Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let's hope Corbyn fails (and not just in the way you might think)

It seems that Richard Heller, the man who infamously wrote part of Jeremy Corbyn's conference speech five years in advance, wasn't quite so keen on other words that the new Labour leader uttered in Brighton -

"Then came his ridiculous remark at conference last week that he would never hit the nuclear button. No leader ever has to answer hypothetical questions about nuclear war: by so doing, he failed to acknowledge that Trident has no point unless it creates uncertainty about the risks of threatening us."

Do these people seriously not get it, or are they just playing dumb?  Undermining Britain's so-called nuclear "deterrent" is exactly what Corbyn is trying to do.  Moreover, it's exactly what he was elected to do.  He wasn't elected in spite of his opposition to nuclear weapons, he was elected - at least in part - because of it.  Rendering Trident pointless would not be some kind of naive blunder, it would be a mark of astonishing success.

Unfortunately, as I've already pointed out, it's impossible for an individual leader to turn Britain into a de facto non-nuclear state simply by declaring that he personally would not use Trident.  Only actual disarmament can do the trick, because for as long as the weapons are kicking around, there's always the chance that a new leader with a different stance will come along and use them.

All the same, though, it really is extraordinary how some commentators are utterly incapable of seeing this issue through anything other than a conservative, militaristic prism.  Unilateralism is "old-fashioned" and "unrealistic".  (Try telling that to the 95% of countries that don't have nuclear weapons, and view Britain as a relic.)  A unilateralist who sticks to his principles once elected is "showing signs of inexperience".  And a unilateralist who comes even vaguely close to doing what he was elected to do is a "bad leader".

If that's the definition of failure, let's hope Corbyn fails miserably.

72 comments:

  1. The problem that Lefties have over Trident is that they ignore the very real, very rational reason why the UK having nukes is a complete waste of money. Instead they reduce it to a moral argument and then get surprised that this isn't persuasive because people have different morals. 15% of the UK votes UKIP, do you really think they care about dead foreigners?

    The argument against Trident is really simple. It doesn't work and it isn't needed.

    It doesn't work because the UK does not have sufficient nuclear weapons to pose a significant enough threat to Russia to provide deterrence. The single Always At Seat boat doesn't even have a full compliment of missiles (14 out of 16) and the 40 or so warheads they carry simply does not provide sufficient destructive power to cause Russia more than a bloody nose.

    It isn't needed because, as part of NATO, our nuclear defence and deterrence is provided completely by the US system. Whether we have Trident or not, our deterrence lies entirely with the United States. This is a situation that 25 out of 28 NATO countries are perfectly happy with. 20 of those countries benefit from it without even allowing Nukes on their soil.

    And that's why it's a complete waste. It is redundant because it is not needed. It doesn't work because it can't provide deterrence.

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    1. As far as your first paragraph goes, Alasdair, that reminds me of death penalty opponents in America who tie themselves up in knots trying to think of arguments that will appeal to conservatives. They eventually forget their moral starting-point and perversely argue that "of course there may be some people who deserve to die, but capital punishment is very wasteful..."

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    2. "Whether we have Trident or not, our deterrence lies entirely with the United States."

      That's true, but we have to admit it is slightly hypocritical in a moral anti-nuclear sense.
      But there is still a rational argument that every small country shouldn't have an independent nuclear deterrent, but it still makes strategic sense to be part of a wider nuclear group such as NATO, or maybe a future EU defence alliance.

      Realistically, these weapons can't be uninvented, but hopefully they can be minimized to a few large alliances, with a political aim towards reducing numbers to a few hundred.

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    3. James, the normally Democratic State of Washington has the death penalty but never employs it now. It has been some time since they used it. I think there are something like 4 or 5 individuals on Death Row there and it is looking increasingly unlikely if they will be executed at all. It never quite seems to get repealed though. In some States the Death Penalty isn't just wasteful it is big business. Trident is big business and it is all funded by us the Tax Payer. Big business and vested interests will call the shots.

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  2. I have no idea how unrealistic the rational argument with capital punishment is but it's not relevant to a completely separate issue.

    Even if you believe in something for moral reasons, if there is a compelling and clear cut rational argument it is far better to use the rational one. Morals don't tend to change much (people can be very stubborn about such beliefs) but rational arguments do have much more traction in general.

    With Trident the rational argument is compelling, succinct and very difficult to dispute. However, outside of Portillo on This Week, it is incredibly rare to hear the rational argument against Trident given an airing.

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    1. I don't think that's true, actually - most opponents of Trident make both the moral and the practical case against it. I suspect what you really mean is that they should pretend that they only care about the practical case - which is exactly why I made the comparison with death penalty opponents, because that's exactly what too many of them do.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 2:20 PM

      There is no moral case to be made for disarming. Only fools disarm when others are arming. You would be speaking German if some of the 30s idiot politicians had had their way.

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    3. You won't be speaking any language at all if Trident contributes to a global nuclear holocaust.

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 5:55 PM

      That would be a fact but is not the issue. Being able to respond is the deterrent.

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    5. Ah yes. That would explain why the population of "deterrent"-free Austria was wiped out by Soviet nuclear weapons in 1976.

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  3. "Rendering Trident pointless would not be some kind of naive blunder, it would be a mark of astonishing success"

    Unless it results in him never getting elected in the first place.

    The harsh reality is that voters in England will never elect a PM who will give up the UK's nuclear deterrent. That's just realpolitik. The alternative is to get punished by a fearmongering media who will terrify voters with the image of Russian tanks rolling up the beaches.

    It's the same reason the SNP proposed Scotland would remain in NATO.

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    1. Anon : Dropping his opposition to the nuclear "deterrent" is not going to suddenly make Jeremy Corbyn electable in England, any more than it made Neil Kinnock electable a quarter of a century ago. The reality is that we don't know what would happen if a leader who looked electable in every other respect proposed the scrapping of Trident. Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 in spite of proposing the abandonment of Star Wars (at a time when Russia was considerably more unstable than it is now).

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    2. If the Question Time audience the other night is in any way representative, then he is going to have a very hard time on that issue. The right-wing media will be absolutely relentless in an election campaign.
      Project Fear will be nothing on what Corbyn has coming.

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    3. That's one of about a million things he's going to have a hard time on - it's not the single thing that makes him unelectable.

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      Project fear is just another Nat si soundbite. The people spoke and it should e respected. Unfortunately the Nat sis only respect democracy on their terms. Corbyn has come and will go I suspect he knows the people will not put him in power. His track record giving credence to the PIRA and islamic fascists will not go away.

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    5. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 9:25 PM

      James, Star Wars was just the USA telling the Soviets how far they were prepared to go in their defense. I seem to recall it was fictional!

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    6. Eat your cereal.

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    7. GWC
      Project Fear, far from being a pro Yes sound bite was a term adopted by Project Fear's director of communications. This was reported by, among others, Paul Hutcheon on the Herald- not renowned for his Pro-Yes stance. It was also confirmed in the recent book of the same name. It's inconvenient facts that get in the way of a real rant. Isn't it.

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  4. The Question time audience can have it in their own constituencies if they love Trident so much. They are only keen because they don't have a nuclear arsenal next door to them. Bloody hypocrites.

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  5. I can't believe for the life of me that people still think this "deterrent" is keeping us safe, what absolute bollocks. Its nothing but an expensive limp dick, useless. If the argument is protection and you want the money spent on defense then fine let's spend it on stuff we might need and use. We watch as air force bases are shut, army numbers cut and back filled with TA and have 2 aircraft carriers that we can only put 1 lot of planes on, its a joke to renew trident. The jobs argument doesn't stack up either we could have ship yards from Portsmouth to Govan building a proper naval fleet and station patrol vessels at the 4 corners of Britain, remember the reports that the Ruskies were sniffing around Scotland and it took a destroyer 24hrs to get here, sums it up really. Personally I would rather see it invested in public services that we all rely on. Let's be honest our biggest threat comes from small terrorist cells and quite frankly they couldn't give a shit if we have trident or not so who exactly is it deterring? The minute someone launches a nuclear missile and we fire 1 back the world and life on Earth is fucked so who would actually use them? Dock the sub's on the Thames and then we might see if the Kippers still want to keep them

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 9:20 PM

      Any intelligent person knows you do not speak with the heart but the head when it comes to defense. Trident is the only undetectable weapon in our arsenal. Runs silent runs deep. When that is no longer the case then it will be scrapped.

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    2. @Glasgow WC

      Any intelligent person

      Ha ha not anything you have to worry about. What page are you on in your colouring book?

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  6. I can't believe for the life of me that people still think this "deterrent" is keeping us safe, what absolute bollocks. Its nothing but an expensive limp dick, useless. If the argument is protection and you want the money spent on defense then fine let's spend it on stuff we might need and use. We watch as air force bases are shut, army numbers cut and back filled with TA and have 2 aircraft carriers that we can only put 1 lot of planes on, its a joke to renew trident. The jobs argument doesn't stack up either we could have ship yards from Portsmouth to Govan building a proper naval fleet and station patrol vessels at the 4 corners of Britain, remember the reports that the Ruskies were sniffing around Scotland and it took a destroyer 24hrs to get here, sums it up really. Personally I would rather see it invested in public services that we all rely on. Let's be honest our biggest threat comes from small terrorist cells and quite frankly they couldn't give a shit if we have trident or not so who exactly is it deterring? The minute someone launches a nuclear missile and we fire 1 back the world and life on Earth is fucked so who would actually use them? Dock the sub's on the Thames and then we might see if the Kippers still want to keep them

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  7. Oh come on peeps. Its got nothing to do with deterrence, and everything to do with status in the world.

    The Permanent Members all have glow-in-the-dark scout badges on their caps, so the UK needs to have one too. The Yanks lease the UK a few missiles because they go along with the ruse that the UK matters, and I suppose because of the vote on the security council and a certain willingness to lend the US our lapdog support it suits them.

    A small independent country on the edge of Europe really has little use for a big costly totem pole. Especially if we are not a permanent member, do not poke our noses into every conflict everywhere, and keep our armed forces for the immediate defence of our homeland and to only be used overseas in the event of an attack on another member of any alliance we belong to. A non aggressive foreign policy is much to be desired.

    The UK probably needs the fig leaf if nothing else changes in the world. But an independent Scotland has no need for those weapons. In 1945 the UK was still an imperial power. It was still a major trading economy. But today it is like a faded prize fighter going on chat shows to tell everyone its still a contender.

    So as we grind on towards the end game. Where the symbiotic relationship between Scotland and England is finally dissolved. What does it matter what Corbyn thinks? He is unlikely to be elected. We are highly likely to become independent. The UK has to plan for eventualities which don't assume we are leaving. Yes its a waste of money. But when has wasting money ever troubled a politician?

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  8. The launch codes for the weapons are held by the USA Britain can't launch them without Thier permission

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  9. The launch codes for the weapons are held by the USA Britain can't launch them without Thier permission

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    1. The launch codes are held on the vessel itself but the sub. is so dependent on US GPS and weather satellites for targeting information they might as well be in Washington.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      SA. Your argument is to tell porkies get real. Trident is independent.

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    3. You're both wrong. The whole thing about launch codes is a load of shite. The system is operationally independent and anybody who claims otherwise is regurgitating myths that they've heard on the internet. The claim that Trident is reliant on satellites of any description is also shite. Trident missiles use inertial guidance (Basically gyroscopes), aided by celestial observations performed by an internal computer. No military is going to make their nuclear deterrent reliant on a satellite that can be easily destroyed.

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 10:34 PM

      Anon, you are a national threat knowing such stuff. Just because you were probably a Littlewoods catalogue agent do not take yourself seriously.

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    5. @Stoat

      Tony Benn argued that UK does not have an independent nuclear deterrent, so it is not just claims on the internet old fruit.

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    6. That is what I have heard.

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    7. That is what I have heard.

      That was meant to be a reply to Steve Allan.

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    8. muttley, the only valid claim that the UK's deterrent isn't independent is predicated on the fact that the missiles are manufactured in the USA. I believe that was what Benn was getting at. Any claims that the launch codes are held by the Americans or that the system is reliant on GPS are completely untrue.

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    9. Do you honestly think that the USA would sell a nuclear weapon to anybody without making sure that is couldn't be used against them?

      If Trident was an independent weapon then the UK could bomb Washington DC. If the UK can not bomb Washington DC with the US controlled weapon then it is not independent.

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    10. "Do you honestly think that the USA would sell a nuclear weapon to anybody without making sure that is couldn't be used against them?"

      Yes, because they weren't even selling us nuclear weapons. We already build the nuclear weapons at Aldermaston. Trident is only a delivery system. If the Americans were genuinely concerned about us using it against them, they wouldn't sell it to us at all, given that we could most likely easily modify the missiles to remove any hypothetical overrides.

      "If Trident was an independent weapon then the UK could bomb Washington DC."

      Yeah, because I'm sure the Americans would be shitting themselves at the prospect of the UK nuking Washington. We're just itching for payback over 1776, aren't we?

      Besides, do you actually have any evidence that the Americans have an override? Because I haven't seen any.

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    11. The Soviet Union were sold the weapons by the West in 1954.

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    12. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 5, 2015 at 7:40 PM

      Not true. Soviet intelligence had infiltrated the Manhattan Project

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    13. Trident is operationally independent of America. But as they are our closest ally and the number 1 power in the world, it is hard to imagine us not consulting them prior to any use.

      Aldo

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  10. Trident is a genocidal weapon and has no military target.

    Russian tanks rolling up the beaches of the UK what on earth for when six nuclear hits would wipe the UK off the globe as we aren't worth anything to the Russians

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 10:18 PM

      How do you know what the Russians are thinking or indeed any other country!

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    2. It's way above your head Glasgow WC like what do we have that the Russians are short of or need, nothing.

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 5, 2015 at 1:55 AM

      The Russian's are always in a hurry!

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    4. Eat your cereal.

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  11. Many of the 95% of countries that do not have nuclear weapons are not safe - merely lucky that an aggressor hasn't come knocking on their door. Those that are safe are protected through an alliance with nuclear states like Britain, America and Russia.

    Of those states who do possess nuclear weapons, none are currently at war in any meaningful sense of the word. For us, small scale stateless terrorism has replaced the blitz, the trenches and existential threat. We will never face such horrors again - not as long as we have the international equivalent of a .44 magnum pointed at the head of every country in the world.

    Aldo

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    1. "Many of the 95% of countries that do not have nuclear weapons are not safe - merely lucky that an aggressor hasn't come knocking on their door."

      So 5% of states are "safe", the other 95% are just "lucky". Hmmm. We seem to have run into a falsifiability problem here, Aldo.

      "We will never face such horrors again - not as long as we have the international equivalent of a .44 magnum pointed at the head of every country in the world."

      How do you explain the Korean War, then? Vietnam?

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    2. Or the Falklands, for that matter.

      We were not only nuclear armed, we had Polaris subs in the region at the time.

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    3. The Korean war and Vietnam war were proxy wars - wars fought indirectly between the superpowers because a direct confrontation would have been suicidal. So a big game was played out - capitalism v communism, with most of the world's countries mere pawns in a bigger game. If you were a USSR or NATO civilian, however, you were safe.

      Falklands conflict - it was an argument over some islands in the middle of the Atlantic and did not escalate beyond the local area. Argentina didn't bomb London. We didn't bomb Buenos Aires (although Thatcher told the French President she was considering nuking the Argentine capital, halting the supply of exocet missiles to the Argentine forces).

      Regarding your first comment James, it can't be simply coincidence that nuclear armed countries are safe from invasion whereas non nuclear armed countries have been invaded / conquered several times. You also need to consider that, in the cases of Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea, the existential threats to those countries were eliminated by their acquiring of nuclear weapons. The last Arab - Israeli war occurred before Israel armed itself. The last Pakistan - India war occurred prior to those two nations arming themselves. And when was the last time you heard the American government openly threaten North Korea? Oh yes, that would be before they acquired nuclear weapons!

      Now Iran is racing to get them too.

      Every country knows that nukes are a valuable insurance policy - only in the effete west do we even consider disarming ourselves voluntarily.

      Aldo

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    4. "If you were a USSR or NATO civilian, however, you were safe."

      Oh, how very carefully worded. How many American citizens died in Vietnam and Korea? How many Soviet citizens died in Afghanistan?

      "it can't be simply coincidence that nuclear armed countries are safe from invasion whereas non nuclear armed countries have been invaded / conquered several times"

      You've already been given a clear-cut example that disproves the point. The Falkland Islands are British sovereign territory. The fact that Britain possesses nuclear weapons did not prevent Argentina from wandering straight in. The reason for that is obvious - you don't commit genocide in response to an invasion, and Argentina knew that the nukes were useless.

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    5. "The last Pakistan - India war occurred prior to those two nations arming themselves."

      That's simply untrue. It's the opposite of the truth.

      "Every country knows that nukes are a valuable insurance policy"

      Ah yes, that'll explain the Jamaican nuclear weapons programme.

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    6. Worth remembering that unlike today, in the Falklands we also had tactical nukes, not just strategic ones.
      So we could have used them on a much more limited basis. At least two of our ships were carrying nuclear depth charges, and we had the capability to deploy those by helicopter as well.

      Plus, no matter what opinion anyone holds of the Thatcher government, I doubt any of us believe they were afraid to push the button, especially when they had a tactical option on the table.

      So we had a geographically remote conflict, limited scope tactical nukes, a government that held a (relatively) aggressive defence policy, and a naval opponent who could be hit with battlefield nukes without human fallout.

      And despite all of that, they still weren't deterred and went ahead with an attack.

      I accept that there are some specific cases where nuclear deterrent may have an impact, for example between two large, lumbering superpowers. But in the vast majority of cases it just simply isn't an effective threat.

      And in the 21st century? I would say that most of our potential threats are sub-national and are not capable of being threatened by a strategic nuclear option.

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    7. It could be argued that Iraq declined to use chemical weapons against the Western invasion because they knew they would be obliterated. They had no hesitation using them against Iran, and indeed against their own people at Halabja.

      However, as an advocate of non interference in internal conflicts, I don't need to alter my stance regarding the UK or Scotland posessing the weapons at all.

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    8. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 5, 2015 at 7:33 PM

      The Argies attacked the Falklands because the Thatcher government sent out the wrong signal by reducing the garrison and moving the only ship in the area. And the fascist dictator Galtiieri had domestic problems so an invasion would be popular and nationalistic. He failed.

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    9. The Falklands are a distant outpost of Britain. Certain blunders may have allowed the Argentine junta to think that we were no longer that bothered about keeping them. I think to draw a parallel between, say, Argentinians landing in the Falklands and forcing people to drive on the wrong side of the road for a few months and a full on foreign invasion of the British mainland is rather silly. Yes, our territory was infringed, technically - but we've faced worse threats. Hitler, the Kaiser, Napoleon, the Spanish Armada - those were real existential threats. Thankfully we no longer face them - as anyone trying to take over the country is going to have a very, very bad day indeed.

      Aldo

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    10. The last major conflagration between India and Pakistan ended in 1971. In 1974, India acquired nukes. Pakistan developed them in the 1980s. Ever since, conflict has been limited to border skirmishes and wrangling over Kashmir.

      Nuclear weapons make you safe. It's an empirical fact. Why do you think Iran is racing to develop them? If they do, they'll be untouchable - the Israelis, the Sunnis, the Americans - none of those powers will ever again be able to threaten Iran in the same way. This is why they are pursuing so called 'civilian' nuclear power as cover for a weapons programme, under the not so watchful eye of the catastrophically weak Obama administration.

      Aldo

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    11. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 6, 2015 at 12:17 AM

      Obama is a rather jolly chap and not weak. The US know exactly what is going on in the Iranian nuclear project.

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    12. Obama is hopeless. ISIS running riot, Iran developing nukes unhindered - his 8 years have largely been a failure. I'm hoping the Republicans win it next time, with Jeb Bush the nominee. America needs strong leadership again and wont get it from the Democrats.

      Anyway, slightly off topic on a Scottish indy forum, lol!

      Aldo

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    13. Classic Aldo. When it's pointed out you're wrong, "the last India-Pakistan war" is hastily redefined as "the last major conflagration between India and Pakistan".

      "The Falklands are a distant outpost of Britain."

      So is Scotland. That's why Trident is here - Glasgow is expendable.

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    14. Well, that's what we're talking about here - the deterrence of major, full scale war.

      "Glasgow is expendable". Made me LOL. If, in 2055, the evil dictator of the Russia - China - ISIL Caliphate confederation decides to blast Britain off the face of the earth, do you think he will leave Scotland alone or just blast us too for good measure? Even if he only takes out London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester - the radioactive cloud will float up here and cause our wild haggis to mutate. It would be terrible!

      Aldo

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    15. "do you think he will leave Scotland alone"

      I think the chances of Scotland being left alone when we're the unwilling host of London's nuclear weapons is very small. What do you think I meant by "expendable"?

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    16. Firstly, they are the UK's nuclear weapons.

      Secondly, if you move them South, to England or Wales, then it isn't going to make much of a difference. Scotland will still be heavily damaged by an attack next door and would probably find itself in the firing line regardless. We walk around thinking there is this great distinction between Scotland and England (some more than others it has to be said), but do you think Russians feel the same? Chinese? Arabs?

      In London, back in the 1980s, lefty councils used to declare themselves 'nuclear free zones'. It seemed they actually thought the Russians would spare their particular district. Even if the Russians wanted to do so, 20 megaton bombs tend not to discriminate in such fine detail!

      This Trident mania, to me, is like the nuclear free zone farce all over again. We think it makes us safer. It doesn't. We will still be targeted as a western, industrialised nation and ally of the UK and America. And, even if we aren't, we'll still slowly cook under radioactive clouds.

      Given that choice, I'd sooner check out as quickly as possible. Put Trident next to my house.

      Aldo

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    17. Yes, those are the choices you have to make if you believe in the use of nuclear weapons. It's not whether you die, it's how you die. Personally, I'd rather have the danger as far away as humanly possible.

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  12. Glasgow Working Class is a gutless Moron!

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 5, 2015 at 7:27 PM

      How do you know that?

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  13. Just for fun

    Nuclear weapons states:-

    USA
    Britain
    France
    Russia
    China
    Israel
    India
    Pakistan
    North Korea

    None of those countries has been invaded or fought a war for its survival since the development of nuclear weapons

    Now, let's see....how many NON nuclear nations have been conquered / invaded / majorly screwed over in recent times....

    Off the top of my head:

    Ukraine (gave up nukes early 1990s)
    Georgia
    Iraq
    Iran
    Afghanistan
    Vietnam
    Libya
    Syria
    Tibet
    Kuwait
    Chad
    Ethiopia
    Eritrea
    Serbia

    Feel free by all means to add to the list!

    You can have horrifying conflicts involving mass death, suffering and humiliation or you can have a nuclear stockpile that will protect you, your family and your way of life. For me, it's never been in any doubt - Trident must stay, regardless of what the lefties think.

    Aldo

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    1. From A Very British Coup :

      "Jesus, Harry, you need the damn things!" (The nukes.)

      "Vietnam didn't."

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    2. 'Nam was all but destroyed, ripped apart and lost millions of men, women and children. Kudos to them for throwing out the Americans - that was quite impressive, to be fair. But it would have been better for Vietnam if the suffering hadn't been necessary in the first place.

      Aldo

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    3. 'Nam? You sound more and more like Donald Trump with every passing day.

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 6, 2015 at 11:43 PM

      Anon. Vietnam was the worst case in history off intervention by first the French who got wasted and then the Yanks courtesy off JFK who propped up some scumbag dictators.

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    5. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 6, 2015 at 11:47 PM

      James, Trump could win so be diplomatic we may need inward investment.


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    6. LOL

      This is the thing. Trump COULD actually win!

      I can't think of another event that would be so funny yet so terrifying!

      Aldo

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