Thursday, March 15, 2007

If you don't like Trident does it make you a hippy hobo?

My view on Trident replacement is no particular secret. I think it isn't such a hot idea. Recently, I have blogged many things relating to this issue; and in return have been told (basically) Nigel Griffiths? Whoopee-doo; why don't I hang around with Meacher and, more worryingly, to explain my opinion as opposed to just saying that this Government is gulity of selling Britain's morality down the swanny (with an enabling hand from the Tory Party). However, two recent occurences brought this issue home to roost. Both happened on Wednesday morning between alighting the District Line at Westminster and entering my office. Firstly, I had some Friends of the Earth chap thrust an A5 sheet into my hand saying that Trident replacement is wrong. Ok then, that's cleared that one up. Trident = wrong. I got that. I been scrabbling around for a philosphical opposition and here it is, it's wrong! No way I can misinterpret it. Heaven's above, it's wrong. Point made? Trident is bad, it is wrong.
And then I got into a quite uncomfortable 'stop and chat' and conversation came round to Trident. Ok, ok; I know it's wrong. If I didn't know myself, some chap in need of a shave and scrub told me so. However, I was told (and this is almost verbatim, the couple of days interlude before posting may have clouded its 100% authenticity): "I know some people think it's wrong*, but it is a deterrent." The last word said very slowly, perhaps for emphasis or perhaps because it's quite a long word. The walls came tumbling down, my anguish shouted - not audible to others but its effect was felt in my soul. Why hadn't I thought of that? It's a deterrent, i.e. we gotta have it! Deterrent? You could change one letter and make it 'detergent'; it would still be dirty.**
Us beatniks, however, have no grasp on reality. Having been too ensconced in our liberal, left-wing thoughts; we negated to notice that we are in the hold of the WAR ON TERROR. And what better way to put the shits up your opponents? We got nukes, baby and f-you, we're gonna make them bigger and better. A kinda carrot and stick situation, when the carrot is represented by some, ermm..let's be gracious, cack-handed diplomacy and the stick is represented by Trident nukes.
"If we don't renew Trident, it makes us very vulnerable to foreign (especially terrorist) attack." Once again, thanks for the hint; I hadn't considered it. I like the way that Britain is not planning a nuclear attack now, but in 30 years time - who knows? Countries can change. This is true enough, but there was a marked lack of recognition that countries can also change for the better. As a case in point, 30 years ago we were in the Cold War and the Soviet Union was the enemy (no less than an enemy with loads of nukes!), 30 years on Russia is the West's ally***. You could stretch this thinking further: if, as generally accepted, the Cold War led to the proliferation of nuclear arsenals should it not be accepted that countries turning 'for the better' questions the longevity of nukes? If there was no Cold War, perhaps there would have been no 'boom' time for nukes? See what I mean? 30 years ago South Africa was ruled by an apartheid regime, things have changed. I would hesistantly add that it might be our foreign policy that has contributed to changes in nations foreign policy objectives (i.e. an increased dislike of the U.S and UK) and subsequent threat of attack. When not reading Noam Chomsky and various apologist pieces, I did just have time enough to realise that Britain's foreign policy has not been unanimously welcomed, even the UN are a few steps behind. Hopping into bed with Dubya has somewhat blurred the image of Labour crusading for a New Jerusalem.
Proponents of renewal are keen to paint the picture of opponents being pacifists/stoners/hippies/Trots/idealists (delete as applicable. I've had all five levelled at me). I prefer idealists. "You don't know what you are talking about. You're an idealist."
My limited knowledge of international relations (thanks for that dictionary Hamburger!) shows there are two main schools of political thought: Realism and idealism. Idealists are the nice guys, the one's who want to see us all joined in harmony, holding hands and presumably buoyed by copious amounts of marijuana. Counter these reprobates with the realists. These straight-talkers don't pull their punches, and aint gonna entertain the thought of idealism. My limited knowledge led to me to the following question: "What is the aim of the realists saying we should renew Trident?" I'm stumped. I get the whole US/UK are good and need nukes to protect not only us but the rest of the wrold. God-dammit. The US and the UK working in unison as the World's Policemen. Yeh, with the US being police from the Rodney King school and the UK being more of a Police community Support Officer. There is no clear methdology and there is no end goal, unless the rest of the world cowering in fear (masked as the cloak of the international community) - in turn breeding overt/latent suspicion/animosity.
The idealists, this moniker has been conferred upon people who do not agree with the renewal of Trident, however have some idea of an end goal: a world where relations are governed by an ethical, joint-up foreign policy. That should have set off the alarms. It makes Trident a bigger issue than MPs going through their chosen lobby, bringing into question matters such as the U.N and the notional use of nuclear weapons.
The U.N was set up, as we all well know, to take over from the League of Nations which failed, and failed badly, when the Germans, Japanese and the Italians (but mostly the Germans) didn't play by the rules. It begged the question: what is the goal of the international community? Maybe, I am being pessimistic but, at the current time, it doesn't seem there is a world consensus. In fact, it appears some nations are poles apart. So what is the U.N to do? The U.N can past resolutions, hey from time to time it does. The problem being when those resolutions are ignored (this is your cue Israel and Iraq!), then we go to war; if everyone on the UN Security Council agrees. So who the realist and who are the idealists?
I don't think anti-Trident renenwal people think we should abolish all of our nuclear arsenal and I do not believe that many would advocate unilateral disarmament. Multilateral disarmament...hey, that could almost qualify as an 'international will' or 'the desire of the international community' or give the U.N a nice project to lead on. But there is no international will for disarmament, which makes multilateral disarmanet a distant vision. What this vote would have showed is Britain's willingness to provide a grounding for international negotiations to resolve a programme of international, multilateral disarmanent. As it is, the Bill was passed. I have no problem with this, MPs vote how they feel they should. I'm sure Griffiths, Devine and Pound will be pilloried for a bit, I mean who do those scumbags think they are? Principles? Don't they run American schools? So with the majority of the PLP being backed by the Tories where are the left's saviour? Where are the Liberal Democrats? Wait and see. No, that isn't me teasing you, that is their actual position! Wait and see until 2014 (I think). In 2014, the Liberal Democrats will still be in third place. It is slightly incongruous to me, hey I'm not a big Lib Dem admirer, that a party can wholeheartedly vote against Iraq but not vote against Trident replacement. I mean if anything's going to send a message to Iran that we're serious about the NPT, it's Trident renenwal. The continuation of Iran's nuclear programme is the single biggest factor (as it currently stands) that will provoke the U.S/UK coalition to war.

* In fact, I had been told by a FoE campaigner that Trident was wrong.
** By 'dirty', I don't mean illegal, it is fully in line with the NPT - a piece of legislation which whilst nominally regarding NON PROLIFERATION defends Britain's right to re-new.
***About 20 years ago we were funding Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Wow. Everyone changed sides on that one, it's just like WWE!

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