There are few issues that split the public and politicians alike like Trident. To some, a nuclear warhead in a post-Cold War age, where nearly all fighting is conducted by IED, seems ridiculous. To others, they are a necessary part of keeping our seat at the world table.
It should be stated from the outset that the renewal of Trident has nothing to do with defence and everything to do with economics.
The stereotype of Britain as a fading world power, desperate to prove they still matter by investing in pointless technologies after the world has moved on is ripe for derision across the UK. Critics think the world has entered the 21st century so it is dangerous for Britain to remain stuck in the 20th. After all why spend billions on a fleet of nuclear submarines when a generation born after the Berlin Wall fell are dying in Afghanistan because their government cannot afford to equip them properly?
However, it is true that Britain does rely on its status as a nuclear power to retain its position as a world leader as, amongst other things, it insures Britain’s seat on the UN Security Council. If Britain goes nuclear free and its economy is overtaken by India or Brazil in the next twenty or thirty years, what sort of logic says they should keep their place over one of the newly all powerful BRIC economies? Having the power to veto taken away due to economic irrelevance is the ultimate signal of geopolitical insignificance. Without this influence, our economic fortunes will only decline further as the power balance of our trading relationships will shift against us.
If Britain goes nuclear free and its economy is overtaken by India or Brazil in the next twenty or thirty years, what sort of logic says they should keep their place over one of the newly all powerful BRIC economies?
Therefore we have to do something to stem the tide of irrelevance, but renewing Trident the best way forward? After all, it is like an army reliving past military success by investing in the ritual, pomp and circumstance of its imperial glory days rather than investing in reforming itself to adapt to modern warfare and recapture some of its former strength. Therefore, instead of investing in old, combative and expensive solutions to reassert a chest pounding, jingoistic and outdated sense of international superiority, we should participate in a new collaborative world order.
We will never be the biggest bully in the playground again. And it may be awhile before the sun sets on America’s economic dominance (their economy is still streets ahead of China’s despite how fast they are catching up) but the turn of the BRICs is coming. Now instead of fighting it, may it’s time to play along and invest in the education, cultural and trading links we already have to collaborate rather than let them dominate geopolitical discourse.
We’ve also got to give up on the idea that we can stand alone. Truthfully, Britain never did. From the end of the Napoleonic War to the end of First World War, Britain was ‘top dog’ in the world economy but this was built on our status as the most important trading nation; leading in shipping and overseas investment (not just in the colonies) and being almost unique in their acceptance of anyone from anywhere regardless of political affiliation, ethnicity, culture or creed.
As joint second in command, Britain has the ear of Europe’s banker, Angela Merkel. Why on earth would anyone seriously throw that away for the sake of a few plutonium sticks?
If we are going to be that powerful again we need to have the same attitude.
This fundamentally means accepting the EU properly in a way that the UK really has failed to do previously. Too many people see it as imposed on us and bleeding us dry when in reality we would have probably declined a lot faster without it.
Without getting into the complex arguments about invisible benefits of investment security, bond market confidence (which is admittedly strained lately) and free trade, the EU uniquely places the UK at the heart of the most powerful economic force the world has ever seen. If the EU was a single country, it would have a higher GDP than even America. If it wasn’t such a financial basket case at the moment it could theoretically even stand up to China. Britons may complain that they are a net contributor to the EU in financial terms but in political terms they are by far a net receiver. As joint second in command, Britain has the ear of Europe’s banker, Angela Merkel. Why on earth would anyone seriously throw that away for the sake of a few plutonium sticks?
We have got to stop pining for the way things used to be. Britain’s obsession with geopolitical monopoly is clouding its vision and it cannot see the new oligarchy that could form around it. The UK has become the sort of place where their politician’s negotiations with Europe have all the sophistication of a child screaming ‘if I can’t have it my way, I’M NOT PLAYING!’
Britain has to wake up a new world order that is making nuclear weapons superfluous, otherwise it is going to be left outside in cold clutching its nuclear toys watching the rest of the G20 play together inside.
Other articles you might like and other great Sabotage Times articles on Politics:
Click here for more articles on People In Sabotage Times
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook