Gideon Rachman is opposed to the breakup of the U.K., which is fair enough. However, he uses some strange and irrelevant arguments to make his case:

Yet the Scottish referendum campaign has been conducted as if the rest of the world stops at London. There has been almost no discussion of foreign affairs – apart from the nationalists’ inane refrain that a morally superior Scotland will not have to join in “illegal wars” [bold mine-DL]. The nationalists also insist that an independent Scotland will get rid of nuclear weapons. (Ukraine did just that, when it became independent, and now bitterly regrets it.)

The fact that Rachman considers that refrain to be “inane” is telling. On the foreign policy issue that typically matters most to voters in every country–whether and when their government chooses to go to war–the pro-independence side is offering a clear rejection of at least one kind of military intervention overseas. It is taken for granted that the U.K. probably will continue to participate in new foreign wars of both the legal and illegal variety in the years and decades to come, and that would happen whether people in Scotland support those wars or not. Rachman’s problem with this pledge doesn’t seem to be that it is false of misleading (as many other claims from Salmond and his allies are), but that it is likely to be fulfilled.

In fact, the commitments to stay out of illegal wars and to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons are probably the two most (only?) credible promises that the nationalists have made during the campaign. Which illegal wars does he think Scotland will feel compelled to join in the future? Why would it? Rachman can’t really explain why either of these positions is wrong, so he throws in a reference to Ukraine to make us think that something terrible will happen to a non-nuclear Scotland. Set aside that Ukraine couldn’t have afforded to keep a nuclear arsenal even if it wanted one, and overlook that possessing a nuclear arsenal wouldn’t have done Ukraine any good in the current crisis. How is Ukraine’s experience in any way relevant to what’s being debated in Scotland? Obviously, it isn’t. What exactly does Rachman think is going to happen to Scotland once the nuclear weapons have been removed? Probably nothing that anyone needs to worry about, but he wants to create an impression of danger where none exists.

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