Clare Daly & Mick Wallace- MEP : Ukraine-Russia-Afghanistan – Ireland and Nato

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7 March 2022
Mick Wallace (The Left). – Madam President, the current crisis in Ukraine has been used by the Irish media, at last – and a handful of politicians, to make the case that Ireland should relinquish the neutrality enshrined in our Constitution and even commit to joining NATO. Naturally, these jingoistic sentiments are from those too old to enlist their children and grandchildren, too aloft to endure the bad pay and conditions our defence forces have to put up with.
Ireland’s tradition of neutrality is born out of an unwillingness to kill and be killed in imperialist wars that have nothing to do with our people and everything to do with the interests of the elites profiting from arms, fossil fuel and finance industries that just happen to own much of the media calling for a military escalation today.
Ireland is one of the few EU countries that has not been directly involved in NATO’s war crimes and atrocities, and we’d do well to continue that and we should use the credibility and goodwill that comes with neutrality to facilitate diplomacy, de-escalation and peace.
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  7 March 2022
Clare Daly (The Left). – Madam President, there’s no doubt about it, we’re living in times of catastrophic crisis where the lives of innocent civilians are sacrificed in the wars of their masters. Yes, in Ukraine, but not only.

Since the last plenary, tens of thousands of Afghani citizens have been forced to flee in search of food and safety. Five million children face famine and agonising and painful death. A 500% increase in child marriages and children being sold just so they can survive. And not a mention of it. Not here, not anywhere. No wall-to-wall TV coverage, no emergency humanitarian response, no special plenaries, not even a mention in this plenary. No Afghani delegations and no statements.

My God, they must be wondering what makes their humanitarian crisis so unimportant. Is it the colour of their skin? Is it that they’re not white, they’re not European, that their problems come from a US gun or a US invasion?

Is it that the decision to rob their country’s wealth was taken by a despotic US president rather than a Russian one? Because, my God, all wars are evil and all victims deserve support. And until we get on that page, we have no credibility whatsoever.

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8 March 2022
Clare Daly (The Left). – Mr President, I wholeheartedly welcome the EU’s unprecedented provision of immediate protection for Ukrainian refugees fleeing this devastating war. This rightfully respects our mandate to protect the fundamental rights of those entering our territories and it’s heartening to see the outpouring of support and solidarity from every point of the EU.

But how do we explain that solidarity with, for example, in Poland, less than three months ago, the fact that 19 people perished from cold on our borders, met with barbed wire and water cannon? How do we explain that solidarity with the fact that there are Afghan refugees in Greek jails charged with people smuggling, or there are people beaten back from the borders of Croatia in appalling circumstances, sodomised and robbed?

How can this be the same European Union? It’s because our society, our media and our politicians portray some refugees as more human than others, based on their origin and their race. We have to ensure a consistent, non-discriminatory application of international asylum law. Everybody has the right to the highest international standards. I hope this is a turning point.

   Clare Daly, on behalf of The Left Group. – 8 March 2022

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Mr President, while enjoying working with colleagues on the report, we have made no secret that we are resolutely opposed to the majority position of the committee and, obviously, this report is no different. Our minority report, which is attached, I think, makes the reasons why very clear. And it isn’t that we don’t think that foreign interference and disinformation are serious social harms deserving of special attention. We do, and they are. It isn’t that we don’t think that Russia and China do propaganda and disinformation.

Of course they do. All powerful states do. It is because throughout the work of this committee, the focus has been selective. The report is silent on the most consequential sources of disinformation and interference in European democracy: that of large concentrations of capital, foreign and European, exercising massive influence over law-making and policy formation in the EU and Member States through private media ownership, corporate lobbying and political funding.

The report makes no mention of the defence industry and how it has corrupted European policy, to drive up weapons-spending and escalation. An industry needs an enemy, and the report gives it one or two, and I think the section on elite capture shows this point very well. The report is very strong on condemning those who go to work in the Russian industry companies, and fair point, but our motion on having the similar condemnation of those who go and join American finance companies is voted down.

So instead of tackling interference in democracy, the committee has actually had a one-track mind focusing on China and Russia to the exclusion of everything else. It poses a child’s version of political reality.
The world is divided into democracies and authoritarian regimes: goodies and baddies. The baddies tell only lies, the goodies never utter an untrue word. And in the middle of all of this, the European Union is an innocent victim of all of this geopolitical aggression and propaganda, not a geopolitical actor itself with its own agenda.

So, instead of fighting propaganda, the committee has actually become a platform for it. We had a litany of NATO-funded think-tanks all coming from the same hymn sheet to inform us. Is it any wonder that we’re left with the report the way it is, it is in their interest to spread this hysteria? And the consequence of this is insidious, it means mainstream political parties don’t have to take account of their own actions. They can blame the foreigners, the foreign interference, for that. So our concern all along has been that this poses a threat to fundamental freedoms and civil society in Europe. And it might point out that a number of the measures we’re voting for here are in direct contradiction with measures that we’ll be voting on later on to protect civil society in a LIBE Committee report, because it is calling for a ‘whole of society’ approach. Criticism of European mainstream politics has to be seen as disinformation debunked by state-funded fact-checking organisations.

The correct version of reality, including EU foreign policy, has to be promoted by strategically state-funded strategic communication centres – George Orwell’s 1984 springs to mind. Social media companies have to be brought to heal and pressure to censor anybody who has a different view of the official version of the truth. Political parties and politicians sceptical to NATO and EU narratives have to be placed under suspicion of being proxies of foreign powers.

But you know what? Avoiding conflict and de-escalation tensions means listening to your opponent, listening to their concerns, taking them seriously, however fraught the disagreement, and looking for compromises. But the function of this committee has been the opposite. It should make them be disinformation and condemn them as such.

Strong democracies tolerate internal dissent but this actually is textbook McCarthyism designed to stigmatise dissent, incite the public against internal critics, eradicate common sense and make all opposition unacceptable. It is a deliberate impairment of our society’s ability to think of extra-critical importance in these times of horrendous war. I and we absolutely reject it utterly.