Posts Tagged ‘Faslane’

Vox Political on the Failings of Trident

July 19, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a long piece on the many faults of the Trident nuclear submarines that the Conservatives, the Americans and Owen Smith would like to see adopted by this country as part of its ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent. His piece is quite a long one, containing a couple of memes laying out just how expensive Trident is, what else could be done with the money, and indeed the very many problems with Trident and Britain’s nuclear deterrent as a whole.

In short, the main problems are that it’s extremely expensive, to the tune of about £205 billion. The number of jobs it will create in the UK is minimal: about 520 in Faslane maintaining the subs. All the others are going to be in America. And oh yes, it runs on an obsolete version of Windows. We live in a world of built-in obsolescence, where products are designed to become obsolete within a couple a years so the manufacturer can get you to buy more, but this is taking the concept way too far.

And one of the more general problems with Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent is that it isn’t. We effectively gave control over our nuclear weapons decades ago. We’re basically paying for the privilege of having an American weapons system on our island. This may not do anything for us, but it will help defend America. I’m not being cynical. I can remember hearing about several simulations of a nuclear war with Russia, which ended up with us and the rest of Europe a radioactive cinder, but America effectively protected by its long distance and by having many of its nuclear missiles located outside the homeland, in the more vulnerable locations in Europe.

Mike’s article can be read at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/18/trident-debate-reveals-faults-of-uks-independent-nuclear-deterrent/

Trident is supported in the Labour party by Owen Smith, one of the challengers for the leadership of the Labour party against Jeremy Corbyn. Smith said on the Andrew Marr show that he was for disarmament through multilateralism. When pressed on whether he would push the button, Smith announced that he was indeed prepared to ‘annihilate millions of people’.

Mike comments: ‘What a nice guy!’

In this respect, Smith is actually worse, much worse than Ted Heath. Every Prime Minister when they take office has to write out the orders to be given to the commanders of the nuclear subs in the case of a nuclear attack. Blair when it was his turn understandably went white. Major insisted on making the decision over the weekend, as he felt he could only make it back in his constituency. And Ted Heath, so I’m told, wrote out a message that basically consisted of ‘Goodbye, chaps, and good luck. Don’t bother retaliating, as there’s nothing left to defend. It’s all been destroyed. Go and sail down to New Zealand or which other country has survived, and have a nice life.’

A civilised, philosophic response from someone who realised that nuclear war made all this futile.

The possession of nuclear weapons hasn’t made the world safer. Indeed, it’s made it even more dangerous, as increasing numbers of countries now have, or are developing nuclear weapons. And far from standing for peace, Barack Obama has actually increased America’s military spending and its nuclear arsenal. Of his possible successors, Donald Trump is a maniac, who looks all too unstable enough to start a nuclear war, while Shrillary is the ‘Queen of Chaos’, a hawk every bit as bloodthirsty and indifferent to the suffering of the weaker countries America and the West have ground under their jackboot as George W. Bush and his cabinet of horrors.

I’ve mentioned several times before that I and the rest of my generation have lived through one Cold War and the threat of nuclear Armageddon. I remember all the right-wing shouting when I was at school about how we needed nuclear weapons to defend ourselves. Part of this was just superpower posturing. Way back in the 1960s there was debate about Britain being a ‘third-rate power’ after the loss of the colonies. The possession of nuclear weapons seems to me to be a kind of psychological compensation. We’ve lost our place as a superpower, and other countries have overtaken us in terms of economy and manufacturing. But hey look! We can still turn somewhere into radioactive slag!

Unfortunately, all this military posturing and sabre-rattling is seen by most of the population as being self-evidently true and correct. So true that it hardly needs to be defended. We need nuclear weapons, just like we need the armed forces. Except that we don’t. They’re expensive, they’re not keeping us safe, and as I said, for much of the time it all looks like a scam by the arms industry to boost their profits. But it’ll be defended with all the establishment’s might and main, because Britain depends on it, the special relationship with America depends on it, and Jeremy Corbyn is against it.

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Chunky Mark: Stop Trident

July 19, 2016

This is yet another rant from the Chunky, Taxi Driving Artist. It’s his considered thoughts on yesterday’s vote about Trident. I should have put it up then, but I’m just getting over a cold, and frankly, was just too drained of energy to do very much. So here it is today, one day late. My apologies.

He begins by quoting Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, who said that today Britain could join the multitude of other countries in rejecting Trident in favour of peace, or could spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a missile system that could never be used. He describes Trident as ‘a cold war relic’, and states that it sends a message to the world that security is only possible through the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. MPs, he argues, should be making a stand against Trident, especially in view of austerity, and the destruction of our welfare infrastructure and communities. He notes that Jeremy Corbyn has said he’d vote against Trident, and in favour of unilateralism. He asks how it is that Britain can sign up to the non-proliferation agreements, and yet support Trident. This is, he says, an opportunity to show leadership in the world. He states that the Chicken Coup – Owen Smith, Angela Eagle, Hilary Benn, Chuka Ummunna and Liz Kendall will all be voting for Trident. It’s why the media, the Tories and New Labour are all out to get Jeremy Corbyn. But it’s not about him. It’s about his political ideology – anti-war, anti-Trident, anti-Armageddon. He notes that the guid folk of Scotland oppose Trident. 57 out of 59 Scottish Nationalist MSPs are against it. The Scots are against it because of the way nuclear vehicles were passing through Glasgow on their way to the base at Faslane at night. And Trident’s sheer cost is unjustifiable. He also goes off on a rant about our supposedly highly educated MPs voting in parliament today, and apparently seeing nothing wrong in giving the nuclear codes to Donald Trump, as required by law if that maniac wins the US election. He talks about the absolute destruction wreaked on both sides if nuclear missiles are used, and says that this is supposed to be a deterrent. It’s only a deterrent, because it hasn’t happened yet. But if it does happen, we won’t be around to know the argument was lost, as it only needs to happen once. He states that the movement against Trident is a real movement for change, and a progressive alliance between peoples, who believe that another world is possible.

There’s a lot that can be said about this piece, and again, the Chunky One is right. Trident’s cost in an age of austerity is unsupportable. It will be born, not by the rich, who are having their taxes cut, but by ordinary people, and especially the very poorest at the sharp end of the benefit cuts. Lobster has published a number of pieces of the years, one of which I blogged about, on the way the arms industry and Cold War is a massive scam to channel funds into the weapons manufacturers as a way of covert government spending to boost the economy. I say covert, because the government’s real intention is to boost the general economy. America is anti-Keynsian in it’s economics, and so this can’t be done through direct spending on infrastructure or welfare, as in other nations, but through Cold War expenditure on an already bloated armaments industry. One of the characters, Ostrander, accurately summed up the situation in an episode of the X-Files twenty years ago: ‘The business of America, Mr Mulder, isn’t business; it’s war.’

These missiles aren’t going to keep us safe, and by their presence are encouraging more countries to acquire nuclear weapons themselves. This is also partly because of the different fates of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea. Hussein didn’t have nuclear weapons, despite all the allegations and ‘dodgy dossier’. He was invaded and overthrown. North Korea does, and hasn’t.

Way back in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher ran a series of simulations to see what would happen if the country suffered a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The simulations showed that the country would be destroyed, especially its major cities. Thatcher didn’t want to hear that. She wanted the British public to be reassured that Blighty would still remain safe and sound, and so started interfering with the simulations to get the results she wanted. Eventually they were abandoned, as the amount of distortion they suffered in order to give the results Maggie wanted to sell increased nuclear spending to the British public made them useless.

And there have already been three times, when the world teetered on the edge of thermonuclear Armageddon. That’s three time too many. We need desperately to get rid of Trident, and take the first step in encouraging other nations to do the same. We need to stop this new arms race, before it’s too late.