Thursday, January 22, 2015

Atomic

Allow me to play Devil's advocate here by endorsing the Trident nuclear weapons replacement system, with only the following proviso - that it entirely replaces the rest of our conventional forces.

I know it's a controversial stance, but I've mulled this one over and a comparison in the cost-effectiveness of nuclear and conventional weapons in the last fifty years throws up some shocking results.

An example - in the last five decades or so, from the Cyprus Emergency to the occupation of Afghanistan, Britain has lost somewhere around five thousand military personnel in conventional wars.  In the same period, exactly zero British soldiers have been killed in wars in which ourselves or the enemy deployed nuclear weapons.  Pretty stark stuff there, I'm sure you'll agree. 

And not only have we not taken casualties, but we haven't inflicted them on the enemy's civilians either.  While the bodycount has racked up from the northwestern tip of Europe to southern Iraq and the near-arse-end of Antarctica, there's been not one single instance of collateral damage from a British nuke.  Even compared to our most pinpoint accurate smart missiles, that's some peace 'n' love warmaking, there.

But the cost, I hear you cry, and I must admit that at £130 billion, new nukes do sound a tad pricey.

Consider, though - the UK spends circa £60 billion per year on armed forces that rarely win wars.  Iraq?  An expensive and disastrous bust.  Afghanistan?  A clown-shoes debacle.  Libya?  Kosovo?  Sierra Leone?  Minor successes against weak opposition, or ambiguous results.

Yet the single declared purpose of the UK's nuclear weapons programme was to deter Soviet aggression.  How do the nukes score on effectiveness?

One war, one victory.  A 100% record of unblemished success. 

And not only that, but I guarantee with absolute certainty that the Trident replacement system will deter Soviet aggression not only in the near future, but for all of human history.  A bargain, at the price.

The counter-argument for nukes always runs like this, though - a pricey weapon that you can't use isn't even a weapon, but merely an expensive waste. 

Well, after two multi-bajillion-pound disaster wars in just one decade, I put it to you that the track record of unusable weapons has proven beyond doubt to be vastly superior to the performance of the ones that we actually can deploy.

Paradoxically, it's the very fact that we can't use nukes that makes them so effective.  No deranged future Prime Minister is going to start spunking gigaton warheads at blighted, landlocked Asian nations to "help" their beleaguered citizens, and no Parliament is going to vote for nuclear "precision strikes" on major cities to assist the local gangbangers.  If we'd only had nukes since 1989, our current win-loss ratio would be one win for no defeats, rather than our current woeful score.

It seems counterintuitive at first but once you come round to my way of thinking, you'll see that pound for pound, the good old British nuke is by far the best weapon in our arsenal.  Let's get that chequebook out and buy, buy, buy, and wave bye-bye-bye to miserable squaddies sitting in a ton of soon-to-be shrapnel APC. 

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