Online Public Meeting: Defend Irish Neutrality- No To War In Ukraine
Richard Boyd Barrett – PBP TD for Dún Laoghaire
Denis Zagladkin – Russian Socialist Tendency
Ashley Smith – Democratic Socialists of America & Spectre Journal
Diana O’Dwyer – PBP activist and Dáil researcher
Meeting ID: 849 1348 4804
The government are using the crisis in Ukraine to attack Irish neutrality. They want to align Ireland with NATO. That is why RTE continually broadcasts a version of the conflict that is drawn from US 'intelligence sources’.
They never mention that NATO is seeking to expand eastward to encircle Russia.
If you were only listening to RTE you would never know that last year NATO held a two-month 'Defender Europe’ exercise, involving 28,000 American and European troops on Russia’s borders, backed by ostentatiously aggressive US-UK naval operations in the Black Sea.
Opposing NATO does not mean supporting Putin – no more than opposing the Gulf War meant that supporting Saddam Hussein.
Putin is a thug who suppresses opposition. He is a great Russian chauvinist who is seeking to rebuild an empire. Socialists in Russia and beyond are totally opposed to his rule.
When he was attacking Chechnya in 1999-2000, the Western allies watched contentedly as its capital Grozny was razed to the ground. Russia was then considered a loyal subordinate, since it backed the West on most issues – not least throwing open its bases to aid the NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
But we have now entered an era of great power conflict between the US, Russia and China. The drum beat of war is being sounded in a way that has not been heard in Europe in decades.
If Ireland was a genuinely neutral country, its government would be shouting loudly against the new imperialist competition. But the exact opposite is happening.
By coincidence a Report on the Commission on Defence Forces was issued last week. It effectively argues for an increase in military spending and makes reference to the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as an opportunity to 'develop Ireland’s defence capabilities. The Irish government signed up to PESCO in 2017 and now wants us to reach its target of an additional €2 billion extra on military spending.
At a time when they claim there is no money to spend on a state run housing programme, this is scandalous. But it is worse when we consider what that spending will be used for.
NATO is mentioned in the report 44 times – with several references to NATO standards in equipment – while Russia and China are highlighted potential enemies.
There is one area where the state should be spending more money – on soldiers pay. 85% of Irish military personnel earn less than the average industrial wage. The army provides only €4.20 for three meals per day per person which is well below the UN guidance of €10.50.
But the government is not interested in alleviating poverty among soldiers. Its primary concern is to drag us closer to NATO at a time when Europe is glimpsing the possibility of war on the continent
We should reject these war games and defend Irish neutrality.