The problem with deterrents


images (211)I missed last night’s BBC One Question Time with its exchange between the two Stephens. On the Labour side Stephen Kinnock defended the Labour Party current position on Trident and argued for a review and debate but not at this stage a major change to our status quo, while Stephen Crabb attacked the position of Jeremy Corbyn who has made it clear he will not use the deterrent. The critical part of the debate for me was when Stephen Crabb said:

“He is the leader. It’s deeply problematic for the Labour party and for the country, I would argue. He’s effectively ruling out what would be Britain’s last line of defence if we faced an attack on this country from a nation with nuclear weapons.”

The flaw in this line of argument for me is what would happen if China, France, Russia, United States, India, Pakistan or Israel did choose to press ahead with any form of attack on our nation. Syria has no nuclear weapons yet its attack on its own people has created a crisis which seeks to disrupt the whole of Europe and the Middle East as a consequence. If we in the UK were being attacked in the way in which the Syrian people are being attacked, at what point would we feel that we should press the button simply in the hope of making the pain stop? The UK may not be the most popular nation on earth but there is no reason to assume that one of these nuclear armed nations would wish to attack us at any time with conventional or nuclear weapons. Even if there was an attack from a nuclear nation it is likely it would after a major war rather than at the beginning. At that stage all of those of us left alive might all feel that a better approach would have been an investment in bringing peace to the world, rather than an ultimate weapon.

The alternative scenario is if a rogue group of terrorists opened fire with nuclear weapons. Would we or the Americans have opened fire on Afghanistan with our nuclear deterrent if the twin towers had been destroyed by planes carrying suitcases of nuclear weapons. It seems unlikely despite the pain caused for those in major cities in the USA coping with the aftermath of such an attack.

The nuclear deterrent only makes any real sense if we had a nation with a missile loaded up and aimed at our country with a possible nuclear warhead. Even then at what point would our Prime Minister (assuming it was not Jeremy Corbyn) send the appropriate codes to the relevant submarine? How would we know that the missile was on its way to our shores and that the nuclear signature was genuine. At that point defence is meaningless to all those in the targeted area!

Nuclear weapons made no sense in the 1950s and they make even less sense now. Deterrents don’t work. There was no shortage of conventional deterrents in the area surrounding Umpqua Community College in Roseburg yesterday. One eye witness describes how every police vehicle in the County appeared to be there within minutes. However they did not prevent 9 deaths and at least 7 woundings. Lets end the nonsense and use the funds we would have spent on Trident to spread peace, not war!

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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