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Monday, 15 August 2011

Neutrality part 2: The Eager young men of Eire

(normally I'd be wont to comment on the English Riots and speculate at their causes, but presently I am content to watch the liberal scum there blame the cuts, the right wingers talking up a game of clamping down, the tension in English society and the future of that nation be put to death by ignoring the deeper causes of these riots. Some of which are obvious. The political football match is in its second half and it is fascinating to watch. Like a speeding train hurtling towards a sharp corner near a cliff side.)

Earlier this year, one week in spring I was on a late night train to Belfast, heading to my student accommodations for the university week ahead. I was tired and had half dozed off on the train, putting down the gothic fantasy novel I had been reading for my amusement, (I am always one for a good blood and thunder story), and my head up against the vibrating window for comfort. Some lads from the Republic where in the same train compartment and a few seats ahead of me and they were discussing life and its miscellaneous shenanigans, joking and fooling around as young men do. It wasn't until one of the girls with them had been asking them where they were heading that I brought myself back to consciousness in fascination and had overheard what they were going to do once they got to Belfast.

And it was when I had heard their designs I took proper notice of the kit bags they had with them and the nature of the accutriments adorning them.

The young men where heading north to try their fortune in the British Army regiments. With jobs scarce and many of them, judging by their earlier inconsequential chatter, had an innate fascination with the military and military life and history, often throughout their conversation exchanging knowledge on weapons and historic generals and battles. Things I myself enjoy. They had no real love of Britain, but they weren't joining the British Army because they did, as the girl had suggested, and they protested to the girl, that many other young Irish lads before them didnt join the British army for their love of it either. They wanted adventure and the chance to were uniforms, to serve, to protect and if neccessary fight. They had possessed within them a warrior calling.

When questioned as to why they didn't just join the Irish Defense Forces, I was dismayed and had assumed prematurely that they did not do so because of poor pay or perhaps 'it wasnt exciting enough' or maybe they liked the idea of being in the military and didn't feel patriotic or didn't love their country enough and decided to go to the British Army because 'that's where the action is'. I was very cynical at the time. And to my delight and surprise, i found out that each of the young men and many of their friends had already tried ''but the defence forces didn't have enough room for that many applicants'' Scoffing the girl had joked ''What? not enough room for all 7 of you?" to which one of the young men replied "not enough room for all 4,000 of us"

Then I had really perked up. The defence forces needed forty new recruits for positions in the army had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response for the positions, but because of some quota or some other bueracratic shenanigans, they could accept no more then forty.

Over 4,000 young men, eager and ready to join the Military at such a scant excuse, and here I was, on a train with 7 such fine young men, finding themselves frustrated at not being able to fulfil their callings and being forced to look elsewhere, even to Britain, for military employment.

And that, my friends, is a scandal.

I had in my previous post bemoaned the negative effects neutrality had on us as an economic power and now I present another effect. Here we are, crippling ourselves with our cowardly fear of brandishing a stick at our sides like all our brother nations do, even the other neutral ones, preferring to whimper and cower in a small corner and hope to God none of the bigger dogs in the pack take too much notice of us.

We have a rather large pool of eager young men wanting desperately to serve their country and here we are content to waste their callings on other nations, denounce them as bloodthirsty for even wanting to be part of a stronger national army for the good of the country, and cradle our precious, useless, false idol of neutrality as if it is doing us any favours. It failed during the second world war, it is failing us now by crippling our economic growth by making us to be dependent on other nations for security and it will damn sure fail us whent he next great global conflageration rolls around.

Or do you really think 5 patrol boats for a navy and desperate pleas of recognizing some by then useless neutrality proclamation will spare us the wrath of whatever new hitlerite monster the future will throw at us?


  1. Good Lord. I didn't know you could refuse people for military service unless they were physically/mentally/legally defective.

  2. Ireland is in a position naturally safer than most other countries, the only potential source of conflict being the north and neither Britain nor the republic have the stomach to fight over that. However, that is no reason not to maintain such a minimal military. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared!" Weakness invites attack, it gives people ideas and, as the Belgians learned in two world wars, paper promises are usually not worth the paper they're printed on when it comes down to a crisis. King Leopold II tried to make the case, but the government acted too little and too late.

    As with Belgium, I'm sure many would say that Ireland shouldn't bother to even really try to defend themselves since they couldn't hope to actually defeat any of the major military powers. However, as has been the case with other small countries, that doesn't matter. You don't have to be strong enough to actually defeat France or Britain or Germany etc you just have to be able to put up enough of a fight for them to decide that what could be gained would not be worth the cost. That is possible and defending the nation is the first responsibility of any government, not free unemployment checks or breast exams but defending the nation.

  3. I cannot condemn those young men. But I find it depressing. It's all a sorrowful testament to our pitiful failure to fully undo the damage of conquest, despite nearly a century of 'freedom'.

    We as a nation are terrified of war...or rather, of being seen as warlike. We refuse to take ourselves sufficiently serious - as men and as a nation - and so prepare ourselves, spiritually and materially, for the unpleasant realities of conflict that will, eventually, arise for any independent state.

    We refuse to admit in public that not only is it a necessity, but that it is even a spiritual path for those blessed with the proper character and disposition. And many Irishmen are so blessed.

    Public opinion (the approved variety) in Ireland stands aghast at any suggestion of war's necessity and, at times, desirability, in pursuit of our national aims. We have no public discourse on strategic and military matters here. Instead we have moralising hand-wringing and shaming language.

    And yet, and yet: when it comes to young Irishmen shedding blood and losing life and limb for foreign powers with interests quite other to our own, the Irish media falls over itself commissioning laudatory, celebratory pieces on 'the Irish contribution' to whatever 'policing action' is being undertaken. Even as it carries other articles condemning those actions.

    We have a sick, schizophrenic and irresponsible social order that is satisfied hunkering under a table laden with the spoils delivered to other states, states willing to risk, gain, and above all else, to stand on their own merits.

  4. I can understand the sentiments of those fellows on that train, I applied for the Royal Navy when I was 19, but I chose university instead, I was thinking it might be exciting!

    I'm a little older now, and I think neutrality is actually a good thing. Having seen the hundreds of Brits dying and the thousands of Americans, and understanding the reasons behind it, I am wont to be averse to the lying politicians and their wars.

    I hope and pray for the best for those seven Irish lads, may they come home in one piece!

  5. I understand the young men's predicament. As a young man I could not join the Army Cadets because at that time one needed a good result in Irish. I had always scraped through with the Irish. I then applied to Britain but before I took the plunge I joined another "army", the priesthood.
    Our Neutrality has always been predicated on the fact that if anyone threatened to invade us the British would come to our defence. We knew Britain would not invade again but we also knew she would allow no one else to either.
    If we were truly a neutral country we would be like Switzerland or Norway. We would have a Navy big enough to defend us , an Air force and at least every male trained in in the use of a gun.
    If we truly wish to remain neutral then we will need to address the deficiencies in our defence forces.That will mean more than 8 patrol boats in the navy, it means battleship, submarines, plenty of Helicopters. It would mean setting up an airforce and increase spending on air defence. It would mean military service for at least every man and the increased expenditure that would entail. All this cost but as usual people will talk about neutrality yet won't pay for that neutrality.