There is a lot of talk at the moment about the Trident nuclear-submarine defence system. Many people are saying we should update it because we need to have a nuclear deterrent. Some people are saying we should not update and spend the £20bn on hospitals, schools, infrastructure and the environment.
The pro-nuke argument points to rogue second- and third-world countries who are trying to develop nukes (and some cynics suggest we might need to defend ourselves from
The anti-nuke argument says we have
As a budding game-theorist I’ve been looking at the nuclear ‘game’ and have spotted a flaw in the pro-British nuclear deterrent argument.
The basic form of the nuclear deterrent is this: If we both have nukes each of us knows that we cannot launch a strike without retaliation. And where nukes are concerned retaliation means we both end up sitting in a radioactive crater with leukaemia.
The problem with this is that it assumes both sides realise the consequences, and aren’t willing to die to harm their opponent.
This falls down when you consider the rogue states that the politicians point to as a threat. Most of these countries haven’t played the cold-war games, and some contain zealots who are willing to die for their cause if it will harm their enemies. If this is the case, no matter how many nukes we have, we could still be targeted by these countries.
We might have nukes, but no-one is being deterred. Spend the money on something useful.