Ireland: “Irish government bent the knee to imperialist powers”

Socialist MP lambasts militarisation

The following speech by Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (MP), was made in Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) on 4 July.

“Irish government bent the knee to imperialist powers”

Dáil Éireann, 4th July 2006, Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006

Joe Higgins (The Socialist Party):

The Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006 represents the logical progression of an Irish Government which has consistently bent the knee to the interests of major imperialist powers around the globe since it came to power. While billions of ordinary people throughout the world understood that the excuse for the invasion of Iraq – that the country had weapons of mass destruction – was a monstrous lie, the Irish Government pretended to believe it and supported that criminal invasion. It continues to support the occupation of Iraq by the United States and Britain, which is an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq.

The formation of battle groups represents the latest instalment in the strategy of militarisation of the European Union. It is no secret that the key powers in the EU have consciously planned a military wing for a long time. Their rationale is quite straightforward. The expanded European Union is a major economic entity comprising a population of up to 500 million. A military wing is needed to complement this huge capitalist economic bloc. The militarisation also relates to the relationship with the biggest imperialist power in the world, the United States. The European Union sees itself sometimes an ally and sometimes a rival of the United States. In many ways, the EU establishment resents the diplomatic power the US wields throughout the world, deriving from its armed forces. The EU wishes to rival the US as a super power in certain critical areas of the world. Sometimes they will be in friendly co-operation, while also pushing the particular interests of the European Union when it comes into conflict with the United States. Undoubtedly, the national capitalist classes within the EU will at times break down in defence of their own national interests when this is necessary.

It is obscene that a new arms race is now apace in the modern era. The arms race formerly pitted the capitalist west against the Stalinist east, but now the European armaments industry is attempting to emulate the massive power of the United States in terms of armaments. What an obscenity it is that the huge resources of humanity are wasted on the creation of further weapons of mass destruction when they could be used to resolve humanitarian problems. I have heard the United Nations being put forward as an alternative in the debate and that easy line is repeatedly trotted out. What is the United Nations? Just look at four of the Security Council’s permanent members: the United States, Britain, China and Russia. They are all countries that have walked with jackboots over any other nation or people when it suited their interests to do so. One has only to take Iraq, Chechnya and Tibet as examples. Other states in the UN General Assembly have governments that are not much better than brigands and thieves who routinely rob their own people. How can we say that the future peace of humanity lies with them?

The alternative is the working class and the poor of the world taking control of the resources of our planet and using them for the benefit of the majority, rather than being corralled by a tiny corrupt elite and the multinational corporations. Such a democratic socialist organisation of society would eliminate the obscene wastage of resources and apply them instead to resolving the problems of humanity.

Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats, Fine Gael and Labour will apparently support this Bill. The Green Party opposes it but will that party make the repeal of this legislation a condition for entering Government with Fine Gael and Labour, if such an eventuality arises following next year’s general election? The Green Party should let us know about that.

Tony Gregor (Independent):

A good question.

J. Higgins:

The mood of working people within the EU is not towards the creation of battle groups and militarisation. That mood was captured in the massive protests against the Iraq invasion which mobilised millions of ordinary citizens throughout the EU. I assure the Minister and the Government that if the EU moves increasingly, as it intends to do, in the direction of militarisation, it will come up first and foremost against the opposition of its own people to any form of military adventures.

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July 2006