Luke Akehurst thinks Labour needs to take the side of ‘national security‘ in the debate around Trident renewal. I agree. However, Luke, like most proponents of nuclear weapons, is not on the side of national security. In fact, nuclear weapons, their existence and retention by all the ‘great powers’ (and some not so great) is a running sore of instability and national insecurity. What I find fascinating about this debate is that you can dress it up in all the fancy technical verbiage you like, it boils down to one thing — boys and their big shiny, destructive toys.
One point of agreement I do have with Luke is that Trident, or any nuclear programme, done on the cheap is reckless and dangerous. This is something you can’t fix with a Poundland plaster. If you do then you are playing poker with so many lives. In that sense, Luke is right to attack the Liberal Democrat position of a ‘cheaper alternative’ which is typical of their lilly-livered brand of politics. Having said that, this admission should point you to the main weakness with the main arguement — all nuclear weapons are fundementally dangerous and destabilising whether you go for the cut-price version or the full monty.
Luke says that, for Labour, this is:
not a theoretical decision for us as it was in the 1980s when it contributed to our un-electability and we were so far from power additional Labour MPs losing their seats were the main victims of our love-in with CND.
Like most on the right, he seems not to have noticed that in the 30 years that have passed since the 80s, the world has changed an awful lot. They are still trapped in the 80s with brick-like mobile phones and dodgy yuppie hair cuts; and to think the left get called dinosaurs?
Let’s acquaint Luke with some modern realities. The most grave threats to British national security are from:
- stateless actors, who can’t be wiped out or properly targeted with nuclear weapons;
- the instability these actors cause within any given state — Pakistan springs to mind.
If we look at Pakistan, what is it that makes its instability so dangerous? The fact that it’s a nuclear power and the potential exists for these actors to gain nuclear capability and a potentially awesome addition to the arsenal for their crusade against ‘infidels’.
So, Luke wants to counter this by maintaining a capacity to fire nukes in their general direction. Incidentally, if that happened, just imagine how many new, fresh-faced recruits al-Quaeda would find if a Western nuke landed on a Pakistani city? British streets could become battle grounds in something akin to a civil war as some people burned all they could find and started mixing semtex in the cellar. Many would die, and mutually assured destruction would take on a whole new meaning as the very fabric of British society fell apart. Not to mention the prospect of nukes being used in retaliation.
Times have changed. It’s not the proponents but the opponents of nuclear weapons who are on the side of national security. The time of nuclear weapons is done and dusted and its time to be brave, bold and say so, and let Trident rot.