Emily takes on MoD over Trident costs

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  • commented 2016-07-19 14:07:36 +0100
    Can someone explain to me the mechanism by which Trident works as a deterrent? Theresa May gave an emphatic ‘Yes’ to the question ‘would you press the button?’; Owen Smith, if elected Labour leader and then won an election responded to Andrew Marr’s same question last Sunday ‘A Prime Minister has to say ’’yes’’ to that’ which Marr either didn’t spot was not an answer, or deliberately left Smith the luxury of not saying if he would actually press the button or not. Clearly no British Prime Minister really would press the button (just to kill, in revenge, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a country that is probably ruled by a mad dictator – after all it would take a pretty mad, pretty dictatorial leader to launch a nuclear attack on us). Corbyn tells it like it is: he admits he would not press the button; all others say they would because that is the only way it can work as a deterrent. So our deterrant depends on the fragile hope that a mad dictator would believe what is almost certainly a lie. Maybe the mad dictator would; maybe he/she wouldn’t. So to see if Trident works as a deterrent let’s follow the scenario step by step: A foreign power sends a nuclear missile to the UK that leaves part of the country uninhabitalbe for years – possibly centuries – and, let’s say half a million of our population dead or condemned to a deferred death. Trident gives the UK the possibility to do the same to the attacking country (echoes of Dresden). Without naming countries I think most of us would probably point to a particular one, with its ‘mad dictator’ as being the most probable nuclear attacker. Given his record he would probably lose no sleep over hundreds of thousands of his people dying. He might even welcome it to focus his people’s hatred against an enemy. (To this extent, Trident might even make it more likely we would be attacked.) And then what happens in the aftermath of the UK’s revenge attack. War crimes trial perhaps? (probably not) Ignomany certainly. A sober, intelligent, thinking UK prime minister would never press that button in my opinion. So we spend £31 billion (and rising) in the hope that a mad dictator would either believe a lie, or that he would be bothered by a revenge nuclear attack. And then there is the opportunity cost of Trident. £31 billion is enought to build 100 new hospitals in Britain. We probably don’t need that many – let’s just build a dozen or so and spend the rest on other health services or fantastic public transport (saves lives on the roads) or we spend it on other economy-stimulating investments. So Trident is already costing us thousands of lives in opportunity-cost. So why are we even cnsidering Trident if the above is correct? Union leaders are condemning those who vote against Trident because of the jobs it brings building these appalling weapons (we won’t call them weapons of mass destruction, that’s for our enemies’ arms). Do such union leaders realise that they are defining the expression ‘blood-money? And there, I think we come to the truth: not just the jobs for salaried workers, but other bigger financial interests in doing what is patently a complete logical nonsense. If Trident were to be armed with non-nuclear conventional warheads that could be deployed strategically to hit military enemy targets from the secret location of our submarines but that is never discussed. What is the attraction of the indiscriminacy of nuclear weapons in the Trident context? Trident is called an ’independent nuclear deterrent’, and the UK needs this, for some reason, outside of NATO’s cooperative arms policies (why?) but it is also said that in fact we don’t have our finger on the button at all, that the US does, but I don’t know if that’s true. If it is true, then we are paying for it while the US controls it. But as I say, I don’t know that. It is also said that the mechanism by which the Trident submarines remain undetectable as they move around, is technology that will be made obsolete as detection technology advances. But again, I don’t know that. (But it would be a bit of a blow, wouldn’t it, after all that expenditure?) Perhaps someone out there does know about that? But whether that’s the case or not I come back to my opening question: can someone explain to me how Trident functions as a deterrence mechanism?

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