COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY TOM PECK IN THE INDEPENDENT
There’s no idealism required in being against Trident.
Pure, old-fashioned good sense is completely adequate.
Its costs are unbelievable – and note how the government has been very coy in telling the full story there – and you, quite simply, can do nothing with it.
A deterrent cannot be a deterrent if you can’t use it, and it is very much the case that you cannot use Trident.
Here, again, the government is being very coy, but the fact is that part of the package you “buy” with Trident are controls against your ever using it independently.
You can only use it with American approval and against American-allocated targets, full stop. Any other possible use has built-in controls against it, and believe me any British enemies know that as well as I do.
American top-level policy does not allow independent nuclear deterrence anywhere. When countries like Ukraine and Belorussia separated from the Soviet Union, they were briefly nuclear powers themselves with Soviet weapons based on their territory. The U.S. quickly disabused them of any illusions, explaining that if they did not give them up for dismantling, they themselves would be targeted by American ICBMs.
All Trident does is make you feel like you’re playing in the big leagues, but it’s a silly illusion, enjoyed at immense cost.
Moreover, if you want to give Scotland a serious new issue for independence, then buy Trident. The Scots do not like having it based in their country, and Independence leaders there would love to have a hot new issue.
In the end, Trident is at least as much an illusion as “the special relationship” itself is, yet of course we know important people still go on about their special relationship, oblivious to the fact that disgraced Tony Blair provides the quintessential example of what America means by a special relationship.
For America, Britain’s having Trident is just one big fat, lovely, long-term subsidy from British taxpayers to the Pentagon, a pretty insane deal from the British point of view.
Response to a comment about Britain developing its own weapons:
The US would not allow it. Behind-the-scenes pressure would be immense.
British-made planes and other armaments have greatly declined over the decades precisely because of American pressure.
It’s yet one more way NATO is exploited by the US to insist on the same weapons – American ones – wherever possible. Qualities like compatibility are emphasized.
This again is just a giant Pentagon subsidy. In effect, you pay part of the freight for America’s continued dominance of European affairs, kind of like paying the costs of your own occupation.