, Dublin 6.

Tel. 087-236 4312
fax 01-497 7043



9th November 1998.


The Editor,


Sir, - It looks as if a campaign is building up for Ireland to join the Partnership for Peace. The Secretary-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs (at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on 28th October says that our non-membership is "curious". It must be assumed that a concerted effort is under way to get the Government to change its existing policy of staying out of the PfP. Indeed, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, confirmed that a review was under way on 5th November.

Those who advocate our joining the PfP have yet to answer the question of exactly what it is for. Some say that the purpose of PfP was to reassure the Russians that an adhesion to NATO by Eastern European countries did not threaten Russia's security. A much better way of letting Russia feel not threatened would surely have been to not expand NATO in the first place. However, assuming that the formation of PfP has reassured Russia, Ireland's joining PfP will hardly add appreciably to the reassurance.

If the aim of PfP is simply so that Irish troops can engage in joint training with other potential peacekeepers, it has to be asked why a structure had to be set up for this.

Commentators who say that non-membership of PfP will result in the failure of our attempt to win a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations should explain why a mere failure to participate in a joint training structure would make us an international persona non grata.

For PfP is a creation of NATO and in the absence of any clear reason for joining PfP one can only assume that the real reason is to use PfP as a slippery slope down which we will slide to membership of the nuclear-armed alliance NATO. First we accept observer status in the Western European Union, then we reinforce our participation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy, then we join PfP, then the reasons for not joining WEU and NATO come to seem insignificant.

The advocates of PfP seem to have swallowed the dubious historical idea that we sheltered under NATO's nuclear umbrella. It is at least arguable that if we were doing so, the umbrella was unnecessary since no rain was falling. However, if it really is true that NATO kept the peace against a Soviet threat, why does it still exist when that threat is over? Why has it not dissolved instead of thinking up schemes for self-perpetuation like the PfP?

- Yours, etc.,
John Goodwillie,
Vice-chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament


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