On this day in 1936 the German military annexed the Rhineland (this annexation is being used as it’s geographical push is the one that mostly mirrors what is happening currently and does not diminish the annexation of other areas during this time) on the border between the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. This was done in an act of taking back what they believed was theirs and was a clear disregard to the treaty of Versailles. Obviously the treaty if Versailles had a lot to play in the rise of Nazi Germany with the aftermath of the first world war and must never be repeated, but the similarities between what has happened 86 years ago and now in Ukraine with the Russian invasion is incredible.
With this in mind, I must state that this has been a piece I have been toying with and putting off for the longest time due to the nature of the beast that it is. This was something that I wanted to write about for years but could never seem to find the words to articulate what I wanted to write. However, with recent developments within Europe I feel it would be amiss to not use the growing fire in my belly that has been fuelled by this absolute tragedy of a situational crisis to platform from in order to make a point for the EU and her member states to have a standing federalised military to accompany active and neutral states as individuals and as a collective.
As this is coming from an Irish perspective, I believe that the invasion of the Ukraine by Russian forces is akin to that of my Irish history of being invaded and colonised by British forces. This historical context has in my mind and based on my time living on this planet, connected me to what the current people of Ukraine are up against now. An invading and colonial power looking to resurrect a zombie that is the USSR.
It may also be applicable to understand that Ireland is a neutral state with regard to it’s military and defensive stance on the world stage and is something that must be cherished at home and even adopted to the wider community, but we must not mistake neutrality for complacent pacifism and unrealistic optimism.
I think it is fair to say that anyone sound of mind does not want war but must be ready to defend it if a time unfortunately comes. This sentiment can be summed up with the following: “To be a warrior in a garden of flowers is preferable to a gardener on a battlefield.”
So with the need for neutrality to be protected and adopted broadly, but to also ensure a region with nations of warriors within gardens, the following is what I would propose to bring about a society of stronger and more capable people who will only use force in defending their land and community, while focusing the defense force on being a socio-economic equaliser for the people.
We have become far to complacent with our neutrality and have mistaken such things for pure pacifism. This is something that must be rectified to protect ourselves and our allies and prevent expansionist policy from aggressors or even from our allied nations. It is unfortunate that such stances must be taken as we want nothing but peace, but sometimes an anomaly comes around and threatens our homes, families, and generations not even born yet. We must protect our present and our futures for self determination and dilution of political power to prevent any such autocracy and totalitarian regime to seed and sprout in societies such as ours.
A Fully Funded and Standing EU Military — A Focus on Defence and What it Would Mean
Basic Training — All Irish citizens must undergo a 16 weeks civilian basic training course to understand how a defence force operates and to have a good level of basic fitness. This will simply open up a foundation of knowledge on the state of the defence forces, can allow those to hold a rank of retained civilian personnel to help during times of internal non combative crisis like flood relief or cardiac arrest resuscitation to improve someone’s chances of living until the ambulance get there.
Selective (Neutral) Conscription — This conscription will be for those who want to sign on for an 18–24 month period of service within the Irish and EU defence forces. This will be a full on intensive course on Irish and EU military training to qualify you as an Irish/EU soldier. It will distill the usual 5 year mandatory service contract currently found in the Irish defence forces into a maximum of two years. Once complete, an extension of 12–36 months can be determined to focus on peace-keeping activities, acquiring academic or apprenticeship qualification, and language and military Erasmus programs. Depending on the time served on selective conscription will go towards state pension, job experience, and personal benefits.
Language Training and Military Erasmus — By being a neutral part of the EU standing military, it will open up opportunity to learn languages and learn how other militaries conduct themselves through immersive defence programs.
Educational Opportunities: Academics and Apprenticeships — By having such avenues for people within an Irish/EU military structure avail of education which would not be thought of being pursued due to other reasons within the civilian world, from hands on mechanics to cyber warfare counter-resistance, education qualifications can be attained.
Health Benefits — A yearly physical and mental checkup and a tiered covered medical expenses program for treatment for those based on service time given will ensure that defensive combat exposed individuals are looked after and checkup are conducted to ensure and prevent any illness that may impede the future of an individual.
Civil and Social Leadership — The military may be a lifeline a lot of people may need to begin building a future that would otherwise be shut off to them. By delivering discipline and pride into someone, it will allow for potential to be nurtured and a love of community to grow. This will reduce those that turn to crime out of desperation and help in societal crime prevention. By gearing the military towards future building for individuals, we will see a lot more productive members of society while providing guidance to people who need it in a world of chaos. Taking self care and owning responsibility in a modern world that is prone to overuse of litigation culture will end up having a better positive effect for everyone.
Political Representative Defence Voting — There must be a minimum service record by elected politicians to make them eligible to vote on sending troops to peace keep to understand the weight of their decision as combat and defence is not a decision to be made lightly or in a trivial manner.
To Implement an Engagement as Last Resort Policy — Just as it says on the tin, engagement to be carried out only as a last resort, but engagement under the national flag must only be done in a defence action. Any provocation to incite an invasion and call defence or warmongering for the sake of warmongering is grounds for dismissal effective immediately while stripping all assets from those that are conducting such warmongering activities.
To Implement a “Defence Only” Policy — The distinction between a military offence and a military defence must be understood and legalised to ensure and enshrine an approach to peace and neutrality must be a forever commitment, but if an offence is launched the target nation or group has within reason to launch a purely defence resistance.
To Implement a Neutral and Non Combative Response to Help Allies in Defence Conflicts Through an EU Military Call to Action — With Ireland holding on to an active defensive military and neutral international status, it will help in allied nations in any way it can in a non combative manner with intel, communications, and medical responses. As a member of the EU and the EU federalised military, it will then be up to the individual themselves if they wish to take a call to active defence within the EU to help an ally. This will allow Irish defence to release said soldier into the EU military for active duty as long as such defenses are coherent with Irish neutrality and defensive law. That means they will fly the EU flag and not an Irish one, but will be marked and understood to be Irish.
Rejection of Orders Protection when it comes to Poor Leadership Decisions — It is no surprise that in every aspect of society there are poor leaders. People who achieved positions of leadership through falling upwards, nepotism, and being given political expediency to help agendas. This is going to also be evident in the defence forces. This is were an understanding were an order is completely wrong and detrimental to those involved can invoke a rejection of orders and not be thrown into military prison and dishonorably discharged to save face and prevent ego from being hurt.
Nobody wants war. I’m pretty sure this is a universal thing, but it needs to be said as there are some folk who will read this a flip out as they are blindly pacifist (their heart is in the right place but they are utopian in thinking and the realities of the world are completely polar to this ideology). People just want to be left to their own devices and live how they wish. However, this does not mean that each nation must be ready to defend itself in case something arises and be used as a socio-economic equalizer during the other 99.99% of the time.
When I say defence I mean defense. Not what we have seen from superpowers like Russia, the USA, and China, who like to go on the offensive but dress it up as defense with justification. Which brings me back to what I said in the previous paragraph, defense must mean defense. We must also be understanding of the difference between neutrality and pacifism with regards to military.
Neutrality is when the state does not help or aide any side in a conflict, but being neutral must come with a caveat that allows for help in other means to allies such as health provisions, intelligence, and communication arrays. However, the wishes of some soldiers must be met and if the feel the call to defend another allied state that is combating an aggressor, then a potential move to another military foreign legion division could be accommodated, with swift return to Irish soil for physical and mental treatment or to be put to rest with the service given to be respected in the minding of any kin left behind per each situation.
Pacifism is a total renouncement of military and defensive means which is quiet simply a neglection of duty to keeping your home safe, and also a dereliction of duty to allow those use the military to improve their lives and become constructive members of society and civil structure when options are limited or not available at the time.
If this was an option for myself when I was younger and finishing secondary school, it would have been a pathway I would have went down to find discipline and guidance when facing into an unknown and scary future at 17. If this was an option now, I would gladly sign up for the 16 weeks basic training and also a two year selective conscription to gain vital understanding of how the defence forces works and integrates into Irish society.
I also need to reiterate that war, anywhere in the world, to any people that identify a certain way, is an atrocity. This is a point that doesn’t need defending, but to the social media geopolitical strategists who are gaslighting the situation to debase the atrocities in the Ukraine by placing Yemen, Syria, etc. on a higher pedestal of victimisation, I understand where you’re coming from, but your message is delivered in a terrible and under thought way. It’s big news because it’s on our doorstep to a people who we have lived with closely for decades, not because of some blind superficial racism you believe to be totally inherent in populous. This war is an atrocity (yes the third time it’s being used in a paragraph just to emphasis the situation) equal to any other humanitarian war crisis on the face of the planet today, and for you to suggest otherwise is a complete disconnect of reality and an ego stroking exercise to look intellectual, rational, and worldly.
Finally I can’t stress this point enough, the actions of such leaders of such countries are not representative of the vast majority of the people. People do not want war as it is not constructive to a prosperous or fulfilling life. However, if people must defend their home then that is completely understandable. If anyone blames Russia and her people for what is going on, you are completely wrong. It is not the people’s Russia, it is Putin’s Russia. As a lot of pro-Putin mouthpieces like to drum bang, NATO and the USA have been doing nothing but instigating provocation the last eight years trying to border Russian territory. If someone says that this is a response to NATO trying to reach said Russian borders, that is just not the case. Russian territory is boarding 4 European states that are NATO affiliated. These states are Poland (1999 on Kaliningrad), Lithuania (2004 on Kaliningrad), Latvia (2004 on mainland Russia), and Estonia (2004 on mainland Russia). NATO borders predate Presidential/Prime Minister Putin by a year and the latest additions to the Russian border are 18 years ago, which a decade longer than what Putin and his ilk are propagating as a means to take up arms.
So again I repeat, nobody wants war, and nobody should go on the offensive, but by Christ should we be ready in case any crackpot decides otherwise. Freedom is worth fighting for and to hijack neutrality with blind idiotic pacifism when the barbarians are at the gates is a sure sign of resigning to being dominated and subject to a mere footnote of history under the thumb of autocracy, and those of us who stood by believing pacifism was the way to heaven on Earth will be believing that work will set you free.