Shannon stopover critics ‘hide behind US security shelter’

YOU gave many column inches to John Lannon of Shannonwatch to highlight his anti-American views on Iraq and Afghanistan (Letters, January 18).

I wish to question the logic of some of his comments.

1. What is the basis for suggesting that the use of Shannon by US troops contravenes our neutrality? Intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan has UN sanction and Ireland’s foreign and defence policy both support UN-sanctioned activities. The US has effectively withdrawn from urban centres in Iraq and will withdraw fully within a year. Many in Iraq fear the potential for civil war as a consequence.

2. More than 40 countries have troops in Afghanistan, including, Iceland, Singapore, Poland, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland. Would Mr Lannon take the same attitude to any of those countries’ use of Shannon if it became necessary. Indeed 34 non-NATO countries already have troops in Afghanistan.

3. Mr Lannon’s interest in human rights seems to a bit one-sided. Does he support the internecine and inter-tribal strife in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which have claimed more lives than the US, or can I assume he supports the Taliban’s views on human rights, their summary justice methods and their attitude to women in particular? Does he support the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan? What is his attitude to the suicide bombers who daily destroy civilian lives in both countries? They do not wear American uniforms.

4. Mr Lannon’s concern for the loss of young American lives is commendable. I travel through Shannon on a regular basis and I see these young men and women. They are putting their lives on the line. They end up in Shannon by chance – if nor Shannon, then Frankfurt or Prestwick. The last thing they need to add to their anxiety is a negative attitude from those here who ultimately hide behind the security provided by the US and Britain on the basis that we are not willing to face up to the challenges and cost of a real policy on neutrality ourselves.

I would trust the American people to make the ultimate decision on the safety of their troops. We have enough issues to concern ourselves with on this little Island.

I doubt we are in a position to lecture them on principle or policy on this matter.

5. Why can we not justify the cost of the of US use of Shannon? It is financially viable, as Mr Lannon says, and the intervention has the support of the UN which is supposed to be the forum to articulate the moral conscience of the international community. I have many issues with American foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq. However, we need to develop a more balanced attitude to their involvement in international affairs. Their participation in Afghanistan needs to be supported. They have already set a deadline for withdrawal.

Any serious student of history would be concerned that withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 will result in a return to the inter-tribal strife, mass murder and mayhem that has been hallmark of that country’s history for hundreds of years. What is Mr Lannon’s solution to that probable scenario?

Jim Forde



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