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 Enda wants to end neutrality

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PostSubject: The 'two-level game'.   Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:25 pm

DCU researcher Dr Karen Devine cuts through the Lisbon doesn't affect neutrality waffle.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2008/1224/1229728523303.html

A neutral state cannot legally or politically sign up to the mutual assistance clause in the Lisbon Treaty because it is an alliance commitment that violates neutrality.

From the point of view of neutrality, the legal implications of the Lisbon Treaty are important and significant. The Lisbon Treaty creates a new "European Union" that has legal personality; this provides a basis for the EU to act in the realm of international affairs. For example, MEPs argue that the EU should become a fully-fledged permanent member of the UN Security Council as soon as its legal personality is recognised, and that the future EU foreign minister provided for in the Lisbon Treaty should represent the EU on the security council.

The European Court of Justice's lack of jurisdiction highlights the problem that the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy suffer from both a democratic deficit and a deficit regarding the rule of law.


...


The Irish Times, to its credit, published a lengthy analysis of Lisbon by Dr Devine over three days in November. In one of the articles she describes what she politely refers to as the two-level game, where our government says one thing to other governments, and something else to us:

In this "game", parties in government attend to the "supra-state" level of the European Council and the demands from the larger member states such as France, Germany, Spain and the UK to achieve a maximalist EU defence policy agenda, and at the same time, face another set of largely incompatible demands from the "sub-state" level, stemming from the public's active neutrality policy preferences.

Having agreed to the supra-state level demands of ESDP, seen in the binding mutual security and defence commitments contained in the Lisbon Treaty, parties in government try to convince the sub-state constituency of public opinion that their neutrality agenda has been safeguarded through a combined strategy of minimising discussion of ESDP and reformulating concepts of military neutrality, in order to avoid punishment at the polls and to ensure EU treaty referendum amendments are passed.



Her full piece is available free on the Times site on the following days-

Protecting neutrality in a militarised EU - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 27, 2008

Tug of war between public and political elites - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 26, 2008

Neither friend nor foe: the Irish position - The Irish Times - Tue, Nov 25, 2008


Last edited by Helium Three on Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:28 pm

Would we, or would we not, be committed to spending more on the military under Lisbon?

Would the EU be committed to spending more?
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:36 pm

They are going on the wager that Irish voters are as thick as shythe. So far this bet has paid off handsomely.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:39 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Would we, or would we not, be committed to spending more on the military under Lisbon?

Would the EU be committed to spending more?

Certain people will swear blind the answer to both questions is no. I do not believe that. As well as establishing a treaty basis for the European Defence Agency, this is what another relevant part of Lisbon says, and I will leave it to yourself to decide which answer is more likely to be true over time.

The Common Security and Defence Policy will have a new section 2:

‘Section 2
Provisions on the Common Security and Defence Policy…
‘1. The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.’;

‘2. The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.’;

‘3. Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy. Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. “
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:53 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Would we, or would we not, be committed to spending more on the military under Lisbon?

Would the EU be committed to spending more?

Well, to make the point that this is a question of interpretation - is there an explicit commitment in the Treaty to spending more? Or do people like He3 simply claim that's the only possible interpretation?

If any other interpretation of the commitment to improving military capabilities is possible, then there is no commitment to increasing military spending, because that alternative interpretation can be substituted at any time, by any state, for increased spending.

Personally, looking at the whole article:

Quote :
Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (hereinafter referred to as "the European Defence Agency") shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities.

what it looks like to me is that there is no commitment to progressively increased spending. Possibly that's due to being in business - if I decide to "progressively improve IT capabilities", I would be hoping to save money by eliminating inefficiency, not spend more.

As usual here, though, I find myself asking whether what the argument appears to be about is really what it is about? Logically:

1. we have a military
2. we send that military on missions (UN-mandated)
3. those missions bring them into contact with armed hostiles
4. those armed hostiles progressively improve their military capabilities
5. therefore...

It seems to me that a commitment to progressively improve military capabilities is neither more nor less than what anyone with an active military force must do in order not to be negligent of their soldiers' lives and limbs. I'd be interested in hearing the counter-arguments.

That being the case, and also given the positioning of the clause in an article about the EDA, what the commitment actually looks like to me is a commitment to work with the EDA - something that, I imagine, will sometimes involve spending money, and sometimes involve saving it.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:37 am

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Would we, or would we not, be committed to spending more on the military under Lisbon?

Would the EU be committed to spending more?

Well, to make the point that this is a question of interpretation - is there an explicit commitment in the Treaty to spending more? Or do people like He3 simply claim that's the only possible interpretation?

If any other interpretation of the commitment to improving military capabilities is possible, then there is no commitment to increasing military spending, because that alternative interpretation can be substituted at any time, by any state, for increased spending.

Personally, looking at the whole article:

Quote :
Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (hereinafter referred to as "the European Defence Agency") shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities.

what it looks like to me is that there is no commitment to progressively increased spending. Possibly that's due to being in business - if I decide to "progressively improve IT capabilities", I would be hoping to save money by eliminating inefficiency, not spend more.

As usual here, though, I find myself asking whether what the argument appears to be about is really what it is about? Logically:

1. we have a military
2. we send that military on missions (UN-mandated)
3. those missions bring them into contact with armed hostiles
4. those armed hostiles progressively improve their military capabilities
5. therefore...

It seems to me that a commitment to progressively improve military capabilities is neither more nor less than what anyone with an active military force must do in order not to be negligent of their soldiers' lives and limbs. I'd be interested in hearing the counter-arguments.

That being the case, and also given the positioning of the clause in an article about the EDA, what the commitment actually looks like to me is a commitment to work with the EDA - something that, I imagine, will sometimes involve spending money, and sometimes involve saving it.

This won't be a standard counter-argument I'm afraid, truth is, I agree with the bulk of the point that you're making. I want to expand laterally on what you're saying, therein lies the counter-argument imo.

Let me start out by remarking on He3's posts on the latest Times' articles on neutrality: In one sense these are great articles as they show beyond any shadow of a doubt, the difficulty, legally speaking, that a neutral nation would have in signing up for Lisbon. But, and it's a large but, they do not explicity say that Ireland is not a neutral and indeed, there is no legal impediment to signing up to Lisbon. This opens the door for a state of mass confusion and will, again imo, skew the Lisbon debate into a neutrality debate, with the protagonists forced, on one side to defend our alleged neutrality, whilst the other side argues that it will be reduced. This is a non-argument. I'd personally like to see our government finally put our neutrality policy onto paper, so that everyone can read from the same page. This would allow a proper national debate on the points that Ibis is making, which are incredibly relevant to the Lisbon debate, but are nonetheless forgotton about as the dust explodes in the faux debate on neutrality.

I'm in absolute agreement with Ibis, in that all armies need to modernise and that they need to keep up with the times. An army of rock chuckers just doesn't cut it.

Where I think myself and Ibis might possibly begin a parting of the ways is where we must define 'modernisation.' My argument might at first seem to be a case of splitting hairs, it's not, please bear with me.

Defence must be the primordial goal of the Irish military. Peacekeeping and indeed, outright aggression must always take a back seat. Slap a couple of nukes at Ireland and it's all over, due to the size of the country. In this day and age, total destruction is an option and there's little that can be done to prevent it, should such a move commence. Therefore, Ireland's defence policy should comprise of three separate entities.

i. Prevention, that is diplomacy. I argue that we as an individual nation can practice diplomacy more credibly than we can whilst we're seen to be hanging onto the coattails of various superpowers, who in fairness, can be accused of having issues beyond diplomacy.
ii. In country infrastructure. To prevent invasion. Ireland is an interesting country, geographically and tactically speaking. This is really two areas that merit discussion. Geographically speaking, Ireland lends itself to a very sturdy defence in the case of an attempted invasion, this can be maximised by modernisation. On the other hand, our closeness to superpowers in Europe, means that we would in all likelihood be defended by these superpowers from an act of aggression as they'd not want an enemy base established on their doorstep, regardless as to our relationship to the EU. A bit self interested perhaps, but c'est la vie.
iii. Military technology. Two factors here: Keeping our recruits alive and ability to kill our enemies efficiently. I'd argue that no. ii above should be the greatest influence on spending in this area. That is to say that mountain fighting equipment would be much more important that desert fighting equipment, for example. Also, big guns that might not lend themselves to a rapid deployment elsewhere would be more important than smaller portable guns, chosen simply because of the ease with which they may be transported anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.

Those are the factors that influence modernising the Irish army, as I see them. My feeling is that our government and the EU do not see it the same way. It's my view that the waffle that is being discussed by our leaders and our wannabe leaders, is and will continue to prevent this discussion from happening at a national level. We'll have absolutely every impediment thrown in the way of such a discussion. Everything from our faux neutrality policy to terrorism and patriotism.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:50 pm

To summarise Hermes' argument - we should not accept the steering of our military development by the EDA, because it is likely to be inappropriate for Ireland. We should, instead, concentrate on defensive development appropriate to our geographic advantages. (Correct me if that summary is either biased or inaccurate!).

I'm going to disagree outright. First, because of the point you made - that powers close to us will not allow us to be invaded unless they themselves have been militarily crushed - which implies an enemy our military forces will be utterly inadequate to deal with, no matter to what degree they concentrate on defence. Frankly, this argument better serves concentrating on building up the IRA rather than any conventional military forces.

Second, it's clear that Ireland is not concentrating on building up a credible military force. Norway, under full mobilisation, fields an expected 130,000 combat personnel from a population marginally larger than ours. It also fields 5 Aegis class frigates and 5 submarines.

Given those initial points, there follows the question of what the point of the Irish army actually is. The immediate answer is that they are there to support the civil power against revolt, terrorism, armed robbery and assassination. That is largely a civil military role - internal peacekeeping, if you will.

Given that, and given Ireland's constitutional commitment to the resolution of conflicts through peaceful means, it seems reasonable that Ireland should seek peacekeeping roles abroad which reflect its domestic role - and the Irish defence forces have a long and honourable tradition of such actions.

Turning then to the likely results of our current military engagement with the EU, both through battlegroups and through the EDA, these seem a completely logical development of our current military policy. The intended military role of the EU is limited to the same tasks that Ireland traditionally allows military engagement in, and the legalities of Ireland's engagement in the EU do not require us to abandon our current policy of only allowing deployment of Irish soldiers under UN auspices.

(That Irish forces would wear an EU logo as opposed to a UN one when the EU is carrying out a UN-mandated mission seems to me neither here nor there. I have heard the arguments that we thereby become agents of, or at least indistinguishable from, the old colonial powers, and they do not impress me in the slightest - the old colonial powers have always contributed troops to the UN, just as we have, so the argument seems to depend solely on the unproven assumption that the EU is simply a vehicle for European colonial ambitions. That's a separate argument, and one that I am willing to take up the cudgels on - but I am not willing to allow it to become some kind of default assumption, however naturally it will come to those likely to refer to "Crown forces".)

Something that is changing is that the UN is throwing more of its peacekeeping duties onto regional organisations like the EU. So, if we are to continue being involved in peacekeeping, the likelihood is that we will be involved through the EU. For that reason alone, it makes sense to ensure the interoperability of our forces with other EU forces - a process already under way by virtue of our battlegroup engagement and through our existing EDA commitments.

Does this prevent us picking and choosing our engagements? Not at all - we remain in charge of the deployment of Irish forces, subject to the decisions of the UN (and the veto of the Security Council members, as objected to by FG).

What does Lisbon change? Nothing, as far as I can see. We're already involved in the EDA and the battlegroups, and the much talked-of "establishment of the EDA on a treaty basis" strikes me as yet another scary-sounding red herring. What practical effect does it have? The "progressive improvement of military capabilities" I have already covered - it's something we have to do anyway if we are to maintain a military, and being such, is actually just an aspirational commitment to EDA cooperation - something I admit to preferring to any more definite commitment.

To summarise, then - we are engaged militarily with the EU, because the military tasks the EU is setting itself are those that accord entirely with our tradition of military action - limited, peace-oriented, and supportive of civil society. I don't see any likelihood of the EU going beyond such roles while NATO exists, and I don't see anything in there that restricts Ireland's ability to take each conflict on a case by case basis, or requires it to choose sides - if the EU were to choose a particular side to support in conflict situation, Ireland is not bound by any such agreement, and neither is any such agreement even possible without Ireland's support. Lisbon changes none of this.

Now, to circle widely back to Hermes point about national defence. A situation in which Ireland is under credible threat of invasion is impossible without other EU countries being under similar threat. Under such circumstances, it seems to me that national defence is best achieved through Irish forces being able to fight alongside other EU forces - ideally in their countries rather than ours. There is, however, no legal reason why we should do so, since that would require an EU 'common defence' which we are signed up to - something that waits both on the creation of such a common defence, and on our acceptance of it by referendum - but nevertheless I would view it as a far more credible strategy than relying on the Irish defence forces as the final thin green line.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sun Dec 28, 2008 8:44 pm

Lisbon changes things all right. Treaties matter. That is why we get to vote.

Karen Devine has gone to some trouble to explain how Lisbon changes things in the military sphere. Given how little popular support those changes enjoy, it is no surprise that the most prolific Lisbon supporters stay well clear from what she actually says, and continue the pious nostrums about how the EU will be different from any other military alliance in history.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sun Dec 28, 2008 8:45 pm

Thanks for the reply Ibis. I see where you're coming from. I don't think, and I'm not suggesting that you do, that this argument is an issue with a fully correct and a fully wrong answer, tis very grey area stuff imo and it boils down to ethos, to a very large degree. So rather than say that you're wrong I'm very content to just say that I disagree, as you have, and continue on to illustrate where I'm coming from.

I think the nature of conflict has changed over the last 50 or so years. It's polarised to a very large degree and superpowers have been well defined. We either have wholesale destructive bombardment or we have guerilla style warfare. Largescale engagements are becoming a thing of a bygone era.

I want to interrupt this line of thought for a moment to make a point here. The larger countries in the EU who will imo mostly hold the reins of power should the EU become a singular sovereign entity, are well set up infrastructure wise to combat against largescale bombardment and indeed to deal with guerilla style attacks and insurgencies. Also, these nations are the very peoples that attract such aggressive moves. Some of the reasons for this are not black and white either, I realise that. But some of them are legitimate. It seems to me, that for the most part, mutual defence is but a worm on a hook as the Irish army will never be called to aid in the defence of sovereign territory. We are simply to be used as cannon fodder in attack operations and that is the only credible purpose we could serve, in relation to mutual defence. I'll continue this line of reasoning shortly when I look at Ireland's capabilities regarding its ability to defend its sovereign territory and peoples.

I've said that warfare is now mostly conducted in two ways, I've said one of these methods is largescale overkill type operations and for the most part, that requires little or no elaboration. Guerilla warfare on the other hand does require elaboration. Ibis was correct when he compared my idea of defence to the IRA, though perhaps a little unfair, in that the comparison is an unfair one if one does not point out that the Irish army are a legitimate army regardless as to their training and their tactics. I say that the Irish army should absolutely be trained in insurgent and guerilla tactical warfare, afterall, we all but invented and indeed, perfected its modern incarnation. It's not pretty, that's true, but then again, war isn't meant to be pretty. There's no way in hell that the people of Ireland will ever allow the modernisation of the Irish defence forces to ape those of the British, the French, the German and others, not whilst we have a third world infrastructure, a third world healthcare system and a totally inadequate educational system. So, for the time being at least and in the absence of a financial miracle, we shall not see glitzy toys for boys and girls being bought for our defence forces. Unless of course the EU pools resources and puts us all into more perpetual debt to its weapons dealers. So, we're left with training our forces to outthink and to out-manoeuvre potential enemies. This entails, mostly, hit and run tactics and intelligence operations. It means modernising our infrastructure to accomodate such operations and it means doing it right now.

We can do peacekeeping regardless as to whether we legitimise Lisbon or not. Lisbon merely changes the badge. That's true, but I hardly see it as a reason to legitimise Lisbon. Why vote ourselves a power we already possess? Also, the nature of peacekeeping must change. Peacekeeping too must change with the times and keep up with the Jones' imo. Currently, peacekeeping means one of two things.

i. Our troops being deployed to an area of conflict to observe genocide in a horrified but disinterested fashion whilst muppets in the UN (comprising of many muppets who'll be looking to wield power in EU defence forces) try to decide if there is a justified reason to use force. Normally, by the time the UN has decided to intervene, there's no longer a need to. This is wasteful, stupid and it earns us no brownie points whatsoever for peacekeeping or being seen as a moral and lawful authority. The EU promises nothing more, other than more of the same. And note I don't even need to go into the economical and territorial interests of many of these so-called 'peacekeepers.'

ii. Intelligence operations combined with surgical strikes and arrests. This by the very nature of its description is a contentious issue and imo, there is no entity currently in existence that has either the moral authority or the legal authority to act in this fashion. Instead of putting itself into a position to establish such an authority, Ireland is following the same ole same ole, a group of cutthroats, who have historically shown their intent in no uncertain terms. The EU possesses no moral authority whatsoever to determine the legitimacy of any external conflict, especially given the the histories of many of its members. Voting itsef this moral authority does not grant it, it is an exercise in self-delusion imo. Ireland, given her past and high standing amongst most of the world (although this is changing), is in a unique position to lead the charge in forming a legitimate world legal system and/or reforming the UN. But, imo, Ireland has lost her spirit and moral compass and will not do so, so long as we are lead by the flaccid types we currently vote into government. Am I being too idealistic? Mayby, but I'm not speaking of the impossible. For too long now have we followed the grubby and banal frightened bleats of our sheeplike masters and have been burdened with their, not ours, theirs, national inferiority complex.

Look at Shannon. I'm a forty year old muppet who can at will, enter the airport despite my picture being available to authorities and indeed an unlawful policy enacted to prevent my entering. I, if I ever decided to, could easilly take out a plane coming in for landing, with no more than a hurley and a few rocks and, I'd probably not even need to enter the airport to do so. What could someone with training do?

Whatever about our behaviour regarding our facilitation of the US war machine making us a target, what about the soft target that is the US war machine itself, its underbelly exposed and without protection and awaiting a tickle from our fawning authorities? Shannon is a very real target, it offers an unprotected American rear quarters to any enemy with a grudge. It's a testament to the non-structured-existence of groups like Al Qaeda, that Shannon hasn't been blown to bits already. Our defence forces should be renamed. They're not here to provide defence currently. They're merely muscle for hire. And I hate believing that, knowing the fine and moral aspirations our youth possess when they join up.


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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Sun Dec 28, 2008 8:53 pm

Helium Three wrote:
Lisbon changes things all right. Treaties matter. That is why we get to vote.

Karen Devine has gone to some trouble to explain how Lisbon changes things in the military sphere. Given how little popular support those changes enjoy, it is no surprise that the most prolific Lisbon supporters stay well clear from what she actually says, and continue the pious nostrums about how the EU will be different from any other military alliance in history.

Karen Devine saying something doesn't make it so. I don't agree with her analysis, for reasons I've already given.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:45 am

Hermes wrote:
Thanks for the reply Ibis. I see where you're coming from. I don't think, and I'm not suggesting that you do, that this argument is an issue with a fully correct and a fully wrong answer, tis very grey area stuff imo and it boils down to ethos, to a very large degree. So rather than say that you're wrong I'm very content to just say that I disagree, as you have, and continue on to illustrate where I'm coming from.

I think the nature of conflict has changed over the last 50 or so years. It's polarised to a very large degree and superpowers have been well defined. We either have wholesale destructive bombardment or we have guerilla style warfare. Largescale engagements are becoming a thing of a bygone era.

To some extent...but for Iraq and the like, obviously.

Hermes wrote:
I want to interrupt this line of thought for a moment to make a point here. The larger countries in the EU who will imo mostly hold the reins of power should the EU become a singular sovereign entity, are well set up infrastructure wise to combat against largescale bombardment and indeed to deal with guerilla style attacks and insurgencies. Also, these nations are the very peoples that attract such aggressive moves. Some of the reasons for this are not black and white either, I realise that. But some of them are legitimate. It seems to me, that for the most part, mutual defence is but a worm on a hook as the Irish army will never be called to aid in the defence of sovereign territory. We are simply to be used as cannon fodder in attack operations and that is the only credible purpose we could serve, in relation to mutual defence. I'll continue this line of reasoning shortly when I look at Ireland's capabilities regarding its ability to defend its sovereign territory and peoples.

I've said that warfare is now mostly conducted in two ways, I've said one of these methods is largescale overkill type operations and for the most part, that requires little or no elaboration. Guerilla warfare on the other hand does require elaboration. Ibis was correct when he compared my idea of defence to the IRA, though perhaps a little unfair, in that the comparison is an unfair one if one does not point out that the Irish army are a legitimate army regardless as to their training and their tactics. I say that the Irish army should absolutely be trained in insurgent and guerilla tactical warfare, after all, we all but invented and indeed, perfected its modern incarnation. It's not pretty, that's true, but then again, war isn't meant to be pretty. There's no way in hell that the people of Ireland will ever allow the modernisation of the Irish defence forces to ape those of the British, the French, the German and others, not whilst we have a third world infrastructure, a third world healthcare system and a totally inadequate educational system. So, for the time being at least and in the absence of a financial miracle, we shall not see glitzy toys for boys and girls being bought for our defence forces. Unless of course the EU pools resources and puts us all into more perpetual debt to its weapons dealers. So, we're left with training our forces to outthink and to out-manoeuvre potential enemies. This entails, mostly, hit and run tactics and intelligence operations. It means modernising our infrastructure to accomodate such operations and it means doing it right now.

We can do peacekeeping regardless as to whether we legitimise Lisbon or not. Lisbon merely changes the badge. That's true, but I hardly see it as a reason to legitimise Lisbon. Why vote ourselves a power we already possess? Also, the nature of peacekeeping must change. Peacekeeping too must change with the times and keep up with the Jones' imo. Currently, peacekeeping means one of two things.

i. Our troops being deployed to an area of conflict to observe genocide in a horrified but disinterested fashion whilst muppets in the UN (comprising of many muppets who'll be looking to wield power in EU defence forces) try to decide if there is a justified reason to use force. Normally, by the time the UN has decided to intervene, there's no longer a need to. This is wasteful, stupid and it earns us no brownie points whatsoever for peacekeeping or being seen as a moral and lawful authority. The EU promises nothing more, other than more of the same. And note I don't even need to go into the economical and territorial interests of many of these so-called 'peacekeepers.'

ii. Intelligence operations combined with surgical strikes and arrests. This by the very nature of its description is a contentious issue and imo, there is no entity currently in existence that has either the moral authority or the legal authority to act in this fashion. Instead of putting itself into a position to establish such an authority, Ireland is following the same ole same ole, a group of cutthroats, who have historically shown their intent in no uncertain terms. The EU possesses no moral authority whatsoever to determine the legitimacy of any external conflict, especially given the the histories of many of its members. Voting itsef this moral authority does not grant it, it is an exercise in self-delusion imo. Ireland, given her past and high standing amongst most of the world (although this is changing), is in a unique position to lead the charge in forming a legitimate world legal system and/or reforming the UN. But, imo, Ireland has lost her spirit and moral compass and will not do so, so long as we are lead by the flaccid types we currently vote into government. Am I being too idealistic? Mayby, but I'm not speaking of the impossible. For too long now have we followed the grubby and banal frightened bleats of our sheeplike masters and have been burdened with their, not ours, theirs, national inferiority complex.

Look at Shannon. I'm a forty year old muppet who can at will, enter the airport despite my picture being available to authorities and indeed an unlawful policy enacted to prevent my entering. I, if I ever decided to, could easilly take out a plane coming in for landing, with no more than a hurley and a few rocks and, I'd probably not even need to enter the airport to do so. What could someone with training do?

Whatever about our behaviour regarding our facilitation of the US war machine making us a target, what about the soft target that is the US war machine itself, its underbelly exposed and without protection and awaiting a tickle from our fawning authorities? Shannon is a very real target, it offers an unprotected American rear quarters to any enemy with a grudge. It's a testament to the non-structured-existence of groups like Al Qaeda, that Shannon hasn't been blown to bits already. Our defence forces should be renamed. They're not here to provide defence currently. They're merely muscle for hire. And I hate believing that, knowing the fine and moral aspirations our youth possess when they join up.

I don't - and I hesitate to say this - see the relevance of any of that to the role of the Irish army, Lisbon, neutrality, or modern peacekeeping. It looks like what you're saying is that: the EU will be (or is) merely a front for neo-colonial aggression, with the Irish army as hired muscle - something that is frankly silly because we're not even the size of a drop in the bucket there; the Irish Army is currently muscle for hire to protect US neo-colonialism at Shannon - or not, or ineffectively - I can't quite tell; that peacekeeping is either futile because it's ineffective or because it ought to be done through cowboy assassinations (or surgical strikes - same thing) but we don't have a moral mandate to do that?

Either way, I can't see where in that our engagement with the EU is a problem if you don't automatically assume that the EU is essentially tarted-up European colonialism. As I said before that I'm happy to knock that particular ball about a bit, but I'm not willing to accept it as an assumption - and that seems to me to be what you're doing. I suspect, also, that when we do come to knock that ball about, we will find that any evidence of the EU nations having interests abroad will turn out to be exactly equivalent to neo-colonialism, and in turn to nineteenth century imperialism.

Finally, I haven't argued that our current engagement, unchanged by Lisbon as I see it, is, or even could be, an argument for Lisbon. My point in that respect is that anyone who holds up Lisbon as committing us to things we are already committed to is being quite deliberately deceptive.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:51 am

Was watching an African programme on the EU this morning. The EU spokesperson made the point very strongly that irrespective of which countries take part in any particular mission, EU forces represent all of the EU countries.

She also talked about how the EU prioritised the weakest states - Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad were mentioned.

If we want to help, why don't we just give money to the African Union who are struggling to find the resources to train police in Chad.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:09 am

This article by Professor Margaret Blunden in the IHT echoes in part what Dr Karen Devine has said about the two faced tactic followed by government on this sensitive topic, and adds some further thoughts -

The integration of European defense is weakening ties between the armed forces and civilian populations. There are implications for the sovereignty and accountability of national decision-making, particularly of small states.

It is difficult for governments to resist multinational decisions to deploy highly integrated multinational units. Defense collaboration, within the European Union as within NATO, is subject to intergovernmental agreement. But some analysts are suggesting that integration now amounts in practice to the denationalization of defense, or even the pooling of sovereignty. Meanwhile, the democratic accountability of governments, and the political identity of citizens, lag behind at the national level.

As European electorates increasingly oppose distant troop deployments, governments of European states large and small may be tempted to resort to subterfuge, or to play "two level games," sending different messages to their international partners and to their domestic constituencies.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:26 am

cactus flower wrote:
Was watching an African programme on the EU this morning. The EU spokesperson made the point very strongly that irrespective of which countries take part in any particular mission, EU forces represent all of the EU countries.

She also talked about how the EU prioritised the weakest states - Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad were mentioned.

If we want to help, why don't we just give money to the African Union who are struggling to find the resources to train police in Chad.

Perhaps because aid to African countries ought to go to civilian projects? Perhaps because we have plenty of spare military resources? Perhaps because the AU is at least as likely to have interests in African countries as the EU? And last but not least, perhaps because we already do?
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:32 am

Helium Three wrote:
This article by Professor Margaret Blunden in the IHT echoes in part what Dr Karen Devine has said about the two faced tactic followed by government on this sensitive topic, and adds some further thoughts -

The integration of European defense is weakening ties between the armed forces and civilian populations. There are implications for the sovereignty and accountability of national decision-making, particularly of small states.

It is difficult for governments to resist multinational decisions to deploy highly integrated multinational units. Defense collaboration, within the European Union as within NATO, is subject to intergovernmental agreement. But some analysts are suggesting that integration now amounts in practice to the denationalization of defense, or even the pooling of sovereignty. Meanwhile, the democratic accountability of governments, and the political identity of citizens, lag behind at the national level.

As European electorates increasingly oppose distant troop deployments, governments of European states large and small may be tempted to resort to subterfuge, or to play "two level games," sending different messages to their international partners and to their domestic constituencies.

Mind you, she's mostly talking about Afghanistan there, although of course "multinational decisions to deploy highly integrated multinational units" describes UN peacekeeping quite well. I like "some analysts" - it's what gets described on Wikipedia as "weasel words" - but then:



Finally, and in keeping with the foregoing - who says that she is echoing what Devine says? Why, you do. I have to say I don't see it, but perhaps I lack whatever undisclosed objection you have to these things. What exactly is Irish neutrality in the eyes of He3? And what exactly is being objected to?

Are people arguing that any military action by the EU is the same as European neo-imperialist adventurism? If so, let's have that argument - enough of one side simply assuming it's true, and using it to argue everything else.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:42 am

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Was watching an African programme on the EU this morning. The EU spokesperson made the point very strongly that irrespective of which countries take part in any particular mission, EU forces represent all of the EU countries.

She also talked about how the EU prioritised the weakest states - Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad were mentioned.

If we want to help, why don't we just give money to the African Union who are struggling to find the resources to train police in Chad.

Perhaps because aid to African countries ought to go to civilian projects? Perhaps because we have plenty of spare military resources? Perhaps because the AU is at least as likely to have interests in African countries as the EU? And last but not least, perhaps because we already do?

When we're hiring helicopters that turn out not to be licensed to carry people?
That doesn't answer the question, Ibis, it asks a series of different ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:17 am

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Was watching an African programme on the EU this morning. The EU spokesperson made the point very strongly that irrespective of which countries take part in any particular mission, EU forces represent all of the EU countries.

She also talked about how the EU prioritised the weakest states - Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad were mentioned.

If we want to help, why don't we just give money to the African Union who are struggling to find the resources to train police in Chad.

Perhaps because aid to African countries ought to go to civilian projects? Perhaps because we have plenty of spare military resources? Perhaps because the AU is at least as likely to have interests in African countries as the EU? And last but not least, perhaps because we already do?

When we're hiring helicopters that turn out not to be licensed to carry people?
That doesn't answer the question, Ibis, it asks a series of different ones.

Well, it certainly leads to the question "who was the incompetent fool?" but I don't know what it's supposed to have to do with the questions at hand. Is there some major point hidden in the issue of hiring the wrong type of helicopters, as opposed to spending millions on failed IT projects?
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:21 am

It doesn't suggest that we have that many military resources going spare. I would think the amount of equipment and clothing that the Irish army had suited to use in a Chad sand storm was limited. Hence the 100 million project price tag.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:24 am

cactus flower wrote:
It doesn't suggest that we have that many military resources going spare. I would think the amount of equipment and clothing that the Irish army had suited to use in a Chad sand storm was limited. Hence the 100 million project price tag.

Oh, I see. You mean the Irish defence forces don't have military resources to spare on peacekeeping? That will certainly be news, I think, to the Irish defence forces.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 3:54 am

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
It doesn't suggest that we have that many military resources going spare. I would think the amount of equipment and clothing that the Irish army had suited to use in a Chad sand storm was limited. Hence the 100 million project price tag.

Oh, I see. You mean the Irish defence forces don't have military resources to spare on peacekeeping? That will certainly be news, I think, to the Irish defence forces.


http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055231504&page=9
Interesting thread here:

The words about military resources going spare were your own.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:00 am

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
It doesn't suggest that we have that many military resources going spare. I would think the amount of equipment and clothing that the Irish army had suited to use in a Chad sand storm was limited. Hence the 100 million project price tag.

Oh, I see. You mean the Irish defence forces don't have military resources to spare on peacekeeping? That will certainly be news, I think, to the Irish defence forces.


http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055231504&page=9
Interesting thread here:

The words about military resources going spare were your own.

Okay...and the relevance, again?
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:10 am

This is all going to get very messy. I'm going to do away with copying large bodies of text and only quote snippets as it tends to make pages long and hard to read imo.

Ibis wrote:
To some extent...but for Iraq and the like, obviously.

I'd see Iraq as a primal example of what I'm talking about. We have the US at first waging an aerial bombarment (I'm not including sanctions at this point as I intend to speak of them shortly) and then getting bogged down in an urban guerilla conflict. Interestingly, before the outbreak of the Iraq/Iran proxy war, Saddam's top generals and other military personnel were taken to the US's School of The Americas, to be taught urban guerilla warfare in the event that Iran successfully invaded Iraq, so that an insurgent phase of the battle plan could begin and bog Iran down in a war that it could not win. That came back to bite them in the arse huh?

Iraq is the vindication of the guerilla model imo. The strongest military force in the history of the earth, is bogged down in a war that it now only wants to withdraw from and this after 12 years of genocidal sanctions were imposed to soften up Iraq to boot. I'm not claiming some moral ground here I'm simply stating what I see. I don't consider it a victory for Iraq, far from it, but it most certainly isn't victory for the US. Indeed the US began to substitute the word "victory" with the word "success" a couple of years ago, and to this day, they still haven't defined what constitutes "success." Fair enough, it's all very far from being over and indeed, Iraq is a toxic wasteland, what with all the DU thrown around, but it's my belief that Iraq will survive with its own unique cultural identity and not the one that the US and its buddies (us) are trying to saddle them with. So yes, I do see Iraq in the terms in which I described modern warfare.

Ibis wrote:
I don't - and I hesitate to say this - see the relevance of any of that to the role of the Irish army, Lisbon, neutrality, or modern peacekeeping. It looks like what you're saying is that: the EU will be (or is) merely a front for neo-colonial aggression, with the Irish army as hired muscle - something that is frankly silly because we're not even the size of a drop in the bucket there; the Irish Army is currently muscle for hire to protect US neo-colonialism at Shannon - or not, or ineffectively - I can't quite tell; that peacekeeping is either futile because it's ineffective or because it ought to be done through cowboy assassinations (or surgical strikes - same thing) but we don't
have a moral mandate to do that? ...

I suppose that's a reasonable view. But, I think we've fallen into the very trap we spoke of regarding the contents of the OP. I'm trying to stay away from a Lisbon debate and look at where we are regarding neutrality and our defence forces. This is quite impossible to do fully as Lisbon is a part of the picture, as is the UN. My argument factors the elements you speak of into it, and is intended, on my part, to reflect Ireland, neutrality and our defence forces. I've not really said much about neutrality as such, as I think it is generally accepted, here at least, that Ireland's neutrality policy, is not what it's being made out to be. Nonetheless, what I've said does take into account the obligations of an actual neutral, both morally and legally. In fairness, it is hardly right to look to the future if we do not realistically take stock of where we are now, in terms of the Irish defence forces. That's what I'm doing, Lisbon et al, do factor into this current viewing but they are not the intended backdrop to what I'm saying. Ireland is.

You rightly mock cowboy assassinations. I'd be bold enough to suggest that at least one of the factors in your mocking is that you recognise no legitimacy to these actions. To me, legitimacy is the fundamental root of any military action. If surgical strikes/cowboy assassinations have no legitimacy then we must consider the possibility that all actions taken in such a conflict are illegitimate and indeed, that all support and authorisation for all these acts, is too illegitimate. That includes the blessing of the UN and indeed the EU. This has profound implications if one backward engineers these bodies to their particular mandate. Where does legitimacy arise from, indeed where does illegitimacy come from. I'll go into this somewhat more, but firstly I want to quote the last of your post.

Ibis wrote:
Either way, I can't see where in that our engagement with the EU is a problem if you don't automatically assume that the EU is essentially tarted-up European colonialism. As I said before that I'm happy to knock that particular ball about a bit, but I'm not willing to accept it as an assumption - and that seems to me to be what you're doing. I suspect, also, that when we do come to knock that ball about, we will find that any evidence of the EU nations having interests abroad will turn out to be exactly equivalent to neo-colonialism, and in turn to nineteenth century imperialism.

Finally, I haven't argued that our current engagement, unchanged by Lisbon as I see it, is, or even could be, an argument for Lisbon. My point in that respect is that anyone who holds up Lisbon as committing us to things we are already committed to is being quite deliberately deceptive.

I think you're making a very loaded point about my assuming that the EU is a tarted up version of European colonialism. Imo, the assumption being made is that it isn't. But, regardless as to that, my argument is essentially one about self determination and indeed defence. The nature of the EU is largely irrelevant to this, short of pointing to what I consider to be a fact: that the EU is a creature of self interest, not philantropy. It is this 'fact' that I use to question any authority established by the EU to take any part in foreign conflicts. But if we must go down the path of arguing the EU being interested in conquest before law and order, so be it. Personally, I think an argument regarding my 'fact' would be enough if it is disputed.

On the other hand, the UN is a beast that I've got my sights levelled at. And I suppose the EU could be considered guilty by association. It'd be my goal to stay away from the conquest argument here too to a degree. My main focus here is methodology, legitmacy and law. The taint that covers the EU and us in my view is that establishing a fully functional and autonomous EU army will follow the lead of the UN and use and abuse its laws.

Methodology: The UN has three main weapons at its disposal (four if you include diplomacy).

i. Sanctions: Designed to bring an offending nation into line without resorting to military engagement. There are situations where this will work. South Africa being a good example. SA grew more than 50% of its food and the ANC actively supported sanctions. Sanctions in this instance did what they were supposed to do. On the other hand we have Iraq. Iraq grew something like 5% of its food, they'd just been decimated by a war and there was no indigenous organisation within Iraq that supported sanctions or were set up to ensure a humanitarian disaster didn't result. The result of sanctions in this case? Half a million kids under the age of six dead, directly as a result of the sanctions. Water treatment facilities degraded to the point where they would be responsible for the spread of disease epidemics (this was a deliberate ploy too and I'd be happy to proveide proof if warranted) and indeed it softened up the peoples of Iraq for the intended invasion to follow. So to suggest that sanctions have a mixed history is to vastly understate the case.

ii. Peacekeeping: Designed to prevent genocide and humanitarian disasters. I cannot think of any situation where I'd be happy with the results of any example of this in practice. It's a fine idea but the nature of the UN prevents it from working. I'm not necessarilly talking about imperialism here. I'm specifically pointing to the fact that written laws may be vetoed and thus ignored. And indeed I'm talking about the UN's fixation about focussing on nations who pose little or no threat beyond their borders. For example, Israel has been in gross violation of UN resolutions for as long as I'm alive and we neither impose sanctions nor do we militarily enforce the resolutions. We won't be seeing blue hats (or EU ones either) wandering around Gaza anytime soon. The veto is only one of the problems here.

iii. Military engagement. Designed to force compliance with UN resolutions. Again, only tends to threaten those who are weak and without powerful friends.

Legitimacy and law:

i. The UN has drafted a very fine set of laws that are effectively not worth the paper they are written on as they do not apply to all.

ii. China and the USA, two massive human rights violators are permanent members and have the power to veto any decision or indeed in practice any law the UN has composed.

iii. No nation has the guts to even contemplate the problems of the UN, much less fix them. If the EU were to become a superpower and become a UN permanent member all problems would be compounded further and indeed would hinder further any moves made by small nations, like us, to seek resolution.

I seriously believe that Ireland must become a self sufficient servant of its people before it can be used as a maid for other nations. This includes mutual defence pacts and peacekeeping. In truth, I find it hard to believe that anyone would gladly follow the likes of Willie O'Dea onto a field of battle, were he a commander. I simply believe we have much housekeeping and resolution to achieve in this country and that our approach to international military affairs is foolishness in the extreme, whilst this continues to be ignored, and will result in much heartache and injustice.

I take your point about committments already made being used as an unfair argument against Lisbon, in that it did not produce these committments and agree with you to a point. But I also understand where the arguments come from. Many feel that our process towards this particular moment in time has been forced and are dreading the wedding ceremony. I feel that way too. I would suggest that these arguments exist legtimately to tell us to drop everything and have a look around. The arguments are aimed at the wrong entity, sure enough, but the said entity could be a spanner in the works nonetheless and the arguments do point towards the full mechanism and its results also. I think it unfortunate that many on the no side feel themselves to be confined to knocking Lisbon, when they really want to say damn the EU, but for one reason or another cannot say such a thing. I myself am in no such position and gladly admit that all my views on Lisbon result of a hatred of the idea and the purpose of the EU and what I see as a gradual loss of our sovereignty.


Last edited by Hermes on Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:54 am

Hmm. Well, for much the reasons you gave, I'm loath to copy and paste great chunks of the text there. Hopefully we're OK to let snippets of text stand in for the bulk.

Hermes wrote:
I'd see Iraq as a primal example of what I'm talking about.
...
So yes, I do see Iraq in the terms in which I described modern warfare.

Good point. I accept the value of insurgency in making a country ungovernable, and a war of occupation thereby unwinnable. However, as we know from Ulster, it's not a surefire thing.

Quote :
I think you're making a very loaded point about my assuming that the EU is a tarted up version of European colonialism. Imo, the assumption being made is that it isn't. But, regardless as to that, my argument is essentially one about self determination and indeed defence. The nature of the EU is largely irrelevant to this, short of pointing to what I consider to be a fact: that the EU is a creature of self interest, not philantropy. It is this 'fact' that I use to question any authority established by the EU to take any part in foreign conflicts. But if we must go down the path of arguing the EU being interested in conquest before law and order, so be it. Personally, I think an argument regarding my 'fact' would be enough if it is disputed.

I think we'd probably need to get into the nitty-gritty of what constitutes "European colonialism", and I suspect we'd come out much as we went in. Countries seek advantages for themselves in relations with other countries, be they business relations, military, whatever - and they apply whatever portion of the spectrum of power they can bring to bear to secure those advantages. That, in a philosophical sense, can make a modern bilateral deal the equivalent of sailing gunboats up the Yangtze - it's still about our country securing an advantage compared to the country we're dealing with.

I imagine that the world is probably divisible into those that fall along a spectrum of opinion (from thinking that's a good thing, to thinking it's an outright evil) and those that don't think about it at all. I'm a dreadful cynic, and suspect that the vast majority of people probably think it's alright as long as it's us doing it and it's not too overtly evil (or at least not visibly so).

Judging by what you're saying about the UN, the EU, and the legitimacy of war as opposed to courts, I feel I can shortcut a lot of the text by summarising your view as being that war is illegitimate, that the world's power structures and trade relations are arranged to the satisfaction of the powerful countries and the exclusion of others except insofar as they may occasionally receive some crumbs from the table. In that view, the UN is essentially a tool of the powerful countries in pursuit of their interests, and the EU is very similar. Correct me if I'm wrong, obviously.

To a large extent I agree with you. War is illegitimate, UN-mandated peacekeeping is very far from perfectly disinterested humanitarian aid, and the EU is going to act in the interests of its member states. I fully accept your points about Israel and the Iraq sanctions.

Where we part ways is in our reaction to that. I'm glad of your reaction, which is, I would say, an entirely proper reaction - possibly the proper reaction. However, my own reaction is encapsulated in the signature I use on p.ie - "never let the best be the enemy of the good". Yes the EU is the tool of its members' interests, and yes the UN is the tool of the powerful countries to maintain a status quo favourable to them - but they're both a hell of a lot better than any currently realistic alternatives. Your view (as ascribed by me, at least) is absolutely necessary - the yeast in the dough, if you don't mind the analogy - but, in my view, too utopian to be a current goal.

The danger in my perspective, obviously, is in failing to see that such is no longer the case, or being too ready to dismiss as utopianism alternatives that are in fact achievable. The danger in yours is that you may attack what is good and achievable in the name of what is best and unachievable. I suspect you might well feel I have already fallen into my trap, and obviously I believe that you have fallen into yours. The question that would test that, for me, is whether we are open to persuasion, and recognise the validity of the other viewpoint...

And so, for the moment, good night!
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:10 am

A very fine post indeed.

And I agree with practically everything you've said. Like I said in the beginning, this stuff is far from being black and white. And indeed I'm very far from having all the answers. Christ, I don't even have half the questions.

But dialogue is where it's at and indeed persuasion, and it must be a two way street.

We both, or either of us, may be victims of our own views and buried in their associated pits. But at least they're not foxholes and that in my book bodes well for the future, in that it only takes cooperation to have us both up and out, once time clears the mists.

Now I'm beginning to remind myself of something out ot Sesame Street. I think a vist to the bed is well in order.

Have a good night.
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PostSubject: Re: Enda wants to end neutrality   Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:15 am

Hermes wrote:
A very fine post indeed.

And I agree with practically everything you've said. Like I said in the beginning, this stuff is far from being black and white. And indeed I'm very far from having all the answers. Christ, I don't even have half the questions.

But dialogue is where it's at and indeed persuasion, and it must be a two way street.

We both, or either of us, may be victims of our own views and buried in their associated pits. But at least they're not foxholes and that in my book bodes well for the future, in that it only takes cooperation to have us both up and out, once time clears the mists.

Now I'm beginning to remind myself of something out ot Sesame Street. I think a vist to the bed is well in order.

Have a good night.

There's no foxholes in Sesame Street, though.



Bloody utopianists.
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