Saturday 22 October 2016

Ireland must reject the madness of militarisation

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Russian President Vladimir Putin. 'The militarisation of Europe in order to encircle Russia presents a huge threat to humanity'
Russian President Vladimir Putin. 'The militarisation of Europe in order to encircle Russia presents a huge threat to humanity'

Professor Ray Kinsella's letter (Irish Independent, August 1) justifiably advocates a referendum to put Irish neutrality into Bunreacht na hÉireann.

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Irish neutrality was ended with Ireland's facilitation of the US-led Afghan and Iraq wars. It's vital that the restoration of Irish neutrality should be positive or active neutrality, as distinct from our isolationist neutrality during World War II.

From the 1960s on, our neutrality has taken the clear route of supporting international peace and justice.

Many of the current Middle Eastern conflicts have their roots in Western exploitation and interference. Al Qa'ida and Isil are the product of this interference and their attacks on Western countries, however unjustified, are predictable blowback responses that will continue until just peace is established.

As Prof Kinsella rightly points out, the militarisation of Europe for the purpose of encircling and threatening Russia presents an even greater threat to the people of Europe and to humanity than the conflicts in the Middle East.

There is a false perception since the end of the Cold War that the threat of nuclear holocaust has diminished. Nuclear weapons have become far more sophisticated and powerful, and sub-nuclear weapons containing large amounts of depleted uranium have already been used by the US and Nato in the Balkans and the Middle East.

A limited but devastating war in Europe could suit the economic interests of the US elite who see their economic world dominance being threatened in recent times, provided such a war can be maintained at a sub-nuclear and regional level.

Old-fashioned Russian roulette gave the participant a one-in-six chance of blowing their brains out. Playing Russian roulette with nuclear arms has a greater chance of blowing the whole world up.

Ireland must take the road towards peace and justice, and away from the madness of militarisation and war.

Dr Edward Horgan

Castletroy, Limerick

Russia's treatment of neutral states

In his letter 'Neutrality must be put to the vote', Professor Ray Kinsella writes that "the recent NATO summit put in place the infrastructure for war", and that Russia's priorities are "modernisation of its defence capability to ensure stability both within its own borders, and globally - particularly in the Middle East. This does not remotely equate to a threat to Europe".

The problem with that view is that Russia began to build its war infrastructure on Nato borders (in its Kaliningrad enclave) long before the Nato summit, and even before the so-called Arab Spring.

Since 1999, Russia has been repeatedly calling snap exercises including more than 100,000 troops, in breach of the Vienna Document that Russia signed. In these exercises, Russia simulated nuclear attacks not only on Nato members like Poland (Exercise Zapad in 2009), but also on neutral Sweden (in March 2013).

According to a Swedish-language 'Svenska Dagbladet' report, the 2013 operation involved two TU-22M3 bombers escorted by four Su-27 flankers - the planes carried out mock attacks on a military facility near Stockholm and a second facility in southern Sweden.

This, and the evidence that a Russian submarine entered Sweden's territorial waters in October 2014, was the reason why Sweden launched its largest military operation since the Cold War.

Added to this is the fact that Russia's FSB security service allegedly abducted an Estonian officer - on Estonian territory - in a cross-border raid.

What's more, on February 18, 2015, Russian Tu-95 bombers flew just 40km off the Irish coast with their transponders off, causing civilian airline planes carrying hundreds of people to be diverted in mid-air to avoid potential collisions.

These incidents provide a completely different picture of how Russia treats neutral countries.

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow

We're in midst of world media war

This week, Pope Francis said, "The world is at war, but it is not a war of religions."

Meanwhile, we have Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan closing down 130 media outlets after the recent failed coup in that country. In my opinion, we are in the middle of a world media war.

There are many battles being fought through the world media, and social media in particular. There are those who are trying to control the media, there are those who use the media to promote their evil goals, like Isil, and we have the 'snipers' (trolls) who like to pick out their individual targets for 'assassination'.

Make no mistake, this is real war and a war which feeds off austerity and that sense of betrayal felt by many across the globe towards the leaders who promised them a better future, then let them down.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

This is not a conflict of religions

The recent atrocities perpetrated by terrorists are more related to climate change and economic instability than to a clash of cultures or religions.

No ideology or religion can justify or condone the despicable slaughter of a priest before his congregation. Such acts are cowardly and criminal in the view of Islam.

Long before the Geneva Convention came into existence, Islam had enjoined its adherents to not kill a child, a woman, an aged or infirm person, or a priest; not to harm a church, not to cut a tree, not to obliterate a stream and not to slaughter even animals, except for food.

The wars in Congo, Rwanda, Cambodia, eastern Ukraine, the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with power, conquest and hegemony.

The Syrian war has evolved into more extreme and sectarian violence, with awful humanitarian and refugee repercussions.

Europe has tasted a little bit of what small countries like Jordan have had to grapple with over the past few years.

It is wise to keep reminding ourselves that the West cannot lose close allies who stand in the vanguard of combating international terrorism. Jordan has reached 'host country fatigue', with millions of refugees overwhelming its public services. Schools have even returned to the double-shift system abandoned years ago, just to accommodate Syrian children.

As Jordan's King Abdullah II put it: "We are in the midst of a third world war." We cannot afford to fall into the terrorists' trap and claim that this war is a war of religions. This is a war between civilisation and barbarism.

This is a critical time to pool our resources, pursue a holistic approach, look after close allies like Jordan and show the world that there is hope, even after genocide.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London NW2, United Kingdom

Irish Independent

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