Nuclear Deterrence

Analysis of political issues across the world

Nuclear Deterrence

Postby Michael » 16 Aug 2012, 03:37

One of my recurrent non-philosophical interests, though it intersects in many places, is the history and theory of nuclear weapon strategy. This is difficult to explain to many people, but for me it combines intellectual challenge and ethical problems with my own resolution never to turn away from deep problems.

I was curious what forum members thought of Britain's maintaining its fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The most recent nuclear posture review released by the government back in 1998, and Blair's comments in 2006, state that the UK will maintain its strategic nuclear deterrent, reducing only the overall number of warheads, despite the fact that they consider there to be no current credible nuclear threat. The government and defence staff want to be ready for any challenge that might appear in the future.

On the face of it, this makes sense - the knowledge of how to manufacture nuclear weapons is highly specialized and known only to probably a few hundred people, and there is a need to maintain institutional knowledge for future contingencies.

France is much bolder in its nuclear policy; it's fleet of submarine launched ballistic missiles exists explicitly to retaliate against an attack on French soil with weapons of mass destruction - the bluntly stated purpose being to annihilate completely any country found to have ordered or assisted in such an attack.
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Re: Nuclear Deterrence

Postby Elliott » 16 Aug 2012, 09:55

Here is a discussion about nuclear deterrence in Yes, Minister:

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Re: Nuclear Deterrence

Postby Mike » 16 Aug 2012, 12:14

I remember that one. "We'll give them a comprehensive education!...to make up for their Comprehensive education." On the mark as always.
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Re: Nuclear Deterrence

Postby Michael » 16 Aug 2012, 13:47

Ah, Yes Minister, one of the best British comedies ever. I especially liked the first episode of Yes, Prime Minister, where Hacking devises his Grand Design.
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Re: Nuclear Deterrence

Postby Podori » 23 Sep 2012, 15:15

Michael wrote:One of my recurrent non-philosophical interests, though it intersects in many places, is the history and theory of nuclear weapon strategy. This is difficult to explain to many people, but for me it combines intellectual challenge and ethical problems with my own resolution never to turn away from deep problems.

I was curious what forum members thought of Britain's maintaining its fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The most recent nuclear posture review released by the government back in 1998, and Blair's comments in 2006, state that the UK will maintain its strategic nuclear deterrent, reducing only the overall number of warheads, despite the fact that they consider there to be no current credible nuclear threat. The government and defence staff want to be ready for any challenge that might appear in the future.

On the face of it, this makes sense - the knowledge of how to manufacture nuclear weapons is highly specialized and known only to probably a few hundred people, and there is a need to maintain institutional knowledge for future contingencies.


Britain should maintain its nuclear submarines in state-of-the-art condition.

A new world is coming this century. We're likely to see bigger, bolder BRIC countries; the Argentines are making a raucous noise over the Falklands; and, as always, the sea lanes need the protection of navies that can intimidate rogue states and pirates (think of Iran's threat to block the Straits of Hormuz). Britain needs to keep her footing in the coming world order, part of which is in keeping a modern navy close to hand.

Despite decades of British decline, London remains one of the world's most important cities in terms of commerce, knowledge and diplomacy. God forbid that there should ever be a third World War, but if it should happen what would prevent London from becoming a sitting duck? In the face of such uncertainty, some submarines with the capability to turn an enemy capital into dust sound like a good protective measure.

France is much bolder in its nuclear policy; it's fleet of submarine launched ballistic missiles exists explicitly to retaliate against an attack on French soil with weapons of mass destruction - the bluntly stated purpose being to annihilate completely any country found to have ordered or assisted in such an attack.


I shall have to join the Foreign Legion in the event of World War III.
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