Trident red line2
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Trident is the price we pay for peace and national security

 

In their Pastoral Letter (remember that?) “to the people and parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015″, the House of Bishops called for a “real debate” about Britain’s nuclear deterrent. They wrote:

The sheer scale of indiscriminate destructive power represented by nuclear weapons such as Trident was only justifiable, if at all, by appeal to the principle of mutually assured destruction. For many, including many Christians, that in itself was a deeply problematic argument, although there were also many who were prepared to live with the strategy because it appeared to secure peace and save lives. Shifts in the global strategic realities mean that the traditional arguments for nuclear deterrence need re-examining. The presence of such destructive capacity pulls against any international sense of shared community. But such is the talismanic power of nuclear weaponry that few politicians seem willing to trust the electorate with a real debate about the military capacity we need in the world of today.

In calling for a “real debate”, they mean, of course, one inclined toward nuclear freedom, or, rather, freedom from Trident (they had previously referred to the “nuclear family” and the need to extend beyond it, so the whole Letter is essentially a nuclear-free zone). When they say that Britain’s nuclear deterrence “needs re-examining”, they mean abolishing, which is the likely price the SNP will exact from Labour as compensation for making Ed Miliband Prime Minister. It is, apparently, a ‘red-line issue’ for the SNP: Nicola Sturgeon obviously doesn’t believe that an Iranian nuke is likely to fall on Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has just committed the Conservatives to building four new nuclear submarines, at an estimated cost of £20bn (opponents say £100bn, so there’s a slight budgetary discrepancy). So (unusually in this humdrum age of Red Tory / Blue Labour / everyone’s-really-a-LibDem pursuit of the centre ground) we have a real choice on defence (a topic which no one is really talking about). A Labour/SNP (/Sinn Fein?) coalition is likely to abolish Trident. A Conservative/Ukip (/DUP?) coalition is pledged not only to retain but renew it.

No prizes for guessing the Bishops’ preference.

But what about another Conservative/LibDem coalition?

Well, it’s interesting. In their 2010 General Election Manifesto, the Liberal Democrats pledged:

We will strive for global nuclear disarmament, showing leadership by committing not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system on a like-for-like basis.. At a cost of £100 billion over a lifetime it is unaffordable, and Britain’s security would be better served by alternatives.

Which must be music to itching episcopal ears, because David Cameron isn’t likely to make his commitment to renew Trident a ‘red-line issue’, and a LibDem appeal to the monumental £20-100bn cost in an age of fiscal austerity is likely to win the day in any post-election negotiations. So you end up phasing out Britain’s nuclear deterrent without any “real debate” at all.

But there is a debate to be had, and since the Bishops have called for one, let’s have it.

Trident is the price we pay not only for peace and national security, but for the contribution Britain makes to the security of the world. Our seat on the UN Security Council is contingent on our nuclear potency, which the SNP may not care very much about, but they will if President Putin keeps making incursions into Scottish airspace.

And it’s not only Russia: there’s also North Korea, and President Obama has just gifted the eschatological ayatollahs of Iran the means of ushering in the Mahdi and wiping Israel off the map. There is denial that this deal will do anything of the sort. But an assurance that Iran will open up their nuclear programme to inspection and not make a bomb for 10-13 years is no assurance of anything at all. When you believe you have a prophetic role to play in ushering in the End Times and the Second Coming of Isa, a decade-long delay is as a few minutes in the quest to reestablish Allah’s kingdom of righteousness.

There is no ‘Christian’ approach to nuclear deterrence: Jesus would no more bless a Trident submarine than He would a fruitless fig tree. And it’s hard to square a nuclear bomb with the Just War theory on the grounds of proportionality alone, let alone the collateral incineration of civilians. There is no jus post bellum after a nuclear strike: you’re dealing with the fallout (quite literally) for decades if not centuries.

But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ And Trident helped to establish international treaties of concord throughout the Cold War era, even if that peace was sometimes hot. How would a nuclear-free Scotland defend herself against a nuclear aggressor?

The answer, of course, as that an independent Scotland would seek to lean on England’s deterrent, and would do so without contributing a penny toward the cost. While they’re busy educating their youth FOC, investing in infrastructure, looking after their elderly without charge and issuing free prescriptions, the English would foot the bill for Scottish defence.

But if it is in the British interest to deter war (and Trident, let us remember, is a proven deterrent), it is incumbent upon all peacemakers to support it, not least because £20bn is cheaper than fighting a conventional war; it saves lives; and is less than half the projected cost of HS2.

If the Bishops wish to engage in a “real debate”, let it be a full and frank discussion with detailed scrutiny of both the costs and benefits of replacing and updating our nuclear deterrent. It is silly to talk in terms which seek to offset the billions spent on nuclear submarines against the cost of training teachers or running foodbanks: if a man does not live in peace and security, he shall neither learn nor eat.

Trident is expensive, but insofar as it is a non-violent symbol of national resistance, it ought to be tolerated as one of those irritating lesser evils. England cannot coerce an unwilling Scotland into a power struggle on the virtues of moral armament, but we can make an appeal for mutuality and responsibility. The nuclear deterrent is actually part of the pacifist’s arsenal: by demonstrating against it, they helpfully point people toward consideration of the moral issues. The fact that the SNP, LibDems and the House of Bishops all oppose renewing Trident is not proof of any moral good or ethical superiority, but of the need for peacemakers to protest even louder the wrongness of those who protest against it.

No one can envisage a scenario where the use of nuclear weapons would be an appropriate or justifiable offensive action, but as a means of defence it passes all tests of necessity. Trident limits violence, death and destruction by mitigating the likelihood of armed conflict. This is a universal moral achievement. Ever since the United States used atomic weapons against Japanese noncombatants in World War II, we have found reason to justify the slaughter of innocents in the pursuit of unconditional surrender and the saving of our own lives.

Christians are not called to be defenceless: a wise and righteous leader will always seek to avoid violence in conflict. But only a foolish one would ignore the imminent threat to world peace in an uncertain context of ascendant Shia eschatological hostility.

  • Otto von Bismarck

    Completely agree. Nuclear weapons prevented a Third World War from breaking out after 1945, that fact is often overlooked. If we got rid of them, then war between the great powers would be made all the more likely as MAD would no longer apply. There is also the problem that nuclear technology is like a Pandora’s Box, you can’t now rid the world of nuclear weapons as the technology has become more widespread and more nations are arming.

    • chiefofsinners

      Yes – this is the classic argument for a deterrent and it has been right for many years. But. Trident only deters those who are rational, not the Islamic extremist, not the suicide bombers. Is it an effective deterrent for the threats we currently face?

      • dannybhoy

        I think there are all kinds of new weapons being developed by the major nations anyway. Very accurate laser powered weapons for example. Were nuclear weapons to be used the whole world would suffer directly or indirectly with no real winners.
        There was a value to the nuclear deterrent (MAD) but with countries now possessing them that ‘benefit’ has gone.
        We now need to concentrate on building up our conventional forces trained for much more fluid theatres of war, the kind we are now witnessing in the Middle East.
        Perhaps too there is room for a new form of Civil Defence, with more citizens trained to respond in the event of more and varied terror attacks. It seems to me that guerilla type warfare is the greatest threat facing western nations in the near future.

        • Uncle Brian

          Danny, you were right on target with your hunch about the connection between indulgences and Maundy Thursday. Congratulations!
          Apologies to His Grace for going off topic.

          • dannybhoy

            Thanks UB

        • Otto von Bismarck

          I’d agree with that assessment to some extent, though I think MAD still holds and will do for some time yet.

          • dannybhoy

            should have said “many more countries…”.
            The point about MAD made sense to both the USSR and the USA. It was more about brinkmanship than any real intention to use them.
            With the growth in airtravel and multiculturalism it is much more likely that future clashes will be of a terrorist nature, using senseless slaughter and destruction to intimidate and subjugate much larger populations.
            Nothing new there, but today’s Jihadis do not fear death, so have an extra ‘edge’

          • carl jacobs

            MAD hasn’t been US doctrine for fifty years.

          • dannybhoy

            I hesitate to question the infallibility of such a learned gentleman but..

            “By the time of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, both the United States and the Soviet Union had developed the
            capability of launching a nuclear-tipped missile from a submerged submarine, which completed the third leg of the nuclear triad weapons strategy necessary to fully implement the MAD doctrine. Having a three-branched nuclear capability eliminated the possibility that an
            enemy could destroy all of a nation’s nuclear forces in a first-strike attack; this, in turn, ensured the credible threat of a devastating retaliatory strike against the aggressor, increasing a nation’s nuclear deterrence.[8][9][10]”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction

            and…
            “During the Cold War, many scholars and policy analysts believed that MAD made the world relatively stable and peaceful because it induced great caution in international politics, discouraged the use of nuclear
            threats to resolve disputes, and generally restrained the superpowers’ behavior. (Revealingly, the last intense nuclear standoff, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, occurred at the dawn of the era of MAD.) Because of the nuclear stalemate, the optimists argued, the era of intentional great-power wars had ended. Critics of MAD, however, argued that it prevented not great-power war but the rolling back of the power and influence of a dangerously expansionist and totalitarian Soviet Union.
            From that perspective, MAD prolonged the life of an evil empire.”

            The US has moved beyond MAD and built such an overwhelming nuclear capability that it could (theoretically) take out any enemy nuclear attack..

            This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States’ nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia’s arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China’s nuclear forces. Unless Washington’s policies change or Moscow and Beijing take steps to increase the size and readiness of their forces, Russia and China — and the rest of the world — will live in the shadow of U.S. nuclear primacy for many years to come.”

            But hey! who cares|?
            Who in their right mind would want to live in a world where all the Big Macs came ready nuked?

      • Otto von Bismarck

        It’s very difficult to have any kind of deterrent against an enemy that doesn’t mind dying alongside you, but for powers like Iran or North Korea I’d say the principle of MAD still holds.
        I personally don’t think Trident is a good investment, it leaves us kowtowing to the Americans and is an expensive deterrent. It’s highly overpriced for what it is. I’d much rather we found a cheaper, more independent system, but I still think it is imperative that we have such a system in place.

        • James Bolivar DiGriz

          “It’s highly overpriced for what it is”
          A Trident replacement will be very cheap for what it delivers.

          Any replacement would either be a lot less effective or more expensive.
          I have heard people talk about using cruise missiles as being a cheaper option. However to be a true deterrent those cruise missiles would need to be launched from an undetectable platform, i.e. a nuclear powered submarine.
          Also cruise missiles have limited (<2,000 miles) range. So to be able to cover the same number of targets you would need many more submarines.

          As the submarines are c. 90% of the cost of the system, this 'cheaper' alternative would cost at least twice as much.

          If you launch the cruise missiles from anything other than a nuclear powered submarine then it will be immensely easier to detect and attack.

          • Otto von Bismarck

            Funnily enough, Peter Hitchens has just put out a piece on this.

            I think Trident is overkill in a post-Cold War environment. We’re not going to be facing as powerful a threat as the USSR for the foreseeable future, so I don’t think the platform needs to be as effective. Part of the benefit in having nuclear weapons is the soft power status it brings, I don’t think it’s all about its effectiveness as a weapon (so long as it meets the minimum requirements of course for MAD) as the likelihood is that it will not be used. I was thinking something more akin to the V Bomber Force, or at the very least reducing the number of submarines down to three.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “I was thinking something more akin to the V Bomber Force”
            Much more susceptible to a first strike or even a conventional attack.

            “at the very least reducing the number of submarines down to three”
            That gives up CASD. Also it may well save little in the short term and cost more in the long term.
            The R&D costs are spread over fewer hulls and first sub (like the first of any class) will cost more than the others.
            Longer term if the build of subs is halted then skills will be lost again, meaning that subsequently they will need to be rebuilt at considerable cost. Look what happened to the Astute class because of the long gap in sub building before them.

          • Otto von Bismarck

            Doesn’t matter if V Force isn’t as effective, we almost definitely won’t ever use them as no country would start a nuclear war. The point is having them meet the minimum requirements necessary for MAD and also being the necessary baubles for cementing soft power. Nuclear weapons as cheap as possible essentially. You clearly however know more about the military-industrial complex surrounding Trident than I do so I bow to your superior expertise in that respect!

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “The point is having them meet the minimum requirements necessary for MAD”
            But what is the minimum? All five of the main nuclear powers had bombers and introduced submarines.

            “You clearly however know more about the military-industrial complex …”
            I have read around the subject enough to know how little I know!

            Also, I’m not sure how cheap a new V-bomber would be. This
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurofighter_Typhoon#Procurement.2C_production_and_costs
            says that the UK is paying £37 billion for the Eurofighter Typhoon project. And the cost of each plane (including R&D) will be £125 million, on a production run of >500. A small fleet of new V-bombers will involve a lot of R&D spread over a small number of airframes. I would be very surprised if we could get them for less than £200 million each. The US B2s cost something like a billion dollars each, c. 15 years ago.

            Each Vanguard SSBN can launch 16 Trident missiles with a total of 48 warheads. If each plane can carry 4 warheads, then we would need 12 planes to equate to that. However planes are much much easier to shoot down than ICBMs. so for 12 planes to reach their targets we would need to launch at least 24. For there to be 24 available aircraft in 30 years time (the minimum life of a Vanguard replacement) then we would need to buy at least 72 of them.

            At £200 million each, 72 planes would cost £14.4 billion. However that is just the purchase cost. To allow for 30 years of support, maintenance upgrades, etc, you can probably double that cost. So now you are at £28.8 billion, not that far from the £30 billion cost of a Vanguard replacement.

            It does not take any of those numbers to change by much for the new V-bomber to be a lot more costly than a Vanguard replacement.

          • Otto von Bismarck

            I was assuming the aircraft would fulfill other roles, and be part of our conventional forces (and thus have an actual use!) with the nuclear aspect being a secondary role. Thus the cost would be absorbed into what we would spend anyway on the RAF. It may be that existing aircraft could be modified to fit carrying a nuclear payload, making it even cheaper.

            They would be fairly ineffective (though not completely so) in any nuclear war, but that’s now besides the point as the USSR is gone and there is little need for overkill in regards to our nuclear deterrent. Iran or North Korea for example could not ever be the same threat level as the Soviets so a nuclear V-Force would be enough to deter them. I’d argue it would still meet the minimum requirements for MAD, as you couldn’t be sure that none of the planes would make it. Besides, NATO guarantees our nuclear security anyway on the back of American nuclear power so any extra British contribution to this defense is minimal. This is about preserving soft power baubles and national prestige (as I’m sure we agree money well spent if you want to influence world affairs to your advantage).

            I have no idea as to whether a new V-Force would cost any more or less than Trident, I’m simply arguing for Nuclear weapons on the cheap seeing as Trident is overkill in a post-Cold War age, and I naturally assumed there must be a cheaper alternative if you’re lowering the capacity. Perhaps not! If Trident really is the cheapest solution, then we would have to go with that.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “I was assuming the aircraft would fulfill other roles, and be part of our conventional forces”
            A large plane (to have the range to strike a range of targets) would be of be of limited use, IMO.

            More importantly, to act as a deterrent then sufficient planes must be dedicated to the nuclear role so as to deliver an attack at very short notice. That is what the V force planes did until that role was taken by Polaris. If a lot of the planes were off bombing somewhere then there would be no credible nuclear strike available and so no deterrence.

            “Thus the cost would be absorbed into what we would spend anyway on the RAF”
            The RAF is going to be down to six FJ squadrons very soon (then back up to seven when the F35 comes into service) and is going to be hard pushed to cover its standard duties.

            “It may be that existing aircraft could be modified to fit carrying a nuclear payload, making it even cheaper”
            No problem if you want to nuke France! The Eurofighter Typhoon has a combat radius of less than 1,000 nautical miles. To make an effective deterrent you need to be able to strike anywhere on the planet and there are hostile place a lot further than 1,000 nautical miles from our bases.

            “I have no idea as to whether a new V-Force would cost any more or less than Trident”
            It all depends on what level of ability you want. If you want something comparable to the current system then I don’t see how it could be significantly cheaper. As you reduce the requirements then the costs come down but so does the credibility of the deterrent.

            “I’m simply arguing for Nuclear weapons on the cheap seeing as Trident is overkill in a post-Cold War age”
            I do not see that as a given. In British use, Tridents are, AFAIUI, loaded with three warheads but there is no reason why a single warhead couldn’t be fitted. Nuclear weapons are designed so that the yield can be varied (from <1 to 100 kt) just before they are deployed. So a single Trident could be used to deliver anything from a blast that will remove Westminster without doing much damage to Buckingham Palace up to removing three cities.

            "I naturally assumed there must be a cheaper alternative if you're lowering the capacity. Perhaps not! If Trident really is the cheapest solution, then we would have to go with that."
            I don't think that it is a linear relationship. Cutting capability by 3% does not cut the cost by much if anything, but cutting capability by (I'm guessing) 25% may well halve the cost.

            Bear in mind that we have design & manufacturing abilities for nuclear subs but that we don't have these for large long range aircraft. So a Vanguard replacement draws on existing abilities by a new V-bomber would need abilities to be created from scratch.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            If I may join the party a little late….
            Trident was purchased to give the capability to hit Moscow, a city believed to have a anti ballistic missile defence system. This is partly why it is so sophisticated and expensive (or at least why the missiles are). There is no reason why nuclear warheads on cruise missiles, fired from Britain’s existing fleet of Astute class nuclear powered submarines, could not provide a nuclear deterrent. One might well need 2-3 more subs to maintain all defence tasks but one fleet of 10 subs will be cheaper to operate than 2 types of boats of the same number. Cruise mIssiles’ range is sufficient to hit any possible target from open sea (London to Moscow is c1,600 miles). I’ve heard it argued that cruise missiles could be shot down by enemy defences though I’ve yet to read of any instance of this happening and the number launched in anger must be now in four figures.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            @LoveMeIamALiberal

            AFAIUI, the rational behind Trident is more complicated than that. Trident I (C4) was a longer range missile than its predecessor (Poseidon). Trident II (D5) increased the range again but is also more accurate, sufficiently so that it can be used as a first-strike weapon. None of that was needed in order to attack Moscow, Poseidon had a MIRV bus with, IIRC, 14 warheads.

            Also Trident is not that expensive, according to
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UGM-133_Trident_II
            they are c. $37million each, and the UK has c. 60 of them, so $2.22 billion or £1.5 billion.

            Cruise missiles have a range of less than 2,000nm whereas Trident has a range well in excess of 4,000nm, possibly as much as 6,000nm.

            That means that a Trident carrying submarine can hide in more places (e.g. further from any coast) and cover more land than a cruise missile carrying submarine. The other side of that coin is that a cruise missile carrying submarine might take several days to get within range of the target.

            “London to Moscow is c1,600 miles”
            But Moscow is a lot further from the middle of the Atlantic, and if the submarine has to come close to UK waters in order to be able reach the target, not only does it take time it makes it more vulnerable to enemy attack.

            “One might well need 2-3 more subs to maintain all defence tasks”
            As I said earlier, it would not be 2-3 more subs but a substantial number (twice as many? three times?) more and the submarines are the expensive part.

            As for the ease of shooting them down. ICBM RVs are travelling at c. Mach 24. AFAIUI, that is faster than most explosives, so bomb going off 1″ behind it will not harm it as it will ‘run away’ from the explosion.

            On the other hand, cruise missiles are subsonic so are inherently easier to hit. I don’t know if any have actually been shot down but most of them have been fired at places that didn’t have a functioning air-defence system.

            The only case I can think of that they were used against a functioning air-defence system was at the very start of the attack on Iraq in 1991. In that case the earliest targets included radars and control centres. Also, the Iraqi jets (which might have shot down cruise missiles) were shot down, destroyed on the ground or fled to other countries.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            There’s no doubting that a Trident based system offers greater range than sea launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) on Astute class subs, but this skirts the key question: would a SLCM based nuclear deterrent be credible? There is still no evidence that CMs have ever been shot down in action (speculation on air defence capabilities to hit them is just speculation) and current models have more sophisticated ground mapping abilities than earlier variants. A cruise missile is probably c£1m plus nuclear warhead (the W80 warhead design is proven technology) and each new Astute sub being purchased is c£750m. So one could replace the four Trident subs with an Astute/SCLM nuclear deterrent for c£3bn. There are also bound to be economies of scale in maintaining a single type of nuclear powered submarine, rather than two. The argument for Trident looks like a case of military gold plating.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “would a SLCM based nuclear deterrent be credible?”
            Less credible than a Trident based one. It would take longer to respond and be more susceptible to counter-attack. It would work but it would be less capable than a Trident based one so one has to ask if it would be sufficiently capable / credible.

            “There is still no evidence that CMs have ever been shot down in action”
            Not available in the public domain that I am aware of. Of course any evidence that the US military could get its hands on (e.g. from Iraq) they would try to keep it out of the public domain for obvious reasons.

            “(speculation on air defence capabilities to hit them is just
            speculation)”
            No, the case that they have never been used against anyone who was really trying to shoot them down is clear. A modern FJ could easily shoot down a cruise missile with an IR missile if it was free from other interference.

            Can you name any cases where they have been used against an opponent that was actively trying to shoot them down?

            “A cruise missile is probably c£1m”
            And it carries one warhead. A Trident missile can carry 14 warheads. Each Vanguard-class has 16 Tridents, so that is £224million just for the cruise missiles.

            “So one could replace the four Trident subs with an Astute/SCLM nuclear deterrent for c£3bn”
            And lose most of the geographical cover. You keep on ignoring the fact that cruise missiles having a half to a third of the range of Trident you need lots more subs to cover the same number of targets.

            So rather than a one-for-one replacement it would need to be something like a three-for-one, and with a capital cost (including cruise missiles but excluding warheads) of c. £1billion each, that puts the capital cost up to c.£12billion. Normally one would double that to include the lifetime costs. However you are tripling the manpower costs so I would not be surprised if it is more than doubled.

            Even with only doubling you are looking at c. £25billion for a less effective force, compared to c. £30billion for a Vanguard replacement.

            “The argument for Trident looks like a case of military gold plating”
            Only if you ignore facts that you don’t like.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “Less credible than a Trident based one. It would take
            longer to respond and be more susceptible to counter-attack. It would work but it would be less capable than a Trident based one so one has to ask if it would be sufficiently capable / credible.”

            I agree CMs are less credible but the question is are
            they credible enough? You’ve not answered that.

            “the case that they have never been used against anyone who was really trying to shoot them down is clear. A modern FJ could easily shoot down a cruise missile with
            an IR missile if it was free from other interference.”

            Apparently during the first gulf war, 6 out of 297 Tomahawks were shot down by the Iraqis, so that’s 98% chance of hitting the target https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130903221446AAMCkm9). That’s a proven hit rate in combat, not some theoretical modelling (which is
            what has been used to assess Trident’s success probability). And remember Tomahawks were targetting surface-to-air missile sites, command and control centers,
            electrical power facilities – some of these with the wherewithal to take down a CM. A fast jet shooting down a CM is fanciful; one would need to identify the path of the incoming CM, deploy the plane and fly it like Tom Cruise in Top Gun to get a fix on the target – that is not going to happen outside of Hollywood. CMs can only really be shot down if their target is somewhere which is kitted out to try and shoot it down, which obviously does not include large populated areas.

            And you are asking the wrong question: would an enemy
            be prepared to trust their air defences to shoot down incoming nuclear armed CMs (if not, they would be deterred from a first strike – job done).

            “And it carries one warhead. A Trident missile can carry 14 warheads. Each Vanguard-class has 16 Tridents, so that is £224million just for the cruise missiles.”

            You are assuming 224 warheads are required to be an
            effective deterrent. Each Astute class sub can carry c35 CMs although it has 6 torpedo tubes, so in reality could probably only fire off that number before hiding again. With a fleet of 11 Astute subs (existing four plus three on order plus four to replace Trident), 2-3 would be deployed at any one time. So, you throw your nuclear bomb at the UK, are you confident you can take out incoming CMs launched from 2-3 unknown locations at unknown times?

            “You keep on ignoring the fact that cruise missiles
            having a half to a third of the range of Trident you need lots more subs to cover the same number of targets.”

            I’ve not ignored it, I’ve acknowledged it. Which potential target do you think could not be hit from the open sea by CMs: St Petersburg, Moscow, Tehran, Pyongyang?

            “So rather than a one-for-one replacement it would need to be something like a three-for-one, and with a capital cost (including cruise missiles but excluding warheads) of c. £1billion each, that puts the capital cost up to c.£12billion…. Even with only doubling you are looking at c. £25billion for a less effective force, compared to c. £30billion for a Vanguard replacement.”

            You are assuming that the strike capacity of Trident is the minimum required to have a credible nuclear deterrent. It isn’t. Gold plating again.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “I agree CMs are less credible but the question is are they credible enough? You’ve not answered that.”
            Firstly, you did not ask me that question, you phrased it as a generic point.
            Secondly, neither you nor I are in the position to give an informed answer.

            “Apparently during the first gulf war, 6 out of 297 Tomahawks were shot down by the Iraqis, so that’s 98% chance of hitting the target”
            Well http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/weapons/tomahawk.html
            actually gives a source for those numbers, it also says that another 15 failed on their own.

            “That’s a proven hit rate in combat, not some theoretical modelling (which is what has been used to assess Trident’s success probability)”
            That’s true, if you ignore the 150 successful tests of Trident
            http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2014/june/0604-ss-trident.html

            “A fast jet shooting down a CM is fanciful”
            I’m sorry but when you don’t know what you are talking about it is best not to comment. FJs can and so shoot down other FJs which are travelling at supersonic speed and are manoeuvring hard to avoid being shot down. A cruise missile will be flying at subsonic speed and will not be manoeuvring so it will be an easier target.
            Here http://www.ausairpower.net/Analysis-Cruise-Missiles.html
            is an article about defending against cruise missiles. It would not be trivial but would be much easier than shooting down an ICBM RV.

            You would need planes with appropriate radar systems, but such things have been developed, see
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look-down/shoot-down
            and you would need a layered defence. One or more lines of fighters over the sea / near your coast, then ground based medium range missiles (maybe cued by airborne radar) and finally SHORAD at key locations.

            “And you are asking the wrong question: would an enemy be prepared to trust their air defences to shoot down incoming nuclear armed CMs (if not, they would be deterred from a first strike – job done)”
            Not at all. If someone thought that their air defences could stop enough of the cruise missiles they might be willing to risk it.

            “You are assuming 224 warheads are required to be an effective deterrent”
            Nope. Just that you must make a like for like comparison.

            “I’ve not ignored it, I’ve acknowledged it”
            No you haven’t because you are talking about one-for-one replacement. To have the same capability as a Vanguard replacement you would need a lot more cruise missile armed subs.

            “Which potential target do you think could not be hit from the open sea by CMs: St Petersburg, Moscow, Tehran, Pyongyang?”
            None of them could be hit. That is if the sub was hiding in the middle of the Atlantic.

            Look at this
            http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm?clat=55.755826&clng=37.6173&r=1609.344000614692&lc=FFFFFF&lw=1&fc=00FF00
            which is a 1,000 mile circle centred on Moscow and is the range of a Tomahawk cruise missile. The sub would need to be in the Kattegat or the Barents sea to be close enough. That assumes that it flies in a straight line and does not move around to try and hide in valleys, etc. Also Sweden & the Baltic states might not be too happy about our nuclear tipped missiles flying through their airspace.

            There are quite a few landlocked countries, hence for a cruise missile to reach them there is no option but to fly over a non-belligerent country. At least they were a non-belligerent before we did that.

            “You are assuming that the strike capacity of Trident is the minimum required to have a credible nuclear deterrent.”
            Not at all. I have all along been making a like for like comparison, nothing else makes any real sense. Hence in my discussion with Otto von Bismarck I was comparing a Vanguard replacement with a new V-bomber equivalent.

            If you are saying that you want, or are willing to accept, a less effective force then that is totally different subject and there should be no mention of Trident or a Vanguard replacement.

            My point all along is that to achieve the level of capability that we currently have, the cheapest option is a Vanguard replacement with Trident.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “Well http://www.pbs.or g/wgbh/pages/…
            actually gives a source for those numbers, it also says that another 15 failed on their own.”

            So about 25 years ago, CMs achieved over 90% successful strikes. That rate will have only have been improved over time.

            “That’s true, if you ignore the 150 successful tests of Trident http://www.lockheedmartin.com/…”

            That statistic is only comparable if one knows the number of unsuccessful tests (surprise, surprise, Trident’s manufacturer does not quote that), and the comparison would be with Trident figures to 2014 against CM
            performance in the early 1990s.

            “FJs can and so shoot down other FJs which are travelling at supersonic speed and are manoeuvring hard to avoid being shot down. A cruise missile will be flying at subsonic speed and will not be manoeuvring so it will be an easier target. Here http://www.ausairpower.net/Ana… is an article about defending against cruise missiles. It would not be trivial but would be much easier than shooting down an ICBM RV.”

            FJ v FJ is not the same thing. Pilots don’t train to dogfight at low altitude (flying at low altitude is difficult enough) and typical dogfighting speeds are 300-350mph. CMs will be ‘terrain hugging’, manoeuvring around natural features, which will make tracking them by FJ difficult. The article you quote makes no claim about the relative difficulty of shooting down CMs and ICBMs in flight and, indeed, talks only of the challenges of shooting down CMs in flight; it ain’t like shooting fish in a barrel.

            “If someone thought that their air defences could stop enough of the cruise missiles they might be willing to risk it.”

            The consequences of getting it wrong would be catastrophic, so conventional risk analysis (considering the changes of being wrong and the consequences of such a mistake) would discourage any calculating party from taking the risk.

            “No you haven’t because you are talking about one-for-one replacement.”

            No I’m not.

            “Look at this http://www.freemaptools.com/ra… which is a
            1,000 mile circle centred on Moscow and is the range of a Tomahawk cruise missile. The sub would need to be in the Kattegat or the Barents sea to be close enough. That assumes that it flies in a straight line and does not move
            around to try and hide in valleys, etc. Also Sweden & the Baltic states might not be too happy about our nuclear tipped missiles flying through their airspace.”

            Nuclear armed CMs had a range of c1,500 miles. They weighed c300kg less than CMs with conventional bombs, which contributed to extending their range. In war, flying munitions over other countries will not be a concern for the UK. Neither the Swedes or Baltic states would attempt to shoot them down.

            “I have all along been making a like for like comparison,
            nothing else makes any real sense. Hence in my discussion with Otto von Bismarck I was comparing a Vanguard replacement with a new V-bomber equivalent.
            If you are saying that you want, or are willing to accept, a less effective force then that is totally different subject and there should be no mention of Trident or a Vanguard replacement. My point all along is that to achieve the
            level of capability that we currently have, the cheapest option is a Vanguard replacement with Trident.”

            My contention is that the same deterrent capability can be obtained with a military capability less than Trident, hence my repeated references to gold plating.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “So about 25 years ago, CMs achieved over 90% successful strikes”
            The only time anyone tried, albeit not very hard, to shoot them down. You do know that through one point on a graph any line can be drawn.

            “That rate will have only have been improved over time”
            Any evidence for that?
            And air defences are at least as likely to have improved over that time.

            “That statistic is only comparable …”
            I was not comparing statistic, only pointing out that you are making up the ‘facts’ to support your opinion, that was in response to you saying ” theoretical modelling (which is what has been used to assess Trident’s success probability)”.

            “Pilots don’t train to dogfight at low altitude”
            Do you have any evidence for that? My understanding is that dogfights tend to move down, hence low altitude training would seem obvious.

            In any case, it isn’t dogfighting it is looking down and shooting at low flying objects. It does not matter whether those objects are manned aircraft or cruise missiles.

            “typical dogfighting speeds are 300-350mph”
            Do you have any evidence for that?

            “CMs will be ‘terrain hugging’, manoeuvring around natural features”
            And what do you think manned aircraft that are trying to come in under the radar are doing?

            “The article you quote makes no claim about the relative difficulty of shooting down CMs and ICBMs in flight”
            I did not say that it did.

            “and, indeed, talks only of the challenges of shooting down CMs in flight”
            But you said this is impossible, “A fast jet shooting down a CM is fanciful; one would need to … fly [the plane] like Tom Cruise in Top Gun to get a fix on the target – that is not going to happen outside of Hollywood”.

            “it ain’t like shooting fish in a barrel”
            And I said that it would be, oh actually I said “It would not be trivial”.

            “The consequences of getting it wrong would be catastrophic”
            And of course every country in the world is a liberal democracy and there is not a single tyrant who is willing to let loads of his people get killed.

            “No I’m not [talking about one-for-one replacement]”
            Well “With a fleet of 11 Astute subs (existing four plus three on order plus four to replace Trident)” looks like a one-for-one replacement to me. certainly not the two or three to one that would be needed to get the same geographic coverage.

            “Nuclear armed CMs had a range of c1,500 miles”
            Even that distance only covers this
            http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm?clat=55.755826&clng=37.6173&r=2414.016000922038&lc=FFFFFF&lw=1&fc=00FF00
            area, not where we would want our nuclear deterrent.
            And, as I said but you conveniently ignored, the maximum range can only be achieved if the cruise missile flies in a straight line. If it is, as you said, “terrain hugging’, manoeuvring around natural features” then the range from launch to target will be reduced a lot.

            “In war, flying munitions over other countries will not be a concern for the UK. Neither the Swedes or Baltic states would attempt to shoot them down.”
            Oh, you have an iron-clad guarantee from every country that we might need to over-fly for the next 30-40 years, whatever the change of regime, do you?

            “My contention is that the same deterrent capability can be obtained with a military capability less than Trident”
            And you have supplied no evidence to support that.

            Let me just reiterate one point, with an example. If our nearest nuclear deterrent sub was in the Indian Ocean and we wanted to respond to a nuclear attack by North Korea, then a Vanguard replacement could do it from where it was. A cruise missile submarine would take days to get within range, passing through some of the narrowest & busiest waterways in the world, or it could take even longer to get within range by going south of Australia. Everyone will have known for days that this is likely to happen so armed forces in all countries in the area will be on a heightened state of alert. Even when the sub was in range the cruise missile(s) would have to fly over Japan and/or South Korea. They might not shoot it down over their own land but they may well shoot it down over the sea.

            So to replace four Vanguard / Trident submarines (with one always at sea) you need two to three times as many cruise missile armed submarines (to give you three always at sea). That will cost as much or more for a less effective system.

          • CliveM

            Can someone define what they mean by dogfight? Do not think Battle of Britain it is highly likely that any contact now would be beyond visual range. All done by radar.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            CliveM
            “it is highly likely that any contact now would be beyond visual range. All done by radar”
            I think that is true but only up to a point, and is limited by two things; the radar capabilities and the RoE.

            When the return from a radar pulse is processed & displayed, what will be seen is a series of pixels that show if a reflection was received from the corresponding area and how strong that reflection is. It won’t be a picture of what is there.

            Radar is normally categorised by its capability which is governed in large part by the wavelength(s) at which it operates. Broadly speaking the longer the wavelength the more area that can be covered per unit time but the coarser the resolution will be.

            Radar has wavelengths roughly in the range 20-1 cm. For comparison, visible light has wavelengths roughly in the range 0.0000698-0.0000380cm.

            As an example, the, recently decommissioned, Type 42 destroyers
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_42_destroyer
            had three radar systems:
            – Type 1022/965P air surveillance
            – Type 996/992Q 3-D surveillance
            – Type 909 GWS-30 fire-control

            AFAIUI, the 1022/965P could only tell you that there is something in roughly that direction at roughly X miles, whereas the 996/992Q could tell you those more accurately and also the approximate altitude. However at 10s of miles distance the error is still enough that a missile fired at the predicted position is likely to miss the target and not have enough energy to manoeuvre close enough.

            Hence the 909 GWS-30 which gives a more accurate location and illuminates the target until it is hit or the missile misses (the Type 42s used Sea Dart which was a SARH missile).

            Military planes often have radar warning systems. However an enemy plane would not be too worried about being illuminated by either of the first two radars as they have civilian counterparts. Once the enemy plane detects signals from the radar though, the pilot will know that they are about, or are likely, to be attacked and so will take evasive action.

            The same principles (of different radar for different purpose) hold true in air to air combat. In both scenarios the enemy plane is assumed to be carrying missiles that have a range of 10’s of miles, so in order to shoot them down before they can launch they need to be attacked when they are many 10’s of miles away. That however gives them time to manoeuvre.

            I believe that if you have an AWACS, one tactic is for the AWACS just using surveillance radar to guide our planes close to (behind if possible) the enemy plane, so our planes only switch on their fire-control radar when they are close thus limiting the amount of time that the enemy plane has in which to manoeuvre. I think that nowadays people refer to air combat manoeuvring rather than dogfighting. There is a Wikipedia piece about that at
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_combat_manoeuvring

            In summary, all that radar gives you is a blob not a picture. So at 10’s of miles distance you cannot tell the difference between a fighter and a Jumbo Jet. Which brings us on to RoE. If you want then you can fire at anything that gets too close, however that runs the risk of shooting down civilian planes. In the USS Vincennes incident
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655
            it was all radar controlled and in the KAL 007 incident
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007
            it was only when a fighter got very close that the pilot knew that it was a civilian plane.

            One other aspect of RoE is that it is not a good idea to shoot down your own planes. If two groups of planes are approaching one another at moderate speeds, say 500mph each, then the time from first radar contact (150miles?) to collision is only 9 minutes. Not long to determine that they are enemy planes, get a radar lock on and fire. If you are using a SARH missile you have to keep your plane pointed at (i.e. moving towards) the enemy to keep your radar on him. As soon as you can you will manoeuvre but so will your colleagues and any enemy planes that have not been shot down. So keeping track of friend & foe is not easy, especially as planes of a similar vintage designed to do similar tasks will look somewhat similar and be painted to make it hard to see. So you may need to get close in order to make sure that you are not shooting at one of your own planes.

            Also, in air combat speed is vital, for getting in to position to shoot, for getting away from enemy planes and for gaining height. So if you detect enemy planes you will almost certainly speed up, at least initially, cutting that 9 minutes down.

          • CliveM

            Ok any airspace where you are likely to have dog fighting will be free of any civilian flights!

            Secondly the signal of a fighter is significantly smaller then a Jumbo. To help resolve this many fighters now come with IRST Systems.

            Thirdly (to use the Typhoon) it comes with the Meteor which is a beyond visual range missile. Although they also have close range as well.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Ok any airspace where you are likely to have dog fighting will be free of any civilian flights!”
            There are an awful lot of aircraft in the air at any one time, see
            http://planefinder.net/
            and that looks to me that a lot of potential flashpoints have plenty of planes near them.

            Also someone might use civilian air corridors to try and sneak up close to enemy territory. The route that KAL007 was supposed to be on runs pretty close to Russian territory.

            “Secondly the signal of a fighter is significantly smaller then a Jumbo”
            I’m not an expert so you may be right. But if so why didn’t the USS Vincennes know it was an A300 (170″ long, 150″ wide) and not an F14 (63″ long, 64″ wide)? Similarly why weren’t the Soviets aware that KAL007 was a B747?

            “many fighters now come with IRST Systems”
            I’m not sure how useful that would be at BVR. AFAIUI IR missile only have a maximum range (under optimum conditions) of c. 20 miles, and that is just to detect an IR source. So at anything beyond that I am not sure how feasible it will be to determine what the object actually is.

            “Thirdly (to use the Typhoon) it comes with the Meteor”
            Meteor is due to be fitted to other planes as well.

            I never said that BVR engagements were impossible or even unlikely. However in anything short of an all out war I think that RoE will make them tricky.

            I could well believe the poor bugger in the cockpit being told “Don’t get so close that you get shot down” but also “Don’t whatever you do shoot down an innocent plane”.

          • CliveM

            On the Typhoon the IRST range is comparable to the Captor Radar and is designed to complement it.

            With regards the Americans shooting down the A300, probably incompetence.

            With the Russians, well I wouldn’t like to guess!

            I don’t want to appear that I disagree with your general point regards the replacement to Trident, I’m in agreement and I have probably strayed down an irrelevant rabbit hole on this discussion!

            In support of your point air defences can be (and are) a lot more sophisticated then what was offered up by Sadam. I think a large number would fail to get through and you would probably lose a large number of subs as well.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “On the Typhoon the IRST works with the Captor Radar and is designed to complement it”

            And together I am sure that they provide the pilot with a lot of information. I am just sceptical that at BVR (>20 miles?) an IR system on its own can reliably identify all targets.

            It may give sufficient information to enable one to make an informed guess. As the PIRATE system scans it may well be able to differentiate between a, four-, two-, or single-engined plane, and the temperature may be characteristic of a particular model. However I find it hard to believe that at that sort of range the system will let you be 100% sure.

            It is possible that with multiple aircraft some form of interferometry could be done to raise the confidence level not actually to 100% but a lot closer to it.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “The only time anyone tried, albeit not very hard, to shoot them down. You do know that through one point on a graph any line can be drawn.”

            So you know how hard they tried and the capabilities of other possible defender?

            “”That rate will have only have been improved over time” Any evidence for that? And air defences are at least as likely to have improved over that time.”

            Most of the failures were due to missile reliability not enemy action. Modern CMs incorporate lessons learned from previous failures so are less likely to have the same faults. The same applies to ICBMs which fail less the more they’re tested. Air defences on small targets (eg. ships) are certainly better but this level of sophistication is not available for large populated areas.

            “I was not comparing statistic, only pointing out that you are making up the ‘facts’ to support your opinion, that was in response to you saying ” theoretical modelling (which is what has been used to assess Trident’s success probability)”.

            Testing in non deployment environment is theoretical in military terms. We don’t need to postulate how CMs will perform in combat conditions, after 2,000 launches we know.

            “Pilots don’t train to dogfight at low altitude” Do you
            have any evidence for that? My understanding is that dogfights tend to move down, hence low altitude training would seem obvious.”

            Spoken to pilots. Low flying training is to enable approach to targets below radar coverage.

            “In any case, it isn’t dogfighting it is looking down and
            shooting at low flying objects. It does not matter whether those objects are manned aircraft or cruise missiles.”

            You might if you have a fully functioning airborne early warning radar system and FJs deployed ready to intercept, but even then the evidence is sketchy.

            “”typical dogfighting speeds are 300-350mph” Do you
            have any evidence for that?”

            Easy, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogfight#Modern_air_combat.

            “And of course every country in the world is a liberal democracy and there is not a single tyrant who is willing to let loads of his people get killed.”

            Tyrants are happy to kill others but not to get themselves
            killed.

            “Well “With a fleet of 11 Astute subs (existing four plus
            three on order plus four to replace Trident)” looks like a one-for-one replacement to me. certainly not the two or three to one that would be needed to get the same geographic coverage.”

            You are confusing deterrent capability (the weapon’s purpose) with military capability (the weapon’s specification).

            “And, as I said but you conveniently ignored, the maximum range can only be achieved if the cruise missile flies in a straight line. If it is, as you said, “terrain hugging’, manoeuvring around natural features” then the range from launch to target will be reduced a lot.”

            The ranges quotes are operational ranges, which already reduce the maximum theoretical range (see http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&ved=0CCAQFjAAOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fscienceandglobalsecurity.org%2Farchive%2Fsgs03lewis.pdf&ei=vO8qVb_1D47havvkgHA&usg=AFQjCNHkfEXc00cGZi6y7AIuKD6Zjt2PcQ)

            “My contention is that the same deterrent capability can be obtained with a military capability less than Trident” And you have supplied no evidence to support that.”

            That’s your assertion.

            “Let me just reiterate one point, with an example. If our
            nearest nuclear deterrent sub was in the Indian Ocean and we wanted to respond to a nuclear attack by North Korea, then a Vanguard replacement could do it from where it was. A cruise missile submarine would take days to get within range, passing through some of the narrowest & busiest waterways in the world, or it could take even longer to get within range by going south of
            Australia….”

            Subs will be deployed in any zone of heightened
            political tension well before a crisis turns into conflict. Or an aggressor can take the risk that they’re not. Nuclear deterrence is ultimately about perception.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            I really don’t think that there is much point in continuing this.

            You do not seem to be willing to take on board any points other than your own. Some of the ‘facts’ that you have used have not turned out to be true or you have twisted words to your own meaning (e.g. calling firing an ICBM and hitting a target ‘theoretical modelling’); you have ignored basic facts (e.g. the Iraqis did not try hard to shoot any cruise missile down as they were under a wide-spread & systematic attack); you have twisted what I wrote (e.g. you say that shooting down a cruise missile is impossible and when I provide a source talking about this you claim this supports you as it says it is not easy); and so on.

            One point in particular I think is important to point out. Cruise missiles have a considerably shorter range than ICBMs
            – If we replaced Vanguard/Trident on a one-for-one basis we would have a significantly different force. One that may take a fortnight or more to get into a suitable firing position. Whilst I am sure planners would try to anticipate events they are not perfect (noone warned about Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait), and if there are two potential flash-points and only one submarine at sea then it cannot be heading towards both of them.
            The submarines would have to get close, in some cases very close, to the coast. That will make them much easier to detect by an enemy (who has had days to prepare for this) and so subject to sinking before they even fire. Also it may well mean that they have to launch from inside shipping lanes, making them subject to accidental collisions, etc.
            The cruise missiles will fly slowly over neutral & enemy territory. The relevant air forces (who again have had days to prepare for this) will try to shoot them down and will succeed for some of them.
            Despite this you say that this would provide “the same deterrent capability” as Vanguard/Trident.
            – If we replaced Vanguard/Trident on a, say, 10-12 cruise missile armed submarines it would still be an inferior force, just not as inferior. However this would cost much more than an ICBM based system.

            Either of those options might be justifiable and you are, of course, entitled to prefer one of them. But to say that the first one is not inferior is just unsubstantiated by the facts, and to prefer the second one, in the current economic climate, is just silly.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “I really don’t think that there is much point in continuing this.”

            Agree with you on that.

            “Some of the ‘facts’ that you have used have not turned out to be true or you have twisted words to your own meaning”

            You don’t understand the difference between facts and your assertions.

            “(e.g. calling firing an ICBM and hitting a target ‘theoretical modelling’);”

            I pointed out the difference between testing weapons systems in simulations of war and actually using them
            in anger. The latter is more valued, which is why Exocet sales soared after HMS Sheffield was sunk.

            “you have ignored basic facts (e.g. the Iraqis did not try hard to shoot any cruise missile down as they were under a wide-spread & systematic attack);”

            There was a war on, exactly when any nuclear missile would be fired. SLCMs would be fired by the UK
            whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols that might be used to detect and intercept them.

            “you have twisted what I wrote (e.g. you say that shooting down a cruise missile is impossible”

            No, you are twisting what I wrote; I never claimed that shooting down CMs was impossible but that the evidence was it very rarely happens, because of the large challenges to doing this.

            “One point in particular I think is important to point out. Cruise missiles have a considerably shorter range than ICBMs”

            I never challenged this.

            “if there are two potential flash-points”

            You are assuming UK would be at war with two countries at the same time in unrelated conflicts, both with a nuclear first strike threat to the country.

            “The submarines would have to get close, in some cases very close, to the coast.”

            No. CMs have1,000-1,500 miles operational range, depending on configuration and warhead weight. We’ve
            been over this.

            “The cruise missiles will fly slowly over neutral & enemy territory. The relevant air forces (who again have had days to prepare for this) will try to shoot them down and
            will succeed for some of them.”

            ‘Slow’ = several hundred mph. They would fly low so ground radar won’t detect them, and ground based
            missiles won’t be able to get a lock on them. ICBMs are much faster but their trajectory makes them easier to detect (though time to take counter measures is only a few minutes). ‘some’ in Iraq meant less than 2%.

            “However this would cost much more than an ICBM based system.”

            Having 11 nuclear subs to the same spec will cost less to build, maintain and repair than 7 types of one sub plus 4 of another type. Economies of scale.

            “Despite this you say that this would provide “the same deterrent capability” as Vanguard/Trident.”

            Yes, because the capability has to be sufficient to deter a first nuclear strike. You have not given any reasons why Trident is the minimum force needed to provide a credible nuclear deterrent, you just assume it. Again, gold plating.

            I’ve enjoyed this exchange. I’ve always believed that I cannot prove nuclear armed SLCMs could be an
            effective nuclear deterrent simply because critical knowledge on their performance requires access to classified information. However, every time I debate this
            matter with those with some knowledge (which you clearly possess), I find a failure to knock down the SLCM option. Thanks to your challenges I’ve discovered the CM failure rate in Iraq and confirmed the stated CM ranges are operational not maximum and understand that shooting down CMs requires both airborne radar and FJs on 24 hour patrol to have any realistic chance of intercept, all of which suggest nuclear SLCMs would be a credible deterrent.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “You don’t understand the difference between facts and your assertions”
            I most certainly do. You are the one who said “A fast jet shooting down a CM is fanciful; one would need to … fly [the plane] like Tom Cruise in Top Gun”.

            “I pointed out the difference between testing weapons systems in simulations of war and actually using them in anger”
            Except you didn’t. You said “theoretical modelling (which is what has been used to assess Trident’s success probability)” and when I pointed to 150 successful tests you changed this to “Testing in non deployment environment is theoretical in military terms”. This is well into Humpty-Dumpty territory. If the missile hits the target it is not a theoretical hit but an actual one.

            Of course there is normally a difference between testing and how something performs in a fighting war. However that is less applicable to ICBMs as there is no real defence against them.

            “There was a war on, exactly when any nuclear missile would be fired. SLCMs would be fired by the UK whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols that might be used to detect and intercept them”
            Which means that a cruise missile armed submarine is, in your scenario, can only replace a Trident equipped one if it accompanied by an aircraft carrier or a deployed RAF force.

            “I never claimed that shooting down CMs was impossible”
            Well “fanciful”, “Tom Cruise in Top Gun” & “not going to happen outside of Hollywood” certainly sound like impossible to me.

            “I never challenged [the short range of cruise missiles]”
            But you don’t accept the consequences of that.

            “You are assuming UK would be at war with two countries at the same time in unrelated conflicts, both with a nuclear first strike threat to the country”
            Not at all. You said that the short range of cruise missiles could be overcome, “Subs will be deployed in any zone of heightened
            political tension well before a crisis turns into conflict” and I am merely pointing out that it is not possible to accurately predict which crisis will escalate and which will not.

            “No. CMs have1,000-1,500 miles operational range, depending on configuration and warhead weight. We’ve been over this.”
            And I showed that to reach your example of Moscow the submarine would need to be in shallow coastal waters.

            “‘Slow’ = several hundred mph”
            = half the speed of the jets that will shoot them down.

            “They would fly low so ground radar won’t detect them”
            But where look-down radar will detect them as this is exactly what it is designed to do.

            “ICBMs are much faster but their trajectory makes them easier to detect (though time to take counter measures is only a few minutes)”
            If but only if you have countermeasures. AFAIUI on the US has a chance of shooting down an ICBM.

            “‘some’ in Iraq meant less than 2%”
            When they were under a massive attack. So we not only have our submarine but an aircraft carrier in the Kattegat or the Barents Sea.

            ““However this would cost much more than an ICBM based system.””
            “Having 11 nuclear subs to the same spec will cost less to build, maintain and repair than 7 types of one sub plus 4 of another type” Again you are twisting my words. My quote was about replacing Vanguard/Trident with 10-12 cruise missile armed submarines, not four of them.

            However I think that I have realised what the big mistake that you have made is. You are thinking that the entire sub fleet would be doing SSBN and SSN duties at the same time, hence 11 boats gives you 3-4 at sea at any one time covering the globe.

            Unfortunately it does not work like that. To be credible the nuclear deterrent has to be dedicated to that task. Otherwise a conventional problem (e.g. an Argentinian attack on the Falklands) would pull all of the boats into one area leaving no nuclear deterrent boats in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.

            “Economies of scale”
            That is debatable. If we built 11 same spec subs over the course of, say, 15 years and then nothing for 15-20 years we would loose most if not all expertise in the area. Subsequently this expertise will need to be rebuilt at considerable cost. Look what happened to the Astute class because of the long gap in sub building before them.

            “Yes, because the capability has to be sufficient to deter a first nuclear strike”
            That is not the same deterrent capability as Vanguard/Trident, but a sufficient deterrent. Sufficient in the mind of whoever is making the decision.

            “You have not given any reasons why Trident is the minimum force needed to provide a credible nuclear deterrent, you just assume it”
            No, I have not assumed that and certainly not said that. What I have done, as I have clearly pointed out more than once, is to work on the basis that any alternative must be broadly comparable. A 10-20% reduction in capability might well be acceptable but a 90% reduction would almost certainly not be.

            “I find a failure to knock down the SLCM option”
            Well I think that this is because you are not willing to take on board anything that contradicts your opinion.

            “and confirmed the stated CM ranges are operational not maximum”
            Do you a specific source for that? Earlier you just linked to a 50pp document.

            “and understand that shooting down CMs requires both airborne radar and FJs on 24 hour patrol”
            Which is relatively easy as you know that it will at least a day and maybe as much as a fortnight after your attack on the UK before the submarine comes within firing range.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “I really don’t think that there is much point in continuing this.”

            It seems you’ve changed your mind.

            “That is not the same deterrent capability as Vanguard/Trident, but a sufficient deterrent. Sufficient in the mind of whoever is making the decision.”

            Now if you’ve accepted it’s a ‘sufficient’ deterrent then you have to justify spending more to have a more capable system that achieves the same objective.

            “and understand that shooting down CMs requires both airborne radar and FJs on 24 hour patrol”

            Which is relatively easy as you know that it will at least a day and maybe as much as a fortnight after your attack on the UK before the submarine comes within firing range”

            What – maintaining 24 FJ patrols is easy? FJs are designed for target attack and rapid response, not flying around waiting for a threat to appear. Do you think FJ pilots grow on trees? You also seem to believe a nuclear threat will appear out of the blue. This is nonsense; any nuclear exchange would be preceded by conventional warfare and that would follow a period of raised political tensions – SLCM armed subs will not wait until the first missile is fired before deploying to a potential theatre of
            war. Do you not think Astute class subs have not already deployed to areas from which to test Russian/Iranian/ North Korean sub defence systems?

            “Which means that a cruise missile armed submarine is, in your scenario, can only replace a Trident equipped one if it accompanied by an aircraft carrier or a deployed RAF force.”

            No, conventional warfare capabilities will be targeting these systems eg., firing conventionally armed CMs to test and stretch CM defences.

            “Do you a specific source for that? Earlier you just linked to a 50pp document”

            The document discuss potential maximum CM range. You’ll easily find references to CM ranges which state the figure mentioned is operational range.

            “My quote was about replacing Vanguard/Trident with 10-12 cruise missile armed submarines, not four of them.”

            Sorry for misunderstanding you but you’ve misunderstood me. My argument was for 4 more Astute class subs to provide a minimum deterrent force.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “It seems you’ve changed your mind”
            I was irritated by the nonsense in your previous post.

            “Now if you’ve accepted it’s a ‘sufficient’ deterrent”
            Again you are twisting what I said.

            I was pointing out that your definition of the ‘same deterrent capability as Vanguard/Trident’ was not the same deterrent capability, but a capability that someone might think is sufficient.

            “What – maintaining 24 FJ patrols is easy?”
            You are being silly here. Of course I don’t mean that there is no effort involved. You were implying that the only way an enemy could shoot down cruise missiles was to have AWACS & FJ in the air all day every day (which would be very hard) and I was pointing out that they only need to do it for a few days after they have done something to provoke an attack. That is a lot easier and by comparison it is easy.

            It is also easy compared to shooting down ICBM RVs.

            “FJs are designed for target attack and rapid response, not flying around waiting for a threat to appear.”
            Have you never heard of CAP? That basically involves flying around waiting for a threat to appear.

            “You also seem to believe a nuclear threat will appear out of the blue”
            I have no idea where you get that from. Not from anything that I said.

            “This is nonsense; any nuclear exchange would be preceded by conventional warfare”
            Maybe, maybe not. Noone can be definite about what will happen in the next 40 years.

            “SLCM armed subs will not wait until the first missile is fired before deploying to a potential theatre of war”
            Not subs but sub. On your plan (11 subs) there will only be one (or at most two) dedicated SSBN subs available at any time.

            “No, conventional warfare capabilities will be targeting these systems eg., firing conventionally armed CMs to test and stretch CM defences.”
            You said “SLCMs would be fired by the UK whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols”, so that means a lot more than conventional cruise missiles.

            If there is no aircraft carrier or deployed RAF force there what is going to be firing these conventional cruise missiles?

            And whatever is firing conventional cruise missiles and attacking enemy FJ has to be close to enemy territory and so is a target itself.

            “My argument was for 4 more Astute class subs to provide a minimum deterrent force”
            Which sounds awfully like a one-for-one replacement which you have strenuously denied is your position.

            You may be right and a small force of subs with nuclear cruise missiles may be a sufficient deterrent. Where you are not right is in saying that this will be as capable as a Vanguard/Trident replacement.

            A Vanguard/Trident replacement could, on its own, launch an unstoppable attack on any place on the planet, and that attack could be limited to a single warhead as we would be sure it would get through.

            A cruise missile attack will take longer to arrive and, even with other things stretching the enemy, some of those cruise missiles will be shot down. So multiple cruise missile will need to be launched, meaning that a single warhead attack is not an option.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            You seem determined to misinterpret my notion of deterrent
            capability. If it deters it achieves the purposes so it has the same effect irrespective
            of its technical capability. Trident is more capable than subs carrying nuclear
            armed CMs but as they both deter a nuclear first strike. Is that any clearer?

            Yes, I’ve heard of CAP, very aircraft intensive, remove
            capability to undertake other missions.

            If you believe that a country would launch a nuclear attack in a
            situation outside of a clear politico-military crisis, then you’re nuts.

            On your plan (11 subs) there will only be one (or at most two)
            dedicated SSBN subs available at any time.

            Subs can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons. No potential aggressor could take the risk on how many subs are carrying SLCMs.

            “You said “SLCMs would be fired by the UK whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols”, so that means a lot more than conventional cruise missiles.”

            Just one example. Another would be FJs exploiting gaps from enemy FJs tied up in CAPs.

            “Which sounds awfully like a one-for-one replacement which you have strenuously denied is your position.”

            I’ve made perfectly clear what I’m proposing, 4 more Astute subs.

            “You may be right and a small force of subs with nuclear cruise missiles may be a sufficient deterrent.”

            Thank you.

            “Where you are not right is in saying that this will be as
            capable as a Vanguard/Trident replacement.”

            Again, you confuse technical capability with capability to
            achieve an objective (deterrence).

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Trident is more capable than subs carrying nuclear armed CMs but as they both deter a nuclear first strike. Is that any clearer?”
            It is clear that this equivalence is the unsubstantiated assumption that you have been making all along.

            The deterrent capability cannot be divorced from the technical capability. An ICBM carrying sub far out in the ocean is extremely hard to find and sink, a cruise missile carrying sub quite close to the shore is much easier to find and sink. An ICBM RV will hit its target, a cruise missile may or may not hit its target. If the reduction in technical capability (moving from ICBM to cruise missile) is sufficiently large then there will be a reduction in deterrent capability.

            “Yes, I’ve heard of CAP, very aircraft intensive”
            This is CAP which is flying around waiting for a threat to appear, and is done by FJ which are not designed for flying around waiting for a threat to appear.

            “If you believe that a country would launch a nuclear attack in a situation outside of a clear politico-military crisis, then you’re nuts”
            Again you are making up things that I have said.

            “Subs can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons”
            But the nuclear deterrent boats have to be dedicated to that task. Otherwise our entire nuclear deterrent could be pulled out of place by a conventional problem.

            “Just one example. Another would be FJs exploiting gaps from enemy FJs tied up in CAPs”
            No, not an example, another case of you changing what you are saying.
            You changed from “SLCMs would be fired by the UK whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols that might be used to detect and intercept them” and when I pointed out that this meant the sub needed to be supported by an aircraft carrier or RAF force you denied this but said that something (unspecified) will be “firing conventionally armed CMs to test and stretch CM defences”. Now, still without an aircraft carrier or RAF force, we have FJs attacking the enemy.

            ““Which sounds awfully like a one-for-one replacement which you have strenuously denied is your position.””
            “I’ve made perfectly clear what I’m proposing, 4 more Astute subs.”

            “No you haven’t because you are talking about one-for-one replacement.”

            No I’m not.

            So it is four more Astutes (even though that is a poor design for a nuclear deterrent) rather than four Vanguard replacements, but it is not a one-for-one replacement. I am glad we have established that, even if the meaning is as clear as mud.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “If the reduction in technical capability (moving from ICBM to cruise missile) is sufficiently large then there will be a reduction in deterrent capability.”

            ‘If’ being the key word.

            “”If you believe that a country would launch a nuclear
            attack in a situation outside of a clear politico-military crisis, then you’re nuts”
            Again you are making up things that I have said.”

            You have posited two simultaneous crises (Falklands and Russia) and the time taken to put a SCLM firing sub in places as reasons why this would not be a credible deterrent. You have come up with this to show that a SLCM force could be overloaded. It’s ridiculous because Argentina has no nuclear weapons so there would be no need to deploy any nuclear armed subs in the vicinity and the UK’s conventional defence in the Falklands are now vastly superior to those of the early 80s. You have to invent absurd scenarios to show a SLCM nuclear force would be ineffective.

            “But the nuclear deterrent boats have to be dedicated to that task.”

            No it would not because it can carry conventional and nuclear missiles and can be redeployed. An enemy would have no means of knowing how many of the subs are dedicated to nuclear operations at any time.

            “You changed from “SLCMs would be fired by the UK whilst it was also seeking to suppress airborne radar and FJ patrols that might be used to detect and intercept them” and when I pointed out that this meant the sub needed to be supported by an aircraft carrier or RAF force you denied this but said that something (unspecified) will
            be “firing conventionally armed CMs to test and stretch CM defences”.
            Now, still without an aircraft carrier or RAF force, we have FJs attacking the enemy.”

            SLCM subs would not need to be supported by carriers or planes. Conventional warfare theatres would overlap with the environment in which nuclear missiles would be deployed. An enemy would be dealing with a nuclear
            threat on top of conventional attacks. Their weapons systems will not just be sitting there waiting to deal with a SLCM strikes, there’ll be a hundred other things going on – that’s the nature of war. And that’s why so few CMs have even been shot down.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “‘If’ being the key word.”
            You said that technical capability and deterrent capability were unrelated. Now you are accepting that they are related.

            “You have posited two simultaneous crises”
            I have not posited any crises. I have simply said that deterrent planning has to take account of what might happen over the next 30-40 years.

            Things might happen that noone now could predict. And the probability of two issues happening at the same time is much higher than you imply. If the UK is busy dealing with country X then country Y might well choose that moment to act.

            “It’s ridiculous because Argentina has no nuclear weapons so there would be no need to deploy any nuclear armed subs in the vicinity”
            Now you are not only ignoring what I write but what you write. You are the one advocating a combined SSN/SSBN sub. So if the SSN boats are deployed to the S. Atlantic then the SSBN boats are also deployed there.

            ““But the nuclear deterrent boats have to be dedicated to that task.””
            “No it would not because it can carry conventional and nuclear missiles and can be redeployed.”
            You are just being silly. If you don’t have a nuclear deterrent dedicated to that task then you don’t have a nuclear deterrent.

            “An enemy would have no means of knowing how many of the subs are dedicated to nuclear operations at any time”
            That is the whole point about a new problem in the S. Atlantic, which was only ever an example. An enemy would know that the SSN boats would be sent there. If they are doing both SSN & SSBN duties then the enemy know where all our SSBN boats are.

            “SLCM subs would not need to be supported by carriers or planes. Conventional warfare theatres would overlap with the environment in which nuclear missiles would be deployed. An enemy would be dealing with a nuclear threat on top of conventional attacks.”
            This is just gibberish. You keep on talking about the nuclear cruise missiles being launched at the same time as the enemy is dealing with conventional cruise missiles, or FJs, or (here) “conventional attacks”, but in none of these cases do we have any forces in the area other than the SSBN sub. So I take it that these conventional cruise missiles / FJs / conventional attacks are being launched form the SSBN sub.

            “And that’s why so few CMs have even been shot down”
            And I will say again, no targets of cruise missiles have had effective air-defence systems operating, apart from Iraq where it was poor to say the least.

            You say that you want to learn more about this. I have just noticed this post / thread
            http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2015/04/trident-an-election-problem/

            I have not had time to read it yet. Experience tells me that there will be a variety of views but a lot of them will be very informed ones. People who are serving or who have served, people who work for firms in the industry, people who design equipment.

            So if you have any questions that would be a very good place to post them.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “You said that technical capability and deterrent capability
            were unrelated. Now you are accepting that they are related.”

            I never said they weren’t, my point is that reduced technical capability does not necessarily mean reduced deterrent capability.

            “But the nuclear deterrent boats have to be dedicated to that task.””

            “No it would not because it can carry conventional and nuclear missiles and can be redeployed.”
            You are just being silly. If you don’t have a nuclear deterrent dedicated to that task then you don’t have a nuclear deterrent.”

            You seem to be under the delusion platform can perform no other military functions. Astute can carry conventional
            and nuclear armed missiles at the same time.

            “That is the whole point about a new problem in the S. Atlantic, which was only ever an example. An enemy would know that the SSN boats would be sent there. If they are doing both SSN & SSBN duties then the enemy know where all our SSBN boats are.”

            But they wouldn’t know how many were there and thus how many might be deployed elsewhere.

            “This is just gibberish. You keep on talking about the nuclear cruise missiles being launched at the same time as the enemy is dealing with conventional cruise missiles, or FJs, or (here) “conventional attacks”, but in none of these cases do we have any forces in the area other than the SSBN sub. So I take it that these conventional cruise missiles / FJs / conventional attacks are being launched
            form the SSBN sub.

            I’m not proposing reducing conventional forces at the expenses of more Astute subs. As four more subs of the same design would be cheaper than four of a new design, the Astute option would release more money for
            conventional defence forces.

            “You say that you want to learn more about this. I have just noticed this post / thread
            http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/…”

            Thanks for this, very interesting. They seem to be having the same debate we’re having, with some people disagreeing with the original poster’s dissing of nuclear armed CMs. I might just join in…

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “I never said they weren’t [related]”
            Well when you said “If it deters it achieves the purposes so it has the same effect irrespective of technical capability” that sounds awfully like they you saying that technical capability and deterrent capability are unrelated.

            “You seem to be under the delusion platform can perform no other military functions”
            No, I accept the fact that a platform at one time can only do one thing. If an SSBN is performing SSN tasks it cannot be acting as a SSBN. It really is that simple.

            “Astute can carry conventional and nuclear armed missiles at the same time”
            Er, no it can’t. It could if we had nuclear torpedoes or cruise missiles, but as we don’t it can’t.

            “But they wouldn’t know how many were there and thus how many might be deployed elsewhere.”
            Don’t be ridiculous, of course they would. Nuclear subs are relatively high maintenance. That is why we need four Vanguards to guarantee CASD. With 11 Astutes there will never be more than four or five at sea at any one time. So after a incident to which many subs would be sent, an enemy will have a pretty good idea as where all of the subs are.

            “I’m not proposing reducing conventional forces at the expenses of more Astute subs”
            No, but you are proposing that forces that are not physically present take part in the operation. No aircraft carrier present, no RAF force present, but somehow we are still sending cruise missiles & FJ to attack the enemy. That is why what you wrote is gibberish.

            “As four more subs of the same design would be cheaper than four of a new design”
            Debatable. I have already explained this to you.

            “the Astute option”
            Would be a terrible SSBN platform.

            “would release more money for conventional defence forces”
            Which are irrelevant as they are not even in the vicinity – whilst somehow sending cruise missiles & FJ in!

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            I’m not sure if you’re stupid or being deliberately obtuse.

            “Well when you said “If it deters it achieves the purposes so it has the same effect irrespective of technical capability” that sounds awfully like they you saying that technical capability and deterrent capability are unrelated.”

            It sounds nothing like it at all. If my objective is to travel
            from A to B and I do this by driving there in a Ford Fiesta rather an Aston Martin, it may take me longer and not be as great an experience as using a DB9 but my objective is achieved all the same.

            “”Astute can carry conventional and nuclear armed missiles at the same time” Er, no it can’t. It could if we had nuclear torpedoes or cruise missiles, but as we don’t it can’t.”

            Now you’re playing with the word ‘can’. Nuclear armed SLBMs are not in service on Astute so it can’t carry them today but it is possible to put a nuclear warhead on a CM and carry them on Astute subs.

            “But they wouldn’t know how many were there and thus how many might be deployed elsewhere.” Don’t be ridiculous, of course they would. Nuclear subs are relatively high maintenance. That is why we need four Vanguards to guarantee CASD. With 11 Astutes there will never be more than four or five at sea at any one time. So
            after a incident to which many subs would be sent, an enemy will have a pretty good idea as where all of the subs are.”

            But the enemy would not know how many subs were there! How do you suppose an enemy would know?

            “As four more subs of the same design would be cheaper than four of a new design” Debatable. I have already explained this to you.”

            No you haven’t, you’ve ignored the law of economies of scale, which applies for all large military equipment projects. The first three Astute class subs had an estimated cost of £1,160m each, the next three £747mm, because the first batch of subs covered the design and development costs. If you had ever been to an MOD stores depot you would appreciate of sheer scale of different bespoke parts of military kit that are held; the more types of kit one as the greater the cost of supplying and holding it all.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “I’m not sure if you’re stupid or being deliberately obtuse”
            Thanks, but neither.

            “Well when you said “If it deters it achieves the purposes so it has the same effect irrespective of technical capability” that sounds awfully like they you saying that technical capability and deterrent capability are unrelated.”

            “It sounds nothing like it at all”
            Actually it does sound exactly like that. Clearly it is not what you meant and so it does not sound like it to you.

            I think the issue is that by ‘deter’ you mean ‘deter to exactly the same amount’ but that is not what you have written. A Trident based system might deter both a significant nuclear power (e.g. Russia) and a much weaker one (e.g. North Korea) whereas as much less capable system (e.g. cruise missiles) might still deter the much weaker nuclear power but would not deter the significant one.#

            “Now you’re playing with the word ‘can’. Nuclear armed SLBMs are not in service on Astute so it can’t carry them today”
            So what you said is not actually true, hence I was not playing with words.

            “but it is possible to put a nuclear warhead on a CM and carry them on Astute subs”
            Not really. It is theoretically possible that this could be done for the boats that replace the Astutes but the Astutes will be out of service (or close to it) before the system would be ready.

            “But the enemy would not know how many subs were there! How do you suppose an enemy would know?”
            Because they can count up to four or five. For something like a re-run of the Falklands war we would have every available SSN down there, like we did in 1982. In ’82 several were used to track movements in & out of various ports, but to do that there needed to be a sub at each relevant port. Plus there were two tracking Argentinian ships at sea.

            By making the same boats do SSN & SSBN duty you would either mean that (to keep up SSBN patrols) a significant number of them could not be used to react to anything else or (to maximise SSN availability) only one would be on SSBN patrol. However that one SSBN sub would be less effective than now because the missiles are so short ranged.

            “No you haven’t”
            Yes I have, see
            http://archbishopcranmer.com/trident-is-the-price-we-pay-for-peace-and-national-security/#comment-1976140571

            And also see
            http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2015/04/trident-an-election-problem/#comment-339284

            “you’ve ignored the law of economies of scale, which applies for all large military equipment projects”
            I haven’t ignored it at all. It is just that there are other issues that will (or at the very least may well) more than offset any savings.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “”but it is possible to put a nuclear warhead on a CM and
            carry them on Astute subs”

            Not really. It is theoretically possible that this could be done for the boats that replace the Astutes but the Astutes will be out of service (or close to it) before the system would be ready.”

            The Astute subs are recently in service. Their predecessors were operational for over 30 years. Putting a nuclear warhead on a CM poses no new technical challenges.

            “”But the enemy would not know how many subs were there! How do you suppose an enemy would know?” Because they can count up to f our or five. For something like a re-run of the Falklands war we would have every available SSN down there, like we did in 1982. In ’82 several were used to track movements in & out of various
            ports, but to do that there needed to be a sub at each relevant port. Plus there were two tracking Argentinian ships at sea.”

            Again, you are surmising, you do not know, you have no way of knowing and neither does any potential enemy. As the Falklands has a much bigger military garrison than in 1982, with a runway long enough for all RAF aircraft to land, a sub presence is less important because any Argie landing would be repulsed by forces already on the island.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Putting a nuclear warhead on a CM poses no new technical challenges”
            HMG begs to differ. In the Trident Alternatives Review it was assessed that it would take 24 years to produce the new warhead needed.

            By which time the Astutes will be well into the second half of their lives if not nearing the end.

            “Again, you are surmising,”
            No I am recounting what I remember from accounts of the Falklands War.

            “As the Falklands has a much bigger military garrison than in 1982”
            As I am sure that you are aware this is totally & utterly irrelevant.

            When I said “For something like a re-run of the Falklands war” I am sure it was clear that this was just an example.

            There are other possible conflicts one can think of and lots that are not obvious now but will appear over the next c. 40 years.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “”Putting a nuclear warhead on a CM poses no new technical challenges”
            HMG begs to differ. In the Trident Alternatives Review it was assessed that it would take 24 years to produce the new warhead needed.”

            I’ve read this report, very interesting. The warhead
            development time is odd. There is already a nuclear warhead that will work on a CM (the W80) but this is not referred to. There’s mention of designing a warhead based on existing designs but no more is said. There is one intriguing reference (paragraph 2.19) that states all options are assumed to have a warhead “that could generate explosive power (ie nuclear yield) comparable to the current Trident warhead.” The Trident warhead has about 10 times about the explosive power of the W80, which has about 10 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. No rationale is provided as to why x100 the yield of the Hiroshima bomb is the minimum explosive power required for nuclear deterrence (overkill was a common flaw in much military nuclear planning). The lead time for making an existing warhead design usable on a new CM is not going to be 24 years.

            The report has an interesting sections on costs – see chart on page 7. Five more Astute subs would cost less
            to build and operate than a 4 boat Trident replacement (economies of scale Mr DiGriz). It is when one adds on the extra cost of developing a new CM nuclear warhead and two extra boats to cover the gap between the new CM nuclear warhead going into service and the current Trident fleet ceasing operations that the SLCM option becomes more expensive than a straight Trident replacement. If one is seeking to make an existing CM warhead design work on a new CM missile then these extra costs may not apply, but there is not enough detail to assess this.
            The rest of the report makes the same general assertions that you have: SLCMs have less range (though no estimate of that range is provided and thus there’s no ability to assess the practical limitations of this) and speculation about the ability to shoot down CMs in future.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “The warhead development time is odd”
            Serious question. Are you involved in the development of nuclear weapons? If not I really don’t see how you can make that assessment.

            “There is already a nuclear warhead that will work on a CM (the W80) but this is not referred to”
            That is American and so is not relevant. It is policy that UK nuclear weapons are designed & built here. Even if we wanted to buy (more likely lease) W80s from the US I am pretty sure that the NNPT prevent that.

            “No rationale is provided as to why x100 the yield of the Hiroshima bomb …”
            AFAIUI that is not the yield but the maximum yield. These are variable-yield weapons and the lowest setting is less than 1kt. I believe that most Western nuclear weapons are variable-yield.

            I don’t know how they worked this out but I would suspect that they are trying to do a like for like comparison. It is a bit pointless to say that option X is better than option Y because it is 50% cheaper when it only delivers 30% of the effect.

            You have accepted that the geographic coverage of a single cruise missile armed boat will be massively less than a single Trident armed one. By chance I came across this
            http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/68751000/jpg/_68751250_trident_missile_reach_624_v3.jpg
            today.

            Cruise missile armed SSBNs are only cheaper if you keep the same number as Trident armed ones. To approach the same geographic coverage you would need at least twice as many, which would make the cruise missile option more expensive.

            To achieve the same level of a guaranteed hit you would need even more than that. Four times as many? Five times?

            “The lead time for making an existing warhead design usable on a new CM is not going to be 24 years”
            Well to be so certain then you must work in nuclear weapons design.

            “Five more Astute subs would cost less to build and operate than a 4 boat Trident replacement (economies of scale Mr DiGriz)”
            No, it is obscure fact that cheaper things are cheaper. The Astutes are 7,400 tonne and 97×11.3x10m and the average capital is less than £1 billion each. The Vanguards are 15,900 tonnes and 149.9×12.8x12m and had a capital cost of £1.5 billion each 20 years ago.

            Also, it is most unlikely that any economies of scale savings will be made from increasing the number of hand-built anythings from 7 to 11. The first three Astutes are costing more each than numbers 4-7 but I cannot see any reason why the cost of any follow-on boats would be any less.

            Finally, I never denied that building 11 Astutes would be cheaper than 7 Astutes & 4 Vanguard replacements (especially as the latter will be more expensive each). The problem is when we come to built the replacements for the Astutes it will be 20 years since we built any nuclear subs/ and so to re-build the skill-set will be very expensive.

            “The rest of the report makes the same general assertions”
            The fact that cruise missiles have only a small fraction of the range of ICBMs and that they are orders of magnitudes easier to shoot down than RVs are general assertions.

            Also I think that if these were such woolly ideas that can easily be dismissed then someone involved in the preparation of that document might just have picked up on it.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            “The warhead development time is odd”
            Serious question. Are you involved in the development of nuclear weapons? If not I really don’t see how you can make that assessment.”

            I don’t question the time to development a new warhead from scratch. If the starting point is an existing proven design (eg. W80) as the option for a new CM, 24 years does looks odd.

            “There is already a nuclear warhead that will work on a CM (the W80) but this is not referred to”
            That is American and so is not relevant. It is policy that UK nuclear weapons are designed & built here. Even if we wanted to buy (more likely lease) W80s from the US I am pretty sure that the NNPT prevent that.”

            The decision on Trident is surely an apt time to consider all existing policy assumptions on nuclear weapons. NNPT
            is not clear on this. The US has long had nuclear weapons sharing agreement with other NATO member states, the legality of which some other states have challenged but they remain. Using W80 technology could be done under a design licensing arrangement, the negotiation of which could not be certain at this stage; the Trident options paper acknowledges that discussions with other states have not been conducted as part of its considerations.

          • CliveM

            As you said the Eurofighter project is costing the UK £37 billion, remember it is also costing Germany, Spain and Italy!

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            @disqus_PDEQkeFwwU:disqus
            Indeed. I did not mention the other countries’ costs partly because I don’t have them to hand and partly because it is not at all clear if this multi-national collaboration made the whole project cheaper or more expensive.

          • CliveM

            About 13 years ago the Audit Commission did an investigation that suggested a wholly owned fighter programme would have resulted in an aircraft better suited to the RAF, cheaper and with more benefits accruing (ie technology, jobs etc) and probably in a quicker timescale.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            @CliveM
            Again indeed! That was a what-if exercise and so it may not be right but many people find it plausible.

          • bluedog

            There was at one point a private venture proposal to resurrect the TSR2, which of course came to nothing. These days a highly competent drone strike force would surely be a better option than a manned V-bomber force.

  • saintmark

    One wonders if the man who fell among thieves had sold his sword to buy a new and improved rucksack

  • “No one can envisage a scenario where the use of nuclear weapons would be an appropriate or justifiable offensive action, but as a means of defence it passes all tests of necessity. Trident limits violence, death and destruction by mitigating the likelihood of armed conflict.”

    Hmmm …. so let’s do a reverse Saddam Hussein and pretend we have Trident. Who’s to know? Think of the money we’ll save and the deterrent will still be in place.

    • CliveM

      Yes worked for Saddam didn’t it!!

      • In one sense, it did actually …. the West, and Iran, believed he had acquired nuclear capability.

        • CliveM

          Actually thinking about it I don’t think they did. They believed he had weapons of mass destruction, but weren’t these believed to be missile delivered Chemicals ? They believed he was trying to develop a nuclear capability, but I don’t remember anyone saying he had aquired it?

          In addition just how much did the west believe as opposed to pretended to believe?

  • Albert

    This is an extremely interesting a subtle argument. As far as I can see, you are saying that it is morally acceptable to have a nuclear deterrent but not to use it. That’s probably not false in itself. However, there are problems with the position in reality:

    Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same (or try to). It’s hard to see, for example, that our defensive needs are greater and more immediate than (say) Iran. From Iran’s point of view, a couple of neighbours have been invaded by the West (not that Iran shed any tears over that, but it made the point). Iran herself suffers from having had lots of Western interference from the West historically (so much so that to blame the British is proverbial in Iran when something goes wrong). She has two potentially hostile (from her point of view) nuclear neighbours in form of Israel and Pakistan.

    The second problem is that if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases.

    These issues have to be weighed prudentially. Has the presence of nuclear weapons in the world stopped conventional wars? Of course not. Israel built her first nuclear weapon in 1966, but that did not stop her being attacked in 1973.

    So the argument for peace is unclear. But the risk of someone using such a weapon is obvious (it has after all, already happened).

    The real reason that the UK has nuclear weapons is because it enables us to throw our weight around. But that weight has not always been well thrown either.

    So although I think this is a commendably subtle argument, I’m not sure that it convinces.

    • CliveM

      “Has the presence of nuclear weapons in the world stopped conventional wars? Of course not.”

      It’s hard to ‘prove’ a negative. But the existence of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan has arguably stopped them going to war, especially during the crisis that happened 2002.

      • Albert

        I was making a more general point: have conventional wars been stopped? Clearly not. The example, I gave of Israel shows wars are not necessarily stopped by nuclear weapons, and therefore it is possible another factor has prevented war between Pakistan and India.

        • carl jacobs

          The Yom Kippur War was fought against the backdrop of the Cold War. The nations involved were not truly free actors as can be demonstrated by how the war ended. The Israelis were not allowed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Egyptians even though by October 23rd they were positioned to do just that. The Americans had their own agenda and their own concerns. Not least of which was Russian reaction to Israeli tanks in Cairo.

          Even so, the Israelis discussed using nuclear weapons in the early dark days of that war. If the Israeli Tank Brigade in the Golan Heights hadn’t stood its ground against two Syrian Tank divisions, who knows what would have happened? Be gratetful for the professionalism of the IDF.

          • CliveM

            Good point.

          • Uncle Brian

            Be gratetful for the professionalism of the IDF.
            We have a lot to be grateful for, Carl, no doubt about that. The question now is, can we rely on the Saudis and Iranians to maintain the same standards of professionalism in their proxy war, today being fought in Yemen and tomorrow, perhaps, in some other sandy waste?

          • carl jacobs

            That’s why it was so important to fight Gulf War II – to keep nuclear weapons out of Hussein’s hands. That SOB might have used actually used them. Or the threat might have tempted the Israelis to pre-empt him.

            Iran benefits from Iraq’s destruction – just as the Soviet Union benefited from Hitler’s destruction. The West isn’t going to fight another war of non-proliferation. So there will be something like a ‘cold war’ if Iran goes nuclear.

            As I have said before, however. A dead Israel must mean a dead Iran.

          • Uncle Brian

            A regional cold war, this time around, or a global cold war all over again?

          • carl jacobs

            Regional, not global. The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the impetus behind global military competition. I don’t perceive China as a military threat to the US. It is a competitor and will soon be a peer power. It certainly can threaten American allies and American interests. But I am worried about China moving North into Siberia – not Chinese moves against the US.

            That’s one of the dangers to NATO. The Americans don’t see a true military threat right now. And that means natural American isolationism can re-emerge.

          • Uncle Brian

            So what conclusions do you draw on the question of Britain’s need for Trident? To the extent that the Iran-Saudi power rivalry can be contained within the Middle Eastern theatre, doesn’t that suggest that it wouldn’t really be so very dangerous, after all, for Ed Miliband to allow the Sturgeon-Salmond gang to dictate Britain’s defence policy?

          • carl jacobs

            Uncle Brian

            To me, Trident is symbolic of Europe’s continued willingness to play in the Big Boy leagues. There has been a general retreat in Europe from military power since WWII. I am tired of Europe seeing military capability as something best outsourced to the Americans. Europe is more than capable of defending itself. It just doesn’t want to do so. Perhaps it is time to make Europe fish or cut bait.

            I hate the concept of Pax Americana. I think the US should draw down its overseas commitments, and focus on a few key regions with a few key allies. It is positively insane to extend security guarantees to the Baltic States. They aren’t sustainable, and simply antagonize Russia. Russia is not a natural enemy of the US. Why antagonize it? And why should the US make an enemy of China? Once Communism departs, China and the US are natural allies.

            What I want is for Europe to step up and carry its own weight. Trident then becomes a measure of that commitment. It means that Europe collectively recognizes that war isn’t impossible because some intellectuals say it is illegal. It means Europe recognizes that the Security Council isn’t the governing factor in world security, but rather military power is the critical factor. I want Europe to grow up again, and stop acting like a spoiled teenager.

          • CliveM

            Carl

            Trident has nothing to do with Europe. Europe doesn’t pay for it, Britain does.

          • carl jacobs

            I understand that, Clive. But Britain is part of Europe. And the only way Europe steps up is if it does so collectively. If Britain lets go on this, all of Europe will let go. This decision is about more than an independent deterrent. It’s about the European vision of Europe in the world.

          • CliveM

            Well that last sentence is a biggy. Does Britain see itself as being part of a joint European vision and does it see its deterrent as giving Europe credibility, or the UK?

            Fundamental questions at the moment. The outcome of which has to be decided. But at the moment, on balance, we don’t give a flying fig about its ability to give Europe military credibility!
            :0)

          • Dude

            The irony is this : Ask a British or at least English bloke if they’re European …..

          • Albert

            I’ve just been reading about the Middle East. I am surprised by how much happier I am with Iran than with Saudi Arabia. Khamenei has, after all, issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons. It could be a ruse of course, but it might just be that he thinks they are wrong. He has also issued fatwas against suicide terrorism, if memory serves. How many Shias were involved in 9/11? IS is not Shia. A reason Iran might want to become a dominant power in the region is because Shias have been persecuted and marginalised outside Iran by Sunnis.

            I’m not being naive about Iran. I’m simply making a comparison, and I don’t think the “Iran replaces the USSR” model makes much sense.

          • Albert

            This is an interesting point. I’m not sure though which was it argues! The connection with the Cold War meant it could have been worse, and shows that nuclear powers like Israel, may not have full control over their military policy. Secondly, you seem to be saying Israel came close to using a nuke to defend herself. Again, one might ask whether it was a good thing she had them in reserve, or whether it is terrifying she came so close.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Whether it was a good thing or not would turn on how you prioritize the use of nuclear weapons against national annihilation. Two Syrian Armored divisions almost made it into Israel proper before the Israelis could mobilize. Israel could have ceased to exist in 1973. Would that have been an acceptable price?

          • Albert

            I think that’s a very reasonable question. Let us support that, in 1990 Kuwait had the bomb. Would it have been acceptable to nuke (say) Baghdad? Or was it better that they didn’t?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert.

            So let’s ask Sam this very reasonable question.

            Yo, Sam! Which would you choose? The Syrian Army running amok in Israel, or an atomic detonation in Syria? I will now sit here on pins and needles waiting for his answer.

            Would it have been acceptable to nuke (say) Baghdad?

            Or maybe just the Iraqi troop concentrations North of the border? It’s what we call Conquerus Interruptus.

          • Dude

            I’ve asked some relatives about this as they both experienced 67 and 73 first hand.They had no hesitation in saying they’d used Israel’s nuclear weapon(s) , to make the armies retreat and Egypt/ Syria to sue for peace -not as an act of revenge- if the line hadn’t been held and Israelis were about to be slaughtered in a second holocaust. Quite simply, in their view it was a war of survival and everything had to be contemplated. I can’t disagree.

          • Albert

            I think perhaps we are at crossed-purposes. As I understand it, the OP argued:

            1. And it’s hard to square a nuclear bomb with the Just War theory on the grounds of proportionality alone, let alone the collateral incineration of civilians. There is no jus post bellum after a nuclear strike: you’re dealing with the fallout (quite literally) for decades if not centuries. I.e. it is morally impermissible to use such a weapon.

            2. It is morally permissible to have such a weapon as a deterrent to prevent conventional warfare.

            Now that’s what I am addressing. My point about 1973 is that it shows even a nuclear armed country can be attacked conventionally (thereby limiting point 2), and the risk (very real judging by your comments, and Sam’s) of nuclear attack was high. Therefore, I think Cranmer’s position fails in the real world: it raises the risk of an immoral nuclear strike, without eliminating the danger of conventional war. In other words, it only makes sense to have nuclear weapons, if you are prepared to use then. I expect you agree with that and therefore, with me, disagree with the OP.

            Now, as to nuking the Syrians, the fact that Israelis might want to do this, in the very specific case of 1973, does not make it right. You can argue for abortion on similar grounds. Egypt and Syria presumably took a calculated risk. They guessed Israel would not use such a weapon. It’s easy to see why: if Israel had they would have been subject to terrible fall-out (political and radioctive). Moreover, if (say) Damascus was nuked, mightn’t that make the “need” to annihilate (and punish) Israel all the stronger? If your forces have broken through the enemy lines, then can’t you do just that?

            So however you look at this, it seems the Yom Kippur War still counts in the direction I was arguing.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            In the first place, what the Israelis contemplated was a demonstration strike to indicate seriousness. But if they were actually going to employ nuclear weapons in 1973, the logical targets would have been the Syrian axes of advance. The purpose would have been to stabilize the northern front in order to prevent the collapse of the state itself. There are many ways to employ nuclear weapons. They aren’t used just to destroy the military capacity of cities. This is why I said that a non-nuclear power cannot successfully prosecute a war against a nuclear power that is willing to employ such weapons. You have to mass conventional forces for attack. Once they are massed, they become vulnerable to nuclear destruction. At which point, the war is over. You don’t seem to grasp this reality. Nuclear weapons don’t guarantee that the war won’t start. But if you have them and your opponent doesn’t, they put definitive limits on how the war might end.

            You are probably right that the Israelis would have suffered a terrible political fallout from such a decision. However, that fall-out must be juxtaposed with the alternative of national annihilation. I am pretty such that your average Israeli would choose the former every time. Which is why I asked Sam to testify. Would the Israelis be better off employing nuclear weapons to ensure their survival? Should they accept annihilation on principle – which is the essence of your position no matter how much you might deny it. You had your answer. You can afford to indulge an abstract notion because it always remains abstract. You don’t actually have to face the consequences of your ideas. That isn’t true for the Israelis.

            They lose, and they die. So they had better make sure they don’t lose – no matter what that entails.

          • Albert

            I repeat that I was am addressing the OP, and as you agree here, nuclear weapons do not stop conventional wars, even when one party is so armed and another not.

            I use of nuclear weapons against an army is not necessarily wrong, although if it is massing on your boarders, or worse, broken through in your territory, then the harm done by radioactive fallout, especially in a country as small as Israel, makes the use of such weapons irrational. You’d be better off trusting to luck, as face the certainty of a long national death caused by radiation.

        • CliveM

          I understand your point was general and in a sense so was mine, although I used a specific example to illustrate it. Ok all wars involving nuclear capable countries have not been stopped. The Israeli example is interesting as Israel funds it’s conventional forces adequately, but also maintains a nuclear option of last resort. It is not intended to avoid conventional conflict. However NATO nuclear weapons were. Generally in the west we were unwilling to fund conventional forces to a level adequate to meet the Soviet threat. Nuclear weapons enabled us to deter on the cheap and spend money on welfare etc. however the question in relation to Israel’s capability is, has it encouraged others in the region to pursue their own? In truth as nuclear weapons exist, it is inconceivable that Arab nations in the region wouldn’t still have pursued a capability (and probably used it).
          Frankly Israel needed to get in first.

          • Albert

            Interesting. I would say that Israel’s nuclear capacity has encouraged others to try to get nuclear weapons. Now that raises a serious question. Who wants rogue Middle Eastern states to have nukes? That none of them have managed it despite what they might see as nuclear provocation on Israel’s part, suggests the risk of them getting nukes without Israel having them is small. So it may be your argument counts the other way.

          • CliveM

            What ifs are difficult to prove! However Israel has shown itself capable of defending itself in conventional war. Frankly it humiliated its opponents. War against Israel is now fought on a proxy basis through the likes if Hamas. However considering Arab antipathy against Israel it think it at least highly probable that if Israel didn’t have nuclear weapons, the Arab nations would still be keen to acquire them as a means of revenge. Of course Israel would still be protected by America. But for how long could this be relied upon?

          • Albert

            Again, very difficult to know which way all this should be argued. Given that Israel would still be protected by America, I suspect that the Middle East is a more dangerous place because Israel has nukes than otherwise. It has raised the “need” of Arab nations to get nukes, without softening the risk of conventional war (as Israel wins anyway, is protected by America and no one will nuke Hamas). It has necessarily raised the risk that Israel will use a nuke against a civilian population. So I’m still unsure how a nuclear Israel is an improvement.

          • CliveM

            I think from a purely Israeli perspective it would be an improvement. From others, including the west the question is more problematical.

            I still would argue that Israel’s opponents would look to gaining a nuclear capability, although they may have been slower about it if Israel hadn’t already developed its own.

            But we will never know!

          • dannybhoy

            Israel has had centuries of (forced) experience in developing survival skills andwriting books on “How to Survive in a world that doesn’t really want you to….”
            Thank God that He at least is still rooting for them.

            Israel started its nuclear programme back in the early fifties, but it was always only intended as a weapon of last resort, and there are plenty of Jewish folk who would be against its use even then; such is their respect for life.
            As I mentioned earlier there are other smarter and deadlier precison weapons being developed, and I would imagine we’ll be seeing them being deployed before nuclear weapons.
            That Israel continues to maintain its conventional military capability is essential for them and a salutary warning for us.

          • CliveM

            Yes I agree but what is your conclusion?

          • dannybhoy

            Oh!
            You wanted a conclusion…!!
            Nuclear weapons as dirty weapons are more likely to be detonated in large population centres by terrorists. Rational governments are least likely to use full scale nuclear weapons and irrational, “can’t wait to get to paradise!” governments most likely..

          • CliveM

            Ok do we replace Trident?

          • dannybhoy

            No.
            I don’t really think there’s any point. I seriously doubt we would use it anyway.

    • James Bolivar DiGriz

      “Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same (or try to)”
      Not true. The fact that any weapon (or weapon system) merely exists means that other people will try to develop it.

      If, say, Britain & France had not developed nuclear weapons but the US, the USSR & China had why would India & Pakistan have been less inclined to develop their own nuclear weapons?

      “The second problem is that if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases”
      A discredited 1970s theory. The ‘scientific’ argument then was that even if the probability of them not being used in any given year was very high then over enough time the probability will increase to over 50%. If the starting figure is 99% then you get to 50% in 69 years.

      However, even by the 1970s, it was clear that the starting figure is way higher than 99%, just changing it to 99.9% means that it takes 693 years to get to 50%. The second issue is that this model assumes that the world does not change. However in 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and the risk of a nuclear war dropped massively. Other issues (e.g. terrorism) have probably raised the risk of a nuclear device being set off somewhat, but the risk of a nuclear war is still a lot less than it was in 1988.

      • Albert

        Not true. The fact that any weapon (or weapon system) merely exists means that other people will try to develop it.

        That’s invalid reasoning. Yes, it’s true that some people will want it because it exists, but this fact does not exclude the fact that others will want to get one, because other countries (especially threatening neighbours have one).

        A discredited 1970s theory. The ‘scientific’ argument then was that even if the probability of them not being used in any given year was very high then over enough time the probability will increase to over 50%. If the starting figure is 99% then you get to 50% in 69 years.

        I think you should have a look at Carl Jacobs and Sam’s comments on the Yom Kippur War. Probability is a tricky thing, as we know.

        • James Bolivar DiGriz

          “That’s invalid reasoning”
          You may be right but you have failed to show why.

          I asked
          “If, say, Britain & France had not developed nuclear weapons but the US, the USSR & China had why would India & Pakistan have been less inclined to develop their own nuclear weapons?”
          and you have not addressed that at all.

          “I think you should have a look at Carl Jacobs and Sam’s comments on the Yom Kippur War”
          Sorry, TL;DR. RL and all that.

          “Probability is a tricky thing, as we know”
          That is exactly my point. You said “if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases” and I was pointing out that this is a simplistic and unsubstantiated point.

          • Albert

            You may be right but you have failed to show why.

            We need to put the comments in context. I said:

            “Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same (or try to)” You replied:

            “Not true. The fact that any weapon (or weapon system) merely exists means that other people will try to develop it.”

            Your statement, evidently does not render mine false. It is possible that although some may want nuclear weapons because they exist, that they are encouraged to get them because others have them. I’m guessing India and Pakistan are an example.

            I asked
            “If, say, Britain & France had not developed nuclear weapons but the US, the USSR & China had why would India & Pakistan have been less inclined to develop their own nuclear weapons?”
            and you have not addressed that at all.

            Again, I think there are logical problems. I do not need to be able to provide a link between any particular nuclear and another nation becoming a nuclear power, only that any nuclear power may encourage others to get nuclear weapons (e.g. because they feel directly threatened, or the sense that the world is nuclear arming, or the sense that you need such weapons to be on the top table).

            I was pointing out that this is a simplistic and unsubstantiated point.

            The difficulty there is that you didn’t read Sam’s and Carl’s posts. Apparently, the reason there was not a use of nuclear weapons in 1973 was because a brigade of Israelis held out against 2 brigades of Syrians. But the pro-nuclear position rests on probability since it rests on the probability that nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used and that they stop conventional wars. 1973 falsifies that. All the nuclear pacifist needs to demonstrate is that the availability of nuclear weapons increases the chances that they will be used against non-combatants – a point that can hardly be denied. So whereas your probability argument is complicated, difficult and falsified, mine cannot be denied.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Your statement, evidently does not render mine false”
            No but it does show up the hollowness of it. It is not a simple “X has got this, so I have got to have one” as your statement implies.

            The mere fact that something exists is enough to make people want to have them.

            ” I do not need to be able to provide a link between any particular nuclear and another nation becoming a nuclear power”
            But your initial statement, “Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same (or try to)” implies that our having nuclear weapons is a direct link to others countries trying to get them.

            “Apparently, the reason there was not a use of nuclear weapons in 1973 was because a brigade of Israelis held out against 2 brigades of Syrians”
            I am aware of that part of the war, and the odds against the Israelis were a lot worse than 2:1.

            However it is not ‘Apparently’ but ‘There is speculation that’, which is completely different. The Israelis made preparations but whether they would have actually used them is highly debatable.

            Had the Syrians gotten through the Golan Heights, they would have been closer where Israeli reinforcements were coming from and their supply lines would have their vulnerable. All anyone can do is to speculate.

            “All the nuclear pacifist needs to demonstrate is that the availability of nuclear weapons increases the chances that they will be used”
            Well 70 years of availability have not seen their use so I really don’t think that argument really holds water.

            Obviously the fact that nuclear weapons are known about (and for a country are relatively easy to make) means that their use cannot be ruled out forever, but their use does seem extremely unlikely.

            If by “increases the chances” you mean that it goes from 1 in 10 million to 1 in a million they you are mathematically correct. But in pragmatic terms the difference between those two numbers can be ignored.

            “So whereas your probability argument is complicated, difficult and falsified”
            I didn’t make a probability argument so it cannot have been falsified.

            I showed that the 1970s ‘nuclear war is inevitable’ probability argument was not true.

          • Albert

            No but it does show up the hollowness of it. It is not a simple “X has got this, so I have got to have one” as your statement implies.

            Which statement implied that? I’m surprised that you think that, as it would mean all countries would be struggling to go nuclear, which evidently they are not – and you have assumed I would notice that. My position is simply this: the fact that some nations are nuclear will encourage some other nations to go nuclear. That makes no claims about a direct causal link because between any two particular countries.

            implies that our having nuclear weapons is a direct link to others countries trying to get them.

            I’m happy to claim that there may or even will be a direct link between some, and that is sufficient for my position.

            However it is not ‘Apparently’ but ‘There is speculation that’, which is completely different.

            It’s odd that having been very logically imprecise you choose to be very precise here. The point is a simple one – nuclear weapons came onto the table at that time, and it was very much touch and go.

            All anyone can do is to speculate.

            And my point is that for there even to be a discussion about the ise of such weapons is to go too far.

            Well 70 years of availability have not seen their use so I really don’t think that argument really holds water.

            They have been used twice in the last 70 years.

            their use does seem extremely unlikely

            All it will take is the wrong conditions and the wrong leader(s). Simply to observe that those conditions have been met only twice in 70 years give no confidence over a longer period of time.

            f by “increases the chances” you mean that it goes from 1 in 10 million to 1 in a million they you are mathematically correct. But in pragmatic terms the difference between those two numbers can be ignored.

            The numbers can be ignored, because you do not know which numbers to put into them.

            I didn’t make a probability argument so it cannot have been falsified.

            You made it here:

            A discredited 1970s theory. The ‘scientific’ argument then was that even if the probability of them not being used in any given year was very high then over enough time the probability will increase to over 50%. If the starting figure is 99% then you get to 50% in 69 years.

            However, even by the 1970s, it was clear that the starting figure is way higher than 99%, just changing it to 99.9% means that it takes 693 years to get to 50%. The second issue is that this model assumes that the world does not change. However in 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and the risk of a nuclear war dropped massively. Other issues (e.g. terrorism) have probably raised the risk of a nuclear device being set off somewhat, but the risk of a nuclear war is still a lot less than it was in 1988.

            I showed that the 1970s ‘nuclear war is inevitable’ probability argument was not true.

            if that’s the 1970s argument, then I point out you are engaging a straw man. I never made that argument. I said

            The second problem is that if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases.

            …and that surely can hardly be denied…

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            It is not a simple “X has got this, so I have got to have one” as your statement implies

            Which statement implied that?

            In your initial post you say “Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same”, which sounds like a causal link to me.

            However in this post you say “the fact that some nations are nuclear will encourage some other nations to go nuclear”, and I think that this actually means the same as I initially said, the fact that these weapons exist means that some other people will try to develop them.

            It’s odd that having been very logically imprecise you choose to be very precise here

            I don’t know why you think I have been logically imprecise, you have not pointed out any imprecision.

            The point is a simple one – nuclear weapons came onto the table at that time, and it was very much touch and go

            Except it is not that simple at all. Nuclear weapons did not ‘come onto the table’ then, they had been around for almost three decades by then and there had been other times when there use had been talked about, e.g. Korean War, Cuban missile crisis.

            The use of ‘Apparently’ (and the way that the rest of that sentence was worded) makes it sound as if it is a universally accepted truth that apart from one thing, atomic weapons would have been used. However that is not the case. Some people have put forward that argument but many people do not accept it.

            And my point is that for there even to be a discussion about the ise of such weapons is to go too far

            It is not clear what you mean by this. We are discussing this now.

            They have been used twice in the last 70 years

            You are right, I should have said, 69 years of availability have not seen their use. That one year makes all the difference.

            All it will take is the wrong conditions and the wrong leader(s)

            Except there have been lots of leaders who have had access to nuclear weapons and not used them. including some with plenty of blood on their hands and no regard for human life (e.g. Stalin).

            Simply to observe that those conditions have been met only twice in 70 years give no confidence over a longer period of time

            No that is wrong. The wrong conditions and the wrong leader(s) criterion has never been met. The attacks on Hiroshima & Nagasaki were the consequence of WWII and not an act in the nuclear age when there multiple nuclear armed countries.

            Also logically the fact that they have not been used since then gives us some confidence that the uses of these weapons will be avoided for some time to come.

            I didn’t make a probability argument so it cannot have been falsified.

            You made it here:

            But what you are quoting is not me making an argument but refuting one.

            The argument was that the probability of nuclear weapons not being used is less than 100%, therefore after a number of years the probability of them not being used will drop below 50%, i.e. it will be more likely that the are used than not used.

            There are two flaws in that argument. The drop below 50% point is a very long way in the future, and the circumstances may well change, especially over a long time.

            Also you said that my argument had been falsified. That would only be true if the probability of nuclear war had dropped below 50% and so there had been a nuclear war. I think I might have notice that!

            if that’s the 1970s argument, then I point out you are engaging a straw man

            That argument was first used, to the best of my knowledge, in the 1970s. However I have no idea why you are calling it a strawman. I cannot see any basic difference between it and your argument “if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases”.

          • Albert

            In your initial post you say “Firstly, having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same”, which sounds like a causal link to me.

            My argument could be expressed formally thus:

            Let X stand for nuclear power and Y stand for nations trying to become nuclear powers.

            If some X then some Y.

            You seem to be taking me to mean if some X then all Y, which is not my position at all.

            Nuclear weapons did not ‘come onto the table’ then, they had been around for almost three decades by then and there had been other times when there use had been talked about, e.g. Korean War, Cuban missile crisis.

            Simply to discuss using them is to go too far.

            The use of ‘Apparently’ (and the way that the rest of that sentence was worded) makes it sound as if it is a universally accepted truth that apart from one thing, atomic weapons would have been used.

            It was a colloquialism.

            Also logically the fact that they have not been used since then gives us some confidence that the uses of these weapons will be avoided for some time to come.

            And it’s that last bit that worries me.

            But what you are quoting is not me making an argument but refuting one.

            It was your refutation I was getting at.

            Also you said that my argument had been falsified.

            We’re at crossed purposes. I was addressing the claim that possession of nuclear weapons prevents conventional war. That is clearly false, even if it prevented some conventional war.

            However I have no idea why you are calling it a strawman.

            It’s a straw man because it was not in fact my argument. You are answering something I have not said.

            However I have no idea why you are calling it a strawman. I cannot see any basic difference between it and your argument “if people have nuclear weapons, then the chance that they might be get used increases”.

            That’s staggering, but if you think that, then you’ve holed your own argument. Obviously, if no one has any nuclear weapons then it is impossible that they will use them. Equally, if someone has nuclear weapons then it is possible, even if unlikely, that they will use them. Therefore, my position is unassailable. Now since you think that is the same as the 1970s argument (it isn’t, but never mind), then it follows that the 1970s argument prevails.

            What I am saying is this: in your haste to knock down arguments you don’t like, you keep attributing to me positions I have not taken.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “You seem to be taking me to mean if some X then all Y, which is not my position at all”
            No, you seem to be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing here.

            As I pointed out we are saying the same thing, although I think your initial wording (“having a nuclear deterrent encourages others to do the same”) implied a causal link that you did not mean.

            “Simply to discuss using them is to go too far”
            So what do you advocate?

            The genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Nuclear weapons exist and cannot be uninvented.

            “It was a colloquialism”
            Okay. It did not come across that way to me.

            “And it’s that last bit that worries me”
            Obviously I don’t want to see them used ever, but surely the longer it can be avoided the more chance there is of some reliable (or at least more reliable) way of the use being prevented.

            “We’re at crossed purposes. I was addressing the claim that possession of nuclear weapons prevents conventional war”
            Totally, I never commented on that at all.

            “It’s a straw man because it was not in fact my argument. You are answering something I have not said”
            We were also at cross purposes about this.

            I had thought that you were trying to make a point about the continued existence of nuclear weapons meaning that the likelihood of them being used increases.

            However if your point is simply that “if no one has any nuclear weapons then it is impossible that they will use them” then clearly that is true but it is so facile as to be not worth making.

            Nuclear weapons do exist so talking about a world where they do not is completely pointless.

          • Albert

            No, you seem to be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing here.

            No. You tried to falsify my claim by attacking what you thought was entailed by it. But it wasn’t. Therefore, your objection failed.

            implied a causal link that you did not mean.

            No I do believe that if some countries have nuclear weapons then some other countries will be encouraged to have them. But that does not mean other countries may not have other reasons, and it certainly doesn’t mean that in the case of any country getting such weapons that therefore all the other nuclear powers will have been the direct cause of that project. India is more likely to inspire Pakistan to get such weapons than (say) Israel, because Israel does not perceive India as a threat.

            So what do you advocate?

            I don’t think people should even contemplate using such weapons – at least not in such a way as will target civilians.

            Okay. It did not come across that way to me.

            Don’t worry, I was writing at speed and did not express myself clearly.

            Obviously I don’t want to see them used ever, but surely the longer it can be avoided the more chance there is of some reliable (or at least more reliable) way of the use being prevented.

            But how is that an argument in favour of their retention?

            However if your point is simply that “if no one has any nuclear weapons then it is impossible that they will use them” then clearly that is true but it is so facile as to be not worth making.

            Given the destructive power of NWs I don’t see that outcome as facile.

            Nuclear weapons do exist so talking about a world where they do not is completely pointless.

            You could say the same of child abuse. It doesn’t mean that anyone person is justified in engaging in such acts.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            No, you seem to be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing here

            No. You tried to falsify my claim by attacking what you thought was entailed by it. But it wasn’t. Therefore, your objection failed

            But after I had pointed out that we were saying the same thing in different words you carried on trying to show that I was wrong. I cannot see the point in that.

            implied a causal link that you did not mean

            No I do believe that if some countries have nuclear weapons then some other countries will be encouraged to have them

            Which does not, IMO, agree with your earlier statement that “[My position] makes no claims about a direct causal link because between any two particular countries”.

            I don’t think people should even contemplate using such weapons

            That does not seem like a policy, more like an absence of policy.

            at least not in such a way as will target civilians.

            So if we target military locations (Murmask & Vladivostok say) that are near civilian cities you would be okay?

            But how is that an argument in favour of their retention?

            I think that we have to start from where we are, no where we would like to be. The current situation is not perfect but it is stable. Any change might well destabilise things in ways that we cannot foresee.

            For example, One idea is that we should reduce the number of Trident boats from four to three and give up CASD. Rather we would have a ‘Normally-CASD’ or ‘CASD-Capable’ force. However, that reduction in our capabilities could increase tension if, say, we sent a Trident boat to sea in response to Putin starting a ‘hybrid attack, on the Baltic states.

            However if your point is simply that “if no one has any nuclear weapons then it is impossible that they will use them” then clearly that is true but it is so facile as to be not worth making.

            Given the destructive power of NWs I don’t see that outcome as facile.

            What outcome are you talking about? There was no outcome described in my statement.

            Nuclear weapons do exist so talking about a world where they do not is completely pointless.

            You could say the same of child abuse. It doesn’t mean that anyone person is justified in engaging in such acts

            That bears no relationship to what I said. What you are saying about nuclear weapons is equivalent to saying ‘If there were no paedophiles there would be no paedophilia’ which is true but meaningless.

          • Albert

            But after I had pointed out that we were saying the same thing in different words you carried on trying to show that I was wrong. I cannot see the point in that.

            It’s not clear to me that we are saying the same thing, the fact that you say things like the following suggest to me that we are not:

            Which does not, IMO, agree with your earlier statement that “[My position] makes no claims about a direct causal link because between any two particular countries”.

            There is no contradiction that I can see between my two statements.

            You continue:

            That does not seem like a policy, more like an absence of policy.

            That sounds like an endorsement of the politician’s fallacy, to me.

            So if we target military locations (Murmask & Vladivostok say) that are near civilian cities you would be okay?

            It might not be intrinsically wicked.

            I think that we have to start from where we are, not where we would like to be. The current situation is not perfect but it is stable. Any change might well destabilise things in ways that we cannot foresee.

            Possibly, but this is all working on consequentialist assumptions. THe problem with that idea is that none of us knows the full consequences of any action, and so consequentialism cannot really be an adequate moral system, or way of deciding how to act with something as serious as nuclear weapons. The reality is the world looks pretty unstable at the moment. If you take the Middle East, this is clearly partly because of how the West has thrown its weight around there.

            What outcome are you talking about? There was no outcome described in my statement.

            State of affairs then.

            hat bears no relationship to what I said. What you are saying about nuclear weapons is equivalent to saying ‘If there were no paedophiles there would be no paedophilia’ which is true but meaningless.

            If something is true it is not meaningless. Moreover, you have misunderstood my point. The fact that we will never completely win the battle against child abuse does not mean we should not fight it, still less does it justify anyone engaging in such abuse. The same goes for your point:

            Nuclear weapons do exist so talking about a world where they do not is completely pointless.

  • The Explorer

    Look, people are basically nice and peace loving. At school, don’t provoke a bully and you’ll be left alone. Carry a gun in a holster and you declare a challenge. So get rid of the gun, and then people will know you are not a threat and leave you to go about your your lawful business. Disband the police, because criminals are basically nice people whose motives have been misunderstood. Get rid of the armed forces. That will leave you with more to be spent on health and education, and other nations will admire your desire for global harmony.

    And then there’s the real world…

  • RuariJM

    You make some very valid points and then go and spoil it with some rather silly and misguided news about Iran. Even the White Huse no longer swallows the Netanyahu line.

    We may be able to agree that unmonitored nuclear resources, both civilian and military, are a potential threat to the entire world. Question: which nuclear-armed power in the Middle East is not a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and does not permit any external monitoring of its nuclear power stations or weapons?

    • Obama is a Neville Chamberlain esque , weak jellyfish who would rather suck up to mad mullahs and other crazies, whilst discarding old alliances and friendships , a bit like when he returned the bust of Churchill to Britain and has basically turned his back on Israel. The cost of appeasement is going to be high.

      • RuariJM

        How do you feel about the Pentagon?

        • dannybhoy

          Don’t be silly!
          Shmu’el can hardly afford a car, let alone a mortgage on an exclusive pied-à-terre..

          • Dude,

            Yeah I’m just a poor Jewish boy, whose lucky to earn 3 shilling , sixpence and one farthing a week….. Wine is flowing, the sun is blazing as is our bbq : burgers and matzah …. oh and Sant-il-Khadra dude!

          • dannybhoy

            “Yeah I’m just a poor Jewish boy, whose lucky to earn 3 shilling , sixpence and one farthing a week..”

            I know Sam, I know..
            The wife and I have just returned from eating the “bread of affliction” aka motza ceiling tiles, at my sister’s place..
            I completely forgot they were still doing Pesach..
            I could send you a few cartons should you need them..

  • carl jacobs

    Nuclear weapons are not going away. You can dream about a world in which the nations voluntarily lay them down, but eventually the dream must give way to morning. Dreams, after all, are what you wake up from. Nuclear weapons simply provide too much military capability.

    So you have three choices:

    1. You can maintain your own capability.
    2. You can shelter behind someone else’s capability.
    3. You can forego the capability, and so exist at the sufferance of your enemy – because if he decides to go to war with you, then you lose.

    In practice, the repudiation of Trident means that you choose Answer 2. You would “let the Americans do it.” It’s a “Let me have my cake and eat it, too” strategy. One the one hand, you can live in peace and security against nuclear coercion. One the other hand, you can strike noble attitudes about how terrible nuclear weapons are. And you can spend that 100 Billion on yourself. You can buy yourself an increased standard of living. But what is the righteousness of railing against nuclear weapons even as you accept the nuclear protection of another state? Abolish NATO along with Trident if you truly want “clean hands.”

    Europe’s continued flight from military power indicates its fundamental lack of seriousness on the world stage. It is used to being protected by the Americans, and it rather likes not having to bear the expense. There are welfare states to be funded after all. But European fantasies about being the post-war continent are just that. It is a bubble bought and paid for by the Pentagon. If the US – for whatever reason – returns back across the Atlantic, the world in Europe is going to suddenly appear very different. But it will be too late to do anything about it.

    • Carl,

      True and I’d say that the US already doing as such, due to the “pivot” towards Asia. Europe is utterly incapable of defending itself and Russia knows this, even the British military is being whittled down to nothing (carriers without planes for example and slashing the army and air force). Not that Europe would be united as the likes of Greece are that fed up they seem to be going to suck up to Russia because of their debts.

    • James Bolivar DiGriz

      “And you can spend that 100 Billion on yourself”
      I think that the £100 billion figure was ‘calculated’ by the Green Party.

      People who know about these things talk about £30 billion over 30- 40 years.

      BTW, £30 billion is something like three months of the cost of the NHS.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Are you sure? Programme the other night said the NHS spends £25Bn on treating self induced illness from such as smoking and obesity.

        • James Bolivar DiGriz

          I thought that the annual NHS budget was c. £120 billion. This
          http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/overview.aspx
          says that the 2015/16 budget is around £115.4 billion. So more than three months but less than four.

          I don’t see what point you are making with the £25 billion on self induced illness comment.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Just that if we were spending that amount on self induced illness I would have expected the total to be greater.
            No criticism intended.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            I didn’t take it as a criticism, I just did not understand your point.

            I see what you mean. I suppose that teh £25 billion is an estimate and it is a matter of opinion as to what is put down to that that. E.g. what %age of CHD is down to obesity, what to genetics and what to old age.

  • Dudes

    “Si vis pacem, para bellum” seems to be the argument in favour of the nuclear deterrent. A nuclear deterrent is only any good , if you are prepared to use it. What circumstances this may be is the real issue if it’s going to be credible and not just a way of Britain pretending to be a world superpower. The second issue is that, unlike the French, trident isn’t really independent , for the UK is wholly reliant on the US for it and I doubt Britain would be allowed to launch the missiles on its own without US support or tacit approval .Third, the decision as to what to do in the event Britain or the government is destroyed, is up to the prime minister of the day: hand written letters , the letters of last resort, are placed in a safe on-board the subs and destroyed once a new prime minister is installed….. I wonder what each of the party leaders would write right now?

    • Dominic Stockford

      “Come, Lord Jesus, come…”

      That’s what I’d write…

  • Uncle Brian

    While Iran, with or without nukes, is undeniably a standing threat to Israel, that is not, I think, the major flashpoint in the present circumstances. It’s the Sunni-Shia standoff in the form of Iran and Saudi Arabia shaking their fists at each other across the Persian Gulf. When Iran get its nukes, which it evidently will, courtesy of Barack Obama, sometime between now and, say, 2030, the Saudis are going to insist on having nukes of their own. At the moment we’re spectators at their proxy war in Yemen. How long is the fighting going to go on, before one side or the other decides it’s had enough? Will the war of attrition still be dragging on, whether in Yemen or somewhere else in the region, when Iran becomes a nuclear power?

    • IanCad

      You’ve got it UB.

    • bluedog

      The Saudis have Chinese nuclear capable missiles and an agreement with Pakistan by which a bomb/warhead can be delivered within hours. Not sure how that works in practice, as Iran lies between the Pakis and the Saudis.

  • RuariJM

    Just noticed, Your Grace…

    You talk about “…ascendant Shia eschatological hostility.”

    The one you should really be worried about is Wahhabi/Salafist Sunni hostility. The sort that inspires Al Qa’eda and ISIS. Shia Islam seriously has no equivalent – and yes, I am including Hizbollah

    You may not be entirely relaxed about Iran but confusing Shia with Sunni is a pretty basic error, of the sort that leads to fundamental misunderstandings and errors. On the basis that our enemy’s enemy could at least be a tactical ally, if not a friend, we should be exploring ways to work WITH Iran against our common threat, not constantly isolating the country and treating it as the big enemy.

    • “..confusing
      Shia with Sunni is a pretty basic error”
      There is no such confusion: the text means as it says and says what it means. Sunnis do not believe Shia eschatological theology. You may have your own fears and concerns, but please don’t patronise with your “basic error” aspersions, for to do so is to deflect ad hominem rather than address the theo-political issues.

      • RuariJM

        How many Christians have Shia-inspired armed gangs killed in Africa, Syria Iraq in recent months, Your Grace? Simply for being Christian?

          • RuariJM

            No, I am not being obtuse, purposely or otherwise.

            Thank you for the link – it tends to support my point. Sunni/Wahabist/Salfist jihadist elements are the ones you identify; they are the overt enemy and a clear and present danger.

            Boko Haram, the Somali militia that slaughtered 148 Christians in Kenya – simply for being Christian – ISIS in Syria and Iraq, who have slaughtered Christians, Shiite Muslims, Yazidis and anyone else who is not ‘one of them’, Daesh or whatever they are calling themselves in Libya, who slaughtered a couple of dozen Egyptian Copts, have made clear their hatred of the Christianity in particular and the West in general. They are Wahhabist/Salifist Sunnis.

            Is there an equivalent from the Shia side?

          • If Saudi and Iran want to wage war against their fellow Muslims then that’s up to them, just wish they’d leave Christians, Jews, Kurds and other minorities out of it. As Kissinger once said “it’s a pity they can’t both loose”.

            Iran, who has plenty of hot babes, would get support from me , if their leaders stopped calling for Israel’s destruction, an end to their terrorist funding and an end to their nuclear programme….

    • Shadrach Fire

      Is there some possibility that the UK’s support of one ME country as opposed to another, has less to do with integrity or religion than fiscal dealings and arrangements.

      • RuariJM

        I take your point but if we have to make a choice – and there is an argument that we now do have to make a choice – then Iran is a less bad choice than the Wahhabists, Salafists and Islamists and their connections. Which includes a hitherto “very important ally”.

    • IanCad

      So right!

    • bluedog

      The UK has a large Sunni population and accordingly acts (unconsciously) as a Sunni faction within the Middle Eastern power structure. Acting as the ally of a Shiite power is not an option.

      • RuariJM

        Ah, that old familiar sound of scraping at the bottom of a barrel.

        • bluedog

          In what regard?

  • Athanasius

    In fairness, I feel I should point out that Scotland is, for the moment at least, still in union with England and accordingly, it’s not grammatically correct to write of them as though they were filthy foreigners living off the English. One should wait until after independence, at which point they will technically BECOME filthy foreigners living off the English.

  • len

    Of course no one with a grain of sense is ever going to use a nuclear weapon…..However if a Jihadist ever gets hold of a suitcase size nuclear weapon then we really will have something to worry about….

  • Dominic Stockford

    A couple of quotes from the Christian Party manifesto on this subject – both of which seem most sensible. There are 12 candidates, you have a one in 56 chance of being able to vote for one. If you can, do.

    Firstly:
    “Scripture asks the rhetorical question, “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?” 1 Corinthians 9:7. To our shame in recent times British armed forces have been ill-equipped for conflict and some service personnel have equipped themselves for their safety.”

    Our Armed forces won’t just be ill-equipped without Trident – they’ll be going naked and bound onto the Battle-Field.

    “The Christian Party has a progressive policy on nuclear deterrence. It recognises the role of nuclear deterrence in ending WWII and in maintaining the peace during the escalating arms race during the Cold War. With increasing ethnic and ideological tensions in recent decades, this is not the time for unilateral nuclear disarmament.”

    Enough said. Simples.

  • David

    “Christian are not called to be defenceless” says this article.
    I say “indeed”.
    Sometimes the stout believer must go forward in defence of all that is innocent, precious and defenceless, with The Book in one hand and the sword in the other.
    We should not seek war, but neither should we shirk from doing what is needed to defend the young, the weak and the old, our country, our family and ourselves.

    • How is Mutual Mass Destruction, (MAD), i.e. the wiping out and annihilation of all life in warring nations, and probably on planet earth, a moral option consistent with the Book you’ll hold in one hand whilst turning the nuclear key with the other. It’s more than a Sword used to defend. It’s not an illusory policy, a game of bluff, it Is a deadly serious intentional strategy. It only ‘works’ because its effects are too awful to contemplate.

      The Christian has to ask: Is it a moral strategy or is it either a necessary evil or an intrinsic evil?

      (Enter Carl ….. )

      • David

        Happy Jack, I accept the validity of your questions.

        The world is an ugly place and I am of the opinion that we need nasty weapons to deter, and therefore keep us safe from an attack using such weapons.
        But Carl has received the military ethical training…….

        • But what position should a Christian adopt? Is the destruction of all life on earth a legitimate and moral option? It’s certainly unbiblical in Genesis terms of stewardship.

          • David

            I shall leave the deep philosophy to you. But personally I will always want at least as big a stick as my enemy, so as to keep the peace.

          • Denny Keane

            This is in reply to homosexuality being morally wrong. Even the church says homosexuality is not morally wrong. It is the acts of homosexuality that is morally wrong, and I agree with you. They are. But so are so many other acts morally wrong. Take for instance lying. It’s a estimate is via average American

          • Jack thinks you are on the wrong thread. The topic under discussion is nuclear deterrence.

      • carl jacobs

        MAD refers to a doctrine of employment and not an outcome. US nuclear doctrine has moved far beyond MAD. Idealists prefer MAD because it sets the bar so high for use. The only possible nuclear war is total war. In which case, we might as well just get rid of them. MAD thus becomes a de facto strawman argument for disarmament.

        Unfortunately, there are lots of ways to employ those weapons short of total war. You can’t simply wish that fact away.

        • You’ll have to explain how “a doctrine of employment and not an outcome” is different once the bombs start flying. And although there are other strategies that can be used against regimes with nuclear weapons, the one that really counts is that between the big players and, whether intended or not, MAD is the logical end game.

          And it is either a bluff or it is fundamentally immoral …

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Militaries develop doctrine to govern the employment of weapons. The entirety of that doctrine is not “Total nuclear war.”

  • Uncle Brian

    The talk on this thread about the Cold War compared with the present-day nuclear threat, such as it is, reminds me of something I heard at the time of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. When Jimmy Carter bungled the initial response, just sitting in the Oval Office and wringing his hands, the story went round that Brezhnev told him, over the hot line, “If it had been the Soviet embassy and Soviet hostages, you know what I’d have done? I’d have told Khomeini, You’ve got 48 hours to get them all safely back across the border into the USSR. A minute longer, and Tehran will be a smoking crater.”

    I can’t vouch for the truth of that story, but I found it believable at the time and,
    looking back on it, I think on the whole I still do. The point is that, if it had been the Soviet embassy and Soviet hostages, and if Brezhnev had presented Khomeini
    with that clear-cut choice, Khomeini would have had to take him at his word. But if Jimmy Carter had even had it in him to screw up his courage to the point of being able to utter the magic words, “smoking crater”, who would have believed him? And who would believe Obama today, if he should ever have occasion to make a threat like that? Or Cameron, or Miliband?

  • The Explorer

    I fully sympathise with a Defence Minister of any party trying to estimate our defence needs.
    Before the Iraq War and with the WMD scare, we were told that we could be attacked in 45 minutes. I remember thinking, but why? We’re probably buying his oil and he’d prefer us intact to keep on buying it. Saddam’s natural enemies were Iran and Israel. I thought then, who are our enemies nowadays, when it comes to it, and why?
    Then there was the Tory Defence Review, with its focus on electronic warfare. A computer blowing a passenger plane out of the sky. Good point. How could Trident prevent that?
    Are we going to continue defending the Falklands? If so, aircraft carriers and submarines makes sense. But you don’t need Trident for that.
    Buy Trident, and you’re accountable to the States. But we relinquished our independence back in the 60’s when we cancelled the TSR2 and elected to buy American fighters instead. A joint European missile as a Trident alternative? And what if we leave the EU?
    Trying to guess even the short-term future is extremely difficult. Who, five years ago, would have predicted IS? Are they a threat to us? If so, are they a threat that can be repelled with Trident?

    • Dreadnaught

      Ukraine was persuaded to remove their nukes … then Putin walked in.

      • The Explorer

        Assume we’re Ukraine. Who is our equivalent of Russia? (I take the point about the need for a nuclear deterrent. Does it need to be American-built?)

        • Dreadnaught

          NATO without the US (and their weaponry) would be worse than useless. We have become soft bellied through 70 years of peace; history is the touchstone that needs polishing.

          • dannybhoy

            To be as kind as a Christian citizen can be I think Obama (perhaps for the best of reasons) was/is intent on changing the US from a world pack-leader into a committee member..

            In my opinion he is ignoring the ‘real world’ reality that either the world’s only super power leads or someone or something else does.

            In my humble opinion it is in all our interests that America regains its confidence, rebuilds its economy, loses its politically correct agenda, stops trying to impose democracy on sovereign states that either don’t understand it or don’t want it, reasserts its Christian based values and returns to being the world’s most powerful and benevolent nation unwilling but always ready to use a big stick..

          • Dreadnaught

            And how would it do that? – the Xtian values bit I mean.

          • The Explorer

            Even if the US did all that, it wouldn’t be Atlantic focused the way it was against the Soviets. The bulk of the US Fleet is now China watching.
            The Islamic issue aside, I’m guessing that the flashpoints of the future will be between China and Japan over the ownership of Pacific islands where there’s oil/minerals, and conflict between China and Russia as China begins to reclaim territory taken from it in the Nineteenth Century.

          • dannybhoy

            Explorer,
            yes to your China/Japan point, but I still think
            (although of course who knows for sure!)
            that radical Islam poses the greatest immediate threat to the West, and will do until the West gets real and realises that its very existence is under threat.
            Even China is vulnerable to Islamic extremism.

        • CliveM

          Has anyone asked if the US would still be willing to sell us another generation of nuclear deterrent? Would Obama? Ok he won’t be around, but with an increasingly isolationist USA, why are we so certain they would?

          • The Explorer

            Good point. I know very little about all this stuff. I understand that the current generation of Trident was built in Britain under licence? Because it’s an American design we’re under American control. Does that mean we could not use actually use Trident unless the US gave us permission?

          • CliveM

            The honest answer to your last question is I don’t know. It is inconceivable that the US doesn’t exert some sort of control over Trident, but what the details are?

            As people maybe aware France and Britain signed a defence and securities treaty 2010. The French have their own deterrent. Maybe a joint development? There are other joint programmes going on, so the political infrastructure is in place.

          • bluedog

            Correct. It seems that there is a final lock on the system to prevent us launching Trident without US permission. Scarcely a gesture of trust in their closest ally. It implies that we can’t be trusted not to vaporize Washington. Oh, wait…

      • IanCad

        Libya also gave up their nuke program. Now look at the place.

    • dannybhoy

      The greatest threat to the world right now (in the absence of a clear and and achievable US foreign policy) is radical Islam.
      Most countries want to get on and have a better and sustainable future. The only exceptions would be the ‘gangsta states’ such as IS and associates, North Korea, and other states led by ruthless men..
      Using nuclear weapons will poison our world, decimate food production, and poison water resources..
      Totally pointless and only the totally fanatical or totally irresponsible would attempt it.

      • Dreadnaught

        The whole point of having a nuclear deterrent is not having to use them – that’s why we have things like national insurance.

        • carl jacobs

          The point of a nuclear capability is using it if and when you need to. Deterrence arises from this willingness.

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, Carl, but also from credibility. It’s not enough to be willing, you have to be seen to be willing. And how do you convince the other side that you really are willing, without going the whole way? Please take a look at a newer comment of mine, about a dozen comments down from this one, about Brezhnev’s reported reaction to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            Uncle Brian,

            Actually you don’t have to be willing to use them. All that is necessary is that the other party thinks that you are willing.

            In your earlier scenario, many people would have believed Brezhnev willing to do it but Carter not willing. But can anyone know if Brezhnev actually was willing?

          • Uncle Brian

            Agreed. But when the story was going around at the time, I think we all took it for granted that Khomeini wouldn’t have dared to call Brezhnev’s bluff.

  • The Explorer

    What exactly is being proposed? The removal of the nuclear submarine base from Scotland? Or allow the rest of the UK to rent it? That way you’d get free nuclear protection and make a profit on it.

    • They want it gone from Scotland’s shore and, actually, from the UK ….. probably not the Royal Navy base there.

      • The Explorer

        Thank you.

      • carl jacobs

        And if I was the UK Gov’t , I would tell Scotland “No, we’re keeping that base. If you don’t like it, that’s tough. Send in the Scottish Army. Oh, that’s right. You don’t have an Army. Too bad. So sad.”

        • And that would just about guarantee a vote for independence next time around. The SNP know Trident cannot be scrapped. It’s a move to attract the Catholic vote away from Labour.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            While skimming articles I came across what appeared to be a yellow belly getting a good thrashing. It appeared to be a real dogfight that cost you your dignity and what is left of your self respect. You have no credibility. You make a terrible missionary for Holy Mother Church.

            If I didn’t know you better I would have felt sorry for you but, you reap what you sow. you copied over 2 of your trad supporters. I had a good belly laugh when I saw who they are. The chick called herself an airhead and I up voted it because it is true and she knows it. She apparently didn’t like it though I had no way of knowing until she said I was stalking her. That’s about as dumb as your false claims.

            Just want to let you know I know you’re not a poster people welcome to engage. So, I’m correct you’re wrong and life goes on. I’m sure you’ll want to retaliate and that’s fine. Were I concerned I wouldn’t have posted this. I can assure you that if you disappear I will as well. I’ll end it here (unless of course you want to retaliate)

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            The above conversation assumes Scottish independence has already occurred. There would be no need to say those things before independence.

      • Dude

        Well apparently one of the daily mail analysts said that the SNP leader is “a glamorous, power-dressing imperatrix – emphasising a mixture of elegant feminine charm and steel”….

        • carl jacobs

          Sam

          Please find the question I asked of you in a response to Albert on this thread. You are my expert witness.

        • dannybhoy

          Name me any Scottish female sex symbol..
          apart from Molly Sugden.
          The accent does not lend itself to alluring femininity..
          Imagine a Glaswegian Felicity Kendal..
          No, neither can I.

          • Uncle Brian

            Imagine a Glaswegian Felicity Kendal..
            Billy Connolly in drag?

          • Dude,

            Scotland is surely more thqn Glasgow?? Personally I’ve not had the pleasure of dating a Scottish gal, so I can’t comment…..

          • dannybhoy

            No I jest..
            No I don’t!
            I remember the lead singer of Fairground Attraction being a bonnie lass with a great singing voice.
            Then there’s Lulu..
            So two out of two and a half million ain’t bad…

          • Andrea McLean is another….

          • Inspector General

            Lulu.

          • dannybhoy
          • Inspector General

            The highlight of Lulu’s career were her memorable series of “Flash” adverts. One is still convinced the stuff cleans baths without scratching, without ever having bought it…

          • dannybhoy

            That’s kinda sad Inspector
            Really.,
            Even I don’t remember that.
            I’m starting to worry about you old chap…

          • Inspector General

            {Ahem} One of the sanest men here, don’t you know…

          • CliveM

            Karen Gillan

          • dannybhoy

            Not my type but I’ll go along with your choice.,
            So that makes three…

          • RuariJM

            Michelle Mone.

          • dannybhoy

            Okay, a good looking and successful business woman, so she counts as two.
            So that makes five a total of five lovely feminine ladies in the whole of Bonnie Scotland..

          • RuariJM

            You asked “name me ANY…” (My emphasis).

            It strikes me that you have been super served already and it’s maybe time for a visit to Specsavers.

          • dannybhoy

            Ha!
            I have indeed been super served.
            But my point has been proved..

        • Jack has met her. She is a wee bully girl.

          • Dude, the Indy ref was enough with the cybernats pouncing on anyone who disagreed with them. I dread to think what will happen when the SNP put Miliband into downing street .

  • Inspector General

    Ah, one recalls the wonderful days of ‘nuclear free’ towns and cities when the good councillors thereof, all Marxists to some degree, petitioned the Soviet Union not to include them in the wipe-out list, as if the Soviet Union cared a damn. But of course, such inanity is seen when the dreaded nukes are discussed.

    Cranmer has this day given us a first rate synopsis of the position. Arguments for and the weak arguments against, there cannot be any strong arguments against a weapon system that has served us so well since its inception. He has also advised that we ignore the politico bishops who are clearly out of their joyous hearts depth on the issue of being prepared for the worst. So, well done Sir. This man salutes you.

    One area our Cranmer did not touch on is the prestige these weapons give the UK. Yes, in our unstable world, those who would destroy us look on enviously at our ability to prevent them from doing just that. And it is this prestige that gives the UK a seat at the table. Not past glories but our undisputed might today. Without them we would be a lesser influence on the world, and have as much clout in it as, say, Sweden. There is a certain irony that those who cower at our feet thanks to our weaponry are the very people who would be at our throats if we disposed of them. Let’s not forget that, Gentlemen, the unfortunate ways of the world…

    • dannybhoy

      Wasn’t that such a joke!

      • Inspector General

        What, the nuclear free zones?

        • dannybhoy

          Yes.
          I lived in a couple of towns that proudly proclaimed themselves “Nuclear free zones”
          I can’t tell you how reassuring I found it.
          I really can’t…..

          • Inspector General

            : – >

          • Inspector General

            The Inspectorate was based at the time in Cheltenham. Don’t think they even bothered, as GCHQ was in two locations then, either sides. It would have no doubt taken two ground blasts to wipe out all traces of the set up, and of course, Cheltenham would have received the very first strike, to knock out communications. Cheltonians were rather pleased that they were sinlged out like that, most of the rest of the country were slated down for airblasts…

            But as for the areas that did, the Inspector found it highly amusing that a bunch of petty types calling themselves councillors who spent most of the time arguing with each other could have the temerity to write to the Supreme Soviet begging to be excused from their world domination plan. Well, at least until the fallout drifted over and killed off the electorate…

          • dannybhoy

            I live in rural Norfolk not that far from some US airbases and a British (Tah Dahhh!) RAF base..
            I guarantee the RAF base would be wiped out no time flat…
            and the town council with it..

          • Dude

            Check out this site, which tells you what would happen to a given area, including estimated casualties, if a nuclear weapon (you can choose which one) were to be dropped or exploded into the atmosphere above a given location (i did this with Israel and it was terrifying, so I can see why Iran can’t get nukes):

            http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

          • dannybhoy

            My guess is that Iran is getting help from Pakistan, or possibly North Korea; perhaps China? or even Russia??
            I have no doubt that the Iranian people are as decent as the rest of us, but they are under the control of an incredibly dangerous government.

          • Dude

            I read that Saudi would get nukes from Pakistan, if Iran got them:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24823846

          • IanCad

            Definitely not from Sunni Pakistan.

          • dannybhoy

            Well, we don’t know what goes on in secret talks and deals do we..

          • Inspector General

            Not Russia. Have their own problem with muslims. One recalls the prophets people invading a school and killing the little ones..

          • alternative_perspective

            I studied with a chap from Iran in 2006.
            We were chatting about the whole Iranian nuclear issue. He happily conceded they wanted a bomb but then, he pointed out, wouldn’t you with Iraq to the West and Pakistan to the East.

          • Inspector General

            There’s a thing. An RAF base in Norfolk is tasked with the job of providing air cover for aforementioned organisation, now housed in a doughnut looking building. Scramble to arrival is 20 minutes.

          • Anton

            Especially given that more than 99.9% of the mass of everything and everybody in these towns (and out of them) comprises nuclear matter…

  • Anton

    Mutually Assured Destruction involves a Faustian pact. Yet it enabled ed me to be brought up in a democracy rather than under communist rule from Moscow.

    Every more powerful weapon that has been developed has eventually been used, and the H-bomb (far more destructive than the A-bombs that nuked Japan) will someday be in view of man’s dark heart. This is partly why I asked Linus if he believed that man was competent to govern his own affairs.

  • Merchantman

    Everyone in the SNP, the Greens and the Eddites in Labour are deaf to the mood music coming from Putin and the people around him. Way back Putin announced he was retargeting the West with his nukes when we had targeted ours to land goodness know where; probably the North pole.
    Lately he has made some even more threatening noises.
    Now we have the likelihood ISIS will be working on the bomb.
    I don’t know where the countdown clock to Armageddon stands but I’m pretty sure its close to midnight. Not the time to be running round naked shouting ‘peace, peace,’ that’s for certain.
    Time for the watchmen to keep watch. So we wont be counting on the Bishops and ED axis to do the job will we?
    I wont.

  • Leacock

    Trident has proven to be an excellent deterrent. Nuclear weapons are some of the finest deterrent weapons in the world, far cheaper than mass conscript armies for deterring attack. As to their just war applications, well I have always been leery of just war theory, Augustine’s prescriptions seem to be based on the fundamentally false premise that man can accurately predict the future in any detail. Iraq would have fit just war premises as something they could have realistically thought would make things better. Joshua’s campaign into Canaan would fit neither jus post bello considerations, nor have been deemed likely to succeed, those who perished wandering in the Sinai were all a band of good Just War theorists.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector would like to remind all you gentlemen that one of the great evils of the world, the Soviet Union, was held back from expansionism thanks to nuclear deterrents. We now have new evils in it’s place. They too will be held back, and we need those weapons to do that as surely now as we did a couple of decades ago…

  • SeekTruthFromFacts

    “we have a real choice on defence… A Labour/SNP (/Sinn Fein?) coalition is likely to abolish Trident.” This is completely misleading.

    Ed Miliband said on 16 March, “Labour will not go into coalition
    government with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any
    government I lead.” Mr Cameron and Ms Sturgeon have both ruled a British
    nationalist/Scottish nationalist pact. The SNP’s policies on this issue are therefore thought-provoking but irrelevant to voters in England.

    Labour have a clear commitment to a continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent.
    The Tories have a clear commitment to a continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent.

    So the Trident programme will certainly be renewed. It is inconceivable that Labour and the Tories together would have less than half of MPs. Whether Mr Cameron or Mr Miliband is Prime Minister makes no difference to the security of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

  • SeekTruthFromFacts

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t think anyone’s yet mentioned that Britain only has nuclear weapons because a Labour Prime Minister made it a priority to develop them *at a time when bread was rationed*. What more commitment to an independent nuclear deterrent could you possibly want?

    • RuariJM

      Absolutely true but that was a long time ago, in a strange country called “The Past”, where politicians had principles and put the needs and interests of the country above their own careers.

      • SeekTruthFromFacts

        I don’t agree with Mr Cameron’s decision on gay marriage, but it does seem to me that he put his principles ahead of his partisan advantage in that case.

        Likewise, Mr Miliband didn’t take on Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Mail because he thought it was the lazy way into Downing Street. Opposing the Iraq War wasn’t an obvious route to career success either.

        Stephen Timms voted against gay marriage even thought it could have ended his front bench prospects.

        Today’s politicians do stand up for principles.

        Let’s just avoid looking in Mr Clegg’s direction…..

  • Linus

    Like everything else in a democracy, nuclear policy is subject to the popular vote.

    In your first past the post system, all that’s needed to scrap Trident is a simple Commons majority. But where will that majority come from?

    The old two party system that ensured viable governments has been wrecked by an ill-advised policy of devolution. Instead of the old class divide that gave Britain an “alternance” of Conservative and Labour governments, you now have a nationalist divide and a new voting bloc in Scotland that looks set to hold the balance of power. It wants rid of Trident, so Trident will go. It will be the price that any incoming Prime Minister will have to pay for the keys to Number 10. That and however many billions Ms Sturgeon wants to consolidate her hold over the Scots electorate.

    Your defence policy is going to be decided by 5 million Scots rather than the entire nation. Devolution has been the death of democracy rather than its saviour. It’s created a nationalist monster in Scotland that has no loyalty to the UK at all and just wants to pump it for all it can get before finally breaking away.

    The lessons that countries like France and Spain can learn from this British débâcle are enormous. Nations with no tradition of federalism cede power to their regions at their own peril.

    I remember as a child on one of my visits to family in England seeing a political cartoon in a newspaper that seems very à propos today. Mrs Mountbatten is sitting on her curly swirly carved chair wearing a very exasperated expression as a nervous-looking Harold Wilson faces her. Out of the window you see a tartan patterned limousine driving away with a flag flying from it bearing the words “Scots Ambassador”. A map of the British Isles hanging on the wall shows the Republics of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall and, if I remember rightly, a united Ireland and a Soviet Socialist Republic of Yorkshire.

    “So Prime Minister!” says a disgruntled Mrs M. “Now that Scotland is gone, just what is there left for me to be queen of?”

    She may soon be asking that question to Mr Miliband. Or even Mr Cameron. Both are going to have their hands tied by, as Sad Jack puts it, a “wee bully girl”. The triumph of nationalism will be the death of the Great British democratic tradition. Such a shame, but also a valuable lesson for the rest of Europe.

    • The Explorer

      Unless the rest of Europe decides it likes the idea. A hankering after old times. Independent Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Savoie. And as for Corsica…. Give Provence back to Italy (unless Italy has fragmented by then into its pre-unification states) and Alsace back to Germany (if Germany is still an entity by then). Never mind, the bit round Paris will still be French, and that includes both your properties. (Unless you have others you haven’t told us about.)

      • Linus

        As you watch your own country disintegrate, it must be comforting to imagine the same fate awaits others too. Especially France, of course. Nothing like imagining your hereditary enemy suffer to make your own suffering easier to bear.

        I never really understood why the English use the German word “Schadenfreude” to describe an emotion so deeply rooted in their own national character. Or do you just like to blame your worst feelings on Johnny Foreigner?

        Anyway, we have no referenda pending on devolution. Apart from a few diehards in Brittany and Corsica, nobody is calling for it. The situation is roughly what it was in Britain before Tony Blair lit the blue touch paper and stood well back. France is a unitary state and will remain so or it will no longer be France. Our politicians realize this and so does an overwhelming majority of the people.

        I have no fear for any of my property, wherever it may be situated. I wonder if Mrs Mountbatten can say the same?

        • The Explorer

          As you watch your own country disintegrate, it must be comforting to imagine the same fate awaits others too.

          Quite so. Hence your first post on this thread.

          • CliveM

            And there was I suggesting Anglo-French cooperation on a new system………..

          • The Explorer

            We could always develop it with the French, and then use it on the French.

          • CliveM

            Now, now……….

            Besides we’d be to close to the fall out.

            Also whilst I like Australian wine, the French do some decent plonk as well!

          • The Explorer

            On a serious note, one thinks of the Tunnel, Concorde, Airbus, the Typhoon Euro Fighter and Ariane 5.

          • CliveM

            Typhoon doesn’t have French input. They developed their own Rafael!

            Sorry being a pedant!

            There are a number of current joint UK/France defence contracts.

          • The Explorer

            I wasn’t meaning Anglo-French specifically, I was thinking European. if the US really does shift its full attention Chinawards, then Europe will have to look to its defence without the American umbrella. Hence the possibility of a Euro missile?

          • CliveM

            To be honest, politically I don’t see that happening. Only two European nations seem to have any appetite for a nuclear capability. I do think an Anglo French development is possible although still unlikely in the short term. It would be in the spirit of the current agreement.

          • Linus

            Ah but the clear difference between you and me is that my country is not in the midst of a constitutional meltdown that can only end in fragmentation and dimunition.

            We’ve had incompetent socialist governments before, indeed we have one now, but never one so incompetent that it placed the very concept of France in jeopardy by pandering to a lunatic fringe of nationalist cavemen just to win a few more votes.

            Blair will go down in history as the man who broke the United Kingdom. Believe it or not I’ll be sorry to see that happen. The UK is a grim place, but it was even grimmer when it was a bunch of warring states constantly at each others’ throats.

            Think of the neighbourhood! Divorcing couples always let their homes fall into disrepair, forget to mow the lawn and let their children run wild. Will this mean even more Brits turning up drunk in Paris and vomiting all over our pavements? Trauma causes children from broken homes to take out their frustration on others and as we’re the nearest convenient target, I fear the worst.

            Oh well, at least you’ll no longer have any nuclear bombs to throw at us when in the post break-up England some new ultra-nationalist party formed out of an alliance between Ukip, the BNP and the various other skinhead and neo-Nazi movements takes power. So allez Nicola! You get rid of Trident now! Paris’s survival depends on it…

          • dannybhoy

            We UKIPPERS are not skinheads, but we do share with the French a love for our own nation and a desire to protect its identity and future.
            The EU may suit the old fogeys of Europe, but it’s stagnating bureaucracy and love of edicts is no match for the dynamic economies of the East..

          • Politically__Incorrect

            “We UKIPPERS are not skinheads”
            Quite true. I have a healthy crop of hair on my head. Never shaved it off in my life, and never will.

          • DanJ0

            “The UK is a grim place, but it was even grimmer when it was a bunch of warring states constantly at each others’ throats.”

            Do you really think that? I’m no nationalist but I love living in the UK, and I’m very widely travelled so I have a lot to compare it with. We’re blessed to be living at this time in this place!

          • Linus

            I really think that. Your climate is largely to blame, but there’s also a large part of natural insularity in the British character that sits very uneasily with the concept of multi-culturalism and makes Britain feel very unwelcomîng for many foreigners.

            That plus the appalling (and appallingly expensive) food. Where are all the great British restaurants in London? Is there such a thing as British cuisine? I’ve had congealed bacon and dry eggs at Simpsons on the Strand. And a steamed pudding so dense I could have played tennis with it at Rules in Covent Garden. But otherwise I had to be content with pale, stodgy copies of French and Italian cuisine, or bulk standard Indian or Thai food. To say nothing of the frozen then microwaved pap you produce in your own kitchens. Mushy peas. Greasy fish’n’chips with vinegar. And Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewell Abominations that no matter how long you chew or how much water you try to wash them down with, consistently lodge themselves just between the tonsils and the voicebox and refuse to go any further…

            I would have starved to death had I stayed in the UK. It might be slightly better now there’s a larger French community there and there are more shops and restaurants selling real food. But who wants to eat a salade Niçoise or a slice of pissaladière when it’s 5 degrees outside (in August) and raining as if Madame de Pompadour had just died and the deluge had finally come?

          • The Explorer

            There’s actually a lot of frozen then microwaved pap available in French supermarkets these days: much more than there was even a decade ago. I say that with regret as one who loves French food.
            I’m actually inclined to agree about Mr Kipling’s Bakewell, but a Bakewell from the original bakery: delicious! And English muffins, Cornish cream teas, cottage loaf, Irish wheat bread, scampi, Sunday roasts, stilton, Different from what one gets min France, but equally marvellous.

        • bluedog

          Your arguments are self contradictory.

          On the one hand you tell us that first past the post and Cabinet government can lead to dictatorial and undemocratic outcomes. On the other hand you tell us that we have no tradition of federation so cannot be expected to make a federation work. But the point about a federation is that a formal constitution defines relationships between the federal entity and the states as well as the role of the executive. It follows that within a federation the PM and the Cabinet are constrained by the latent power of the states.

          The situation can be summarised as follows. Currently in the United Kingdom the Parliament is notionally sovereign; that vast areas of sovereignty have been surrendered to the EU is another matter. In a federation, the Constitution becomes sovereign. Going further, it is not within the power of the Parliament to change the Constitution without referral to the electorate, and matters requiring adjudication are referred to the Supreme Court. In a sense, the Supreme Court, as arbiter of the Constitution, becomes very powerful.

          Tony Blair set up an English Supreme Court without really explaining why. Students of federal constitutional structures had no difficulty in understanding his motives. The surprising thing about Blair today is his silence on the botched devolution that he foisted on the United Kingdom. For a man so free with gratuitous advice, you would think Blair would be offering suggestions on how to ease England into its own devolved Parliament, but no.

          We are fortunate that Blair has yet to take his seat in the Lords, although Lord Blair of Chilcott does have a certain ring to it.

          • Linus

            There’s no contradiction in my argument. With its current parliamentary arrangements the UK clearly cannot make a federation work. Look at the current mess. Scotland and Wales have parliaments wifh sweeping powers while England has nothing, although it still has to pay the bill.

            You also have a situation where your two main political parties are neck and neck in terms of the number of constituencies they can hope to win, whereas the first past the post system means that smaller parties are unlikely to garner enough local support to win more than a very few seats, if any. This means the SNP with its large bloc of Scottish MPs will be able to insert itself between the Conservatives and Labour and dictate its terms. There’s going to be a bidding war with Sturgeon selling her dubious charms to the highest bidder. Shas you snookered, not to put too fine a term on it.

            Proportional representation might get you out of this mess because it would create the need for wider coalition with no one party holding the balance of power. But there’s no tradition of proportional representation in Britain. There’s no tradition of autonomous regions cooperating in a federal system. Quite the reverse. British government has always been heavily centralised. Your institutions and your culture reflect this. Your political class has virtually no experience of coalition government. Just look at how the Conservatives and Libdems are attacking each other now and how uneasy their cooperation has always been.

            Federal government requires a mindset and a political system that Britain just does not possess. And with your famous unwillingness to change your traditions, it’s going to be a long time coming.

            The next election will probably leave you in the most unfortunate position you could be in. You’ll be looking back to the ConDem coalition with nostalgia. At least the LibDems were a national party who weren’t selling parliamantary support in return for massive subsidies for their region. The SNP wants money for Scotland and lots of it. They have England by the short and curlies and by the looks of Ms Sturgeon’s jawline, she won’t hesitate to squeeze! Of course given the reputation of the English public schoolboys who make up the majority of MPs, that might not be the horrifying prospect it would be in other countries. But whether they like it or loathe it, it’s the English who’ll have to pay the bill. Get your chequebooks ready…

          • Anton

            “Look at the current mess. Scotland and Wales have parliaments with sweeping powers while England has nothing, although it still has to pay the bill.”

            Linus is exactly right here; people should not disagree with him just because it’s him. The question is whether the English want to go farther down the appeasement route, as the English-speakers in Canada have done with the Quebecois. The UK is in fact less than 100 years old and its people(s) need not panic at the prospect of another change.

          • dannybhoy

            “Linus is exactly right here; people should not disagree with him just because it’s him.”

            Absolutely Anton and well said. Our (meaning us English) problem is that we tend to bumble along, and when put under pressure we cobble something together that suits nobody.
            Had the current Prime Minister issued an ultimatum to Scotland along the lines of
            “Fine have your independence, print your own money and we’ll close the border!”
            the SNP would have been forced to either retreat or bluster.
            Instead Westminster gave them exactly what they wanted
            (that Establishment sense of Colonial guilt again) and now we are in an even worse mess than if Alex and Nicola had flounced off into a midge infested Scottish sunset..

          • Royinsouthwest

            Linus is completely wrong. It seems that many commentators on this issue are completely incapable of understanding the Great Britain is not Greater England.

          • bluedog

            ‘This means the SNP with its large bloc of Scottish MPs will be able to insert itself between the Conservatives and Labour and dictate its terms.’

            This remains to be seen, and may not happen. If the Unionist parties, LibLabCon and even Ukip, are sufficiently annoyed by further demands from the SNP, they will close ranks and render Sturgeon powerless. It is of course very important for the future of the Union that this should happen. Would you regard that as yet another failure of British constitutional arrangements?

            ‘Federal government requires a mindset and a political system that Britain just does not possess’. At present one can only agree and the re-education of the political class is proceeding very slowly. The lessons started in 1996, but almost all members of the class failed to pay attention. It was the Lib-Dems who first produced a workable blueprint for a British federation in 2005, following a review by the Scottish politician David Steel. For some reason (English chauvinism?) the current Lib-Dem leadership never seems to promote this model. As usual the blogosphere is some way ahead of the political class, and one does not have to look far to find broad support for a federal constitution, incorporating an English parliament.

        • Royinsouthwest

          France is a unitary state and will remain so or it will no longer be France.

          In other words the French state was established for the benefit of the people of the Île-de-France who arrogantly imposed their culture on the Bretons, Basques, the people of Provence, etc. etc.

          • bluedog

            Quite right, Roy. Non-‘French’ inhabitants of France will tell you where the French live within the hexagon. Indeed, it is only fairly recently that all the ‘French’ learned to speak French.

          • Linus

            The French state was established (at least since the Revolution) for the benefit of all the French and a standard language imposed to counteract the centrifugal forces of local tribalism. No country can remain united in the face of pressure from competing petty chieftains and parochial concerns.

            Look at the fast disintegratîng British union. Ireland gone, Scotland going. Who will be next? Look at Belgium with its loose federation that hobbles from crisis to crisis and a multi-layered system of government that eats money and offers little service in return.

            Federations only work when states of roughly similar size and/or type and a shared identity and language voluntarily agree to cooperate for the common good. There are exceptions like Switzerland of course, but in general multi-ethnic nations splinter and fail as soon as power shifts from the centre to the regions.

            This won’t happen in France because power remains largely centralised and our shared identity and language are strong. For every poor oppressed Breton who weeps because he has to fill out his tax return in French, there are 10 who thank their lucky stars for a French education and the French health care system. There isn’t much anyone can do about extremists except let them live with the chip on their shoulder and, if they’re Breton at least, console themselves for the injustice of evil French domination by listening to Nolwenn Leroy sing “Tri Martolod” over and over and over again. It keeps them happy by nurturing their sense of grievance and injustice, which is what they live for. Contrarians have always been with us and always will be.

      • DanJ0

        “The way the British public were allowed to vote about increased immigration levels and same-sex marriage.”

        Regarding the last part, it’ll be interesting if Cameron wins the election in 4 weeks.

        • CliveM

          I see UKIP and LibDems are now neck and neck at bottom place!

        • The Explorer

          It will indeed.

    • dannybhoy

      Good post Linus, but perhaps you meant to say,

      “Devolution has been the death of the United Kingdom rather than its saviour.”
      In which case I would agree with you.

      I am currently reading a very interesting book entitled “Slouching towards Gomorrah” by Robert H Bork, a former Solicitor general of the US.
      His point is that in the US radical individualism and radical egalitarianism (the equality of outcomes rather than opportunities) are destroying that country.

      Similarly the implementation of devolution (national freedom) will destroy our once great nation.
      Scotland is cutting off its nose to spite its face, and we’ll all be worse off.

      • Linus

        5 million voters imposing their will on 60 million others is clearly not an example of democracy in action.

        Yes devolution will soon have killed the UK. But at the end of the day even the most venerable nation state has to take second place to the principle of democracy.

        If the UK is no longer capable of delivering stable democratic rule, perhaps it deserves to die.

        • dannybhoy

          “If the UK is no longer capable of delivering stable democratic rule, perhaps it deserves to die.”
          Well yes, that’s true. History shows us that civilisations rise and fall; some to disappear beneath the waves, others to survive as pale shadows of their former selves.

          You are quite wrong to say that we English hate the French. I don’t think we do, nor do I think most French people hate the English.
          A few years ago my wife and I had a short break with friends in Normandy, around Autumn time.
          The sharpness of the morning air, the dew and the mist
          brought back wonderful childhood memories of Kentish countryside back in the fifties.
          The animosity between France and Britain is like that between old friends going over old arguments..

          • Linus

            Quand la perfide Albion
            Commande Pénélope
            A toutes les deux elles font
            Une belle paire de salopes
            Elles partirent aux Malouines
            En culotte de satin
            Pour refiler la chtouille
            Aux braves Argentins

            😉

          • dannybhoy

            The Argentinians were no match for us Brits though.

    • Dreadnaught

      Like everything else in a democracy, nuclear policy is subject to the popular vote

      Bollocks. I don’t recall reading anywhere that engagement in WW2 was a manifesto pledge or was the decision to become a nuclear power.

      • Linus

        The democratic choice now is between a party that wants to maintain a nuclear deterrent and parties that do not.

        The choice is a real one (at least as real as your bollocks, if you have any…) and will influence the voting intentions of many.

        • SeekTruthFromFacts

          There are three major parties that are committed to an independent nuclear deterrent: Labour, the Tories, and UKIP.

          • CliveM

            UKIP! Polling pretty much at the same level as the Lib Dems?

          • SeekTruthFromFacts

            The Electoral Commission’s judgement. The level of your polling may go up as well as down. Past performance is not a prediction of future returns, etc, etc.

        • Dreadnaught

          Hush now precious prince, there there then, you’re scaring the nasty man with your tantrum! Pfffft!

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Trident is part of the UK defence system, not just the for Scotland. If the SNP’s price of propping up a lame-duck Labour administration is getting rid of Trident, then the answer is simple; move it down south to say Portsmouth or Plymouth. That way the Scots are rid of it and will no longer come under its protective umbrella. Those of us who want to keep it should be allowed to. The nuclear defence of the rest of the UK should not hinge on Scottish Nationalism, especially if they are likely to go independent at a future date. Getting rid of Trident would be an act of high treason for the rest of us.

    • Phil R

      Milford Haven is the logical choice for trident.

      Move it now!

      • Politically__Incorrect

        The problem is that Plaid Cymru want to get rid of it too. We need it in a location where we can be sure of its permanence and invulnerability to political machinations.

        • Anton

          College Green, next to the Houses of Parliament?

        • Linus

          St. Mary Undercroft, the chapel in the basement of Westminster Palace, would be a good location. With one heavily shielded wire leading up to the Commons and a big red knob on the end of the Mace.

          That way any Prime Minister who wanted to twist the knob would have to do so on live television, which given politicians’ eagerness not to look bad in the media, might be somewhat dissuasive. And of course the return volley would land right on top of his head, which might also give him pause for thought.

        • Phil R

          Plaid are linked to the Welsh language unlike the SNP.

          So they will never get more than 20% of the electorate in Wales.

          Also Pembrokeshire would leave Wales if it became a choice between money or Wales.

          They have always been Tory.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Pembrokeshire would not leave Wales. My grandmother was from Pembrokeshire and the idea that loyalty to a miserable political party (and I would call all parties miserable) should override loyalty to your country is utterly contemptible.

          • Phil R

            North and south pembs

            Completely different.

  • carl jacobs

    The strongest argument for European integration is precisely this need for common defense. A collection of nations is not nearly as strong as a single nation of equivalent size. Each individual nation is too small to create the necessary force structure. Purchased capabilities will be massively redundant. Certain critical capabilities will not be purchased at all. Employment will not be subject to unified command. And there are many nations – (cough) Scotland (cough) – that will intentionally ride free of charge. The fractured nature of Europe makes it difficult for Europe to establish a military force that is effective according to modern standards.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “And there are many nations – (cough) Scotland (cough) – that will intentionally ride free of charge”

      I suspect this is what the SNP are hoping for; England keeping the deterrent while not charging the Scots their fair share of the bill. A nuclear-free Scotland should mean that nuclear weapons would never be used in the act of defending it. Let them throw haggis or just lift their kilts to the enemy (“shock and awe” tactic)

    • bluedog

      ‘ The island must be unified for the sake of the defense of the island. ‘ Exactly, and ideally the entire archipelago should be reunited for the same reason, if nothing else. But this an argument that the political class eschews, wrongly believing there are no votes in defence. The British political class have persuaded themselves that foreign aid is an economically constructive substitute for defence spending. What could possibly go wrong, even in Pakistan?

  • The Explorer

    Universalism. Here’s how it works. There’s an after life, and everybody gets to Heaven. Some just take longer about it than others. A vote for God takes you straight there. Those who don’t vote for God have to go to a re-education unit. There they learn to vote for God: as long as it takes. Eventually the re-education unit (what used to be called ‘Hell’) will be empty. Even the Devil could make it. The only reason he won’t is that he doesn’t exist.

    If you want an earthly equivalent, just think Scotland. Heaven is independence. Some didn’t vote for it. They need to go into a re-education unit. Eventually they will learn to vote the right way: as long as it takes…

    • Phil R

      The Romans didn’t want Scotland

      We should learn from them and increase our prosperity rather than theirs.

      • The Explorer

        It says something that the Romans built a wall.

        • Politically__Incorrect

          Now there’s a thought. It would take a few brickies off the dole too!

        • DanJ0

          Offa and his dyke (in the conventional sense of the word) too.

          • The Explorer

            I know I’ve praised your wit (intellect). Not sure if I’ve praised your wit (humour). If not, may I do so now?

          • Phil R

            To keep the dykes (and others) out of Wales

          • DanJ0

            It was defensive to protect Anglo-Saxons from the Welsh.

          • Phil R
          • DanJ0

            If there’s ever an off beat or minority view available to anything then you seem to grasp it with both of your hands.

          • Phil R

            You think that the Saxons would (cooperate !) build a wall 134 miles long…..?

            They couldn’t even build a bridge of any length.

          • Royinsouthwest

            The Anglo-Saxons did not belong in Britain. They were the aggressors!

        • Pubcrawler

          Two, in fact

  • Inspector General

    Inspector here. Off topic chaps, but there’s been a weather warning on the radio. As per usual these days, it seems, if you get more than two days good weather, avoid the South East due to high pollution levels. Caused by an increased human presence down there, naturally.

    So, if you think increased and never ending immigration is a marvellous idea, you might want to keep your heartfelt joy well away from elderly relatives or family members with respiratory problems, at least until they’re packed off to accident and emergency where they can expire alone and forgotten due to that place being on it’s knees.

    This ends a Public Service announcement from the Inspectorate.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Inspector, I heard we are going to get “red rain”. That’s very appropriate for this election campaign. Let’s hope it all falls on Scotland

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        I do believe Peter Gabriel once sang about it…

        • sarky

          Very good tune, before he went rubbish! !

    • dannybhoy

      Thanks Inspector.
      Very public spirited of you.

    • Linus

      Right. So if I’m correct in my calculations and the number of immigrants is roughly the same as the number of aborted fetuses, the population of a Christian UK would still be where it is now even if the drawbridges had stayed in the vertical position after Thatcher’s fall.

      So in a perfect Christian England you’d still be on a respirator.

      Why not admit it? It isn’t the smoke that bothers you. It’s the colour of the smoke. And the fact that it speaks heavily accented English, if at all. Your complaints are in fact nothing but a smokescreen for racism.

      So cough away. If the Church is right and abortion is evil then respiratory distress was God’s plan for you all along. Accept it as part of his divine mercy. It must be good for you if it’s the result of making lots of Christian babies.

      • Inspector General

        Interesting supposition, you white-faced clown…

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Well I am proud to be racist! I can’t abide Ascot and the Derby – all those poor horses – and Le Mans is a waste of good petrol. As for Linford Christie and his lunchbox…well…maybe that’s an exception…ahem!

          • CliveM

            Took me a while to get this!

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            A very contrived piece of whimsy, dear Clive, I must confess…and not one of my better bon mots (that’s your actual French, as Kenneth Williams might have said). time for some hot chocolate and eggy bread, methinks, then off to the Lady Chapel to slap Brasso on the lectern.

      • Inspector General

        As an aggrieved homosexual, it is your desire to wreck the systems that be. Well, off you go, but we are onto you, and one day…

        • Linus

          And that comment was à propos of what, exactly? If I had pointed out your fallacious arguments on some other topic like, for example, England’s virtual inability to win at any of the team sports it invented, would that opinion also be invalidated by my “aggrieved homosexuality”?

          You were talking about immigration and claiming that it and it alone is responsible for air pollution in the south of England. I pointed out that if all the aborted fetuses you Christians lament over had actually been born and not a single one of the immigrants you hate so much had ever set foot in your muddy little country, your air pollution problem would be just as bad because your population explosion would still have happened.

          Now tell me, what does that line of argument have to do with homosexuality, “aggrieved” or otherwise? Nothing! Like most bigots you’re simply looking for an excuse to go gay bashing and when a gay man points out the faults in your shoddy and badly put together arguments, your immediate reaction is to scream abuse at him for being gay, as if that somehow invalidates what he has to say.

          How very, very SMALL you are, sir. Your tactics are those of the playground bully who thinks that all he has to do to cow his opponent is point out the thing that makes him different from others in the hope that the other children will gang up on him anyway.

          Vous êtes franchement minable, pauvre Monsieur. Il n’y a plus rien à dire.

          • Inspector General

            But sir, you are aggrieved. You came here in an aggrieved state, and you have indulged your grievances with alacrity in extremis in the same way a lad kicks a football around a field for no apparent reason other than he doesn’t know what else to do with himself.

            When did it all go wrong, Linus? When did you despair of this world, and your very being, to such a degree that the venom flows oh so easily from you?

            You made a facile comparison of aborted foetuses and unregulated immigration, and sat there extremely pleased with yourself. You inform us all that anyone and everyone who decides they want to make a home in England is not only welcome, but any who object are racists. Since when have border controls been a racist issue?

            The nation state may well be doomed in the long run. Centuries away perhaps, if we ever get that far. But the nation state is all too real today, and it’s served us well. If you wish to dismantle it, you will be opposed by those who care. And get this, it is not only you that possesses venom…

          • Linus

            You’re complaining about my venom when your own fills the comments section of so many threads here?

            The sense of grievance you’re nursing is palpable. The modern world just doesn’t live up to your nostalgic dreams of an England that probably never existed anyway. A whites-only paradise where the only contact you need have with other races is when you colonise their countries and strip them of all their assets. But even in Elizabethan England the colonisers were complaining about the conquered races that followed them home and dared to live among them.

            What goes around comes around. You have immigrant communities and they’re going nowhere. You need to work out how to live with them rather than treating them as scapegoats.

          • Inspector General

            You’re French, aren’t you?

            It’s your natural inclination to surrender that gives you away…

          • Linus

            And when an Englishman has nothing intelligent or pertinent to say but still feels the need to vent his frustration, out come the racist and xenophobic taunts.

            If there is a God then clearly he put water around you people as a quarantine measure. Rather like we lock up the criminally insane. It isn’t their fault they’re the way they are, but society needs to be protected…

          • Inspector General

            It might surprise you that this man is NOT anti immigration per se. It’s just that the UK hasn’t been intelligent with choosing whom to let in, and as a result, we are cursed with a fair amount of rubbish types.

            After all, would you think a Jamaican gangster is a worthy candidate to enrich our lives. Is he deserving of the right to wish to leave Jamaica to come to England. To prey on us, that would be…

          • The Explorer

            You’re absolutely right that the the number of immigrants roughly matches the number of abortions. We can’t, or won’t, manufacture stuff any more, so we import it from China. We can’t, or won’t, manufacture kids any more, so we import their replacements from wherever.
            The immigrants and the abortions cancel each other out. What increases the overall population, and distorts the demographic, is the number of the elderly living longer. The UK (a problem shared by the rest of the West) has never had so many people over 65 as a proportion of the population.
            Two possibilities from the viewpoint of the demographic planner.
            1. Produce more kids, or import more youthful immigrants until the young/old demographic balance is restored.
            2. Keep the current population numbers static by reducing the number of elderly. ‘Brave New World’-style solution: no one is allowed to live beyond, say, 75.
            Remember those old experiments of rats in a confined space? What’s the optimum number? Keep adding them until they start killing each other. When they get quiet again, that’s the optimum number for the space available. If the behaviourists who think man is a rat get control and get their way I suspect we’ll see that sort of solution.

          • Linus

            A third option: do nothing. There’s no law that says the over 65s (or any other age group) have to make up a set percentage of the population. Demographics will change as advances in medical science mean we live longer and stay healthy for longer. Only Christian Chicken Littles will rush about squawking that too many old people means the sky is falling.

            The sky was supposed to fall when divorce was legalised. It didn’t. Then it was supposed to fall when homosexuality was decriminalised. Wrong again. Abortion laws should have seen everything cave in on us. It didn’t. Nor did gay marriage trigger the rolling earthquake that Christians predicted would destroy us all. And now too many old people are going to provoke a breakdown of society with cannibalism and civil war?

            Nobody listens to Christian prognostications of doom any more. They’re just too far-fetched and exaggerated.

          • The Explorer

            No law other than economic law. When the Welfare State was set up there were something like eighteen people working for each person retired. Hard-headed materialists (non-Christian) calculated that without a raising of the retirement age there would soon be three people working for every person retired. The greater the proportion of the elderly, the greater the proportion of the health budget that has to be spent on them, because many develop chronic conditions that require ongoing medication/monitoring/treatment.
            Prominent advocates of the euthanizing of the old: Peter Singer, Jack Kevorkian, Derek Humphry: atheists all.
            You make good points, and I respect them, but do stop straw-man attacks by attributing to us things we never said. Where was there a mention of cannibalism? Where was there a mention of civil war?

          • Denny Keane

            I agree with you. These Christians to start these ridiculous rumors are only exposing their lack of faith in a beneficent God. These are worrywarts.

          • The Explorer

            Why has the retirement age been raised? Why is there so much discussion about pensions and mortgaging the future of future generations? What about £1.6 trillion debt? What about Lord Falconer’s bill?
            1943. Death camps run by the Nazis? Do you think a beneficent God would allow something like that? Any more than a beneficent God would allow another world war? Relax.

  • CliveM

    It would be nice that just like with nuisance sales calls, you could sign up to a scheme banning election literature from being posted through the door. Pah! Some piece of rubbish every night this week.

    • SeekTruthFromFacts

      If you prefer to remain ignorant, you can always put it in the recycling bin.

      It’s not rubbish. It’s future toilet roll. 🙂

      • CliveM

        Even if read, they don’t really add much to the sum of human knowledge.

        I thought about the toilet paper angle but they aren’t absorbent enough and scratch……….

  • Shadrach Fire

    I am already tired of hearing nothing but promises, promises, promises.

    I asked on Twitter why did they not deliver on these promises before the election.
    No Integrity. The NHS thing is like an auction. Which party is going to pledge the most?

    • David

      Quite !

  • David

    Any country that turns democracy into a game of promising sweets for votes is in trouble.
    If you “train” a nation’s people to think that they can vote themselves £ and perks you are killing off principle and the Christian Common Good.
    Both our major parties have lost any sense of purpose or mission, and now it’s just an ugly game of seizing power by any means including low bribes.
    But what power is there left to seize ?
    The EU is meddling in small matters quite removed form its alleged “international” role. It has become, by a series of steps, over almost two generations, our government. So now it pontificates about credit cards, insurance for lawnmowers and a ten thousand other very minor details. Why it even forces insurers to pretend that the risks for men and women car drivers are the same, taking us well away from biological, human reality and basic principles of business, like the customer must pay for what he, or she receives.
    All the life blood, the sense of purpose has been sucked out of Westminster, by the EU, hence these petty issues over which the votes are being won. Westminster is little more than a County Council. This impotence forces formerly proud parties like the Conservatives to offer sweeties for the children, like free paid holidays for everyone – unaffordable nonsense !
    To restore vigour and strength to our democracy we must become an independent nation once more.
    Only one party is committed to doing that.
    You know which party that is…

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Just a passing thought, but does anyone else think that Nicola Sturgeon looks like one of the aliens from the X-Files in the photo above. If so, then maybe the SNP is actually a front for an extra-terrestial plot to takeover England and then the rest of the planet. Maybe Salmond, underneath his warm friendly exterior, is actually a heartless, cold-blooded reptile?

    • Uncle Brian

      That’s not what it says in Private Eye.

      http://www.private-eye.co.uk/lookalikes

    • Anton

      Not a reptile, but with Sturgeon and Salmond you could be forgiven for thinking that something fishy was going on.

  • asteroller

    Thought Experiment

    Imagine a new political party has been established. Let’s call it the Justice Party. Their main plank is law and order. Their policy to eliminate violence and abuse aimed at children is to propose that when a criminal is found guilty of harming a child – violence, abuse, murder – then the police should seize a child closely related to the perpetrator – son, daughter, niece, whatever – and subject the child to exactly the same treatment that they visited upon their victims. The members of the Justice Party argue that the deterrent effect of this policy would eliminate harm to children within a very short time.

    Now, wouldn’t anybody with a modicum of moral sense react with the utmost horror to this scenario? The Justice Party would be condemned, excoriated, hounded to extinction. And yet, this policy on a massive scale is supported by millions of ordinary men and women in this country.

    When we say that we support Trident (or any other weapon of mass destruction) we are saying that we are prepared to burn, torture, poison, kill thousands of children and other innocent inhabitants of any country that threatens ours.

    Think on’t!

    (and weep)