Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“Nuclear Wessels”

Serious blog posting here today. Sorry.

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 America one day).

The anti-nuke argument says we have America to defend us, and we’ve never needed to use the Trident system, why would we need it now.

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.

3 comments:

richard eichmann said...

I seriously agree with you Pandora. In my view, either everyone has the right to develop nukes, or noone does. Personally I prefer the latter. Why does anyone need a weapon that can kill thousands of innocent people? We don't. We just think that we do, because the nations of the world are so afraid to just talk to each other.
JG Ballard said something once which made me think:
"I'm in favour of building more nuclear weapons. Hopefully that will speed up the extinction of the human race and we can finally leave the planet the fuck alone."

Penny M said...

I always found it odd that back in the cold war 'we' used to describe people like Stalin et al, as madmen, but the theory of deterrence required that they thought in exactly the same way as us . We know that the big threat to us now is from people who absolutely do not buy into deterrence theory, so why are we using it?

Lynn Jones said...

Given the military might of American - not that I'm knocking the 'States - stating we could use ours against their's rather pointless. Sure, maybe we could take a few of their cities with us, but it's a Pyrrhic victory.

It is hypocritical of the West to tell other nations not to persue a nuclear programme. Equally tho, if the key players did give up their WMDs - how would you enforce a nuclear ban on those that didn't want to give them up?

I know it's trite, but not spending that money on bombs would build a lot of homes and help the poor.

Shame we don't have The Matrix to test out these wooley liberal ideas eh? :)