Tuesday, 19 January 2016


I was never really one for model kits. I did once make an Airfix submarine, well almost. I gave up when I glued the propeller in place badly and the damn thing wouldn’t go around. Today I was reminded of my kit by all this debate about Trident submarines. It seems that the propeller doesn’t really want go around on them properly either.

It’s been suggested that it might be best to have nuclear submarines in the water without the nuclear bit; in other words no warheads on board. What a deterrent that would be, a big underwater boat with a few sailors doing hornpipes and pretending to be dangerous. Mind you if we didn’t tell our frightful foe that there were no warheads on board then the deterrent would still be there. Take it a stage further and we could claim to have all sorts of weapons and, if we were very clever, there’s a very good chance that we would be believed. After all, there has to be some clout in being a world power for all those centuries.

There are 196 countries in the world today, only 9 of these have a nuclear capability. The big five are the United States, Russia, China, France and the UK. These are all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology; in other words not to let anybody else in on their game. Outside of this exclusive club, but possessing nuclear weapons, are India, Pakistan, North Korea and probably Israel. The rest of the world including Australia, Canada, the rest of Europe, Japan, the entire continent of Africa have to rely on ordinary weapons, poor things.

Just think about it. Most of the countries in the world have no nuclear weapons or nuclear submarines to launch them from and I don’t see the Germans or Australians quaking in their boots or waving their arms in dismay - and as for Switzerland... In fact some countries, South Africa and some former Soviet countries used to have nuclear weapons but don’t any longer - so why all the uproar over Trident?

Here in the UK having weapons of mass destruction is a source of national pride for many, a reminder of a time when we were a world power and player; days of Empire, Dunkirk spirit, defending our waters, good old Blighty and all that. Of course this no longer applies. We are not a hugely serious player in the world any longer, at best we are an influencer and we can influence without the need to possess bloody big bombs that nobody is ever going to use. In recent years pretty much everything we’ve done as a nation in terms of getting involved in military action has been less than a success, some might even say a disaster.

Not once have we had cause to rely on our hugely expensive and not at all used nuclear arsenal, not even our submarines.

From what I hear on the news it sounds like the main argument for Trident isn’t as a deterrent it’s about protecting jobs in the shipbuilding industry. How can that be right? We either need these things or we don’t and given that our real enemies probably aren’t nuclear wielding superpowers any longer then why would we need to continue to build these things to haul nuclear weapons around the globe or even at all? It makes no sense.

It seems that we are on the road to Abilene here, a paradox where a group refrain from rocking the boat (or should that be sub?) believing that everyone else wants to go there, when in reality nobody does and everyone ends up in a place that none of them wanted to go to in the first place. I’ve been to Abilene many times and each time ended up wondering why I allowed myself to go along on the trip in the first place. Well, I don’t want to go there again and neither should any of us. Perhaps it’s time for us to stop needing weapons we don’t really need at all, perhaps we should get off of the Abilene road.

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