Vladimir Putin is the leader for the label “the ugliest man on the planet”. He continues to incite human suffering on a large scale in the quagmire of death, displacement, and suffering.
Viewers around the world watched with a sense of helplessness and omen. Meanwhile, the collective courage of Putin’s people who have subdued his will continues to amaze.
Can the fierce defiance of the Ukrainians – at the expense of the blood and agony of the war of attrition – produce a victory? Even the best military minds cannot say how this conflict will end.
The fallout from the relentless televised images from across Europe stirred fresh emotions in Ireland. With the chill effect, we are reminded that the world is a dangerous place.
And so the question of our neutrality creeps and weaves through the national dialogue.
There are people who will begin our process of joining Nato without further ado.
Much of their enthusiasm, however, overlooks a core fact of all foreign policy. Self-interest always ranks above the common good. This may be unfortunate, but it’s the way of the world.
All members of Nato participate for self-interest. By joining, they accept the organization’s shared commitment to protecting each other. There is safety – or at least more safety – at number
Therefore, the larger countries in Europe are leading Nato. They are backed by a group of countries in Russia’s orbit, who fear attack from their naturally aggressive neighbor to the east.
Ireland needs to consider carefully where its best interests lie. Although it has its detractors and opponents, neutrality has served us quite well since the founding of the State.
In the past, unresolved constitutional issues for Northern Ireland made membership in a military union very difficult.
We were right to stay out of World War II. The call from Winston Churchill that participation would be rewarded with a united Ireland was just a snapshot. Such promises were certainly mitigated by his resounding victory speech.
He famously suggested that Irish ports could have been forcibly taken – from a British military perspective. It is believed he later regretted such comments.
A handful of European countries have not joined Nato for various reasons. Switzerland has historically remained neutral. Austria, because of its Hitlerite history, has all kinds of checks and balances that set it apart from a military alliance.
Finland has also stayed away. Sharing a border with Russia, the country has pursued a studied policy of neutrality. For many years, the country’s main foreign policy goal has been not to irritate its powerful neighbour.
Perhaps the country most similar to Ireland in terms of Nato membership is Sweden. As with Ireland, there has been a shift in recent years, as the country engages in activities under the auspices of EU combat groups.
But public opinion still favors core neutrality. As in this country, however, the barbarism of Putin’s forces in Ukraine has placed new emphasis on the possibility of NATO membership.
That’s hardly surprising. The Kremlin dropped the international playbook overnight. It’s back with a vengeance to an old motif of hardline communism – in the end lethal force and indomitable brutality are what’s worth it.
We were reminded that we needed to modernize our defense force; we also need to spend more on air and sea protection. Then we can play a bigger role in the common European defence.
But even if we are outside Nato, our neutrality should be nuanced, such as continuing to allow US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon. We clearly support the Western alliance and should never be in doubt about that.
After all, in our controversial “out of war” stance from 1939 to 1945, we forced German pilots to parachute into Irish soil.
But when it reached the hands of their British compatriots, they were allowed to ‘escape’ to Northern Ireland.
There are other ways in which, “below the radar”, we have helped the allied war effort, such as sharing intelligence with the British authorities.
Ireland has long been neutral – but always keeping an eye on whose side we’re on.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/even-as-a-neutral-state-ireland-has-always-taken-sides-41429593.html Even as a neutral country, Ireland is always on the side