Ireland is now on the brink of joining a NATO-linked military grouping, the "Partnership for Peace" (PfP). Despite earlier strong opposition, Fianna Fail looks set to follow the Progressive Democrats and Fine Gael in supporting membership. This follows an intensive lobbying and media campaign in favour of the NATO grouping. In one week alone last November, we witnessed the incredible interference in political affairs by senior army officers, including the Chief of Staff, advocating the PfP or similar European defence cooperation, a view supported by senior members of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO); a virtual announcement by the Minister for Defence that we were joining; and an article in the Irish Times by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, calling for a debate while indicating his own partiality to the PfP.
This poses major credibility problems for Fianna Fail, whose 1997 Election Manifesto stated: "We oppose Irish participation in NATO itself, in NATO-led organisations such as the Partnership for Peace, or in the Western European Union beyond observer status". The Minister for Foreign Affairs did not refer to this electoral pledge in his Irish Times article,(November 28, 1998), but he did state that things had changed, particularly in the past year, with the PfP. The only things that have changed are that Fianna Fail is now in Government and that the PfP has become "enhanced", i.e. even more closely tied to NATO.
There are a number of arguments being put forward for PfP: We're told that the army is bored and demoralised and the PfP would be a much needed fillip; we could confine our PfP co-operation to peace-keeping and humanitarian missions; without the PfP, our opportunities to do UN peacekeeping will dry up; over forty countries have joined including the European neutrals which "proves" it won't affect our Neutrality; and Ireland can't afford to remain out of this new European "security architecture".
But in every room of this new security "architecture" is to be found NATO. And that is the objection. The foundation of European and international security should be based on the universality of the United Nations, not on a narrow Cold War military bloc, bolstered by nuclear weapons. At its launch in 1994, the PfP was hailed by NATO as playing "an important role [in the] enlargement of NATO" and President Clinton, in November 1996, proclaimed that the PfP was "a path to full NATO membership for some and a strong lasting link to the Alliance for all".
David Andrews' Irish Times article stated that we have no intention of joining NATO: "There can be no question of Ireland joining a military alliance based on nuclear weapons". Why then are we considering a "strong lasting link" to NATO? David Andrews' own New Agenda disarmament initiative in 1998 called for "a firm commitment on the part of the nuclear weapons states to proceed with the rapid elimination of nuclear weapons. Nothing less than a straight and unambiguous political commitment will do". Yet NATO believes that nuclear weapons "continue to play a unique and essential role in the Alliance's strategy of war prevention". "[There is] no need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy -- and we do not foresee any future need to do so ". (December 17, 1996, NATO Defence Communique). This policy and NATO's "first use" of nuclear weapons stance remains unchanged.
Partnership for Peace is Partnership with NATO:
1) The PfP involves an agreement negotiated directly with NATO. It operates under the authority of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's supreme body chaired by the NATO Secretary General.
2) The PfP can go beyond peace-keeping and humanitarian missions and in 1997 was "enhanced" to include peace enforcement/crisis management, "much more robust, complex military-to-military co-operation" (Senior NATO official, June 1997). The US Ambassador to NATO remarked that the enhanced PfP is furthering the goal of military interoperability and "making the difference between being a partner and being an ally razor thin". The Irish Government can choose which aspects of the PfP it wishes to adopt. However, it's important to note the broadness of the PfP and to question for how long Ireland could confine its involvement. And as a PfP member, would Ireland not be associated with those PfP actions it didn't take part in?
3) PfP can go beyond Europe and won't necessarily have a UN mandate. NATO is putting the mechanisms in place to police the world. At the moment, PfP is being plugged as a support structure for the UN: one of its Framework Document objectives is to able to provide troops "subject to constitutional considerations, to operations under the authority of the UN and/or the responsibility of the OSCE" (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a UN regional grouping). But the other Framework Document objectives (See Box 1) do not limit the PfP to UN mandated missions (neither indeed does objective 3c for the "authority of the UN" is not the same as a UN "mandate", as U.S. "interpretations" of UN mandates have already shown in the Gulf). Objectives 3d and 3e are all about carrying out peacekeeping/humanitarian operations "and others as may be subsequently agreed" (as now is the case under "enhanced" PfP) in cooperation with NATO forces. As mentioned in PANA's first European Defence Debate Document, NATO has developed a Combined Joint Task Force as a vehicle for operating out of Europe and NATO envisages the PfP cooperating with this task force, the "operational arm" of the Alliance for crisis management operations. (See NATO Review, July/August 1997, page 13). No where does it state that these missions must be UN mandated. While Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili, called for the PfP to be able to act in Africa and the Middle East. (Irish Times, 16/12/96)
4) Irish troops would participate in joint exercises with NATO forces, under the direction of NATO and possibly on Irish territory. And the line separating NATO military exercises from those of the PfP can be easily blurred. For instance, in Exercise Strong Resolve (March 1998) involving 50,000 NATO and PfP forces from 25 countries, the exercise was divided into Crisis South and Crisis North. Crisis South was a NATO-led PfP peace-keeping/evacuation operation and NATO's first test of a sea-based task force, while Crisis North -- involving only NATO troops -- was a common defence (Article 5) response to an outside attack on NATO territory: a coordination of World War III on the one hand, and peacekeeping on the other! (Perhaps Crisis South was evacuating from the radioactive fallout from Crisis North..)
5) Irish military equipment would have to conform to NATO standards, at the Irish taxpayers expense. Interoperability of our forces with NATO is one of the PfP Framework Document objectives. We would acquire Standardisation Agreements (STANAGs) which identify common NATO procedures, systems and equipment standards and would interact with a number of NATO defence committees in the implementation of these standards. The PfP and the NATO enlargement it assists have provided a billion dollar bonanza to the arms industry as new members/partners strive to bring their military equipment in line with NATO standards. Ireland is about to provide a few million more to the defence contractors: it has issued a ¬£40m tender for 40 armoured personnel carriers last April, the acquisition of which will "give the Army the ability to participate properly as an element of a European defence organisation, whether that be under NATO or the Western European Union --- the nascent European military corps". (Irish Times, April 25, 1998, Jim Cusack). Also, in any future non-UN peace-keeping operations, the army would have to supply its own equipment. (The carriers Ireland uses in South Lebanon belong to the UN.) The Irish soldiers' union, Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks Representative Association, (PDFORRA) recently called for a massive increase in defence spending in order to prepare Ireland for participation in NATO-led security arrangements. (Irish Times, January 28, 1999). PDFORRA envisages a 4,600-strong mechanised infantry to serve in NATO-led operations and exercises and is proposing the purchase of "intercept" or "strike" aircraft as well. Apart from the issue of Ireland feeding the international arms market, one must question the priorities of Government spending on weapons instead of on hospitals, housing, education, unemployment, a clean environment, childcare, assistance to the developing world, etc. Ireland can continue to perform international peacekeeping -- as it has for decades -- without big increases in defence spending: it can maintain its highly reputable peacekeeping with the United Nations. Once Irish peacekeeping becomes NATO-fied, -- filtered through NATO-led operations -- that is when the big money will be needed for more and more military hardware. It is not just our neutrality which will suffer.
6) Irish officers would serve in NATO headquarters in Brussels and in the Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC) at Mons, Belgium, where Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is also located. The PCC operates under the authority of the North Atlantic Council and co-ordinates PfP military activities with NATO staffs, commands and agencies. In 1997, as part of the 'enhanced' PfP, Partner Staff Elements (PSE) were established at various levels of NATO, allowing officers from PfP countries to work alongside NATO counterparts at various levels of NATO military structure. "These officers, most significantly, will serve in international posts, not working for their countries but for the partnership itself". This would be similar to allies in an alliance. The PSEs are also regarded as "the basis for involving partners in the Combined Joint Task Forces concept, which will be the 'operational arm' of the Alliance for crisis management operations". (NATO Review, July/August 97)[See 3 above].
7) The PfP assists the enlargement of a nuclear-weapons-based alliance. At its launch in 1994, it was acknowledged that the PfP would play a key role in the expansion of NATO. And it has, with PfP members Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic now readying themselves (buying lots of NATO standardised weapons and equipment -- the arms market there is reckoned to be worth $35 billion) to become full NATO members in 1999. NATO expansion means the potential siting of nuclear weapons in these new territories, and the extension of training in nuclear strategies and nuclear-weapons use. This raises problems for the Irish-inspired Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as for attempts to develop nuclear-free-zones in Central and Eastern Europe. NATO's reliance on nuclear weapons is not set to diminish but is in fact to be reinforced at NATO's fiftieth Anniversary celebrations this year (April 1999). Nuclear policies of NATO have already been found to be illegal under international law by the International Court of Justice at the Hague in 1996. To become "partners" will NATO will be seen as condoning these policies and will make a mockery of Irish disarmament attempts. Enlargement is causing intense disquiet in Russia and there has been much written about the dangers inherent in a Russia fearing encirclement. Although Russia has joined the PfP - - a controversial decision (a bid to avoid exclusion and encirclement by NATO) still not fully implemented -- the State Duma has expressed "deep concern" with PfP exercises near Russia's borders and called for a reconsideration of Russia's PfP membership. (26/9/97).
8) The PfP will undermine Neutrality. Supporters of the PfP insist that Ireland would remain Neutral in that the PfP does not entail a mutual defence commitment. That is the argument the other Neutrals have also given for entering the PfP. But, as the above examples show, that is a very thin veneer. And such a definition is a very narrow and erroneous interpretation of Neutrality. Ireland's objection to NATO membership and support for Neutrality has always been broader than objection to mutual defence commitments: it has involved revulsion to nuclear weapons, the arms industry, and support for the poor and marginalised of the developing world (often victims of militarism and the arms industry) and the United Nations. At any rate, several PfP neutrals are reconsidering neutrality, with debates in both Sweden and Austria about joining NATO (Austria is mentioned as being in the next wave of NATO members) and Finland and Sweden already cooperate on defence, including weapons production and procurement and coastal surveillance. Austria, as part of PfP, has signed an accord with NATO which gives a basis for "all technical and legal issues of deploying NATO troops in Austria and Austrian troops abroad". (January 1997, UPI). NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe has already referred to the "neutrals" in the PfP as "former neutrals" (NATO Review, March 1995). None of them sought electoral support for membership.
9) The UN's Role in Peacekeeping and maintaining international security will be downgraded. Much has been written about NATO's attempt to find a new role for itself after the Cold War, to justify its continued existence. Extending its operations into the "peace-keeping/enforcement" area via the PfP provided NATO with a major lifeline. In the process, the UN and its regional grouping in Europe, the OSCE, have been starved of funds and support, a major tragedy and blunder of the post-Cold War. Tasks more properly belonging to the UN have been handed over to NATO. As point No. 3 above shows, NATO is flexing its muscles to move out of Europe and usurp the UN's rightful role as the maintainer of international security. The argument that Ireland's peacekeeping abilities will be hampered or our UN missions curtailed if we don't join the PfP doesn't ring true. There are over 140 other countries in this world not belonging to the PfP: are they too to be excluded from future UN peacekeeping roles? Ireland's expertise in this area is well known, and Irish peacekeepers will always be in demand. Ireland's peacekeeping school at the Curragh is internationally renowned. There are presently 17 UN peacekeeping missions. Only one -- SFOR in Bosnia/Herzegovina -- is under NATO command. And Ireland and several other countries are involved in SFOR without being PfP members. Being a PfP member is not a pre-requisite for assisting the former Yugoslavia, nor should it be. Not joining the PfP is not an act of isolationism. It is a stand on behalf of reasserting the UN's primary role in peacekeeping and international security.
10) A Final Note on the New NATO: the White Race in Arms? This expansion of both NATO's role and its membership is ringing alarm bells in many parts of the world. NATO has always been regarded as the "defence club of the prosperous transatlantic democratic world.....If, as NATO plans and expects, Russia falls into its embrace, the alliance is on track to become (and don't think the Chinese and the Islamic world have not noticed) not only a security system that reaches from Los Angeles to Vladivostock, but something more ambitious still: the white race in arms". (Martin Walker, The Guardian, October 27, 1998) Is Ireland's good reputation in the developing world to be placed in jeopardy as we join the White Man's Club to bring "proper order" into global affairs?
This pamphlet is specifically on the Partnership for Peace.
But it must be added that the whole PfP project links in with
developments in the European Union, specifically under the Amsterdam
Treaty, to bring defence matters into the European Union. The
NATO-linked Western European Union (WEU) was chosen to be what
is in effect the defence wing of the European Union.
However the WEU is only the middle-man between NATO and the EU, and the British, in particular, are now leading a move to sidestep that middle-man and link the EU directly with NATO. Having all the EU in the PfP would facilitate that move: at the moment, Ireland is the only non-PfP member in the EU.
In March, 1996, Bertie Ahern stated in the Dail that any attempt to join the PfP without a referendum would be a "serious breach of faith and fundamentally undemocratic". He went on: "While the Government may reassure the public that there are no implications for our Neutrality, and that may be technically true at this time, it will be seen by other countries as a gratuitous signal that Ireland is moving away from its neutrality and towards gradual incorporation into NATO and WEU in due course". (March 29, 1996).
Despite earlier reassurances last November in the Dail to John Gormley, Green Party TD, that a referendum on PfP would be held, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has since backtracked on his promise. If the Government insists on joining, then it should also agree to a referendum so that at least the arguments can be placed before the Irish people. Anything less would be a "serious breach of faith and fundamentally undemocratic". These are serious issues, involving questions of war and peace, and should be decided directly by the people.
The other states subscribing to the Framework document of the PfP will cooperate with NATO in pursuing the following objectives:
3(D) the development of cooperative military relations with NATO, for the purpose of joint planning, training, and exercises in order to strenghten their ability to undertake missions in the field of peacekeeping, search and rescue, humanitarian operations, and others as may subsequently be agreed;
3(E) the development, over the longer term, of forces that are better able to operate with those of members of the North Atlantic Alliance.
6. those who envisage participation in missions referred to in paragraph 3(D) will, where approriate, take part in related NATO exercises;
- they will fund their own participation in Partnership activities, and will endeavour otherwise to share the burden of mounting exercises in which they take part.
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