The issue of nuclear weapons has always been a contentious one. I should know, I grew up in the 70s and 80s and being a hawk made me very unpopular with at least one of my teachers and plenty of my peers at school.
Good thing I’ve never been worried about being popular.
As ever, it was always more fashionable to be a dove than a hawk but I had one advantage over many of my peers. I was keenly interested in history, not just the pap force fed to us at school, and that had taught me that Tolkien’s quote ‘Those without swords can still die upon them’ was true.
Put simply, attackers (whether individuals, groups or nations) usually choose to attack those who haven’t the wherewithal to defend themselves. It’s so much easier to win when your opponents are armed with arrows and you’re armed with bullets. I remember reading Clausewitz’s book On War and coming away with one seminal lesson that backed this idea up. Whenever possible, always attack weakness.
Back to the nuclear issue.
I feel like I’ve gone back in time. I’m hearing the same arguments about nuclear weapons that I heard in class back in Kingsmead in the early 1980s. They cost a lot, true. You hope to never use them, true. They could potentially wipe out mankind, also true. But they also helped to prevent their use by the other side. They acted as a barrier to military incursion by promising Mutually Assured Destruction. Those weapons were a good investment because their very existence on, both sides, prevented their use.
Fast forward to 2015……
We’ve had the so called Peace Dividend that came about with the collapse of the old Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. People thought it was the end of the global nuclear threat and we could beat the swords into ploughshares. There’d be no more wars and we could all settle down and enjoy life. Oh brother, did that not work out.
We had a series of bloody Balkan’s conflicts that included our old friend genocide.
China has risen from its Maoist ashes like a phoenix and is now flexing its military wings. Just take a look at what they’re doing in the South China Sea.
Russia, once the stumbling drunken bear of the East, has found itself filled with new vigour and a sense of its own destiny thanks to Vladimir Putin. A man who is clearly acquainted with the weaknesses of the Western leaders and how to put those weaknesses to work for his own purposes.
North Korea is as insane as it ever was but knows that if it were to launch an attack on South Korea, or anyone else, then the ruling feudal lords would have all the longevity of an ice-cube in a blast furnace.
Iran knows that nuclear weapons are the key to dominating the Middle East and, no matter what agreements they’ve signed, will be doing their best to build those weapons. Apparently, the Saudis feel the same and are also very interested in joining the nuclear club. And who can blame them?
Into this steaming cauldron of bad guys facing off against the good guys (you get to choose which is which) we can add Mr Corbyn, Labour Leader and stalwart opponent of nuclear weapons.
The Corbynator wants to scrap Trident and I, for one, actually agree with him. But not for the same reasons. The days when our nuclear vengeance, dependent on American support as it is, floated around the oceans in expensive metal tubes requiring large crews of highly trained naval personnel should be brought to a close. Instead, we should embrace the future and look to the skies for our nuclear shield. Orbital weapons platforms which could quickly and easily dispense Armageddon upon those who choose to attack us or those we seek to protect.
Of course there would be problems. Firstly, the toothless old dog that is the UN would wave international agreements until its members were blue in the face. I’d suggest just ignoring them. Any organisation which appoints Saudi officials to a Human Rights Committee position has already passed through Byzantine and entered the stage of Daliesque fantasy. (I also think that the likelihood that both the US and the Russians have already covertly put such weapons platforms in orbit wouldn’t harm our position one bit).
Secondly, our nation needs to develop the space flight capabilities to put those weapons platforms in place. Sounds like “pie in the sky”? No. If the Indians can put satellites in orbit, and landers on the Moon, then we should be able to at least match their efforts. Plus, there’s the added bonuses of getting back into the space race off our own backs. The future is quite literally out there and we need to develop our own space vehicles so as not to get left behind. I’d like to see the first men on Mars planting the Union Jack flag rather than the Chinese, Indian, Russian or American rags.
So my message to Mr Corbyn is as follows…..
Mankind is, has always been, and always will be, violent and combative. Our nature hasn’t changed and, I suspect, will never change. Men, and yes it is usually men, will rise up and seek to take control of the world by force. To impose their will on everyone if they can. That means we need a deterrent. Both a nuclear and a conventional deterrent that can be trusted to avenge us if the worst comes to the worst.
War is not avoidable. Defeat is.