Buy a fleet of subs with the money we’ve got?

There has been some debate in the local press recently concerning the replacement of Trident. Following yesterday’s news that the final decision on spending billions on shiny new nuclear weapons could be delayed until after the next general election, it is worth restating a few of the principal objections to replacing Britain’s weapons of mass destruction.

First and foremost, Trident is actually illegal under international law, as the 1995 pronouncement of the International Court of Justice makes clear. The determination to replace it typifies the UK government’s pick-and-choose approach to humanitarian law. The boffins at Aldermaston – in cahoots with their Los Alamos colleagues – are currently working on the revised warhead design for the replacement system in clear breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

While Trident has always been a foul, indiscriminate and utterly unacceptable weapon system, it no longer makes strategic sense within the limited parameters of military thinking. It was designed to smash Soviet cities in a cold war turned red hot. It is plainly unsuitable for the current situation in which our biggest threats are not unfriendly superpowers but networks of small, radical terrorist cells.

Then there is cost. It is simply obscene to lay billions and billions and billions aside for Trident when we are in severe recession.

Arguments about an uncertain future and rogue states must also be countered. On a domestic scale, such reasoning would justify keeping a flame-thrower in the cupboard under the stairs to deal with burglars.We have to turn away from paranoid vigilantism and move towards a more mature understanding that our future depends on mutual trust and co-operation.

Our leaders must surely know that the arguments they present for Trident do not convince. The reason for defying logic by clinging on to Trident is simply a pathetic determination to retain some kind of big-boy status for the UK. Simply put, it is a fear of national castration.

Instead, let us aspire to a genuine and respected standing in the world, based on our willingness to take a lead on building the only kind of security that will have any long-term validity: security based on a recognition for the need to work together to address the genuine threats of poverty and environmental devastation.

Rather than squander billions on weapons of mass destruction – let’s not resort to insincere euphemisms such as “deterrent” – it is time the UK redirects its engineering expertise from military hardware to the industries of the future, starting with renewable energy.


~ by stirlinggreens on 17. September 2010.

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