As the debate over whether or not Trident should be renewed continues, Jeremy Corbyn’s aspiration for a world without war has been misconstrued that he would be incapable of ever using #Military aggression as a form of defence. He is right to say that “Britain should honour our obligations under the non-proliferation treaty, and lead in making progress on international nuclear disarmament” and it need not put us at risk in doing so.
Trident has existed since the 1980's, although we have had a submarine armed with nuclear missiles since 1969. Should Britain be devastated by a nuclear attack, we have a means of retaliating. The present submarines are commissioned until 2020, at which time they will need to be replaced.
The arguments for Trident
There are typically two arguments for sustaining the Trident programme, the first being national defence. Whilst our nation may strive toward an ideal of peace, we must acknowledge that there will always be people out there that want to do us harm. Thus, we are safer holding a big stick over their heads, ready to give them a good whack if they try anything. Trident supporters argue the best ‘stick’ is a nuclear one.
The second argument concerns jobs. Scrapping the renewal of Trident could see job losses of up to 15,000 people, many of whom feel they would then likely relocate outside of the UK seeking other opportunities, taking their considerable skills with them.
The cost of nuclear weapons
The Trident replacement is poised to cost the British taxpayer £15-20bn, with some estimates far higher. Currently, 6% of the MoDs £69bn annual budget is allocated to Trident, with a lifetime cost prediction of £167bn. This is an enormous sum of money for something we will never use and money that could be better spent elsewhere in a country that's currently seeing a rise in deaths per year following the austerity cuts to welfare. It's also unlikely that most of the Trident workers in question would be forced to leave the country when their jobs are so specialised, as we could reallocate them elsewhere within the MoD.
This spending is even more intolerable when we factor in that we will never aggressively use a nuclear weapon for one simple reason; the world will not tolerate it. Putting the non-proliferation treaty to one side, the consequence of nuclear weapons are millions of civilian deaths and huge portions of land rendered uninhabitable for decades to come. Any survivors would be sickened by radiation and generations to follow would likely bear children with severe defects. Simply put, the collateral damage is too high.
The ‘Big Stick’ argument still stands. It's naive to believe that there won’t always be aggressive states that want to harm us. However, technology and geopolitics have moved on immensely, and as such we bear more effective weaponry to deter any would-be attackers. Drones are a greater threat to rogue terrorist states than any nuclear bomb. Stationing men and women abroad helps to keep order in nations struggling with civil war or political upheaval. Trade embargoes are devastating to the economies of countries that break international agreements.
However, the chief method of deterrence is our international unions. If a nuclear bomb was dropped on the UK tomorrow, the world would unite with us, empathically and militarily. With one country devastated by fallout for the next 50-100 years, there would be no need to do the same to another part of the globe. We would instantly be able to launch a controlled, tactical invasion of the aggressor state with greater effect and less collateral damage.
Our alliances are, and have always been, our greatest defence. Any would-be attackers stand to face-off against an entire union of nations in retaliation, whilst having the benefit of providing a net gain in wealth and moving the world toward an ideal of peace. #Government #Parliament