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Putin’s subs have exposed Ireland’s shameless hypocrisy

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It’s not as though Ireland would have to instantly start buying Poseidons either: there are any number of readily available, affordable (often uncrewed) options – air, surface and subsurface – that could help with this long before you have to consider specialist ships and aircraft. 

The response online to this latest incursion is instructive. 

Ignoring those who said the Nato patrol aircraft should be shot down for being in Irish airspace – needless to say, Ireland is incapable of doing so – two themes emerge.

First “we don’t need to spend money on this as Russia will never attack Ireland” second, “we don’t need to spend money on this as the UK has it covered”. The word ‘freeloading’ features regularly.

To the first group I would say, what do you think Russian submarines are doing in the vicinity of your CUI – making it more resilient? 

To the second group, some dependence on allies is fine and to a large degree is the bedrock of our security infrastructure. Overreliance, however, is not, especially as discussed earlier, when those allies are overstretched themselves. 

Finally, there is a danger that later this year our strongest ally from whom we draw so much support and strength might say the same to us. In places like the Red Sea, given how much more dependent we are on the flow of trade through it than the USA is, coupled with the separatist behaviour of the EU forces down there, it’s surprising it hasn’t happened already.

The UK and the rest of non-American Nato needs to wargame what we can’t do without the US and focus our limited resources on that. There’s no great need to involve the EU: two of the three nations which went to work off County Mayo just now were non-EU, and the nation which couldn’t take care of itself was one of the keenest EU members of them all. And not a Nato member, of course, so why we should defend it is even less clear.

Hopefully Nato will remain the bedrock of Western security for decades to come but mapping out what it would look like if it doesn’t seems a sensible precaution to me – not so much because I believe America would let us down in the crunch, but because it is rude to simply plan for them to do our work for us. Ireland should step up from its – sorry – considerably lower level, and invest in the ability to protect the sea environment it needs simply to survive. It should at least consider being able to do so without UK or US support.

Not doing so is simply using freeloading as a strategy.

In the meantime the old rule is out of the window. We do talk about submarine operations, and we should do so more and more.

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