All of which begs an important question: Why NATO? Why push for membership in a military alliance which "does not consider any country to be its adversary", costs a great deal to join and stay in, and represents 60% of the officially-recognized Nuclear Weapons States (France, UK, U.S.) globally? (Making sense of the "no adversary" statement is easier than it seems, by the way -- NATO works by consensus among its 28 members, and there is no agreement that Russia, for example, remains even a potential enemy of the Alliance:
Allies generally either view Moscow as a potential partner and friend, or as NATO’s once-and-future nuclear-armed foe. Negotiations within NATO revolve around the demands of countries such as the Baltic republics for various assurances from NATO that Russia will not be allowed to dominate them through political and military pressure. Others, such as Germany, have a very hard time publicly imputing ill intentions to Moscow, reflecting both historical concerns and modern economic realities. The United States finds itself balancing a delicate and unstable equilibrium between these partners, while also paying some attention to the impact of its guarantees upon its Russian negotiating partners. -- "Dissecting the DDPR", p. 2.)What exactly would Scotland have to pay to join NATO? Assuming its share of the NATO budget were around 2% (putting it in the same class as Belgium, whose GDP comes closest among Allies to the figures the SNP has been bandying about for an independent Scotland), Scotland's annual share of NATO's three commonly funded budgets (i.e., the minimum it would be expected to pay each year) would currently run as follows:
Civil Budget: €4,309,460/£3,515,050
Military Budget: €28,975,995/£23,634,600
NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP): €14,000,000/£11,419,200
Total annual Scottish share of commonly funded NATO budget: €47,285,455/£38,568,850
So -- for an annual layout of over £38 million, what would Scotland be purchasing?
Buel--did someone say "security"? OK -- great. Security from whom? In what form?
No takers? Wait -- did I hear "goodwill for burdensharing"? Interesting answer -- and more than a bit pricey for value received, wouldn't you agree?
There, in the back -- "extended nuclear deterrence"? NOW we're cooking -- here we have the heart of the NATO agreement -- Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty pledges mutual defense against attack on any Ally (actually, it merely promises that each Ally will take "such action as it deems necessary" -- but that's political realism for you).
The nuclear forces of, first, the U.S., then the UK, then France, were at one point or another considered to offer "extended deterrence" to other NATO Allies in the face of the overwhelming threat of superior Soviet conventional forces in Europe. Since 1953, in fact, the U.S. has based part of its nuclear arsenal in Europe -- there are currently about 180 B61 nuclear gravity bombs located in 5 Allied countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
So where would this leave an independent Scotland? Unfortunately for Mr. Salmond, Trident is not the only nuclear program in which the UK participates: As a NATO Ally, the UK is an active part of the consensus which maintains those B61s in Europe, despite their total lack of military utility and an unbreakable political deadlock within NATO over their potential use in time of crisis.
So perhaps £38+ million per year for NATO membership is not such a bargain after all. The alternative is simple: Join the European Union as an independent nation, and take up an appropriate role within the Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Minimal disruption from the status quo, no need for questionable spending on NATO membership, and -- best of all from an SNP perspective -- no nukes.