On NATO and Scottish Independence
In the referendum on Scotland’s independence held in 2014, I advocated what I termed a ‘YES/BUT’ position. My reason for the ‘BUT’, on which I insisted, is that, in a neoliberal world, pressures on nation states are immense. In 2022, these pressures have not diminished. However, in the context of war between Russia and the Ukraine, fresh challenges need to be highlighted.
I was horrified to learn, in The National for 17 May, that Nicola Sturgeon regards membership of NATO as a cornerstone of an independent Scotland’s security, It seems that the SNP favours opposition to Trident only to cast us into NATO’s maw.
We need to remember that NATO is a military alliance – one whose ‘crown jewels’ are its nuclear weapons. (I quote from Thomas Meaney’s ‘long read’ in The Guardian for 5 May 2022.) To be a member of NATO is to situate oneself unambiguously in the U.S.A.’s sphere of influence. National independence can no longer be real.
I think that a sense of ethical proportion needs to be kept in mind. How the North British peninsula is to be governed is a trivial issue compared to the question of whether we base our security on the moral obscenity of nuclear threat. It is, of course, understandable that we sympathise with the Ukrainian people whom Putin wants to crush underfoot. But it is vital that we do not fall into a simplistic “goodies versus baddies” style of politics where NATO temporarily takes a morally superior stance. States, including European states, have come to base their security on a combination of statecraft and cunning and mutual military threat. Putin’s war against the Ukraine indicates how fragile such security is.
The devil or the deep sea? When I discovered Sturgeon’s endorsement of NATO, my first inclination was to cast my commitment to Scottish independence in the rubbish bin. A moment of thought conviced me that such a melodramatic gesture was worthless. The nuclear future pictured by Johnson and the Tories (and a large part of the Labour Party) is every bit as bleak as Sturgeon’s acceptance of NATO implies.
We are in a frightening situation. In it, I can only urge that we oppose nuclear weapons everwhere and in every shape or form. Casting Trident aside, if this is still possible, counts for nothing if independence ushers NATO in. Fight! Fight! Fight! using direct action. In so doing, disregard laws regarding trespass and property that we do not, and cannot, respect.