Monday, 24 May 2010

Nuclear deterrents

The basis of a deterrent is that you stop someone doing something because the consequences for that person would be too great if they decided to go ahead and do it anyway. If you were inclined to mugging then you wouldn't choose Mike Tyson. Fort Knox may not be the easiest place to steal from. When it comes to the country's defence, the bigger the army the less chance of being attacked.

Then nuclear weapons came along. The cold war reaction to these weapons was to use them as a deterrent. The opposition would not use them because we would use ours and that would be the end of us all. That sounds so logical and that's why it happened. The trouble with logic is that it doesn't always work. Go back to Mike Tyson. If he really got you mad or you were drunk or any number of other factors then you might have a go. About four weeks ago Rob Burrow was playing for the Leeds Rhinos against Hull. He is not the biggest player on the pitch but he was sent to the sin bin for fighting with a Hull player who may have been twice his weight. Sometimes deterrents just don't work.

It is useful to have big players on your team and let them be the deterrent. We now have a big £76 billion nuclear deterrent. How do we use it if our enemy is a terrorist who flies into tower blocks? What kind of deterrent is it if, as they are so often portrayed, our enemy is a lunatic? What kind of deterrent is it for us if the lunatic from the other side of the world is fighting his neighbour and not us?

We need to play a part in world peace but independent nuclear arms do not make us any safer. I would suggest that living in another European country without an independent deterrent (most of them) would be a safer place to live. Let's have peace through unity with our allies. Even better, make everyone our allies. Experts tell us the best way of dealing with terrorism is by intelligence. An even better answer would be to stop terrorism by breaking down divisions in the world. £76 billion could go a long way to breaking down the world's divisions.

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