On Missiles and Missile Defence 14


Gordon Brown is making the headlines this morning with an offer to cut the Trident II deterrent from four to three submarines. While something of an improvement on New Labour’s previous stance of unthinking macho pro-nuclear posturing, it still goes nowhere near addressing the fundamental futility of Trident.

Who is it meant to deter? In all the analysis on the attempts of Iran and North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons, I don’t recall any serious commentator from any political perspective even mentioning the British nuclear deterrent as a factor in the equation.

I am no fan of Putin, but neither can I now conceive a nuclear standoff with Russia or with China, as the ideological divide has effectively collapsed.

New Labour’s original proposal forTrident II was a huge increase in killing power over the current Trident. We need more detail on the number of not just submarines but also the number of independently targetable warheads and their size, but it remains probable that Brown’s proposed three nuclear submarines of Trident II will still represent an increase, not a decrease, in the already massive destructive power of the four nuclear submarines of Trident I.

But I fail to understand why we are discussing at all the huge expenditure on this extraordinary monument to human evil, when we are going to have to pay for it entirely from borrowing on top of already over-massive government debt.

The government have already announced they are planning to slash secondary school teachers. Incredibly they are planning to introduce yet more internal market “reform” into the National Health Service, as a means of saving money, in face of overwhelming evidence that this approach hugely increases spending on accounting and administration without delivering service improvements or savings.

Trident missiles; immoral, useless and ruinously unaffordable. But Gordon Brown isn’t going to increase their killing power by as much as he had originally planned to increase it. So that’s alright then.

Brown’s hand has been forced, of course, by Obama’s consistent and generally laudable initiatives. We await the meat of his proposed nuclear weapon reductions. But the cancellation of the Bush plans for a new interceptor missile system in Eastern Europe should be applauded – with caveats.

It was always a pathetic fiction that the system was intended to defend against non-existent intercontinental ballistic missiles from Iran carrying non-existent Iranian nuclear warheads. The Russians were quite right to suspect that the defences were primarily against Russian missiles. It is a fascinating thing that the most passionate advocates of Mutual Assured Destruction spend a great deal of their time, and billions of taxpayers’ money, on trying to take the mutual out of it.

Under Putin, Russia has moved in a highly unpleasant authoritarian and nationalist direction. Russian schools once again elide the Stalin-Hitler pact. The Great Patriotic War only started in 1941, while Stalin’s appalling crimes are minimised and his image burnished. The murder of independent journalists continues apace, almost unreported in the West. Opposition political parties cannot campaign, and the space for independent media has almost completely vanished.

But the Bush administration’s standoff with Putin was not connected to Russia’s internal authoritarianism. Dictatorship did not worry Bush in the least in the US/Uzbek alliance, for example. The US/Russia standoff was a retreat into the Cold War postures and hard sphere of influence politics. It was a return to they system that was so profitable for the arms industry and military complex throughout the Cold War. US attitudes, summed up by forcing the missile defence scheme onto Russia’s borders, helped create the Russian paranoia which boosted Putin’s nationalist support.

A warming of US/Russian relations will be no bad thing, and may open the way to more sensible ways of interacting with Iran. But there are other aspects to this which are more worrying.

The Obama administration has been at pains to emphasise that the missile defence scheme is being reconfigured, not being abandoned. The Russians had earlier made an offer to the Americans to share their radar system monitoring Iranian airspace from Baku. This would have involved stationing of US forces in Azerbaijan.

According to one of my FCO sources, the US have now indicated to the Russians that they wish to revisit this Russian proposal. There is more to this than joint cooperation over Iran. Russia had effectively rolled back US influence in the ex-Soviet space of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Gazprom had tied up the gas of the Central Asian states, and the US was evicted from its airbase in Uzbekistan and had received marching orders to withdraw from Kirghizstan. Its major remaining ally, Georgia, was militarily humiliated by Russia, driving home a hard lesson in the realities of power in the region.

The Obama administration has been carefully and slowly clawing back ground, in particular seeking to rebuild its supply access to Afghanistan through Central Asia. A transit agreement with President Karimov of Uzbekistan in March this year was a key step. A US military presence in Baku would be a major part of the jigsaw.

But the regime of President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, whose father was once Putin’s KGB boss, is almost as brutal as that of President Karimov. For the US to seek to back up its Afghan policy by forging alliances wth such regimes, will dismay many of Obama’s supporters.

This comes as any last vestige of moral justification for the occupation of Afghanistan disappears in the light of a massively fraudulent election and increasing public understanding of the huge corruption, warlordism and misogynism of the Karzai government, floated on a sea of heroin production.

The “return” of General Dostum, the vicious Uzbek warlord, drug baron and mass killer who heads the Northern Alliance, is a symbol of the moral bankruptcy of Obama on Afghanistan. Dostum had officially been exiled to Turkey by Karzai for murdering a number of political rivals. In fact he spent very little time in Turkey but was running his fiefdom from a home near Mazar e Sharif and supervising his heroin trade. But he was officially brought back from Turkey by Karzai for the election, with US approval, and duly delivered votes of over 100% for Karzai in many Uzbek areas of Afghanistan.

Now the Pentagon is proposing to initiate weapons supply on a massive scale to Dostum’s private army, to fight the Taliban. They believe this would have more chance of success than building the hopeless Afghan army (of which Dostum remains nominal Chief of Staff).

Dostum used to tie dissidents within his own ranks to tank tracks to be driven in front of his men as an example. He had hundreds of alleged Taliban supporters killed by crowding them into sealed containers in the desert sun. He is believed to have killed some 3,000 “Taliban” prisoners, and controls the drug trade through Uzbekistan to the Baltic and Europe.

Obama’s foreign policy is undoubtedly an improvement on his predecessor and in the area of missiles and nuclear weaponry deserves to be labelled progressive. But the moral poison of the Afghan War is fatal to his efforts.


14 thoughts on “On Missiles and Missile Defence

  • tony_opmoc

    There are numerous problems facing the very future existence of the human race, including the existence of nuclear weapons. The fact that we have survived the last 60 years without at least one of them going off, either by accident or design is down to nothing more than sheer luck. The longer that vast numbers of nuclear missiles exist on the planet, the more likely that at least one of them will go off – even if it was not set off deliberately. When this happens it is exceedingly likely that even more of them will go off. The chance of us surviving another 60 years are exceedingly slim whilst they continue to exist.

    The World also will soon be facing a very serious energy crisis which could threaten the entire existence of Western civilisation.

    There is a potential solution to both problems, and that is the conversion of nuclear missile material to electricity using a new generation of Thorium based nuclear power stations.

    This technology currently under development in India and the US, promises all sorts of benefits that will safely dispose of nuclear waste and nuclear missiles.

    It’s no use burying your head in the sand and stating you are against nuclear power in principle – because of Chernobyl etc. The reason is that the problem of nuclear waste and nuclear missiles exists and is very real, and needs to be dealt with. In the process of cleaning the mess up, we can safely generate large volumes of clean electricity across the World.

    Another problem, nearly as serious is exponential population growth in poverty wracked third world countries. The root cause of overpopulation is insecurity. Where people expect a large percentage of their children to die they will have significantly more to compensate. In developed civilisations, the birth rate is significantly lower than that needed for replacement.

    Thorium based nuclear power offers the potential to dramatically improve living conditions throughout the World, that will have the effect of significantly lowering the birth rate. It could also be used for desalianation of sea water in arid regions for irrigation to increase the food supply, whilst we go through the process of stabilisation of population levels, and eventual graceful reduction.

    If the human race doesn’t change course soon, then we are doomed. We need to solve our problems with new technology. All other alternatives will be completely disasterous, and lead to the Genocide of Billions.

    Tony

  • Ed Davies

    I’ve asked this question before though I can’t remember if I’ve done so on this blog.

    Britain used to have miscellaneous nuclear weapons other than Polaris/Trident (mostly air-launched stand-off bombs and, I think, submarine launched cruise missiles) but, as I understand it, now only has Trident.

    Is there any reason (treaty or anything) why Britain got rid of the other nuclear weapons?

    I ask because of the thought that Trident is a dedicated nuclear weapons system – it can’t practically be used for anything else – so, once the money has been spent on it, there is very great pressure to keep it in service as long as possible. On the other hand, aircraft and other submarines which are nuclear capable also have non-nuclear uses so it is a smaller step get rid of the nuclear weapons.

    Is it possible that one of the reasons that there is a keenness to carry on with Trident in some form is that complete nuclear disarmament then becomes less plausible?

  • anon

    The nuclear strategy is to use us the people of the world as human shields. Iraq was conquered by US taking hostages and swapping them for deals with their tribes. All terrorism is state perpetrated, and little guys who are not careful are rounded up to take the blame.

    From this it appears that the axis of evil is the West, which now includes Russia and China because they have been stripped of religious morality by communism as we have by materialism. The West is now an amalgam of secular amorality. I saw a local Midlands news item about a bullet factory which is expanding in size to cope with orders from the Muslim killing machine. Nobody is shy about the blood on our hands?

    The leaders of Islam in this country have sold out to the West under pressure, same as the family based leaders of Iraq. So the hands of the Muslims are tied and they are ready for slaughter. Only one supposed threat remains, that A Muslim state strikes back with a mutually destructive nuclear missile for revenge.

    This is not going to happen because real Muslims would never commit such destruction.

    The West however has configured its new nuclear build up against this nightmare. like all the other propaganda against Islam, its purpose is to demonise our religion so that intelligent and moral citizens of the West will not defect to Islam.

  • Toby Esterhase

    Craig,

    Good to see you back on fine form and sorry to hear of your recent health troubles.

    It is not only Trident that I find outrageous but the pre-emptive PR adverts by BAE to ensure that defence spending is ring fenced. I mean I personally find it sad to live in such a militaristic society and why should we be proud that X number of British jobs involve the exporting of weapons to unleash overwhelming violence.

    Is the ‘defence’ industry truly one of defence? BAe systems and those of similar ilk should be a stain on a civilised society and not something to be proud of.

  • Edo

    My guess is that the Israeli nuclear arsenal is what’s keeping the whole world ‘wanting’ to have a nuclear option, just in case…

    Memories can be adjusted to suit the times, but some things are never forgotten… USS Liberty anyone?

  • tony_opmoc

    anon,

    The fundamental basis of all religions goes back to astronomy, its astrological interpretations, the Seasons, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon. Elites have always used it as a form of social control.

    Whilst religions have many benefits in terms of morality, community and spirituality (which meditation, dance, performance, music and prayer can provide altered mental states that can be highly pleasurable) the downside of religion far outweighs the upside.

    Religion forms the basis of mental terror, and is all about control by fear. Religion is the basis of division, conflict, tribalism, genocide, persecution and war.

    Having researched Religion in some depth, I am almost totally convinced that Jesus Christ never existed as a real human being. The story of Christ is identical to the story of Horus, and numerous other mythical gods – all based on astronomy.

    I personally gave up Religion at the age of 15, and it was like total enlightment and really discovering God.

    Religion results in decisions being made affecting entire societies that are based on irrational belief rather than objective analysis of evidence. In a very overpopulated World – why are religious leaders encouraging their flocks – on pain of eternal damnation to hell for all eternity – to have as many children as possible?

    The result is mass poverty and conflict over limited resources required for survival.

    Religion is irrational and destructive and needs replacing with Love, Understanding and Science so the human race can have some future.

    Most religions are based on a world that existed 2,000 years ago and their main contribution to human existence has been misery.

    If you strip away religion, you will find that all human beings are basically the same with the exception of around 4% of all populations that are psychopaths. The psychopaths are in control of us, because they do not have a conscience, and are completely ruthless at achieving their objectives. 96% of people are basically honest and have no desire for conflict and just want to live their lives in peace.

    Its the psychopaths who have control of the nuclear weapons. The existence of nuclear weapons is sheer madness.

    The 96% of us, need to find away to take control of our destinies from the psychopaths who are intent to destroy us.

    Check out ponerology.com

    Tony

  • anon

    Tony

    We have witnessed, under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, our good name and our scarce resources, utilised to destroy the lives of 60 million Muslims, about the same as our own population.

    Personally I wouldn’t mind if someone gave this sleep-walking country a taste of its own medicine. But it’s not going to happen. The Zionist bankers stealing our capital is a real punishment from Allah, which I warned many people about in advance.

    I’m sorry you lost your faith. This often happens when people are asked to believe in the incredible, such as that God who created the universe is somehow the same as a human being, such as Jesus, peace be upon him. If that is the faith of this country I am pleased that you lost it, because that doctrine is rubbish.

    The problem is that there is still a large enough majority of people who believe this rubbish to justify the mass slaughter of Muslim populations in their minds. Garbage in , garbage out.

    If you put rubbish into your computer you will get rubbish out, such as the decision to attack Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In this sense I agree with you and Islam agrees with you that 99% of our problems are caused by religion, wrong religion. You are right. Islam states that the priests will lead the armies to war. What we have witnessed is a new crusade, waged by the Christians and driven by Zionism.

  • MJ

    The cancellation of the US anti-missile system in Eastern Europe isn’t necessarily the same thing as the cancellation of the system itself. The Russian Chief of Staff, Nikolai Makarov, has stated that he believes it likely that the US will convert it into a sea-based system, operating from international waters in the Med and Baltic. So this gesture of goodwill to Russia is little more than a sleight of hand for the benefit of the global audience.

    I can certainly conceive of a nuclear stand off with Russia and the key, as Edo noted, is Israel (whose nukes are trained on Europe).

    Israel attacks Iran; Russia attacks Israel; Israel nukes Russia; Russia retaliates. Sounds a frighteningly banal scenario to me.

  • glenn

    It was truly remarkable today to hear John Hutton compare cutting back on the number of submarines with which the UK intends to supplement our attack ability, with “Going out insured only 75% of the time.” He went on to say we need to be insured _all_ the time.

    Really. So these dreadful enemies are going to wait around until we’re “uninsured”, and then launch everything they have at us. Just like they do with Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and … erm…

    Hutton represents Barrow-on-Furness, not coincidentally. I wish someone would point out that each of these workers could be made a millionaire for less than the cost of Trident-II.

    Even more disingenuously, the likes of Hutton pretend that Britain is utterly defenceless for that ‘uncovered’ period. We have plenty of weapons, nuclear and otherwise. The idea that anyone would leap to the attack if we appeared to drop our guard for 5 minutes (with Trident being our only method of defence) is as risible as it is dishonest.

  • Ingo

    These are the futile morals of a skinned man.

    He had said nothing, zilch , zero and Ghaddafi over-ranting his speech at the UB tonight by an hour and a half had him furious, enough to change his speech

    To the issue, nobody said anything about reducing warheads/missiles, have I missed the important bit?

    Submarines are not part of the NPT reductionary requirements that should apply to all who signed it.

    First they redesigned the nukes to make the adjustable, to placate the ICC judges view that they are ‘indiscriminate and therefore illegal’, now they are trying eyewash as a main thrust of their corrupted morals.

    Obama’s volte farce, removing the radar and missile base from Europe’s soil, does not mean we will move the stuff out of Menwith Hill and Fylingdale, both stations clearly part of the global missile defense plans of the past and current US administration.

    So when we are going to get rid of the bases built and the radoms already installed? here in this country. Both stations make Yorkshire a prime target in any major confrontation

    Unless off course we are not really in Europe, but ankered off the new Jersey coast and part of his new US national missile defense plans.

    Iran is so obviously a target, because diplomacy is minimal. Obama’s plan to beguile the Russians with last weeks move and then get them to cooperate with plans against Iran, probably sweeten any deal with a carve up of Irans oil resources, fits with the in- terception of the Missile defense system by the Russian navy off the coast of west Africa.

    Somebody high up, probably Putin, after first selling Iran the weapons sytem to protect Teheran, was persuaded by Mossad and such ilk, to take it back.

    If Russia and the US are now gunning for Iran together, with Israel egging them on every step of the way, we could face a major world flagration.

    I do not think that Mousavi was genuine, his past makes me suspicious of the man, so we have to deal with Ahmadinejad, however small and powerhungry he might be.

    Bombing more innocent civilians from great height will not do, but who’s gonna stop them?

  • anon

    Edo MJ

    If Gordon Kabbala Freemason Son of the Manse Brown and President New Order Freemason Obama were worried about defence against Israeli nuclear weapons, why would we sell off part of the IAEA to Jacobs Engineering?

    I suppose because it’s already controlled by Serco, like the rest of the UK, so when he pushes the button, nothing’s going to happen anway.

  • rwendland

    I don’t really understand why so much is being made of the “only” 3 Trident subs suggestion, as the idea was introduced in the 2006 Trident replacement White Paper. It said:

    “We are not yet in a position to make a firm judgement about … maintain[ing] continuous deterrent patrols with a fleet of only three submarines. A final decision on the number of submarines that will be procured will be made when we know more about their detailed design.”

    The official govt press release merely confirmed that the PM was “prepared to consider” exactly what the 2006 White Paper said would be considered in the furure:

    “The Prime Minister has said he is prepared to consider cutting the UK’s fleet of Trident missile-carrying submarines as part of a global agreement to reduce nuclear arms.”

    So, without the spin, nothing really new here.

    http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/AC00DD79-76D6-4FE3-91A1-6A56B03C092F/0/DefenceWhitePaper2006_Cm6994.pdf

    http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page20709

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