Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:14:45 AM EST
With the future of the UK nuclear weapons under discussion and the generally anti-Trident feelings at the European Tribune, I think the time has come to argue why Trident need be replaced, for while the current SSBN's force is all peachy, they must be replaced by the early 2020's, and these things have monstrous lead times. A decision to replace or not cannot be postponed indefinitely.
Like most military matters, and especially those considering nuclear warfare and deterrence, the public debate is often needlessly overcomplicated, possible because of the unsavory nature of the weapons and implications involved. People in general often feel uncomfortable with anything approaching the "realist" school of international relations. But the fact of the matter is that a simple logical chain shows why Great Britain must replace Trident.
- Military strength is an important part of the system of international relations. A militarily weak nation will be considered unserious and not really worth listening to.
- Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons, trumping all other by a margin as wide as that between the spear and the assault rifle.
- Missile submarines are the only delivery system which creates a credible second strike capability.
- Possesing nuclear weapons without a second strike capability is utter madness - it invites the enemy to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike without fear of retaliation.
- In conclusion, any nation with aspirations to Great Power status requires nuclear missile submarines.
The question is not if Great Britain needs a replacement for Trident, but if the nation can resign itself not to be Great Britain anymore, instead declining to just plain Britain.
That is not a question for me to decide, but for the British people.