Sunday, 4 October 2015

Would you push the button?

Maybe you could use a smart car as a fallout shelter?
I hadn't made my mind up about nuclear weapons until watching 1st October Question Time. One audience member asked if Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, was fit to be Prime Minister because he said that he wouldn't push the nuclear button. Then the answers came, from Stephen Kinnock: “If you have a deterrent you’ve got to be prepared to use it.” Stephen Crabb and Charles Moore both saying similar things. Honestly, it was the scariest thing I've ever seen. Here we have men of power and influence saying that they would seriously consider pushing the button. That button. A button to end life on Earth as we know it. Click! Boom! How can that not scare you?

Would you press the button? Do you really think that you could do it? The power to destroy everything with just a small movement of your index finger. Would you use that power? In what situation? If Russia invaded France? What about if an armada turned up at British shorelines? Nuking them back if they decide to nuke us (not that it would undo their nuke)? Could you do it?

A nuclear deterrent - mutually assured destruction - is an international game of chicken. Except, instead of bashing heads or crashing your car, we're talking about the destruction of the human race. We expect our politicians to go along with this facade, but no one would actually do it. We expect our politicians to lie to us and tell us that: "Yes, we will launch nuclear weapons."

We all know know that when a politician says that they would push the nuclear button that they're lying, but we accept it because collectively we've bought the argument that a perpetual Mexican Standoff makes us safe. It doesn't. The bluff doesn't work and I don't think for a second that anyone genuinely buys it, we just want to.

"You say you might use it so you never have to." This is a common counterargument to what I'm saying. All this does is prove my point. It's a bluff and everyone knows it. You don't want to use it and you never will, but you say you would so that the other side fears you. You know what? They know it's a bluff too.

The situation in Ukraine was brought up. Ukraine used to have nuclear weapons but got rid of them, and Russia is now in the process of invasion. Let's assume that Ukraine still had them but also that Russia still invaded. Would Ukraine push the nuclear button? Of course they wouldn't.

When people talk about how effective the nuclear deterrent is, I'm reminded of Blackadder Goes Fourth, when Captain Blackadder explains to Private Baldrick how the war started.

Captain Blackadder: You see, Baldrick, in order to prevent war in Europe, two superblocs developed: us, the French and the Russians on one side, and the Germans and Austro-Hungary on the other. The idea was to have two vast opposing armies, each acting as the other's deterrent. That way there could never be a war.
Private Baldrick: But, this is a sort of a war, isn't it, sir?
Captain Blackadder: Yes, that's right. You see, there was a tiny flaw in the plan.
Private Baldrick: What was that, sir?

Captain Blackadder: It was bollocks.

We really need to end this constant lying to each other. No one in their right mind would launch a nuclear weapon and we all know it. I like living a planet that hasn’t been destroyed. I don’t really care if we have nuclear weapons one way or the other, but I am extremely uncomfortable being governed by anyone who is actually willing to use them.

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