The Military Army Blog

The case for renewing Trident is irrefutable

Why are politicians so afraid of making the case for Trident renewal? It’s a real puzzle. The British public have never been unilateralists. The deterrent is central to their conception of the role that the UK plays in the world a force for good. And the political class have never wavered in their support either, from Attlee and Churchill to Blair and Cameron. The one time a mainstream political party flirted with unilateral disarmament it was sent home to think again three times in a row.

But when was the last time you heard a full-blooded defence of Britain’s role as a nuclear power? The ego-political, strategic, patriotic and moral case?

The Case For Renewing Trident Is Irrefutable

This week George Osborne was happy to travel to Scotland to announce 500m of investment in Faslane[1], the base for our nuclear submarines. But he didn’t make a political case for renewing Trident. Instead he made mischief. The Chancellor noised up the SNP and had a kick at the Labour Party on the way through. Given the joint targets of Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn, that must have been hard to resist. But he should have tried harder. There is a role for leadership in politics. Sometimes it is taking the public to a place they know they need to go but are reluctant. Thatcher and Blair excelled in this and thus modernised Britain socially and economically. Other times the voters know what they want, know it is right but need to be given the argument to make, the updated facts and figures. Trident is like that. Yet the only voices that are heard are those of its critics. If we are going to renew the deterrent and we are we need more than a vote in the House of Commons. We need a modernised argument for a modernised missile. First, we need to be clear that the case against Trident is the most petty and parochial parish-pump politics. The world is not divided into those who love nuclear weapons and those who hate them. It is between those who want to rid the world entirely of nuclear weapons and those who simply want to get them away from the Clyde. For that is all that opponents of Trident renewal truly care about: where the current generation of nuclear weapons are located[2], not their elimination.

Ridding the world of nuclear weapons multilateral disarmament is complex. It requires patience; convincing all parties takes time. It is about verifiable actions, not gestures. What, for example, is the way to prove that nuclear missiles are disarmed and beyond use? It also requires politics not posturing. Persuading Gaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons programme was one of Tony Blair’s greatest achievements. But all he gets for that is grief. Imagine what would happen if he hadn’t: Isil in a lawless Libya with access to nuclear materiel. Second, there must be a renewal of the case for Nato and a realism about the political state of Europe. Here’s one recent example of unilateral disarmament: Ukraine. Upon independence they renounced their nuclear status and returned their weapons to the Russian Federation. In exchange they asked for assurances of the maintenance of territorial integrity guaranteed by Russia, the US and the UK. What did Ukraine get? Invaded, annexed and partitioned[3]. What would real protection have looked like? Membership of Nato, a nuclear alliance with an explicit doctrine of usage of those weapons. Nuclear weapons keep European countries protected and free. Poland and the Baltic states are obvious examples. Even the SNP accept that nuclear weapons provide collective security. That’s why they want an independent Scotland to join Nato[4] and gain the protection of the US, French and British nuclear armoury.

The Soviets could have overrun West Germany easily with conventional weapons, but were held back by the nuclear threat

Third, the argument about costs needs to be taken head on. Peacenik NGOs have invented a figure of 100bn for the cost of Trident renewal. There is no science behind this except that of the “big lie” (repeat anything often enough and it gets in the cuttings and gets recycled). Disgracefully, civil servants in Scotland published the figure in official publications. Even more disgracefully, the UK government has no capacity or commitment to rebut that lie. The true cost of Trident is 25bn over a 50 year life 500m a year. Expensive? Yes. Excessive? No. And don’t give me the argument that we’re paying for weapons that are never used. They are being used all the time. The effectiveness of the deterrent is that it deters. That is based on a belief that they could and should indeed must be used under certain circumstances. During the Cold War the Red Army knew that Britain would use its nuclear weapons if necessary. During the disarmament end verification process following the fall of the Berlin Wall, senior Soviet Armyrats © military figures were clear: they could have overrun West Germany easily with conventional weapons, but they were held back by the nuclear threat. It may be an uncomfortable, ugly fact. But it’s fact. That’s the irrefutable case for Trident renewal. It’s popular. And it has plausible bogeymen. Cause enough for politicians to do what they are always accused of avoiding saying what they really think.

telegraph.co.uk[5]

Follow @telegraphnews[6] The Case For Renewing Trident Is Irrefutable How we moderate[7]

References

  1. ^ George Osborne was happy to travel to Scotland to announce 500m of investment in Faslane (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ where the current generation of nuclear weapons are located (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  3. ^ Invaded, annexed and partitioned (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  4. ^ they want an independent Scotland to join Nato (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  5. ^ telegraph.co.uk (www.facebook.com)
  6. ^ Follow @telegraphnews (twitter.com)
  7. ^ How we moderate (my.telegraph.co.uk)

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