LIsbon Essay (13): Ireland cannot commit to anything beyond “the Chinese veto”…

Ben Tonra argues that the concerns around sovereignty and military interventionism (LE4) betray a timidity in Ireland’s sense of its own sovereign power, rather than an assertion of it. He argues that Ireland rather than retiring into the corner, should use the opportunity being opened by Lisbon and press forward and into spaces where its troops can proactively do some good, rather than “howling, free and unfettered, from the shores of the Atlantic”.

Here’s a question – why would anyone want to abandon the Irish veto over all EU foreign, security and defence policy?

It amazes me – honestly – that many of those who are consumed by a passion for Irish sovereignty are the first to throw away that veto. We should fight to the (metaphorical) death to defend our right to veto policy in sport, energy, and civil judicial co-operation (where Lisbon proposes a move to Qualified Majority Voting) but where human rights and life and death choices are to be made, hell, much better to abandon the veto.

Let the rest of Europe do what it wills and we can howl, free and unfettered, from the shores of the Atlantic. By God that will show the imperialists and those that suckle from the historical breast of Redmond!

Of course we know why this is the case- as unpalatable as the reality may be. The simple truth is that the Irish government is not to be trusted and it must be shackled.

Bizarrely, the Irish Government seems to agree with this – how else can you explain why they have given the People’s (sic) Republic of China (and the Russian, French, British and US governments) the final vote over Irish peacekeeping?

Ireland’s neutrality chastity belt, the ‘triple-lock’ is neither: it’s a Chinese Veto.

Mind you, if the Irish government refuses to trust itself to operate Irish foreign policy without the nod from Peking, so too have the ‘opt-outers’. They have evidently lost (or never had) any hope of actually being in government and getting their hands on the tools of foreign policy.

If there was any such hope in their hearts, would they really want to throw away their veto over the Union’s foreign policy? Imagine Joe Higgins as Irish Foreign Minister – what kind of (creative) havoc would he create as the only ‘real’ socialist in the EU Foreign Affairs Council?

Imagine Irish officials lecturing their counterparts in the European Defence Agency on the demands of socialist dialectics and the merits of Trotsky? Picture them berating the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for his socialist inadequacies and lack of international solidarity.

Who cares that Solana fought for socialism and democracy in Franco’s dictatorship?

Mind you, I think pacifists have a point. The Union, for a time, was the only major international player without a military capacity. Academics (like me) ‘explained’ this by seeing the Union as some kind of ‘civilian’ power – a new kind of actor which relied entirely on diplomacy and trade tools to exert international influence.

That argument lost a lot of ground (in my head at least) as we witnessed ethnic cleansing in south eastern Europe and genocide in the African Great Lakes. Europe’s bloody past was certainly catching up with it – and laughing as European governments argued over sanctions, diplomacy and toughly worded ‘statements’. Too many died as we dithered.

For good or ill – and I am yet open to persuasion – European governments arrived at the conclusion that ‘civilian power’ wasn’t enough, that the capacity (and the credibility) generated by having military implements in the foreign policy toolbox was desperately necessary.

Thus far we have a track-record of 27 successful EU-peacekeeping missions in Africa, Asia and Europe to review. Just a handful of these have been substantial military missions.

Just a shame that Ireland can’t trust itself to commit to that.

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  • Dave

    “The simple truth is that the Irish government is not to be trusted and it must be shackled.”

    Whether or not Irish people are to die in other peoples’ wars is a decision that is to be reserved exclusively for Irish people. To suggest that this vital area of national sovereignty should be transferred to third parties is beyond the pale.

    People should not be tricked into thinking sovereignty should be given away because they don’t trust their government. If you don’t trust your government, elect a government that you do trust. They are not circumscribing an unpopular government that means, they are circumscribing themselves since it is their sovereignty – not the government’s – that they would be giving away.

    The people can trust themselves to act in their own national interest, but they can never trust others to do that. We only trust the UN’s Security Council because we have a veto over the peacekeeping missions we choose to become involved in.

    Who would trust the EU but a fool? Only wars of defence are legitimate (or wars sanctioned by the EU), but who really accepts that the Doctrine of Anticipatory Self-defence actually validates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Again, only a fool.

    That is the nature of modern wars – economic adventurism masquerading as something legitimate but never held account for its illegitimacy. Why allow the EU to engage in such adventurism wherein it would involve its Member States whether they approve or not?

  • Dave

    Err, Freudian typo: “(or wars sanctioned by the EU [b]UN’s Security Council[/b]”

  • Dave

    Once again spot on, I often wonder how ‘these people’ spend their time, I suppose they tour the world attending parliaments, academic conference and meeting which are all attended by exactly the same people. It is the only way you can explain the total lack of fresh air and realism in there out put. They just appear to reinforce each others crap.

  • Dave

    Mick, what Ben Tonra didn’t declare that he is an EU-funded academic and that he also works for the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin which is a europhile propaganda agencythink-tank‘ that is funded by both the EU and the Irish government. He should at least be honest with the readers and admit that he is being paid to promote this europhile propaganda.

  • Ben Tonra

    Dave’s facts are wrong. None of my salary – now or in the past – has been paid by the European Commission. Sorry to mess with your conspiracy theory.

  • Wilde Rover

    Ben Tonra,

    “That argument lost a lot of ground (in my head at least) as we witnessed ethnic cleansing in south eastern Europe and genocide in the African Great Lakes. Europe’s bloody past was certainly catching up with it – and laughing as European governments argued over sanctions, diplomacy and toughly worded ‘statements’. Too many died as we dithered.”

    This is a somewhat spurious argument when you consider that one of the main sources of troops for any “military implements in the foreign policy toolbox” was constructing genocide for large parts of this decade in Iraq.

    Expecting some sort of permanent arrangement with the Irish army and the false flag merchants who ran riot in Basra is sick and twisted.

  • Mick Fealty

    Anyone fancy actually tackling Ben’s argument, rather than going the ad hom route?

  • Wilde Rover

    Mick,

    I can’t speak for others, but I thought that I had addressed his argument. I didn’t mean to say that the person making the argument is sick and twisted, merely the line of thinking.

    If you would like me to make it clearer.

    The argument is that Ireland should be in a permanent military set up in Europe because that would help to stop genocide.

    One of the main potential armies that would contribute to this force – that of Britain’s – has itself been engaged in activities that right thinking people would label as genocide.

    Therefore the argument is flawed.

  • Mick Fealty

    WR,

    That looks like a syllogism to me:

    http://url.ie/2h0n

  • Wilde Rover

    Mick,

    Perhaps it is.

    Let me put it another way:

    Let’s suppose there is a spate of child sexual abuse and person A suggests that if every member of the community had banded together to protect the children then the sexual abuse could have been avoided.

    Person B then points out that one of the proposed members of this new permanent group is In The Same Gang as Gary Glitter, so to speak, and that it would be foolish to start setting up a group with such a person without taking that into account.

    Is that a syllogism?

    It’s all very well and good for people to say events like the Balkans and Africa were terrible and something should be done, but I don’t see how that can be divorced from what happened in Iraq.

    Genocide is genocide is genocide. Just because some countries have developed very clever and sly ways to carry out their acts of genocide doesn’t make it not genocide.

    A false flag attack is just as bad as roaming gangs with machetes and guns.

  • That anyone still attempts to peddle the Humanitarian intervention argument is beyond me, after over 1 million dead and injured Iraqis.

    As far as Nato countries were concerned it has always been a false flag, as self interest and geo politics decides who gets to have their families destroyed. Oil and pipelines is what made Bush and Blair become all cuddly, not some noble intent.

  • Dave

    “Dave’s facts are wrong. None of my salary – now or in the past – has been paid by the European Commission. Sorry to mess with your conspiracy theory. ” – Ben Tonra

    The European Comission? You’re denying a claim that wasn’t made while pretending that you are actually denying the claim that was made. That is fraudulent.

    Here is what I said:

    “Ben Tonra didn’t declare that he is an [b]EU-funded[/b] academic and that he also works for the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin which is a europhile propaganda agency ‘think-tank’ that is funded by both the EU and the Irish government. He should at least be honest with the readers and admit that he is being paid to promote this europhile propaganda.”

    Here is the blurb for Ben Tonra from UCD:

    [i]”Ben Tonra is Jean Monnet Professor of European Foreign, Security and Defence Policy and Director of the Graduate School at the UCD College of Human Sciences. He is also Associate Professor of International Relations at the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. In UCD he lectures and researches European foreign, security and defence policy and Irish foreign policy. Outside the university Ben is the Project Leader for a research programme in EU foreign and security policy at the Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin. “[/i]

    http://www.ucd.ie/research/people/politicsintrelations/drbentonra/

    Here is the how the EU funds Ben Tonra via the Jean Monnet Chair:

    [i]Currently, the grant agreement has a total duration of five years: European Community funding is provided for a three-year period and the beneficiary institution must undertake to maintain its activities for at least two further years.

    The ceiling for the co-financing which may be awarded for the total period of three years is € 45.000. The European Community’s maximum co-financing level is 75%.[/i]

    http://ec.europa.eu/education/jean-monnet/doc611_en.htm

    He is also a member of the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin which is also EU-funded:

    [i]The Institute derives most of its income from annual membership fees, grants, donations, charges for commissioned research and sale of its publications.

    Key funding of the Institute comes from the Foundation Members, including departments of the Irish government, and national and multinational companies, semi-State and private, who commit at least 10,000 euro annually. Acknowledgement of this support is included in all Institute publications and Foundation Members are also regularly consulted on the nature and scope of the Institute’s activities.

    The Institute derives significant income from the Irish Government and the European Union, one third of the total in 2002[1].[/i]

    http://wapedia.mobi/en/Institute_of_European_Affairs

    You are EU-funded, and you should admit rather than deliberately misleading the reader.

  • ben

    I don’t understand why this bandwith is being wasted but,for the record: I am not “EU funded” and I don’t “work” for the IIEA – I lead a research project there and there is no funding of me by same. PS Andy’s contribution in your Lisbon articles is a good one, congrats.

  • Neville Bagnall

    I think a lot of the argument has missed the main points.

    Ireland has voluntarily surrendered sovereignty in external military action to the UNSC. What makes the UNSC a better forum than the EU Council? In both cases action would also require the consent of the Oireachtas.

    On the one hand we have a proven record of 27 EU peacekeeping missions, some of which we have participated in as they also had a UN mandate; on the other hand we have fears of a future EU military superstate.

    I reject the idea that such a superstate could emerge purely on the basis of the Lisbon structures. I also believe its very unlikely to emerge at all.

    I do believe that if we are going to be involved in peacekeeping operations at all we should take actions to protect our troops and make our contribution more effective. In my personal opinion that is the Irish benefit of being involved with the EDA.

    I don’t reject the suggestion that it could have wider implications for our military posture and spending, but I am willing to accept them as long as the triple lock remains in place. Not because I like the triple lock or the UNSC, but because the UNSC is the only global forum for security questions, and is, as a result of its membership, a restrictive body.

    I do reject passive neutrality and isolationism on questions of international security whether inter-state, intra-state or non-state. Isolationism and passivity are 19th century postures totally inadequate to the modern world.

  • Neville Bagnall

    To be clear, I’d be happy to see the triple lock go if it was replaced by either:

    1) A constitutional statement of Irelands “Just War” principles, and accompanying legislation.

    2) Another triple lock but with the UNSC replaced by another global security body with a more popular-sovereignty basis in International Law. i.e. one that upholds the rights of peoples and not the rights of states.