The Free State on a war footing

As was feared and predicted, the report of the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy has been an excuse for the state to shed the Triple Lock and further erode Irish neutrality.

The Triple Lock – itself a compromise that does not preclude Irish involvement in foreign interventions and occupations – is merely a legalistic in nature. And yet even this must go, according to Tánaiste Micheál Martin.

Yet anti-imperialists in Ireland know that this neutrality is a myth, as evidenced by the use of Shannon Airport as a de-facto US military base. Ireland is also partially in NATO already through the direct occupation of the northern six counties, and through programmes like NATO’s Partnership for Peace.

We must ask, what conflicts would the southern government have actually advocated to intervene in had it not been restrained by the Triple Lock?

Would Irish soldiers be sent off to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya? Would Ireland have sent even more military equipment to the inter-imperialist conflict in Ukraine? And why is it that the Irish capitalist class, supported by its European and American allies, wishes to militarise even further?

This is all triggered by the wave of militarisation across the world in the context of increased tensions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the newest wave of resistance in Palestine.

November has also seen the publication of the implementation plan for the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces.

This ambitious plan is aimed at doubling the number of ships in the navy by 2040, as well as doubling the real size of the defence forces by 2028, along with myriad reforms and modernisation efforts which will amount to a near doubling of their budget.

It also recommends the introduction of a pathway to Irish citizenship through service, taking clear advantage of the destitution dealt upon refugees and migrants to expand the military.

NATO members are required to spend at least 2% of a country’s GDP on their military. Ireland is a very long way off from this (averaging about 0.2-0.3%), and while NATO membership is what this state’s media and ruling class clearly aspires to, it also has another option.

Given 22 EU states are members of NATO, further integration into EU militarisation would effectively mean aligning with NATO and would result in integrating the Defence Forces with the largest military alliance in the world.

A core part of this is increased participation in NATO Partnership for “Peace” (PfP) initiatives and the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) programme. Ireland raised its participation in PfP from 15 projects to 22 in 2023.

As of 2022, the Free State had only participated in one PESCO project, whereas currently the state are a participant in four and an observer in 21 more.

Irish workers and young anti-imperialists must build a campaign against this clear attempt to draw Ireland further into American and EU imperialist ambitions.

Increased militarisation can only mean distracting us from the reality of the class domination at the base of capitalism.

Increased integration into NATO and EU militarisation can only mean complicity in imperialist wars, occupations, and terror.

We must push past mythical neutrality, and instead express our total solidarity with anti-imperialist forces all over the world and oppose imperialism in all its forms.

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