A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More proof that unilateral disarmament doesn't work

In the various debates I've done against CND over the last year they have often said that the UK should emulate the small number of countries which have unilaterally given up their nuclear weapons.

One of those countries is Ukraine, which inherited part of the USSR's nuclear arsenal but decided it didn't want to be a nuclear power.

Today's Guardian shows that unfortunately this has not stopped Russia demonstrating Slavic neighbourliness by threatening to retarget its nukes at Ukraine if it dares to participate in US plans for a missile defence shield.

Proof that unilaterally ceasing to be a member of the nuclear club doesn't buy you peace and goodwill, it just makes you vulnerable to bullying by nuclear-armed states.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see this as a great argument against a US missile shield.

with regard to those who doretain nukes, and back the shield (such as us)here is no MAD without the M.

10:23 am, February 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

There is a huge difference between the Ukraine and the UK. For one we keep US war heads on British soil which actually makes the UK a target.

Despite being in the armed forces for nearly 20 years I have mixed views on them. They cost a lot of money and they divert funds from our navy and army.

Plus I think once a country has them it's difficult to bargain with them. Look at Korea.

In your defence it is also tricky not to have them as this leaves you wide open to threats.

It is a real pitty that governments across the world can't just agree to rid our planet of WMDs completely. But I don't think that is going to happen.

I think what is more worrying is this new cold war developing between Russia and United States.

10:47 am, February 13, 2008

Blogger Hughes Views said...

It's taken me many years to get my head to triumph over my heart in the matter of nuclear weapons. I was born not long after WWII and am one of the terribly fortunate first generation in modern times that has made in into late fifties without there having been major fighting in Western Europe.

This is, I'm now pretty certain, largely thanks to nuclear weapons. Watching the recent BBC4 programme about summits reminded me of the tensions before and during the Kennedy / Kruschev era.

It is highly unlikely that there would not have been a massive war to settle the unresolved east west split in Europe had it not been for these ghastly weapons in the background.

So, given that mankind can't un-ivent them, the most sensible thing is for stable-ish countries to possess but never to use them. It's a difficult concept to communicate to some of my ex-CND friends and to the sincere people who still demonstrate against them. I drove past Faslane last summer; one of the worthy banners in the (rather too smugly pleased with themselves) demonstrators’ camp read "Trident is terrorism". I thought of stopping to tell them "no it isn't, making bombs and immediately leaving them on tube trains is terrorism. Having a weapon you hope never to use is rather more subtle". But I couldn't be bothered....

MAD stability isn’t so very mad after all.

10:54 am, February 13, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deterence is the key, but the development of new technology is adding another element.

MAD is no longer applicable if you have weapons defence technology. Suddenly nuclear annihilation is no longer the outcome.

I fear the future may not be as peaceful as we would like.

11:10 am, February 13, 2008

Blogger Harry Barnes said...

I have no doubt that Ahmadinejad agrees with you.

12:22 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Russia has had a missile defence system for Moscow since the early 1970s, specifically excluded from the Anti-Balistic Missile Treaty, so their stance is a little two-faced.

I agree with Harry that it's in Iran's interests for them to have nukes. If I was a mad theocrat I'd want them too. But I'm not so I don't want them to have them. There are and should be different standards applied to the proliferation of weapons to democracies as opposed to dictatorships, just as you need to be signed off by a doctor before you can get a firearms certificate.

12:51 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Although this has got me into heated discussions in the Officer's mess I feel nuclear weapons are a drain on our military budget; we can barely equip our forces to do the job we send them out to do.

Alongside the financial aspects we also have to look at the morality of possessing a weapon that is capable of killing many people at the touch of a button.

The Ukraine had some good reasoning behind its decision,

1) Because the technology and launch codes for their weapons systems were Russian based it would compromise Ukraine's independence.

2) Some governments said they would not trade with the Ukraine if they still possessed them

3) The financial costs of owning, upgrading and maintaining a nuclear arsenal was too great for a newly independent and broke former SSR, especially if forced in to an arms race with Russia (where the Russian would win).

They deduced (quite wisely I think) the resulting devastation would make "victory" impossible, the usefulness of even tactical nuclear weapons is severely circumscribed.

Ukraine has no credible "second strike capability" and thus can never hope to establish a "balance of terror" and effective nuclear restraint vis-a-vis Russia.

1:52 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

If Iran believes having a nuclear weapon stops the yanks from invading her she'll make sure tooled up to the eye balls.

If however we and the US try to engage them in dialogue we might hault the spread of these terrible weapons. I certinaly don't think we can dictate to the world who can and cannot have them.

2:11 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

What do you mean by 'work'?

I think nuclear weapons are simply an immoral waste of money.

Unilateral disarmament 'works' because we will no longer be wasting that money.

Mind you, as you earn a crust from advising utterly immoral companies, which would mean you would NEVER get my vote no matter which party you stood for, this is the response I would expect.

3:41 pm, February 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

It's crazy to even suggest that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons it's also illegal.

If Iran gets nukes there won't be an Iran at all. That isn't an option.

Unilateral disarmament is the only solution to the arms race. But the first step is to stop the exapansion of nuclear weapons into unstable countries such as Iran and Korea.

Ravi, dialogue is impossible while they are supplying arms to hezbollah. The one thing people seem to forget is that in the case of Iraq Saddam could of easily avoided war...the same applies to Iran. Let weapons insepctors in and avoid war....simple.

4:38 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Saddam did let the weapons inspectors in, but we could'nt wait for them to finish their work.
That is why these countries are tetchy.

You, like me don't want to see a war developing, rhetoric only ratchetts up that possiblity. We have had to deal with terrorists before such as the IRA and the Zionist Lehi (Stern Gang) to achieve peace, I don't see a difference. A better policy in the middle east must be thrashed out otherwise we could end up with more bombs going off here and in the middle east.

5:23 pm, February 13, 2008

Anonymous Podolanski said...

As someone of Polish decent whose family was Ehnically Cleansed by Stalin, I worry a great deal about Russia especially now.

Especially the threats that have come from the Russian Ambassador to NATO with clearence from the Kremlin.

Talking about the US Missile defence shield being placed on Polish soil he stated

"That Polish colleagues must be reminded of their recent history, which indicates that attempts to place Poland "on the confrontation line" have always led to tragedies. That Poland lost nearly one third of its citizens during World War II"

So Russia's view is the Poland got what it deserved for being confrontational! Must have forgotten that in September 1939 Poland was invaded not only by Germany but by Stalin's Russia.

People say USA with WMD can't be trusted believe me neither can the Russians. If you ask any Pole who they trust Russia is the least trusted country or people.

By the way we Poles remember that Russian deportations to Siberia from Poland began 10th February 1940 and one day they will admit their guilt for the Katyn massacre.

Russia is just as unstable as Korea - especially as Uncle Joseph is being rehabilated!

7:50 pm, February 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Russia is going back to its old ways and is probably a bigger threat now that it was 30 years ago.

Communism is spreading it's evil across our world and the west doesn't have guts to stop it. Just look at China, Korea, Burma, Venezuela and Sudan.

I'm glad we have America at our side it is a very important alliance.

I suspect that Russia plans to arm Iran. They are already selling C-802 to Iran a missle capable of attacking the British fleet.

11:46 pm, February 13, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

You won't get any disagreement on how vile communist regines are but Burma, Venezuela and Sudan are not communist countries. Chavez is the most democratiocally elected president in the world he has won (unlike Bush) every GE since he first came to power.

I can understand and agree with people worring about Russia (the rise of racist ideology) but the US are no better. There are people of influence who want to trigger WWIII because they believe it will hearld Christ's return.

Russia is also right not to trust the US (and NATO). This article shows why.


That is why the missle shield programme is so controversial.

12:58 pm, February 14, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Burma, Venezuela and Sudan are supported by communist regimes. This is the way communism is doing business these days.

Just because you have the vote doesn't mean a thing. The elections have to be fair and in Russia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela they are not fair elections.

Look at China and the relationship with Sudan and Burma or Russia and Venezuela. Very clear worrying links.

Chavez is known for locking up people who stand against him, you should look up his human rights record...it might make you think differently. Not to mention that all his assets are being frozen by order of the international courts.

If I was given the choice between living under or Bush or Putin then it would be Bush everytime. Not perfect but they are FREE and elections are fair.

1:26 pm, February 14, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

You are hard work at times Luke. No nukes and no missile defence would be a winning combination for the Ukraine it seems? And Iran is somethingly a democracy not a dictatorship. Mr A is certainly not a dictator. He has very little power and is losing public votes.

4:11 pm, February 14, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Coca-Cola, McDonolds and other american companies invest heavily in China would you consider them to be communist sympathisers?

Gore won the election in 2000, not Bush, so I don't think his presidency is legitimate.

Your point about Chavez locking folk up, if you happen to hold any anti US views you can be kidnapped and tortured in a third country on the possibility you are a terrorist.
America holds "terrorists" at Camp X ray, whether they have committed a crime or not, it is just a stupid way of doing things.

My view is Chavez was elected by a majority and therefore is a legitimate president.
I can't say the same of Bush.

4:30 pm, February 14, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Your logic seems to be faulty here, Luke. What has made Ukraine vulnerable in this case is her decision to effectively rejoin the nuclear club by playing a part in the missile defence system. If you look at it dispassionately, the issue is not so much those very few countries who have unilaterally disarmed (who have not suffered in any way, and indeed have saved themselves large amounts of money) but the far greater number of countries - indeed almost every country in the world - which didn't arm themselves in the first place. They have saved themselves billions and in many cases have got rich, developed advanced social welfare systems, spent their money on the best possible public services, etc. There is an enormous paradox in the fact that people seek weapons because they believe themselves to be under threat; they become threatened because they seek weapons. Unilateral disarmament is route out of the paradox and I have yet to see a scrap of proof that it 'doesn't work'. The fact that no country has been attacked with nuclear weapons since Hiroshima WHETHER OR NOT THEY POSSESSED THEM AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY WERE PART OF A NUCLEAR ALLIANCE OR WERE NON-ALIGNED would suggest that the posession of nuclear weapons has little or no effect on defending yourself from nukes; the fact that the nuclear 'club' have been the countries most regularly involved in wars since World War II would suggest that being a member does not protect you from conventional attack and indeed might make you more of a target.

MAD is simply that.

6:57 pm, February 14, 2008

Anonymous Nadim said...

I've just written a couple of blog articles (linked) agreeing that unilateral disarmament doesn't work. Sadly, neither will any kind of deterrence strategies, or even complete elimination of nukes.

The problem lies in humanity's insistence on clinging to the archaic nation-state system. It's time to move on from patriotism towards one's country to patriotism to one's kind. It is a major mind-shift but one that is necessary for any kind of meaningful progress... I just hope we don't learn it the hard way.

8:18 pm, February 18, 2008

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