Hidden away inÂ Tony Blair’sÂ autobiography is this very revealing statement about the replacement of Trident, Britain’s only current nuclear weapons system:
‘I hesitated over it. I did not think this was a “tough on defence” versus a “weak or pacifist” issue at all… [however] in the final analysis I thought giving it up too big a downgrading of our status as a nation”.
So there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak: Trident has nothing at all to do with defense or the security of the nation, and everything to do with our status in the world. It is an obscene, dangerous and very expensive status symbol.
The trouble with this, as with all other arguments for keeping our nuclear weapons, is quite apart from running contrary to our obligations under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty to eventuallyÂ get rid of our nuclear weapons,Â any reasons for us keeping them can also be used byÂ other countries to keep theirs or acquire them, so actually encouraging proliferation.
Coming afterÂ deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg’s doubts about like-for-like replacement of the very expensive Trident submarine/nuclear missile system,Â and the statements from various high-ranking military personnel about the military uselessness of the system, it is now time for public pressure to cancel the Trident replacement plans.
Trident is an obscene and illegal system ofÂ weapons of mass destruction, which if used would not only immediately kill in a horrible fashion millions of completely innocent civilians, butÂ damage the environment permanently, destroy beautiful citiesÂ and countryside andÂ cause cancers and deformities in future generations yet unborn.
To keep or replaceÂ Trident just as a very expensiveÂ status symbol is just crazy, and remember this ‘status symbol’ is on constant patrol with personnel ready to push the nuclear button and make themselves the biggest mass murderers in human history, causing far more deaths and destruction than Hitler’s Nazis in the concentration camps and the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima, and all the bombs dropped by both sides in World War II. This is not a status symbol, it is an obscenity, a national disgrace, and in my view a criminal act unprecedented in human history even to make these terrible weapons and threaten to use them.
Also, of course, by arguing that Britain needs such a weapon as a status symbol sends out completely the wrong message to teenagers who feel they need knives and guns also as ‘status symbols’ to increase their respect from fellow and rival gang members and other teenagers/people generally.
As Tony Blair admits, the replacement of Trident is not an issue about defense of the nation versus pacifism. Nuclear weapons have not been a significant factor in any of the wars, invasions or troubles since the Second World War. Even Japan in that conflict only surrendered when the Americans relented and let Emperor Hirohito remain on the throne and escape a war crimes tribunal. That was the deciding issue, not the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki largely to demonstrate to Stalin’s Soviet Union that the USA had nuclear weapons and obscenely to test their effect on real live human beings (innocent men, women and children) before the war ended. The Americans knew the Japanese were suing for peace but wanted their Emperor’s future safeguarded, that is why they quickly dropped not one but two bombs on Japan before the conflict ended. They could not ‘test’ their bombs on real live people and demonstrate their destructive power to the Soviet Union and the world once peace had been signed.
Once again I remind people that nuclear armed USA lost the war against non-nuclear armed Vietnam, whilst the nuclear armed Soviet Union had to pull out of Afghanistan. Nuclear armed Britain could not stop General Galtieri of Argentina from reclaiming the Malvinas (Falklands) islands and occupying them so had to send an old-fashioned naval task force there. Nuclear weapons certainly did not stop the 9/11 terrorist attacks on USA or the 7/7 ones in London, England. In fact nuclear weapons were the blueprint for such terrorist attacks – Al Quaida target innocent civilians for a political/religious objective using terror tactics in exactly the same way nuclear states do. Neither nuclear terrorismÂ nor Al Quaida terrorism, however, is effective in achieving such objectives.
We now need a big push to get the government to cancel Trident replacement. CND needs to organize a massive central London demonstration on this issue alone, not confused by other issues such as Iraq and Afghanistan.