AS we get closer to the call for a Section 30 order to allow Scotland to determine its future in the world, it is worth looking back at the key debates in the last referendum in relation to Scotland’s place in the global state system. This is especially true because of the way the world has changed rapidly since 2014. And indeed, since October 19 2012 in Perth, where the SNP overturned its long-standing opposition to NATO at its party conference.

I remember watching SNP members line up to passionately argue their case. As someone who had previously attended protests at NATO summits, I was naturally disappointed in the result. Though I do remember the quality of contributions on the conference floor, and I don’t believe that the decision made is irreversible. Indeed, while the issue has been off the radar in recent years, it is now vital that it reopens.

One contribution in that Perth debate did stick with me. Alyn Smith said that it would be odd for an independent Scotland not to join NATO. That sent a wider signal to the conference. It was an ‘adults in the room’ type comment. This SNP would be for assimilation into the world system, as a ‘sensible’ alternative to challenging the sane, and measured, status quo.

Long gone were the days where the SNP would produce leaflets outlining why becoming a member of NATO would be counter-productive to achieving peace and disarmament. Odd, fringe, perhaps romantic in its approach to geopolitics and lacking in pragmatism. That, anyway, is what those who pushed the argument for the SNP to become a pro-NATO organisation, posited.

Yet, increasingly, the ‘adults’ have to come to terms with the reality of a failing world system. The ‘rules-based’ global order was already irrevocably broken when the US invaded Iraq. Since then it has sunk into a deeper morass. And recent events in Northern Syria, with the Turkish invasion and bombing of the Kurds, have shown the bankruptcy of NATO.

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It is time to re-open the debate on Scotland and NATO, and SNP members could do worse than seeking to overturn the reversal of their long-held anti-NATO policy led by Angus Robertson seven years ago.

Turkey is a member of NATO. As you read this, they are attempting to bomb the Kurds into submission. The Kurds played a critical role in defeating ISIS forces in the region. Approximately 60-70,000 ISIS militants are held in Kurdish-run prisons.

We know Turkey would have preferred the Kurds were defeated, as their long history of oppressing the Kurdish people shows. Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds also came alongside a totally false narrative on the defeat of ISIS, which he takes American credit for. In truth, it would not have been possible without Kurdish resistance on the ground.

There have been calls for sanctions on Turkey. And there are widespread calls for Turkey to be expelled from NATO. But this is not as simple as it may sound. NATO is not a moral arbiter of global affairs, it is a military alliance, based on competition and war. And it is undemocratic and unaccountable to the populations from which the nations which compose it come from.

It is said that the present Turkish aggression is counter to the aims of NATO. In many ways this is true. But since NATO is a block of countries who are interested in the extension of American and European military power in the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey plays a vital strategic role. Which makes the situation complex for NATO.

Even after Turkey started bombing Kurds in northern Syria, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stopped short of outright condemnation.

Stefano Stefanini, Italy’s former permanent representative to NATO, said that the alliance was “powerless” in trying to manage Turkey’s action in Syria, without US backing.

Yet you will hear some people naively arguing that, should Scotland be a member of NATO, we might somehow add our weight to pull NATO in a more progressive direction. That, however, is a total misunderstanding of what NATO is.

Primarily, it is an instrument of US power. It grants the US significant rights in our own country, including the right to base its military operations here, and that includes nuclear weapons.

And let’s look specifically at Turkey in this context. Turkey is the second largest military in NATO, with the US in first place. It plays a vital strategic role for NATO in opening access to the Middle East via the İncirlik airbase. Not only that, the base holds approximately 50 US nuclear bombs. These bombs have been a long-term problem for US strategists and are a hangover from the Cold War. But they remain, and illustrate the problem NATO has with containing Turkey.

Because while the relationship is strained, Turkey still provides many strategic options for the West. Little wonder that official spokespeople for NATO are guarded in their criticisms of Erdogan.

Indeed, NATO is under stress from Trump too. He is touring around NATO countries demanding more money is poured into the alliance. To repeat, NATO is not a collective security shield as it is often projected, but a combative, military alliance based on building the power and influence of American interests.

These then, are the reasons why supporters of Scottish independence must consider the present SNP position on NATO. If we are serious about self-determination, can we really join a nuclear club who seem impotent in the face of the oppression of the Kurds?

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If we are serious about democracy, can we sign up to a military alliance who will demand increasing pots of money?

Are we prepared to send Scottish men and women to fight in future conflicts over which we have no oversight, as the global state system teeters on the brink of another financial crisis and as proxy wars turn into regional and international conflicts?

Surely, the answer is no. If there was ever a time to make a stand for peace, and for an alternative world order that moves beyond the imperialist rivalries of competing blocks of states, which only ever leads to disaster for ordinary people, it is now.