LAST week, Turkey, a Nato ally of the UK, launched an invasion of the Kurdish autonomous region in north-eastern Syria. The aim of the Erdogan regime is nothing less than the ethnic cleaning of the local Kurds, and their replacement with up to two million Arab Syrian refugees now resident in Turkey – an aim the Turkish president makes no bones about.

If such a barbaric act was being perpetrated by China or Russia, Nato and the West would be up in arms. There would be calls for a “no-fly” zone and perhaps Nato armed intervention, as occurred in the Balkans and in Libya. But Turkey is a charter member of Nato, along with the UK. Besides, Turkey buys weapons from Britain, including body armour, drones and bombs – all being used against the Kurds. So this act of genocide and nation killing by Turkey will merit only a diplomatic slap on the wrist.

The National: Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn yesterdaySyrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn yesterday

READ MORE: David Pratt: Donald Trump has stabbed the Kurds in the back

Why would an independent Scotland wish to be a member of a Nato alliance that has Turkey as a member? One answer is that Nato is a defensive alliance and that in an unstable and imperfect world, collective defence is a necessity for a small nation such as Scotland. After all, other long-time Nato members include Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. I understand this point of view. It is one I myself held in 2012, when the SNP formalised its support for Nato membership.

However, whatever the nuances of the case in 2012, the situation today is radically different. Nato no longer makes any pretence at being a “defensive” alliance, ostensibly underwriting political “stability” between the opposing Western and Soviet power blocs. Today, Nato has been transformed into an active military participant in the quagmire that is the Near East and North Africa. A permanent catastrophe that includes a proxy war to the death between Iran and Saudi Arabia; Erdogan’s genocidal crusade against the Kurds; endemic, violent Islamist millenarianism triggered and sustained by Western oil imperialism; a pending nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan over Kashmir; and the resulting economic and social collapse of much of the region.

READ MORE: How the Kurds have once again been 'stabbed in the back'

Into this cauldron of fire, practically every Nato member, large and small, has sent military units, under pressure from the United States. For example, Denmark has supplied helicopters to support the French military against Islamists in sub-Saharan Africa, bombed Libya, and sent naval units to the Persian Gulf. Even tiny Estonia has sent troops to Mali to fight al-Qaeda. Anyone who thinks that Scotland could avoid such an involvement in these permanent wars, if we were Nato members, is sadly deluded.

The National: A Norwegian armoured vehicle in a Nato exerciseA Norwegian armoured vehicle in a Nato exercise

It is true that the original motion accepted by the SNP conference in 2012 included the line: “An SNP Government will maintain Nato membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and Nato continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN sanctioned operations” (my emphasis). But you don’t get to join a club then claim some of the rules don’t apply. If an independent Scotland joins Nato, it will bomb with Nato. After all, SNP MPs supported bombing Libya in 2011, one of the most regrettable decisions the party has taken.

The point at issue is that 21st-century Nato has transmogrified into an unashamed agent of global intervention, essentially on behalf of American interests. And the guy in charge is Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States. Trump is the least stable or predictable leader seen in America since the Second World War. Of course, it is possible to argue he will soon be gone, possibly next year. But meanwhile he has the launch codes and frequently talks about using them. If ever there was an argument for not being a Nato member, it is The Donald.

READ MORE: Syria: SNP MP Stephen Gethins hits out at US 'betrayal' of Kurds

However, Trump the man is merely a symptom, not the cause of Nato’s participation in the new global instability. The rise of China threatens America’s economic hegemony. Hence Trump’s trade wars which threaten at every turn to become hot wars. Accelerating climate change is forcing mass migration from the global south to the global north. But instead of tackling climate change and fostering international prosperity as an antidote, the West is responding with border fences and racist populism. Result: multiplying regional instability and conflict.

The Western response is authoritarian and military. Hence the turn to using Nato as a shield for Western economic and political interests. Hence, also, Trump’s successful campaign for Nato members to increase their defence spending precipitously. In the past two years European Nato members and Canada have spent an additional $41 billion on defence. By the end of 2020, that figure will rise to $100bn – which means a big boost for American arms manufacturers. Turkey, by the way, has seen one of the biggest increases in weapons spending.

The National: Trump is pushing the development of low-yield nuclear weaponsTrump is pushing the development of low-yield nuclear weapons

But the most dangerous aspect of this burgeoning arms race is nuclear. Trump wants a new, low-yield nuclear weapon that blurs the line between small, convention wars and major confrontations. Trump has also torn up the complex web of international arms control treaties. As a result, the Pentagon is now developing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems that were previously banned – all with the support of the Congressional Democrats. In consequence, the SNP position of “don’t ask, don’t tell” regarding US warships and planes carrying nukes on Scottish territory is no longer viable. Which means we must quit Nato or acquiesce in this nuclear arms competition.

READ MORE: 'Panic' as Turkey launches air strikes against Syrian Kurds

The globalisation of Nato operations also involves dubious new “allies”. In particular, a deepening relationship with the Israeli military. Last month – for the first time ever – Israeli Air Force (IAF) combat jets deployed to the UK, to take part in training exercises with RAF and Nato units. According to Brigadier General Amnon Ein-Dar, Israeli Air Force head of training: “The deployment will help improve IAF readiness and capability”. To underline the political significance of this joint exercise, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, was on hand. He later posted on Twitter that “this important co-operation will further strengthen our common security.”

The National: An Israeli Air Force (IAF) F16 jet fighterAn Israeli Air Force (IAF) F16 jet fighter

Our “common security”? Nato and Israel are engaged in a common war against Daesh and a more covert attempt to undermine Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq. While America is withdrawing its ground troops from Syria, the Trump administration has placed increasing reliance on Israel in the “shadow war” against Iran. In the last two years, without publicity, the IAF has flown hundreds of combat strikes in Syria and Iraq, against Hezbollah and Iranian targets. This activity involves close co-operation with Nato air units in the region; e.g. the RAF planes operating out of the UK “sovereign territory” in nearby Cyprus. No surprise then that senior RAF officers have toured Israeli air bases.

Scotland in Nato will be a pawn. Our aircraft will be mandated to provide anti-Russian patrols in the Baltic. Prestwick will provide transit facilities for nuclear-armed US Air Force units heading for the Middle East war zone (even if we close our eyes). It is time to re-open the issue of Scotland’s membership of Nato. It is the least we can do for the embattled Kurds.