Political Promise

The Realism of Nuclear Politics

In Jamie Barclay on October 1, 2010 at 7:00 am

Jamie Barclay examines the politics of nuclear warfare, and how it has affected all three of the men above.

The Trident renewal question was central to Clegg’s success during May’s election debates, and has been high on the Liberal agenda for some time. Nuclear non-proliferation is a notion supported by numerous non-nuclear global powers. The Non-Proliferation Treaty itself (of which Britain is a signatory) obliges members to systematically disarm and reduce their nuclear stockades. Now, at a time when the Treasury is soon to announce a series of controversial and unpopular cuts, the renewal of the Trident programme faces an increasing amount of pressure as to its continued relevance in today’s increased globalised security agenda.

David Cameron is right to question the Trident renewal plan as a part of the ongoing Strategic Defence Review. Not to do so may further alienate the elements of the Liberal Democrat core support at a time when intra-coalition solidarity is essential. A Tory backlash over a possible downgrade of this essential defence mechanism is inevitable but by no means disastrous (Julian Huppert). Rowan Williams has launched a volley of attacks against the programme labelling the nuclear weapons as ‘unchristian’ and ruthless. The Bishop fails to appreciate that this programme is far more likely to prevent international conflict than it is to cause it, as was the case during the Cold War.

It is Iran (an axis of evil apparently) who currently poses the biggest threat and therefore justification behind the renewal of Trident. In fact the rationale behind the renewal is the same used by Iran itself; nuclear states do not fight each other. The disincentive delivered by a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction is militarily unmatchable; no amount of rhetoric from the United Nations is going to curb the aggression of a statesman who possesses the ability to calmly and precisely accuse the US of attacking New York to stimulate a flailing economy. In all likelihood President Ahmadinejad knows this to be untrue and is attempting to provoke acts of possible aggression and thus justify Iran’s nuclear development programme in the eyes of potential anti-Western supports in the Middle East.

At a time when there is a mounting tension by both aggressive states and non-state entities Britain needs nuclear preponderance. Gambling with alternatives and delaying makes Britain look indecisive and may strain our relationship with the US which, contrary to the Deputy PMs opinion, is still an important aspect of both our economic and foreign policy. Why Baroness Williams stated that a ‘Cold War Weapon’ is no longer necessary is beyond me. The last time I checked more states (including two rogue states- NK and Iran; and one particularly unstable state – Pakistan) have a nuclear arsenals that did not exist in the 1980s – surely a better reason than any to remove any chances of nuclear blackmail in times to come.

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  1. […] a review of Trident expected soon, Jamie Barclay explored the realities of nuclear […]

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