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Trident is useless, dangerous and expensive – Labour ought to challenge it

NEOLIBERAL politicians, especially of the Tory Party variety, are adept at answering calls to solve such problems as homelessness, universal credit and pressure on the NHS by pontificating that “throwing money” at them is no solution.

One exception to this rule is cash for the euphemistically described “defence spending.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson wants another £340 million for the Ministry of Defence comprehensive review, even though it has already had an extra £1 billion shovelled its way this year.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament acting general secretary Sara Medi Jones is right on the button in asking why, with so many new security challenges arising, the government is “wasting £205 billion replacing Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, which addresses none of these.”

Trident, with its intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles directed at putative enemies’ capital cities or major military bases is an outdated weapon belonging to a previous age.

Concepts of a “balance of terror” and “mutually assured destruction,” with its eminently suitable acronym, passed for military intelligence when the world was dominated by two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, with their allies lined up behind them.

Both superpowers possessed enough nuclear firepower to destroy the world several times over, which ought to have obviated the need for any other nuclear players.

Britain and France, however, dictated by nostalgia for imperial possessions lost during the postwar drive for decolonisation, insisted on their own “independent” nuclear deterrents.

Such Blimpish posturing has proved a financial albatross around our necks for 70 years, throughout its Polaris, Trident and whatever comes next years, making for a totally inadequate focus on today’s real security challenges.

The Defence Secretary describes them as involving non-state actors, migration, pandemics and environmental pressures, which speaks volumes for a political outlook that equates the likes of jihadist death cults with refugees from poverty, war and suffering.

One common denominator for all phenomena is the selfish and short-sighted attitudes of the economically most developed countries of the world, Britain included, which launch wars in other parts of the world without understanding that there may be consequences further down the road.

The same goes for environmental pressures as a result of global warming, which affect the whole world, even countries that have scarcely embarked on industrialisation.

Contemporary considerations for corporate profits or political fears about how electors react to calls to deal seriously with science have led to governments playing to the gallery while dragging their feet over necessary solutions.

Had Williamson been honest, he would have acknowledged that neither Trident nor any other nuclear weapons system could have assisted with any of these problems.

He was assisted in his task of explaining the inexplicable by Labour’s shadow defence secretary Nia Griffiths who complained that Williamson’s statement on funding the armed services contained “no new money.”

Griffiths has stressed throughout her period as shadow defence secretary that Labour remains committed to the sacred cow of nuclear weapons, which indicates an ongoing tension in light of Jeremy Corbyn’s lifelong opposition to these weapons of mass destruction.

Her assertion in summer that having “a nuclear deterrent is a very important part of our defence policy” is an argument for every state having the right to its own WMD deterrent.

Labour’s attack on the Tories’ pretensions could have proven much sharper had its shadow defence secretary been able to propose switching funds from the military budget to essential areas such as funding the NHS, ending rough sleeping or international aid to help at-risk countries to counter the effects of global warming.

 

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