raised by Sinn Féin TDs Sean Crowe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh during a debate on the issue in the Dáil yesterday.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:“Article 29 (4) (9) of the Irish Constitution specifically states that the state will not adopt a common EU defence where such a defence would include the participation of the state. The government's decision to join PESCO runs totally contrary to that Article.“The clear aim of PESCO is to jointly develop the EU's military capabilities and to make them available for EU military operations.“These missions are not confined to peacekeeping missions, and would allow the EU to intervene in conflicts such as those in Libya and Syria outside of UN and NATO structures.“PESCO is being driven by France and Germany, both key members of NATO and in reality the strategic aims of PESCO are inseparable of that of NATO.“By signing up to this, the Government would, as well as committing to provide troops to PESCO missions, be committing to trebling current spending on defence at a huge cost to the Irish people.“The Minister for Defence has confirmed that the Government has approved a proposal to notify the EU of our intention to participate in PESCO.“This flies in the face of the state's Constitution and, to add insult to injury, it appears that the Minister has not even taken the minor precaution of obtaining legal advice before proceeding with this reckless action. This is the biggest policy decision in relation to Irish Defence Forces since Irish soldiers were first sent on UN duties in 1960s.“I am flabbergasted that the Independent Alliance ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross, and Finian McGrath agreed at Cabinet to this clear breach of Irish neutrality, a policy they stated in the past that they would protect and cherish. Maybe they should have thought about taking a real stand for world peace, by rejecting this.“Despite being such a momentous decision and being at odds with what was promised and committed to during the Lisbon Treaty debates, Minister Paul Kehoe it seems is hellbent on rushing this through the Oireachtas with little debate. The government are expected to try and rush this volte-face through the Dáil with as little debate as possible in next fortnight.“I am calling on the government to halt their headlong move into this fledgling EU Army and, in particular, I am calling on the Independent Alliance Ministers to stand true to their stated position, protect Irish neutrality and to reverse this Cabinet decision or vote with us in the Houses of the Oireachtas who want to see Irish neutrality protected and enhanced.”
By Mícheál MacDonncha,- Aibreán 2003.- (Air: Banna Strand)
Come Irishmen and women all and listen to my song A song of war and shattered peace, a song of right and wrong. The crimes of this false government committed in our name The crimes of hopeless hirelings who bring our nation shame.
Robert Emmet stood condemned two hundred years ago An enemy of England’s crown, to the gallows he did go He died to win our freedom, our liberty to gain But shameless men have made our land a province once again.
Remember brave James Connolly in ’14 did declare‘Neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland we will serve’ He stood against the Empire’s war and raised the Starry Plough But Ireland’s cowardly leaders serve another Empire now.
The British Empire’s dead and gone but John Bull’s a bully still A corner boy for Uncle Sam he does his master’s will Warmongers and war criminals George Bush and Tony Blair With cluster bombs and poison shells they slaughter from the air.
The Global Empire wages war in Iraq and Palestine And Irish lackies bend the knee, colluding in their crime They sell the nation’s soul again by the River Shannon’s side It flows with bitter tears for countless innocents who died.
Now Irishmen and women all you’ve listened to my song A song of war and shattered peace, a song of right and wrong The crimes of this false government that bring our nation shame We say to them ‘no blood for oil’ we say ‘not in our name’.
Dear PANA members,
I cannot be with you today because I am in the Ukraine as part of an OSCE team monitoring the forthcoming presidential elections.
The two past years has been very busy ones for PANA from national, regional (EU) and international points of view. We campaigned very actively in the European Union Lisbon Treaty referendum campaigns, and against all the odds we helped the Irish people to reject the Lisbon Treaty in the 2008 referendum. Due to the gross incompetence and corruption of the Irish Government, the Irish economy collapsed in the meantime and the Irish people have been persuaded to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in the second referendum, on the fraudulent basis that we cannot afford to offend the European Union in the hope that they will bail us out of our economic crisis. The truth is that it is not the EU or IMF who will bail out our corrupt bankers, developers and politicians, but our children and grandchildren who been mortgaged to pay for our government’s incompetent corruption, while the bankers and developers and some politicians will still have their bonuses and offshore accounts.
Meanwhile, the militarisation of Europe continues apace with the few remaining neutral states being sucked into NATO and EU militarisation projects. These projects include the now doomed foreign occupation of Afghanistan, the French neo-colonial interference in Chad and the Central African Republic, and the ongoing debacle in Iraq. Meanwhile the Genocide in Darfur and the deaths of over four million people in the Congo are being largely ignored. The economic and foreign policy incompetence of the Irish Government has been surpassed by the incompetence of their international masters in Brussels and Washington, and the cost of this incompetence and crimes against humanity has been over one million dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. This incompetence was also demonstrated by the precipitous and unwarranted expansion of NATO into the eastern European states on the borders of Russia. The people of Georgia have paid a very heavy price for this, and they have now probably permanently lost the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russia.
It has recently been exposed that the Government of Lithuania traded membership of NATO for the establishment of a CIA torture prison at a location called Antivilai near Vilnius. This agreement was reached between US President George W Bush and President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania in early 2002, just around the same time (16 March 2002) that Irish Prime Minister Ahern probably made a similar agreement with the same G W Bush to allow US troops to transit through Shannon airport, and to allow CIA torture planes to refuel at Shannon. We don’t yet know what Bertie Ahern got in return, or what threats were made by Bush, or in what account dollars might have been lodged. We do know that the US Government at the time was threatening to introduce legislation that would force US companies to transfer foreign direct investment from countries such as Ireland back to the US. Following the Bush/Ahern’s agreement in 2002 to allow US troops and CIA planes to use Shannon, the proposed US legislation did not materialise. In the meantime over one and a half million armed US troops have passed through Shannon airport, over 1,000 CIA associated flights have been refuelled, and thousands of tons of highly dangerous munitions have also transited through Shannon. Over the past year Air France/City Jet, Aer Lingus and Ryanair have withdrawn many of their services from Shannon airport, to such an extent that the US military are now one of the largest user of this airport, and have troops permanently based at Shannon. The reality now is that Shannon airport is a US military base, and this is not just an anti-war cliché. Irish neutrality has not just been degraded it has been abandoned in a smokescreen of government lies at Shannon airport.
We as Irish citizens and as members of PANA could just accept all this as reality and take no further action, particularly after having lost round two of Lisbon. That would be a serious mistake and would be inherently wrong. We must continue to do what is right because it is right. We must ally ourselves with similar human rights and peace groups in Ireland and internationally and we must increase our efforts for peace and justice in Ireland and internationally. While the restoration of Irish neutrality is, and should remain, one of our key objectives, the PEACE element of our PANA organisation is our primary objective. Neutrality is one of the ways of promoting peace, and peace without JUSTICE is just a temporary ceasefire.
As International Secretary of PANA I have been active in a wide variety of ways, not least of which was the completion of a PhD thesis on reform of the United Nations in 2008. At Shannon airport I have been part of a very small group of peace activists who have been exposing the complicity of the Irish government in crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. For a while there were just two or three of us, but now we are getting increasing valuable support from the local Amnesty group and others and this has led to the holding of monthly peace vigils at Shannon on the second Sunday of every month from 2pm to 3pm, and to the setting up of the website www.shannonwatch.org. We also organised two successful international peace conferences at Shannon in March and September of this year, with substantial help from PANA and IAWM. We have established contacts with peace groups in the United States, Sweden and Germany, with the objective of sharing information on CIA torture flights.
Looking back, while we can claim some successes, we must acknowledge a deep sense of shame at the actions of our government, supported by many Irish people and probably by a majority of Irish politicians, in being actively complicit in crimes against humanity. With over one million fellow members of humanity unlawfully killed and very many more seriously injured, and many thousands tortured, we all owe a debt of atonement to these victims. We must do all we can into the future to ensure some retrospective justice for these people and to ensure some accountability by our politicians and others who have been guilty of the most serious crimes in these matters.
Looking forward, we must be steadfast in our determination to pursue peace with justice. I recommend that all members of PANA should make the restoration of Irish neutrality and the ending of the US military abuse of Shannon airport a priority. We need to put an action plan in place to achieve this, and this should include the following:
Finally, we must not underestimate the scale of the tasks ahead, but we must also appreciate how much we can achieve if we work together and with others. International peace by peaceful means is achievable. War and military aggression, and so-called peace-enforcement, are the opposite to peace, and only promote further violence and mayhem, as is evident in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Edward Horgan, International Secretary, PANA
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MEPs debate the importance of neutrality