Trident is a waste of time and money. Its only real use is as a phallic symbol to wave across the English Channel and Atlantic.
Nuclear Weapons grew out of the Second World War, Nuclear strategy grew out of the Cold War. They are an expensive anachronism and I argue a militarily useless one at that.
Although never “just another weapon” the huge fear of Nuclear weapons we now sensibly have grew out of the Cold War and the prospects of an intentionally but unwanted global holocaust.
When the decision was taken to drop the Bomb on Hiroshima it was hoped to be something to hasten the capitulation of Japan. It was intended to wreck havoc and frighten the population and the administration into accepting surrender. However, the threat was of further bombings, such as that at Nagasaki, it was not of an existential crisis for the state and people of Japan, which is what a Nuclear strike today would imply.
The fact that they were then still not a normal weapon is evidenced by the fact that there really was a race between the Axis and the Allies to develop it; they knew it bestows a huge strategic advantage. However, the dropping of the second bomb on Nagasaki illustrates not that Truman was genocidal maniac, but that Nuclear Weapons did not inspire the horror they now do.
Nuclear Weapons have got more powerful but the tactics of Nuclear warfare have also moved on from World War Two.
A little historical detail is important in deciding on whether or not the UK needs and should have an independent Nuclear Deterrent. In the 1950s it was thought that Nuclear Weapons could be used in tactical nuclear strikes, or limited nuclear war. This meant only attacking military sites and avoiding major population areas.
For example, during the Cuban Missile crisis it was suggested that Nuclear Weapons could be used against a non-Cuban and faraway Soviet ship. This would show that the US wasn’t afraid to use nuclear weapons but wasn’t aiming at civilians.
This never happened as Kennedy say that it would likely escalate and kill most of those living in the developed world. However, it wasn’t Kennedy that formalised this doctrine, but Eisenhower many years ago who had to silence the baying of his Generals to make use of America’s nuclear advantage.
What Eisenhower saw was that any nuclear strike was bound to escalate as your opponent could never be sure it was just a tactical strike. He made it clear that any nuclear strike would blot out the sun over eastern europe and would be total rather than limited.
A lot of American Generals lambasted him for cutting off the tactics available to the US but cutting off tactics was exactly what Eisenhower wanted. He wanted to make Nuclear war as unthinkable as possible because he knew the options were either no nuclear war or no human race.
This was reaffirmed under Kennedy during various Soviet induced crises when he was advised to attempt various “tactical” nuclear strikes. He did not, and a good thing too. As it is clear from Soviet records and tactics they almost certainly would have overreacted and started WWIII and killed everyone.
The bulk of the Cold War years saw two military behemoths, armed to the teeth, hold fire and (mostly) preserve peace. This was because there was no chance for geopolitical intrigue as only two players mattered. There would be no shift in the balance of power if all the world supported the US against the USSR. On top of this there the new nuclear doctrine implying total nuclear war helped keep the peace. By making war unthinkable, it made peace possible, as I’ve discussed before with reference to North Korea.
What I’m trying to say is that I cannot possibly see a use for Trident or any Nuclear Deterrent as we will never be one side of two-way a stand off as the US or USSR were. Likewise, we will never and can never use nuclear weapons tactically against a nuclear state.
The only remaining option is nuking a non-nuclear state during a period of conventional warfare. This is the only remaining military option and it is one that I would back under no conceivable circumstance. This refers not just to Trident but also to the Lib Dems platitudinous replacement.
Labour have murdered before, but at least they can plausibly say it was a mistake even if they can’t say sorry. But could they do it with eyes wide open?
If our leaders are prepared to murder millions then they should come out and say so. This is the only option remaining and all talk of “long term strategic interest” is poppycock.
This originally appeared as a comment at the blog of John Q Publican, who is thankfully blogging again after an all too long absence.