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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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steepholm steepholm
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Trident Tested
I asked this on Facebook yesterday, but so far haven't had any substantive replies, so I thought I'd try my luck here. Though I suspect that in both cases my friends lists may not be the ideal targets for the question.

If there's anyone out there who thinks that renewing Trident is a good idea, I'd love to know what the arguments for it are. The only three I can see are a) it provides employment - which I'm fairly certain could be done in more cost-effective ways, b) it provides a pretext for the UK having a permanent place on the UN Security Council, and c) it means the French haven't got one-up on us. The last two are pretty specious, surely?

So, what are the other arguments? And specifically, what are the arguments that apply to the UK but not to other constitutional democracies that might also wish to have an independent deterrent, and are as threatened if not more so than the UK? Like, shall we say, South Korea? Unless you think S. Korea should have the bomb, in which case feel free to say so.


Two riders: a) note that I'm asking not about NATO membership, but about Trident specifically; b) even if you don't believe in the arguments, if you know what they are I'd still like to hear them.

Here we have a good example of how the internet operates as a serious of echo chambers. Here's an issue on which some of Trident's supporters are so passionate that they're willing to rebel against their own party's leadership, yet you - an interested citizen - can't even figure out why they feel so strongly about it, because nobody you know agrees with them.

Have you tried asking them? e.g. checking out the websites of some pro-Trident MPs to see what they might have to say about it? That's as likely to produce incoherent gobbledegook as anything else, but it's worth a try.

As you know I'm not a Brit, and I haven't been following the current debate on the issue of an independent nuclear deterrent. But I have read a fair amount about the 1980s debate on the same issue. I did notice then also a weird lack of specifics of arguments as to why it should be retained, but the opponents were pretty clear that they were driven by a general abhorrence of nuclear weapons, which allowed the supporters to make the following rebuttals: 1) Those opponents who wanted the elimination of all nuclear weapons from the UK would leave it open to Soviet threats and takeovers; 2) Those who were willing to retain American weapons were hypocrites.

From which I conclude that the supporters' reason for maintaining an independent deterrent, as well as relying on US missiles, amounted to: "We're Britain! We're a major power! Major powers need their own nuclear missiles!" And this argument wouldn't apply to Iran and North Korea because the supporters of the deterrent would say, at least in private, that those countries are full of ... I'm not sure if this is a dirty word or not, but in its plural form it's four letters long and begins with a "w".

Quite right about the echo chamber. My FB does at least have several friends who are Tories, or even further to the right (notably one college friend who was in the Officer Training Corps at university and is now a British immigrant to the US whose opinions as far as I can make out are on a par with those of Mr Trump) - but, so far, no one has spoken up. I suppose I will, as you suggest, have to trawl the websites.

For what it's worth, I agree that prima facie there's a large dollop of racism involved. I didn't even mention the cases of Iran and N. Korea because other objections (e.g. the fact that they are undemocratic) might be raised, relevantly or not. But there are plenty of democratic countries who seem in more urgent need of a deterrent than the UK, which is already a member of a nuclear alliance. As are other former major powers such as Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey. No one upbraids them as hypocrites for not having a nuclear arsenal of their own.