Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Rogue States


"Rogue states such as North Korea and Iran could use nuclear weapons to attack Britain’s vital communications and electricity networks from space, a security conference heard."

"In a stark warning, Dr Liam Fox (the Defence Secretary) warned countries that sought nuclear capabilities could attack Britain from the upper atmosphere" ... "Dr Fox also told the international conference on the vulnerability of electricity grids around the world to natural disaster and hostile attack, that an impending “solar flare” space storm could produce just as much damage to communication networks."

While I appreciate the sentiment behind this message - Dr. Fox would like us to spend many billions more on his department, just as every government minister naturally yearns to have as many billions as possible spent on their own department, and it's hard to justify spending billions without a powerful and resourceful enemy to point a finger at - I don't see why Dr. Fox didn't go the whole hog and combine the two threats into one. ""Rogue states such as North Korea and Iran could develop the technology to manipulate the sun's output, producing space storms which could damage our communication networks".

The reality is, neither North Korea nor Iran has the technology required to fight anyone other than their nearest neighbours. Neither has issued any threats against us. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, is heavily inspected, and has displayed no desire to use nuclear technology for anything other than peaceful purposes, while North Korea is half a planet away and has a barely-functioning economy. Neither Kim Jong Il nor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is likely to spend sleepless nights pondering how to explode an atomic bomb over British skies. They have other issues, closer to home, to worry about. As bogeymen, they just don't cut the mustard.

explains how the MOD wastes billions already, with "the MoD going an estimated £36 billion over its equipment budget over the next ten years".

Meanwhile the Conservatives want to increase rail fares above and beyond the rate of inflation, with the bulk of the increase going directly into government coffers, a move which would probably affect British business far more severely than even the worst electrical storm would, while netting the government maybe a couple of billion pounds at the most. At least you can be sure that they will be vigorously opposed on this by their coalition partners. Wouldn't it be nice if we could always decide our priorities sensibly, investing constructively in infrastructure for our future instead of squandering billions fighting non-existent threats?

Change the world.

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