May 21, 2022
The Royal Marines are participating in a training exercise in Dalby with several other NATO members and allied forces (Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images)

Along with other incomplete institutions created from the ashes of World War II, it has largely achieved this goal: the Europeans living in the decades since the formation of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and NATO Saw the longest period of peace. History of the Continent.

While the horrors of the Yugoslav war and the collective trauma of the tragedy remind us that this peace was neither universal nor perfect, the relative lack of interstate conflict in Europe in the late 20th century was a historic breakdown after centuries of bloodshed.

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This fragile peace was made possible by the multilateral institutions that were clearly created to enhance cooperation and interdependence between the peoples and governments of the West.

The support of these institutions in the SNP is largely uncontroversial. We sincerely aspire to membership in the United Nations as an independent state and have been clear in our belief that the most prosperous future of an independent Scotland is to be found as a member of the European Union.

Nevertheless, a decade ago, when SNP members voted in our conference to support an independent Scotland for NATO membership, it was a controversial issue for the party at the time.

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There are legitimate reasons to oppose NATO membership – in fact the Prime Minister of Iceland is an opponent who has so far stated that he has no desire to exclude his country from the alliance.

But I firmly believe that the arguments for membership in these bodies outweigh the arguments against them, and ten years later I still believe that, as in Denmark and Norway, as non-nuclear members of NATO But the best security and safety of an independent Scotland is guaranteed. .

I am a supporter of NATO because I am a supporter of peace. My own political journey, like many of my age, began during the Iraq war. I marched on the streets against Tony Blair’s war, against the devastation that we knew would be waged against innocent Iraqi citizens and against a unilateral and illegal invasion of Iraq without the approval of the United Nations or NATO.

In a complex and increasingly unpredictable world, the key to our security lies in multilateralism, international cooperation and public support for our democratic institutions. The invasion of Iraq was the opposite.

But NATO is a defense alliance: a coalition of states that unites to share the burden of protecting their sovereignty. This is a point that is often misunderstood or misrepresented by those who have objected to NATO’s “expansion to the east”, which is sometimes called a precursor to the current conflict. ۔

This is a curious phrase. It paints a picture of unity as if it were a form of international fungus, which is always spreading eastward and hovering unpleasant states in its path. It presents the expansion of a unified, collective security organization in a way that many states deny the agency – some of them smaller than Scotland – and its people who threaten their sovereignty and citizens with external threats. Tried to join the coalition voluntarily to avoid.

These threats did not end with the Berlin Wall. The first European war of the 21st century was the Russian invasion of Georgia (an aspiring member of NATO) in 2008, while the world today sees Russia threatening to invade Ukraine (an aspiring member of NATO) for the second time since 2014. Is.

Since the fall of the USSR, the former Eastern Bloc states have looked east and west and opted for refuge in the Alliance. As the events in Ukraine remind us, despite the best efforts of the architects of the post-war international system, the spectacle of war continues to plague Europe.

Scotland, in many ways, is blessed with our geography. In the northwestern corner of Europe, we have enviable access to freshwater and modern energy sources that put us in a better position to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

We share a land border with a country that would be a close friend and ally after voting for Scotland, and not as dangerous as the former Eastern Bloc countries. So why do we need NATO?

Fi
rst, the position of our island threatens to give us a false sense of security: while Brock may never be attacked across the border, Russian planes and ships are increasing in frequency near Scottish waters and airspace, and Adventure with courage.

That same month, RAF jets pounded four Russian military planes in Lossiemouth, north of Scotland, to stop them. Joining and cooperating in a defense alliance – and playing a role in protecting our North Atlantic neighborhood – is significant for a small maritime nation like Scotland.

And secondly, and most simply, because joining NATO is a symbol of our values. An independent Scotland would aspire to be a good global citizen, playing its part in safeguarding peace and common security.

Institutions such as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations are international public goods: if every Western state abandons this alliance and isolates it – or worse, it is certain that another state will work for peace. Yes – we will all be in bad shape. .

As a small state in the world that is witnessing a return to great power, Scotland needs these alliances and institutions more than our larger neighbors.

I am convinced that in the SNP we made the right decision a decade ago when we voted in favor of independent Scotland’s NATO membership. The threat of another war on the European continent serves as a strong warning of how easily our fragile peace could be broken, and reminds us of the need to defend it vigorously.

Stuart MacDonald MP is the SNP’s spokesman for defense.

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