1. Removal of Trident and Nuclear Weapons From The UK by 2020.
a. It just doesn’t make any sense. The debate over whether or not the UK should replace the ever more expensive Trident Ballistic Missile Nuclear deterrent becomes more nonsensical upon each political statement in support. David Cameron pointed to the existing and ever expanding threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, (excuse me while I laugh) and the newly identified probability of Iran becoming a nuclear power, with weapons to boot. Yet, despite being apparently continually confronted by these rogue nations, Chancellor Osborne announced an eight per cent cut in the Foreign Office resource budget from 2015/16. Just at the time the nation’s need for an efficient, first class well-funded Foreign Office, diplomatic service is at its greatest.
b. Another senior Tory recently threw his hat in the ring and suggested the case for retaining Trident hinged on events in the Ukraine. Such approaches are mindful of the, “cold war” which whilst it spawned, James Bond, Harry Lime, The Cambridge University Five spy-ring and their like friends in Oxford University contributed nothing to international relations except the ever present thought in the minds of all humanity that they existed in a trap which could be sprung at the press of a button bringing about the mutual destruction of the human race as we know it. Talk about a life sentence with no parole.
c. The final decision about replacement of Trident is to be taken soon after the next general election, (although it appears the Tory’s have pre-empted this by placing a £400M contract with the USA for the manufacture of nuclear delivery tubes) Meantime there is a lot of heat yet to be generated, most of it out-with Westminster, in the public domain, if an open, honest and inclusive debate is to be held. The new buzz words being bandied by knowledgeable NATO defence analysts nations are, “Smart Defence” and it is accepted this is the way forward in times of severe financial constraints worldwide. If embraced the measures will allow the UK to focus on delivering a properly financed, long term strategic support to it’s fellow NATO nations through smart power.
d. NATO nations are signed up to full protection from nuclear attack through the all encompassing Nuclear Umbrella provided by the US. A condition of this “protection” requires each NATO nation to commit 2% of it’s national budget to the maintenance of conventional defence forces, which would be made available, at times of war to NATO. The US allocates around 4.5% of it’s national budget to it’s armed forces, of which 2% is apportioned to nuclear support. The remaining 2.5% is taken up by conventional forces.
e. The UK allocates 2% of the national budget to defence BUT just short of 1% is taken up maintaining Trident and associated nuclear activities. Around half of the remaining 1% is committed to the development and use of 2 aircraft carriers, their support flotilla’s and new US untested and yet to be manufactured, (nuclear delivery capable) f35 aircraft. The residue half of 1% is set aside to support conventional armed forces, including a much weakened army capable of only a brigade strength one strike attack, with no capability of residual occupancy. Contrast this to the Germans who maintain a standing army of 175,000.
f. The US are ever diplomatically pressing the UK to adopt the same nuclear profile as other members of NATO giving up Trident in favour of the protection of the US nuclear umbrella allowing the allocation of the entire 2% of it’s national budget to support of conventional forces, (as do the Germans). This would allow the UK to properly contribute to the NATO, “smart defence” policy. The British Army would be increased to 150,000, (reducing unemployment at a stroke). Other arms would also be increased in measurable terms. The UK economy would be boosted significantly and the UK would stand proud in the family of nations once more.
g. Ed Miliband and The Labour Party has in it’s grasp the ability to declare a change of policy and declare it’s intention to give up Trident and Nuclear weapons within the lifetime of the parliament. Such a declaration would ensure a sweeping election victory in May 2015. Other measures enabling introduction of, Smart defence” could then be introduced. I fully expect Jim Murphy, if elected will demand such a policy change as a condition of support of Scottish Labour Party MP’s, (such as they are). The SNP has already stated the removal of Trident is a condition of the provision of support to the Labour party.
2.August 2009; The Obama-Kennedy Nuclear Policy – Ted Sorensen – former Special Council and Advisor to President John F. Kennedy.
a. Let us “bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations,” said Kennedy in his Inaugural Address in January 1961. “Weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us,” he told the United Nations General Assembly later that year. “…No longer is the quest for disarmament a sign of weakness, (nor) the destruction of arms a dream — it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.”
b. McNamara supported President Kennedy’s decision not to use nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Crisis or on any other occasion; and JFK’s success in ending those crises without initiating a nuclear exchange or even firing a shot convinced all of us who served with him never to rely on nuclear weapons in the future, never, as he put it, “to risk a nuclear war in which the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth.”
c. The old Eisenhower-Dulles policy of threatening massive retaliation, he told Congress in January 1963, reflecting upon the Cuban Missile Crisis, “may not deter piecemeal aggression; but a line of destroyers in a quarantine (like that around Cuba) or a division of well-equipped men on a border (like that around West Berlin) may be more useful to our real security than the multiplication of awesome weapons beyond all rational need.”
d. In the single best speech of his presidency, delivered at American University’s 1963 Commencement, he declared that “the acquisition of idle stockpiles which can only destroy and never create is not the most efficient means of assuring peace.”
e. As for America’s own military strategy, Kennedy — a World War II hero, no pacifist — declared that we have “deliberately chosen to concentrate on more mobile and efficient weapons with lower but entirely sufficient yield,” and thus “(our) security would not be diminished by a reduction of our nuclear stockpile.”
f. Ronald Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union message spoke directly to the people of the Soviet Union: “A nuclear war cannot be won… it must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?” His wife Nancy said he “had many hopes…to create a world free of nuclear weapons.”
g. There are a formidable number of steps facing the US reaching the Kennedy dream, involving a host of controversial issues. But the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons is not only a diplomatic issue, although it will require masterful diplomacy; not only a military security issue, although we must keep our conventional weapons ready; and not only a political issue (although the nay-sayers will try to make political hay out of it). It is a moral issue — indeed, a moral imperative.
3. July 2010; Like for like renewal of Trident will come at expense of conventional forces
a. The UK Government, driven by institutional and political momentum rather than by strategic necessity, is committed to maintaining a nuclear-armed missile submarine on deterrent patrol at all times (Continuous At-Sea Deterrence, or ‘CASD’) Plans at present are to order a new generation of submarines after 2015 but this threatens to be at the expense of a deep reduction in conventional forces and there is now a pressing case for re-examination of whether alternatives to current CASD policy could yield significant financial savings while continuing to meet this agreed objective.
b. Highlighting the ‘stark’ disconnect between current conventional and nuclear planning, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) argues that fiscal pressures, coupled with the reduced threat of surprise nuclear attack, mean the cost equation of maintaining CASD is now changing:
c. ‘There is now a stark gap between the assumptions on which planning for the UK’s conventional and nuclear forces, respectively, are based… The current Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) is based on the assumption that a significant threat of attack on the UK homeland by other states will not re-emerge without an extended period of strategic warning. In contrast, the commitment to maintain a nuclear-armed missile submarine on patrol at all times (known as Continuous-At-Sea-Deterrence or CASD) has remained largely unchanged since the 1960’s, when a surprise attack on Western Europe by the Soviet Union was a central driver for UK force planning.’
d. ‘Given the severe costs that Trident renewal would require… there is now a strong case for a re-examination of whether alternatives to current CASD policy could yield significant financial savings while continuing to meet this agreed objective. The fiscal situation facing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is significantly worse than was assumed in 2006, when current renewal plans were drawn up by the previous government’. With the Treasury insisting that additional costs for Trident renewal be met from the MoD core budget, the effect of this on conventional capabilities will be ‘further multiplied’ by expected real term deep cuts in defence spending.
e. ‘MoD planners may decide upon the unsafe option further shifting resources out of other areas (such as personnel) in order to help to pay for the increased strain on the equipment budget after 2015. What is clear is that the inclusion of Trident renewal in the core budget, on current plans, could require the MoD to plan for a further significant real reduction in annual conventional spending by 2020, over and above any reduction that the Spending Review decides to make over the next four years. https://www.rusi.org/news/ref:N4C4ED70C3F1F7/
4. January 2012; Strategic Defence and Security Review Discussion Westminster – Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East, Labour)- Gordon Brown’s old Arm Twister
a.I want us to look again at the case for Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. I know that that will probably not be popular on either side of the House; others can make their points as the debate progresses. Given the current circumstances, it is time to consider the question again. The Government projects a total cost of £15 billion to £20 billion for the Trident successor programme. Independent research has suggested that the total cost would come in at three or four times that figure and our past experience with such big defence programmes suggests something similar. No matter how one looks at it, this is a very large sum of money to spend. My point is that we should look carefully at whether we should spend it.
b. The maingate decision on final renewal has been pushed back until after the next general election. The cost of that is said to be an additional £1.5 billion to refurbish and prolong the lifespan of the existing fleet. Parliamentary answers from Defence Ministers show that upwards of £2 billion has already been spent on preparatory work for the manufacture of the new submarines. The Government clearly intends to press ahead with Trident renewal. In my opinion, they should seek explicit parliamentary authority for doing so. The failure to hold a vote in Parliament on the renewal of our independent nuclear deterrent is because of the inability to reconcile different views in the coalition. The question that faces us is whether an independent nuclear deterrent is a good use of such a large sum of public money in the present circumstances. The arguments, which were never that strong, are now moving away from Trident renewal.
c. The current Trident system relies heavily on US logistical, capacity, technological and military know-how. It is nearly impossible to imagine any circumstances in which we would launch a nuclear attack, much less that we would do so independently of the Americans. Likewise, were Britain to be attacked by a nuclear power, the terms of our membership of NATO would require a joint response by all members, including the US. NATO is a mutual defence pact. It is a fundamental strength that its armoury includes the nuclear capability of the US. There has always been a question over why Britain needs to duplicate NATO’s nuclear capability, rather than more usefully supplement its conventional capacity. When I first entered Parliament in 1983, I resisted joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I did not support our decision to go ahead with an independent submarine-based system of our own. However, I did support Britain’s membership of NATO, which CND did not. At the time, that was regarded in the Labour party as a very establishment and right-wing position. It is a small irony of Labour politics that the same position is today seen as very left-wing.
d. When the decision was taken to adopt the Trident system in the early 1980s, there was an understanding that in exchange for non-proliferation by the non-nuclear powers, there would be restraint by the existing nuclear powers, in particular the US and Russia, when it came to further weapons development and upgrades. That idea was enshrined in article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It can be argued that that has been more honoured in the breach by countries that did not possess a nuclear capability, but that do now. The underlying principle, however, seems to me still to be sound.
e. The large financial outlay that the Government are committed to in planning to replace our independent deterrent could be better spent in a number of ways. During the economic boom, I argued that we ought to better equip our troops, invest in the specialist field of anti-terrorism capability in line with the real threats that we face, and supplement our existing overseas aid budget. We now face new threats. To take one example, the money that we spend on Trident could be used to bring down substantially the tuition fees of every student. I think that cutting a generation adrift from higher education poses a bigger threat to our nation than the idea that a foreign power with nuclear weaponry would uniquely threaten to use it against us, and not the rest of NATO, and would somehow be able to disapply NATO’s founding terms. The real nuclear dangers of the future come from rogue states and terrorism. The possession of an independent nuclear deterrent does not make us safer. A better investment would be in anti-terrorism capabilities.
f. Three main arguments are put forward by proponents of Trident replacement. The first is that it is the best weapon that money can buy. The second is that it guarantees a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The final argument is that it contributes to our ability to punch above our weight in the world. I argue that it is not much of a weapon if the circumstances in which it may be used cannot be envisaged. Fundamental reform of the United Nations Security Council is long overdue and the difficulty, as we all know, is getting agreement on what that reform should be. I also think that other countries might like us more if we stopped punching above our weight in the world. We might be better thought of by the international community if we settled for being the medium-sized European nation state that we are, rather than the imperial power that we used to be.
g. We have a choice as a country: do we want to continue to drift into spending billions of pounds on supplementing a nuclear capability that we already possess through NATO or do we want to spend that money on tackling the problems that Britain actually faces in squeezed economic times? Surely we should resolve this issue now with a vote in this Parliament. A comment: If Britain demands that states without nuclear weapons commit to never acquiring them, then it has a duty (and a self-interest) in taking the necessary steps towards removing it’s own nuclear weapons. It is the bargain at the very heart of the non-proliferation treaty. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-01-26a.457.0&%3bs=submarines+speaker:10069#g462.3
5. January 2012; The Westminster Consensus On Trident Is Dead
a. With the main decision on building new submarines due in 2016, could a new Strategic Defence and Security Review following an election in 2015 be the opportunity to change course? Before Christmas there was growing disquiet from MPs when the MoD announced it had no plans to publish the Trident Alternatives Review – the Cabinet Office review ordered to fulfil the agreement in the coalition agreement that Lib Dems could continue to argue for alternatives. The terms of the review are narrow, they don’t challenge nuclear weapons, only the delivery system and its costs. Meanwhile any discussion about public spending always raises the question why spend billions on Trident rather than our public services? Opposition to Trident is going to have a loud airing in the next few months and years.
b. The Labour Party appears to be adopting a more open-minded approach to Trident. Ed Miliband clearly has an open mind. During the leadership election he said, “Defence should not be exempted from the tough spending choices we need to face. We should look at the totality of our conventional and nuclear capabilities, considering both our defence needs and what our priorities are in the changing economic climate”.
c. Jim Murphy, Shadow Defence Minister said, “I’m really not wedded to something. I didn’t get involved in politics or join the Labour party because I love a weapons system. But I’m not a unilateralist, and the Labour party is not a unilateralist party. And you either have a credible nuclear deterrent or you don’t. Iran and North Korea are going in one direction. Does that increase or decrease the need for Britain to have a nuclear deterrent? I think most people would say, my gosh, in a world of Ahmadinejad and North Korea, we should continue to have a nuclear deterrent.” http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/jan/13/jim-murphy-labour-scotland-union Whilst they are saying different things, whether it is Nick Brown’s backbench intervention or Ed Miliband welcoming the Trident Review. The previous Westminster consensus on Trident – that it is a non-negotiable facet of the politics of the centre ground – is dead. http://labourlist.org/2012/01/the-westminster-consensus-on-trident-is-dead/
6. August 2012; Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis at Fifty
a. Fifty years ago this month, the world teetered on the precipice of a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union during the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. We were fortunate to have survived that crisis, thanks largely to the restraint shown by President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev.
b. Now, fifty years later, there is no immediate crisis such as that in 1962 over Soviet nuclear-armed missiles being placed in Cuba. There are, however, still some 19,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of nine nuclear-armed nations: the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Approximately 95 percent of these weapons are in the arsenals of the US and Russia. Some 2,000 of them are kept in a state of high alert, ready to be immediately launched upon an order to do so at any moment of any day or night.
c. Although the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago, the possibilities for crisis are still with us. NATO has expanded to the Russian borders, despite US promises not to do so, and has begun placing missile defense installations near the Russian borders. Despite US and NATO assurances to Russia that these installations are to protect against an Iranian missile launch, Russian leaders view these installations as undermining their strategic deterrent force by making them vulnerable to a first-strike attack. They have said that they will target these US missile defense installations.
d. In another US-Russian confrontation over Georgia, such as occurred in 2008, or some other regional dispute, it is possible that tensions could rise to the point of nuclear crisis between US and Russian military forces. Of course, this would be crazy, but it is far from impossible. What would make the world safer? What might we expect from national leaders who should have learned from how close the world came to nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
e. First, for the US and NATO to make Russia a partner in any missile defense plans focused on Iranian missiles. Second, for the US to remove its approximately 180 remaining tactical nuclear weapons located in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey). Third, for the US and Russia to take seriously their legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date, for nuclear disarmament in all its aspects and for a treaty on general and complete disarmament.
f. We know now that a regional nuclear war would have global consequences. Atmospheric scientists have modeled a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in which each side used 50 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons on the other side’s cities. Such a war would put enough soot from burning cities into the upper stratosphere to reduce warming sunlight for a decade, lowering surface temperatures on earth to the lowest levels in 1,000 years. This would result in shortened growing seasons, crop failures and famine that would kill hundreds of millions of people, perhaps a billion, throughout the world.
g. The scientific modeling showed that there would be a Nuclear Famine, and it would be triggered by using less than half of one percent of the world’s nuclear explosive power. Such a famine could be initiated not only by India and Pakistan, two countries that have been to war over Kashmir on several occasions, but by any of the Nuclear Nine. The US and Russia could each trigger a far more devastating Nuclear Famine by a nuclear attack on the other side’s cities, an attack which would be suicidal even if the other side did not respond in kind.
h. When thinking about nuclear weapons and their dangers, we would do well to remember the words of General George Lee Butler, former commander-in-chief of the United States Strategic Command, responsible for all US strategic nuclear weapons: “Nuclear weapons give no quarter. Their effects transcend time and space, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations but of civilization.”
i. Nuclear weapons do not protect us. Rather, they make us vulnerable to annihilation. It is relatively easy to put them out of our minds, but to do so is to evade our responsibility as citizens of the world and of nuclear-armed countries. Nuclear weapons imperil our common future – they imperil our children and their children and all children of the future. They imperil all we hold dear. We must speak out for a world without nuclear weapons. It is a moral and legal imperative and we would be well advised to act now before we are confronted with the equivalent of another Cuban Missile Crisis. http://www.wagingpeace.org/tag/kennedy/
7. April 2013; Washington Responds – Shrinking Europe Military Spending Stirs Concern
a. Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany’s entire military budget, endangering the alliance’s viability, its mission and its relationship with the USA. That was two years ago. Since then, with the Afghan war winding down and pressure from the European Union to limit budget deficits, Europe has only cut deeper. Now, as President Obama wrestles with his own huge budget deficit and military costs, the responsibility for keeping NATO afloat has fallen disproportionately onto the United States, an especially untenable situation as priorities shift to Asia.
b. The United States finances nearly three-quarters of NATO’s military spending, up from 63 percent in 2001. And yet among the alliance’s 28 nations, experts note, only the United States, Britain and Greece are meeting NATO’s own spending guidelines of 2 percent of gross domestic product. Even Britain and France — the two leading European nations willing to project military might — are slipping further. France says that by 2014 it may cut deeper still — to just 1.3 percent of G.D.P., down from 1.9 percent this year. By comparison, the United States spent 4.8 percent of its G.D.P. on the military in 2011.
c. In 2012, for the first time, military spending among Asian nations, in particular China, exceeded that of the Europeans. “We are moving toward a Europe that is a combination of the unable and the unwilling,” said Camille Grand, a French military expert who directs the Foundation for Strategic Research. “European countries are continuing to be free riders, instead of working seriously to see how to act together.” Increasingly, without United States assistance, military experts said, Europe’s armed forces have trouble carrying out basic operations as its dwindling financial and political commitment has derailed multiple initiatives intended to make the continent more self-reliant.
d. NATO’s deputy secretary general, Alexander R. Vershbow, a former senior Defense Department official, said that “the financial crisis has been corrosive to the alliance” and that relations between the European Union and NATO remained “dysfunctional.” Even as Britain and France have boasted of operations in Libya and Mali, those interventions have revealed Europe’s weakness more than its strength. In Libya, the United States supplied intelligence, drones, fighter and refueling aircraft, ammunition stocks and missiles to destroy air defenses, and in Mali the French required American intelligence, drones, and refueling and transport aircraft.
e. Senior American officials have warned that unless European countries spend more on defense, they risk “collective military irrelevance.” A senior American official said that Washington was eager for partnership in the Middle East and Asia, but that “Europe’s decision to abdicate on defense spending increasingly means it can’t take care of itself, and it can’t be a valuable partner to us.” While the United States would like to be able to rely more on its European allies, many experts doubt that even the strongest among them, Britain and France, could carry out their part of another Libya operation now, and certainly not in a few years. Both are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent.
f. “Either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner,” a senior American official said. The challenge is particularly acute as NATO pulls its forces out of Afghanistan after a long, wearying and unsatisfying war, with results widely seen as fragile, even unsustainable. After Afghanistan, with Europeans looking inward and the Russian threat considered more rhetorical than real, some wonder once more about the real utility of NATO.
g. James M. Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, thinks that NATO has some considerable soul-searching ahead if its European members become increasingly unwilling to operate abroad. “If NATO isn’t outward looking, it’s got nothing to do,” he said. “It can’t go back to managing a threat from Russia, because it’s not a real threat.”
h. A decade of halting European efforts to create a Common Security and Defense Policy has yielded little. A NATO Response Force, agreed to in 2002, was supposed to be an all-terrain rapid reaction force, with rotating membership for land, air, naval and special forces, ready to go anywhere and do most anything with at least 13,000 troops. But it has never been used, except in part to add security to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2004 Afghan elections and to provide disaster relief.
i. The European Union had a 1999 goal of 60,000 troops available for battle in a “Eurocorps.” That has been quietly abandoned, replaced by battle groups of 1,500 to 2,500 troops, also on a rotating basis among the many and differently equipped member states. The “lead” country is supposed to take the political risk and provide most of the troops and most of the money. “Not every battle group has been what it’s made out to be,” said Tomas Valasek, a defense expert and president of the Central European Policy Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, with diplomatic understatement. “Some are more ready than others.”
j. But the will to participate has also declined. While the intent was to have two battle groups, a shortage of countries willing to participate has meant a quiet halving of ready forces to one battle group. There is also a French-German brigade, formed in 1987, of some 5,000 men, which proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day. But it, too, has remained unused. When the French wanted to use it for Mali, the Germans objected. “It’s given military cooperation a bad name,” Mr. Valasek said. The brigade was supposed to be the foundation for the Eurocorps, the abandoned goal of 60,000 troops ready to deploy for two months, but the reality has been embarrassing.
k. The Germans also objected to fighting in Libya, and even the European Union’s effort to come up with 550 military trainers to help reconstruct the Malian Army became a slow slog of negotiations and preparations; the first of those trainers has only now arrived. There have been many discussions of how smaller European countries can share capabilities, the way the Baltic States do, and the Dutch and Belgians do for naval training and ship purchasing. There is an old debate about whether some countries will give up their own capabilities — air forces or navies, for example — so long as partners agree to protect them.
l. “The way forward is to permanently pool training, procurement, logistics and maintenance,” Mr. Valasek said. “We won’t find any more money any time soon.” In the meantime, a lack of procurement means a steady decline as older weapons systems become obsolete. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of NATO member Estonia, said that “it’s time for a serious rethink about security policy.”The United States “has made it clear that it won’t continue to pay what is now 75 percent of all NATO military spending,” he said. “That should be sufficient for the European members of NATO to understand that this can’t work as now,” especially with the rise of China.
m. A Western European ambassador to NATO said that “we need to think more about how to share the burden and rebalance it, both in decision-making and responsibility,” especially with the pivot to Asia. France, he said, sees the pivot “as an opportunity, while the East Europeans see it as a threat.” After Afghanistan, he said, “we need an adult conversation about rebalancing.”James B. Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser, now dean of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, said that Washington could cope. “There’s less strategic focus on the remaining security problems in Europe itself,” which he described as mostly residual, including the Balkans and a post-Soviet equilibrium. That means Washington will not put more resources into Europe, especially as it concentrates on China.
n. But on broader strategic challenges, including China, Washington “likes the partnership with Europe for political legitimacy, which is not a function of its military capacity,” he said. European political support allows the United States to take a broader position in East Asia that is not simply bilateral. No one knows where the next crisis will emerge, Mr. Steinberg said, but it is useful to have NATO there, even acting as a limited coalition, as in Libya. If the United States represents 75 percent of NATO spending, “that’s a modest price to pay when the next crisis comes along.” Whatever NATO’s weaknesses, “if it were gone, it would be very, very hard to recreate.”
8. April 2013; America Tells Britain – Be A Real Military Partner – Do Not Replace Trident
a. As debate continues about the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, many just assume that the United States automatically supports a new generation of British nuclear weapons – or even that they may not “let us” disarm. Those backing the retention and replacement of Britain’s nuclear arsenal often cite our obligations as part of NATO – a US-led nuclear alliance – and of our commitment to our allies in “an uncertain world”. Indeed some even see nuclear cooperation with the US as the keystone in our “special relationship”.
b. So it was interesting to read the following passage in the International Herald Tribune – “NATO at a turning point” under the heading, “Sharing Capabilities”. As for Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is insisting on keeping a nuclear deterrent on a new generation of submarines, even as U.S. officials are pushing London to consider abandoning the idea. As one U.S. official said privately, “They can’t afford Trident, and they need to confront the choice: either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner.”
c. As the article clearly conveys, there are many in high places that would prefer Britain to be a well-equipped and viable conventional military force, capable of twenty-first century interventions and keeping up the European end of NATO military capacity. This lays bare one of the main arguments – whether implicit or explicit – put forward by those in favour of Trident replacement: that while times may be hard economically, maintaining a nuclear arsenal is the strong choice for defence policy. So it’s interesting to note that allies may see it as making us a bit of a military lame duck. In fact, such a view is increasingly widespread here, as well as in the US, given the drastic reductions in personnel and capabilities as a result of cuts to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
d. In the first instance, no-one should be in any doubt about the impact of Trident spending on UK defence equipment budgets. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has said that by the early 2020s, ‘submarine and deterrent spending is set to account for around 35% of the total core procurement budget’. And by 2017, cuts to defence personnel will see regular troops reduced from 102,000 to 82,000 – with increasing reliance on reservists.
e. We are now starting to see previously pro-Trident news outlets such as London’s Evening Standard and the Telegraph raising concerns about the government’s approach to defence priorities. The Evening Standard has written two excellent editorials on the question of Trident and defence spending, here and here, stating, “Defence must take its share of cuts and choices must be made. Something has to give. it is worth asking again whether renewing the Trident nuclear missile system, on which design work alone will cost £350 million, is as good a use of defence funds as more boots on the ground. Given our present challenges, the answer must be no.”
f. While many are still right to put forward the moral and humanitarian arguments against nuclear weapons, they are increasingly joined by those who see the strength in the economic and strategic arguments against Trident. These are people with serious concerns about the thinking behind the government’s defence spending and security strategy. And of course they’re right that the costs will be astronomical and devastating. The MoD puts the build cost of the “Successor” submarines alone at £20-25bn, which, given its track record of delivering major projects around 40 per cent over budget, might be more accurately predicted as £28-35bn. The maintenance costs will be £3bn per annum (not factoring in inflation) for 30-40 years according to former Minister for the Armed Forces Sir Nick Harvey MP. Then there’s the estimated £25bn decommissioning cost.
g. £100bn is now a considerable underestimation of Trident replacement costs. It is clear it will be more. But even without the grim economics, Trident replacement seems at odds with both government analysis – the National Security Strategy downgraded the threat of state-on-state nuclear attack – and with the ability to fulfil government policy. As the Standard rightly points out, “The Foreign Secretary talks tough about North Africa and David Cameron regards Libya as one of his foreign policy successes. Yet they must know that interventions like that in Libya, or a British version of France’s exploits in Mali, would be impossible with drastic reductions in troop numbers. And this is precisely what is being called into question in the US administration. What use is an ally which becomes incapable of action through a dearth of personnel and equipment? How would Britain’s nuclear weapons play any useful role in US operations?
h. This dilemma should be ringing alarm bells for Labour, whose shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy MP recently outlined his vision of a flexible, dynamic, military with “adaptable units” to head off emerging security threats around the world. Labour needs to understand that it will not be able to afford both that and Trident. The debate on Trident will continue, to the general election and beyond. But those who still think we are well-served by nuclear weapons would do well to heed the view of former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo: Trident, he says, is completely past its sell-by date and a tremendous waste of money. I can’t say fairer than that.
9. Apr 2014; Developing a Rational Strategy on Trident
a. The possession of nuclear weapons, threatening death and destruction to millions, is widely accepted as immoral and the assertion that possessing such weapons constitutes a deterrence is, to say the least, highly questionable. The description of Britain’s nuclear weapons as being “independent” can also be called into question given that Trident is leased from the US, guided by US satellites and overhauled at Kings Bay in Georgia. Most analysts consider it inconceivable that the system would be deployed outside the realms of US foreign policy aspirations or without authorisation from Washington. And then we have the fact that the development and possession of ever-larger and increasingly accurate nuclear weapons systems directly contradicts the aims and objectives of international treaties on proliferation.
b. There are clearly difficulties in dissuading countries such as North Korea or Iran from developing nuclear weapons if British defence policy appears to promote the “value” of such weapons and a belief that they can ensure influence in the international arena. Perhaps the most powerful argument for opposition to nuclear weapons is on the grounds of cost, particularly at a time of austerity and service cuts. When people face job losses, wage freezes, wage reductions, privatisations, cuts to terms and conditions and are being continually told to “tighten your belts,” proposals to spend up to £100 billion on a weapon of mass destruction, which will hopefully never be used, makes no economic sense.
c. It is important to remember however that advocates of maintaining Britain’s nuclear arsenal consistently emphasise the likelihood of job losses if the arsenal is abandoned. A starting point therefore is to take seriously defence workers’ concerns over their job security and to recognise that Scottish defence jobs have been hemorrhaging over many years. Significantly, these jobs have been reducing over the lifetime of the existing Trident programme. Over that period, 40,000 (35 per cent) of defence jobs have been lost, when overhaul responsibility shifted to the US, including 250 at Faslane, principally as a consequence of Babcock privatisation. The clear message is that Trident and expenditure on nuclear weapons is costing, and will continue to cost, jobs in the defence sector. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-05ef-Developing-a-rational-strategy-on-Trident#.U6wGOPldWdc
10. June 2014; Time To See The Light On Nuclear Weapons
a. The next UK strategic defence and security review won’t be held until 2015, but debate about whether or not Britain should retain its expensive Trident ballistic missile nuclear deterrent is already hotting up. The Shadow Defence Secretary, Vernon Coaker MP, has called for an “open and inclusive” debate over Britain’s future role in the world, with greater focus on “long-term strategy and smart power”.
b. Last year the Prime Minister said that we needed Trident because of the existing potential threat from North Korea and developing threat in Iran. Conservative MP Julian Lewis recently put the case for maintaining a nuclear deterrent in light of the political situation in Ukraine, which brings back cold war memories of the way international relations were conducted when the stakes were mutually assured destruction.
c. Yet curiously, despite being surrounded by these bellicose nations, in the government spending plans for 2015-16 Chancellor George Osborne announced an eight per cent cut in the Foreign Office resource budget. Now is when our need for exemplary and well-funded Foreign Office diplomacy is at its greatest.
d. Monet painted the same view of Rouen Cathedral more than thirty times; in each picture the stones remain the same while the shifting and changing light reveals a different character. In a similar way, if the light falling on international relations presages a violent storm, then relations between states might be construed as anarchic. The function of trade becomes economic gain to be used for creating and equipping armies to defend against ever present threats. The very existence of ‘statehood’ is the result of frightened people coming together to build ever-higher walls and forming governments whose primary purpose is to dedicate the economic and political apparatus to home security.
e. Seen in another light, without a constant threat of war, the function of a state is to provide a platform for diplomacy. Here, trade is a means to enhance cooperation, treaties are forged for the purpose of mutual benefits, arrangements are jointly profitable, and compromise is not a weakness but a means of reaching common goals. Like the stones of Rouen Cathedral, the countries are the same, but the approach of government must be completely different.
f. It doesn’t take an art lover to realise that liberalism, trade and diplomacy are preferable to military isolationism, or that organisations such as the European Union are preferable to the destruction unleashed between neighbours twice in the same century. The cold war polarised politics and economic activity in the second half of the 20th century to the extent that trade, finance and science was coerced into building weapons of annihilation so potent that their use would have blasted civilised life off the planet – hardly the best way for our shrinking planet and its expanding population to survive. Trident, our fleet of ever-vigilant nuclear submarines, is a relic. What purpose could ever be usefully served by retaining a weapon so powerfully destructive that it could never be used?
g. Did the silent deadly presence of Trident lurking in the depths of the oceans hold aggressive North Korean nuclear posturing at bay? Were Iranian negotiators convinced to come to an agreement on their nuclear programme by the knowledge that the UK held a trump card in the game of mutually assured destruction? Did Russia, rather than nuking Ukraine for wanting to become a member of the EU, merely annex Crimea as it feared the unleashing of terrible reprisals? Probably not. The intense diplomacy that surrounded North Korea, Iran and now Russia, tends to suggest that Trident is not playing a major role in the active resolution of these political hot spots. In this, the cold light of reason, it seems clear that the money would be better spent on the foreign office than a nuclear deterrent. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20577
11. September 2014; The USA Speaks – The UK Should Disarm It’s Nuclear Weapons
a. In the run up to Scotland’s vote on independence, pundits predicted that independence could lead to the end of the U.K.’s nuclear weapons program. Most of the attention was focused on the need to relocate British nuclear submarines, currently stationed in Scotland, in the event of a “yes” vote. Conventional thought held that since the Scots have now decided to preserve the union, the U.K.’s nuclear program can continue as normal. However, this would be a dire mistake for the United Kingdom and its allies. The U.K. should move ahead to dismantle a program that wastes precious resources on weapons that do not contribute to Britain’s national security.
b. First, nuclear weapons are a drain on national resources. Even with the economic might of Scotland, the union is struggling to maintain both conventional and nuclear forces. Britain’s current fleet of nuclear submarines is reaching the end of its service life and will need to be replaced over the next decade. This is an incredibly complex process that is estimated to cost roughly $58.1 billion, nearly one fourth of Britain’s defense budget. This comes at a time when the U.K. is already struggling to find the funds to maintain its conventional forces.
c. Years of deep budget cuts have taken a heavy toll, leading the military to recently lay off 20,000 regular army personnel, roughly 20 percent of its total force. With a sizeable national debt and a slow-growing economy, the U.K. can scarcely afford to spend more on defense. Thus, the billions spent on nuclear weapons are diverting funds from other crucial areas such as education, healthcare and conventional forces.
d. Second, nuclear weapons have failed to make the United Kingdom safer. Nuclear weapons provided no defense or deterrence against the 1996 Manchester bombings, the 1988 Lockerbie bombing or the 2005 London subway bombings, the most serious attacks on the U.K.’s territory in recent memory. Nor do nuclear submarines guard against the growing threat of cyber-attacks, a mounting concern for the future.
e. The U.K.’s nuclear program is built for a one purpose, to respond to the inconceivable event that an advisory launches an unprovoked nuclear strike on Britain. There is simply no evidence that this has ever been a realistic threat. Furthermore, if the U.K. were to disarm, it would still be protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. If American nuclear weapons are sufficient to protect South Korea, whose capital is within artillery range of North Korea, then it should be more than capable of reassuring the British, who are thousands of miles away from any hostile nuclear nation.
f. Finally, Britain’s leaders should recognize that the escalating cost of nuclear weapons damages their standing with NATO allies. The United States has no need for the U.K.’s nuclear program, having 14 nuclear submarines and more than 1,825 deployed nuclear warheads of our own. Meanwhile, NATO’s other major members also care little about Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet. France has its own nuclear arsenal, while Germany is predisposed against nuclear weapons. Thus, the continuation of Britain’s nuclear forces does little to strengthen its alliances.
g. In contrast, Britain’s allies care about reinforcing economic ties to the U.K. By spending billions on nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom is diverting money away from international trade. This harms the economies of both the U.K. and its major trading partners including the United States. Similarly, Britain’s allies are concerned about its inability to maintain conventional forces. The U.K. has been a stalwart American ally and member of NATO, contributing significant forces to the campaigns in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. The U.K.’s allies are concerned about the British forces stationed beside them rather than a fleet of submarines that have done little but cruise around the Atlantic Ocean for 40 years. While Scotland has elected to preserve the union, Britain’s leaders should abandon their nuclear weapons program.
12. December 2014 Biggest Faslane March Against Nuclear Weapons For 30 Years
a. The Scrap Trident demonstration at Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde yesterday was the “biggest in three decades,” according to organisers. Around 1,500 protestors marched from Faslane Peace Camp to the gates of the Trident submarine base to call for the weapons to be scrapped. David Mackenzie of Scrap Trident told the Star: “This is the biggest Faslane demo I have seen in three decades. “We were aware during the independence referendum that opposition to Trident seemed to be growing exponentially. “This was the first real test of whether that is true — and it is clear there is a change afoot.”
b. Buses brought campaigners from all over Scotland, including several from Glasgow and Edinburgh, contingents from as far as the Borders, Fort William and even a minibus from Assynt in the north-west Highlands. “There’s a feeling of the whole of Scotland being here today,” Mr Mackenzie said. “Previously on weekend demos you would get a couple of hundred folk — but this is different. “There is a massive age range too, with lots of young people — it’s not just all old peaceniks.” The Scrap Trident coalition includes Scottish CND, Trident Ploughshares, Radical Independence Campaign, the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party.
c. Mr Mackenzie said that a clear majority of the people in Scotland want to see Trident scrapped. “Although opposition to Trident was a central part of the Yes campaign, which attracted 45 per cent of the vote, there was also a significant percentage of No voters who believe passionately that there is no place for Trident in Scotland,” he said. “With spending on health, education, pensions and disability benefits being slashed we believe that squandering £100 billion on even more nuclear weapons is immoral and unreasonable and we call for Trident to be scrapped and human needs funded.” The Faslane demo was the first of a series of actions by the coalition designed to ramp up pressure on Westminster MPs who will be taking the decision in 2016 of whether to go ahead with replacing the current Trident system. A demonstration in Glasgow is planned for March 28 followed by a full blockade of the Faslane Trident base on April 13. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-1beb-1,500-join-biggest-Faslane-march-against-nuclear-weapons-for-30-years