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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Shutterstock/Anton Balazh
Irish neutrality won’t be respected by the likes of ISIS, so why hold so dear to it?
Ireland will be neutral until the day, unlikely and all that it is, that we require someone else’s military assistance, writes Aaron McKenna.

IRELAND’S NEUTRALITY HAS a long and often controversial history. Many people see it as a way for a small country on the periphery of Europe to keep out of the big conflicts, hot and cold, that have engulfed the region since the foundation of the state.

Others have questioned the motives of neutrality at certain times and increasingly its applicability to the present world circumstance we find ourselves in.

Our neutrality during the Second World War will be debated till time ends, but there is no doubt that in actively avoiding support for the allied war effort we were on the wrong side of history. We may argue that entering a big war would have been impractical for such a small, young and struggling nation.

Then again, the British bankrupted their state and lost their empire for fighting a war they might have ended in a truce in 1940. British citizens celebrated their victory over fascism with continued rationing until 1954. Sometimes, when all the debating and prevarication is over there is just the clear right thing to do when faced with evil incarnate in a regime that made no secret of its racist ideology of conquest.

Why are we a neutral country?

A regime which also made no secret of its respect for neutral countries, and which would clearly have gobbled Ireland up had Britain fallen in an invasion.

Neutrality was less about a principled stand as it was about hoping to be eaten last, and with a minimum of fuss if truth be known. Fast forward to today and Ireland is a member of a European Union that is actively under sustained attacks from groups that espouse as clearly bloody and evil a creed as the National Socialists ever did.

As currently the most virile strand of Islamic extremism, ISIS is quite clearly one of the most evil regimes to grace to planet in modern times. This is an organisation that actively wins territory and proceeds to mass murder on the basis of creed or race. ISIS is an organisation that actively makes high production videos of mass shootings and individual beheadings.

They’re a group who go out of their way to find new and sadistic ways to murder people. When beheadings became a bit old, they switched to lighting people afire in cages. Then, someone sat down and actively thought up the idea of instead hog tying people upside down from a specially constructed structure and lighting them afire that way; because variety is the spice of murderous life.

There is no question whatsoever that this regime is evil on this earth, and when they are gone we will remember their deeds the same way we think about the Balkan wars or the Cambodian genocide among others.

ISIS – an evil regime 


There is also no question that this evil regime would attack us physically just as much as it attacks us morally when it shoots up Paris on a Friday night or blows up trains in London or Madrid.

Refusing to actively fight such a regime puts us on the wrong side of history, and it smacks of once again hoping to be eaten last.

Ireland has long maintained a policy of closeness to our non-military allies, and one always feels that there’s an edge of “Ah, but you’ll help us if we need it.” On 12 September 2001 keen observers would have noted the upgraded military aircraft the Irish Air Corps suddenly had available to patrol our skies.

If the Soviets had put a boot on the ground in Donegal during the Cold War, in an attempt to help seal the Iceland-UK gap that was so strategically vital to them, one feels that the Irish government wouldn’t have felt too much hesitation in asking the Paras to switch from shooting nationalists to shooting communists in our time of need.

Similarly, if Ireland was the victim of an attack by ISIS tomorrow – and may it please never happen on our streets – we would probably be cheering on coalition forces as they proceeded to bomb the hell out of some desert capital on our behalf the following night.

Our peacekeeping troops 

In the wake of the Paris attacks, we have perhaps found an appropriate response to assist the French in offering to send peacekeeping troops to places like Mali, where they can relieve French troops to go take part in other activities related to the war on ISIS.

This is right and proper, though it is amazing that in order to do so we need assent from the United Nations and its broken institutions thanks to our “triple lock” policy for authorising missions.

Essentially, if Ireland wants to assist a European partner we require the assent of Vladimir Putin and whichever regime happens to have got a spot on the security council that week.

Ireland will never be a militarily active partner in any coalition against anyone. We have a small, highly professional and accomplished peacekeeping force that should be used at what it is good at.

Going forward into the future, however, we know that Ireland will be unlikely to be able to participate in any actions against ISIS in even this capacity unless the UN tells us we’re good to go.

Could we send in a peacekeeping and stability force in the wake of conquering French and British troops, if that so happened, if they were acting unilaterally? Of course not. Should we be able to? Of course we should.

We owe it to our European partners and, let’s face it, guarantors of our own security if push ever came to shove to be able to act freely in cooperation with them for our common defence.

Ireland will be neutral until the day, unlikely and all that it is, that we require someone else’s military assistance. That is a weak willed and morally unconscionable position.

Aaron McKenna is a businessman on columnist for You can follow him on Twitter here.

Read: Ireland is on track to become the most obese country in Europe – it’s time to tax sugar>

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