8 April 1999 Edition

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Partnership for Peace

``All right, so I have changed my mind. What about it?'' - Bertie

What is euphemistically called a `Partnership for Peace' is a military organization, totally controlled by NATO. It is not a peacekkeeping or peace-enforcing organization but is a standing army dominated by the United States.

Ireland has been strongly committed since the foundation of the state to neutrality, firmly entrenched in opposition to nuclear weapons, staunchly behind the ideals of the United Nations as an assembly of all the nations of the world, as equals, determined to secure peace between them, and prevent the power hungry predatory nations overunning their neighbours through military conquest or colonising and enslaving other parts of the world.

Irish troops have played a distinguished part in most of the 17 UN peacekeeping missions. Since 1960, 36 Irish soldiers have died on United Nations service in pursuit of these objectives. In fact Ireland, which through its history has been obliged to fight for independence against a colonial power, has had a unique role in peacekeeping and the opportunity of having a unique voice amongst the nations to uphold the human rights against oppression.

True, Dublin governments have not always lived up to this ideal. But now it appears that the present Dublin government has set a course to abandon it altogether, without so much as a by your leave or a whimper of discussion in the state as a whole. Bertie Ahern has changed his mind.

On page 133 of a carefully drawn up election manifesto in 1997, Fianna Fail stated: ``We oppose Irish participation in NATO itself, in NATO-led organisations such as Partnership for Peace. Fianna Fáil in government will not participate in any co-operative security structure which has implications for Irish neutrality, without first consulting the people through a referendum.''

In discussion in Leinster House of a Foreign Policy white paper, Ahern said: ``We would regard any attempt to push Partnership for Peace (PfP) or participation in Western European Union (a regional organisation of NATO with a first strike nuclear doctrine) ... through this House without reference to the people who under our Constitution have the right in final appeal to decide on all questions of national policy, as a serious breach of faith and fundamentally undemocratic.''

Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, announced in Leinster House two weeks ago that the government will join PfP in the latter half of this year, and that ``the state's membership of PfP would not require a referendum to amend the Constitution. He added that the European elections in June could be seen as an `indicative poll'.

When Green TD John Gormley pointed out that this was absurd, Andrews retorted that the attorney general did not think that the Constitution required an amendment.

Last week, Bertie said ``All right. I have changed my mind (on the subject). What about it?''

Apparently he does not think he is accountable to his party, the electorate, or even the people of this country in abandoning the central principle of neutrality. And joining PfP undoubtedly, as Ahern affirmed in 1997, amounts to an abandoning of neutrality.

It is open to Ireland, simply because Ireland is not in NATO, or the PfP, to do something about the situation - to call for a ceasefire.
PfP was set up by NATO in 1994. The following year NATO declared: ``Active participation in PfP will play an important role in the evolutionary process of the enlargement of NATO.'' In 1996, President Clinton said that PfP was ``a path to full NATO membership for some and a strong lasting link to the Alliance for all''.

The link is one through which countries affiliate to NATO, train with NATO forces, update and harmonise their weaponry to the same standards, and integrate themselves into an Alliance which extends the NATO military New World Order, where NATO becomes policeman of the world, subverting the role of United Nations as global peacekeeper.

Members of the PfP agree to ``develop cooperative military relations with NATO, for the purpose of joint planning, training, and exercises in order to strengthen their ability to undertake missions in the field of peacekeeping, search and rescue, humanitarian operations, and others as may be subsequently agreed. They will fund their own participation in Partnership activities and will endeavour otherwise to share the burden of mounting exercises in which they take part.'' Nothing is said here of missions mandated by the UN.

What is euphemistically called a `Partnership for Peace' is a military organization, totally controlled by NATO. It is not a peacekkeeping or peace-enforcing organization but is a standing army dominated by the United States.

The UK/US bombing of Iraq, under the assumed auspices of the UN, the recent bombing of Serbia and Kosovo and the invasion of Albania by the so-called NATO `contact Group', with its express purpose ``to attack, disrupt, devastate and ultimately destroy Serb forces'', including the use of depleted uranium shells, provide just two examples, and the strongest of arguments, as to why Ireland should not join the PfP nor abandon neutrality.

Austria refused the right of NATO planes on their way to Bosnia to overfly their territory. Ireland has not yet done the same.

It is open to Ireland, simply because Ireland is not in NATO, or the PfP, to do something about the situation - to call for a ceasefire.

There has been considerable lobbying from the military complex/arms industry of late advocating membership of the PfP and describing neutrality as an obsolete concept in the New World Order. In Ireland, we've had calls from the Chief of Staff, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), not to mention long-term lobbying by political parties, especially Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats. The weapons complex in Ireland is a fast growing, largely multinational dominated industry. Ireland now exports weaponry to 30 countries world wide, and military export licences have multiplied four fold over the last two years. Export destinations have included Singapore, India, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Chile and Brazil.

It has also been suggested that Dick Spring's hopes of landing the job of ``High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy' in the EU, as set up in the Amsterdam Treaty, and also the Department of Foreign Affairs' hope of landing a seat on the UN Security Council, might very well be part of the explanation of Bertie Ahern and the government's volte face on neutrality.

More likely the answer lies within the political/military establishment and the high-level engagement of this government, and in particular Bertie Ahern, with counterparts in England and America, which offer inducements beyond the public eye. Whatever about the cause of such a reversal of policy, there can be no question but that it promises alliance with and active involvement with colonist hegemony and policing of the rest of the world, with a military complex wedded to nuclear weapons and an inextricable link to those who benefit from the $1,000 billion dollars spent on weapons of human destruction each year. Above all, it represents a derogation from democratic government which bodes ill for the next century.

If we had hoped to throw off the yoke of colonialism in this century, was it to serve the colonisers in the next?

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1