WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT OUR NEUTRALITY

Normally what is happening in Lithuania would not really be a concern of ours but ever since Vlad the Bad invaded Ukraine everything has changed utterly.  To put this in context, Lithuania is both a member of NATO and the EU.  The problem lies with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, with a population of 1 million.  It is also the home of Russia’s Baltic fleet.  However, it is also dependent on a vital rail link through Lithuania and herein lies the problem.  The movement of goods on that rail-link are subject to EU sanctions.  When Lithuania introduced the ban, the Russian Security Council Chief, Nikolai Patrushev threatened a “ serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania”.  With tensions so heightened in the region you can see how easily matters can get out of hand.  As there is a EU Summit happening now no doubt this subject will come up for discussion.  What stance will our government take ?  We may be on the edge of Europe but we also do have a seat on the European Security Council.  In this hostile world we live in, how do you react to a gangster state which is prepared to use the threat of mass starvation to further its aims.  I think it is time to at least have a debate about the nature of our neutrality.  It is no longer about members of our army serving in a peace-keeping capacity in far-off lands.  We are now dealing with cyber warfare where Ireland’s leading role as a location for high-tech companies must make us highly vulnerable.  Don’t forget how hard the Russians tried to expand their Embassy here.  It was not for benign purposes and our government was right to reject any attempt by the Russians to expand their presence.  So before our government rushes headlong into increasing expenditure on defence, we need to ask some very simple questions like what are we trying to achieve ? and indeed, how much can we afford ?  Will this be done under an EU umbrella or do we continue as an independent neutral State ?  Should we, because of our strategic position on the edge of Western Europe, consider joining Nato ?  As a nation we should be brave enough and confident enough to have an open debate about these issues.  I think this process is important because the composition of the government we have now is likely to be very different to the government that might be in place following the next General Election.  It could also be important for the electorate to understand where their politicians stand on these issues.

Turning to the big demented beast of American politics, Donald Trump, the stream of evidence emerging at the 6th January Hearings in Washington make it increasingly likely that he will face criminal charges.  Frankly, having lived in America during the Watergate Affair which unseated President Nixon, I would be astonished if he didn’t go down.  Trump’s sins are far greater than Nixons.  Ultimately I believe in the American system, one of checks and balances, although I have to say my faith was seriously dented during the Trump Presidency.  What The Donald tried to do was to subvert democracy.  He must go down and, bluntly, he should end up  behind bars.