NOT FOR decades has a Middle East crisis come so close to provoking war on a global scale of East versus West, with Ireland by now virtually dragooned into being part of it via Nato partnership groups and EU security policies. Just days ago the White House warned that US and British strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria were “the beginning, not the end” of its military actions in the region. Meanwhile, foreign minister Micheál Martin warned against the devastating consequences for the world if there was any widening of the conflict. How strange then, considering the US role in the conflict, that in January a US army general, Daniel Hokanson, who is chief of the United States National Guard, visited Dublin for discussions on security co-operation between the US and Ireland.
While the Department of Defence did publish pictures on its X account of Hokanson receiving a warm welcome from secretary general Jacqui McCrum, the accompanying text was rather vague. It merely stated: “Secretary General @MccrumJacqui was delighted to meet with the Chief of the US National Guard Bureau, @ChiefNGB General Daniel Hokanson during his recent visit to Ireland”.
In addition to meeting McCrum, Hokanson also met with Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence Peter Burke and the Irish Defence Forces chief of staff, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy.
Daniel Hokanson was here to promote the US Department of Defense’s National Guard State Partnership Program (NGSPP). With over a thousand events organised with partner countries each year, the NGSPP is seen as key to meeting the US’s security co-operation objectives. The National Guard aims to improve interoperability with the defence forces with which it works around the world in areas such as infantry tactics; counter-terrorism; aviation operations; and leader, staff, officer and NCO development.
DHokanson told McCrum and her officials in the Department of Defence: “When we work with like-minded partners, together we make the world a safer place for the advancement of our shared values.” Like backing Israel to the hilt with awesome multi-billion weapons of war with which to commit genocide?
According to an article on the National Guard’s website, Clancy “told Hokanson the [Irish defence] force is working to refine its culture and overhaul its structure. He also expressed a need for Ireland’s forces to be more postured for defense and collective security”.
In response, Daniel Hokanson argued that as the National Guard – with its 453,000 strong army and air guard personnel – is the second-largest military organisation in the US after the army, the state partnership programme could provide the Irish Defence Forces with a suitable partner to overcome these challenges.
Hokanson’s visit to Ireland did not come out of the blue and last July McCrum met him in Maryland to learn more about the NGSPP.
That concerns about our neutrality being threatened by such co-operative military ventures with Nato and other western armed forces are routinely dismissed by ministers as scaremongering and paranoia is disingenuous and amounts to a deliberate misleading of the public. In the current world climate, it is positively criminal.