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Post  Admin on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 15:01

"How many aircraft carriers will an independent Wales need?"

This question from a few years ago seemed to encapsulate one of the main issues we need to answer when talking about what an independent Wales should be. There are a number of options open to us which we can discuss on this forum.

At one level an independent Wales could be completely neutral, and without any armed forces at all. We might have some sort of militia or voluntary reserve forces for times of crisis, which could be just as much to deal with natural disasters and internal strife as with defending ourselves from outside attack. As for regular armed forces, we could simply leave it to England (or England and Scotland, if that union still held together) to defend us. If any of our young men and women wanted an armed forces career, they could simply cross the border and enlist.

At another level we could be neutral, but still have both regular armed forces and a volunteer reserve. Ireland does this, and also sends its forces to participate in UN sanctioned peacekeeping missions around the world. Alternatively, with the same armed forces we could be part of an alliance like NATO. The question to answer then would be what level of armed forces we should have and, of course, how much it would cost to maintain them.

Yet another alternative would be not to have our own forces under our own government's command, but for them to be part of a new European Union defence force. But there is no immediate sign of one being formed, nor much idea what it would look like if it were to happen. Perhaps we, along with the other smaller nations of Europe, should be looking to shape one that suits Europe as a whole, rather than one in which a few major military countries call all the shots.

Underlying all this, of course, are some of the most serious moral questions. But whatever our personal moral values might be, it is something entirely different to decide what our country's principles should be. How do we establish a consensus? How do we accommodate those who might disagree with what the majority decide?

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