Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Everyone needs to have a web 2.0 initiative to be cool, with it, and demonstrate a "pro-active" engagement with "Stakeholders".  Being a citizen of an avowedly neutral non member state I probably don't have "locus standi".

But perhaps it would be helpful to articulate why NATO membership is a non-starter in Ireland, even though we have close family links with the US and are probably more culturally well disposed to the US than most EU Member states.

Irish Neutrality arose out of our historic dispute with Britain.  Hundreds of thousands of Irishmen died fighting in Britain's wars but when the ultra-nationalist Sinn Fein (and later Fianna Fail) took power there was a determination not to side with "perfidious Albion" until such time as the partition of Ireland was addressed.

Churchill even suggested the possibility of an end to Partition (well sort-of) if Ireland joined in to WW2 but was simply not believed.  There had been too many instances of post-dated cheques not being honoured.  So De Valera remained neutral to the outrage of Churchill in particular and the British in general.  (In practice Ireland was as pro-allied as it was possible to be without actual formally joining the Allied war effort - interning captured German airmen, relaying intelligence and critical weather forecasts for D Day etc.)  

However De Valera retained formal neutrality to the extent of offering condolences to the German Ambassador on the death of Hitler - something strictly in line with diplomatic protocol - but also illustrating the degree of estrangement from anything to do with Britain.

Whilst the cold war was raging, having a bulwark against the USSR made sense for a conservative Catholic Ireland which regarded Stalin as the great Satan and where even a soccer match with the USSR caused controversy.  But taking the same side as Britain was simply not possible.

The Cold war was replaced by Pax Americana and for a period when Clinton was a hero because of his engagement in the Peace Process - NATO membership might have been a problematic issue only for a left wing fringe.  But then came Bush and Iraq - a war which 70% of the population opposed - many vehemently - and which inspired some of the largest anti-war demonstrations anywhere.  The traditional close Irish/US relations became as strained as they have ever been by extraordinary renditions and troop transfers through Shannon.  Joining NATO once again became a total non-starter.

So what is NATO now except a relic of the Cold War and of the US Empire.  A colonial relic to be taken over by the EU after its Eastern enlargement?  Why should the US be allowed to have military bases throughout Europe and to jeopardise relations with Russia through active encirclement and aggressive military domination?   The adventurism of the Georgian President: Mikheil Saakashvili in South Ossetia shows how easily the EU could be dragged into a conflict with Russia that is simply not in it collective interest.  NATO, from this perspective, now becomes a vehicle for "divide and conquer" stratagems by the US Military Industrial Complex perhaps not even fully under the control of Democratic institutions in Washington.

I appreciate that former Soviet Satellites and Warsaw Pact countries want a bulwark against Russian Hegemony and the fear of re-conquest may be real.  I also appreciate it will be a long time before the EU achieves a credibility and military cohesion and capability to replace the US as the guarantor of East European security.  But ultimately it is in the interst of the US Military Industrial Complex to seek to exacerbate divisions and divide and conquer within Europe.  Ultimately it is in the interest of the EU to maintain cordial relations with Russia, and perhaps even, ultimately, offer membership to Russia.

So whatever way you cut it is difficult to see a long term role for NATO in a Post Colonial Europe.  Ireland will not be joining, and perhaps a prolonged period of peace and good relations with Russia will lessen Eastern European fears and insecurities.  Perhaps NATO is aware of the tide of history moving away from it.  Perhaps they are desperately trying to think of new ways to maintain "relevance" by embracing web 2.0.  I don't think we should be giving that enterprise too much credibility.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:36:13 AM EST

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