In his speech at an anti-Trident rally in February, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “You don’t achieve peace by planning for war”. Of course the opposite is true, and Corbyn knows it; nothing would make us more vulnerable to an attack than showing that we are unprepared or unwilling to defend ourselves against it. War may always be the last resort for a free country, but if it’s completely off the table, that country won’t be free for long.
This raises the question of why the left is so vehement in their opposition to the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament claims its aim is “to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction”, but most of the organization’s efforts are focused in the UK, which the CND happily admits it wishes to disarm unilaterally. If these efforts are successful, we’d have to trust the leaders of North Korea, Russia, China and Pakistan, not only to never drop an atomic bomb on a UK city, but to keep all their bombs, as well as the technology and materials used to build them, out of the hands of anyone who would.
Some supporters of unilateral disarmament go as far as claiming that our having a deterrent “drives proliferation”, in yet another version of the left’s inclination to blame everything bad that happens in the world on the west.
But most opponents of Trident aren’t arguing that there’s any danger of a British government suddenly nuking our enemies. They realise it’s there to deter our enemies from nuking us. So for what reason could they oppose it? The cost? Whenever security issues come up, many in the left are suddenly concerned with the amount of “public” money a program costs, a concern which they rarely voice on other issues.
Another argument used by supporters of unilateral disarmament to divert attention from the risks of their plan, is the notion that nuclear weapons wouldn’t help us deal with some of the threats we face today, such as terrorism. Leaving aside the obvious short-sightedness of this argument (the fact that terrorists have yet to acquire nuclear weapons is no guarantee that they won’t in the future), this can be said of any weapon and any defence strategy; it is efficient against certain types of threat, not all of them. The threat against which this particular weapons system protects us is a nuclear holocaust, so it should be at the very top of our defence apparatus. Abolishing it would be tantamount to an announcement to the world that the UK government no longer sees nuclear weapons in the hands of our enemies as a serious threat to national security.
A related tweet:
Should our government retain a nuclear deterrent?
— Libertarian Home (@LibertarianHome) July 18, 2016