Ireland is ostensibly a non-belligerent nation exercising its sovereign neutrality
Atlantic seaboard airport is a nexus for American military planes and personnel
Chequered history has seen Ireland provide manpower to selected conflicts
Neutral with Benefits
Ireland has traditionally adopted a neutral position in international relations ever since the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922. Of course, this didn’t stop Irish citizens signing up for Allied Forces during both World Wars. Nor did it preclude the involvement of Irishmen in the Spanish Civil War and a long list of foreign conflicts far from the shores of nominally neutral Ireland.
However, let’s assume we can let historical bygones remain firmly in the 20th century where they belong. The nature of 21st-century conflict has forced the world to re-examine its values and policies with unspeakable acts of human carnage and terrorism dominating the headlines.
Ireland’s conundrum is maintaining the integrity of its neutrality without turning a cold shoulder to its closest allies and economic partners.
Where do you sit on the issue of Irish neutrality? Is it time to stop paying lip service to the war on terror and get Irish boots on the ground or should Ireland continue as the European poster child for peacekeeping and non-aggression? Cast your vote and have your opinion counted!
The Black-and-White Controversy
Critics of Ireland’s liberal policy toward Shannon Airport’s supporting role in foreign military operations regularly chastise the Irish government for allegedly selling the Irish people down the proverbial river. The protests and controversy stem from a perceived violation of Ireland’s long-standing neutrality. If you buy into the argument, the use of Shannon Airport by foreign military planes and personnel for refueling and stopovers is a flagrant breach of Ireland’s thinly-veiled commitment to non-belligerence.
Moreover, the mere presence of foreign forces and equipment on Irish soil means we have effectively nailed our colors to the mast and shattered the utopian veneer of Ireland’s splendid isolation during global military conflicts. Could the issue really be so black and white?
According to ShannonWatch.org (Ireland’s anti-Uncle Sam lobby), the following figures are damning evidence of the Irish government’s tacit military support for the war on terror. They purportedly provide the smoking gun and represent a gargantuan betrayal of Irish people and political values. This argument also assumes that Shannon airport is a crucial hub for foreign forces and indispensable to the war on terror.
ShannonWatch.org's smoking gun statistics
The 50-Shades-of-Grey Reality
"Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country's most friendless days, much injured, much enduring land, accept this poor tribute from one who esteems thy worth, and mourns thy desolation."
- George Washington, on Ireland's support for America during the revolution.
Irish blood and American heart have forged unbreakable bonds for centuries now. George Washington had no doubts about it back then and that remains as relevant as ever today. Further muddying the already murky waters of this issue are Ireland’s strong economic ties to America. It would be both economic and historical heresy to understate the importance of this special relationship. For those who wish to overlook the significant history of migration between these two countries, there remains a compelling economic narrative: Ireland is the world’s most profitable country for US corporations and the US has traditionally been Ireland’s most lucrative export market.
In the final analysis, it would seem that the pertinent question emerging may well be a complex one to answer with lots of emotional, historical and economic bonds at stake for both nations. Wouldn’t it be a crying shame to jeopardize that special bond to maintain a wafer-thin fantasy of never-ending neutrality?
Now have your say on the future of Irish neutrality by casting your vote below!