Thursday, August 14, 2008

Russian invasion of Georgia - questions for Ireland

Russia’s invasion of Georgia poses some interesting questions for Ireland’s policy on energy security and neutrality .

The need to ensure European energy security, currently heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas, is likely to mean that nuclear energy will become a much more attractive option than heretofore. Ireland cannot be immune from such considerations. Minister Ryan’s promised “debate” on nuclear energy may not prove to be the foregone conclusion he appears to think it is.

Ireland’s neutrality is copper-fastened by our commitment to only become involved in foreign missions which have been sanctioned by a resolution of the UN Security Council. Yet what is the basis for the moral authority of that body, as currently constituted?

China, France, Russia, UK & USA, the five permanent members of that Council, each holds a veto over any such resolution. China is in the dock over human rights in general and Tibet in particular. France has recently been indicted by the Rwandan government over its alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide in that country. Russia has demonstrated in Chechnya that it will be utterly ruthless in defending its own interests. Russia’s action in Georgia, to date, is only in the halfpenny place compared to Chechnya. UK & USA bypassed the UN for their 2003 invasion of Iraq, while the USA continues to defy international law through the ongoing operation of Guantanamo and its policy of extraordinary rendition.

Churchill’s famous dictum that “jaw jaw is better than war war” is still valid and it is undoubtedly worthwhile to have a forum such as the UN for “jaw jaw” among the major powers.

The moral authority of the Security Council must now be threadbare at best, it’s almost as if the lunatics have taken over the asylum Surely it’s time for Ireland to behave like a mature democracy and take its direction from our own moral compass?

Footnote: Published as a letter in the Irish Times.

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