Thursday, 27 June 2019
European Union Battle Group: Motion
Every time we discuss battle groups or their equivalents in this House, the establishment parties wince in embarrassment at the name "battle groups" and try to explain away and justify the fact that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party will vote in favour of Irish participation in a German-led battle group by saying there is nothing to see here because it is all humanitarian.
What war has ever been fought with an open explanation that it is a war for oil or an imperialist war for plunder? Wars are always fought on the basis of false premises. Humanitarian reasons have, since the beginning of conflict, been a tried and trusted reason that various imperialist powers have reached for. A justification for First World War was the protection of Belgian refugees. The 19th century French intervention in Syria was justified as being for humanitarian reasons. The US invasion of Haiti in 1915 was for humanitarian reasons. It stretches to the present day, through the first Gulf War in the 1990s and the later Gulf War based on the dodgy dossiers. There were also the NATO interventions in Yugoslavia and Kosovo and, in 2011, the NATO-led attacks in Libya. Imperialist interventions are often justified as being on the basis of humanitarian need so this is no exception.
Is it true, as Deputy Wallace has said in the past, that Ireland's participation in battle groups has resulted in our troops being trained in the use of armoured personnel carriers armed with 30 mm cannons, grenade launchers and other such advanced weaponry? What on earth does that have to do with disaster relief and rescue missions?
Peace enforcement is also listed in the Petersberg Tasks to which the Minister of State referred. "Enforcement" is to make something happen or force somebody to do something. In conflicts, peace enforcement means using military force, or the threat of same, to impose one's will.
The Government hides behind the idea that unanimity is needed at European Council level so Ireland will not be forced into anything. As Deputy Boyd Barrett did, I will quote the words of Angela Merkel. Not only did she come out openly in favour of a European army, she also said that, in the long run, Europe must become more capable to act:
We have to reconsider our ways of deciding and to renounce the principle of unanimity where the European treaties allow and wherever this is necessary. I proposed a European security council in which important decisions can be prepared faster.
This is a German-led battle group.