Trident must be renewed

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:

  32 comments for “Trident must be renewed

  1. Nico Metten
    Jul 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    What? Renewing Trident is a good thing? This will cost tenth of billions of taxpayer money, to be spend on a weapon that kills indiscriminately. Yes sure prepare for a defence, which means, have a militia army where people have a weapon at home to give an invader a hard time. And of course trade with people, so that they are clear about killing a business partner. But there is absolutely no justification to prepare for for mass murder and total destruction.

    • Jul 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      What if it were your own mass murder you were preparing for? I’m a little on the fence here but this was not persuasive Nico.

      • Nico Metten
        Jul 18, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        What do you mean preparing for my own mass murder? There is no imaginable scenario in which the use of an atomic weapon, a weapon that kills large numbers of civilians indiscriminately, is acceptable. Not even if you yourself are being attacked with nuclear weapons. The only argument for such a weapon is that you have it, so that you do not have to use it. But as far as I know there have been 13 instances in the past, in which we got very close of some moron pressing the button to use these weapons. Too dangerous and also too expansive. After all, they are paid for by taxpayer money and operated by politicians. And having these weapons allows these people to bully other states around, which creates exactly the dangerous scenarios that we apparently need these weapons for in the first place.

        • Johnny Favourite
          Jul 18, 2016 at 3:10 pm

          “There is no imaginable scenario in which the use of an atomic weapon, a weapon that kills large numbers of civilians indiscriminately, is acceptable. Not even if you yourself are being attacked with nuclear weapons.”

          Morality as timidity or libertarianism as death sentence? Doesn’t matter much either way, I suppose…

        • Razi G
          Jul 18, 2016 at 3:18 pm

          I agree with you that we have such a weapon so that we won’t have to use it. But I strongly disagree that there’s no scenario in which using it is acceptable. The role of government is to protect its own citizens, not civilians in other countries, and certainly not in countries that attack us. When government has to choose between the death of our soldiers and the death of our enemies’ civilians, they shouldn’t have any option other than the latter. People suffer, and often die, because of the government they have. That’s true everywhere. Unless you want every war we’re forced into to be a humanitarian mission where we pay with our money and our lives to save others, no option can be off the table.
          Remember that the only two atomic bombs that were dropped on civilians in history actually saved lives, probably millions of them, and most of those who would have otherwise died were on the side that was bombed.
          As for your last point, the best proof for the notion that our enemies wouldn’t be our enemies if we didn’t have nuclear weapons being false is the actions of these countries and organizations towards those who are currently weaker than them.

          • Nico Metten
            Jul 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

            What a bunch of collectivist nonsense. If the role of government is to protect its citizens no matter what the price is for others, they are criminal entities and need to be abolished. There is nothing that is more important than the liberty of the individual human being. I don’t care what ethnicity or citizenship they have. Everyone has the same rights. And those do not come from the government. Lives are also not interchangeable. You cannot make an equation like, I kill a few people here to save a few other there. What gives you the authority to play judge over people’s lives? If the government can kill people for some illusional greater good, then it can do anything. There are no limits. Any kind of moral argument against any action of the government breaks down. Collectivism at its worst.

            • Johnny Favourite
              Jul 18, 2016 at 5:16 pm

              “There is nothing that is more important than the liberty of the individual human being. I don’t care what ethnicity or citizenship they have. Everyone has the same rights.”

              You might not care, Nico, but almost everyone else does and always has. Moral universalism (this idea that everyone has the same rights) is a very recent development in human history and is very limited in its appeal. You can shriek about collectivism all you want – the world is how it is whether we like it or not, and being a committed humanitarian in a world of ethnocentrics is neither an enviable position nor, in the long-term, a viable one.

            • Nico Metten
              Jul 18, 2016 at 5:23 pm

              So in other words, libertarianism is stupid. Everyone else is a collectivist, so let us openly embrace collectivism. No sorry I won’t.

            • Razi G
              Jul 18, 2016 at 5:40 pm

              The question of “what the price is for others” should be irrelevant for the government during war. The relevant question is what is the price for the people whose rights this government exists to protect. Just like the government of the UK, if it were a capitalist one, wouldn’t protect the citizens of Japan from taxation, so it shouldn’t protect civilian lives in enemy controlled territory, certainly not when the price for such protection is the lives of our soldiers or citizens.
              By your standard, we should see an attack by another country or a terrorist organization as a justification for sending our own soldiers to a certain death, even though that death is preventable.
              Bad things happen at war. When we’re forced into one, the role of our government should be to make sure that as few of those as possible happen to us.

            • Nico Metten
              Jul 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm

              How can it be irrelevant what costs your actions have for others? If that is your concept of morality, you really don’t have any. People don’t lose their rights, just because they are citizens of a different state. It is individuals who have rights, not collectives. I will not buy into your ‘you have to break an egg to make an omelette’ “morality”.

  2. Paul Marks
    Jul 18, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I think there are two questions here.

    Is an independent nuclear deterrent necessary?

    Yes it is – we can not totally depend on the United States for ever. Anything could happen in American politics. And in a world where Putin’s Russia and the People’s Republic of China (soon to be joined by Islamic powers such as Iran, remember Pakistan already has nuclear weapons) we must have a nuclear deterrent.

    But there is a second question.

    Is Trident the most cost effective means of providing that deterrent?

    I do not know.

    I simply do not have the knowledge base in order to make a judgement.

    Sorry if this is ducking the question.

    As for a militia army.

    A truly ruthless opponent can always defeat such a force.

    Even without saying “we will nuke a city each day till you give up”.

    Would you go to an untrained doctor or dentist?

    An untrained soldier is much the same – inferior.

    Ditto a group of random group of people – versus a professional organisation.

    Although, in the far future, it may not be the state.

    Private companies may have their own space ships and space stations – with special forces squads and (yes) nuclear weapons.

    Hollywood hates this (it is the standard terrible future for them) – but that does not automatically mean that this form of society would be bad.

  3. Julie near Chicago
    Jul 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Paul: “An untrained soldier is much the same – inferior.”

    Yes he is. Hence the business in the Second Amendment about “a well-regulated militia.”

    Of course, well-trained guerrilla fighters can do an awful lot. Viz. any number of such, FARC, Shining Path, so on.

    All those Islamic-terrorist training camps also serve some purpose, I imagine.

    None of which is meaningful if somebody is nuking everything in sight.

    In short, What Razi and Paul said.

  4. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 18, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I didn’t say libertarianism was stupid, Nico, in those or any other words. I did say that libertarianism, as currently practised, is self-annihilating.

  5. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 18, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Nico, assuming these rights that you say everybody has actually exist, why should anyone respect them? Other than for fear of being criticised on libertarian blogs, that is?

    • Nico Metten
      Jul 18, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      No, you did not say it. But you were implying it, whether you realise it or not. You were essentially saying that libertarianism is unrealistic and not achievable. Summery, it is stupid. But it is neither unrealistic, it is the real solution to our problems, nor is it unachievable.

      And to your question, why should we stick to certain moral principles, very simple, because you don’t want to be collateral damage either. The only chance we have to enjoy a civilised society is to stick to universal moral principles. And one of them is, you do not kill people that have done nothing to you. The only alternative to that is nihilism.

  6. UncleBobbings
    Jul 18, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Leaving the nuclear deterrent to one side for a moment

    While the warheads are the UK’s, the Trident missile can only be maintained by the US, and it is my understanding that it uses US-owned GPS to assist in its guidance.

    Trident is therefore completely reliant on the US.

    I think I would am in favour of the ultimate deterrent as a means to non-aggression, but that deterrent should be independent.

    By relying on the US for our deterrence, we are beholden to the US in areas of policy & perhaps acts of war.

    France is not reliant on the US to maintain it deterrence & neither should we be

  7. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 18, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Nico, I told you quite clearly what I was saying. Why you keep using the word “stupid” I don’t know (but if I had to guess I’d say it was something to do with low self-esteem).

    “… very simple, because you don’t want to be collateral damage either.”

    OK. But above you were talking (and I was in fact asking) about “rights”. Now you’re talking in terms of not doing bad things because people might do bad things to you. Well in that case this morality of yours is a practical, pragmatic thing; not a categorical but a hypothetical imperative. So if a people doesn’t fear reprisals it can do what it likes! Who is the nihilist here?

    “The only chance we have to enjoy a civilised society is to stick to universal moral principles”.

    Depends what you mean by “universal”. There’s no necessity for a society to treat outsiders on a par with its own members in order for it to remain “civilised”.

    • Nico Metten
      Jul 18, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      > Nico, I told you quite clearly what I was saying. Why you keep using the word “stupid” I don’t know.

      Because, isn’t is stupid to follow a self-annihilating philosophy?

      > OK. But above you were talking (and I was in fact asking) about “rights”. Now you’re talking in terms of not doing bad things because people might do bad things to you.

      Yes, rights are enforceable moral claims.

      > Well in that case this morality of yours is a practical, pragmatic thing; not a categorical but a hypothetical imperative.

      It is both, as always in morality. I choose my moral principles so that they produce good outcomes, so does everyone else.

      > So if a people doesn’t fear reprisals it can do what it likes! Who is the nihilist here?

      Yes, but that person cannot expect to be respected for it. If you attack me, I can defend myself. This is not nihilism. This is just saying we better stick to certain principles.

      > Depends what you mean by “universal”. There’s no necessity for a society to treat outsiders on a par with its own members in order for it to remain “civilised”.

      There is a necessity. First of all, these outsiders then are less likely to respect your rights. So if you want moral principles to be respected it is always good to lead by example. And secondly, it has been show over an over again that if you make moral exceptions for certain groups of people, like outsiders, this will have an effect on the morals of society internally as well. that is one of the worst effects of war. It even corrupts the society that is winning it. Because our brain can less well differentiate between outsiders and insiders as you think. They are all human beings.

      And lastly, if the state is the main enemy, it is simply foolish to promote a morality that allows this state to violate moral principles for certain people. If you allow the state to kill people, why not tax people, why not tell them what drugs to take etc. The whole argument that rights don’t come form the government collapses.

      • Johnny Favourite
        Jul 18, 2016 at 9:49 pm

        OK. So we’ve established that you don’t know the difference between libertarians and libertarianism; you don’t know what “categorical” means, and the difference between it and “hypothetical”; you don’t know what “nihilism” means; and you’ve created your definition of “right” out of whole cloth. Fantastic!

        You also don’t know what “necessity” means. “There is a necessity… these outsiders are less likely to respect your rights.” Where is the necessity that we care what outsiders think? And by the way, if rights really were “enforceable moral claims” then those outsiders should respect our rights no matter how we behave – shame on them if they don’t!

        “Our brain can less well differentiate between outsiders and insiders as you think.”

        Insofar as I can understand this gobbledygook, you are incredibly wrong. I would ask you to simply open your eyes, but I fear this would only confuse you.

        “If you allow the state to kill people, why not tax people, why not tell them what drugs to take etc.”

        To that list you could add “imprison libertarians for hysterical non sequiturs”.

        • Nico Metten
          Jul 18, 2016 at 10:24 pm

          Ok, I will give you another round despite your constant tendency to argue ad hominem.

          > You also don’t know what “necessity” means. “There is a necessity… these outsiders are less likely to respect your rights.” Where is the necessity that we care what outsiders think?

          There is a necessity in the same sense there is a necessity to eat. That is not to say that you cannot decide not to eat. But if you don’t you die. So actions have consequences. If you treat people badly, they will treat you badly. If you don’t apply the moral principles that you think are necessary for a civil society to everyone then that has necessarily the consequences that I describe.

          > And by the way, if rights really were “enforceable moral claims” then those outsiders should respect our rights no matter how we behave – shame on them if they don’t!

          Who says, no matter how someone behaves? Rights in particular are reciprocal. If someone violates your rights, you have no obligation to respect his. BUT, only individuals have rights. If someone attacks you, you have no right to violate the rights of people that are not part of this, which civilians are not. Of course you can kill invading soldiers.

          > Insofar as I can understand this gobbledygook, you are incredibly wrong. I would ask you to simply open your eyes, but I fear this would only confuse you.

          Oh I open my eyes. This is well documented. In every war there is a tendency of homecoming soldiers to become criminal. They have learned in the war to violate their moral compass. And it is difficult to get that tuned again, even if you are in your home environment. Societies, like the apartheid society in South Africa or the Salve owning South of the US were much more violent societies. Because the violence that is used against the unwanted groups made its way into the rest of society. If you want a moral society, you need to behave consistently.

          > To that list you could add “imprison libertarians for hysterical non sequiturs”.

          exactly.

          • Razi G
            Jul 19, 2016 at 2:16 am

            On your previous point about morality (“How can it be irrelevant what costs your actions have for others?”), you’re addressing the issue as if it were one of personal morality, rather than the decisions of people who should be limited in their power, as we all are when we take on a specific task. The costs of your actions for others are relevant when you’re in breach of contract. For our government to sacrifice our soldiers for the sake of others, just because those others live in an area controlled by our enemy, would be a breach of contract. The specific task of government is to protect those it governs.
            The people who have taken the relevant action here are the enemies who have decided to attack; it is they who have put their citizens’ lives at risk. Our options at that point are either to surrender (whether immediately, or slowly, as the west has been doing for decades), or to crush the enemy, with as few lives as possible lost on our side. The limited government I’d like to see would be limited to such an extent that they cannot choose the first option.

            • Nico Metten
              Jul 19, 2016 at 9:44 am

              > The costs of your actions for others are relevant when you’re in breach of contract.

              No, they are always relevant if we want liberty.

              > For our government to sacrifice our soldiers for the sake of others, just because those others live in an area controlled by our enemy, would be a breach of contract. The specific task of government is to protect those it governs.

              There is no task for government. But even if you think there is, it is certainly not, to give rights to people. It is rather to protect their rights. If you assign different rights to people according to citizenship, you are essentially saying that right come from he government.

              > The people who have taken the relevant action here are the enemies who have decided to attack; it is they who have put their citizens’ lives at risk.

              No one is arguing that you do not have a right to fight back an attacker. But if you are targeting civilians, you are responsible for that. You cannot argue that because you are in a situation of defence, everything goes. You are still very much responsible for your actions.

              > Our options at that point are either to surrender (whether immediately, or slowly, as the west has been doing for decades), or to crush the enemy, with as few lives as possible lost on our side. The limited government I’d like to see would be limited to such an extent that they cannot choose the first option.

              Surrender can be a perfectly acceptable option. You can then still kick out the enemy later. There is no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side. These are collectivist terms. If you think you have the right to kill me for somethings some government did that I had nothing to do with, you are insane. There are only individuals.

  8. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 18, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Those parts that you think are ad hominems aren’t arguments, Nico. They’re me making fun of you because you’re a fool.

    “necessity… same sense… to eat…”. Like I said, you don’t know what categorical means.

    “Rights in particular are reciprocal”. So not “enforceable moral claims” at all then, just ‘a bit of give and take’, so to speak.

    “South Africa… salve[sic] owning South… much more violent societies…”. Oh yes, your eyes are totally open! (Incidentally, not the sense I meant – I knew it would confuse you.) You have a wonderful grasp of the facts and crime statistics. South Africa is a haven of peace and tranquility now that apartheid is over. #staywoke

  9. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    “Surrender can be a perfectly acceptable option. You can still kick out the enemy later. There is no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side. These are collectivist terms. […] There are only individuals.”

    My goodness, man. Do you even think before writing, or do you just let the libertarian clichés spill out to make a word salad?

    “Surrender can be a perfectly acceptable option. You can still kick out the enemy later.”

    Oh yes, any old citizen militia can easily kick out the nuclear-armed power that they previously surrendered to with no fuss at all. Happens all the time, clean and easy, with nary a drop off blood spilled. Perfectly acceptable in light of the alternative – defending yourself against foreign conquest – being absolutely unconscionable.

    “You can still kick out the enemy later. There is no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side.”

    But if there’s no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side, why would we want to kick them out? Would it even be possible to kick them out, seeing as how neither ‘they’ nor ‘us’ *really* exist?

    “There is no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side. These are collectivist terms.”

    Just like “you” and “the enemy” are collectivist terms in the sentence “You can still kick out the enemy later”. Collectivist!

    “There are only individuals.”

    Yes, if we exclude and/or ignore all those things that make individuals individual, such as belonging to groups (cultural and genetic), there are only individuals, every one of whom is, on paper and in our hearts, exactly the same as every other individual. A paradox for an ideology that calls itself “individualism” to be sure, but it helps moralists sleep better.

    • Jul 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      > Oh yes, any old citizen militia can easily kick out the nuclear-armed power that they previously surrendered to with no fuss at all. Happens all the time, clean and easy, with nary a drop off blood spilled.

      Who said it is easy? There is never an easy end to violence. First priority needs to be to prevent wars. But yes it happens all the time. The Afghans and Iraqis for example kicked out the Americans, the strongest army in the world with the most nuclear weapons. They weren’t even very organised to do so. Once you have invaded, all your nuclear weapons are useless. Then you have to fight the people on the ground and in that, technology is still only a minor advantage.

      > Perfectly acceptable in light of the alternative – defending yourself against foreign conquest – being absolutely unconscionable.

      I never said you should not defend yourself. But surrender can be a better option if the alternative is total war.

      > But if there’s no ‘our’ and ‘their’ side, why would we want to kick them out?

      There is no our and their side in the sense that Razi is portraying it. Whether you are an enemy or not does not depend on your citizenship but on what you do.

  10. Johnny Favourite
    Jul 19, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t actually “kick out” the Americans, Nico. There are still American troops in Iraq and their numbers are steadily growing. There are also American troops (among others) still in Afghanistan, too. But in any case, Iraq and Afghanistan are complete and utter hellholes, and things are unlikely to improve any time soon. Gee, if only the Iraqis and Afghanis had had some type of weapon that they could’ve threatened to use if America invaded them! That might have saved them from all this civil war and sectarian strife.

    “Once you’ve invaded, all your nuclear weapons are useless.”

    This weapon is not good for every purpose, therefore it is not good for any purpose. Wow, you’re really smart!

    • Nico Metten
      Jul 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      > Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t actually “kick out” the Americans, Nico. There are still American troops in Iraq and their numbers are steadily growing. There are also American troops (among others) still in Afghanistan, too.

      Yes, but they are not controlling the country. The Taliban are effectively in control of Afghanistan again and Iraq is controlled by all kinds of people. It is simply too expensive to occupy a hostile country in the long run.

      > But in any case, Iraq and Afghanistan are complete and utter hellholes, and things are unlikely to improve any time soon.

      They were already hellholes before. That is a problem of their societies. Nuclear weapons would not have saved them from that.

      > This weapon is not good for every purpose, therefore it is not good for any purpose.

      Who said that? I am just responding to an argument.

      • Johnny Favourite
        Jul 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

        OK, so those countries were bad before, then they had 10-15 years of devastating war with a foreign power, and now they’re even worse than they were. But no country with nuclear weapons has ever been invaded. Seems like having nuclear weapons would’ve been handy for them, honestly.

        “Who said that?”

        You did. We are talking about the pros and cons of having nuclear weapons, remember? And you said that they aren’t any use once you’ve invaded someone else. Which of course doesn’t mean they aren’t useful at all.

  11. Mr Ed
    Jul 24, 2016 at 10:09 am

    FWIW, I have heard a radio interview with a senior RN officer who appeared to be in a position to talk authoritatively stating that there is between the Uk and the US, common maintenance of Trident warheads and that they are ‘pooled’ so that the UK may have x out of z total warheads, y being the US share, x not being specific warheads but a share of z, but this MO has led to a misconception that the US owns the UK’s warheads, whereas he stated that that is not the case.

    Furthermore, the officer stated that the launch and targetting of the UK’s Trident is entirely outside the control of the US, and GPS is not used to taget the missiles, nor the multiple warheads, so there is no scope for the US to switch off anything that the UK,s Trident my rely upon for accurate use.

  12. Julie near Chicago
    Jul 25, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    That’s interesting, Mr Ed. I never really knew the even the general nature of the arrangement.

  13. Aug 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    If you believe in it, crowd fund it
    Don’t point the gun of the state at me and make me pay for it

Comments are closed.