AN interesting letter from John Melrose in Monday’s paper about Nato and the EU. He does, however, try to compare apples and pears, while recognising that they both serve completely different functions.

With the current military pressure from a country to our east, we cannot ease up on collective defence. While we may not (yet) be directly challenged by Russia, its expansionist policies have been exposed and it is only Nato membership that has prevented Putin from assimilating the Baltic States up to now. Does Mr Melrose appreciate that Sweden – a long-standing neutral country – and Finland feel directly threatened and seek to join in this very successful defence alliance, composed as it is of independent countries?

He is incorrect in at least one of his assertions. Nato has not set up additional nuclear bases beyond those that already existed. And Nato as a collective entity only intervened in one campaign – Kosovo. All other actions post-Second World War, of which the UK has often been a partner, have been as individual countries, usually but not always (Suez for example) under the remit of the UN (justification for which has often been debatable).

The debate about mutual defence pacts, the value of which is that we do not need to spend as much money on our defence needs because of the shared cost and resources, and the EU contributing more to its collective defence, and the debate about actual Nato membership are, as John states, questions for a newly independent Scottish Government to consider.

Nato is much stronger collectively than its main opponent, something Putin doesn’t appear to understand, and let us not forget he was offered an olive branch post-Berlin Wall but spurned the opportunity. At present all we can do is discuss the various pros, cons and options. Realpolitik and pragmatism in preference to unsustainable idealism!

Nick Cole


WITH regards to the letter from Drew McLeod (Jun 20) about the “honour” of being part of the British Empire, and Caroline Elkins’s excellent book Legacy Of Violence, Drew is absolutely right.

This is an excellent book which explains our role in the world over the last few hundred years, written by someone who played a major role in unravelling the Windrush scandal, amongst other things. (For the squeamish amongst us, there’s not a lot of graphic violence detailed in there, although some of the footnotes are maybe best avoided).

Oliver Bullough’s Butler To The World relates to the nauseous toadying and post-imperial criminality that the UK is central to,

to this day, and is also worth a read along with Empire First by Graeme Bowman. All these books challenge the status quo in thorough and intelligent ways, something the Yes movement must have as a central pillar of its approach.

However, to me, the key revelation of Elkins’s book is that Westminster ran half the world for a third of a millennium, not by violence, but by “divide and rule” – time and again this is the theme. Ireland, Malaya (as it was), colonial India, Kenya, South Africa, and the mandated territory of Palestine are key examples and the damage is felt long after escape from the empire.

This is the real message for the Yes movement – is what we do with empty bottles really more important than what we do with the future of our country? We are being played. Too wee, no; too poor, no; too stupid – that would be embarrassing

Duncan Macquarrie

via email

CONGRATULATIONS to David Howie on his excellent letter (Jun 20). He writes: “… You cannot change reality by wishing it away.” Article 2 (7) of the Charter of the United Nations reads: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.”

Chapter VII, which refers to decisions and recommendations of the Security Council, is titled Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression.

The 1970 Declaration on Friendly Relations (GAR2625) reads in 3.1: “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law.”

And in 3.3: “The use of force to deprive peoples of their national identity constitutes a violation of their inalienable rights and of the principle of non-intervention.”

Michael Follon