Saturday, July 11, 2009

how I learnt to stop worrying and love the bomb

Gordon Brown, it seems, is considering scaling down Great Britain's nuclear arsenal in order to provide an exampe to rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran that it isn't necessary to maintain a nuclear arsenal.

Campaign for nuclear disarmament: but what if the other side doesn't disarm?I was somewhat nonplussed by this. I'm aware that CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), founded in 1957 by - among others - Michael Foot, later to be leader of the Labour Party, proposed unilateral disarmament on the grounds that potential aggressors might be nice to us if we divest ourselves of the means to defend ourselves against them. I hadn't realised that the madness continued until today.

How many countries possess nuclear weapons? It's difficult to tell. We have, of course, the US, Great Britain, France, China, India and Pakistan. North Korea is strongly hinting that it has the beast. Both Israel and Switzerland would be mad not to have nuclear weapons. It would be surprising if South Africa didn't have the bomb, given the proliferation of uranium in and around the country.

Tyson versus BrunoSo it would be interesting to see if any other countries than the US and the UK are volunteering to downgrade their defence systems. I note that on the same day that the proposal to downsize UK and US nuclear arsenals happened, we have the 20th anniversary of boxer Mike Tyson's winning the world heavyweight championship (against Brit Frank Bruno). So how did he win - by keeping his arms at his side and hoping that his example would encourage Frank not to hit him; or did he fight?

I'm not making Great Britain out to be a Great Power; I'm merely saying that we need the means to defend ourselves, and if that includes having a nuclear deterrant, so be it. The whole point about the bomb is hopefully not to use it - but should matters deteriorate, we need to have the option to use it first.

To look at a worked example, take 9/11. I remember that on the day after it was reported that the attacks on the World Trade Center should be treated as use of weapons of mass destruction.

we can't undo itSo, imagine that the Afghan government had been given, say, 48 hours' notice that a low-yield nuclear warhead would land on a sparsely-populated area. They would have done one of two things: evacuate the area, or bus people into it on the point of a gun. But, if the threat had been carried through, one thing would have been certain: that the free world was prepared to defend its freedom with all the resources available to it.

I hope, and I pray, that nuclear weapons are never used. But if there is any chance of their being used against us, we need to be in a position to assure potential aggressors that what is received will be given back.

Lord, we are broken people: if it be your will, bring us to a time when we need study war no more.

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