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    • CommentAuthorcjstevens
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    Many people think the UK should reject TRIDENT as it is very expensive for our budget. I just posted the following on a blog but just wondered what others thought concerning the issue of (especially as native resident) military defence and weapons investment. Its a very morally complex debate, yet I do maintain that realistically it is a necessary evil or by-product of a dangerous world.

    The world is a very dangerous place. Our Global/economic position demands the best weapons defensive systems. I don't think that we can seriously reject TRIDENT or any other ultra-modern defence tech. I am not pro-war or right-wing, but do you realise how evil and desperate some people are? Do you realise how many nukes are "MISSING". Have you ever seen an episode of 24?!?! I'm half joking here, but the world of intelligence and national security is vital to the UK. It's what makes us the country that we are and gives us the political dominance that allows positive intervention and stabilisation of international conflict and protects our population. If we cannot efficiently defend against cyber-warfare or develop state-of-the-art counter measures to superweapons or fundamental terrorism from ANY dangerous individual or collective group then we are at risk of serious exploitation from developing superpowers and individual regimes.

    The history of the world is the history or war and conspiracy.

    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    You're not providing any background or context.

    When I hear "Trident," I think a missile submarine.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    Carrying a knife down the pub does not stop you getting stabbed. Waving it about during a fight tends to up the ante all round. Being an aggressive little shit and hanging around with the local bad boys may provide some protection but it neither makes you loved or invulnerable. Better to try to avoid rough company and places.

    Yes, i know it's not that simple but honestly, there are better things to spend the money on.
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    Are trident a defence measure?

    I always thought the money could have been spent better elsewhere especially after the military was reduced. I don't think that nukes give us "the Political Dominance... and protects our population." But then I have always had a preference for men on the ground.

    Don't mean to cause offence or anything (I say this for later posts too).

    Must sleep now.
  1.  (8378.5)
    An interesting debate, sir. I'll be happy to partake.

    Your statement that 'The history of the world is the history or war and conspiracy' is akin to what Paul Virilio would say but he would also say that it is what we should be thinking against. His particular [embodied] Phenomenological approach is interesting to the moral complexities here because in his studies of war, conquest and war architecture, he has found only oblique answers that differ from the war models.

    I'm afraid that I disagree with a few of your points but I do see where you're coming from.

    The points I disagree with are that I don't really want any country I could call mine to have '...political dominance that allows positive intervention' because I don't necessarily think that positive intervention is always for us to decide on - if asked for help, we should of course aid - and I don't think political dominance is a good thing. I know I'm very lucky to live in the UK as we've had political dominance over a good proportion of the world for 200 years and are still reaping the benefits [I'm afraid none of us are as poor as we think we are here in the UK] but to propagate that is something I don't see as a positive use of our resources.

    I mention this in answer to the question of TRIDENT because it continues something we should have put to bed as soon as it was discovered - simulacrum of nuclear weaponry should have been put in museums, state buildings and educational facilities in order to educate on the utterly devastating madness that comes with it.

    I know that there are a lot of terrible things that could happen without protection and I wouldn't recommend disarmament, just nuclear disarmament.

    You're right, of course. The history of the world is the history or war and conspiracy but the future needn't be.

    Why can't we use TRIDENT money productively and fund our state schools better now that Free Schools will screw over the system even more than the state/public/private system already has?

    It's possible [probable] readers of this will call these statements naive but I'd like to think that if we put down our guns, they'd put down theirs. Sure we'd both know that we still had knives on us but at least we knew we'd have a fighting chance.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    Trident is a defence only in the sense that it's part of the wider Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine. The idea that if a state lobs their nukes our way, the payback from us would hurt them just as much.

    I've always thought of it as empty gesturing for the UK. In any serious global thermonuclear war, the UK (and most of western Europe) becomes a glowing hole within minutes anyway when you look at the sheer number of warheads pointed this way.

    But as a threat, that's diminished. The point the LibDems were trying to make during the election wasn't 'we should have no nukes', it was more 'who exactly are we planning to drop the things on anyway?'. If a rogue state does decide to throw some our way, we're not talking complete carpet bomb destruction, we're maybe talking about a chunk of a city, WW2 style. If they can even hit us. Is a full on Trident style response justified in that instance? Would not the proper retaliation be a conventional war to remove the responsable regime?

    Trident, as it stands right now, is no threat at all to the major nuclear powers (USA, Russia, China) and yet it's total overkill against the rest (France, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea).

    Why NOT spend the money on something more relevant?
  2.  (8378.7)
    Honestly, an air-launched cruise missile with a nuclear warhead would probably be cheaper and just as effective.

    Britain has had nuclear weapons since the 60's, it's fought several wars and experienced several attacks on its own soil.

    In those 50-odd years there hasn't bee a single instance where Trident was any use.

    "The world is a dangerous place and we need a strong defence" is an emotional and open-ended argument.

    Does Britain need an aircraft carrier?

    Why not two?

    Why not ten?
  3.  (8378.8)
    Missile defense is pointless in a world where your enemies use passenger jets to ram skyscrapers.
    • CommentAuthornleavitt
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2010
    Are there any plausible scenarios where a nuclear weapon is justified, London doesn't get glassed, and large fuel-air explosives wouldn't work just as well? Last time I checked, 1 hour after one country launches a nuclear missile, every other country has launched all of theirs, and everybody dies. Not what I call a good defense.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    The issue with putting nukes on subs is second strike capability. To ensure that if someone attacks you with overwhelming force, they know that there's still an overwhelmingly deadly response that they stand very little chance of destroying or defending against.

    In order to maintain this instant global second strike capability, three submarines are about the bare minimum requirement. However, the question is, is this needed?

    I think that politically and strategically, *some* kind of second strike capability is probably sensible. Cheaper options are possibly having a dozen or so land based silos, or nuclear cruise missiles on existing planes and subs. That *might* be enough now, and may even be slightly more survivable than loading all of the eggs in just three baskets, so to speak.

    My solution, which would be affordable and maintain the minimum second strike capability would be to lift existing Trident missiles out of the subs, recondition them and bung them in silos placed in remote and uninhabitable places, like the Western Isles or Southend. Then also have a small stock of dismantled nuclear cruise missiles onboard a few attack submarines, ships and available to load on Typhoons or even in something like the Russian shipping crate solution. Dismantled, so that using them is not just a case of having the right codes transmitted, but actually having to actively put them back together first before use.

    That should maintain just about the minimum to keep the UK at the UN security council table, be of decent deterrent function and free up a load of cash for schools, hospitals and tax cuts for foxhunting twats.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    As for the question of whether the UK needs carriers; In every single aerial combat engagement that the UK has been involved in since WW2, the British plane has taken off from a carrier.

    I think that the need for the F35B jump jet has been overstated and it'll be too bloody expensive and delicate, and F35Cs with railgun launch would actually be a much more effective and cheaper solution in the long run, but if we're not going to move onto a post-colonial world where we can all make art and dance, the UK really does need a minimum of two fixed wing carriers, with helicopter carriers vital too.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010 edited
    Trident isn't "defence", it's a threat, and a 2nd strike capability. It's not worth spending £100 billion over 10 years at a time when we need to be cutting £156 billion from our budget every year. It's no defence at all against terrorism.

    George Osbourne claims he is going to consult the public on cuts in spending, I wonder what he will do if the public says it doesn't want to spend £100 billion on Trident. I wonder if that will even be on the table.

    If we maintain the right to have nuclear weapons, we have no right telling countries in less peaceful parts of the world that they shouldn't.

    the world of intelligence and national security is vital to the UK. It's what makes us the country that we are and gives us the political dominance that allows positive intervention and stabilisation of international conflict and protects our population. If we cannot efficiently defend against cyber-warfare or develop state-of-the-art counter measures to superweapons or fundamental terrorism from ANY dangerous individual or collective group then we are at risk of serious exploitation from developing superpowers and individual regimes.

    How does Trident help with any of this? Do we even have the capability to launch Trident without the agreement of the US? I'm not sure, but I don't think we do. If so, it's a bit like the US selling us a £100 billion pound car, but not giving us the keys to the ignition.

    How much have we spent on Trident to date? Is that money well spent, given that we haven't used it?
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    Speaking as an American, I'd prefer that Britain and other countries begin to take over primary responsibility for their own defense so that we in the USA can begin to make significant cuts in our own defense budget, pay down our debt and start taking better care of our own citizens.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    @JohnJones - that argument doesn't really work, unless you're calling for a withdrawal from NATO. Britain's disproportionately spent more propping up US defence ventures around the world than the US has supporting Britain, in terms of getting into actual shooting wars.

    When Britain did get into a war of its own, the Falklands, two requests were made of the US, one was for the latest model Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, which was granted, but on a purely commercial basis as they were sold, and the second was for a Blackbird spyplane flight and/or spy satellite imagery, which was not. They claimed that it couldn't be done, because tankers available didn't have the range to refuel one, which was possibly half the reason why the UK showed that it could be done by getting a Vulcan bomber down there and back.

    But still, the point is that there's no significant gains to be made on either side by Britain upping its defence budget to compensate for less US support.

    Oh, and a friend who was a Royal Marine in Northern Iraq after the first Gulf War said that they nicked desert boots and other equipment, as well as fresh fruit and cold soft drinks from the US bases, but I don't think this really counts.
    • CommentAuthorcjstevens
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    (When I refer to 'Trident' I mean a range of military defence technology, not just Trident missile system)
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    so that we in the USA can begin to make significant cuts in our own defense budget

    I think it's the attack budget that you need to cut.
  4.  (8378.17)
    I've been joining with campaigns against Trident for a long time now. I was bitterly disappointed that it wasn't addressed at more length during the elections. My opinions are pretty much summed up by a letter I wrote to our new secretary of defence... not that it'll do any good :(

    In the electoral debate, Cameron clarified the Conservative policy on Trident and nuclear launch capability by saying that the future is uncertain, and we cannot know what threats we will face. This statement is more than true, especially when it comes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but what Cameron did not touch upon is how today's policies and actions form tomorrow's reality. If, as the conservative government is so often keen to point out, Britain is a great and important nation, our actions have serious repercussions on the world stage.

    The principle of mutually assured destruction, the efficacy of which this government implicitly trusts in by backing continued and developed nuclear launch capability is a transparently flawed notion, hostage to the potentially unpredictable and irrational actions of human individuals with nuclear authority. To call nuclear launch capability a form of defence is at best a distortion of the the truth, and at worst an outright lie.

    It is hypocritical in the extreme to use the future insecurity of our country's defence as a political bargaining chip, when the nuclear launch capability being bargained for might just as easily indirectly undermine that same security. In a time when nuclear weapons proliferation threatens to begin again in earnest, how can Britain seriously take part in any negotiations designed to halt armament, when it officially recognises the necessity of remaining armed. How does this new government expect foreign nations to react? How can we simultaneously see another nation's nuclear arms as a threat, and our own as a defence? Surely this is a most pernicious form of doublethink.

    And that's aside from the cost.
    • CommentAuthorTimbo
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    Why persist with the Cold war mentality when both the US & Russia are decommissioning missles.

    The UK cannot afford trident and it would be better for all UK citizens if it was cut. That the governet is holding on the programme when we are considering cuts to all other aspects of public life is ridiculous.

    Even if the Clameron govt cannot bring themselves to cut it their are far cheaper options as discussed above.

    Their belief is that the Nuclear threat is what keeps the UK at the big boys table.

    We should lead by example and decommission and lessen our cache before rattling sabres at the supposed axis of evil.

    This eye for an eye approach will likely leave us all blind one day.
    • CommentAuthorTimbo
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010

    If your country addressed their foreign policy better then the military spending would be less of an issue.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2010
    @ Timbo:

    If ours did the same then perhaps military spending would be less of an issue for us as well, not to mention the restrictions in civil liberties brought in to combat perceived 'terrorist' threats.