Why Trident Should Be Scrapped

If you do not accept the theory that posits that it is the possession itself of nuclear weapons that prevents countries from ordering nuclear strikes, then you must reject Trident and Britain’s nuclear defense programme as a bogus political category.

When Andrew Marr asked Jeremy Corbyn on April 23rd if “there are any circumstances under which [he] would authorise a nuclear strike”, then he was, in effect, asking the Labour leader if he thinks that nuclear weapons are a good idea.

Mr Corbyn, understandably, came off as rather reluctant to answer the question, since he has previously stated — and he was here seen to state once again — that “nuclear weapons are not the solution to the world’s security issues. They are a disaster if ever used.” This statement prompted newspaper The Sun to describe the Labour leader as “a ‘deluded’ danger to the country” (The Sun, 23 April), as if the absence of Trident would somehow invite mass attacks on British soil.

On April 24th, Labour’s Shadow Minister of Defence, Nia Griffith, went on the BBC to state in no uncertain terms that a Labour government would not hesitate to authorise a nuclear strike if circumstances demanded it, thus revealing a rather glaring inconsistency in Labour’s outward position on the matter of nuclear defense.

To me and, I believe, to most people who support the Green Party, any question pertaining to the potential use of a nuclear deterrent presents itself as veritably bogus.

Nuclear weapons have in the history of their existence been deployed on no more than two occasions; namely, when the United States bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, thus killing more than 129,000 people in two swift strokes. Since then, the only use of nuclear arms have been to serve as a reminder to anyone who possesses them that further deployment would inevitably result in immeasurable and irretractable damage. The logic of the nuclear deterrent is the lunatic logic of MAD — Mutually Assured Destruction — namely, the theory that posits that it is the possession itself of nuclear weapons that prevents countries from ordering nuclear strikes.

In June 2016, after PM Theresa May had stated that she would, if necessary, authorise a nuclear strike that could kill up to 100,000 people, Parliament decided to renew the nuclear arms programme known as Trident. The government estimated that the process of renewing Trident would cost approximately £40bn. However, “The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament puts the overall cost over 30 years at £205bn” (The Guardian, 17 July 2016).

In the debate that preceded the decision to renew Trident, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas raised the following concern with the Prime Minister:

“if keeping and renewing nuclear weapons is so vital to our national security and our safety, then does [the Prime Minister] accept [that] the logic of that position must be that every other single country must seek to acquire nuclear weapons?”

In stating that she did not agree with the Green Party leader, the Prime Minister clearly indicated the following: it is, in her view, more responsible to spend £205bn on weapons of mass destruction — weapons that must never be used — than to invest said amount of money in home building, the NHS, the environment, or cyber security. Indeed, Prime Minister Theresa May has argued that scrapping Trident would constitute “an act of gross irresponsibility” (BBC, 18 July 2016).

It may just be that you agree with Theresa May on Trident. It may be that you, too, believe that it is better to maintain the Cold War status quo that ensures that if anyone ever decides to press the red button, then at least we all go up in smoke together. If, however, you believe that Britain’s national defence is sufficiently equipped to carry on without access to weapons of mass destruction, then you disagree with the Prime Minister.

Instead, you may happen to agree with the Green Party. Green parliamentary candidates believe that financial resources should be directed away from activities where they could potentially cause catastrophic harm, and towards activities where they would benefit the British population.

What do you reckon? And what would you do with £205bn over a period of 30 years?