Having It Both Ways

Opinion: From David Mackenzie. Thurs 13th September
Some NATO apologists claim it will be easier for an independent Scotland to get rid of Trident if we are part of NATO. This came first from Joe Fitzpatrick, the Dundee MSP, who is now a Scottish Government Minister and the notion  was repeated yesterday at the Scottish Affairs Committee. The idea appears to be that “negotiations” about the removal of Trident will be simpler since within NATO we will have credibility and will be able to use NATO to put pressure on the remaining UK to take it away. What lies behind that argument is the belief, conscious or otherwise, that an independent Scotland will actually have little or no real ability to take decisions for itself and so will have to go cap-in-hand to superior powers in search of favours. In fact, if we are really committed to Trident removal on the grounds of morality and international law  then negotiation means something very different. It involves making our bottom lines clear – that Trident must go and in as short a space of time as is reasonable. We would of course discuss with the remaining UK how this might be done most safely and how we can best work together so that it goes smoothly. If Scotland is what they call a “sovereign nation” (meaning an autonomous one) then we make these critical decisions – we do not ask for favours. This points up the contradiction in the SNP leadership approach to the issue. On the one hand the repeated “cast iron” assurances of the intention to get rid of Trident indicate a position based on principle and negotiations based on immovable bottom lines. On the other, Scotland’s autonomy is diluted to the point that we have to ask nicely for Trident to go. At the moment the SNP leaders are attempting to straddle this impossible ditch. The longer they delay choosing a side the greater chance of them ending up in the mud. And this is not just about Trident – it is also true of other aspects of NATO’s little ways, like involvement in hideous wars and the projecting of dominant western economic interests.

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