The defence policy for an independent Scotland

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NATOWatch_logo2The latest reflections from NATO Watch, which conducts independent monitoring and analysis of NATO, were brought to our attention this week.

They highlighted the conclusion of the September Commons Defence Committee report, ‘The Defence Implications of Possible Scottish Independence’ : “(W)e have found it very difficult to establish how the foreign and security policy of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has informed its vision for a Scottish defence force”.

The UK government once again reiterated the need for the Scottish government to provide answers to its voters – implying that the SNP has no satisfactory answers to offer: “The people of Scotland and the rest of the UK deserve to be presented with as full a picture as possible of the implications of Scottish independence for their future defence and security”.

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Elsewhere, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond spells it out: the SNP’s defence plans for an independent Scotland are “insultingly vague”

Keith Brown, the Scottish veterans minister, has retaliated by challenging Hammond to a public debate on defence spending, painting a very different picture by focussing on the significant cuts in military bases and personnel in keith brown snp veterans ministerScotland.

The UK’s carefully described lavish defence spending was said by Brown to amount to £2bn – compared with the £3.5bn which Scots taxpayers currently contribute towards the UK’s defence and security.

Membership of NATO?

The report emphasises that the SNP’s application for NATO membership will be ‘complex and time-consuming’ and that “the response to an application from an independent Scotland would be influenced by the Scottish Government’s stance on nuclear weapons”: “NATO is a nuclear alliance and we believe that any action likely to disrupt the operation of the UK’s strategic deterrent would undoubtedly influence NATO Member countries’ attitudes towards an application from Scotland”.

But Brown ends: “An independent Scotland would save billions of pounds by scrapping Trident and removing nuclear weapons from Scottish soil, in accord with the overwhelming wishes of the Scottish people.”

In October the latest Coalition paper on independence, Scotland analysis: Defence, an 88 page document filled with stated concern for the Scottish people’s loss of security and employment, should they opt for independence, warns: “In a globalised world, an independent Scottish state would have to start from scratch, as a new and much smaller state, in forming alliances, building relationships and forging its reputation. It would cease to enjoy the influence that derives from the UK’s established status as a key player within the international system . . . “

But it would also detach itself from the UK’s established status as an invasive American acolyte – surely a cause for pride.

After David Cameron’s September announcement that Britain will host the 2014 NATO Summit, NATO Watch concludes: “So, the stage is set for a big gathering at an undisclosed location, on a unspecified date, accompanied by huge security and the inevitable, tightly managed media circus – and all at great cost, no doubt.

“Will the run-up to the Summit be used to overshadow the Scottish referendum and add to the SNP’s difficulties in securing majority support for its policy of independence from the UK as a non-nuclear Member State of NATO?”

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Despite funding being a constant, uphill battle, NATO Watch remains committed to balance by organising a Shadow Summit with partners, as it did in May 2012, presenting pre-Summit briefings and a post-Summit evaluation, as per Chicago 2012.

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