Getting Rid of Nuclear Weapons?


This and (consequently) this caugth my attention yesterday.

Apparently Her Majesty’s Government is cosidering upgrading its nuclear submarine arsenal some time by 2040. But a row erupted on whether the UK should instead reject nuclear weapons as a whole. According to the Beebs, “the main [argument agains nuclear weapons] is that the old threat from the Soviet Union no longer exists and therefore the need for a nuclear weapon no longer exists.”

Now call me old fashioned and reactionary, but this smells a bit too much of pre-WWII disarmament drive and pacifism which was flourishing on the Island in the 30’s. Just to jogg your memory a bit: trying to lead by example, various British governments of the time unilaterally dismantled a lot of their fleet, reduced the armed forces, cut military spending and neglected development. The result being that Britain was caught with its pants down at the beginning of WWII, making it way easier for Nazi Germany to wage war in the early stages of the six-year bloodbath.

While the world has changed since then and while nuclear armament is an entirely different ball game I fail to see the reason in a country abandoning a strategic advantage over potential adversaries. Granted, the so-called “war on terror” is the order of the day and yes, if all the satellites of the world didn’t find Osama bin Laden (or didn’t they?) then is’t kind of hard to imagine what possible use nuclear weapons could be against an invisible enemy. But while you and I have the luxury of tackling problems one at the time a world power (I still consider Britain to be one) does not have that luxury.

OK, so it’d be great if there were no nuclear weapons, but this crazy planet is way beyond that. I strongly support the Non-proliferation treaty and am keen on the world becoming safer. However, I think that the times we live in are neither the time nor the place to for experimental disarmament. This goes beyond the current anti-terror and über-partiotic craze.

In the times when Pakistan and India are using their (albeit limited) nuclear capability to lay claim on a permament UN Security Council membership, when North Korea is obviously being bribed into not going forth with a nuclear option, when Iran is sending mixed signals about it’s nuclear programme (virtually inviting all kinds of crazed rednecks to come crashing a kebab-party) and Israel just itching to use its (non existing, of course) nuclear arsenal, then getting rid of the only thing that gets you a seat at that particular poker table is tantamount to assisted suicide.

I’m sure Winston wouldn’t approve…

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

12 thoughts on “Getting Rid of Nuclear Weapons?”

  1. WWII (in Europe) lasted from September 1, 1939 till May 9, 1945 – with Soviet forces accepting unconditional surrender of German armies. Western allies accepted their surrender a day earlier, with Ike doing so during a brief and uncurtious ceremony and Monty accepting it in a tent on the battlefield sans ceremony.

    However, May 9 marks the end of the war, although heavy fighting continued in the Koroška region as German troops were retreating to Austria in hope of being able to surrender to the British rather then to Slovene and Yugoslav Partisan forces.

    Incidentally, May 9 is also the day Ljubljana was liberated.

  2. Oh, OK. Let me share an anecdote: in 2000 I presented a seminar paper at a German uni. It was about the Gothic script, which was forbidden in 1941 by Reichsblabla Martin Bohrmann himself. My presentation was followed by one on the same topic. Not really listening to my colleague (I already knew all about it) I suddenly heard one thing, it somehow screamed at me: “during the six years of WWII” and I though WTF? And then I thought: what did I say a few minutes before? Right, I had said “4 years WWII”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not good at history, but everyone knows about 1. Sept. 1939, even me. So how come I could make such a stupid mistake?
    I asked a few Slovenians of “my generation” and, surprise surprise, it turned out they were under the same impression. 4 years.
    I don’t really have an explanation for that, except for the fact that “in my time”, those 4 years of war in Yugoslavia were treated as one of the most important periods in the history of mankind, causing some of us to grow up with false memories.
    Luckily, the students at that German uni could not have been really listening to me… A relief…

  3. Yes, I know – I was under the same impression until last years of my elementary schools – but in retrospect: we were always taught that WWII lasted for four years on Yugoslav territory. It’s just that we weren’t taught a whole lot about WWII in other parts of the world 😀

  4. alcessa: I had the same initial reaction (six??) and I’m a WW2 fanatic. It’s very strange. I think the reason is that things really truly escalated in 1941, with the invasion of the Soviet Union and later the entry of the U.S. into the war. That was the beginning of the main event, so to speak.

  5. @Michael M: Unless of course you’re Polish, British, French, Belgian, Luxemburgian(?), Dutch, Danish or Norwegian (not to mention Austrians and Checzoslovaks)

    I’d say that the main reason lies in the fact that after the fall of France the British were mostly on the defensive (Dunquerque, Battle of Britain – both 1940).

    As for the “main event” – that can be disputed. I think that any and all allied nation can claim a huge contribution to the final victory – be it in manpower, equipement of being strategically important to overstretching German forces.

  6. Pengovsky: Yes, I am sure we learned the correct dates at school – as I said, I know about 1st Sept. 1939. It was just the emphasisis that did the work.

    Also, I asked my husband and he says they had to memorise 6 years…

    Michael, I am quite surprised at your reaction, too. So maybe there are many other people in different parts of the world, whose “gefühlte Dauer” (“felt length”) of WWII differs from 6 years? A friend of mine teaches German to foreigners and seh said once “Try to explain the dimensions and the meaning of WWII to Africans” (in the sense of: this is something I’d never have expected)

  7. There is a British comedy series, something with Prime Minister in the title, where this PM says about British nuclear weapons they aren’t there to scare the Russians, because those clever guys already know they are just a pile of rubbish. No, they need nuclear weapons for their own people to believe they are striving to keep up with the rest of the world.

  8. I haven’t been paying any attention to Great Britain’s nuke policy, but I think of more immediate concern is Bush’s brilliant –and locally welcome– plan to put missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic. Great way to put a wedge in the EU and piss off Russia.

  9. I agree… But I really resent Poles and Checzs for giving the go-ahead to the plan. I mean – I thought that Slovenia was a pain in the ass of the EU, but now I see that there are far more serious cases of severe self-involvment around

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