Saturday, July 31, 2010

Will Osbornomics at least rid the world of nuclear weapons?

< Picture of Trident missile in action. Thanks to the taxpayer.

Has George "Smeagol" Osborne bitten the Ring of Trident Power off the finger of the MoD? Will he take it with him when he plunges into the Crack of Economic Doom?

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has a real problem if Trident has to come out of the MoD budget.  The Press is on the case of individual soldiers dying because they have no body armour, no IED resistant transport and fewer helicopters than needed. If Trident comes out of the MoD budget, these items will be in even shorter demand. Alternatively he might have to throw vast numbers of servicemen and their families onto the mercies of the soon-to-be reformed Benefits System.  Which would not be popular with the core Tory vote.

Fox will undoubtedly take his case to the Star Chamber, backed by an army of lobbyists, and we will be entertained by the vision of the Irresistible Force of  Tory worship of Britain's WMD coming up against the Immovable Object of  Tory subservience to the Money Markets.

He will argue that Trident is Good Value for Money. This means that to create the amount of terror, devastation and death caused by one "British" (in fact they are US-controlled) nuclear warhead, an the whole British Army would have to rape and pillage in one area for some ten or twenty years. This would be Inefficient. WMDs much more productive.

One little irony is the fact that Liam Fox is a devout Catholic. In the nuclear weapons debate in the 1970s, his Church chewed over the ethics of nuclear weapons. They decided that it would indeed be sinful  actually to use nuclear weapons, presumably on the grounds that it would destroy unborn foetuses. However, it would not be sinful to keep the peace by threatening to destroy unborn foetuses with nuclear weapons.

In coming to this conclusion, the Catholic theologians had to plunge deep into the Pelagian heresy of the possibility of human perfection. If it is OK to threaten, but not OK to use, nuclear weapons, then the nuclear deterrence system has to be perfect. Nuclear Deterrence must never break down, either through deliberate Dr Strangelove-type political decisions, nor through a interplay of simultaneous errors within the early warning technology, command and control systems and political tensions. In fact, it is only too possible for the deterrence posture to make the transition to a nuclear holocaust.  See here for 20 instances where nuclear war might have broken out through mishaps. So although nuclear deterrence does raise the threshold for nuclear armed countries to go to war with each other, it does not raise that threshold absolutely, and therefor the probability of a general nuclear war approaches unity with each passing year that deterrence is in place.

Liam Fox must therefore know that he will surely go to hell if Britain actually uses Trident in anger, which it will if the world does not rid itself of nuclear weapons.

Th only reasonable use for Trident therefore is for Britain to put it on the table and lead the world in negotiating a general global and total nuclear disarmament.

This plan is no longer a stupid greenie idea, since Henry Kissinger and other cold warriors are calling for general nuclear disarmament.

So George Osborne, in his process of dismantling the UK economy, may, ironically, be doing the world a service.

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