Thursday, 10 August 2017

Un-deterring nuclear deterrents

The Guardian is a frequent recipient and an infrequent publisher of my letters. The latest war of words (let's hope it's a war of words) between two world leaders who share both a desire for the destruction of the world and, it seems, a hairdresser has resulted in my latest, which I publish here in case the Guardian decide that I have graced their letter page once too often:


It is good to see, in the wake of North Korea's latest threat, that the USA's vast nuclear deterrent is working beautifully. As the world spirals closer to a nuclear Holocaust, I am sure the residents of Guam are reassured that Trump will blow hundreds of thousands to smithereens should they all be killed. At what point are we able to finally say what we must have known all along: it is not a nuclear deterrent because it does not deter but, rather, is a nuclear retaliatory system that no one would ever actually use.

Raphael Levy"

I have written about the UK's own nuclear deterrence before. In that post, I, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, argue that we do not need a nuclear deterrence because everyone hates the US more than us. My point, however, was a serious one. North Korea's latest string of threats seems to suggest that maybe I was right. They also prove a more important argument I was making: a nuclear deterrence is not a deterrence. It does not deter. North Korea, so far, have not been deterred. They have called Trump's ludicrous bluff - as if threatening a state with nuclear annihilation that you would not follow up on is really a smart move - and continue to threaten with menace. A nuclear deterrent must deter. It is completely useless and utterly barbaric if its role is retaliation.

I also asserted that no one would ever use nuclear weapons in retaliation, but if anyone would it is the bumbling moron currently inhabiting the White House. I fear I may be correct. I look forward to arguing with people about our moral superiority, Western values, that North Korea 'deserved' it and so on as innocent civilians die. I look forward to that solving the problem. I look forward to sitting in the comfort of our armchairs whilst real people have to deal with loved ones dying because we were too arrogant to de-escalate this decades ago. We may be right and North Korea wrong, but nuclear war does not care. It will only determine, as with all war, who is left. None of us benefits from a retaliation to an undeterred North Korea. None of us.