If at first you don’t succeed, Trident again

I agree with the decision to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent. I don’t know enough about nuclear warheads to make a convincing case for Trident itself – there seems to be a school of thought that the programme is out of date, expensive to maintain and unsuited to post-Cold War military strategy, and that land or ship-based cruise missiles would be better than a roving submarine fleet – but it seems particularly reckless to make the decision here and now that, come 2024, it will suit us to not be a nuclear power. I agree that it is an expensive decision (£20,000,000,000 isn’t exactly loose change), but it’s an insurance policy, plain and simple. Insurance policies are by nature expensive, but not in comparison to the cost of a worst case scenario becoming reality. Reducing the number of warheads by 20% and dropping from four to three submarines strikes me as being eminently sensible, and does not appear to be a breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (for those that care about such things).

“Oh, but it makes the world a more dangerous place!” shriek some. Bollocks. Nuclear weapons have kept the world free from major wars for sixty years. Live with it. What does makes the world a more dangerous place is unhinged totalitarian or theocratic states with access to a nuclear stockpile of their own (North Korea and, perhaps inevitably, Iran, whose deranged ‘president’ has expressed the desire to ‘wipe Israel from the map’ on a number of occasions). This is also, by default, the most convincing argument for us remaining a nuclear power ourselves. As somebody sensible wrote on a post on Comment Is Free yesterday (a rarity indeed, although I cannot find the link to it now): “Let me get this straight: you’re quite happy to live in a world where North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons, but we don’t?” Exactly.

In fact, it was reading some of the ramblings on that very site that further entrenched my position on this subject – I instinctively needed to be on the opposite side of the argument to these people.

Here are two examples, so typical of the vast majority of comments one reads here every day (from this post):


Imagine if, instead of being motivated by fear, Blair was motivated by hope, and led Britian (sic) to become the first power ever to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, thus setting an example for the world.

Imagine the boost that would give to non-proliferation. Imagine the energy and the hope from that example and the spread of the realisation that the abandonment of nuclear weapons IS possible.


Yes. And imagine if we lived in a world made of marshmallows where nobody ever got hurt and all our dreams came true the moment we thought of them and everyone had a lovely fwuffy bunny wabbit to play with all day. I mean, just imagine.


When analysing Tony Blair’s motivations for an action it is always helpful to ask “How does this help the United States?” since Blair’s primary desire in international politics is to strengthen US military and economic power (and concordantly weaken its rivals) whether because he simply has a messianic belief in US manifest destiny or because he is a US intelligence asset.

“A messianic belief in US manifest destiny”? Oh, for fuck’s sake. And heaven forbid that any action the UK decides upon should be in any way beneficial to or convenient for the United States! That marauding, imperialist, despotic nation! I mean, why would we want to be partnered with them, when there are so many other like-minded countries we can work with?

It’s official. Reading the thoughts of Guardian readers made me a committed advocate of nuclear weapons. If the majority of people there are against them, then it must be a good idea.


Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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8 comments on “If at first you don’t succeed, Trident again
  1. ph says:

    Ah yes the Gaurdian reader’s thoughts. So wrong, yet so influential.

  2. Citizen Sane says:

    Although clearly not very influential on this matter.

    I’d agree that Guardian writers have a considerable sphere of influence. But judging by some of the quality of the comments on CiF, many of their readers are illiterate plankton.

  3. tafka PP says:

    Sane, I think illiterate plankton is over-generous in the extreme.

    What I can’t understand is what they all *do* all day that they have so much time on their hands to follow their fights. I think I realised I’d overdosed when reading the Borat-is-an-evil-subversive-zionist thread took me my entire lunch break- I don’t have the spare time to devote to other people’s bad grammar and unresolved childhood neuroses.

  4. Illiterate Plankton (H) says:

    Well, as a guardian reader, I guess I have to start sticking up for myself. Firstly with regard to your argument about why Britain should continue spending exorbitant ammounts of money on Trident – it is seriously flawed. Your argument is, well if iran and North Korea have it, we need it as a deterrent, except that isn’t true. If America has it as a deterrent, then Britain has no need for it whatsoever. But I myself have not made up my mind about nuclear weapons, what is truly disturbing is the lack of shame in your not so tongue in cheel assertion that whatever “guardian readers” think is wrong must be worth supporting. It brings your level of debate down to that to be expected on the talkback boards of stories, something unworthy of the Liberal Elite.

  5. H says:

    Can I pretend that the large number of typos in that last post of mine was part of me trying to play into the idea that I am in fact illiterate plankton?

  6. Citizen Sane says:

    PP – They are either:

    Students – in which case they should be studying, or:
    Unemployed – in which case they should be looking for a job, or:
    Mentally ill – in which case they should be shouting obscenities at people on a bus somewhere.

    H – Easy there now! I’m an on-off Guardian reader myself. Used to be devoted, but like to chop and change a bit now. It’s a great paper, and I love their website, but you have to admit that Comment Is Free attracts a pretty large lunatic contingent of full-time commenters and the range of opinion on there is very limited. My problem is more with “that lot” than Guardian readers per se.

    Good to know you’re still around, by the way. It’s been a long time!

  7. ph says:

    I think they are Civil Servants

  8. Citizen Sane says:

    Also a distinct possibility. In fact, thinking about it, that seems the most likely…

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