Any change in neutrality must be carefully considered

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the conversation about security in Europe. The lesson is this: killing people has never been easier; The more efficient the process becomes, the more difficult it is to restore peace.

The confidence of a continent that has basked in peace since the Second World War no longer holds.

When borders are no longer sacrosanct and illegal invasions are tolerated, our rule-based order can no longer be taken for granted.

Since the Trump presidency, the US has retreated from its dominant role as world policeman. Its attention is more on China, so Europe can be expected to mind its own backyard. The ease with which Sweden and Finland joined NATO speaks to the new threat levels.

Given Vladimir Putin’s criminally irresponsible behavior and the carnage in Ukraine, no one is sure what the Russian president will do next. Countries that border it don’t want to be the first to know about it.

Therefore, the focus on military spending and strengthening defenses has become intense.

Against this unstable backdrop, it is no coincidence that our own defense budget is expected to reach at least €1.9 billion by 2028.

Newly released plans represent the largest military investment in the state’s history, allowing for the recruitment of approximately 6,000 additional troops.

It is true that our defense forces are properly paid and equipped and fit for purpose; but what that purpose is in today’s world is a question that demands more attention than it gets.

As peacekeepers, Irish soldiers have served with bravery and distinction and won recognition for our country.

It is wrong that they are being deprived of resources on such a humiliating scale.

However, debates about the level of investment to defend this country must be reasonable.

We will always rely on allies to defend us against nuclear attacks – if such defense is possible.

We have remained a neutral country since the 1930s, and with good reason.

However, as Taoiseach Micheál Martin explained in March, our military neutrality in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not make us politically or morally neutral to the violation of sovereignty.

Speaking to the BBC, he said we need to think about what this means in the long term and for the future of military neutrality.

He also cautiously added: “You can’t change a long-held policy overnight in the middle of a crisis.”

Albert Einstein saw the focus on munitions and the military system as “the epidemic of civilization”.

He believed that peace cannot be maintained by force, but can only be achieved through understanding.

A town hall meeting and referendum would be the least we would expect before any real change in our neutral status could be considered.

Any redefinition of our position must be weighed with the utmost care. Any change in neutrality must be carefully considered

Fry Electronics Team

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