Tackling defence from a different angle

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In the debate on independence people keep blethering on about defence (your report, 25 June); no one as yet has identified an offender against whom we must defend.

Who is it who may in the future attack Scotland and for what reason? Who in the foreseeable future would have reason to attack Scotland?

I can think of only one country which has developed the habit of wandering into sovereign states uninvited, and that is the United States of America. Scotland could not in any way militarily oppose the US.

A country needs a defence force commensurate to its needs. Our Scottish needs in this respect are quite modest. We have to protect our fish and our oil; this is more in the nature of police work than military.

We do, however, have to have the capability to respond robustly should the need arise. A small navy and air force would supply that need, with special services back-up.

Obviously, Scotland would need an army of modest size mainly as aid to the civil power, rather than for 
heroics in lands where we have no business to be, unless asked by the United Nations.

Some correspondents have mentioned the dangers of cyber attack; that is an area needing real appreciation but Scotland, I am sure, has a sufficiency of computer nerds.

People bleat on about Nato membership. Why?

Nato is and has been for some years, past its sell by date. It is now little more than an instrument of American aggrandisement.

R Mill Irving

Station Road

Gifford, East Lothian

Being an independent state with the ability to make 
decisions on defence and 
security issues is massively important to countries across the world. Democratic states value delivering on the priorities of the people with the policy objectives of their elected governments and parliaments.

That UK governments have ignored the consistent 
opposition to Trident in 
Scotland over decades, and
the recent disproportionate conventional defence cuts north of the Border show that Westminster is not working for Scotland.

One of the many attractions of an independent Scotland is being able to make defence and security decisions which actually reflect the priorities of the people of Scotland.

That this should be entirely ignored in the recent report by the Scotland Institute on Scottish independence (your report, 25 June) is noteworthy.

The claim by the authors that the report is “comprehensive” and that Scotland would be “starting from scratch” is also illuminating when measured against the total absence of any analysis of Scotland’s share of defence assets which is worth up to £8 billion.

That both these key omissions were raised with the 
authors at the draft stage of the report and then ignored will help readers reach their own conclusions.

Angus Robertson MP

Westminster SNP Leader

While it is understandable that the main weapon available to the Better Together campaign is scaremongering, the report by the self-styled Scotland Institute suggesting the case for defence 
in an independent Scotland is 
unpersuasive does not really assist its case.

To assemble the thoughts of 20th-century imperialism and apply it to the new world in which Scotland now exists in the 21st century is not only out of touch but does not take into account the fact that most of the UN-recognised countries in the world do not have the interfering attitude of Westminster and Washington, which now appear to trawl the world looking for countries to annoy.

The Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and many other small European countries (some with much poorer economies than Scotland) all manage to handle their own security, as do the majority of countries throughout the world.

As for Scottish defence industries, many of the companies involved are world leaders in their field and capable of finding other work.

If Westminster ceased to use them they are perfectly
capable of handling other contracts.

Scotland needs a set of 
patrol vessels which could replace the Global Combat Ship contract which in any case is not certain to go ahead with the Ministry of Defence cuts.

Whether Westminster could find alternatives that are as good is its problem. In areas like laser optics, software and programmable electronics there are plenty of other customers in all areas of the world.

Aside from applying out-of-date thinking, like not recognising that maritime surveillance is going to be by unmanned aircraft in the next few years, the other problem is the report makes the assumption that the SNP would be in power in the years after independence.

In the elections after independence we could see different parties forming a governing alliance and they might recognise the new threat 
analysis required.

Bruce D Skivington


Gairloch, Wester Ross