Philips O’Brien, an American, is Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of St. Andrews. He has formerly argued for Scotland in NATO (2012) and for Scotland retaining nuclear weapons after independence. It would be unkind – and possibly inaccurate - to suggest that Strategic Studies (or ‘Peace’ Studies) in any of UK’s universities rarely attract anti-nuclear weapons unilateralist academics, and equally unkind to suggest that were there such academics, it would be vanishingly unlikely that they would secure a place in St. Andrews University.
Nevertheless, Philips O’Brien made an interesting and relevant point recently. It’s set out in a special report by Andrew Learmonth in today’s Sunday Herald, in a print edition headline that captures the essence of what follows (a rarity in these’' ‘spin-by-headline’ dog days of Scottish print journalism) - UK's waning influence in Europe 'may soften US independence view'.
However, Philips O’Brien position on the nuclear and the independence issues is clearly evident in this quote from his article on the SNP’s position on NATO and nuclear weapons during the lead up to the 2014 YES campaign and Referendum
“It [SNP] was torn between supporting a vocal section of its electorate that was so anti-nuclear and unilateralist that it not only worried many moderate Scots, who consistently are pro-Nato, but also many of the UK’s closest European defence partners”
I don’t quarrel with his summation of the SNP’s spring 2012 position, leading up to the knife-edged, passionate debate on NATO at the October 2012 Conference vote on NATO. I do take issue with the pejorative description of those in the Scottish YES electorate and in SNP membership opposed to weapons of mass destruction and Scotland’s membership of a first-strike nuclear alliance, NATO, as “a vocal section of its electorate” and those in favour of NATO membership, some of whom are in favour of nuclear ‘deterrence’ by WMD as “moderate Scots”.
Moderate? Are you serious, Philips O’Brien?
I regard them as, at best, seriously under-informed Scots, totally lacking in the ability to truly envisage the near-inevitable consequences of their position and, at worst, as Scots with no concept of ethics or morality about the potential mass incineration of millions of their fellow human beings in a mutually destructive global conflict that would almost certainly end civilisation as we know it and pollute the planet and all life on it for a thousand years or more.
Most informed political and military commentators at the highest levels across the globe believe we are closer to such a nuclear conflict than we have been since the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s.