This chapter draws the book's central themes together into an overview of how Ireland and the ‘fire brigade’ states adapted to the shifting sands of international relations in the Cold War. The principles of interdependence and interconnectedness are key. In place of a pragmatic battle of East versus West, this chapter emphasises the socialising effect of international relations and the link between national (individual) and international (collective) interests. Africa played a key role in that process. Ireland's history and its deep-rooted (if largely self-defined) post-colonial identity played shaped its attitudes to decolonisation and the creation of successful, independent African states. Its approach in the Congo, Biafra and elsewhere echoed a long-held conviction that the key to international stability – and by inference its own security – lay in the rejection of outside interference and the promotion of co-operation through the medium of international law. Its progressive stance on apartheid and foreign aid helped shape its identity as a member of the EC. And the rise of non-state actors (the anti-apartheid movement and humanitarian NGOs) linked Irish opinion to global debate on an unprecedented scale, precipitating a shift towards transnational action and away from the centrality of the state.
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