Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Neutral' cannot include training of combatant's forces

Surely training Egypt's air force pilots in '79 was as much a breach of neutrality as allowing 12,000 American troops to land at Shannon for a re-fueling stop in the same year.

In 1979 only a few years had passed since Egypt was last at war with Israel and another war was not unimaginable, but the Irish government took the decision to allow Aer Lingus – 100% state-owned at the time – to train Egyptian air force pilots. The same year, the United States – with clumsy diplomacy, it seems – landed 12,000 troops at Shannon for refueling after a NATO exercise.

Maybe the two articles aren't telling the full story, but only in the case of the American soldiers did the government appear to worry about Ireland's neutrality.