Do we benefit from UK defence policy?

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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s strong words during the STV debate on Tuesday (“I am proud that Britain shoulders its burden in the world”) in support of current UK military capabilities, seemed powerful, even if contrived, but apart from her dubious arguments around Trident and nuclear weapons in general, left three fundamental questions unanswered:

Why, in today’s world, does Britain need the capacity to act independently of the United Nations in international conflicts? Is it morally acceptable to have politicians committing our armed forces to military actions abroad without a specific mandate from the people whose children may be sacrificed at the altar of selfish ambition rather than in the defence of clearly defined national interests?

If Britain’s huge military expenditure is justified, why did the Ministry of Defence recently need to rely on social media to discover that a Russian aircraft carrier had entered British waters and was near the Moray Coast?

The fact that HMS Defender had to be sent from Portsmouth to “escort” the Admiral Kuznetsov makes a mockery of Scotland’s current defence arrangements, and those arguing that “fit for purpose” defence forces, as outlined in the white paper, would not be more effective are not serious about protecting Scotland’s interests.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry

The atrocities being committed in the Middle East raise the question of how secure would an independent Scotland be in the face of potential threats from returning jihadists.

As far as they are concerned Scotland, independent or not, is still the West, part of the British Isles. I’m not aware of any detailed plans in the white paper that address an independent Scotland’s intelligence services.

Would an independent Scotland have the equivalent of MI5, MI6, GCHQ?

If so, where would it get the intelligence specialists needed to protect our country? Alex Salmond cannot rely on Police Scotland to do intelligence gathering and he cannot seriously expect a Scottish Defence Force to do the same, assuming it was able to raise enough recruits.

Stuart Smith

West Lennox Drive

Helensburgh

Dame Mariot Leslie (Letters, 3 September) cites Scotland’s “geography, economy, demography and politics” as her reasons for voting Yes, ignoring our history – rather oddly for a former ambassador to Nato.

A probable and regrettable outcome of a Yes majority vote (though no doubt welcome to many such voters) will be increased pressure for the diminished UK (followed by France) to lose its permanent place on the UN Security Council, justly earned by UK actions in the Second World War and primarily from September 1939 to December 1941.

If that happened, our successor would no doubt be the German-led EU; and we have seen how brilliant its diplomacy was last year regarding Ukraine, albeit fronted by the over-promoted Baroness Ashton and despite Germany’s supposed close ties with Russia, as Allan Massie has clearly argued (most recently, Perspective, 3 September).

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

Efforts by the British 
government to prevent the 
return to this country of trained, experienced terrorists seem to be fraught with legal difficulties (your report, 2 September).

In consideration of the heightened threat we now face, none of the proposed temporary measures seem unreasonable but are said 
to infringe the human 
rights of people who boast of their atrocities, who 
murder thousands of helpless, innocent people and decapitate their prisoners for the camera.

We know that they are extremely dangerous.

Implementing the proposals would therefore seem a small moral price to pay for protecting the nation so effectively.

Peter Laidlaw

Bramdean Rise

Edinburgh

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