Friday, January 05, 2007

Trident Submarines: Ultimate Department of Sanitation or Just A "Terrifying Myth"?

Want to calibrate your position on the running UK controversy over nuclear deterrence? Here is a brief, well-constructed critique of the Trident program entitled Trident the Deterrent – A Terrifying Myth, an OP-Ed piece by Jim McCluskey, retired UK Landscape Architect. It is very readable. I recommend reading the full coulumn as only a few excerpts are presented here:

Trident the Deterrent – A Terrifying Myth
We are appalled at the mass destruction of the 20th century yet we wish to upgrade a fleet of these machines which are capable of perpetrating much much worse.

Trident – What is it?
...[the D5 missile] is able to carry the hugely more destructive 450 kiloton W88 warhead(1). ... this one bomb has the capacity to kill over 5 million people... the killing capacity of one bomb on one submarine which can carry many bombs ...

Trident is not a deterrent
...a deterrent during the cold war... [not]. This was definitively illustrated during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Robert McNamara ...Secretary of Defence at the time said '...we came within a hairbreadth of nuclear war...'

The Power of the Irrational
We know from the history of man that he has never developed an 'efficient' weapon that he did not use.
McCluskey at least mentioned main arguments on the opposing side, for which he must be given credit. He also describes D5 missile general capabilities and quotes reliable authority. His conclusion is fear-based, however. Here are two counter examples:

Why not fear the use of bees for agricultural purposes? Bees can be dangerous to life and there are billions more of them than there are missiles. Between one and two million people in the United States are severely allergic to stinging insect venom, and 90 to 100 deaths from sting reactions are reported annually. We cannot ban beekeeping by our enemies, and we certainly do not want to ban domestic beekeeping, because world food supply depends upon them.

Suppose that France (or any other any country) were decimated by a bird flu epidemic expected to spread uncontrollably across the channel. If modern medicine could not prevent millions of UK deaths, D5s could be the last resort to sterilize the French virulence (apologies to France, this is extremist position, like McCluskey's unilateral disarmament baloney).

Sanitation is considered necessary for largescale human survival, just like nutrition and defense from enemy attack. Mr. McCluskey dismisses the human need for security and marginalizes what Churchill called the history of mankind: war.

Deterrence has worked, by Japanese example. The day may yet come, however, when booster shots become necessary to assure the continued effectiveness of Tridents.


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