This week the Irish press has been full of two stories, both linked. There has been questions of the fabled neutrality vis-a-vis the Constitutional Referendum. The No campaign believing that Eire's neutrality to be compromised by aspects of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Yes campaign denying any such thing.
Simultaneous to that has been the great burst of pride as General Nash finally takes command of the EU Force in Chad. A peacekeeping force delayed by many months due to logistical problems.
The problem is that no sooner is the force, which is mostly French but includes Irish and other contingents, off for deployment that it stops.
This all boils down to the fact reported here at the beggining of December and covered extensively in EU Referendum this force is not really a European Force at all but a fig leaf for unreconstructed French foreign policy. France is an ally of the Chadian dictator, and has taken sides. The peacekeepers are supposed to be neutral, so the rebels have declared war on France and by extension its EU allies.
So with the rebel forces closing in on the Chadian capital we discover,
However, a plane-load of 54 Irish special forces did not depart for N'Djamena, Chad's capital, and a cargo aircraft carrying equipment and a dozen Austrian soldiers turned back yesterday.I was discussing the Irish referendum campaign with a couple of Sinn Fein staffers (politics does make for some strange aquaintances) and the Chad deployment came up,
EH "What would happen if a young Irish soldier came back in a body bag beforeThe point is of course is that either the sight of dead Irish soldiers returning having died for France, or the sight of Fench soldiers running amok amongst Africans slaughtering left right and centre whilst under the command of an Irish General could have a major impact on the Treaty poll.
SF "Can you organise it?"
SFS "It's just that we don't have any active service units in Chad"
EH, "I suppose they are all in Colombia"
War-battered dogs are we,
Fighters in every clime;
Fillers of trench and of grave,
Mockers bemocked by time.
War-dogs hungry and grey,
Gnawing a naked bone,
Fighters in every clime
Every cause but our own