It was defence treaties on both sides that turned a campaign for independence by Serbia against the Austro-Hungarian Empire into the pointless carnage of the First World War.
The unification of the small German states had created an aggressive state looking for a reason for domination, and backing the weakened Austro-Hungarian Empire gave them the excuse.
Yet all through the 20th century, despite being surrounded by states that were involved in two world wars, Switzerland has managed to avoid both invasion and treaties.
Scotland, with the exception of a small land border with England, has a coastline which means amphibious attack and re-supply – both of which are much more difficult for an invader than a land border.
We should really question whether what Nato requires of us (under Article 5) is going to be more than it can do for us.
But in the modern world an attack on a country is more likely to be some form of terrorism or cyber attack. Nowhere in Sir Hew’s article does he make any significant mention of the real threats in the 21st century.
While defence troops are important, defence is about countering threats, natural, civil and military and in this century it is already clear that one country or terrorist group can interfere in another country’s affairs in many ways – most of which make military forces obsolete.
Terrorism both economic and violent can only be countered by intelligence, and cyber attack, which is probably our greatest threat, can be managed without even being anywhere near the country.
The new battlefield is no longer visual but takes place in the world of software engineering.
Bruce D Skivington
Gairloch, Wester Ross