You DO have to be a pacifist to oppose Trident

A response to Peter Kennedy’s article – to read Peter Kennedy’s article click here

Peter believes you do not have to be a pacifist to be opposed to Trident. This is illogical. If you believe we need armed services then their weaponry must match those of a potential enemy.

“Meanwhile, the planned renewal of the trident programme distorts and weakens the UK’s defence planning and practice. The cost of replacing the submarines alone is estimated at between £25bn and £43bn.”

The current guestimated cost of renewal appears to be between £100bn and £200bn. Let us settle at £150bn; this spread over 30 years is £5bn per year. Our current GDP is about £2 trillion. Our NATO commitment (defence budget) is targeted at 2%, about £40bn. So the yearly cost of renewal will be about 12% of the defence budget, just 0.25% of GDP. Not a significant factor in any decision-making.

“It is obvious that once a British Prime Minister has to even consider such an action, then the deterrent has already failed.”

Obviously true in the first instance; but a retaliatory strike might deter further attack and save lives that otherwise will be lost. This requires that we have the means to retaliate.

“Even the button is a misleading simplification.”

This is an irrelevant consideration.

“Who or what is actually deterred by the UK’s nuclear deterrent?”

On its own possibly no-one, although a potential attacker considering a nuclear strike will have to weigh the possibility of retaliatory action coming – not only from us but also, under the NATO treaty, from both America and France.

Jeremy Corbyn has stated that “we are not under threat of attack” and that is probably true; but he does not say why he believes that. My belief is that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Nuclear power is balanced by the weaponry of America, France, and Britain in the West and that of Russia and China in the East. The West deters the East and the East deters the West – a Mexican standoff.

“…our possession of an independent nuclear deterrent did not deter General Galtieri.”

A red herring; neither the East nor the West will use nuclear weapons unless the other side strikes first. Galtieri did not have nuclear weaponry and its use unilaterally by Britain would have been outlawed.

“The cancellation of the Trident renewal programme would enable the UK to conduct a proper defence review.”

Clearly Kennedy is convinced that a ‘proper defence review’ would reject Trident. If it did not, then he would judge the conclusion as improper. This is a moral decision not a logical one. Reviews of defence strategy are a continual process. Those appointed as our defence chiefs – who live in the world the way it is and not the way the ignorati would wish it to be – have decided that Trident is necessary.

“…One that tackles the critical questions: what are our military responsibilities and what sort of armed forces are needed to meet these obligations?”

More of the same, does he really believe that government and defence chiefs have not considered these questions? Or that they have considered these questions but have reached the wrong conclusions because they don’t agree with him and his expert-not knowledge?

“The obsession with having a nuclear deterrent has locked us into a deluded view of the UK’s international role. If we could free ourselves from this straightjacket, the possibilities of an alternative defence policy – and even an alternative foreign policy – might begin to emerge.”

Even more of the same; clearly he is convinced that our government and defence chiefs are deluded, whereas he knows the truth.

Michael Ellison

Sponsored by the Radical Read Project

We are happy to publish this correspondence. The renewal of Trident is an issue dividing the Labour Movement. We have no book in preparation on this subject, but we would welcome suggestions from readers or authors.

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