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: Trident and defence weapons
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Jun 9th 2010
@roadscum you are correct - a kneejerk reaction.
Brain not in gear. Sadly not that unusual.
I don't believe we will be getting our civil rights back anytime soon nor the wasted billions blown on ID cards. Argggh - should avoid the political threads.
Jun 9th 2010
I'd rather see at least some of the money spent on renewing Trident, or developing other forms of large scale weaponry, spent on making sure that rank and file forces personnel have the equipment they need to do their jobs, and that they their families are able to live in decent accomodation. I've never been a 'god bless Our Brave Boys' type, but it seems a bit perverse to spend so much on WMD's when the basic needs of our military staff aren't being consistently met.
Jun 9th 2010
I would put the money into intelligence myself, even though I already think British intelligence is formidable.
The demand for these weapons is going to diminish in the near future, and diminish further in the far future.
The hawks are on the losing side of history, here. The transition is inevitable, and once achieved, it will be permanent. The UK and most of Europe is facing demographic realities that are going to necessitate more resources being spent on social services, as the population ages and becomes concerned with matters other than national defense. The hawks know this. Rather than expand the arsenal, which the population will never accept, the hawks will fight to resist the reduction of the arsenal as long as they possibly can. We can expect the UK to disarm at a slower rate than other European nations, simply because the US has a hand in its military affairs, and the US is aging at a slightly slower rate, and the hawks enjoy greater support in the states (for now.)
Discussions of morality are all fine and good, but morality isn't persuasive in the face of huge government contracts and entrenched interests. The best strategy for the doves is to communicate to the population that every dollar spent on something like TRIDENT is one less dollar spent on social services. The doves do this already, for the most part.
It would be helpful for the doves to acknowledge that threats to world peace do exist, and must be dealt with. Rather than trying to downplay the threats, or worse, trying to convince people that our weapons are somehow the REASON those threats exist! Doves need to communicate that the current threats to world peace are because of terrorism not world war, and that TRIDENT is useless against terrorism. If you have to compromise, put the money into intelligence and eliminate the arsenal. Once it's gone, the hawks won't get it back.
Jun 9th 2010
This is a good point, it's hard to find a mid-ground with such an emotional subject, and even harder to find persuasive arguments. I do attempt to put to one side moral outrage, and think logically on the subject, but I end up reaching the same conclusions. I'm not sure if this is confirmation bias at work, but I'll try to explain (and would be grateful to anyone who can point out where my logic gives way to wish-fulfilment)...
So aggression exists, with or without Nukes. On that we can all agree I'm sure, it's part-and-parcel of the human animal and must be dealt with. Aggression within and between major organisations such as governments also exists, although things like trade and mutual goals can dampen it. SO, the question is in what way do nukes interact with and increase or reduce that aggression?
There seem to be two major manners in which nukes play a part: 1, governments stockpiling Nukes in a cold-war scenario; and 2, individuals or smaller organisations getting hold of dirty bombs.
The first example is a tricky one to deal with, since it's not easy to gather experimental data on the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent... we have only the cold war as an example: a data-set of one, and it's not the sort of thing we want to test in the lab! In absence of attainable empirical proof, it still seems that the most logical conclusion is that the cold-war era ended not because one nation conclusively gained more/better bombs than the other, but because both finally worked towards disarmament through diplomacy. More bombs doesn't equal less threat, it just equals higher tensions and higher stakes. If we consider the chance of all-out nuclear war during a cold-war scenario to be >0, then the longer the cold-war goes on, the more possibility there is that over increasing time, there will be a nuclear strike. This is incontrovertible, a truism. The most beneficial goal for all parties during a cold-war stand-off should be to end the stand-off as soon as possible, and the only proven effective way of doing that is mutual, cautious, disarmament. Once laid out like that, mutual disarmament becomes the best possible choice in a set of potential choices. I welcome criticism on this, but I've thought it through many times.
The second example is one that is disturbing in its implications, because even if we imagine that the nuclear deterrent
effective, it's useless against a nebulous organisation or an individual because it can't threaten them directly in the way it can threaten a government or nation. Also, where governments have safe-guards between the factor of unpredictable or irrational individual behaviour, and the "nuke" button, no such fail-safe exists in this second scenario. Owning nukes as a form of defence does nothing, and perhaps even makes you more of a target as an open aggressor. The best a nuclear weapons defence can do here is provide retaliation, which I can see as nothing but absurd to the point of comedy in this scenario.
So, nothing says "need for national security" like a weapon that can level a city, but also, nothing says "aggressive foreign policy" like owning that weapon and putting billions of pounds into maintaining & developing launch capability for it. There's a give and take to be had here, and after all is reasoned out, I don't think it's moral posturing to say that maintaining nuclear launch capability increases our index of mutual destruction (a goal which as I've pointed out is extremely questionable) at the cost of damaging our ability to engage in affective diplomacy.
When the value of the nuclear threat as a tactic of
as opposed to
is questionable at best (I'm certain that the interchangeability of the two words encouraged by government phraseology is
intrinsic, but doctrinal), we're left with the following questions:
If not the above, what exactly
the benefits of Trident?
Why is the burden of proof on the campaigners and not on the government?
are nuclear weapons effective in defending against other nuclear weapons?
Like I said, I'll be eternally grateful to anyone who can offer a convincing alternative to this chain of reasoning, since it might help convince me that the people who make decisions for our country's defence aren't either delusional, or in possession of secret but critical knowledge that somehow changes the bases of the logic involved. Both those possibilities, and our current reality disturb me deeply, not as a bleeding-heart liberal, but as someone who tries to weigh up all sides of an argument carefully and rationally.
Jun 9th 2010
Trident: expensive, unbelievably pointless. If any country is ever pushed into using its nuclear defences then the whole world will have to prepare for obliteration.
Jun 9th 2010
@newspaperdrone - well said. We should remember what these disgusting weapons are - machines designed to kill and maim millions, devices to burn the skin off thousands of babies backs.
Let's build some hospitals with the £100 billion instead. Even providing every household in the UK with free toilet roll until the £100 billion is spent, is a more sensible and moral use of the cash - and that's fucking nuts.
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