The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

R = PB – C

So the British state is telling the truth when it says that it "has no selfish economic, political or strategic interests in the North".
- Liam O Ruairc • 11 April 2004 The Blanket

Thus it is argued that the money poured into the north of Ireland is proof that Britain has no interest in the place!
- Craig, McNulty & Flannigan, 1998, The Real Irish Peace Process

Eoghan O’Suilleabhain • 12 April 2004

Return (R) equals the probability (P) of getting the benefits (B) minus the cost (C). This handy little equation explains all rational human behaviour on the micro or macro scale.

That is, people and nation states act purposefully for their own benefit. This is the fundamental principle of the "realist" school of international relations and is standard reading for most undergraduate political science students. Reference John Spanier’s book: Games Nations Play (London: Nelson, 1972).

Therefore, Bush and Blair invaded and occupy Iraq not for the welfare of the Iraqis as they would like us all to think but for the welfare of their own British and American corporate pimps.

It is ever thus whether in Ireland or Iraq:

Britain does continue to have a real interest in Ireland. The 26 counties alone is the UK’s fifth most important export destination and is the only one which has a trade surplus. For the ten years from 1981 to 1990 Britain had a surplus of over 6.5 billion pounds. - Craig, McNulty & Flannigan, 1998, page 28.

Western Imperialism doesn’t always require though that smaller country nationalism always be subordinated or disrespected. Instead, given the Western power elite desire for international trade, nationalism will be encouraged as a useful tool for liberating areas like East Germany and North Korea from command economies. Whereas it will be discouraged as an annoyance in areas like Northern Ireland and Puerto Rico which are already in the controlled sphere of Western free market forces. And now cry Iraq.

Such encouragement and discouragement will likely be packaged in the form of guiding elite commentary with the concomitant positive or negative media focus to help manufacture the consent needed to subordinate or elevate nationalist feelings amongst the targeted population at large whether at home or abroad. So it is far more likely that there will be a united Korea before there will ever be a united Ireland or an independent Puerto Rico or a freed Iraq.

This theory would be predicated of course on the assumption that the areas in question have abundant economic resources and or perceived strategic value worth exploiting and keeping. After all who cares about Zimbabwe?

That is why, according to G. R. Sloan, Deputy Head of Strategic Studies and International Affairs Department at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England, the whole of Ireland in the initial post-WWII period: “...became strategically more important because of the perceived need for defence against the Soviet Union which now occupied half of Europe”. (Sloan, 1997, page 266).

Sloan cites the 1949 Ireland Report by British government officials (1 January 1949
CAB 29/32) which asserted that: “So far as could be foreseen, it will never be to Great Britain’s advantage that Northern Ireland should form part of a territory outside His Majesty.s jurisdiction”. (1 January 1949 CAB 29/32) (Sloan, 1997, pages 247-248 and 295) (emphasis added).

In fact, for Sloan there is no end to this strategic need:

However, as confirmed by the (British) government Green Paper in 1972, Northern Ireland was still seen as important in terms of ensuring the security of the United Kingdom from the threat of physical invasion. ... Yet the ending of the Cold War has not spelt the end of potential threats to the security of the United Kingdom and consequently has resulted in a potential increase in the strategic importance of Ireland: The collapse of the Soviet Union merely means the lack of only one ideological challenge to democratic capitalism. Outside the West religion still inspires universal claims and genocidal loyalties; the passing of European wars of religion has not ended religious war. Nationalism remains deep-rooted even in the placid and opulent industrial societies of Western Europe. In societies born in poverty from the debris of empires great and small, the national cult retains all its primitive force. The future is not an object of knowledge, but it has been shown that with respect to Ireland, geopolitical patterns of the past can have relevance to the future (Sloan, 1997, page 295)(emphasis added).

Hence the need for British policy makers since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to engage in what Sloan calls “…a unique geopolitical dualism... premised on the assumption of being able to differentiate between a strategic policy which was enunciated for the purposes of political consumption in Northern Ireland, to send a signal to the Republican movement (that the British government ....have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.), .... and the continued membership of Northern Ireland in the NATO Alliance.” (Sloan1997, pages 265-266) (emphasis added):

The rationale for this geopolitical dualism is endorsed by the Irish government as well: The strategic argument is now dead. This was important to reassure Sinn Fein who had always assumed that this was the reason why Britain was still in Ireland. Yet despite these statements by both the British and Irish governments, what was left unstated was the continued membership of Northern Ireland of the NATO Alliance. In particular, Article 6 of the treaty gives expression to the territorial integrity of member states: for the purpose of Article 5 an armed attack on one or more of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the parties in Europe or North America. Given the current preferences of the British government with respect to Northern Ireland, this most recent geopolitical dualism looks likely to underpin British strategic policy for some time to come (Sloan 1997, page 266) (emphasis added).

And what Sloan, a British securicrat, euphemistically calls a geopolitical dualism for the purpose of political consumption in Ireland, others, like Irish socialists, call an obvious lie which many people in Ireland all too willingly swallow:

The willingness of republicans and most of the left to believe British claims of a disinterested and neutral position in relation to the political framework in Ireland is common across the political spectrum. The unionists frequently express a belief that Britain has no interest in Ireland and are continually proclaiming a sell out. The SDLP loudly welcome and repeat ad nauseam Britain’s claim of benign neutrality and Dublin echoes them. What presents itself as the mainstream left in Ireland, the Labour Party and Democratic Left, agrees. In part to bolster their own claims that there is no anti-imperialist dynamic to the northern struggle and cover up their own support for the undemocratic unionist veto, now dressed up as consent. In other words everyone who is anyone seems to agree with Britain’s own spin on its involvement in Ireland. However, like many a previous statement from perfidious Albion it is a lie. The belief in its veracity is no more than a popular prejudice. We are asked to believe that Britain has spent £23.5 billion in the north to defend the democratic rights of 900,000 unionists in Ireland out of the goodness of its heart. The whole idea has no precedent in British imperialist history. That it pumps in a subvention of nearly £4 billion every year for this purpose. That it has conducted a brutal and dirty war in Ireland that has often sullied its international reputation out of a loyal obligation for the unionist people. Unfortunately, like any popular prejudice, rational analysis and argument are often of very little use in combating it. Thus it is argued that the money poured into the north of Ireland is proof that Britain has no interest in the place! (Craig, McNulty & Flannigan 1998, page 23) (emphasis added).

British diplomatic disingenuousness regarding their interest in Ireland is quite simply a camouflage for their ulterior geo-political motives which are also bound up with maintaining their trade and investment there. Curiously those who expose this conceit are usually marginalized by the mainstream corporate press in Britain, Ireland and the US as left wing Irish Nationalist extremists or Socialists.

Yet when the likes of a Henry Kissinger in 1965 exposes and inveighs against similar Soviet diplomatic disingenuousness over East Germany, a star was born for the West and their media became his stage. Why? Because the liberation of command market East Germany from the Soviet sphere of influence and its subsequent reunification with free market West Germany was essential for retaining Germany as a member of the NATO Alliance and because: “It is against all probability that a large and dynamic country can be kept divided indefinitely in the center of the continent that gave the concept of nationalism to the world.” (Kissinger 1965, page 216).

Of course the odds are not ostensibly the same for a small and divided country on the periphery of the western European continent. Why? Because the British State (aka: the UK) is not neutral in matters Ireland any more than it is in Iraq. And it never has been.

Past is prologue even in the age of inter-ballistic missiles. Imagine that!



Callanan, Neil, Cross-border trade a top aim for British Ambassador, The Sunday Business Post, January 21, 2001, Section on Britain 2001.

Callanan, Neil, Britain’s 10 billion pound export trade, The Sunday Business Post, January 21, 2001, Section on Britain 2001.

Chomsky, Noam, Power and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order (Pluto Press, London 1986).

Coughlan, Anthony, Fooled Again? The Anglo-Irish Agreement and After, (Mercier Press Ltd., Cork & Dublin 1986).

Craig, Joe, John McNulty & Paul Flannigan, The Real Irish Peace Process, (A Socialist Project Democracy Publication, Belfast 1998).

Kissinger, Henry, The Troubled Partnership: A Re-appraisal of the Atlantic Alliance, (McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York 1965).

McBride, Sean, A Message to the Irish People, (Mercier Press, Cork & Dublin 1985).

Sloan, G.R., The Geopolitics of Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century, (Leicester University Press, London & Washington, 1997).






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

16 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Two Codes of Ignoble Submission
Kathleen O'Halloran


32CSM Easter Oration, Derry
Marian Price


Threat to Dissident...?
J. Doherty


Another Recruit
Brian Mór


R = PB -C
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


The Public, Private and Academic Partnership:
Towards a New Paradigm of Public Protection

Terry O'Neill


Anthony McIntyre


"Colombia-US Free Trade Treaty - far more than trade"
Emilio Sardi (with reflections by Toni Solo)


11 April 2004


Easter 2004, Arbour Hill, Dublin
Francis Mackey


Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 2 Days and Light Years
Anthony McIntyre


Is there a Republican Alternative to the Good Friday Agreement?
Gerry Ruddy


Bail For Sale - Nationalists Need Not Apply
Anthony McIntyre


Is the British State Neutral?
Liam O Ruairc


Lost Sheep or Shepherd?

Tom Luby


A Person I Admire
Miss O'Dee


Lerner, Said and the Palestinians
M. Shahid Alam




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