Monday, 22 October 2012

Power Over Principle?

The above building is well on its way to completion for 2015 at a cost of a mere £105m to the UK taxpayers.

The resplendent glass structure is the new NATO HQ building, situated on the northern side of the dual carriageway leading from Brussels towards Zaventem Airport, in an area which previously could only be described as 'no man's land'.

No doubt Alex Salmond is pleased SNP delegates narrowly voted for his proposal for an independent Scotland to join NATO, but will the newly adopted  part of his defence strategy make independence more palatable to floating voters?

Time alone will tell but I was, like some of the speakers at the conference, very sceptical of the pro-speakers statistics.  Where are the 75% of Scots who want Scotland to belong to NATO? Most people of my acquaintance are against having Trident missiles in Scotland and against the principles of NATO - just like the SNP has been for the past 30 years.

Angus Robertson's argument had a populist slant to it rather than deeply thought out points and his Who Dares Wins remark after his very slim victory confirmed it was a policy engineered to gain votes, with the defence of the country secondary.

Why join NATO now? In Afghanistan the UK are providing three times more troops per head of population than other European NATO allies. Will an independent Scotland follow London's lead in any future operations?

But the NATO policy wasn't only about defence; assuring the country's safety was secondary to the necessity of the SNP leadership to consolidate its power.

Power over principle is a dangerous route for any politician to walk.  Luckily this time Alex Salmond won the argument, albeit by inches, but he must be careful to avoid the trap into which Labour fell in recent years when their preoccupation with power at all costs lost them two elections and the trust of the Scottish electorate.


JRB said...

Big mistake – and by Big I mean really, really BIG – Mega mistake !!!

For long enough the SNP has stood bravely and resolutely against both NATO and nuclear armament, and many have proffered their faithful support in admiration of that stance.

But now the SNP have split their party and its support, they have reversed their historic stance and voted in support of NATO; and for what?

How long before they vote in support of nuclear weapons?

How long before other fundamental SNP principles fall by the wayside on route to 2014?

How long before their support just falls away?

This has been a - Big mistake – really, really BIG – Mega mistake !!!

Fourfolksache said...

Big mistake? Are you joking?
Scepticism about the majority of Scots wanting to be in the NATO alliance based on anecdote is rubbish. Unionists two major attacks on independence are Defence and Economy. We need to put all our efforts into countering both. And the suggestion that we will lose support when independence is the ONLY chance of getting rid of TRident is ludicrous!
To be frank it is a sad fact that most voters seem significantly disengaged about Trident.When did you lastt hear a strident call against them on an economic basis never mind a moral one? I believe that this will gradually become a bigger issue and one with which we can challenge Labour but the that idea that we are driving people back to Labour with this change of policy is nonsense

subrosa said...

I'd certainly agree the change of policy will have a harmful effect on the SNP JRB. It's another stick given to the unionists.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

The concern is the creep of pragmatism can destroy principle in the push for power.

It is a concern not without substance - we only need to look at the politics of Labour and the quality of democracy as practised within the Westminster model to weigh the quality, competence and commitment this leads to.

Perhaps the word 'Government' with all its connotations of power should be dropped in favour of 'Administration'.

subrosa said...

Why would we need to be in NATO Fourfolksache? To get a seat at the table with the 'big' boys?

The majority of folk I know still firmly believe Scotland shouldn't possess nuclear weapons. Of course they're mainly the older generation who fought for years against their installation here in the first place.

Seems like the youngest generation will now have to do the same if we're to be part of NATO.

Demetrius said...

But who runs NATO these days, and to what purpose? More to the point who actually "owns" it in the sense of money and military authority. Is it now just a hangover from the past or is there a real need for it? Also, beware of second hand aircraft carrier salesmen.

Anon said...

The SNP is DEAD!

NATO are the people who carried out the Operation Gladio terrorism in Italy, Belgium, Greece, Turkey etc (including the Bologna Bomb, the shootings in a supermarket in Belgium, the Ergenekon terror)

NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Contemporary Security Studies), by professor Daniele Ganser, 2005, ISBN 0-7146-8500-3

Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy, by Philip Willan, 2002, ISBN 0-595-24697-4

NATO is reportedly involved in the narcotics trade.

- Aangirfan

Brian said...

I'm surprised that most Scots are against the principles of NATO as I understand them to include collective support, consensual decision making, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In addition, if Article 5 is invoked, each member only has to provide the support that they consider appropriate, hence an independent Scotland could contribute a field hospital or a civilian development team or allow staging at Scottish airports. Outside of Article 5, every member is free to choose to take part or not in NATO-managed activities.

Hamish said...

NATO is as obsolete as the Soviet Union. In so far as there is a threat to Scotland, it is not from external powers, it is the threat of terrorism within.
We can deal with that ourselves.

subrosa said...

Well said Crinkly.

subrosa said...

It's a group of people who like being in Power Demetrius and appears to be a talking shop, without any influence, these days.

When Germany refused to take part in Iraq operations there was nothing NATO could do and that shows the lack of influence.

subrosa said...

I'd agree they've made a serious mistake here Anon.

Thankfully the YES campaign isn't only the SNP...

subrosa said...

You're right Hamish.

Edward Spalton said...

NATO was probably the most successful, limited, purely defensive alliance ever. It achieved its objective of keeping th Soviets out of Western Europe without firing a shot in anger. So, many people have a sort of residual loyalty to the organisation which kept the huge tank army in East Germany from rolling through the Fulda gap.

But it has changed it's nature utterly into an unlimited, supra national group (aka "The International Community"),undertaking aggressive "humanitarian interventions" wherever it sees fit.

Yugoslavia was the first. Western states,particularly Germany, poured money and arms into the various separatist movements and used the resulting mayhem as a pretext for an unprovoked attack, contrary not only to the UN but to th Helsinki accords to which they were all signatories. I have written some of this up in an article called "The Balkans Today, the West Tomorrow" Which was published in Quarterly Review and is available on amongst the articles which scroll up on the right hand side of the home page.

We do still need something like old NATO

subrosa said...

I would agree with you Edward that we do need an organisation similar to old NATO but it's not going to happen as this new structure is far too far down the road of 'modernism'.

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