Thursday 4 April 2013

Ban the bomb -

 CND - Cameron's nuclear deterrent

The UK would be "foolish" to abandon Trident in the face of the potential threat of nuclear attack from North Korea and Iran, David Cameron has said.

 The Lib Dems want the UK to explore a cheaper alternative to the Tories' £20bn plan to replace Trident..

 Shadow defence minister Kevan Jones said it was "absolutely right and necessary" for the UK to retain an independent nuclear deterrent..

 North Korea, one of the axis of evil, is a nutter country. A personality cult, divine leader, communist propagandist full blown looney tunes nation. They need a really big deterrent to keep them in check. 
China which props the basket case up.

Or we can tell ourselves a nuclear deterrent is what stops North Korea invading Seoul in a bid to finally end the tie-breaker that began in 1950.
Ok, but that doesn't mean we need to have our own UK nuclear weapons. The North Koreans fear South Korea and Japan and the USA. Possibly Russia. Possibly China. I doubt we figure very much int their calculations.
For our defence we are protected by Nato. An attack on one member is an attack on all.  We are also in the EU. We could expect some assistance from the rest of Europe. Amongst the other European nations only France has Nuclear weapons.  Like us, Its a way of keeping the big seat on the security council of the UN. 

But Germany doesn't have a seat or Nuclear deterrents and it gets along just fine. Germans aren't worried about a sudden attack and not being able to respond because 

A} The US and Nato membership IS the deterrent

B} Not having nukes doesn't make a nation more likely to attack. 

C} Non rational nations and leaders are just that. Irrational. 
1940s Imperial Japan, a nation of 33 million , about the same size as the United Kingdom, declared war on or caused war with China, Dutch Empire, The British Empire, The British Commonwealth including some heavyweights such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, The Philippines, Free France and the United States of America. The prospects for victory for the army of Nippon was 1 in a 1000. Didn't stop them.

Non Nuclear missile Argentina wasn't worried about Armageddon retaliation from Nuclear armed Britain when it invaded British territory in 1982. The UK was never going to use them. What situation would we use them?

Cameron sounds very Jim Hackerish in his claims that we need the bomb.
We don't. We just need allies who do. The current policy of cutting ground troops, helicopters and equipment to keep a fleet of Thermonuclear Trident submarines that we will never use seems a bit ..inefficient?


Blue Eyes said...

Ideally we'd have more helicopters and well-equipped and well-trained ground troops AND a nice beefy nuke system...

...and fewer welfare prisoners.

It's all very well relying on the French and the Americans to provide us with cover when we need it, but what happens if they decide we haven't pulled our weight? Or if they decline to join in the fight, or whatever?

Bill Quango MP said...

The French can.
The Yanks can't. We are in Nato. We must all defend each other from attack. Southern Ireland world GDP rating 47th. Military spending - 88th.
They just know that the UK and EU would never allow a foreign power to occupy their country.

Maybe after two terms of a hard left, anti-USA government, and with rising Chinese/Indian/Russian threats in their half of the globe, the USA might decide to dump its Europe commitments. But then we can all join a Euro Nuclear deterent project.

Doesn't matter that it would need 27 members to agree to use it in two parliaments that meet over a 12 month period.. Its never going to be used anyway.

Jan said...

Couldn't agree more. Nuclear weapons are an evil waste of money anyway.

Blue Eyes said...

BQ, sorry I do not share your view that our allies will happily look out for our interests come what may.

However I do agree that actual troops and conventional equipment are better uses of a limited pot.

I return to my first point which is why is the pot so small when we throw so much more money at people to sit around on their arses setting fire to their children?

Nick Drew said...

I am what we might term a 'budgie' on this issue: self-reliance to the max feasible degree (which is not to the exclusion of alliances), including nukes

which is why Trident is rather dodgy because we rely on the Yanks for many aspects (do we really think we are permitted to do independent targeting?)

the logic plainly speaks to warheads of our own + simple cruise missiles + Astutes (and shells and bombs) - not forgetting that they had better not rely on GPS ...

as regards the efficacy of deterrence, the more isolated you are, the more people reckon you'd use it - e.g., while Israel would definitely feel the draught if the US withdrew its favours, they would still have the wherewithal to make Iran think twice and then thrice before trying its hand

and that's not to do with tank battalions

if we once give up the nukes, we are just another Italy

andrew said...

Not so long ago there was a realistic (well it was protrayed as realistic) prospect of Russian tanks rolling over Germany and France and then us next.
A Nuke made sense then - it is a last ditch threat that comes good when national survival is not just threatened, but when foreign troops have actually landed and have got past the M25.
Things have changed post 1990.

Today, there is no such threat from a foreign country.

If some terrorist in Pakistan manages to explode a nuke in London we will not be lobbing one at Islamabad.

The terrorist will not be deterred by the thought of nuclear retaliation.

A foreign country is not going to invade us - what have we got physically in the UK that anyone wants so much?

The same line of thought applies to expensive aircraft of any sort.

There is a fixed amount of money.

I would rather it was spent on decent equipment and training that allowed infantry to get to other countries rapidly - and an aircraft carrier that has aircraft.

If you want a deterrent, some nice conventional bunker busters would do - it is credible that we would use them without actually having national survival at stake and so they will have a greater deterrent effect.

Ask yourself - if a nuke is a deterrent, exactly who / what we are trying to deter with this deterrent today?

On the 'It makes people take us seriously' line, I refer to ND's comment on some simple cruise missiles.

Bill Quango MP said...

On LBC just now on Iain Dale's show the majority of callers were supporting poor North Korea in its legitimate defence against Imperialist American aggression.

These were English callers.The stop the war coalition which I hadn't really noticed before has become the socialist workers people's republic of tooting party.
They were giving that known warmonger, baby killer, trampler of the rights of nations Obama a right good kicking.

How could I have forgotten the truth about all wars since Waterloo.

If it isn't the American's fault, then it must be Fatchur's.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I agree with many of the posters here and would like to add my $0.02.

1. If military action is the extension of foreign (usually failed) policy, then what is our foreign policy ? Is it to do what ever the Yanks tell us or do we have interests outside of wind farms and the EU?

2. The Germans were really scared of the Russians and were very keen members of NATO when it was in their interests. Funny how they seemed to have cooled towards NATO now the threat has receded. Bit like their love for all things EU and Euro.

3. We gave the Yanks much of the Atom Bomb technology, along with Radar and jet engines. They re-payed us by telling us to F.O. after the war and refused to share any Nuclear technology with us. Some friends.

4. Our so called 'Independent Nuclear Deterrent' is not in anyway independent. Pakistan and Israel have more independence in this field then we will ever have.

5. Nuclear weapons are so 19th Century. Not the technology but the military thinking. The thinking that says I must have weapons bigger and more terrible than
yours. Fraude would have a field day with insecure minds like those.

6. Knowledge is a far more dangerous weapon than you might think. Having the means to design, build, test develop, deploy and deliver a truly independent nuclear weapon would scare a foe as powerful as the USA. Don't believe me, follow the link. You do not have to watch the whole episode, the first minute tells you all you need to know.

Conclusion: Build our own nuclear weapons. Develop the means of delivering them. But stop just short of deploying them. No threat to anyone, but good to know that we can do things our way should need must.

andy said...

I too would like to add my ha'pence worth to the mix.

One of the primary duties of Government in a sovereign nation is that of defence.

Yes, nuclear weapons are a weapon of last resort, and unlikely ever to be used, but in an uncertain world it is impossible to foresee black swan events that may require that level of threat.

If we were to give up on our nuclear weapons programs, it would in all likeliness be for good. We would lose not only the actual weapons and delivery hardware, but also the decades of hard won (and expensive!) know how. The entire industrial manufacturing and supply chain and the people associated with it would be gone. If at some point in the future, nuclear weapons were a necessity for survival, it would be a herculean task to restart it at short notice.

Anonymous above links to a fascinating video about our early nuclear weapons program. It's worth watching in its entirety and it makes it abundantly clear that when push comes to shove, the Americans are not our friends and we cannot rely on anyone for our own defence.

We could have afforded an update to Trident easily had we forsaken so many pointless and costly foreign adventures. In fact, isn't the projected spend on HS2 roughly the same?

Budgie said...

Naturally I agree with everyone who has said that we cannot rely on Jonny Foreigner to defend us in our hour of need. Indeed why on earth should he?

However, where are we going to put Trident when Scotland becomes independent and non-nuclear? This is not my question but my son's.

blue Eyes said...

"We gave the Yanks much of the Atom Bomb technology, along with Radar and jet engines. They re-payed us by telling us to F.O. after the war and refused to share any Nuclear technology with us. Some friends."

We also gave the Russians much of the technology they needed, too.

CityUnslicker said...

there is an oxymoron in saying we may need nuclear weapons to save ourselves. Any large nuclear exchange will destory the world as we know it. Maybe a few single small blasts in a one sided war with Korea can be survivable, but any situation in which the UK is threatened by a major international power is a MAD scenario.

Bill Quango MP said...

All good points as ever.

But if I can just bring it back to the main one.

Is it worth spending a considerable portion of our defence budget on a weapon system that we will never ever use?
Unless we are expecting the Chinese to suddenly go rouge again, not inconceivable, but less likely, then Trident II will be, like Polaris and Trident 1 - an unused weapon.

And, as I said , the Germans have no plans for nuclear weapons. Never have had. They don't seem to worry about the threat from the rest of world. And the Germans do have a somewhat martial history, do they not?

Germany spent its defence budget in the 50's and 60's on industry and infrastructure.
We spent ours on ships and planes and missiles. They still have their roads and railways. Our ships are scrapped and surviving planes in museums.

Just saying is all.... As the second bit of that brilliant yes PM goes onto.."You're not a pacifist are you Prime Minister?

No..just would rather spend the cash on the worlds highest trained, most feared, SAS-SBS_Airborne -Assassination brigade, that frightens tinpot dictators around the world with every creak on the stair.

Nick Drew said...

now you're talking !!

seriously, in order to do the SAS/SBS thing you need a very large pool of 'standard' infantry (ships + aircrew) to draw upon - which is the comment that EK rightly makes from time to time

if we had the £ for that, we'd be fine anyway

Dan said...

Sir, I think you may be misunderstanding what is going on in North Korea. This country is not a communist state; it is a modern take on a miserable, quasi-medieval monarchy.

Kim the first was liked by all his barons (i.e. his generals in his army). Kim the second, chip off the old block, decent bloke. Kim the third, a spoilt princeling thrust very abruptly into being a king; before then he was just this slightly strange fat bloke who liked watching basketball.

Kim the third now has a problem: his generals ain't at all sure if they like him. Quite a few think that they have a better candidate for king of NK, but they cannot quite sort out which catspaw to put in place. Kim is making all this military noise not to impress anyone outside the country, nor to impress his peasantry (who don't matter), but to tie his generals down with so much work that they cannot plot against him.

This is why we've got so much frankly comical behaviour; most of the reaction to US forces' presence was in fact responses to US Navy press releases. This NK military buildup was not and is not real; this is internal politics, nothing more.

Budgie said...

BQ, the point about the nuclear deterrent is it prevents an enemy threatening us (by hypothesis without a nuclear weapon) with an unanswerable first (nuclear) strike. The enemy need not go on to use his nuclear arsenal, the threat would be enough. MAD is sane.

Bill Quango MP said...

Budgie. Who are our enemies? The Russians and the Chinese? The Pakistanis and the Iranians and the Argentinians?

The Chinese can stop the sale of cheap TVs and dismay us all. And the Russians can switch of the gas so we wouldn't have any power to watch them anyway.

And, unlike the 1940's, we are in alliances. NATO is an alliance of 28 nations that includes 6 out of the G8 nations, including the biggest and most powerful, the United States.

Of the nations of the world that spends the most on defence, in the top 15 defence spenders {56 of which are NATO countries} the USA's military spending {number 1} is larger than the remaining 14.

That's larger than the total combined defence spending of

United Kingdom
Saudi Arabia
South Korea

And they are OUR allies.So who is going to attack us in a way that means we must have a nuclear response independent of our allies?

As I said, we didn't threaten Buenos Aires with missile strike if they didn't withdraw from Port Stanley. Who would we threaten?
Angela Merkel? Mugabe? The Taliban? Beijing ? Alex Salmond?

Budgie said...

BQ, how very convenient for us. And you can guarantee that in perpetuity, or even for the next 40 years? Good on you, but I didn't notice NATO coming to our rescue when the Falklands (British sovereign territory) was not just attacked, but invaded and occupied.

Anonymous said...

We have been allies with the USA for almost 100 years.

Budgie said...

Anon, how little you know of the USA. A main aim of their foreign policy for the last 200 years was to rid the planet of the pesky British Empire. Nor do I recall them standing shoulder to shoulder with us when WW1 or WW2 broke out.

Yes, we have a lot in common, look at the world in a similar manner, and often we are allies (probably through cultural and family ties, mostly) but it is morally bankrupt of us to expect any foreign country, even America, to continually prop us up.

Anonymous said...

Why? They've proped up the whoile of Europe for 70 years. Why did they do that? Because they didn't want us as enemies or occuipied by enemies. Will that change?? Will USA decide that Europe and its 300 million citizens don't matter anymore?
Highly, highly unlikely.

Anyway, its irrelevant. What situatiuon we would use an independent nuclear missile? Can you think of one? If Egypt attacked Israel? Nope.
If Turkey invaded Cyprus ..
If North Korea attacked South Korea
if the Balkans erupted into civil war?
If The Russians occupied Afghanistan?
If Argentina attacked British territory?

We've had plenty of excuses but never even considered a nuclear option. Its a useless option. We all know that its the seat on the security council that is important in UN decision making.

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