Pretending to be a great power, harms what could be a great nation, Salmond warns


  By Stefan Bienkowski

The international role of an independent Scotland will be the main topic of discussion this week when First Minister Alex Salmond gives a speech at the inaugural Glasgow Caledonian Lecture in New York on Monday.

At the event, the First Minister is expected to outline the active role an independent Scotland could take in areas such as climate justice, international development, and arbitration and conflict resolution.


As part of his five day trade mission to the United States, Mr Salmond is expected to focus on the possibility of an independent Scotland becoming an affluent country without the necessity for military might.  Stating in Monday’s speech that, “The USA is both. But most nations can’t be. And they reduce their chance to be a great nation, if they pretend to be a great power.”

He will add: “For most countries, greatness can only come from influence, not force; from soft, not hard power; from enlightened self-interest, not self-interest alone. It will come from their people, their  values, their reputation and their ideas.”

Referring to the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures a country’s life expectancy and its citizens’ quality of life, Mr Salmond is then expected to push the case for the success of smaller nations in achieving such international goals.

He will tell his audience: “On that index, 11 of the top 20 nations have fewer than 10 million inhabitants. Norway is number one – the UK number 26.”

The First Minister will add: “However it’s clear that many smaller nations are succeeding, using their natural advantages – including flexibility, speed of decision-making, and the ability to define clearly their national interests and their economic strategy.”

Mr Salmond is then expected to take the example of Norway and its success in recent peacekeeping missions across the world, whilst citing other examples of small nations playing a key role in the international community.

Continuing on the same theme, the First Minister will state: “You could also look at Ireland’s role in peacekeeping; Switzerland’s contribution to humanitarian efforts; Finland’s reputation for research and development; or the way in which Singapore is widely studied for its approach to economic development.”

Pressing the point that size is not the only measure of influence, he will say: “The overall point is clear. Countries can exercise influence through the scale of their ambition and the strength of their ideas, rather than the size of their armies, their populations, or their territories.

“In terms of domestic policy, Scotland could be a progressive beacon, setting a positive example as a country which combines fairness and prosperity.”

Concluding his speech, Mr Salmond will add: “To adopt an expression much used by President Clinton, we will use the power of our example, not the example of our power.

“Independence doesn’t guarantee that we will become that Scotland we seek. But it gives us the powers we need, in order to do so. It places decisions about Scotland’s contribution to the world in the hands of the people who live and work in Scotland.”

The First Minister is in the USA as part of a delegation promiting Scottish culture and business.  The trip, which coincides with the annual Scotland Week celebrations in New York, has already resulted in an announcement of 130 new jobs from financial services company, Ceridian.