Friday, December 07, 2007

Makes Me Want To Nuke!

Several months ago I signed a foolishly optimistic online petition to the government that somebody forwarded to me which proposed the following:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Re-channel money from a trident replacement and unnecessary wars to health, education, housing and peace projects.
... we are wasting our money at a time when we need peace in the world - think what a society we could have if we spent less on wasteful war."

Pretty straightforward stuff. Today Gordon Brown paid lip service to the whole idea of collaborative government with the response linked here.

No doubt in the interests of on-going collaboration Mr Brown will be delighted to read my response to his response...

"the Government remain committed to working towards a safer world"

Right, which bit of making the world a safer place was the whole killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis planned under?

" which there is no requirement for nuclear weapons."

Clearly our current modern world has no need for nuclear weapons. Otherwise how exactly do you explain the run away success of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, ... and the Solomon Islands? Countries without weapons clearly don't get attacked by those with. Otherwise there'd just be us nine left (US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel).

"However, proliferation risks remain, and while the size and readiness of global nuclear capabilities has reduced markedly since the end of the Cold War, large nuclear arsenals remain and are being modernised."

Who is going to attack us? The US, Russia, China and France seem unlikely and are all on the non-proliferation treaty anyway. India and Pakistan are only a threat to each other (unless we decide to "help" that is). North Korea is, well, right next to South Korea and Israel is totally surrounded by Muslim countries, I don't think either of those guys would give us a look in. A report out in the US this week says Iran hasn't been building working on a nuclear program for years now. The evidence from the "terror" attacks in the UK so far is that an incendiary device and a parking permit are beyond their capability, I don't think nuclear is the next step.

"The Government have carefully considered the threat and concluded that the risk of the re-emergence of a strategic threat, emerging nuclear states and state sponsored terrorism is such that despite our best efforts, the conditions have not yet been met to enable to UK to give up its nuclear deterrent."

The issue here of course is the use of the term "deterrent". Its not a deterrent - it's a threat. The implication is that an individual willing to push a button and kill millions of people in another country would be put off by the risk that someone might come back and hurt a few million peasants in his own country. The guys with their fingers on the nuclear buttons around the world all have access to high quality nuclear bunkers. It's the rest of us who don't. As Marcus Brigstocke said around the time I signed the original petition "There's no such thing as one-all in a nuclear war.". In fact given what we now know about the fragile state of the planet, the chances are that even one unreciprocated nuclear explosion could be enough to tip the planet over the edge into uninhabitability.

"Costs for the renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrence are similar to other major defence equipment and are less than 0.1% of GDP or around 5-6% of the defence budget."

Sure but the defence budget, what's that been doing lately? Oh that's it - rising sharply. Look at this quote from the MoD's own site "the Defence budget is set to increase from £29.7Bn in 2004/05 to £33.4Bn in 2007/08. In real terms (i.e. after inflation) it represents average annual growth of 1.4%. It will amount to longest period of sustained real terms growth in planned Defence spending."

"As only nuclear weapons can provide a deterrence against nuclear threats..."

Right, but we have nuclear weapons and Iraq doesn't, we're at war with them. So there's no deterrence, but we're still not using them. So something else works.

"...the Government has decided that this investment in the defense of its citizens is worth paying."

The government then, is very wrong. The public don't want Trident replaced.

"Since coming to power, this Government has already increased the investment in our schools, hospitals and overseas aid."

Now firstly Labour have been in power so long that the cost of everything has increased dramatically since they came to power. Secondly, when they talk about increasing investment in our schools and hospitals of course they forget to mention that some of the extra income has arrived in return for handing over ownership of those services. That's why we now have state-funded creationist schools, playing fields being sold off and hospital closures every other week. Overseas aid has only really increased due to overwhelming public pressure and even then Labour has yet to follow through on some of it's generous-sounding pledges. Finally funding may have increased, but are the services offered getting any better? Clearly not. Our schools and universities are sliding behind those of other nations, our children live the worst lives in Europe, women in labour are being turned away from hospitals, cancer drugs are being refused to the dying, waiting lists are now the norm, dentists are rarer than intelligent remarks from David Beckham and the third world is in the middle of a massive AIDS epidemic. If that's the effects of an increase in investment then the word "mismanagement" springs very quickly to mind.

Swiftly followed by the words "Needless nuclear proliferation"

Any further comment Mr Brown?

1 comment:

Iceman said...

Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been needlessly provoking Russia and China by putting military bases all over Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics, by promoting a missile defense system (which would never work and even if it did how hard would it be to put a nuke in a shipping container?), and with massive naval exercises off the Chinese coast. How would we expect Russia and China to react to that? "Okay, Mr. Bush, you win, we'll do what you want." How would we react if Russia built a massive military base in Mexico or if Chinese battleships paraded off the coast of California?

A world without nuclear weapons is a must and an ideal, but in the short-term, I think we should focus on (1) nuclear countries agreeing to mutually vastly reduce their number of nuclear weapons - far fewer nukes would mean much less chance of an accidental launch or a nuke being stolen by terrorists, (2) have the US and Russia agree to neutrality in Eastern Europe, rather than reigniting Cold War tensions, and (3) recognize that the regular non-nuclear arms trade fuels conflicts around the world, and shut a lot of it down.