Several peace groups will mount a picket at the obscenely titled 'Building the Ecosystem' that they rightly label an Arms Fair, it will take place in the Aviva Stadium this Thursday, October 6th.
The picket will run from 12.30 until 2pm and is organised by Afri, StoP (Swords to Ploughshares) and INNATE.
The Irish Defence Organisation are hosting this Event billed as Building the Ecosystem, Identifying Connections for Collaboration in Security, Defence and Dual Use Technologies with keynote speaker Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney TD. Their brochure suggests this event will facilitate networking and information for Irish industry and research institutions active in these areas. In other words…The EU has massively increased military spending through the so-called European Peace Facility that has a financial ceiling of €5.692 billion for 2021-2027, so our government want a greater share in the weapons industry…Hope to see you outside this Arms Fair this Thursday 6th ’12.30…
The Eblana Club in 3 Eblana Avenue, Dun Laoghaire is holding a debate on;
"It's time we grew up and abandoned Irish neutrality" a quote from the Political Correspondent of the Irish Examiner, and part of a massive attack on Irish neutrality.
It will be held this Thursday 6th of October at 7.30pm where Senator Gerald Craughwell and Roger Cole of PANA will debate Irish Neutrality.
Please pass this on to all your contacts and see booking form below.
The Irish Neutrality League is a network that has been developed by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-war Movement (IAWM), launched last month with ongoing support from several Senators, TDs, academics, and personalities. For more information on the INL, and the agreed Statement go to our Facebook
Here is an early reminder of their first event…
Irish Neutrality League Gathering - How to defend Ireland’s Neutrality?
Saturday 15th October 2-5pm Teachers’ Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Including workshops and a Rally…with a broad range of speakers
Remember the PANA website provides you with links to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts as well as links to a broad range of alternative media and organisations.
The Irish Neutrality League campaigns for the protection and strengthening of Ireland’s neutrality. We do this in the spirit of the Irish Neutrality League first established in 1914 at the outbreak of World War 1, by the key figures who would later lead the 1916 Rising, and as such note that Ireland’s neutrality is clearly linked to its sovereign independence and remains a core element of its national identity.
We define Irish neutrality as non-participation in wars and military alliances, as set out in the 1907 Hague Convention V, and as the positive engagement in the peaceful, non-military resolution of political conflicts. As a country that faced hundreds of years of oppression and colonial subjugation by empire, we further understand neutrality as a tradition of solidarity with all the nations and peoples of the world who are victims of imperialism, colonialism, war and oppression.
Read more in the attached leaflet.
Ireland may now contribute a small number of military personnel (Irish Defence Forces) to train Ukraine’s military following an agreement reached by EU ministers to establish a multilateral training mission.
The proposals were agreed at a meeting of EU ministers in Prague this week, which was also attended by ministers from Ukraine and Moldova.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney called the agreement to establish an EU training mission the ‘next phase of military support’ for Ukraine in its fight against Russia. He said Ireland ‘would like to be involved’ and would provide practical support for the mission.
Roger Cole, chair of PANA stated, EU ministers meeting in Prague are under constant pressure from the US/NATO to agree to ever increasing military spending despite the growing public anger and increasing awareness of the geopolitical interests in prolonging this war. (See ECFR’s research below). Back home again Minister Coveney tries to confuse and distract us all with yet more of his legal interpretations on such terms such as ‘military neutrality’, ‘the Triple Lock’, and now we are being told that training Ukraine’s military does not mean we are a ‘participant in this war’.
PANA is opposed to sending in military personnel to advise or train Ukraine’s military, and instead we campaign that Ireland as a neutral country should be using our membership of the UN Security Council to promote peace here in eastern Europe, by advocating a ceasefire and UN-chaired negotiations and so end the slaughter in Ukraine now…
To confirm this Press Release…
Tom Crilly, Communications Officer, PANA,
Tel 0035387 2937558
Roger Cole, Chairperson, PANA,
Tel 0035387 2611597
Padraig Mannion, Irish Language Spokesperson, PANA,
Tel 0035387 6911293
For more information…
The next meeting of PANA NEC will be held on Saturday 10thSeptember 2022 at 2.30pm in the Irish Labour History Society, Beggars Bush, Dublin 4.
Remember all members are encouraged to attend our NEC meetings, if you are not a member but wish to attend, please contact Roger…
Agenda will include, and awaiting suggestions…
Finance and Affiliations,
Update on the Irish Neutrality League and a Press Launch/Statement
PANA Document on Neutrality, NATO, and the Triple Lock
Citizens Assembly on Neutrality
Update on media, PANA Twitter, Instagram, and Google Chat Group Accounts
Monthly PANA Stall with distributing leaflets and phamlets
SF and other conferences
AGM 2022 and AOB…
Shannonwatch monthly peace vigil at Shannon Airport continues as activists highlight that US military and other planes on contract to the US military refuel here on their way to conflicts in the eastern Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. Their next peace vigil will take place on Sunday 11th September at 1pm. According to Edward Horgan, ‘on Wednesday this week an Omni Air N351AX on contract to the US military refuelled at Shannon Airport twice on its journey from the USA to and from Tunisia, not delivering democracy to the people of Tunisia but propping up a dictatorial government’…https://www.shannonwatch.org/
The Triple Lock is the name given to Irish legislation and the Seville Declaration of the Lisbon Treaty, that states that members of the Irish Defence Forces shall not serve abroad without the agreement of the Dáil, the Government, and the Security Council of the United Nations or UN General Assembly. When the people rejected the Nice Treaty on the 7th of June 2001 the then government, recognising that the deep commitment to Irish neutrality had to be respected, responded with the Triple Lock legislation, and this certainly helped to ensure that the second Nice referendum was passed. Whilst the Triple Lock does not apply if the number of personnel being sent overseas amounts to fewer than 12, Minister for Defence/Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney still feels very constrained by all this legislation.
ECFR’s research shows that, 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).
Just as Veterans For Peace (VFP) condemned US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, we strongly condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and grieve for all those who have lost their lives in this horrific war
The US army base training Ukrainian fighters…
GAAW, ANTI - WAR, SPEECHES, NIAL FARRELL, ROGER COLE, MARGARETTA DARCY, MUSIC, SINGERS.HIROSHIMA DAY. EYRE SQ.
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.
As the conflict in Ukraine turns into a long war of attrition, it risks becoming the key dividing line in Europe. And, unless political leaders handle this difference in standpoint carefully, it could spell the end for Europe’s remarkable unity. See ECFR Research…
Boom time forecast for EU armaments industries. Fianna Fáil leader gung-ho for NATO.
Anglo-Americans Desperate to Keep War Going By Harley Schlanger …
Indian Leader CRUSHES EU Hypocrisy as New Political Order RISES!!! Dr. Steve Turley
Biden Works to Prolong Ukraine War by Craig Murray.
NATO WORKS ACTIVELY TO SPREAD NUCLEAR MISSILES TO ITS MEMBER NATIONS IN SUPPORT OF US MILITARISM…
The EU could have offered Ukraine conditional European membership in exchange for restoring neutrality in Ukraine and ending the war in the Donbass long before now in line with the Minsk agreement it would have avoided the present war…Mick Wallace MEP
If we want to be serious in our commitment to helping people seeking international protection, we have to end the double standard on how #asylum law is applied, and we have to look seriously at the policies that make people #refugees in the first place.
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.”
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.”
For seven years, until 2006, Putin, while re-establishing the Russian state and ending the meltdown of Russian society occasioned by Western influence during the disastrous Yeltsin years, proposed the integration of the revived Russian state with the West. This made him, temporarily, a western hero. He addressed the Bundestag in 2001 in fluent German, which he called “the language of Goethe, Schiller and Kant”, pleading for Russia to be allowed “join Germany and Europe on the path to freedom and democracy”. The assembled German politicians responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation. He also attempted to turn Yeltsin’s chaotic political system into one that functioned like a western one, with standard parties, elections and, as everywhere in the western world, a purely nominally autonomous judiciary.
Read the entire article via the link below.
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 Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung is an internationally operating, left-wing non-profit organisation providing civic education. It is affiliated with Germany’s ‘Die Linke’ (Left Party). Active since 1990, the foundation has been committed to the analysis of social and political processes and developments worldwide. The Stiftung works in the context of the growing multiple crises facing our current political and economic system.
In cooperation with other progressive organisations around the globe, the Stiftung focuses on democratic and social participation, the empowerment of disadvantaged groups, and alternative economic and social development. The Stiftung’s international activities aim to provide civic education by means of academic analyses, public programmes, and projects conducted together with partner institutions.
The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung works towards a more just world and a system based on international solidarity.
World BEYOND War is a major International Peace Group founded in the USA. This is the connection with a video interview by the Irish Chapter of WBW with Clare Daly, Member of the European Parliament on the USA Army's use of Shannon Airport, and the rapidly expanding militarisation of the EU Army. Here is the link to the recording.
Then, join us next week with Dave Donnellan. Dave's talk will focus on the impact of war on the environment. Militarism cuts at the heart of the unique and sacred relationship we have with the planet. In preparation for the event, check out World BEYOND War's webpage on How War Threatens the Environment.
ENAAT and CORPORATE EUROPE are two important European research organisation, and DW is a German Public Broadcasting Service
The attached reports are on the drive towards the militarisation of EU, and the use of German weapons on the war on the Yemen.
Information that ENNAT has made a new folder about the EU Defence Fund (see attached file) and also a website. Here is a link: http://enaat.org/eu-defence-fund.
The EU has a plan to make a Military Union (Defence Union) no later than 2025 and it seems like the weapon industry has a lot of influence.
The military industry was behind the creation of the EU Defence Fund and the militarization of the EU: https://corporateeurope.org/en/power-lobbies/2017/12/arms-industry-lobbying-and-militarisation-eu.
See that Germany and France are exporting a lot of weapons to countries that participate in the Yemen war. The German DW made a video about how German weapons ended in Yemen:
Since 2001 Irish Governments have actively helped the USA create the refugees by allowing over 3 million US troops land in Shannon Airport on their way to these endless wars.
This video is for all the people throughout Ireland, but is also specifically aimed at Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Irish Green Party and all those people in Ireland who voted for the Irish Green Party. Ireland has to stop collaborating with the US military/industrial complex by allowing US troops and in Shannon Airport (3 million and rising so far). The Green Party must ensure that it will not go into Government unless Irish Neutrality is restored by terminating their use of Irish territory on their way to and from their perpetual wars:
These two graphs show that the EU is planning a massive increase in military expenditure as it seeks to build an EU Army. It will mean massive cuts in health, housing, pensions and other social expenditure to pay for the weapons. We ask all the voters in the 2020 election to only vote for candidates that reject PESCO and the emerging EU Army.
Two members of the US Veterans for Peace Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff are making a powerful contribution to the campaign to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by the Army of the US as it pursues its doctrine of perpetual war to rule the world. Well over 3 million US troops and an unknown amount of military equipment have landed in Shannon Airport since 2001 with the total support of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and the smaller parties when they go into Government with them, and with the support of the entire Irish Corporate Media, in contravention of international law as laid down in the Hague Convention of 1907. They are making the issue of the use of Shannon Airport an international issue in a way that PANA has never been able to do since our foundation in 1996. They need your support, you can contribute on their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/support-vets-fighting-us-war-machine-in-ireland
The Road to the EU Army traces the steady progress towards the creation of an EU Army linked with NATO by the ruling political elite in the EU over decades. This process has been greatly accelerated as a consequence of Brexit. However the decision of "moderate" EU/US leaders to support war after war, especially on Libya and Syria has created a massive number of refugees, very many of which have sought refuse in the EU, a consequence of war which these "moderates" knew would happen, has inevitably led to the creation of major new political formations (which they did not envisage) that threatens the power of the "moderate" Christian Democrats and Social Democrat that supported the EU/US/NATO doctrine of perpetual war that creates refugees in the first place.
PANA since its formation in 1996 has opposed the CD/SD drive to create an EU Empire with its own Army, a process strongly supported by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. There are individual members in these parties that oppose this process,and their leadership tries to pretend it is not happening. Reality however cannot be ignored and the Democratic National State, is reemerging as the institution to which the people give their loyalty, in our case, the Irish Republic.
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To read the full proceedings of the First International Conference against US/NATO Bases in Dublin see:www.nousnatobases.org
This was indeed an important gathering of environmentalists, climate change activists, and campaigners concerned about human rights issues, intervention wars, the ever-escalating arms race, and the unfettered exploitation, slaughter, and destruction in our world.We got up to date information on the 1000 military bases around the world, that includes Shannon Airport, and how we must develop a more coordinated global opposition to militarism. Delegates explained how US imperialism on the African continent can be traced back to the Berlin Conference (1884) that ensured a Belgium Congo providing a cheap supply of rubber for the US car industry; and the environment session suggested we are avoiding the elephant in the room if we don’t highlight the link between US foreign policy and climate change.Over 300 people filled the conference centre, as delegates from 35 countries came together and debated issues relevant to their own country and to the world, and then agreed a Unity Statement...To see the Press Communiqué that was adopted by participants on Sunday November 18th or to watch the Live Streaming of this major event now on YouTube go to http://noforeignbases.org/Videos of the First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases:- Friday November 16, 2018: https://youtu.be/XF4TXgsRYb8- Saturday November 17, 2018: https://youtu.be/W0-IQIWNFpI- Sunday November 18, 2018: https://youtu.be/qEXUNcXXFLcFor pictures of this event go to: www.stopthesewars.org/ellen-davidson
5. Any participating Member State which wishes to withdraw from permanent structured cooperation shall notify its intention to the Council, which shall note that the Member State in question has ceased to participate.
The decision of the FG/Independent Government supported by FF to actively support the integration of the Irish Army into the emerging EU Army via PESCO is a clear decision to restore the values of John Redmond. Except this time the Irish will be expected to kill and die for the Army of the European Union instead of the Army of the British Union. It will also mean massive cuts in expenditure in health, housing and social welfare as our military expenditure increases from €946 million to something like €3 billion. If you have not joined PANA by now, it is time you did.
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.
PANA was established in 1996 to advocate the right of the Irish people to have their own independent foreign policy, with positive neutrality as its key component, pursued primarily through the United Nations. We did so because in 1996 we believed it was the intention of the Irish political parties that then totally dominated the Republic of Ireland to steadily destroy the policy of Irish neutrality and integrate Ireland into the EU/US/NATO military structures in support of its doctrine of perpetual war. In every referendum on the EU we opposed, commencing with the Amsterdam Treaty, we sought a legally binding Protocol that would exclude Ireland from the steady militarisation of the EU, similar to that which applies to Denmark. In response to the decision of the FG/FF alliance, to join PESCO, which establishes permanent EU military structures,in effect an EU Army in the making, PANA and the People's Movement organised a Conference on PESCO which included a speaker from Denmark, Lave K. Broch, who focused on the Danish Protocol.
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.
Ray McGovern was a recent guest of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance and the Galway Alliance Against War. He spoke in public meetings in Dublin and Galway, had meetings with a number of TD's and Senators and the Lord Mayor of Dublin. He can be reached on: http://raymcgovern.com/
Ray was around in the fall of 1962 and watched the Cuban missile crisis up close and personal. He served as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer from 1962-1964 and then joined the CIA AS AN ANALYST (never had to overthrow any governments or ship kidnapped people thru Shannon). During Ronald Reagan's first term (1981-85) he briefed Vice President Bush, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and other very senior officials in the morning with the President's Daily Brief. He was chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch of CIA, had three of my analysts supporting the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in Geneva and Vienna, and was in Moscow in May 1972 to take part in the ceremonies marking the signing of the ABM Treaty -- the pillar of strategic stability until Bush Junior walked out of the treaty. VIPS and Ray are now focusing very much on the new acerbic tone in U.S.-Russia relations, the intense public campaign to blame Russia for everything, and THEY ARE EXPOSING, WITH FORENSICS TO BACK THEM UP, THE FACT THAT "THE RUSSIANS HACKED LAST YEAR'S ELECTION" IS AS FRAUDULENT AS THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OF 15 YEARS AGO.
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)
On 12 October 1914 James Connolly chaired a public meeting of the Irish Neutrality League (INL) in the Ancient Concert Rooms in what is now Pearse Street. The event was in response to a meeting held in the Mansion House at which John Redmond advocated a recruitment drive to encourage Irish men to join the British Army. Connolly's aim was to launch a campaign to bring together all of those opposed to Irish participation in the war, that would, he said, 'prove historic in the annals of this country'. Since the period 1914-1918 did prove to be historic, it is only fitting to look back at our history to explain how the IN was then only the latest expression of the deeply rooted values of peace, neutrality and Irish independence.
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.
NeoConOpticon - The EU Security-Industrial Complex http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/neoconopticon-report.pdf by Ben Hayes (pdf)"Despite the often benign intent behind collaborative European ‘research’ into integrated land, air, maritime, space and cyber-surveillance systems, the EU’s security and R&D policy is coalescing around a high-tech blueprint for a new kind of security. It envisages a future world of red zones and green zones; external borders controlled by military force and internally by a sprawling network of physical and virtual security checkpoints; public spaces, micro-states and ‘mega events’ policed by high-tech surveillance systems and rapid reaction forces; ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘crisis management’ missions that make no operational distinction between the suburbs of Basra or the Banlieue; and the increasing integration of defence and national security functions at home and abroad.
It is not just a case of “sleepwalking into” or “waking up to” a “surveillance society”, as the UK’s Information Commissioner famously warned, it feels more like turning a blind eye to the start of a new kind of arms race, one in which all the weapons are pointing inwards. Welcome to the NeoConOpticon."
Donegal Democrat, by Edward Longwill Edward Longwill, a security policy analyst at the University of Ulster, explains exactly what the Lisbon Treaty will or will not do to Irish neutrality.
In June 2008, 53% of Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish government believes that guarantees it received last December on neutrality, taxation and abortion will ensure a Yes vote on 2 October when the Irish electorate are asked to vote again on an identical Lisbon Treaty.
Of the 27 EU Member States, citizens within the Republic of Ireland have the second highest perception of EU membership (Eurobarometer Poll, spring 2008). If the Irish people are such committed members of the EU, why did they reject Lisbon? Immediately after the referendum the European Commission authorised a study to examine the paradox. Most of the No voters were younger, less well educated, and working-class who gave a primary reason for opposing Lisbon because they did not understand it. Interestingly 83% of No voters believed the Irish rejection of Lisbon would protect their country’s neutral status (Flash Eurobarometer Poll, July 2008).
A poll conducted on behalf of the Irish government a number of months after the referendum found that 82% of No voters viewed neutrality as either important or very important (Millward Brown IMS Survey, September 2008). The legal framework of neutrality is defined by the Hague Convention 1907 which summarises how a state must behave in order to maintain neutral status. In short, a state cannot use its military to support another state at war or allow the passage of troops or war supplies through its territory which belong to another state at war. However a neutral state can sell another state war material without breaching the rules of neutrality.
In Ireland neutrality is synonymous with sovereignty and independence. In 1916 republican leaders staged an unsuccessful rebellion and publicised their belief that Irishmen should not serve in the British army and protect British interests. On the contrary they viewed the First World War as an opportunity to end British colonialism in Ireland. The British government’s attempt to impose conscription on Ireland in 1918 led to an electoral revolt and a subsequent war of independence. Even today neutrality is regarded by many Irish voters as an expression of anti-imperialism.
During the First World War the United States supplied Britain with war materials. Technically this did not breach neutrality status. However the German navy received orders to attack merchant ships suspected of carrying war material and the sinking of the Lusitania of the coast of Ireland led to US war entry. This event demonstrated that a state at war may not respect the technical rules of neutrality. Legally, neutrality has only military considerations. However, today a significant proportion of Irish people believe in the totality of neutrality – that it must be universally applied to inter-state relations.
Irish entry to the UN in 1955 and the first peacekeeping mission in 1960 to the Congo set a lasting precedent to authorise the use of Irish troops overseas. An Irish contingent of soldiers cannot serve outside of the Republic of Ireland without a UN mandate for the overall operation, Irish government approval and a positive vote in the Irish parliament. This system has become known as the ‘triple-lock’.
The Irish state has never been totally neutral in the non-legal sense of the concept. Favouritism towards the Allies in the Second World War and towards the Western Bloc when it came to voting within the UN General Assembly created a clear distinction between military neutrality and how a state can adopt a contradictory diplomatic policy. Pursing contradictory political and military policies can bring a state into military conflict. In 1980 the Irish government politically and diplomatically criticised the Israeli government. Some analysts claimed that this resulted in pro-Israeli forces assaulting Irish positions causing the deaths of Irish soldiers serving with the UN in Lebanon. The Irish government and public learned that if the state pursues certain foreign policies then other states may not respect Irish military neutrality.
More recently the neutrality debate arose in Irish politics. The French led EUFOR Chad operation (2007-09) saw the Irish military provide the second largest contingent. Although the mission held a UN mandate, and the Irish government claimed the mission would protect refugees, a number of Irish commentators claimed that EUFOR advanced French neo-colonial interests, Francafrique, by supporting a dictator. In the near future the French government’s true agenda will become evident. Only then can Irish analysts attempt to determine if the Irish government knew, or approved, of this agenda.
There is no doubt that the Irish government is deviating from military neutrality. One of the most controversial debates in Irish politics over recent years was the decision permit the US Air Force to land at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Official reports confirmed that US soldiers stopped at Shannon en route to Iraq. More controversial are rumours which claim that some landings contain prisoners on torture-bound ‘rendition flights’. In 2006 the European Parliament passed a resolution criticising several unnamed Member States’ ‘collusion’ with the US by providing civilian or military airports for this purpose (Resolution 1507 (2006), 10.8).
More importantly a retired Irish army officer, Commandant (Major) Edward Horgan, in March 2003 took a case against the Irish government to the High Court over the fact that the US used Shannon for the Iraq war – viewed by Horgan as an illegal war contrary to international law. Although the Irish constitution implies a respect for international law, the judge dismissed Horgan’s argument and found that the government was not bound by ‘statements of principle or guidelines’. Irish neutrality no longer existed because the Irish government accepted that military troops passed through Shannon – in breach of the Hague Convention 1907 (5,2) ‘belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys… across the territory of a neutral power’.
Most members of the Irish public are not aware of the significance of this decision and believe that Ireland is still a neutral state. In fact during the last Lisbon campaign, scaremongering arose that the treaty would create an EU army, conscription or even result in Irish soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Most voters do not know that senior Irish officers already serve in the EU Military Staff, responsible for coordinating EU Member State’s military policy under Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Furthermore seven Irish officers serve alongside NATO officers in Afghanistan and Irish government secrecy over their specific role has generated many rumours. However these soldiers are trained in bomb disposal and it is likely they support NATO’s war effort rather than provide humanitarian assistance. Irish neutrality no longer exists yet many of the ignorant Irish public believed a No vote in Lisbon would protect the state’s ‘neutral’ status. If we accept that Irish neutrality is dead, the question is how the passage of Lisbon will alter the current position. The treaty will end the Irish veto on CFSP initiatives. Article 15(b) will bring CFSP under a Qualified Majority Vote (QMV) in the European Council. Furthermore Article 11 (a) will effectively federalise all areas of ‘common foreign and security policy… all questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy’ and Article 46 (a) ‘The Union shall have legal personality’ gives the EU federal status at global level.
Most Irish voters are oblivious to all of this. However the No campaign drew voters’ attention to the ‘solidarity clause’, Article 28 (7) of the treaty which states ‘if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression… the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power’. One of the most important guarantees the Irish government received last December was that this did not constitute a military alliance.
Opponents of the treaty have identified other articles which they believe will deter Irish voters. These include the commitment to improve military capabilities and increase military spending for the European Defence Agency (EDA). Anti-Lisbon campaigners have misleadingly claimed that this will lure Ireland into a pan-European military-industrial complex. On the contrary it is natural for all states to continually modernise and improve their capability and in 2007 Ireland contributed to just over 1% of the EDA’s budget (€283,800 of €20,800,000).
Perhaps the most dramatic claim made by elements of the No campaign is that a conspiracy exists to create an EU super-army. There are no secrets, in fact the EU Institute for Security Studies published a report titled What Ambitions for European Defence in 2020? (2009). This reveals the desire for permanent structures, ‘a formal Council of Defence Ministers’ chaired by the EU ‘Foreign Minister’, ‘a European Security and Defence College… to train all personnel in a common strategic culture… and a European Command to plan and conduct the Union’s military operations’.
Do we need an EU army? If so, should we fear a centrally commanded grand EU army? The authors of the report suggested de-centralising control of the EU military to a ‘European Parliamentary Council for Security and Defence’ which would liaise between EU and national level parliaments. Also the EU will have its own representative at the UN to ‘normally’ but not always develop missions within the UN’s framework.
A federal EU would have a tremendous military capability. If all 27 Member States combined their defence budgets it would total over €200 billion – second only to the US. Would the EU become a global centre of liberty and respect for human rights or an out of control expansionist monster? According to the EDA’s Long Term Vision Report 2020-25 (2006), if current trends continue then by 2025 the EU in its current form will only comprise of 6% of the world’s population.
Centralised defence planning could potentially ensure that the EU acquires the world’s greatest military. The Vision Report explained that presently 50% of collective EU defence spending goes on personnel. The economic burden of the public sector always raises debate yet the re-organisation of national militaries along federal lines would collectively save billions of euros. Currently the collective EU forces have approximately 10,000 battle tanks and 3,000 combat aircraft. Again, re-organisation along federal lines would reduce the quantity of EU defence assets and dramatically increase the future quality of assets.
Unfortunately most Irish voters are unaware of the complex issues associated with Lisbon. An opinion poll taken four weeks before the 2008 referendum placed No voters at only 18% yet the actual result saw 52% of voters saying No. Interestingly a similar poll taken four weeks in advance of the upcoming 2 October referendum has the No vote at 29% (Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll, 3 September). Therefore the No vote has grown since the first referendum and it looks likely that the Irish electorate will once again reject Lisbon. Where will this leave the EU?
Supporters of the European project will be furious that Irish voters have sabotaged Lisbon and delayed years of progress. Those who view Europe with apprehension may welcome a reflective period to inform, educate and debate with their follow Europeans. Nation-states, like Irish neutrality, may be obsolete. Europeans have been responsible for some of the greatest artistic, cultural and scientific achievements in history. However we have also been responsible for some of the worst excesses of savagery and cruelty.
All of us want an EU that brings out the best in us as Europeans with a shared future. The debate we must have now is over what kind of EU we believe will make that happen.
Morning Star by Jeremy Corbyn MP Last Saturday night I walked into the departure lounge at Shannon Airport and it felt like Baghdad.
The whole place was heaving with American soldiers, in battle fatigues, who were relaxing between flights as they transited from the USA to Iraq and Afghanistan.Ireland has always prided itself on its neutrality, non membership of NATO and as such has enjoyed a uniquely powerful moral position in the world as the least militaristic of any European country.
However, Shannon undermines that. Not only do US troops use the airport in huge numbers there are also mysterious un-marked but apparently US planes with no side windows on the remote runways and extraordinary levels of security surrounding the whole airport.
There has never been any satisfactory explanation in response to concerns that the airport was used for extraordinary rendition flights from Bagram in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay.
Shannon Watch, a group of peace activists who monitor movements there have suffered harassment and extraordinary pressure in trying to protect Irish neutrality. The sights at the airport were the culmination of a one day conference on the militarisation of Ireland that was organized as part of the “No to Lisbon” campaign ahead of the referendum on October 2nd.
The European Constitution was famously rejected in France and the Netherlands and all British political parties pledged a referendum on it in the 2005 General Election.
Facing Euro wide rejection of the centralization of powers, marketisation of public services and common EU foreign and defence policies the European leaders deftly re-arranged the paragraphs in the Constitution and re-branded it the Lisbon Treaty. This was easily accepted by all Governments and in Britain the House of Commons voted to reject the referendum (which every single MP had been elected pledging to hold on the Constitution) and endorse the Lisbon treaty.
The Irish famously rejected the Lisbon treaty at the first referendum and were bluntly told to hold another.
To save the blushes of the Irish Government a “protocol” was offered which claimed to respect Irish neutrality and non membership or cooperation with NATO. Whilst this has easily satisfied the Irish Government and most of the political establishment it does not really alter the bald facts of the Lisbon Treaty.
If endorsed Lisbon will establish a common foreign policy, there will be a defence policy based on NATO, there will be an EU President with quite extraordinary powers and the neutrality of any member state will, to say the very least, be compromised.The Conference, in the Park Airport Hotel in Shannon heard some disturbing information about US military personnel being stationed there, “to assist flights”, and the levels of secrecy surrounding the whole operation. Some of the delegates took the view that there was no operational need to use Shannon but it was an effective way of softening Irish opposition to NATO.
As with all campaigns to do with issues surrounding Europe there is an extraordinary mismatch of information and funding.
The yes campaign deftly assert that Ireland would be worse off without Lisbon and that all the successes of the Irish economy, before the crunch, would be at risk from this vote. They cleverly suggest that a vote against Lisbon is tantamount to leaving the EU altogether, which it is not.
Supporting this view are the Government and the richest and most powerful business people in the Republic. Michael O’Leary, owner of Ryanair has threatened to pump millions of Euros into the Yes campaign and join in the general disinformation that rejecting Lisbon will cost thousands of jobs and the livelihood of all the Irish people.
In reality not just the neutrality of Ireland is put at risk but also job protection and social justice as the whole continent moves assertively towards a free market economy, not in the directyion of a socially just continent.
To emphasise the whole point about the militarization of Europe many speakers including Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald, former MEP Patricia McKenna and current MEP Joe Higgins pointed out that the references to NATO and C ommon Defence in the Treaty were also backed up by the multi millionEuro subsidy for the European Defence Agency, which supports a growing European Arms industry.
Speakers from around Europe including Harry van Brommel from the Dutch Socialist Party, Tobia Pfluger from Die Linke and Celine Menessez from Parti du Gauche pointed out the uniqueness and importance of the Irish vote.
Lisbon brings in fewer commissioners from smaller states and more qualified majority voting. The Treaty, however, requires the ratification of all member states thus the Irish vote on October 2nd is crucial for the cause of a social and peaceful Europe.
IMI-Analysis 2009/031en Verdict of the German Constitutional Court concerning the Lisbon Treaty:Court strenghtens Parliamentery Prerogative But the Lisbon Treaty was made compliant with the constitution ? now theIrish referendum is decisive by Tobias Pflüger On June 30 the German Constitutional Court decided in an exciting verdictwhether the Lisbon Treaty is unconstitutional. But the court used a trick bydeclaring the treaty per se as constitutionally compliant, but at the sametime declaring that part of the accompanying legislation asunconstitutional, which was used by the Bundestag (lower house) andBundesrat (upper house) to ratify the treaty: ?The law about the extensionand strengthening the rights of the Bundestag and Bundesrat regarding theaffairs of the European Union (extension law) is violating article 38 (1) asrelated to article 23 (1) of the constitution insofar as the participatoryrights of the German Bundestag and Bundesrat have not sufficiently beendeveloped." This pertains to a number of points in the Lisbon Treaty for which theFederal Constitutional Court claims that the Bundestag and Bundesrat triedto disempower themselves. An important aspect is the decision-making processregarding military deployments of the European Union. In the verdict it says that the appeal of the petitioners is justified inthis regard as far as the applicant claims a violation of thedecision-making power of the German Bundestag concerning the deployment ofGerman military forces. And a similarly distinct borderline is drawn by theconstitution concerning decisions about the deployment of the federal army.Except for the state of defence, a deployment abroad is only allowed withinthe system of mutual collective security (article 24  of theconstitution), while the concrete deployment constitutionally requires theapproval by the Bundestag. The federal army is a Parliamentary Army, andtherefore the representative organ of the people has to decide about itsuse." The Lisbon Treaty creates vast new military competence for the EU. This isunfortunately confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court in its verdict.But fortunately the Federal Constitutional Court has corrested the fact thatthe German Bundestag had disempowered itself by its approval of the LisbonTreaty. The judges clarified: only the German Bundestag is empowered to decide aboutforeign military deployment of the federal army. According to the FederalConstitutional Court, the disempowerment of the Bundestag concerningdecisions about military deployments of the EU as it is stipulated by theLisbon Treaty and the German accompanying legislation is unconstitutional. One of the questions was, who is going to decide whether the german federalarmy will participate in a military operation of the EU. The judges of theConstitutional Court have now clarified that this is the exclusive authorityof the Bundestag. The verdict says: ?In this case (the decision about a military deployment bythe European Council, T.P.) the German representative in the council wouldbe constitutionally obliged to refuse his approval of any proposedresolution which would violate or circumvent the constitutional prerogativeof the parliament concerning military issues. This statement of the verdict becomes particularly interesting with regardto the Permanent Structured Cooperation according to Protocol No. 10 of theLisbon Treaty. The protocoll calls for the military deployment of EU BattleGroups? within five to 30 days. However, after the verdict of Karlsruhe(seat of the German Federal Constitutional Court, translators note), aGerman participation in such rapid deployment will be practicallyimpossible, because it would be necessary for the Bundestag to convene everytime prior to the European Council decision about the deployment of EUBattle Groups with German participation. The Bundestag would first have totake a decision about the foreign mission of German soldiers. Theconstitutional verdict is a kind of parliamentary shackle for the BattleGroups. The Bundestag will have to pass a new accompanying law for the Lisbon Treatyin two extraordinary sessions scheduled for 26 August and 08 September - themiddle of the parliamentary summer break and the ongoing federal electionscampaign. It is still unclear how the Bundestag will participate in thedecision making about rapid reactionmissions of the EU. In practice e.g.last year's war in Georgia, convening the Bundestag on such a short noticeis highly unrealistic. It might well be that the function of the BattleGroups as rapid intervention troops will be jeopardised or even paralysed bythis procedure. Even the proposed solution of Christian Schmidt, theParliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defence, to solvethe constitutional conflict by issuing a permanent (parliamentary) approvalfor the deployment of EU battle groups is incompatible with the verdict ofthe Constitutional Court. Ireland second round an further tricks However, the Lisbon Treaty is not prevented by this verdict in Germany.Therefore, everything is now depending on Ireland, where a new referendumwill be held on October 2nd , because in the past the Irish people were sorecalcitrant to clearly say No to the treaty. At the EU summit in June, adeclaration calling for an additional protocol in a future treaty waspassed. To become effective, this declaration has to be ratified by all EUmember states. It is planned that the EU member states will sign thisdeclaration e.g. on the occasion of Croatia's accession to the EU withsubsequent ratification by the national parliaments. This declarationcontains three items: Fiscal policy, legislation on abortion and militarypolicy. The goal is to pacify at least some of those who voted against theLisbon Treaty in the past, hoping to gain a majority for a Yes during thesecond referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland on October 2nd . Of particular interest is the section about Security and Defence. It isalleged that Ireland's neutrality will not be affected. But this is notcorrect: The collaboration between the EU and the NATO remains a significantelement of the Lisbon Treaty. A number of affirmative references are maderegarding NATO. Protocol No. 10 states: "CONVINCED that a more assertiveUnion role in security and defence matters will contribute to the vitalityof a renewed Atlantic Alliance, in accordance with the Berlin Plusarrangements" This is an open violation of the Irish neutrality. The additional protocol will not change the fact that the Lisbon Treatywould convert the EU into a military union. All military elements of thetreaty are going to persist: the military solidarity clause (article 222) -more rigid than the solidarity clause of the NATO - converts the EU into amilitary alliance and enables the use of military forces inside the EU.Article 42 obliges the member states to a build-up of arms. The PermanentStructured Cooperation makes a militarized Core Europe possible: Only thosecountries will decide about military deployments which participate in them.For the first time the EU budget can be used for military purposes using theStart-up Fund. Until now this is prohibited by the EU treaties. For thefirst time, the Lisbon Treaty would anchor EU Battle Groups and the ArmamentAgency by primary law, i.e. to abolish them again, a new EU treaty would benecessary.
The so called additional protocol affirms the correctness of our critique ofthe military consequences of the Lisbon Treaty. Now, using trickery, it isintended to finally push through the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish people votedwith a clear No in 2008. Now they are supposed to vote time and again until self-proclaimed EU elite is satisfied with the the result . The concessionsof the new additional protocol are cosmetics without any obligation. Representatives of the progressive Irish No-campaign have asked to make useof the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland as quasi an EU-wideballot. They asked for support from progressive NO-activists of other EUcountries. We will comply with this request. We will struggle for a victoryof the NO to this neoliberal and militaristic Lisbon Treaty during thesecond referendum in Ireland too. No means No! Tobias Pflueger Informationsstelle Militarisierung (IMI) e.V. http://www.imi-online.de
JENS-PETER BONDE (EUObserver/Comment)
The German Constitutional Court issued a remarkable verdict on 30 June. It was described in the press as the Court's approval of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.However, careful reading of the judgement shows that it is a fundamental rejection of the core constitutional content of the Treaty.The Court judgement modifies the most important principle of the primacy of European law. Member States are said to be the "masters of the Treaties." In the Court's view the EU institutions have no powers of their own. They can only administer delegated competences in prescribed areas. European law is stated to be ultimately based on and limited by the accession law of each Member State.The German Court implicitly invites any citizen, political party or business firm in Germany to take court cases before the German Constitutional Court if they find that a piece of proposed EU law is outside those delegated competences. Then it is the German Court that will decide - not the EU Court.This is a rejection of Art. 344 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that Member States undertake not to submit a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaties to any method of settlement other than the European Court of Justice.The Karlsruhe Court also insists that there must be important areas of law-making and decision-taking left to the EU Member States. This is an invitation to politicians everywhere to ask their governments what competences are left with the Member States after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty.I have offered a bottle of top class wine to anyone who can give me just one example of a national law which cannot be touched in some way by the Lisbon Treaty. Legal specialists have tried to find examples; yet they cannot!If EU governments cannot find room for the exercise of meaningful national parliamentary democracy within the ambit of the EU, then the Lisbon Treaty is unconstitutional, according to the German Court.The Court does not accept that the European Parliament is a body which can give adequate democratic legitimacy to European Union law. The Court also sets limits to the importance of the new "additional" Union citizenship and states that this can only be supplementary to national citizenship.The Court insists on national parliamentary participation in all areas where Member States would lose their right of veto.The judges unanimously insist, by 8 votes to nil, on prior approval by the German Parliament - and implicitly by other National Parliaments - for the use of the so-called "bridge articles" whereby Government Ministers on the Council of Ministers or the European Council can alter EU law-making from unanimity to qualified majority voting.The judges also require full participation of National Parliaments in the use of the flexibility clause in Art. 352 TFEU, which permits the EU to take action and adopt measures to attain one of the EU's objectives even if the Treaties have not provided the necessary powers.Finally, the Court forbids the German President from signing the Treaty so as to enable Germany's instrument of ratification to be deposited in Rome until the German Parliament has adopted a law which would safeguard the involvement of the German Bundestag and Bundesrat in future EU decision-making.The most striking element in the judgement is that the Court implies the need for the involvement of National Parliaments in all aspects of EU law-making. They refer to democracy as being a principle common to all the EU Member States. The involvement of National Parliaments in EU law-making is therefore a necessity. If not, the principle of democracy will have been fundamentally breached.
The Karlsruhe Court effectively finds that the Lisbon Treaty would increase the EU's widely acknowledged democratic deficit if its ratification is not linked to the adoption of internal procedures at Member State level such as to safeguard the involvement of the National Parliaments and voters in each Member State.The verdict applies only to Germany, of course. But it has significant implications for all Member States, including those which have already approved and ratified the Lisbon Treaty.With this Court judgement in hand, political parties and groups of citizens in each Member State are implicitly invited to go to their National Parliaments and insist on similar guarantees being given in order to ensure the involvement of elected representatives and voters in EU decision-making in each one.If Germany's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is found to be illegal and in contravention of basic democratic principles in the absence of such parliamentary controls, should not the same principle apply in all other Member States that claim to be democracies?The Karlsruhe judgement should inspire people to call for similar constitutional and parliamentary challenges in other EU countries. This may establish strengthened procedures for national parliamentary control and safeguard areas where national parliamentary democracies can decide things on their own without interference from, for example, the EU Court of Justice.Such calls may also win time to make people aware of the anti-democratic character of the Lisbon Treaty and ensure that this is not ratified by all EU States before it has been approved by Irish voters in their referendum re-run on 2 October next, and can be put later before British voters in a referendum in the United Kingdom.The United Kingdom must have a general election before June next year. The Conservative Party, which is likely to win that election, has pledged to withdraw the United Kingdom's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on its first day in office if the Treaty has not come into force by then for all 27 EU States. It has then pledged to hold a referendum on it and to recommend a No vote to the British people.There needs to be a democratic review of the Lisbon Treaty in all EU countries before any such encounter with UK voters.(The author was MEP 1979 - 2008 and served as a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe)---Excerpts from the German Constitutional Court judgement in the English version published by the Court, 30 June 2009.
"European unification on the basis of a union of sovereign states under the Treaties may not be realised in such a way that the Member States do not retain sufficient room for the political formation of the economic, cultural and social circumstances of life." (Headnotes to the Judgement, Par. 3)"It is therefore constitutionally required not to agree dynamic treaty provisions with a blanket character or if they can still be interpreted in a manner that respects national responsibility for integration, to establish, at any rate, suitable national safeguards for the effective exercise of such responsibility." (Par.239)"European unification on the basis of a union of sovereign states under the Treaties may not be realised in such a way that the Member States do not retain sufficient space for the political formation of the economic, cultural and social circumstances of life. This applies in particular to areas which shape the citizens' circumstances of life, in particular the private space of their own responsibility and of political and social security, which is protected by the fundamental rights, and to political decisions that particularly depend on previous understanding as regards culture, history and language and which unfold in discourses in the space of a political public that is organised by party politics and Parliament. Essential areas of democratic formative action comprise, inter alia, citizenship. the civil and military monopoly on the use of force, revenue and expenditure including external financing and all elements of encroachment that are decisive for the realisation of fundamental rights, above all as regards intensive encroachments on fundamental rights such as the deprivation of liberty in the administration of criminal law or the placement in an institution. These important areas also include cultural issues such as the disposition of language, the shaping of circumstances concerning the family and education, the ordering of the freedom of opinion, of the press and of association and the dealing with the profession of faith or ideology." (Par. 249)"Consequently, the Treaty of Lisbon does not alter the fact that the Bundestag as the body of representation of the German people is the focal point of an interweaved democratic system." (Par. 277)"... the European Parliament is not a body of representation of a sovereign European people." (Par.280)"The deficit of European public authority that exists when measured against requirements on democracy in states cannot be compensated by other provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon and to that extent, it cannot be justified." (Par.289)"As regards the legal situation according to the Treaty of Lisbon, this consideration confirms that without democratically originating in the Member States, the action of the European Union lacks a sufficient basis of legitimisation." (Par.297)"Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon does not vest the European Union with provisions that provide the European union of integration (Integrationsverband) with the competence to decide its own competence (Kompetenz-Kompetenz)." (Par.322)"With Declaration No.17 Concerning Primacy annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, the Federal Republic of Germany does not recognise an absolute primacy of application of Union law, which would be constitutionally objectionable, but merely confirms the legal situation as it has been interpreted by the Federal Constitutional Court. . ." (Par. 331)"After the realisation of the principle of the sovereignty of the people in Europe, only the peoples of the Member States can dispose of their respective constituent powers and of the sovereignty of the state. Without the expressly declared will of the peoples, the elected bodies are not competent to create a new subject of legitimisation, or to delegitimise the existing ones, in the constitutional areas of their states." (Par. 347)
By SPIEGEL Staff Last week's ruling by the German Constitutional Court, coupled with demands by one conservative party for changes to the constitution, may not only jeopardize Berlin's schedule for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The Karlsruhe ruling also threatens future steps toward European integration. When the parliamentary group of the Christian Social Union (CSU) -- the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats -- met in Berlin last Thursday, they had a hero to celebrate. "You have saved our honor," said CSU representative Hans-Peter Friedrich to his party colleague and friend Peter Gauweiler. Gauweiler, a lawyer from Munich -- and a political maverick who is the enfant terrible of the conservative group in the German parliament or Bundestag -- was largely successful with the legal complaint he filed with the German Constitutional Court against the EU Lisbon Treaty. Now it's official: The ratification by the overwhelming majority of the German parliament -- including the CSU -- was negligent. In essence, the court ruled that by passing the so-called "accompanying law" to the Lisbon Treaty, which determines the rights of German parliament to participate in European legislation, the representatives had relinquished significant monitoring rights to Brussels. According to the judges, this unconstitutionally subjects the people that they represent to the whims of a bureaucracy that lacks sufficient democratic legitimacy. But the CSU cares little about past errors. Now the idea is to push ahead and "Gauweiler" them! Last Thursday, the politicians from Bavaria decided to follow up their success with a new set of demands. They want the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified only under condition that the new EU law would only be valid in Germany "in accordance with the decision by the German Constitutional Court." They are now demanding a solution that gives "maximum" parliamentary influence over future EU policy. The CSU parliamentary group aims to approve an entire catalog of demands at a party meeting in the former Benedictine monastery of Kloster Banz in mid-July. The Bavarians even want to push through a number of changes to the German constitution. One of these would oblige the government to adhere to the parliament's position papers on European policy. "Our Constitutional Court demands greater rights of co-determination," says CSU Secretary General Alexander Dobrindt and "we have to comply. It would be good if the decisions of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and Germany's upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, on changes to the EU Treaty were complemented in the future by a referendum." "People are going to have to make considerable concessions to us to receive the CSU's support," says Thomas Silberhorn, CSU parliamentary group spokesman on EU affairs. Not all of this is realistic. But it's a political bombshell that could torpedo the German government's Lisbon rescue concept. If the coalition partners still have to struggle with major stipulations so shortly before the summer break, then there is no chance of doing a quick and quiet fix that would satisfy the Constitutional Court's criticism of the accompanying law's flaws. Tears of Frustration Ahead In addition to undermining the effectiveness of Germany's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, this could tip the scales for the other European countries that have yet to ratify -- namely Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic. The conditions posed by the court in Karlsruhe will make things "much more difficult than we had imagined," the leaders of the conservative parliamentary group that combines the CDU and CSU admitted late last week. That's putting it mildly. The Bavarians' "Gauweiler" tactics only provide an inkling of the inner political strife that is in store for Germany. Despite the premature cries of triumph among staunch EU supporters in the ruling coalition and in Brussels, last Tuesday's ruling on the Lisbon Treaty will yet unleash rage and tears of frustration. Now that the court in Karlsruhe has spelled out Germany's role in European unification, this heralds the end of a policy of increasing integration. According to the judges, Germany's future lies not in "a united Europe" -- but rather in Germany. In the future, the most powerful EU partner will also be the most difficult one, even if -- despite Gauweiler's legal challenge -- it ends up unconditionally ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. This would be true even without the conditions proposed by the CSU. The German Constitutional Court has found its own unique way of effectively putting the brakes on European policy. The judges wrote that "if obvious transgressions of boundaries take place when the European Union claims competences," then they will call for a "review" to "preserve the inviolable core content of the Basic Law's constitutional identity." That is the kind of wording that goes beyond the dreams of Gauweiler and his friends. It simply means that the court assumes the right to single-handedly determine the boundaries of European integration -- in a broad sense and, if necessary, in detail. Member States Remain 'Masters of the Treaties' Frank Schorkopf, a former associate of the judge who authored the ruling, Udo Di Fabio, and now a professor of constitutional law in Göttingen, sees this as a "more intelligent version" of a treaty proviso. It is a "supple, dynamic stipulation," which allows the Constitutional Court greater flexibility and sensitivity, but also places great future demands on the judges because "the court has thus taken on the responsibility of fulfilling this monitoring function," says Schorkopf. The court has prescribed a two-fold approach: The parliamentarians have to add far-reaching monitoring rights to the accompanying law criticized by the judges in Karlsruhe, should it come to the extension of Brussels' competences provided for under the Lisbon Treaty. In addition, the Constitutional Court will ensure that these monitoring rights are appropriately applied. After all, making additional demands on the accompanying law is "a fine thing," says Lüder Gerken, director of the Freiburg-based Center for European Policy. But "the key aspect," says Gerken, is the court's statements that member states -- including of course Germany -- "still remain the masters of the treaties" and "therefore must see to it that there are no uncontrolled, independent centralization dynamics" within the EU. Part 2: Declaration of War on the European Court of Justice Although the Karlsruhe ruling points out that it is initially the job of lawmakers to fulfill this "responsibility for integration," the Constitutional Court ultimately sees this as its own task in the future. By doing so, the German Constitutional Court has essentially declared itself the highest supervisory body in conflicts between Germany and the EU, and thus explicitly placed itself above the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This borders on a declaration of war on the European Court, which sees itself as the only authority capable of ruling on the validity and applicability of EU law. The judges in Karlsruhe have authoritatively decided that they have won the conflict of competence which has been brewing for years between the two top courts. Admittedly, the court has included a complicatedly worded supplementary declaration on the Lisbon Treaty that reaffirms the supremacy of the ECJ's judicial authority. But the judges in Karlsruhe did the same thing with this document as they did with a wide range of contentious issues in the Lisbon Treaty text: They interpreted it in a way that makes it compatible with their view of the distribution of power within the EU as an "association of sovereign national states." The judicial supremacy is only valid within the boundaries defined by the court in Karlsruhe, and the Lisbon Treaty is only compatible with the German constitution within the confines of the Karlsruhe interpretation. For instance, it explicitly states in the Lisbon Treaty that the procedures of the EU are based on representative democracy, and the European Parliament is composed of "representatives of the union's citizens." However, the judges in Karlsruhe argue that contrary to the claim that the Lisbon Treaty "seems to make according to its wording," the EU Parliament is not a "representative body of a sovereign European people." After all, EU members of parliament were not elected according to the principle of electoral equality, in other words, one man one vote, but rather according to "national contingents," meaning that a Maltese MEP represents 67,000 Maltese, a Swedish MEP has a constituency of 455,000 Swedes, and in Germany the ratio is 1 to 857,000. 'An Association of Sovereign States' The court says that this stands in contradiction to the remainder of EU law, which is built around the central idea of prohibiting discrimination based on nationality. According to the concluding statements of the court's decision, this contradiction can only be explained by the fact that the EU is not a state but rather an "association of sovereign states" and, consequently, there can be no sovereign citizens' union as well as no completely representative organ in the form of the European Parliament, with the result that the Bundestag must receive substantially more rights. Quod erat demonstrandum. The Karlsruhe interpretation thus very elegantly demolishes the old European idea that the recognized democratic deficits in the EU would disappear completely of their own accord by enhancing the rights of the European Parliament -- and democracy à la Brussels could one day, as MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne puts it, "assume the role of the national parliaments." The European Parliament, as the judges in Karlsruhe clearly state, is terminally undemocratic -- at least when measured against the basic concepts of representative democracy. The "small democratic deficit" of the Union, as Schorkopf puts it, has now been exposed as a "large democratic deficit." As a result, the German Constitutional Court concludes that even in the future, Brussels cannot be granted greater scope to enact legislation. This means that the plan to grant Brussels the ability to legislate criminal law in a number of EU policy areas will have to be largely dropped due to the risk of it being "without limits." The court says that Brussels' authority to enact legislation on criminal law can only be reconciled with German sovereign rights if jurisdictions are narrowly defined. A "blanket empowerment" contained in the Lisbon Treaty allows the Council of Ministers to expand the list of criminal offenses "on the basis of developments in crime" and grants the EU the power to enact minimum regulations to combat cross-border crime. However, the Karlsruhe judges contend that the blanket empowerment really only applies to the "cross-border dimension of a specific criminal offense." Limits to Further Integration Primarily, however, the judges declared for the first time that it is imperative to maintain the "space for the political formation of the economic, cultural and social living conditions" in the member states. In this national sanctuary, the judges see both "areas which shape the citizens' circumstances of life, in particular their private spaces of personal responsibility and political and social security, as protected by their fundamental rights," as well as "political decisions that particularly depend on a previous understanding of culture, history and language and which discursively unfold in a public political arena organized by party politics and parliament." According to the judges' ruling, these "essential areas of democratic organization" explicitly comprise "citizenship, the civil and military monopoly on the use of force, revenue and expenditure, including external financing and all elements of encroachment that are decisive for the realization of fundamental rights, above all as regards intensive encroachments on fundamental rights such as the deprivation of liberty in the administration of criminal law or the placement in an institution." These important areas also include "cultural issues such as speaking a language, shaping the circumstances concerning family and education, ensuring freedom of opinion, of the press and of association, and accommodating professions of faith or ideology." These are the limits that EU member state Germany has to set on future European integration. The "identity" of the German constitutional order may not be damaged by Brussels. Identity takes priority over integration. Part 3: EU Supporters Are in for a Bumpy Ride "The European train is no longer headed toward an arbitrary destination with no stops along the way," says former constitutional judge Paul Kirchhof, adding that the court has marked the Lisbon Treaty as a "clear terminus." There will be "no European state under the provisions of the German constitution." And Schorkopf summarizes the ruling in one sentence: "The European Union is a contract-based association of sovereign states, and as such, takes a political back seat." And with Germany in the front seat, EU supporters are in for a bumpy ride. No matter what the representatives of the Berlin government decide at the Council of Ministers in Brussels, their decisions will be subjected to three possible tests back home. First, the court wants to ensure that the EU does not overstep its contractual competences. Second, the judges intend to enforce the "subsidiary principal" enshrined in EU law, which largely prohibits Brussels from taking action if a member state can handle the issues in question just as effectively on its own. Third, the judges now reserve the right to conduct an "identity check," in other words, to test whether Germany still performs the functions that the Constitutional Court itself has defined as national tasks of government. In order to ensure that the Lisbon Treaty will be treated in future as the Karlsruhe Treaty, the court has submitted a highly unusual request to the Bundestag to pass a new trial law. This could allow every citizen to file a special EU suit with the German Constitutional Court against unpopular European regulations and standards. Given the new severity on European issues in Karlsruhe, such a procedure could make it almost impossible for Berlin to pursue its own European policy. No matter what German representatives agree to in Brussels, they will now always run the risk of receiving a phone call from Karlsruhe because a clever lawyer like Gauweiler has filed a complaint. This would create an untenable situation for the other 26 member states on the Council. Limiting Berlin's Highhandedness At the same time, however, by more strongly tying the Germans to the political body in Brussels, the court has limited the highhandedness of the German government, which has all too often pushed through political goals that were difficult to achieve back home by going behind the back or against the will of the Bundestag. One example that comes to mind is a statement by the former Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement, a member of the Social Democrats, who voted in favor of an EU software patent guideline in 2005, overriding an explicit decision on the matter by the vast majority of the Bundestag. He said that the will of the German parliament "could not be conveyed internationally." And the latest violation of the constitutional principles of data self-determination, namely data retention, was also pushed through by the German government, via Brussels, and against the will of the Bundestag. The European Union directive, by which all European member states must oblige their telecommunications companies to retain data on their customers' traffic, will presumably be the first test case for the new Karlsruhe rules. The constitutionally guaranteed protection of private space is one of the areas that the court has placed within the context of national identity. And there would be no need to even file a new lawsuit against the directive. After all, a number of constitutional complaints against data retention have been awaiting a decision from Karlsruhe for quite some time. The judges have never before openly come out against an EU directive. But there's a first time for everything. THOMAS DARNSTÄDT, DIETMAR HIPP, RENÉ PFISTER Translated from the German by Paul Cohen
Shannon Peace ForumMarch 2009
POLITICAL expediency must not be put before principle when it comes to the use of Shannon Airport by the US military, according to Deputy Jan O¹Sullivan, who has reiterated Labour¹s opposition to the arrangement.
Deputy O¹Sullivan was speaking at the Park Inn, Shannon, on Saturday at a daylong forum organised by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
Deputy O¹Sullivan said there was a perception that politicians and the general public in Shannon were afraid to speak out, in deference to US business interests in the Mid-West but this was not the case.
"There is a feeling that if you are from the Mid-West that you shouldn¹t be involved, that it¹s counterproductive for politicians. But I think there are an awful lot of people in this region who are very concerned about it," she said.
Longstanding opposition to the war and the airport¹s role in it had not prevented Cllr Greg Duff from being elected in Shannon Town itself, Deputy O¹Sullivan pointed out.
Asked if Labour would insist on the ending of the arrangement at Shannon if it formed part of the next Government, she said: "We are not in Government at the moment and I suppose we are not being tested in the way the Greens are being tested presently. But I would be extremely disappointed if, and I would fight vehemently within the party, if there was any question of us having a different position if we happen to be in Government. We have consistently said that the troops should not be using the airport and that is our position."
Meanwhile, Amnesty International¹s Noleen Hartigan said a cabinet subcommittee on international human rights set up in November in part to remove any legal obstacles preventing gardai from searching aircraft owned by or leased to foreign Governments has failed to hold a meeting in five months.
The subcommittee arose out of a promise to the Green Party during negotiations to form the Government. The Greens had long objected to the US military using the airport and also CIA-operated aircraft involved in the rendition programme. But former Green MEP Patricia McKenna told the Shannon seminar she had little confidence in the subcommittee.
"The only thing we got in the Programme for Government has been completely ignored. The cabinet subcommittee, what was it set up for? I think it was to pacify some of us who brought this issue up with the Greens in Government. It's completely unacceptable we are participating in and facilitating something that is illegal," said Ms McKenna.
"Just establishing something isn¹t enough. It hasn't met and as the people from Amnesty said, it's just not good enough to report in six months...it is very disheartening and goes to show why the public are so apathetic about politics and so suspicious about politicians because it seems that with the first smell of power, the first opportunity to get power, the Greens seem to be the same as anyone else. I think it's about time there was a political change in this country where parties have certain political principles they stick to regardless of the idea of power."
A spokesman for Minister John Gormley, while he could not confirm whether the subcommittee had met, told the Limerick Leader it was not true to say no work had been done on the matter since November.
"I know the Minister has been actively advancing this," he said.
Roger Cole, Peace and Neutrality Alliance, warned the Government concern over neutrality would scupper Lisbon II, and by a bigger margin. Neutrality was the single biggest concern according to a post-referendum poll by MRBI and this was an "issue that was not mentioned once by a certain Mr Ganley".
"The one key issue in Lisbon was neutrality no matter how much Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the national newspapers try to turn us into latter-day Redmondites marching into war," Mr Cole said.
Former army commandant Edward Horgan, Castletroy, noted there were three Omni Air troop carriers on the runway at Shannon while Saturday's seminar was in progress, meaning "at least 500 armed US troops are passing through a civilian airport as we speak".
While he conceded it was "radical", Mr Horgan said the airport should be shut down altogether as long as it continues to be used in the American war effort.
Munitions were frequently allowed pass through Shannon, Mr Horgan said, on chartered aircraft, some of which were "at least 30 years old and in poor repair".
"A military airport has proper protections and fortifications, a civilian airport like Shannon does not. In the event of a plane exploding on the runway, what will happen to the huge wall of glass looking out on the runway at Shannon Airport. That would be catastrophic with glass being blown into the terminal and lacerating and killing people. Shannon Airport should not be used for transporting explosives in particular," he said.
It was Mr Horgan, a former UN peacekeeper, who forced an admission from a representative of Murray Air on RTE¹s Liveline last year that the firm was licensed to transport depleted uranium for the US military. This was a day after a Murray plane forced into an emergency landing at Shannon, flew low over Askeaton, engines ablaze, and rattling windows and shaking houses in the town.
Mr Horgan said Ireland remained in "clear breach" of the Hague Convention on Neutrality and said the current wars were not the first example. He claimed that during the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999, two 757s passed through Shannon laden with 90 cruise missiles.
RENDITION as a counterterrorism measure is here to stay under President Barack Obama, according to US envoy Robert Faucher.Use of Shannon Airport by CIA planes and personnel involved in the rendition programme, where terror suspects are lifted and interrogated in third countries, remains a human rights controversy in the Mid-West. Anti-war campaigners here say innocent people have been tortured under interrogation and the practice of rendition is itself extrajudicial and illegal.But Mr Faucher, charge d¹affaires at the US embassy in Dublin, said on a recent two-day visit to the Mid-West that President Obama is happy to allow renditions continue as long as there is no possibility of a detainee being tortured and as long as they have the approval of governments in the countries where the rendition is carried out."The idea of rendition, he (Obama) doesn't consider that to be against international law. This is a decision he took I think in just the last week or so, saying that will we will not be involved in certain practices if and when we need to do renditions with the approval of the Governments involved. We will still do that. We do not agree that rendition is illegal under international law although I do know a lot of people disagree with us on that," Mr Faucher said.The Irish Government has dismissed the concerns of campaigners that detainees may have been transited through Shannon, relying on US "diplomatic assurances" that it has never happened.Asked if he was personally present when such an assurance was given to the Irish Government, Mr Faucher said the issue had been "handled before I arrived in Ireland" in 2007."Part of what I understood was this whole issue of people being transported to Guantanamo and other things of that nature. It is very clear that the President has taken on board a lot of these concerns and one of his very first acts as President was to sign an order to close Guantanamo."He said we have to close it, and that, if we ever did, we will no longer engage in torture and that sort of thing, making it clear the US will stand by a clear set of values whereas perhaps people would argue that we weren't standing by our values. You can't argue with that any more," he said.Asked what assistance Ireland and the use of facilities at Shannon had been to the greater American war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Faucher said the US was "extremely appreciative" of the help of the Irish Government."After the last Government led by Bertie Ahern was elected into office, they came out and gave a very clear statement that they would continue to support the transit of US troops through Shannon Airport onward and vice versa and back to the States. "Brian Cowen has also confirmed that that is the policy and they have promised to facilitate that as much as possible. We are and remain very appreciative of that. The protest groups? Fine, they can protest and that is their right to as long as they don't get out of hand and damage property like what happened a while ago. But they do have every right to protest and state their point of view on this," he said."I think the administration and the US Government in general greatly appreciates the help the Irish have given us. Because it (Shannon) seems to be a key point. It's a good refuel stop. We see a lot of flights pass through here with US officials, like the Vice-President, Secretary of State and other top officials, coming here to refuel and I hope they won't protest against that too. "Those tend to be US (Government) planes versus troop planes, which tend to be run by a contractor. They are not an official US plane, it's a contractor flying them through. So there's a real difference there," he said.A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Mr Faucher served as the acting US ambassador to Ireland between the departure of Thomas Foley in January and the recent appointment of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.A CABINET sub-committee on international human rights set up to allow gardai search planes owned by or leased to foreign Governments has still not held its first meeting five months later, according to Amnesty International¹s Noleen Hartigan.Ms Hartigan was speaking at a peace seminar held in Shannon on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.Amnesty is but one of many human rights groups who have condemned the Irish Government for "facilitating" the extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects by allowing CIA aircraft land and refuel Shannon Airport.The Government has said anti-war campaigners have not proven any suspect was transited through Shannon and that it accepts diplomatic assurances from the United States this has never happened. But Amnesty and local campaigners in Shannon have accumulated a wealth of evidence and flight records showing Shannon is frequently used by CIA-operated aircraft involved in rendition.The Green Party, in opposition, campaigned to end the use of the airport by the US military and secured a commitment in the programme for Government to enforce the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention against Torture and remove any legal obstacles preventing gardai from searching foreign planes. The Greens were ridiculed by Labour and others for taking the initiative only after Barack Obama, who had already signalled his intentions to close Guantanamo Bay, was elected president.A cabinet subcommittee comprising Green Ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan as well as Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin and Noel Dempsey, Minister for Transport was set up in November to prepare legislative measures.But Ms Hartigan said the subcommittee had failed to hold a single meeting within that five months."The subcommittee set up in November offers some glimmer of hope and gives us the opportunity to review and strengthen legislation on civil and Garda authorities searching rendition flights. Amnesty has been looking for the terms of reference since November as we want to make a submission but we are disappointed with progress. In fact, we have been told the committee hasn¹t even met yet," stated Ms Hartigan.Amnesty, she said, would publish a report on rendition, which she said was "nothing less than state-sponsored kidnap and torture", by the end of April.It was not enough to rely on US assurances that no prisoners had been transited through Shannon."They can say there were no individuals on the planes but, I¹m sorry, it doesn¹t matter if nobody is on it. If it passes through and they have reason to suspect it is involved in these activities yet do nothing, they are complicit under international law," she said.
Check the two reports agreed by the EU Parliament on accelerating theprocess of the militarisation of the European Union and making the linksbetween the EU and NATO even stronger. While they are non-binding, they showthat majority of the members of the EU Parliament support the militarisationof the EU and stronger EU/NATO links. This is the same Parliament that votednot to respect the decision of the Irish people.
There can be now no doubt whatsoever that the Fianna Fail Party and the restof the Irish political/media elite intends to use its power and wealth tosubvert the Irish Constitution and force the Irish people to vote again onexactly the same Lisbon Treaty/ EU Constitutionthat was rejected by the Irish, Dutch and French people, this year, possiblyas early as April or May and by October at the latest in the context ofthese resolutions having been passed by the EU Parliament.
While there is a strong case that to do so is illegal and in contraventionof Article 6 of the Irish Constitution and while PANA has established aDefend the Constitution Fund to take a legal challenge to the Irish SupremeCourt, since it would mean raising EUR 1 million it is very unlikely PANA coulddo so.
The fact that it would cost such a large amount of money is justanother indication as to how the existing power in the state system favoursthe rich; and there can be no doubt whatsoever that when it comes to largebrown envelopes or suitcases stuffed with cash been given to politicalleaders, the arms dealers have nothing whatsoever to learn from propertydevelopers. The reality is that the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was amajor defeat for the neo-liberal militarist elite that have brought Ireland,Europe and the rest of the world to the brink of disaster. Another rejectionby the Irish people would be an absolutely massive defeat for them and agreat victory for not just the Irish people but all those throughout Europewho believe in a Democratic, demilitarised and socially just Europe. Thereferendum will be a European battle fought on Irish soil.
It is a battle between an Imperialist Europe and a Democratic Europe. We must win it, not just for Ireland's future, but for the future of all the people's of Europe.
Roger Cole Chair,Peace & Neutrality Alliance
DOWNLOAD EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REPORTS (doc file)-NATOandEU.doc - ESS-ESDP.doc
The primary finding of this research is that on RTÉ’s leading news programmes from January 1st 2008 to June 14th 2008, 63% of the contributors to news items which focused on the Lisbon Treaty were supporting a Yes vote.
Three television programmes (Six One News, Nine News and Questions & Answers) and three radio programmes (Morning Ireland, News At One and Drivetime News) were analysed over this timeframe via RTÉ’s website.
The following is a summary of the report’s main findings:
RTÉ’s coverage of the Lisbon Treaty campaign was unbalanced with contributors from the Yes side making up 62.75% of speakers in discussions and news items focusing on the Lisbon Treaty. This suggests that perhaps it was RTÉ policy to deliberately limit coverage of the No side’s arguments. It is to be hoped this research may elicit further explanations.
This imbalance needs to be viewed in the light of the relevant legislation. The Lisbon Treaty was a matter of “public controversy”, it was “the subject of current public debate” and by facilitating such a skewed presentation of the debate, it is difficult to see how RTÉ’s duties were discharged “objectively and impartially” .
RTÉ has a legal requirement that its coverage of “matters which are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate” be presented so as to be “fair to all concerned” . This research finds that was not the case.
RTÉ’s own Charter places a requirement on the broadcaster to “strive to reflect fairly and equally the … political diversity of Ireland and its peoples” . By not facilitating fair, and even reasonably, equal contributor participation the broadcaster has failed its own Charter.
Questions and Answers was the most unbalanced programme with 72.34% of guest panel speakers being for the Yes side. The audience participation was also unbalanced with panellists permitted to interrupt audience No speakers, further skewing the balance in favour of the Yes side.
The most surprising finding was that the coverage remained unbalanced from early in the new year, up to the announcement of the date of the referendum, throughout the thirty days of the referendum campaign and as the results were being discussed.
Coverage of the results was particularly unbalanced, with panels of experts dominated by Lisbon Treaty supporters.
The coverage of the Yes and No sides differed in one very significant way. In many reports RTÉ journalists/presenters would often frame the debate in terms of “How can the Yes side win?”, rather than the more journalistically objective, “Why should the Yes side win?”
There was a distinct difference between the questions put to the Yes and No sides. For example, obvious conflicts over the Treaty’s interpretation by the ICTU and IBEC were not explored. IBEC’s submission to the Forum on Europe contained many claims about the Lisbon treaty which the ICTU would have been opposed to.
There were a small number of cases in which RTÉ journalists/presenters engaged in aggressive interrogation of contributors to Treaty-focused news items. While these incidences were very few, they all happened to speakers from the No side. An example of this are comments referring to speakers on the No side as “failed Dail Candidates”
In complaints made to RTÉ regarding the substantive issue of the numbers of speakers from the Yes and No side during the referendum, RTÉ’s explanation was that it would ensure approximately 50% coverage for both sides. 50-50 coverage cannot compensate for a 63%-37% speaker ratio.
When complaints were made to RTÉ about a single Yes speaker being given airtime without a corresponding No speaker present, the reply from RTÉ was that a No speaker speaking on a different programme was compensation for this. The legal obligation to do this within “two or more related broadcasts” may be applicable to a different edition of the same programme, or between the two main evening television news programmes, but a mid-morning chat show is not “related” to an early morning news programme.
The Audience Council was given inaccurate information about the coverage of the campaign. As illustrated in section 13.2.3.
Three members of the RTÉ Audience Council were from organisations that had taken a specific Yes position. None represented organisations taking a No stance.
The composition of the RTÉ Authority was unbalanced in that it reflected the higher socio-economic sections of Irish society who polling showed were more likely to vote Yes and did vote Yes. Citizens from the lower socio economic groups were more likely to vote No. Membership of the Authority is not reflective of the diversity of Irish society.
There was a failure by all of the structures within RTÉ to monitor and correct the imbalance which developed during the protracted Lisbon debate. This is due to the make-up of the bodies themselves and not due to any particular individual.
Download full report here:http://www.voteno.ie/archive/html/RTE_Falling_at_The_Feet_of_Power.htm
This statement by Jan Oberg on a UN-NATO document and the questions raised by the TFF board should be taken very seriously. NATO is a nuclear armed military alliance dominated by a few rich and powerful states. The United Nations is an inclusive global organisation. When PANA advocates support for a "Reformed " United Nations this means the exact opposite of supporting collaboration with a nuclear armed alliance, in fact PANA would seek the abolition of NATO. PANA has consistently opposed Ireland's integration into the US/EU/NATO military structures and we therefore oppose the UN/NATO links.
Contact for the press:Jan Oberg +46 (0)70 - 79 111 25after December 6: +46 (0)46 - 14 59 09TFF@transnational.org
TFF has obtained a copy, reproduced below, of a UN-NATO document held secret to the general public.It is a Cooperation Declaration signed by the top leaders of the United Nations and NATO.
Here follows the statement of the TFF Board, formulated as 9 questions, for everyone - including the media - to discuss and take action upon:
"The United Nations considers it secret and, thus, hasn¹t published it on its homepage; NATO is pleased to give you a copy upon request; NATO governments know about it; Western mainstream media have hardly mentioned it - - - The Joint Declaration on UN/NATO Secretariat Cooperation that was signed by the Secretary-Generals of the UN and NATO in September this year.
To say the least, this Declaration should have raised a few eyebrows. As a matter of fact, it ought to be impossible for SG Ban Ki-Moon to sign such document with any military alliance, let alone to do so without the consent of the member states of the United Nations.We judge it to be high time to stimulate a public debate on UN-NATO co-operation. Frankly, it should have begun when, in January 2007, Ban Ki-Moon visited NATO and stated that: 'I am very much assured and encouraged by what NATO has been contributing to peace and security around the world. We have the same goals, we are committed to work very closely together in the future.'(Source: www.nato.int/docu/update/2007/01-january/e0124a.html)
The UN Charter's preamble states that war shall be abolished. More specifically, Article 1 states that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means. It is to be feared that a UN Secretary-General who believes that the UN and NATO "have the same goals" will be unable to perform his role as defender of that Charter.
Here is the text of the Declaration for you to see what the UN does not want you to see. After it we - the Board of the Transnational Foundation - raise nine questions of substance that reflect our deep concerns about the ways of the UN at this moment in history when, more than ever, the goal of general and complete disarmament and nuclear abolition, should have the highest priority.
[ BEGIN DECLARATION ]Annex to DSG (2008)0714 (INV)
Joint Declaration on UN/NATO Secretariat CooperationThe Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, welcoming over a decade of cooperation between the United Nations and NATO in support of the work of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security, and desiring, in the spirit of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, to provide a framework for expanded consultation and cooperation between their respective Secretariats, have agreed to the following:
1. We, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reaffirm our commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security.
2. Our shared experiences have demonstrated the value of effective and efficient coordination between our Organizations. We have developed operational cooperation, for example, in peacekeeping in the Balkans and Afghanistan, where UN-authorized NATO-led operations work alongside UN peace operations. We have also worked together and collectively with other partners in support of regional and sub-regional organizations. In addition, NATO provided assets and personnel to Pakistan in support of UN disaster relief operations in 2005. Our cooperation is guided by the UN Charter, internationally recognized humanitarian principles and guidelines, and consultation with national authorities.
3. Further cooperation will significantly contribute to addressing the threats and challenges to which the international community is called upon to respond. We therefore underscore the importance of establishing a framework for consultation and dialogue and cooperation, including, as appropriate, through regular exchanges and dialogue at senior and working levels on political and operational issues. We also reaffirm our willingness to provide, within our respective mandates and capabilities, assistance to regional and sub-regional organizations, as requested and as appropriate.
4. Understanding that this framework should be flexible and evolving over time, we agree to further develop the cooperation between our organizations on issues of common interest, in, but not limited to, communication and information-sharing, including on issues pertaining to the protection of civilian populations; capacity-building, training and exercises; lessons learned, planning and support for contingencies; and operational coordination and support.
5. Our cooperation will continue to develop in a practical fashion, taking into account each Organizations specific mandate, expertise, procedures and capabilities, so as to contribute to improving international coordination in response to global challenges.
Done in New York on 23 September 2008Jaap de Hoop Scheffer BAN Ki-MoonSecretary General of the Secretary-GeneralNorth Atlantic Treaty Oranization of the United Nations
1. According to the UN Charter, Article 100, the UN Secretary-General is the custodian of the UN's integrity. S/he shall receive no instructions from any state or authority but serve only the UN.Q: Does this agreement increase the SG's opportunities to do so and does it strengthen the credibility of that provision in the future?
2. NATO is a nuclear-based military alliance upholding the right to use nuclear weapons as the first response even against a conventional attack.Q: Is the choice of NATO compatible with Article 1 of the Charter which states that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means? Why have other regional organisations that do work with civilian means - like the OSCE or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - not been offered a similar cooperative status?
3. NATO's Washington Agreement of 1999 aligns itself closely with the UN Charter. However, it no longer refers to the overarching authority of the UN Security Council; rather it brings into the purview of NATO the right to intervene when faced with what NATO calls new risks such as 'environment', 'insufficient reforms', 'uncontrollable movements of large numbers of people' and, most significantly, 'interruption of vital resources'.Thus, it can be doubted whether NATO still adheres to its own Article 1 which recognizes the supremacy of Article 51 of the UN Charter on member states' right to self-defence.This UN-NATO Declaration's list and formulations of areas in which UN-NATO co-operation can take place are quite sweeping and general. It should be seen in the light of the seemingly ever-expanding roles NATO deems legitimate for itself.Q: Given the special status NATO now acquires through this Agreement, how likely is it that the UN SG and Security Council - where 3 of the 5 permanent seats are held by NATO members - will:a) Be able to uphold the necessary distinctions between NATO actions and UN actions?b) Bring up possible future breaches of international law by NATO? andc) Be able, as UN members, to work credibly for general and complete disarmament and nuclear abolition?
4: The two UN & NATO SGs seem to sign as partners of equal standing. The wording of the agreement is such that NATO would be free to take actions as it wishes, even to adopt measures of aggressive warfare. Statements at recent Munich NATO conferences seem to confirm this.Q: NATO must be held accountable to the UN Charter and other international law norms. Does this Declaration make that clear? To whom will NATO be accountable?
5. NATO bombed Serbia/Kosovo in 1999 without a UN Security Council mandate.Q: Independent of the views one may have of that action and given leading NATO members' deficient respect for international law and the UN Charter, is NATO an appropriate organization to be rewarded by the UN with such special status?
6. It is mentioned that the NATO-UN Agreement is rooted in the actions taken during the wars in Bosnia-Hercegovina. If anything, however, that crisis showed that peace-keeping and peace-enforcement cannot be mixed and that UN member states had given the UN far too few resources to succeed with their mandate.Q: Is this Agreement signaling that the members of the UN and NATO consider the handling of Bosnia a model and will continue with the same mix of roles and unbalanced resource allocations?
7. NATO countries are, these very months, engaged in various very sensitive issues - sensitive also among the Security Council members - such as the Georgia Crisis, the Ballistic Missile Defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, further NATO expansion (Georgia & Ukraine) and intensifying problems in Afghanistan, where both organisations are involved.Q: Is the UN SG's signature an example of good timing and will he, in the light of the above, now submit the Declaration to the Security Council for discussion and approval?
8. The UN has 192 members. NATO has 26 member states but stands for over 70% of the world's military expenditures.Q: Does the SG expect that the majority of the UN member states will support this agreement between the secretariats of the United Nations and a military alliance?
9. The spirit of the UN is supposed to be dialogue, worldwide consultation and the common good of humankind. Yet this Agreement has been kept secret and not posted on the UN homepage.Q: Is the Agreement itself and the way it has been concluded between two individuals not likely to give the world the impression that this UN HQ is now a place for deals kept in the dark and, thus, further undermine the hopes shared by citizens around the world for democracy and transparency?"
The Board of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF:-Ina Curic- Jan Oberg- Vicky Samantha Rossi- Hans von Sponeck- Annette Schiffmann- Gunnar Westberg
Roger Cole speech to the Peace & Neutrality Alliance Annual Conference,
The decision of the Irish people to reject the Lisbon Treaty was a historic victory for democracy and a defeat for Imperialism. It was a rare breath of sanity in a world dominated by neo-liberal militarists. The Peace & Neutrality Alliance played a key role in achieving that victory, not just in the few months of the debate on the treaty but also in our sustained campaign since our foundation in 1996 against the decision of the Irish political elite to destroy Irish Independence, Irish Democracy and Irish Neutrality and integrate 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. The defeat of the EU/US/NATO axis, is the only and absolutely inevitable consequence of these wars.
PANA’s decision to hold a major conference in December 2004 in an effort to bring together all the progress forces to fight the proposed EU Constitution covering the issues of democracy and neo-liberalism as well as militarisation led to the formation of the Campaign Against the EU Constitution within which PANA operated during the Lisbon Treaty campaign. This broad based campaign played a key role in this great victory
One of the more interesting incidents in that campaign was an editorial in the Irish Times which attacked our use of a pamphlet by Theobald Wolfe Tone called, " The Spanish War" which had been written by Tone in 1790 in which he advocated Irish Neutrality in a potential war between the British and the Spanish Empires.
It had in fact been printed in 2006 to mark our 10th anniversary and launched appropriately enough by Jack O’Connor, the President of SIPTU, as the founder of his union, James Connolly, has established the Irish Neutrality League in 1914.
The point being of course, is that PANA did not lick its support for Irish Independence, democracy and neutrality off the stones. There is a long and deeply rooted commitment to these values that stretched back to Wolfe Tone through to James Connolly, to the foundation of the state in 1919 and beyond.
This year, for example marks the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Fenians, December marks the 90th anniversary of the historic vote when the people voted for Sinn Fein and January next year will mark the establishment of the first Dail of the Irish Republic.
Yet the reality is that while we belong to a tradition that stretches back to Tone, the Irish advocates of the treaty belong to an equally long Imperialist tradition also deeply rooted in our history. It includes people like Isaac Butt and John Redmond. What they sought was Home Rule within a centralised, militarised, neo-liberal Superstate called the British Union.
A recent example of the continuation of this tradition was the decision of the Irish Times and the Royal Irish Academy to publish a book on the 1914-18 Imperialist War entitled: "Our War". Since the Irish Times supported this war using this title accurately reflects their support for Imperialism, continued in their support for this treaty. However the reference to ‘Our War’ was clearly meant to apply to all Irish people and not just the Irish Times. This is a concept that PANA totally rejects. It was not Pearse’s war. It was not Connolly’s war. It was not De Valera’s war. It was not Collins’ war. It was not our war. However now that the British Union is a pale shadow of its former glory, The Irish Times has transferred it allegiance to the new Superpower, the European Union.
What The Irish Times and the advocates of the Lisbon Treaty want is Home Rule within a centralised, militarised, neo-liberal Superstate called the European Union; a European Superstate allied to the US and committed to imperialist resource wars. In an emerging European Superstate dominated by states such as Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, that also have even stronger imperialist traditions, this is hardly a surprise.
Unfortunately for them, the warmongering neo-liberal imperialist leaders of Fianna Fail could not get their own supporters to vote for the treaty, as De Valera is their hero. The Fine Gael party could not get their supporters to vote for it because their hero is Michael Collins. The Labour Party could not do so because their hero is James Connolly. Even the Green Party leadership could not get their voters or even their party to agree to a militarised Europe after spending decades advocating a Green Europe. The Irish people, except those in the six counties that were not allowed to vote, voted no, and if they had been allowed to do so, the no vote would have been even greater.
Since the referendum the Irish political elite has sought to cope with their defeat by spending over €160,000 commissioning a research company to find out why people voted no. President Sarkozy visited Ireland after it was widely reported that he had said the Irish will have to vote again, a concept that is continually repeated by the neo-Redmondites despite the fact that a public opinion poll showed that if we were forced to vote again, the no vote could increase to over 60%. A more recent opinion poll suggested they yes side could win. The question asked however while accurate, was misleading, implying the treaty would be modified, that is changed, to take into consideration the concerns of those who voted no. But if it was changed it would be a new treaty. If it changed to take into considerations our perspective, PANA would campaign for a yes vote to such a new treaty.
Another idea being continually floated is that the Dail should simply ignore the sovereign will of the Irish people and vote it, or parts of it through regardless of the consequences. The elite are also appear to be seeking to destroy the McKenna and Coughlan Irish Supreme Court judgements. A Dail committee on Europe had hearings where so far, the vast majority of those invited to address it were yes campaigners and it supported such moves.
But the Lisbon Treaty and the militarisation of the EU is only a small part of a bigger picture. The NATO/US/EU axis continues its Imperialists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine and its threat of war on Iran. The axis also threatens Russia with its decision to build missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and expand the war to Pakistan.
Then there was the decision of Georgia to bomb and invade South Ossetia leading to a war with Russia. The Georgian leadership had invested heavily in military expenditure purchased from the US that wants Georgia and the Ukraine to join NATO. The Georgians appeared to believe that they would have the support of NATO. But the US is already militarily over stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq and was in no position to take part in a proxy war with Russia. The war also showed that apart from some skin deep agreed positions by the EU to support Georgia there was nothing the EU elite could do. The reality is there was no widespread popular support for yet another war, especially with Russia, in the states of the EU, or even the US, and they knew it. The people have had enough of war and militarism. Nevertheless this defeat could turn out to be a turning point in world history.
The election of Obama shows clearly that the opposition to Imperialism has taken root not only in Europe but also in the US because a major component of his coalition was the American Peace Movement which now has to continue the pressure to ensure that the "Change" motif really does mean a rejection of the Imperialist neo-liberal ideology that has dominated the US for decades. It will not be easy and some might say it cannot be done, as another part of his coalition continues to support Imperialism with a "human" face.
PANA has built up some links with the American Peace Movement and in the years ahead we have to continue to deepen those contacts. Their struggle against Imperialism is our struggle, and we have to seek to make these links stronger.
However overshadowing everything has been the massive economic crisis brought about by the dominant neo-liberal economic and militarist ideology.
The Irish Government which has to tell the rest of the EU elite what they intend to do with the Irish people at their meeting in December, have become very unpopular as a result of the massive cuts they have implemented as a consequence of the crisis caused by the neo-liberal economic policies they implemented. They lost the referendum in the first place because the people did not trust them, and if they come back and force the Irish people to vote again on the exactly same treaty they might not have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning and they know it.
Also, immediately after the referendum result was announced, the Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore declared that he accepted the decision of the people. While it is true there was overwhelming support for the treaty by virtually the entire party leadership, Labour voters voted no by a decisive majority. Eamon Gilmore’s credibility would be greatly damaged if he changed his mind. While there are factions in the party in favour of Ireland’s integration into the Superstate, after the no vote they will find it very difficult restore their status in the party, so it is very unlikely the Labour Party will campaign for a yes vote in any second referendum.
Fine Gael leaders are the most ideologically committed to the European Empire and in the course of the debate on the treaty its spokespersons made it clear that they would be willing to fight and die for the EU. But Fine Gael is a broad coalition some of whom identify with John Redmond, the Empire Loyalist and others with Michael Collins, the Irish Republican. That so many Fine Gael voters voted no to the treaty, suggests that the Collins tradition is very strong and there would again be a lack of support for a yes vote in any subsequent rerun of the treaty, especially if Fianna Fail were still in power. Fine Gael supporters are in no mood to give Fianna Fail another dig out.
Therefore there is a very strong case to be made that the treaty is dead and will stay dead. When the EU Council of Ministers met on the 11th of December, PANA and CAECU will hold a mock "funeral" to give it a decent burial and all are welcome to give it the send off it deserves.
Nevertheless the Fianna Fail Government is under strong pressure from the rest of the EU elite to hold another referendum and even though they know they might be defeated, it looks like they will agree to hold one in 2009, so we need to ready. We can be absolutely sure that these neo-Redmondite Imperialists will fight the dirtiest most vicious campaign ever. They will make Karl Rove look like a pussycat. So we should be prepared.
They might hold it in March 09 before the EU Parliament elections or they might wait until the autumn. One thing however is clear and obvious. The elections to the EU Parliament or the local elections in June are not, under any circumstances whatsoever, a sort of proxy vote for another Lisbon Treaty. In voting for candidates many people will stay loyal to their party candidate even though they disagree with their party on the treaty.
Part of that preparation for an actual referendum is that PANA has to spell out what it wants as an alternative to the treaty.
PANA’s vision of the future of Europe has been clear and consistent. We seek a Partnership Europe, a Partnership of Independent Democratic States, legal equals, without a military dimension.
PANA, as a founding member of the European Peace & Human Rights Network is, and sees itself as, a pro-European organisation. Since our foundation we have built up links with peace groups all over Europe as well as the United States and throughout the world. Our vision of Europe is a vision of a Democratic Europe and we belong to its democratic tradition.
We have consistently advocated that in any new treaty, a Protocol, which would be a legally binding part of the treaty, similar that that which already applies to Denmark, that would exclude Ireland from involvement with or paying for the militarisation of the EU, would be included.
PANA needs to state again that any new treaty should include such a protocol.
Nevertheless we also want much wider changes to the Lisbon Treaty and we would also seek to ensure that the new treaty containing such changes be approved by way of referendum in all the other EU states as well as Ireland.
The proposed job of a permanent EU President and a Permanent EU Minister for Foreign Affairs and the creation of a EU Diplomatic Corp should be deleted. PANA’s position is that the EU should be a Partnership of Independent Democratic States, legal equals, best expressed by a six-month rotation process by which each state in the EU holds these positions in turn.
The European Defence Agency or more accurately described, the European War Agency should be abolished, and its assets should be transferred to a European Climate Change Agency with its central role being to ensure the technology now committed to military development be transformed into technology committed to the development of green energy production, for example, by helping to build massive solar energy farms in the Sahara and wave energy farms along the Europe’s coastline united in a single grid. The obligation for EU states to build-up their military capacities would be replaced by a commitment to build up its social infrastructure in health provision, transport, education and social housing.
This is a key demand. The US global sales of military hardware increased from $12 billion in 2005, to $32 billion in 2007. In fact the US spends more money on its military than the rest of the world combined, which goes a long way to explain why the "richest" country in the world have 45 million of its people with no health care. Yet the vision statement of the EDA says:
"If Europe is to preserve a broadly based and globally competitive military it must take to heart that the US is outspending Europe"
In short, the EU should also export more weapons, which will encourage more wars. This is the future of Europe supported by the advocates the Lisbon Treaty.
The Petersberg Tasks and the EU Battle Groups provisions would be abolished.
The Structured Cooperation provisions would be abolished. The concept that a number of EU states operating within the EU structures should be able to create their own mini-military alliance is utterly bizarre, as any wars they became involved in would inevitably affect all EU states.
The mutual Solidarity and Mutual Defence clauses should be abolished. A Partnership of Democratic States does not mean or should it mean that there are or should be any mutual defence implications between the states involved. If states wish to do so, they should do so outside the context of the EU.
The EU should terminate all its relations with the nuclear-armed military alliance, NATO.
In the broader context, while Ireland is not a member of NATO, PANA cannot just ignore the continuing survival and growth of NATO. The main advocates of the EU integration process is led by an EU political elite that is also committed to the NATO expansion process, so the expansion of NATO and the militarisation of the EU are just opposite sides of the same coin. PANA has over the years built up strong links with other peace movements throughout the world but particularly with British CND, which is one of the largest and most important peace movements in Europe.
They seek to ensure the abolition of NATO and PANA needs to work closely with them in that process. The reason given for the establishment of NATO was that the Soviet Union was going to invade Western Europe. Far from fading away after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO has rapidly expanded. It is now the greatest danger to world peace. We should fully support calls for the abolition of NATO and support the European wide demonstration against NATO in Strasburg on the 4th of April 2009.
The OSCE as the regional body recognised as such by the UN should call a major conference to negotiate a European Security Treaty to address all the security concerns of the states in the OSCE, a key and inevitable consequence being the abolition of NATO.
PANA has always focused on the United Nations as the institution through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns. The United Nations is the only inclusive global body committed to collective security. It should be the only such body and NATO should be abolished. The United Nations needs to be funded in an effective manner. It’s Security Council needs to be reformed to ensure it reflects the 21st century rather than the mid 20thcentury.
The real issues facing the world are global, whether they are global warming or global poverty. The message of the transformation of swords into ploughshares or missiles into solar farms is more valid today than ever. Those of us involved in PANA are not idealists.
Studies by UMASS-Amherst have shown that while $1 billion creates 8,535 jobs if spent on military production, the same amount of money spent on home weatherisation creates 12,804 jobs or 19,795 jobs if spent on mass transport systems.
We are the realists, we are the people that seek to ensure humanity survives and prospers. All the neo-liberal militarists offer is war and destruction. The fact that they dominate the corporate media and the mainstream political parties needs to end if humanity is to survive into the 22nd century.
PANA only makes sense as an alliance if it is, and sees itself as being part of a global movement. In that context the victory of the Irish people when they defeated the Lisbon Treaty was not just an Irish victory in a battle fought on Irish soil, it is not even just a victory of a European battle fought on Irish soil, it was a victory for humanity. We now need to seek to ensure that the coming 2nd battle of Lisbon is won more decisively than the first. But we can only win if the peace movement in Europe and throughout the world support us, as we need to support them in their struggles for peace and social justice.
The year 2009 marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the 1st Dail and its struggle against an earlier centralised, militarised neo-liberal superstate, the British Union. Now at the start of the 21st century the struggle by the forces of Irish Democracy, Irish Independence and Irish Neutrality against Imperialism continues. This time the stakes are even higher. Another victory would be an enormous victory for the global peace movement.
Next year also marks the 6th anniversary of start of the US’s Imperialist war on Iraq. PANA held its first demonstration at Shannon Airport in May 2002, and we have taken part in many such demonstrations since then. We will organise a demonstration at Shannon Airport on Saturday 21st of March. We should also hold a peace conference and invite peace movements in the cities that have a direct flight into Shannon Airport to attend. It would clearly demonstrate that our struggle against war has support throughout Europe and the United States.
The withdrawal of the military forces of the EU/US/NATO forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of its ally Israel to its 1967 borders would provide a major step towards global peace and allow all of humanity to concentrate on the real threats to the world, hunger, the lack of social justice and global warming. These are the real issues.
Finally let me quote from Padraigh Pearse and his views on the then dominate Irish political elite; "The men who have led Ireland for the last 25 years have done evil, and they are bankrupt. They are bankrupt in policy, bankrupt in credit, bankrupt now even in words. They have nothing to propose to Ireland, no words of wisdom, no counsel of courage. When they speak they speak only untruth and blasphemy. Their utterances are no longer the utterances of men. They are the mumblings and the gibbering of lost souls."
Roger ColeChair, Peace & Neutrality Alliance
Speech by Hans van Heijningen, SP general secretary, on the conference of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Saturday 29’th of November in Dublin
First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation to address you at this PANA-conference. International exchange, the sharing of views and experiences, has been and is important not only in our joint opposition to the European Constitution, now labelled the European Treaty but also to formulate our alternatives for a social, green and peaceful Europe.
The constitution and the Treaty.In June, 2005, the French people voted to reject the proposed European Constitutional Treaty. This 'Constitution' was drawn up by an unelected, unrepresentative body under the chairmanship of Giscard d’Estaing a retired French politician of aristocratic background. The French voted No despite the fact that the whole establishment, including the President of the Republic, all three major political parties, almost all newspapers, most trade unions and the national business association supported the Yes campaign. Two days later, under much the same circumstances, the Dutch people did the same. The SP, which at the time had only eight MPs, was the biggest political party, and the only parliamentary party of the left, to oppose the treaty. The feelings of the Dutch people were made clear, moreover, not only by the overwhelming victory of the No campaign. The majority of voters who support our two rivals on the left of the political spectrum, the Labour Party and the Green Left, also voted No, against the advice of their party leadership. And in the next three elections – local, regional and national - we doubled and tripled our vote The 'No' campaign was not the only reason for this, but it certainly played a role in moving the SP from the edges of Dutch politics to its centre. We are now the biggest opposition party in parliament and with 50.000 members the third political force in the Netherlands.
The two No votes, as you know, were greeted by a ruse typical of a political establishment which seems to have come to regard democracy as an irritation. The Constitutional Treaty was withdrawn, albeit reluctantly and with a show of petulance worthy of the infants' school playground. It was then replaced, without this time bothering with the sham of a 'Constituent Assembly', by a virtually identical text. Despite this, the Dutch government, backed by a parliamentary majority, refused to put the new text to a vote (despite the promise of the Labour Party that it would not accept any other option than a new referendum). The same was true for every other member state government, with the exception of your own, which had no choice in the matter.
These are shameful events to occur in purported democracies. Paper-thin excuses and lies about changes in the text cannot hide the fact that the Dutch and French political establishment took this course of action because it knew that a second referendum would mean a second defeat. The British Labour Party reneged on its promise of a referendum for the same reason. They all say the changes are great enough to make a 'Constitution' into an ordinary treaty. The Spanish Prime Minister, curiously, uses exactly the opposite argument. In Spain, a low turn-out approved the Constitutional Treaty in a referendum. So whereas the Irish, Dutch, French and British people are told that changes mean that no referendum is necessary, the Spanish are told that the fact that the text is the same means that no referendum is necessary!
All of this would be very funny if it weren't for what it represents, which is the death by strangulation of the democracy and national sovereignty for which all of our mothers and fathers fought, made sacrifices, and even gave their lives. This is a country and a city which makes one reflect on the true cost of democracy, and yet it is also one where the government may be planning to sell a democratic decision for worthless coin.
Your task will clearly be to demand that whatever 'concessions' are offered to Ireland, the people must be given the chance to approve or disapprove them in a further referendum. In the Netherlands this course has been closed to us. As is the case in France and elsewhere, the No campaigners, and even some people who support the Lisbon Treaty, have explored every avenue to force our governments to do the honest, democratic thing and put the text to a popular vote. But honesty and democracy are rare commodities in Europe's capitals, and we will not get our referenda. The alternative strategy that we have adopted is to make next June's European Parliament elections into an opportunity for the Dutch people to express their opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, or simply their disgust at the undemocratic way in which it is being foisted on us. Our argument will be that while the government denies the voters the right to vote on the Treaty, it cannot deny us the right to vote to send opponents of the Treaty to Brussels and Strasbourg. By voting SP, they will be voting No to a Europe dominated by big business and military superpower ambitions.
The SP is an internationalist party and our reasons for opposing the Lisbon Treaty are both democratic and internationalist. They have nothing to do with nationalism as it is usually understood. We do, however, believe in what the EU calls 'subsidiarity', a principle which it routinely ignores. This principle states that decisions should be taken as close to home as possible. What can be decided by the individual should be left to the individual, what can be decided locally should be left to local councils to decide, and so on up to those matters for which Europe-wide or global cooperation is essential. We also note that whereas the Dutch state, after 150 years of popular struggle, has relatively robust democratic institutions, the EU is run by an unelected Commission, a Council which continues to hold most of its meetings behind closed doors, and a Parliament which has only limited power.
We do believe that there are many things that unite people not only across Europe but across the world. We liked the slogan of the Norwegian campaign against EU entry: 'Europe is too small for us'. We oppose this European Union, then, firstly because it removes power further from the people. Secondly, because it is based on neoliberal principles. The policies of the EU will represent a deepening of the neoliberal structures which have exposed Europe to the ravages of casino capitalism. And don’t accuse us of conspiracy thinking. I’ve read the Lisbon Agenda, which promoted the liberalization of labour markets – causing wage cuts, badly paid flexlabour, lack of social security – which promoted the liberalisation and privatisation of services – the threat that access to health and education will depend on your ability to pay – which promoted tax competition among member states – making working class people pay higher taxes while the rich pay less.
Recession and mass unemployment will be the inevitable results of the deregulation of financial institutions and markets, a game in which the EU has been an enthusiastic player, whatever noises its leaders may now be making about the need for greater surveillance. The SP and others on the left have been urging such a course of action for decades, though I have yet to hear the assorted conservatives, liberals and so-called social democrats who run the politics of this Union and its member states apologise and admit that we were right all along. In truth, the EU has done nothing to address a financial crisis for which it was partly responsible, leaving effective action as has been taken to its member states.
The EU's neoliberalism is not confined to creating a free-for-all for transnational capital. In a succession of legislative measures and European Court of Justice decisions it has shown that in a straight fight between the rights of capital and those of working people it will always take the side of the rich, the powerful, the corporate. ECJ decisions such as those in the Lavall and Viking cases threaten to turn the clock back to a time – a century ago or more in most of our countries – when although trade unions were technically legal, restrictive laws made them ineffective.
In addition to reinforcing its neoliberalism, the Lisbon Treaty will further the militaristic dreams of Europe's elites. The world's impending liberation from the Bush administration surely represents an opportunity for Europe to take the initiative and propose global disarmament negotiations. We should be pursuing a scaling down of the military machines of each of the global powers; ceasing to sell arms to repressive regimes; and reinforcing structures which offer peaceful means of resolving international conflicts.
This would not only make the world a safer place, but would release huge resources. These resources could combat the coming waves of recession and create employment. They could be put at the service of humanity's truly urgent battles. These battles not with each other, but against climate change, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and halt the degradation of the world's environment. Instead, the EU pursues a policy which threatens, along with the US rocket shield in eastern Europe, to provoke a new Cold War, or worse. Defence policy is based not on the real security needs of Europe's peoples, which surely lie in reinforcing friendly relations with neighbours, including Russia. Instead, it is the interests of the biggest, most powerful member states and the biggest, most powerful European corporations which are served by a policy which pursues two related goals: the first, to see an enormous and ongoing increase in defence spending by all of the 27; and the second, to encourage consolidation of European arms manufacturers so that they become more powerful and competitive global actors. This policy is not part of a solution to the problem of security, it is part of the problem, which is that undesirable and dangerous concentrations of power are put into the hands of people, governments and corporations who would have us believe that peace can be achieved through bigger and better weapons.
European cooperation whose goals are a reining in of the unrestrained power of the casino capitalists, a furtherance of the rights and wellbeing of working people, a bolstering of the welfare state and of social provision, an effective approach to urgent environmental problems, has our wholehearted support. We believe that such cooperation will come only from a European unity which grows from the grass roots upwards and in which the interests of the majority, of 'ordinary' men and women, are the priority. Let’s use this new momentum – due to a profound crisis whose implications include serious threats and doom scenarios - to create a new Europe where markets are regulated, where public services function as they should function – economically efficient and effectively – where wellbeing is more important than profits. May this conference generate a modest contribution to these goals.
Thanks you very much.Hans van Heijningen
Speech by Kieran Allen, National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party to the Peace & Neutrality Alliance Annual Conference 29/11/08
The vote on Lisbon is already being re-fought. Elite think tanks and senior academics on the Yes are marshalling arguments to undermine the democratic will of the Irish people.
In this report, we draw on the writings of the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, to analyse the strategic games being currently played by these elite groups.
Political activists and media commentators rarely read sociological texts because they are sometimes written in an impenetrable style. But an exception should be made for a short, six page article from the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu entitled Neoliberalism as a Conservative Revolution. It was originally delivered as a speech in 1997 – in other words, before the Wall St Crash of 2008 when the neoliberal dogma still seemed to be unassailable.
Read full speech (pdf file): KAllen2008.pdf
by Carol Fox, Research Officer, PANA (July 2008)
One of the many surprises thrown up by the Lisbon Treaty debate was that the European arms industry had managed to set up shop within the EU. Not only were we being obliged to spend more on armaments ["Art. 28(3): Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities"], but an entire EU agency dedicated to bolstering the defence sector and the arms trade was being brought into an EU Treaty.
How had this happened? Where had this European Defence Agency (EDA) come from? And what was the attitude of the Irish Government to all of this?
There are a number of excellent reports by the human rights group, Statewatch, and the Transnational Institute outlining how the European arms merchants got into the EU shop: it was via the EU Commission 'kitchen’. There are over 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels, mostly representing business interests, and many of them are invited by the Commission to sit on special policy committees. One such group was the EU Advisory Group on Aerospace. Nearly half its members were aerospace industry chairmen, including those from Europe’s four largest arms companies. Their 'Strategic Aerospace Review for the 21st Century’, published in July 2002, called for the creation of a 'level playing field so Europe’s industry can compete fairly in world markets’. Ultimately, what was required was the establishment of a: "European armaments policy to provide structure for European defence and security equipment markets, and to allow a sustainable and competitive technological and industrial base".
The EU Commission embraced this proposal: good for business, good for EU military ambitions. By the spring of 2003, it had produced 'Towards an EU Defence Equipment Policy", incorporating the Aerospace Review concepts and calling for the creation of an Agency to oversee these developments. The very first draft of the EU Constitution in 2003 contained provisions for a European Armaments, Research and Military Capabilities Agency, (later renamed the European Defence Agency). It was not surprising that such an agency would be part of the new EU Constitution, which was on track to boost the EU’s military dimension. Indeed, during the preparatory work for the Constitution by the EU Convention, 13 'expert’ witnesses were called before the Working Group on Defence including a General, military reps from the EU and member-states, two reps from the arms industry, and President of the European Defence Industries Group. The working group never asked to hear from civil society representatives.
Measures to boost EU military capabilities pre-dated the EU Constitution. Member States in 2003 promised to develop their military capabilities to an agreed state of readiness by 2010 (the so-called Headline Goal), so the EU could 'respond with rapid and decisive action ….to the whole spectrum of crisis management operations’ included in earlier EU Treaties. Under the 2004 Irish Presidency, the European Council gave its final blessings to these Goals, adding that the EU must consider pre-emptive actions and have the 'ability to conduct concurrent operations … simultaneously at different levels of engagement’. This was all underpinned by the European Security Strategy authored by EU Foreign Affairs and Security chief, Javier Solana, in 2003.
The EU Constitution would have leant a helping hand to these military improvements. When it was defeated in 2005, its military provisions were fully incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty.
Lisbon spells out the EDA’s role in ensuring that the EU is fighting fit. Not only will the Agency be responsible for supporting the defence sector and defence R&D, but it will identify operational requirements for the EU’s developing military force, assist in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and monitor the improvement of EU military capabilities. It has a special responsibility for the new Permanent Structured Cooperation provision in Lisbon, a mechanism allowing certain member states to form mini-military alliances within the EU’s structures for the EU’s 'more demanding’ missions. The EDA is to ensure that these states are fully equipped to carry out these demanding missions.
The EDA has no misapprehensions about the importance of its role. It shouldn’t have. It already exists. So eager were the EU Powers That Be to have its services, that the EDA didn’t have to wait for the Constitution’s blessings. It was up and running from July 2004, when approved by the EU Foreign Ministers. In other words, with the Constitution defeated and Lisbon knocked down by Ireland, the EDA has still not been placed into the EU Treaties. The EU’s Foreign Affairs Supremo, Javier Solana, is head of the EDA. Its steering group consists of the EU defence ministers and the EU Commission.
The self-assured Agency even produced a Long Term Vision Statement in 2006, outlining some of the tasks it sees before it: "The Headline Goal and European Security Strategy envisage a broad and significantly challenging set of potential missions. These include separation of warring factions by force, on the sort of scale that would have been required had a ground invasion of Kosovo in 1999 turned out to be necessary. They may also encompass stabilising operations in a failed state .... So the demands of today’s European Security and Defence Policy are already potentially deep and comprehensive."..."Future joint forces will need agility at the operational and tactical levels as well as the strategic. Once deployed, EU Member States’ joint forces may need to be able to operate at will within all domains and across the depth and breadth of the operational area, possessing combinations of stealth, speed, information superiority, connectivity, protection, and lethality. They may need to operate in complex terrain and inside cities."
These EU joint forces are already under development, including a 60,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force capable of intervening far beyond the EU’s borders. The French Presidency next month hopes to speed up that process. Meanwhile, the EU is already in action with a number of rapidly deployable Battlegroups, consisting of up to 2500 troops, with capabilities for high intensity operations. NATO has described the Battlegroups as "providing the EU with 'ready to go’ military capability to respond to crises around the world". Ireland has been a member of the Nordic Battlegroup since 2006.
This Vision Statement was also written with the knowledge that the EU’s military tasks had been expanded by the EU Constitution (and now Lisbon). In addition to the humanitarian, peace-keeping/peace-enforcement tasks of previous treaties, there are new provisions for joint disarmament operations, post-conflict stabilization and combating terrorism in countries outside the EU. There are also mutual defence and solidarity clauses, with the latter dealing with joint actions against terrorism, including the need to counter perceived 'threats’ as well as attacks.
Ireland: eager members of the EDAIreland joined the EDA immediately, in July 2004. There was no Dail debate and no vote. The decision was taken by the Government. Defence Minister Willie O’Dea stated the EDA was an intergovernmental agency within the framework of the EU’s European Security and Defence Policy and that membership didn’t oblige or commit Ireland to do anything other than contribute to the EDA’s budget. The fact that the EDA would be in the business of promoting armaments and boosting the arms trade didn’t seem to bother the Minister or the Irish Government.
It is within the Lisbon Treaty provisions concerning the EDA that Member States are obliged to improve their military capabilities. EDA Head Javier Solana has made it clear that there is an 'absolute requirement for us to spend more, spend better and spend more together’.
In 2008, Ireland will be making a financial contribution of €327,000 to the EDA. In addition, Ireland has, since 2007, been participating in the Joint Investment Programme on Force Protection. This has a budget of €55 million over 3 years, to which Ireland is committing €700,000. (Research areas include: Stand off detection of Chemical, Biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives; Defence options for airborne threats; Scope spotting and sniper detection: Research on new materials for force protection).
There are basic questions which must be asked about Ireland’s involvement with the EDA. Historically, Irish Governments – in keeping with popular sentiment -- have not been proponents of the arms industry. Ministers have invariably denied the existence of any indigenous Irish arms sector (despite evidence from Amnesty International and Afri to the contrary). Indeed, for over thirty years, Irish state boards promoting research and enterprise, such as Enterprise Ireland, have been bound by legislation stating they: "shall not engage in or promote any activity of a primarily military relevance without the prior approval of the Government"
The Department of Defence’s Strategy Statement, 2008—2010, extols the EDA as providing "opportunities of interest to Irish-based enterprises and researchers" and states: "We will work closely with Enterprise Ireland to exploit potential research and commercial opportunities arising".
Ireland’s relations with the developing world have prompted concerns about arms spending and the global arms trade. But the EDA is focused on increasing global competitiveness for EU arms industries, particularly in relation to the United States, a direction reinforced by the EU Commission in its 2007 "A Strategy for a Stronger and More Competitive European Defence Industry". Already, EU companies are responsible for over €80 billion a year in arms sales.
The EDA and LisbonSince the EDA already exists, one might ask: how has defeating Lisbon affected that organization? There are at least four implications.
How Ireland ever joined the EDA without parliamentary debate or approval is incomprehensible. Maybe now, post-Lisbon, questions will begin to be asked about Ireland’s involvement in this agency and about the entire EU military project.
Paper for presentation at the meeting of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Ireland’s future in the European Union - 4th November 2008
by Andy Storey: Centre for Development Studies, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin; and Action from Ireland (Afri)
Irish campaigning groups, including Afri, have long been concerned about what they see as the growing ‘militarization’ of some Irish foreign policies and actions. This trend is evident in the usage of Shannon airport as a critical staging post for the transit of US troops and supplies involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq; in the strong prima facie evidence that Irish airports have been used for the US policy of ‘extraordinary rendition’ – the kidnapping and torture of individuals accused of terrorist involvement; and in the growing foothold being established in the Irish economy by companies involved in the commercial arms trade.
While these claims provide an important context against which debates about Irish defence and security policy need to be viewed, it is Ireland’s participation in multilateral (NATO and EU) military structures and actions that is the focus of this present paper. The nature of this Irish participation is outlined with reference to both the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the EU, with case studies (especially of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Chad) used for illustrative purposes.
Download full paper (pdf file, 66KB) oireachtas-Novembe2008.pdf
A TNI briefing paper in cooperation with Campagne tegen Wapenhandel - the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade.
by Frank Slijper, November 2008.
For decades defence policy issues played an insignificant role within the European Union, the focus being almost completely on economic cooperation. But that has changed over the past decade, as political cooperation became increasingly important, including the development of the Union’s so-called second pillar of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Since the start of the new century we have witnessed Javier Solana’s – the EU High Representative for CFSP - “A Secure Europe in a Better World”, the blueprint for Europe’s security strategy, which is currently being updated. At the same time the CSDP became an important part of the texts of the original Constitutional Treaty, which was then replaced by the very similar Lisbon Treaty. Though both treaties were rejected in referenda held in France and the Netherlands in 2005, and in Ireland in 2008, the political importance within the EU context of an integrated external and internal security policy continues to grow, though probably not as fast as would otherwise have been the case.
This security and defence profile has evolved from a focus on mostly ‘soft’ tasks- policing and peace keeping - towards the creation of Battle Groups for more robust military interventions. It is characteristic of the changing security agenda in Europe, where a stronger military role is entering the European domain step by step under the veil of ‘security’, rather than using the still controversial ‘military’ label. The EU aims, by 2018, to be able to deploy 60,000 troops with air and naval support within 60 days, who could remain operational for a year, although officials admit the bar may have been set too high. Also the European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in 2004, though its real influence remains limited so far.
As we’ve seen in the previous two TNI papers on EU security and militarisation5, a warm relationship exists between industry and European Commission. The behind–closed-doors, business-dominated policy making processes only confirm what many people in Europe think about the expanding EU. Despite widespread discontent with the way Brussels operates, Eurocrats and industry take a ‘business as usual’ approach. Worse, these crucial developments go unnoticed for most people.
The same is true for military-related developments in the area of the new European space policy that have so far received hardly any public attention, while developments over the past decade have been considerable. Again, mostly under the veil of ‘security’ and intelligence sharing, the emergence of a military role for the formerly purely civilian European Space Agency (ESA) follows a path towards military use, similar to what we’ve seen with the development of repressive policy tools. While still in its infancy, EU financed communication and spy satellites are slowly becoming reality, and in the long term the inclusion of space-based missile defence and other more offensive uses of space are real options for an increasing ambitious EU military space policy.
French president Sarkozy has called the space agenda one of the top priorities during the EU presidency over the second half of 2008, as part of a broader aim to progressively frame common EU defence policy. “I very much hope that the French presidency of the European Union (…) will be the first step in a veritable relaunch of European defence for the coming years”, Sarkozy said just before taking over the presidency.
In November 2008 government ministers are scheduled to meet in the Netherlands to set multi-year programme objectives and budgets for the European Space Agency, which fulfils a key role in slowly incorporating space into Europe’s rising military ambitions.
This paper analyses the state of affairs in military space developments from a critical European perspective. Like the previous publications in this series, it aims to increase awareness of the creeping militarisation of the EU, and raise discussion among European citizens on its undesirability.
Download full paper (pdf file. 2.4MB): From Venus to Mars
Frank Slijper works at the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade (Campagne tegenWapenhandel) and has been a researcher and campaigner on arms trade issues forover fifteen years.
How the EU ignores Israel’s failure to fulfil its obligations under EU agreements Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign - Compiled by David Morrison - October 2008
ON 1 SEPTEMBER 2008, the EU decided that meetings with Russia about a newpartnership agreement would be postponed "until [Russian] troops have withdrawn tothe positions held prior to 7 August", that is, until the Russian military occupation ofGeorgia (outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, at least) had ended.
On 28 November 1995, the EU allowed Israel to become a partner, under Euro-Mediterranean Partnership arrangements with states bordering on the Mediterranean.At the time, Israeli troops were occupying parts of Lebanon and Syria and the OccupiedPalestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza) and had been for many years – Lebanonsince 1978, the rest since 1967.
Clearly, the EU has applied very different standards in its relations with Israel and Russia. Had the conditions applied to Russia in September 2008 been applied to Israel in November 1995, the EU would have refused to enter into negotiation with Israel aboutbecoming a partner until all Israeli troops had been withdrawn from Lebanon, Syria andthe Occupied Palestinian Territories.
THERE IS ANOTHER extraordinary aspect to the EU’s relations with Israel – the EU has beenhappy to sign agreements with Israel even though, at the time of signing, Israel has beencontravening obligations contained in the agreements themselves.
For example, the Barcelona Declaration, which established the Euro-MediterraneanPartnership, obliges its signatories to "respect the territorial integrity and unity of each ofthe other partners" and a series of other norms of international law.
Lebanon, Syria and Israel signed the Barcelona Declaration and became EU partners in November 1995. At that time, parts of Lebanon and Syria were under Israeli military occupation and the Golan Heights had been annexed by Israel. Clearly, Israel wasfailing to "respect the territorial integrity and unity" of its Lebanese and Syrian partners in1995, when it signed the Barcelona Declaration containing this obligation. But the EUturned a blind eye to Israel’s breach of the partnership agreement at the time it signedthe partnership agreement – and allowed it to become an EU partner.
And the EU has continued to turn a blind eye ever since and allowed Israel to remain anEU partner, even though today Syrian and Lebanese territory remains under Israeli militaryoccupation and Israeli military aircraft frequently invade Lebanese air space.
THE EU HAS ENTERED into a number of agreements with Israel, beginning with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership signed in November 1995. These agreements oblige theparties to them, including Israel, to abide by generally recognised principles ofinternational law.
It is our contention that Israel has been, and still is, guilty of contravening generallyrecognised principles of international law in a variety of ways, contrary to its obligations in agreements with the EU. We document some of these contraventions in this submission. But the EU has continuously turned a blind eye to these contraventions and, despitethem, continuously enhanced its relations with Israel, most recently, on 16 June 2008.
As we have said, under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Israel is required to "respectthe territorial integrity and unity" of its partners, which Israel has failed to do throughoutthe life of the Partnership in respect of Lebanon and Syria – since it has occupied parts oftheir territory militarily. Under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Israel is also required to"act in accordance with the United Nations Charter", which Israel has signally failed todo throughout the life of the Partnership – since it continues to contravene more UNSecurity Council resolutions than any other state in the world. The EU has turned a blindeye to these failures by Israel and been happy to maintain Israel as a partner.
THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT with Israel, under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership,commonly known as the Euro-Med Agreement, gives Israel privileged access to the EUmarket. According to Article 2 of the Agreement, "respect for human rights anddemocratic principles" is an "essential element" – not an optional element, nor adesirable element, but an essential element.
There isn’t the slightest doubt that Israel has continuously failed to live up to theseobligations, the most recent example being its economic strangulation of the people ofGaza in 2007/8, which the EU itself described as "collective punishment", contrary tointernational humanitarian law. But the EU has again turned a blind eye to abuses ofinternational humanitarian law by Israel and refused to contemplate a suspension of theAgreement until such times as Israel meets its obligations.
SINCE 1995, ISRAEL has been an EU partner in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).Here again, Israel is supposed to take steps to promote and protect the rights of the Arabminority in Israel and to move towards a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in theMiddle East. Here is the conclusion of a European Commission report on Israeli progresspublished in April 2008.
"Issues raised in the framework of the political dialogue included inter alia: the peaceprocess, the situation in the Middle East, the situation of the Arab minority in Israel,restrictions of movement in West Bank and Gaza Strip, the construction of theseparation barrier, administrative detentions, the dismantling of outposts, theenvisaged expansion of certain Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, more checkpoints.Little concrete progress has however been achieved on the issues as such."
Once again, the EU turned a blind eye to Israel’s failure to make progress and decidedon 16 June 2008 to "upgrade" its relations with Israel.
Download (pdf file): ipsc_eu_submission_2008.pdf
by Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studie
Despite the recent surge of attention to the U.S.-Iraqi negotiations over an agreement to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years into the future, the resulting agreement or lack of agreement is likely to have little actual impact on the occupation. The negotiations are being conducted by representatives of President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki - neither of whom actually want the U.S. troops to leave. (Maliki's government would not likely survive the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and Bush remains committed to permanent U.S. control of Iraq, its oil, and its strategic location for U.S. military bases). But both Bush and Maliki face political and electoral pressures to posture as if they do want a timetable for troop withdrawal. As a result, most of the negotiations seem to have focused less on substantive disagreements between the two sides, and more on finding language that disguises the reality of continued occupation and U.S. domination, with politically acceptable language extolling Iraqi sovereignty.
The negotiations are officially aimed at producing a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the U.S. occupation-backed Iraqi government that would set the terms for how U.S. and "coalition" troops would continue to occupy and wage war in Iraq. The urgency surrounding the negotiations is based on the looming expiration of the current United Nations mandate for the so-called "multi-national force" (diplo-speak for the U.S.-led occupation) on December 31, 2008. The goal is to create an agreement between Washington and Baghdad that would replace that mandate. Even the New York Times agrees that if there is no agreement in place after December 31, and the Security Council has not extended the mandate, the U.S. troops occupying Iraq would have no legal basis for their presence; legally, they would have to be pulled back to their bases and quickly withdrawn from the country.
In fact, it is quite unlikely that any new bilateral agreement, or any extension of the UN mandate, will have any real impact on the fighting. The U.S. invaded Iraq illegally; it is unlikely that they would end their occupation because of a technicality like acknowledged illegality. And those forces fighting against the U.S.-led occupation, both the resistance forces targeting the U.S. occupation alone and those extremists also committing terrorist acts against Iraqi civilians, are unlikely to stop fighting because of a new or renewed legal document; they are fighting against a hated foreign occupation, and will likely continue to do so regardless of diplomatic niceties.
It should be noted that so far the actual content of the agreement remains unclear. No version, either Arabic or English, has been released; Arabic drafts have been leaked, and informal English translations are all that are available. So - if the devil is in the details, the devil remains hidden.
Congress, Parliament and the AgreementThe agreement has not been submitted to Iraq's parliament, as its constitution requires, and has not been submitted to the Senate for ratification, as the U.S. constitution requires. In fact, on the Iraqi side, even leaders of Maliki's own party have distanced themselves from the agreement, while other political leaders, most notably Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (who called a Baghdad protest of tens of thousands over the weekend) oppose it altogether. It appears that secular, nationalist, and Sunni forces remain largely skeptical; Iran opposes the agreement. Only the main Kurdish parties, Washington's closest allies, have apparently endorsed its terms. And most Iraqis, other than Maliki's supporters, are looking to better possibilities from a new post-Bush U.S. president.
The Bush administration has similarly refused to engage Congress, claiming that the agreement is "merely" an ordinary Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), similar to agreements the U.S. has with Germany or Japan. But of course there is no war being fought by U.S. troops in those countries. In Congress, there is strong opposition to the agreement, but primarily focused on the exclusion of Congressional input and approval, rather than the substance of the terms.
However, if the agreement fails, it would mean official recognition by governments, inter-governmental institutions, and other international diplomatic entities of the illegality of the U.S. occupation. That would constitute a huge advance for global anti-war forces, including here in the U.S. So challenging the legitimacy of any new agreement is a continuing obligation.
Withdrawal of U.S. troops: a Time HorizonArticle 25 of the draft agreement describes "withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq," and the first paragraph states that "The U.S. forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territories no later than December 31st 2011." Later in the same article there are references to "combat troops" being withdrawn from Iraqi cities and regrouped in U.S. bases by June 2009, but the initial commitment to the December 31, 2011 withdrawal does not specify "combat" troops. It appears this was likely one of the demands of the Iraqi government, aware that the Iraqi parliament, let alone the population, would certainly reject the kind of partial withdrawal, of "combat troops" only, that is being defined as ending the war in U.S. electoral discourse.
But the existence of that text does not indicate a serious U.S. commitment to a timetable for full withdrawal of all troops, even by the end of 2011. Paragraph 5 of the same article explicitly authorizes the Iraqi government to request U.S. forces to remain in Iraq - for "the purposes of training and support of the Iraqi security forces." Such "support" of the U.S.-trained, U.S.-armed, and still U.S.-dependent Iraqi military could in practice mean any military action the Pentagon wants to carry out. Paragraph 5 goes on to say that "the Iraqi government might ask for an extension of paragraph 1 of this article" - an extension of the 2011 withdrawal deadline.
So the whole idea of a deadline is a politically-driven fraud. It is not coincidental that when the Bush administration appeared to give in on the once-rejected idea of a timeline, the actual description was that of a "time horizon" - very beautiful, perhaps, but you could never get there.
There are similar wiggle-word descriptions of how U.S. troops would have to get approval from the military Iraqi in a joint coordination committee for military operations. As to the detention of Iraqis, U.S. troops is required to hand over detainees to the Iraqi authorities within 24 hours - unless the detention "was based on an Iraqi decision in accordance with Iraqi law."
Immunity for U.S. Troops BasesAs to the hot-button issue of immunity vs accountability for U.S. troops committing crimes against Iraqis - immunity largely wins the day. There does seem to be a claim of Iraqi sovereign control over U.S. contractors who commit crimes against civilians - according to Article 12 "Iraq has the primary legal jurisdiction over contractors with the U.S. and their employees." We'll see how Blackwater and other mercenary companies deal with that. But as to U.S. troops, the U.S. maintains "primary legal jurisdiction over U.S. armed forces members and civilian members." Iraq's government can now brag to its people that it will have "primary legal jurisdiction over armed forces members and civilian members in cases of major and intentional crimes" that occur outside of U.S. bases and "while troops are off duty." But how convenient - U.S. troops essentially never leave their bases except for military activities, and several paragraphs later the text gives the U.S. the explicit right to determine whether the troops involved were off-duty or not.
U.S. bases also remain unchallenged. The U.S. is to submit a list of all "installations and areas used by the U.S. forces" for the purpose of "being reviewed and agreed upon by both sides" by June 30, 2009. There are references to the U.S. returning to the Iraqi government military bases "that were constructed, remodeled, or modified under this agreement," but no reference to bases that pre-date the agreement or may not be among the "installations and areas agreed upon."
The text is replete with references to Iraq's sovereignty, respect for the Iraqi constitution and laws, etc. But there is no enforcement capacity and given the unequal balance of power between the two sides, there is little doubt that those references are designed to placate Iraq's overwhelmingly anti-occupation population, and even much of the parliament.
OilThe agreement does nothing to end or even curtail U.S. efforts to control Iraqi oil. It states the U.S. will continue its current role in "protection arrangements" for Iraq's oil and gas production "and their revenue." Given Bush's signing statement two weeks ago rejecting Congress' law requiring an end to U.S. efforts to control Iraq's oil, such continuation remains very dangerous.
So what is likely to happen?It is very unlikely that the Iraqi parliament, veering between skepticism and outright rejection of the agreement, will come to accept it in the next two months. It is certainly possible that Prime Minister Maliki will simply assert, as he has before, that his government does not need parliamentary approval; but with important provincial elections looming in Iraq early in 2009, that is probably a recipe for political suicide.
In the U.S., Bush faces a similar problem. Rejecting claims that their approval is not required, Congress is beginning to react - primarily by demanding a say in the process. Some members are targeting the idea of U.S. forces ever being held accountable in the Iraqi judicial system, despite the clear reality that the text itself provides a myriad of ways to prevent such an occurrence.
There is already a move in Congress, led by Rep. Bill Delahunt, to challenge the legitimacy of the exclusion of Congress from approval of the agreement, but urging the UN Security Council to extend the UN mandate after Dec. 31 instead. This would mean repeating the common tactic of using the UN to provide political, and in this case legal cover for illegal U.S. actions - potentially even for war crimes that may be committed by U.S. troops following illegal orders. If the December 31 expiration of the UN mandate looms closer, and the U.S.-Iraq agreement is not accepted by both sides, and Bush and Maliki fail to win political support for their claim that congressional/parliamentary approval is not necessary, three possibilities are likely:
So what do we do?
Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.
Between the Nice 2 Referendum in 2002 and the Lisbon Referendum in 2008 we have seen a change in the Irish media landscape. The principal trends show:
The main trend is that newsrooms have become victim to cost pressures and objectivity has been reduced. Print, TV, and Radio have all come under financial pressure, leaving them to invest less time in getting to the heart of the story and editors more inclined to buy content from UK titles.
Download full document (pdf file 179 kb) Media_in_Ireland.pdf
by Tobias Pflüger, MEP (July 2008)
An E-Mail by a senior Irish official has been leaked to the press recently. According to this Mail, the government originally preferred to hold the referendum about the Treaty of Lisbon in the autumn of 2008: "But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French presidency - particularly related to EU defence - were just too great", the official is quoted. The French population already noticed that their president Nicolas Sarkozy is good for many bad surprises, not the least because of his dismantling of the welfare state, his approval ratings are on a historical low. Nevertheless, the French President now intends to act on the European level, too. The chances for this are good as France took over the EU-Council Presidency on the 1st of July for the next six months. Especially in the realm of the "European Security and Defence Policy" (ESDP) Sarkozy has ambitious plans.
As is well known, the preponing of the Irish referendum was in vain. On the 12th of June, the Irish population rejected the Treaty of Lisbon. With this "No", the ambitions of the European governments to transform the EU into a military union, has been reined in. But as advancing the EU's military policy is a central project of the Union's elites, they want to proceed without a new treaty, too: "We want to advance the European defence, whatever the future of the Treaty of Lisbon is" Sarkozy said to the online magazine Europolitan on the 18th of June. The French Council Presidency, Sarkozy continued, will "be the first step for the rejuvenation of the European defence in the years to come." The plans of the French Council Presidency are encompassing a significant intensification of the relationship between the European Union and NATO as well as concrete armaments projects. Furthermore, under the term "Global Europe", it intends to start a major offensive in the military and economic realm. Last but not least, the French Presidency will also try to implement the Treaty of Lisbon.
France is besides Germany the major proponent of the "keep-it-up" approach. The ratification process shall go on, regardless of the Irish referendum. Respecting the sovereign – the population – has never been a matter near to the heart of the EU-elites. Originally, it was – and still is - planned that during the French Presidency, parts of the still not ratified treaty will be realized, especially in the area of military policy. In a document, published at the beginning of June, the French Presidency still intended to "bring forward the necessary preparations in order to implement the treaty timely and smoothly and to assure that the treaty can be fully used from the time it is entering into force."
Due to the Irish population and the superb work of CAEUC (Campaign Against the EU Constitution), the French government is now forced to cope with this situation in order to get the treaty into force by one way or the other. For this purpose, various proposals are currently in the discussion – they reach from building a core Europe until throwing the Irish out of the EU. But currently, the most probable option is to let the Irish population simply vote ones again, either with some cosmetic changes or in combination with the question of weather Ireland intends to stay in the European Union. A final decision about how to proceed will be prepared until the next EU summit in October.
Ones again, the EU elites' understanding of democracy is revealing. Instead of respecting the decision of the Irish population they want to let them vote until the results seem to fit the governors of the member states, the EU Commission, the EU Council and the majority in the European Parliament. This procedure has already been practiced at the end of 2002 after the Irish "No" to the Treaty of Nice.
Arming formally correct The reason for this upholding of the Lisbon Treaty is the fact that several crucial aspects, especially in the military area, cannot be realized without the treaty. But also the intention to change the distribution of power in the EU's most relevant institution, the Council, dramatically in favour of the biggest member states depends on the treaty. Only after the treaty is ratified, the German voting count would skyrocket from currently 8,4 percent to 16,72 percent (but France would also heavily benefit).
Furthermore, currently it is forbidden to build "avant-garde-groups" in the area of military policy which can exclusively decide over policies in this area without having to consider the opinions of other states not taking part. The "Permanent Structured Cooperation" of the Lisbon Treaty will make this possible for the first time thereby annulling the consensus principle currently holding in the area of military policy. The goal of such Permanent Structured Cooperations was revealed when Sarkozy proposed to use this instrument to build a "directorate" in the area of military policy consisting of France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland. Without a new treaty such proposals simply do not have the necessary legal ground to materialize.
Additionally, the Treaty of Nice explicitly prohibits the establishment of a European military budget (in addition to the budgets of the member states). Therefore ESDP missions have to be funded via other ways – for example by using funds from the European Development Funds or by the juridicially questionable ATHENA mechanism. Hereby, the EU member states are paying into an extra budget which is not part of the European Union. In order to improve this problematic financial situation, the Lisbon Treaty intends to establish an official European military budget, called "start-up fund". That's why the French Council Presidency originally intended to integrate the ATHENA funds into the European Union in order to be able to pursue its militarization projects in a formally correct manner. Finally, the deployment of military troops within the member states will also be prohibited without a new treaty, too.
Notwithstanding these serious difficulties, the French Council Presidency faces due to the Irish referendum, it nevertheless intends to pave the way for ground-breaking novelties in the area of military policy, especially regarding the relationship between the European Union and NATO.
The French return to NATO Shortly after he took office, Sarkozy announced that France will fully re-integrate itself into NATO's military structures after being absent for more than 40 years. In 1966, then President Charles de Gaulles justified the French withdrawal with his discontent over America's domination of the alliance. Since then, the French military policy aimed to strengthen autonomous European capacities and thereby implicitly and sometimes explicitly tried to weaken the United States and NATO.
In this context, a paradigm shift seems to be in the making: "France had long championed the EU over NATO but President Nicolas Sarkozy changed that. He has ordered his diplomats to stop obstructing NATO’s work and offered to return France to NATO’s military structures." During its Council Presidency, France intends to fully return into NATO's Defence Committee (whether it will also return to the Nuclear Planning Group is unclear, yet). Sarkozy sees this as an important confidence-building measure vis-à-vis the United States which is necessary in order to bring the EU and NATO closer together. This goal is one of the main projects of the French Council Presidency: "Strengthening EU/NATO cooperation, including increasing transparency, will be a priority, both at the strategic and tactical levels. [...] Generally, the transatlantic relations will be intensified regarding political, economic and military questions." Whether France's NATO rapprochement will cause an institutional reorganization of the alliance is not decided, yet. For this purpose a far-reaching proposal has been put forward recently which could change the relationship between the European Union and NATO dramatically.
Not surprisingly, these considerations are made in a time, when NATO is in one of its most difficult phases in its history. The missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan are underscoring that the alliance has transformed itself into a globally acting organization not only waging war around the globe but also engaging into quasi colonial occupations. In light of the bloody escalation in Afghanistan und NATO's huge difficulties to "pacify" this country, the alliance is working on concepts in order to improve their capacities for such occupations. As soldiers are not well suited for the administration of quasi colonies like Afghanistan, more civil capacities (jurists, engineers, humanitarian workers, etc.) are necessary which shall help the military in its mission. Thereby, civil capacities are de facto subordinated under the military. This Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC), called by NATO the "comprehensive approach", shall be massively expanded in the years to come.
But concerning the civil capacities, neither the United States nor NATO have enough capacities. As France also wants to be rewarded for its full return into NATO's military structures with important posts, the "Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik" a German think tank with very close ties to the government, recently made the following proposal: "France [should] use its EU Presidency for a masterstroke: connecting NATO and the EU by creating an operational civil-military EU planning and conduct capability closely linked to NATO's capacities at SHAPE. […] This would lead to a situation where the EU and NATO were closely connected. [U]under the motto of 'Berlin Plus Reversed' NATO could be granted the opportunity to draw on the EU's civilian capacities." While the Berlin Plus Agreement of March 2003 assures that NATO's military capacities can be used for EU missions, the new arrangement shall go the other way round by providing "civilian" EU occupiers for NATO missions.
Major neoliberal offensive With the Lisbon strategy issued in 2000, the European Union formulated the ambitious goal to be the world's premium economic power in the year 2010. For this purpose, the neoliberal remodelling within the member states has been forced. In Germany, for example, this resulted in the "Agenda 2010" and the accompanying dismantling of the welfare state.
But it was soon realized that this high-flying goal also requires the aggressive opening of new markets all over the world. Therefore the EU-Commission began under the title "Global Europe" to work on an external dimension of the Lisbon strategy. The result has been published in October 2007 under the title "The European Interest: Succeeding in the age of globalisation". The paper intends to provide the backbone for a European approach to globalisation." In fact, European economic interests have scarcely been expressed in a similar and more aggressive way: "Externally, the EU is prospering from its openness to the rest of the world – in economic terms, but also in terms of cultural and knowledge exchange, and in terms of the recognition given to European values worldwide. As the world's largest exporter of goods and services and its largest importer of goods, the largest importer of energy, the second largest source and the second largest destination of foreign direct investment, the EU is a major beneficiary of an open world economic system. […] It has an obvious stake in defining the rules of global governance in a way that reflects its interests and values. […] Whilst the EU needs to protect its citizens, its interests and its values, protectionism cannot be the solution. As the world's leading trader and investor, our openness allows lower cost inputs for industry, lower prices for consumers, a competitive stimulus for business, and new investment. At the same time, it is important for the EU to use its influence in international negotiations to seek openness from others: the political case for openness can only be sustained if others reciprocate in a positive manner. The EU needs to ensure that third countries offer proportionate levels of openness to EU exporters and investors and to have ground rules which do not impinge on our capacity to protect our interests." The egalitarian terms like "openness" or "equal opportunities" are masquerading naked economic interests as free trade always benefits the stronger actor. So the Commission in fact argues like someone who would claim a car race between a bus and a Ferrari would be fair only because both are using the same road.
Nevertheless, the French Presidency regards the Global Europe approach as the blueprint for its foreign economic policy. It intends to "work on the implementation of the Commission Communication on Global Europe [and to] renew the EU's commitment to Global Europe by asking the Commission for an up-date as a formal and integral part of the Lisbon Strategy." In April 2008, the French government already published a document called "Euroworld 2015". Its core element is also to complement the Lisbon strategy with an aggressive external dimension, a step it regards as ground-breaking: "In effect, the weight given to the external dimension is not insignificant: it signals the fact that European unification is entering a new phase in its history, centred no longer on Europe itself but on its relationship with the rest of the world. This new phase represents a genuine paradigm shift, the implications of which we have attempted to explore. It is now up to the French EU presidency to start carrying through this new strategic vision."
With this strategy, the further impoverishment of the so called Third World is knowingly accepted and even forced. The results are catastrophic; no wonder that the military "pacification" of hunger revolts is growing in importance in military circles. French Defence Minister Hervé Morin hit the nail on the head when he said: "Our military tools have to adapt to globalisation and the new threats."
Expanding the European Army When the new French military White Book was published in June , Sarkozy announced at the same time his intention to heavily expand the European army. In the future, up to 60.000 soldiers should be deployable in the field. Although this army has already been decided in 1999 and declared operational four years later, it mainly existed on paper. The French government also wants to improve the maritime and air support for this army, capacities which had also demanded by the Kuhne-report of the European Parliament. 
French secretary of state for European affairs, Jean Pierre Jouyet even envisions "concrete goals" for the next ten years. "He named among others a common air and sea combat troop and a commonly used transport fleet consisting of Airbus A400M." Furthermore, currently the maneuver MILX 09 is being prepared which will be held in the year 2009. In this exercise, the deployment of a maritime component will be trained for the first time without recourse to NATO assets. This also fits in neatly. Notwithstanding his rapprochement towards NATO, Sarkozy always emphasised that he also wants to strengthen the EU's autonomous military structures. Therefore he advocates expanding the existing planning cell for military operations into a full European headquarter. Furthermore, the French military White Book wants to double the funds for the country's military space assets up to 700 million euro per year. This is fully in line with the Wogau-report of the European Parliament on the "contribution of space assets to ESDP" who also pleads for a massive budget increase on the European level.
A further priority of the French Council Presidency is the adoption of a directive prepared by the Commission formally aimed at the "harmonization" of the European armaments sector. In reality, the directive will de facto end export controls for armaments sales within the European Union. As the directive has virtually no control mechanisms whether those arms will be re-exported outside the European Union, this offers the possibility to undermine national export controls and to foster arms trade with problematic conflict ridden regions.
A final but very important point that shall be tackled during the French Council Presidency will be the update of the European Security Strategy from December 2003 which is scheduled for the end of this year. Especially energy security and climate change shall be given a higher priority in the updated version. In April, Javier Solana already published a European climate change strategy which advocated increasing Europe's crises management capacities in order to (militarily) cope with the consequences of climate change.
Thanks to the Irish population, the militarization of the European Union is temporarily slowed down. Although the European elites are currently massively trying to get the Lisbon Treaty passed one way or the other, the Irish example shows that opposition against the undemocratic, neoliberal and militaristic policies of the European Union is not only necessary but that it can also be successful.
Tobias Pflüger ist member of European Parliament for DIE LINKE in the GUE/NGL-Group and member of the board of the Information Center Militarization (IMI).
 Irish Memo in Full, URL: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/irish-memo-in-full.html
 Entwurf des Achtzehnmonatsprogramms des Rates, Brüssel, den 9. Juni 2008.
 Howorth, Jolyon: The Future of European Security, EXPO/B/SEDE/2008/16, March 2008.
 Valasek, Thomas: France, NATO and European Defence, CER Policy Brief, May 2008, p. 1.
 Entwurf des Achtzehnmonatsprogramms des Rates, Brüssel, den 9. Juni 2008, S. 78, 85.
 Kempin, Ronja: Could France Bring NATO and the EU Closer Together? SWP Comments 2008/C11, Mai 2008.
 EU-Commission: The European Interest: Succeeding in the age of globalisation, COM(2007) 581 final, Brussels, 3.10.2007.
 Entwurf des Achtzehnmonatsprogramms des Rates, S. 25.
 République Francaise: Euroworld 2015: A European Strategy for Globalisation, 15.4.08.
 Frankreich verkleinert Armee, Tagesspiegel, 16.6.08.
 An English version of the French White Book can be found at http://tinyurl.com/528j9y
 Kuhne, Helmut: Entwurf eines Berichts über die Umsetzung der Europäischen Sicherheitsstrategie und der ESVP (2008/2003(INI)), 31.1.2008.
 Frankreich verkleinert Armee, Tagesspiegel, 16.6.08.
 DRAFT REPORT on the contribution of space-supported systems to ESDP (2008/2030(INI)), Rapporteur: Karl von Wogau.
 Commission of the European Communities, Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community, Brussels, COM(2007) 765 final.
 Climate Change and International Security, Paper from the High Representative and the European Commission to the European Council, S113/08, 14.03.2008, URL: http://tinyurl.com/6s3qe3
by Anthony Coughlan, SecretaryThe National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
There will be a UK general election in the next 18 months which will return a Conservative Government that is committed to holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Britain and Northern Ireland and recomending a No vote to it so long as the Republic's voters have not reversed their rejection of Lisbon in the meantime, which would enable that Treaty to come into force for all 27 EU States before that election.
This change of government in Britain will enable our fellow countrymen in Northern Ireland, as well as the British people, to give their view on the undemocratic Federal EU Constitution which Lisbon embodies, so that they can reject it as French, Dutch and Irish voters have already done.
As William Hague, Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary, wrote in the Irish Times on 27 July: "If Lisbon remains unratified by all EU members, a Conservative government will put Britain's ratification of the treaty on ice and hold a referendum, recommending a No vote to a document that we believe represents an outdated centralising approach to the EU. So the chances are growing that Ireland' voters will not be alone in saying No to Lisbon for long." (See full article below)
Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen should now tell his EU partners that he thinks the wisest course in relation to Lisbon is to wait until the British people and the people of Northern Ireland can have their say on this profoundly important treaty.
He should resist the bullying of France's President Sarkozy, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President Barroso, who wish to force the Irish people to hold a Lisbon Two referendum on what legally would be exactly the same Treaty so as to reverse their No vote of last June.
Lisbon cannot come into force without Ireland. Sarkozy, Merkel and Barroso want to reverse the Irish people's No vote even though the French and Dutch Governments respected the decision of their voters when they rejected the EU Constitution in 2005. They did not put the same Treaty to their peoples again.
By failing to tell his EU partners that Ireland could not ratify Lisbon after its June's No referendum, Taoiseach Brian Cowen encouraged them to continue with their ratifications. They now seek his connivance in imposing a Federal Constitution on Europe and turning 500 million Europeans into real citizens of a Federal EU without permitting them any say on such a constitutional revolution by means of referendums.
Article 6 of the Irish Constitution states that it is the right of the people "in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy". The Irish people have decided to reject Lisbon. Respecting that decision, which the Taoiseach says he does, means not attempting to overturn it. Any attempt to put the same Lisbon Treaty to the Irish people again would almost certainly be in breach of the Irish Constitution and should be challenged in the Courts.
It is outrageous of British Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown to have junked the commitment of Tony Blair to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution in the UK, when this was a Labour Party Manifesto commitment in the last general election. Gordon Brown's government has acted profoundly undemocratically in refusing the British people their say in this matter.
Just as Charles Stewart Parnell in the late 19th century urged the people of Ireland and Britain to support now the Liberals, now the Tories, in order to advance Ireland's interests, Irish democrats, nationalists and republicans, as well as all consistent British democrats, should now look to the British Labour Government being ejected from office at the earliest possible opportunity, so that Labour can rediscover its soul in opposition and enable the British people have their say on Lisbon just as Irish voters have done.
The practical alternative to the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution is to go back to the 2003 Laeken Declaration on a more democratic, more transparent and less centralised EU, whose laws would be made in proper democratic fashion by people who are elected directly to make them, and not by bureaucrats, judges and bankers.
What is now needed after Ireland's No is not a "period of reflection", as after the rejection of the 2004 Constitutional Treaty, but a "period of consultation" with the citizens of the Member States on what kind of EU people really want, as the Laeken Declaration envisaged.
The Laeken Convention from which Lisbon came was hijacked from the start by the Eurofederalists, out to give the EU the constitutional form of a Federation. This the peoples of the EU Member States emphatically do not want, although many of their political elites do want it because it gives them more power personally at their expense of their own peoples.
The Irish people did the EU a good turn by voting No on 12 June last. Lisbon and the EU Constutution which it embodies has now been rejected in France, Holland and Ireland because it is a thoroughly bad treaty - bad for these countries and bad for the EU.
Recall some of the bad things which Lisbon proposes to do:
1. Lisbon would abolish the European Community which we have been members of since 1973 (Art.1 TEU) and would replace the existing EU with a legally new Union in the constitutional form of a supranational EU Federation with its own legal personality distinct from its Member States. Instead of being sovereign States in the international community, Lisbon would reduce Ireland and the other Member States to the constitutional status of provincial states in a Federation, like Virginia inside the Federal USA or Bavaria inside Federal Germany. The laws of this new European Union would thereafter have primacy over national Constitutions and laws (Arts.1 and 47 TEU; Declaration No.17 concerning Primacy).
2. It would make us all real citizens of this new EU Federation, owing our prime obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority over and above our citizens' duty to our national Constitution and laws in any case of conflict between the two.
One can only be a citizen of a State and all States must have citizens. Instead of EU citizenship being "complementary" to national citizenship and essentially notional and symbolical(Art.17 TEC), Lisbon would make EU citizenship "additional to" national citizenship (Art.9 TEU). This would give us all a real dual citizenship, not of two different States but of the Federal and provincial levels of one State, as in the USA or German federations.
One example of this change: If Lisbon came into force MEPs, who at present are "representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community"(Art.189 TEC), would become "representatives of the Union's citizens", just as in any State (Art.14.2 TEU).
3. It would be a power-grab by the Big States, with EU law-making in the Council of Ministers based henceforth primarily on population size as in any unified State, thus greatly increasing the power of the Big EU Members with large populations and reducing the voting weight of Ireland and the other smaller states. Germany's voting weight in making EU laws would double as a result, while Ireland's would halve (Art.16 TEU).
4. It would remove the right of EU Member States to decide who their national Commissioner would be in the ten years out of every 15 when they would have a Commissioner under Lisbon. It would do this by replacing each Member State's present right to "propose" a Commissioner - and to insist if need be on its proposal being accepted as a condition for it accepting the proposals of others - by the right to make "suggestions" only for the incoming Commission President to decide. Who the Commission President is would be decided mainly by the votes of the Big States (Art.17.7 TEU).
5. It would give the EU Court the power to decide our fundamental rights as EU citizens, rights which the EU and its Member States would then have to enforce over and above our rights as Irish citizens in any case of conflict between the two (Art.6 TEU and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
6. It would weaken National Parliaments further by abolishing 68 national vetoes and would give the EU power to make European laws binding on us in some 30 new policy areas, such as crime, justice and policing, public services, immigration, energy, transport, tourism, sport, culture, public health and the EU budget.
7. It would give the EU the power to raise its own taxes and impose any tax, including income tax or sales tax, by consensus amongst the governments, without the need for further new treaties or referendums (Art.311 TFEU).
8. It would empower the EU Court of Justice to order the harmonization of indirect taxes amongst the EU countries if the Court judged that failure to do so constituted a "distortion of competition" (Art.113 TFEU).
9. It would militarize the EU further, requiring Member States "progressively to improve their military capablities" (Art.42.3 TEU ) and it contains what Commission President Barroso has termed "a mutual defence clause", requiring Member States to go to the assistance of other Member States in the event of war (Art.42.7 TEU).
10. It would subvert workers' rights by copperfastening the recent Laval, Rüffert and Luxembourg judgements of the EU Court of Justice, which were delivered after Lisbon was signed and which subordinate employee wage bargaining to the EU's internal market rules.
11. It would be a self-amending Treaty which would permit EU law-making to be shifted from unanimity to majority voting without the need for new Treaties or referendums (Art.48 TEU).
12. It would reintroduce the death penalty "in time of war or of imminent threat of war" for the European Army it envisages by providing for the post-Lisbon EU acceding as a corporate entity to Protocol 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights which permits use of the death penalty on these occasions, instead of to Protocol 13, which bans the death penalty in all circumstances and which most EU Member States have acceded to (Explanation attached to Art.2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights). This item is in a footnote of a footnote in the Lisbon Treaty and has caused much controversy in Germany and Austria, although most people in Ireland and Britain have never heard of it.
13. It would make National Parliaments formally subordinate to the post-Lisbon EU. Far from increasing the power of National Parliaments, as pro-Lisbon spokesmen untruthfully assert, Lisbon underlines their implicitly subordinate role in the institutional structure of the post-Lisbon Union by providing that "National Parliaments contribute to the good functioning of the union" by various means set out in Article 12 TEU. Under Lisbon National Parliaments must be informed of and may scrutinise draft EU legislative acts, but while the Commission is required to review the legislation if one-third of National Parliaments object, the Commission can then decide to continue with its legislation unamended, with its decision confirmed by the normal Council of Ministers QMV procedure (Protocol on Subsidiarity and Proportionality, Art. 7.2). In no sense is this giving "more control" to National Parliaments, as pro-Lisbon spokesmen continually assert.
14. It would create a political government of the new Union by turning the regular summit meetings of EU Prime Ministers and Presidents, known as the European Council, into a formal legal instititution of the Union for the first time (Art.13 TEU). This would mean that its acts and failures to act would become subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice (Arts 263-5 TFEU). This would also mean that individual Prime Ministers and Presidents would be constitutionally obliged henceforth to represent the Union to their Member States as well as their Member States to the Union, with the former function having legal priority in any case of conflict between the two.
A Note on all EU Member States keeping their Commissioners under NiceThe Lisbon Treaty's provision that Member States would lose their present right to decide who their national Commissioner would be (Art.17.7 TEU) makes the retention of one Commissioner per Member State instead of their reduction by one-third from 2014 (Art.17.5 TEU) of little value anyway, should this be agreed next December as expected.
A declaration by the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents that if Lisbon is ratified by all Member State including Ireland the European Council will exercise its discretion in 2014 to have one Commissioner for every Member State might have some political but no legal value, for it would not be part of the Treaty. It could only be relied on until such time as no one was paying attention anymore post-Lisbon, when the European Council could use its discretion to cut the number of Commissioners or - perhaps more likely - introduce permanent senior and junior ones.
The Nice Treaty's Protocol on EU Enlargement (Art.4.2) requires the number of EU Commissioners to be less than the number of Member States from 2009, although by an unspecified number to be agreed unanimously. If the European Council is now prepared to accept that the number of Commissioners should continue to be equal to the number of Member States, it would be perfectly possible for it to agree to an amendment to the Nice Treaty to repeal the present Article 4.2, get that approved by the EU Parliament and then ratified by all the Member States. This would not need a referendum in Ireland to approve it. Art.4.2 of Nice's Protocol on EU Enlargement could also be legally implemented by the Member States agreeing that from 2009 that there would be 26 Commissioners instead of 27 and that each country would lose its Commissioner in alphabetical order every five years, beginning with Belgium. This would mean that Member States would only lose their Commissioner every 135 years (five times 27) and Ireland's turn would not come for 30 years. Former Irish Attorney General David Byrne referred to this as another legal possibility when he was Irish Commissioner during the 2001 and 2002 Nice Treaty referendums.
In practical reality the EU Prime Ministers and Presidents can agree unanimously to keep all 27 Commissioners if they are so inclined, as a political necessity, and it is hard to see anyone objecting or being able to enforce legally a contrary position.
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9, IrelandTel. 00-353-1-8305792Web-site: www.nationalplatform.org
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Irish Times article by British Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague ... Saturday 26 July 2008:
NO OUTSIDER HAS ANY RIGHT TO TELL THE IRISH HOW TO HANDLE LISBONWilliam Hague
The result of the Irish people's verdict on the Lisbon Treaty is still reverberating across Europe - and how could it not? With people in every other European country denied any direct say on the treaty, Irish voters had to speak for every European.
The hope that they would give voice to concerns held across the Continent was felt acutely on the other side of the Irish Sea, where in a breach of an election manifesto promise, the Labour government has denied British voters any say on the Lisbon Treaty at all, either in a referendum or at a general election.
The Irish people not only spoke for those who were not given a voice; they also spoke with courage. It was no surprise to Ireland's well-wishers that threats that Ireland would suffer should the"wrong" answer be given were counterproductive, but it is shocking that in today's Europe senior figures in European governments should seek to influence another nation's democratic decision with bullying language.
It is now incumbent on politicians across Europe to appreciate the meaning of Ireland's vote and to absorb its lessons. The Irish public has, if anything, been inundated with commentary from those outside Ireland who were unhappy at the result. Now that Irish voters have made their choice, it may also be useful if if those outside Ireland who thought the Irish people came to the right decision were to set out their understanding of what has happened and made some suggestions for what Europe should do next. This is one attempt to do that.
First, it is clear that Ireland's No was not a No to Europe, any more than the French and Dutch rejections were; it was a pro-European No. There is no evidence that this vote represented a rejection of the EU or its ideals: a continent united in peace and co-operation.
Second, it has been claimed that the No was simply the result of an inexpert public's inability to see throrugh the treaty's complex legal language to the shining merits of its content.
That so many among Europe's poltical elites' first response has been to dismiss the referendum result as an outrage from a country supposedly ungrateful to its Brussels benefactors and whose voters' decision must shortly be reversed is deeply troubling. It is an extremely patronising view.
Nor does it strike me as a healthy democratic reaction. When voters reject a cherished proposal it is wiser for politicians to ask, not "why have the people got it so wrong", but "how have we got it wrong". If the argument is that treaties are too complicated for voters - in other words that referendums on EU treaties are only justified if the voters say Yes - one might as well argue against elections on the grounds that most voters aren't experts on tax law or the finer points of education policy.
Neither is blaming Lisbon's failure on popular incomprehension a strong point for the treaty's supporters. How good can a treaty be if, after months of national debate, its merits cannot be comprehensibly explained? Would any of us in our normal lives sign up to a document we did not nderstand?
Third, it is apparent that a vast number of people in Ireland, as in many other European countries, do not want the extension of EU power and the weakening of individual countries' voices in Europe, like that of Ireland.
Lisbon would mean exactly that, whether it is the bigger role for the EU in defence, including a mutual defence commitment, its new powers over foreign policy or Ireland's smaller voting share and loss of a guaranteed EU commissioner. On that point it is worth noting that the current treaties require unanimous agreement for any new arrangement on the number of EU commissioners. So talk of Ireland automatically losing a commissioner unless Lisbon goes through is wildly misplaced.
It is equally true that the majority of Irish voters are not alone in rejecting a more federal future for Europe. In Lisbon's earlier guise as the EU constitution it was rejected by the French and Dutch. Polls showed that voters in up to 16 EU member states would have rejected Lisbon had they been given the chance to vote.
This leaves us with the question: what next?
Of course, the straight and simple answer is that No means just that. The EU is a union of democratic sovereign nation states and if the electorate of one EU country rejects a treaty then that should be that. It is a matter for the Irish government whether the Irish people are asked to vote again, and it is a matter for the Irish people what their response to such a move should be. No outsider has any right to tell the Irish how to handle the matter. That being the case, there must be no question of any punishment of Ireland.
Moroever, the rejection of Lisbon does not actually present any real problem for the EU. Contrary to all the froth about an enlarged Europe's desperate need for the EU constitution/Lisbon Treaty to work efficiently, the quiet truth is that the EU is in fact working perfectly well under the current treaties.
Meanwhile, it is looking increasingly likely that at the next British general election, now less than two years away, the British people will choose a new government. If Lisbon remains unratfiied by all EU members states, a Conservative government will put Britain's ratification of the treaty on ice and hold a referendum, recommending a No vote to a document we believe represents an outdated centralising approach to the EU. So the chances are growing that Ireland's voters will not be alone in saying No to Lisbon for long.
William Hague is a former British cabinet minister, who later led the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001. He is currently Shadow Foreign Secretary.
ANDREW MURRAY looks behind the headlines to discover the root causes of the ongoing crisis in Georgia.
THE conflict now unfolding across Georgia with terrible human consequences is a tipping point in the global "long war" of the last seven years.
Make no mistake, it is a conflict which can only be understood in the context of the same war already causing carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and menacing Iran.
That is to say, it is a further conflict which has its ultimate cause in the ambitions of the US ruling elite to impose a global hegemony.
It differs from the other fronts in the war in that the aspect of inter-imperialist conflict is the main determining factor in the Georgian crisis.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have borne the stamp of wars of neocolonial aggression. The question of the sovereignty of the people resisting invasion and occupation is the main one, whatever other cross-currents there may be.
Of course, there have been differences between great powers over Iraq, as there were over the Yugoslav war of 1999. But these differences have remained at the diplomatic level.
In the Georgian crisis, this balance is reversed. National independence is an issue, but not in the same way.
The peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two disputed regions, do not wish to be ruled from Tbilisi, but the idea of full national independence has not been raised and is, particularly in the former case, scarcely practical.
Georgia will, on the other hand, claim to be asserting its national independence from Russia. Yet it is led by a government which has fully dissolved the country's independence into an alliance with the US, turning it into the explicit and avowed instrument of George Bush's global policy.
And it surely had the green light from Washington before embarking on its sudden effort to conquer South Ossetia by force last week, sparking the crisis by shelling civilians whom it regards as its own citizens and Russian peacekeepers into the bargain.
Thus, the confrontation between South Ossetia and Georgia became immediately a confrontation between Russia and the US. "Russia's aggression must not go unanswered," Dick Cheney announced on Monday.
Pausing perhaps from trying to figure out how he can yet get his war with Iran going before leaving office, the US vice-president has returned to the original Project for a New American Century handbook in his response to the crisis.
It has been an explicit aim of the neoconservative faction in the US establishment to prevent any reintegration of the "former Soviet space." The sole superpower aims to stay the sole superpower, which means, among other things, stopping Russia reviving as a rival superpower.
Therefore, those peoples who, like the South Ossetians, have found themselves stranded on the wrong side of what became interstate boundaries overnight with the collapse of the Soviet Union cannot be permitted to reintegrate with Russia even if it is their overwhelming desire to do so.
Conventional wisdom will put the conflict down to "enduringÉ territorial and ethnic hatreds," in the Sunday Telegraph's words, or "historic grudges," in those of The Observer. These are convenient liberal bromides - the real enduring tradition here is great-power rivalry.
In fact, Ossetians and Georgians rubbed along all right in Soviet times, at least in part because neither was in a position to lord it over the other.
South Ossetians could form part of Soviet Georgia while their kin on the other side of the barrier of the Caucasus mountains in North Ossetia could be a constituent element of Soviet Russia because they were all, ultimately, Soviet. And people of all the various nationalities of Georgia intermingled with little friction.
That was before the break-up of the Soviet Union and Georgia attaining first its independence and, more recently, the status of fully fledged US satellite.
The latter development suits not just neoconservative strategy - to avoid the consolidation of any rival power centre by keeping the world a patchwork of diminutive states wherever possible - but also helps Cheney's energy policy.
Georgia sits astride the only pipeline sending oil westward from the Caspian Basin that does not pass through Russian territory. For that reason, Bush has showered special attention on Georgia's government which, like all its post-1991 predecessors, came to office via a coup rather than election.
Despite this and the suppression of opposition political activities last November, the Tbilisi government has been hailed as a "pro-Western democracy," as if the two aspects were inextricable. It is, of course, the "pro-Western" element which is decisive for Washington if one or the other has to be discarded.
Hence President Saakashvilli announcing that the Russian attack on his country was an "attack on the US itself" and one of his spokesmen asserting that, if Russians are allowed into South Ossetia today, they could turn up in any European capital tomorrow.
In seeking to spread the conflict, Cheney has material to work on. The statement by the Ukrainian government, most likely after consultation with the White House, that it would drive the Russian navy out of its historic Crimean base in Sevastopol would certainly provoke a clash if an attempt was made to act on it.
The "pro-Western" Ukrainian government is only able to utter this threat in the first place because the Crimea was moved to Soviet Ukraine from Soviet Russia somewhat arbitrarily by Khrushchov in the 1950s.
This mattered little at the time, but it has become a running sore since 1991, as the population would rather be in Russia again. Indeed, they turned out in vast numbers to protest at a visiting US military "training mission" last year.
There is also a very substantial minority of ethnic Russians in the Ukraine who would probably welcome closer ties with the Russian Federation.
These potential flashpoints highlight the fact that, in many cases, the formerly internal borders between Soviet republics do not work as interstate boundaries. They are a consequence of the indecent haste with which Boris Yeltsin and his cronies liquidated the Soviet Union the better to get their hands on the levers of power in Russia.
Not only are there national minorities, often Russian, now in the "wrong" state, there are also peoples who, having neither the means nor even the aspiration to set up fully fledged nation states of their own, felt much more at ease in a large multinational federation than they do in a smaller nation state dominated by a single national group.
Since one of the undoubted successes of the nationalities policy of the Soviet Union was its promotion of the cultural, linguistic and educational development of each ethnic group, no matter how small or how historically marginalised it had been, all now have both an enhanced awareness of their distinctive rights and the means of articulating them.
This could all be resolved peacefully were the US not hell-bent on using every difficulty and difference as a lever to keep its putative Russian rival weak and "in its box."
This is a recipe for an unending series of escalating conflicts as Russia strengthens itself and seeks to reassert its role - sometimes, no doubt, with right on its side and sometimes not.
Ultimately, the matter of principle is reasonably clear. Ossetians and Abkhazians do not want to be governed from Tbilisi, just as Georgians do not want to be governed from Moscow. Let each define their own future, within or outside the Russian Federation, free from coercion.
But there is absolutely no positive part to be played by a duplicitous and power-hungry US administration stoking up trouble in yet another part of the world.
The anti-war movement has long warned that the conflicts in the Middle East and south Asia, dreadful as they have been and are, would most likely only be the foothills of a still bigger war unless the US drive to world hegemony was decisively challenged.
We are now out of the foothills and progressing towards a situation that more unmistakably bears comparison with 1914. More than ever, the need for Britain to break with Cheney's foreign policy and challenge the slide to ever-widening war is the main imperative.
New poll finds Irish voters are strongly against a second referendum and would vote 'NO' by an even bigger margin than before if one were held.
A new Red C poll commissioned by the think tank Open Europe finds that Irish voters are strongly opposed to being made to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. The poll also finds that nearly two thirds say they would vote 'no' in a second referendum.
The poll of 1,000 Irish voters was carried out between 21 and 23 July - shortly after Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to the country. It is the first poll to look at a second referendum.
Full results of the poll are available (.pdf file) at: www.openeurope.org.uk/research/redc.pdf
Open Europe Director Neil O¹Brien said: 'Voters don't feel that Europe's political class have respected Ireland's decision. Their response to the referendum result has obviously appeared arrogant to some voters. By appearing to bully the voters, EU politicians are actually driving lots more people into the no camp.'
'EU leaders who are trying to force Ireland to vote again are playing a very dangerous game, and it looks like Brian Cowen could be putting his political life on the line by calling a second vote.'
'Sadly, Europe's political leaders don't seem to have taken on board the Irish vote - or the French and Dutch votes for that matter. They should drop the Treaty and concentrate on solving the EU's real problems like the lack of openness and accountability.'
Leading pollsters Red C surveyed 1,006 adults aged18+ in Ireland between 21 and 23 July 2008.
ON JUNE 9th, days before the Irish people voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published its compendium on military spending. Its main findings show that world military spending in 2007 was $1,339 billion, arms sales by the largest 100 arms companies in 2006 increased by 8 per cent in nominal terms over 2005 and many arms control and non-proliferation agreements are faltering or making little progress. The No vote by the Irish people was a major victory not just for the Irish peace movement, including Pana, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, but also for the European and international peace movement.
The reason is that the issues of Irish independence, the militarisation of the EU and the commitment to Irish neutrality were central to the No vote.
The Irish Times /TSN mrbi polls carried out in the week before the vote where responses were unprompted and respondents were allowed to give more than one answer, showed safeguarding Irish neutrality (between 22 to 25 per cent) and keeping Ireland's power and identity ( between 18 to 24 per cent) were the main reasons for the result.
The alliance had campaigned for Irish independence, democracy and neutrality, which show that our case for a No vote was central to this great victory of the Irish people.
This is especially so as other organisations that campaigned for a No vote, such as Libertas, never mentioned neutrality and their main issue, that of safeguarding Ireland's corporate tax, was given as a reason by only 5-12 per cent. Now Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president and the current president of the European Council, is paying us a visit seven days after celebrating the anniversary of the French Revolution. Since Wolfe Tone, who wrote a pamphlet in favour of Irish neutrality in 1790 is one of our heroes, it would be reasonable to suggest the alliance and Sarkozy are inspired by the same events.
However, the revolution gave birth not just to the traditions of liberty, equality and fraternity, but also to Napoleonic imperialism. There are no prizes for guessing which tradition Sarkozy belongs to.
Indeed, in a leaked diplomatic memo, a senior Irish civil servant. concerned about Sarkozy, said that he did not want the referendum to take place while France held the EU presidency.
As he continues to attack the French social model, his popularity with the French people has declined, probably mirroring his growing popularity among the Yes campaigners in Ireland, the vast majority of whom are enthusiastic supporters of his militaristic, neo-liberal agenda.
He seeks to massively accelerate the process of the militarisation of the EU and to establish a 60,000-strong EU army; to improve the maritime and air support for this army; expand the existing EU planning cell into a full EU military headquarters, double the funds for France's military space assets up to €700 million a year and give a priority via the European War (Defence) Agency to seek the "harmonisation" of the European armaments companies and review the European security and defence policy that already commits the EU states to pre-emptive war in accordance with the Bush doctrine.
Not content with accelerating the militarisation of the EU, Sarkozy also wants to integrate France into the Nato military structures and to intensify the links between the nuclear armed military alliance and EU military structures.
All this drive towards war and more wars is happening at a time when Nato, EU and US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are under pressure, the wars are spreading into Pakistan and yet another war is threatening to start in Iran. At the same time, the growing cost of all these wars is causing the possible collapse of the western neo-liberal capitalist system.
Faced with this, the Irish people, far from being "out of our minds" in rejecting this horrific vista, have shown to the world a rare glimpse of sanity and reality by voting No to Sarkozy and his treaty. The irony is that it is the global peace movement and the alliance that are the realists. It is our message of inclusive dialogue, negotiations and social justice that will provide the means by which global stability and sustainable growth can be restored.
It is war and the threat of war that is creating the economic crisis: "disaster capitalism" as Naomi Klein calls it. The Irish No vote was a tremendous decision that echoes the historic vote 90 years ago when the Irish people's vote in favour of the Irish Republic marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire. Far from examining why people voted No, the Irish media's time would be better spent asking why people voted Yes.
Let there be no doubt whatsoever, if the Irish people are forced to vote again over this imperialist charter, the No vote will reach 64 per cent. A real Irish taoiseach, a republican taoiseach, would tell Sarkozy that on July 21st.
Roger Cole is chairman of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance
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St Patrick’s Day Message ‘End the Sanctions’