Thursday, December 21, 2006
I will be back in the new year, by which time I should be seriously re-energised; I really need a holiday.
DumbJon is spot on here:
When the BBC is being criticised by the Right, it's coming from mainstream rightists, when the criticism is coming from the Left, it's from people who think the CIA killed John Lennon to stop him revealing the truth about how the Jews were plotting to destroy the rainforest.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
One must beware of ministers who can do nothing without money, and those who want to do everything with money.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
As I have professionally had to deal with this myself, I liked this clarification about David B. Smith:
He is not related to the Economics Editor of the Sunday Times, David H. Smith, with whom he is occasionally confused.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Let's get the Pacific out of the way, as this is outside Britain's strategic sphere. The consequences of North Korea getting away with its programme and a possible weakening of American leadership could lead to the following chain reaction of nuclear weapons aquirement: South Korea & Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Indonesia.
Looking into our own region, let's have a look at the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran, coupled with a possible drawdown of US-UK regional military policies: Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as the first in line would go nuclear first. In turn this would pressure and open opportunities for Egypt, Lybia and Greece. Leading on from there Algeria and Syria can also not be discounted entirely. Once this is getting underway, who can say that other European powers, especially Germany will not be tempted as well? Additionally remember the strategic pressure represented by Russia.
This is bad for Britain's security. So, in order to counter this we will have to work on strategic arrangements and security deals that will lift the potential burden of Iranian/Russian nuclear blackmail from these countries. This would require resetting our alliances and making it clear that armed conflict will at some point draw in British military force, which must, and will, ultimately be insured with nuclear weapons.
Such a policy would not be able to reverse nuclear weapons in any of the countries in our strategic neighbourhood (Britain, France, Israel, US, Russia, Iran), but it would prevent the spread of such weapons to other countries.
(See also this article in the JPost by Emanuel Adler on the Israeli case, which makes a good point, similar to mine, and which ties in with this earlier posting).
Needless to say, it would be nice to be done entirely with such expensive and dangerous weapons, but Britain alone cannot not achieve anything with unilateral moves, except disadvantage the UK’s strategic position.
However, nuclear disarmament can only work if all potential competitors agree to do likewise, and in a simultaneous and verifiable fashion.
Iran: Strategically this is a fairly direct neighbour. Iran claims in addition to us and the French, the US and Israel as concerns. Rivalry of course also with Russia.
Russia: Whilst there may not be much threat of any kind of serious conflict, we cannot know what the future holds, and in addition growing energy dependence on Russia would mean that our nuclear climbdown would shift the balance of power and influence excessively to Russia. So, what drives Russian nuclear arms policy? Its additional strategic neighbours and competitors are Iran, China and the US.
What follows from this? These countries would now have to be considered in a disarmament deal. So, like above:
Israel: To offset its numerical and spatial disadvantage vis a vis its neighbours, and because of Iran's programme, any Israeli disarmament moves are effectively impossible. And who knows who will follow in the region once Iran goes nuclear and the US-UK coalition abandons the region to its own devices: Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the most likely candidates; but more on this later.
China: Obviously the US is the main concern for China and additionally India plays a role, just as North Korea will be of some concern. Additionally a failure to contain North Korea and the weakening of American leadership would lead to more proliferation: most likely Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and maybe Australia.
US: Strategic concerns about Iran, Russia, China and North Korea.
So again: What follows from this? These countries would now have to be considered in a disarmament deal. So, like above:
North Korea: nukes used to extract international aid, strategic concern about the US and China.
India: Rivalry with Pakistan and China.
If we now add in Pakistan (vis a vis India, perhaps Iran), we have all the world's nuclear powers involved. From this we can conclude that the nuclear disarmament of Western Europe will only be possible within a framework that sees total global nuclear disarmament.
Whilst the likelihood of this is fairly small, formulating this as an end goal for British foreign policy to support is nonetheless right.
But before this can come about, Britain is right to keep its nukes, while making sure that the numbers are as small as possible. And on this, the Government for once seems to have got it right.
I want to keep this post as short as possible. Basically it is the right decision to renew Britain's nuclear weapons because we live in a strategic neighbourhood with other nuclear powers, and many potential ones. The motives of these are not always going to be benign, so we need to be sure the balance of power doesn'zt shift too much to our disadvantage.
The question now of course is, why not just rely on our allies? Personally I see no reason why we should lay our fate entirely in America's hands, who's to say that US interests will always overlap sufficiently for the US to remind our competitors of American nukes. Generally speaking probably yes, but the US is increasingly going to look away from (Western) Europe, for better or for worse.
So, why not rely on France? Despite many more differences than we have with the US, surely mere geography will ensure that French nukes protect us as well? Given some of the goals for British nuclear policy I will outline later, I think this is unlikely. In addition it misses the fact, that with France having the only nuclear weapons in Western Europe, it will get to call the shots on all matters regarding NATO and especially the EU. Polemically put, if we give up our nukes, there goes our opt-out out of the euro and common tax policy. If France gives up its nukes, its goodbye to the Common Agricultual Policy.
I assume that Western Europe will require a West European nuclear weapon for the foreseeable future, so why not switch British and French nukes to an EU system? As a eurosceptic I instinctively repel against this, but in theory this could one day be possible. Pigs might develop wings . . . . though with genetic engineering this might actually become possible one day. . .. Either way, this is not on the cards currently, and theoretically the EU might one day fail significantly enough for Britain to leave or the whole thing to collapse.
So, the prudent thing is to ensure that Western Europe has its "own" nukes, and that at least half of these are British.
I will provide more details on the reasons for such weaponry and how to change our nuclear weapons policy in the future in separate posts coming online later today.