A similar common-sense argument applies to Scottish membership of NATO as to the EU. Scotland occupies a strategically crucial geographical position at one end of the so-called “GIUK Gap” in the North Atlantic, with Greenland and Iceland at the other end.
Iceland is a NATO member, despite having no army and only three coastguard vessels by way of naval forces, and Greenland has no native military at all. It’s therefore inconceivable that NATO would obstruct Scottish membership, as Scotland would have the only effective armed force capable of patrolling the Gap.
Professor Michael E Smith, an American military and foreign-policy expert and Chair of International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, said in an August 2013 interview that:
“With Scotland’s strategic sea position, it is ludicrous to think that Western allies would refuse to help defend Scotland against a major foreign attack, even if NATO did not exist.”
While some Unionist politicians claim that the SNP’s pledge to remove nuclear weapons from Scottish territory would obstruct membership, Prof. Smith disagrees:
“The US would rather have more conventional-weapons spending in the UK/EU, not nukes. So, like some other stories coming from the unionist side, the Trident issue comes very close to scaremongering.”
His view echoes that of “a senior American official” quoted in the New York Times in April 2013:
“[Britain and France] are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent.”
The UK’s stockpile is insignificant on a global scale, at slightly over 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal. Its loss would make no strategic difference to NATO at all. An independent Scotland will be welcomed enthusiastically into the organisation, because NATO simply won’t contemplate leaving the North Atlantic undefended.