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warheads to make a convincing case for Trident itself – there seems to be a school of thought that the programme is out of date, expensive to maintain and unsuited to post-Cold War military strategy, and that land or ship-based cruise missiles would be better than a roving submarine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.