Having posted my two previous blog posts with regards to Ireland's neutrality, I am pleased to have seen I have a fair number of people's interest with regards to the topic. And doubly pleased that not everyone agrees with me. (I have always been one for discourse and arguement, my blog posts have been deliberately aggressive in support of militarism precisely to tease out responses from those who disagree and those who agree so I could get a fair estimate of general moods on the matter.)
On the whole there is a general mood I have garnered from the responses to my nuetrality posts. In support of Militarisation, most of the supporters appeal to the the realistic notion of a nation being able to defend itself, and lament the restrictions Ireland places on its armed forces (in terms of quantity and in terms of restricting development of critical arms of the defensive forces such as the Navy and air force), while also appealing to the spiritual goodness of a nation that is willing to defend itself.
In defence of Nuetrality, the general mood is less against militarisation as a justification, and more a general anti-war feeling. Defenders of Irish Nuetrality as it stands, cite the current draining wars in the middle eastern nations, and fearing that a militarisation of the Defense forces would lead to deamnds by our fellow western powers to join one of the myriad alliances as an active particpating nation, and this would be immoral both in terms of the conflicts in question themselves and the consequences that may result such as attracting terrorism. (I say militarisation because as good as our army is, with current restrictions its little more then a highly trained police force on steroids)
Having a better understanding of the feeling stowards nuetrality I have garnered the issue is actually something of a hot button topic. Considering how quickly the previous posts garnered responses and the noticeable divide in opinion, feelings are still strong as ever with regards to nuetrality, even if there is actually no realistic threat to the nation at this time apart from inside forces.
As such I will offer a few more condensed arguements in fav our of militarisation that will hopefully appeal to a middle ground.
1) Militarisation will not result in Ireland becoming a war-mongering nation.
This is one of the primary fears of Nuetrality defenders. The fear that boosting our armed forces will equate us with becoming a war-mongering nation, eager to launch invasions on weaker countries to extend our interests globally and likely cite America's intimidating military tradition as proof of militarisation equating to such attitudes. To understand this one would need to understand the Irish Character, both modern and ancient. We have never been an imperialistic race. It is not nor ever has been in our character or inclinations to conquer a weaker nation just because we could. While we have definitely been an incredibly eager warrior nation, both in ancient times with our myriad clanish struggles right up to the modern era where Irish soldiers and regiments in armies the world over are renowned for their ferocity and valour and even now with thousands of young men eager still to serve but find their efforts frustrated, we have never nor ever shall seek to subjugate other nations for our own benefit. If this was in our character, it would not have been the Normans to have conquered the saxon kingdoms of Brittania, but Irish Clans. So to in the modern era, militarisation of Ireland's forces would not represent a willingness to intitiate in warfare but rather would represent a serious commitment to defending the nation. A neccessary investment if Ireland is to achieve a greater place in the economic ladder of the world for the good of the nation to maintain realistic economic independence with regards to its own destiny. Something that I have pointed out would upset the market status quo in western Europe considerably, a stronger armed forces would prevent either soft or hard coercian by our neighbours, particularly France, to cripple our own economy for the benefit of their markets.
This leads to my next arguement...
2) A willingness to defend one's own local markets by force of arms from co-ercian does not represent insecurity.
This is an arguement that I have come across several times on Irish political forum boards, not neccessarily from my readers, but it is a concern that needs to be addressed. The willingness to defends one's own nation not only from realistic strategic threats, but also as a form of intimidation to ward off political bullying is at times mocked as 'macho posturing' by some of the lesser defenders of nuetrality. (ok this requires a clarification, most of the persons who use this arguement are not so much defenders of Ireland's Nuetrality, but more commonly are 'nation-haters', usually socialists of one stripe or another but not always, who scoff at patriotic sentiments towards Ireland, looking down at rank and file nationalists as well as patriotic individuals or groups of differing political or philosophical outlooks) These people equate such 'macho posturing' as chuvanistic (in the original dictionary term of believing one's nation to be superior to another or all others as well as the sexist term) and akin to the schoolyard wannabe bully who is really too big for his britches. This is a shaming arguement with no substance in either real geopolitics or history. Nations, big or small, unwilling to defend themselves, have always falling prey to the predications to more oppurtunistic forces. Regardless of how benign either the opposing force appeared, or how benign the nation in question was. Remember how the Greeks and Romans treated the celtic peoples of the continent? Yeah. Not centralising and presenting an intimidating military front worked wonders for those nations. For a more modern example, look at how a lack of pro-active militarisation worked for the Georgians when the Russian Bear took a liking to the pipeline in its northern provinces. And as a counter to that, look to Finland, where the same Russian Bear well and truly learned its lesson when the smaller, poorer, weaker former duchy of Finland gave the then communists the bloodiest of noses. Since then Russia, and everyone else for the matter, treats Finland a great deal of unspoken respect. The willingness to defend one's nation, even at terrible cost, is not insecurity, it is security, the only real security a government can offer without taking away freedoms. It is the oldest and most masculine of National traditions in the bloodiest sense. When one has a big stick by his side as he walks amongst other men, one finds oneself will rarely ever have to use it.
3) Militarisation will not result in Ireland commiting to large alliances and fighting in Foreign wars.
Not neccessarily at any rate. Because as Nuetral as we are, Irish forces ARE fighting in foreign warzones from time to time, because even though we are nuetral, are irish troops not used African Nations as peacekeepers? Or Bosnia? And on these missions are Irish forces not hamstrung by foreign commanders and their politically interested decisions putting our soldiers at risk? In Congo, where fighting was particularly fierce, where not Irish peacekeepers iminently close to killing or capturing a central warlord and stablizing the region before the UN called a withdrawal and cease-fire? It is due to Ireland's good history of effective peace-keeping and soldiering, even when hamstrung by UN protocals (and excellently camoflagued helmets, bright blue helmets blend in so well in any enviroment, don't they?), that we have not suffered too many casualties in these warzones, but its also due to this history that I have an extremely dim view of concerns of being swept up in international Alliances should we cease to become nuetral. We are already apart of NATO to a degree and peacekeeping commitments ensure we will likely be part of some international strike force when the next global conflageration sparks up. Oh, and you know that EU recognition of our nuetrality? Don't expect that to last when the EU further centralizes and eventually becomes embroiled in some silly war or another. My defence against these concerns is that Ireland will not be commited to large alliances should we cease nuetrality precisely because we already are committed to large alliances to a degree, ceaseing nuetrality and gaining increased strategic independence actually gives us political currency and leverage to decide how much we will be involved in these alliances. Or whether we should remain committed to these alliances at all. Militarisation will not result in co-ercian by other nations to comply. In actual fact it is the opposite, militarisation gives Ireland more say in deciding how much we want to commit precisely because we have sufficient force to realistically say "No thanks" and have our decision respected.
4) Militarisation will be expensive, but not as expensive as not militarising will be in the long run.
Upgrading our military, commissioning battleships aircraft and helicoptors, funding maintainence, Research and Development and, yes, production will represent a significent investment on part of the Irish Government. You know what else? It will also create jobs and industry. The creation of factories and an attractive corporate tax rate will entice companies, and investors to come to Ireland for the burgoening military industries that will develope here, creating jobs and generating increased spending power in the Irish Markets, which would be expanding to begin with as we become more economically assertive which would neccesitate the modernization and expansion of the armed forces. If this still does not sit right with you, we can still commission foreign shipyards and companies for equipment like we currently do instead of setting up shop ourselves. (I have no real complaints about the gear our boys currently have, the standard rifle in particular is a favourite of mine) In the long run, militarization WILL be neccessary and it will cost us if we do not militarize. If we just focus on economics and trading we WILL upset the status quo of western Europe and our neighbours will start politically co-ercing us to back down. How do i know this? They're already trying with our corporate tax rate, which is deemed 'unfair' by our continental cousins 'because it makes us too competitive'. Especially with recent negotiations about the bail out debt An Taoiseach Enda Kenny had with Eurpe and the IMF, France was utterly gunning for the corporate tax. So if we decide we wanted a larger share of the cake, expanded our markets and trading power, how will our neighbours react? Will they be happy that alot of american trade flows through Irish Markets when heading into Europe instead of French or British ones? Will the EU be pleased we'll be making trade deals with South America and other regions without their oversight and approval when that is, according to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union it is their perogitive to do so? How long before they start coercing us to back down? What can we back up our claims with? Without our own expanded Armed forces we will be dependent on Europe for protection, so when they bring pressure to bare there is actually nothing we can do to refuse them. At all. And with Military dependcy comes economic depency, but thats another headache for another post.
And finally, if no other arguement will convince you, there's this:
5) Militarisation does not neccessarily compromise nuetrality
If no other concern pervades your opinion other then maintaining nuetrality for the sake of being nuetral, there is this compromise. We can still claim nuetrality and have an increased military tradition, we can have our cake and eat it too. Switzerland, Norway and Austria are all Nuetral nations with fine military traditions. What do all of them also have? A greater economic say in world affairs, or hell, even regional affairs. If you are so concerned that without the proclamation of Nuetrality we will be swept up in wars (which we inevitably will one way or another, World War III is kinda overdue), we can still maintain our nuetrality, we can still remain uncommitted to international alliances, we can still not become involved in foreign wars and STILL increase our military tradition. This is reality. This is literally something we can do, just like the other Nuetral nations of Europe. The only reason you can still deny the militarization of Ireland and the expansion of our markets is irrational fear of masculine projection. Only a fear of being seen as 'aggressive' can explain the refusal to recognise our inherent geopolitical potential. This fear has been indoctrinated through decades of democratic political socialization and I can only rationalize that Irishmen and Women must feel that ireland must be seen as 'peaceful' because Britain is 'warlike'. But this Island is not at peace, not really, as a people we are deluded, spiritually starving, consumeristic, and culturally dead. We are afraid to assert ourselves, we are afraid to be alive. If your definition of peace, however, is the absence of physical conflict then fine, here's is your peaceful Ireland, pretty, isn't it?