Search topics on this blog

Google+ Badge

Showing posts with label SNP Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SNP Conference. Show all posts

Friday, 19 October 2012

Alex Salmond on NATO and nuclear submarines – Radio Scotland 18th Oct. 2012

Gary Robertson: On the issue of NATO, which your party is discussing at your conference, is a change in policy crucial to reassure Scotland when it comes to voting in the referendum?

Alex Salmond: No, I think a change of policy is the right thing, because all parties should change their policies to equip them for the modern, and the long-term consistency in SNP policies has been our opposition to nuclear weapons. I mean – the SNP in my lifetime has been pro-NATO, we’ve been anti-NATO, we’ve been in favour, as we are now, of Partnership for Peace, which is a NATO organisation. So that’s been an emphasis in the policy, but the underlying consistency is our opposition to nuclear weapons and the best way to remove Trident from Scotland.

Gary Robertson: So would an independent Scotland allow nuclear-armed vessels from allied countries to enter Scottish waters or ports?

Alex Salmond: Well, an independent Scotland would not have possession of, or allow nuclear weapons on Scottish territory …

Gary Robertson: So you’re saying no to to NATO members with nuclear armed vessels ..

Alex Salmond: As you well know ..

Gary Robertson: .. to enter Scottish waters?

Alex Salmond: As you well know - that – the presence of nuclear weapons on a vessel is never confirmed by any power. There’s many examples of this, but 26 out of the 29 countries in NATO are non-nuclear countries. It’s perfectly feasible for Scotland to be one of these, but still engage in collective defence with our friends and allies.

Gary Robertson: But it is a nuclear – broadly, it’s a nuclear umbrella as it were – so it’s all very well saying on one hand you’ll get rid of Trident – but you are suggesting here that, if nuclear weapons arrive on Scottish shores from NATO members, they would be welcome.

Alex Salmond: I didn’t say that, Gary, as you’re well aware. I’m just pointing out that no country ever confirms the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships. But what you’re trying to tell me is that the policy, for example, pursued by the Canadian Government is somehow inconsistent, or the policy pursued by 26 out of the 29 NATO countries is inconsistent. I mean, I can’t wish away nuclear weapons of the United States of America: what I can do is remove the nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction from Scotland called Trident – and I can do that if Scotland votes for independence in two years time. and we can devote the enormous resources that are wasted on these nuclear weapons just now to things like employment for young people and further investment in Scotland’s colleges.

Gary Robertson: But when we go back to Kosovo – when you called that an act of unpardonable folly, you also talked about it being “an act of dubious legality”.  Why would you want to be part of an alliance that acts in a dubious legal way?

Alex Salmond: Because we are under no requirement to follow any provision of international policy which is not sanctioned by the United Nations. If you look at my attack on the Kosovo policy, it was specifically because it wasn’t sanctioned by the United Nations – and if I can take you to a more recent example ..

Gary Robertson: But Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty says an attack on a member is seen as an attack on all NATO members, so you could well find yourself being involved in conflicts that you don’t agree with

Alex Salmond: An attack on a member state – it’s a  - it’s a collective security alliance. Kosovo was not an attack on a member state – and I if was going to point out to you a much more recent example, of course … If you remember back to the famous debate between two nuclear – two NATO countries, that is France and America over the illegal war in Iraq, with the American Government along with Tony Blair and the UK Labour Government and Conservative parties arguing to get into that illegal war – and the French Government and other NATO countries arguing against that illegal war ..  Membership of NATO doesn’t commit you to taking part in international engagement which are not sanctioned by the United Nations and of course, the motion before the party conference explicitly makes it clear that we’d only be in NATO on condition that we were a non-nuclear country, like the vast majority of members, and that we had the right to follow United Nations precepts on international engagements. That doesn’t tie our hands at all in engaging in collective security with our friends and allies.

COMMENT

The essence of this vital short exchange is in the following questions, posed by Gary Robertson, and the First Minister’s responses. I won’t say answers, because he didn’t answer them. But in failing to answer directly, his responses, despite the evasion, gave a vital and, for me decisive insight into just what is in the SNP leadership’s mind.

EXCHANGE ONE

Gary Robertson: So would an independent Scotland allow nuclear-armed vessels from allied countries to enter Scottish waters or ports?

Alex Salmond: Well, an independent Scotland would not have possession of, or allow nuclear weapons on Scottish territory …

Gary Robertson: So you’re saying no to to NATO members with nuclear armed vessels ..

Alex Salmond: As you well know ..

Gary Robertson: .. to enter Scottish waters?

Alex Salmond: As you well know - that – the presence of nuclear weapons on a vessel is never confirmed by any power. There’s many examples of this, but 26 out of the 29 countries in NATO are non-nuclear countries. It’s perfectly feasible for Scotland to be one of these, but still engage in collective defence with our friends and allies.

Gary Robertson: But it is a nuclear – broadly, it’s a nuclear umbrella as it were – so it’s all very well saying on one hand you’ll get rid of Trident – but you are suggesting here that, if nuclear weapons arrive on Scottish shores from NATO members, they would be welcome.

Alex Salmond: I didn’t say that, Gary, as you’re well aware. I’m just pointing out that no country ever confirms the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships.

No, you didn’t say that, First Minister – you didn’t say very much at all …

The question is avoided completely in its initial. straightforward, crystal clear formulation , by a simple repetition of SNP nuclear policy by the FM. When Robertson persists. the FM retreats behind the eyes closed, don’t know, don’t want to know position, followed by yet another repetition of the mantra of what the non-nuclear NATO member countries do.

But in not answering, the First Minister has answered, by default.

An independent Scotland in NATO will offer, without question, safe havens to any nuclear submarine of any NATO nation without insisting on an inspection – perfectly feasible – to determine whether they are carrying nuclear weapons.

In other words, we will become a passive, notionally non-nuclear dock for nuclear armed vessels of a nuclear alliance committed to first strike, NATO.

SECOND EXCHANGE

Gary Robertson: But when we go back to Kosovo – when you called that an act of unpardonable folly, you also talked about it being “an act of dubious legality”. Why would you want to be part of an alliance that acts in a dubious legal way?

Alex Salmond: Because we are under no requirement to follow any provision of international policy which is not sanctioned by the United Nations. If you look at my attack on the Kosovo policy, it was specifically because it wasn’t sanctioned by the United Nations – and if I can take you to a more recent example ..

Gary Robertson: But Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty says an attack on a member is seen as an attack on all NATO members, so you could well find yourself being involved in conflicts that you don’t agree with

Alex Salmond: An attack on a member state – it’s a - it’s a collective security alliance. Kosovo was not an attack on a member state – and I if was going to point out to you a much more recent example, of course … If you remember back to the famous debate between two nuclear – two NATO countries, that is France and America over the illegal war in Iraq, with the American Government along with Tony Blair and the UK Labour Government and Conservative parties arguing to get into that illegal war – and the French Government and other NATO countries arguing against that illegal war .. Membership of NATO doesn’t commit you to taking part in international engagement which are not sanctioned by the United Nations and of course, the motion before the party conference explicitly makes it clear that we’d only be in NATO on condition that we were a non-nuclear country, like the vast majority of members, and that we had the right to follow United Nations precepts on international engagements. That doesn’t tie our hands at all in engaging in collective security with our friends and allies.

The First Minister’s response to Gary Robertson’s simple question - Why would you want to be part of an alliance that acts in a dubious legal way? – is distorted to make it sound as if he said that the Kosovo was an attack on a member state, thus allowing the FM to mount a defence based on his strawman. Robertson did not say that. If I may offer my understanding of his question, it was -

The Kosovo attack was an illegal, unilateral attack on another nation by NATO. Why would anyone, least of all Alex Salmond who had rightly condemned that attack, want to be part of an alliance that had so recently been capable of such a crime?

What follows in the FM’s closing statement offers a fairy tale world, in which moral, non-nuclear Scotland is partners with this international nuclear gangster, NATO, permitting it to come and go as it please with it WMD-armed submarines in Scottish waters, using non-nuclear Scotland as a key base to launch attacks at any time that would carry unimaginable destructive power to the four corners of our planet, but somehow escapes any responsibility for what it does because the Scottish Government prefers not to ask what the subs are carrying, and can draw its skirts back in mock horror, disassociating itself from anything morally dubious.

This is the morality of someone who rents his property to a whoremonger, but claims no knowledge of what is done on his premises.

Has your pragmatism and flexibility come to this Blairite position, First Minister? Do you expect the Scottish electorate to endorse such a contemptible course of action on their way to – independence?