Weapons stop war

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I am sure everyone would share Douglas Turner’s hope (Letters, 3 July) that Trident is a weapon “we can never use”. Does that mean we should dispose of it? 

There was a rather significant omission from Mr Turner’s list of nuclear states – North Korea.

Not many people actually want nuclear weapons. The question is whether we would feel the world was a safer place if, say, the Western powers decided to dispose of their nuclear weapons while a potentially rogue state such as North Korea builds up its arsenal.

North Korea has not been deterred from developing nuclear weapons.

Will it be deterred from using them by the threat of retaliation from other nuclear powers? All we can say is that we would like to think so.

Would it be more likely to use or threaten to use them in the absence of any such deterrent? I fear that it would and therefore reluctantly come to the conclusion that retaining a nuclear deterrent is a necessary evil.

Mr Turner notes that the existence of nuclear weapons had no effect in deterring a list of wars including the most recent one in Syria.

But neither did the existence of aircraft carriers or fighter planes.

Is Mr Turner suggesting that there is no point in the UK – or at least an independent Scotland – having weapons at all since they do not prevent wars in other parts of the world? That does not seem to be the policy of the SNP.

As to the UK being America’s “poodle” – I for one am comforted by the fact that the UK would only use its nuclear strike capacity with the prior agreement and approval of the US.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

Douglas Turner makes valid points regarding the possession and use of nuclear weapons, but in a world where face is all important, the abandonment of a nuclear deterrent will be construed as evidence of weakness, thus encouraging aggression on other fronts such as the economy and fuel supply.

Our standard military capabilities have already been reduced by defence cuts, so we simply cannot afford to broadcast another negative message about our resolve in world affairs.

Malcolm Parkin

Gamekeepers Road

Kinnesswood, Kinross

Douglas Turner complains that billions are spent on a weapon (Trident) that we can never use. I thought this was a major reason for retaining it.

Such is human nature that the only way to prevent attack is to overtly have the means of overwhelming retaliation.

Trident is no more than an insurance policy.

There is no way that the US/UK did not know that Sadam Hussein had no nuclear weapons, hence the usual silly 
political subterfuge of “weapons of mass destruction” which could truthfully refer to any sort of weapon, including chemical and biological agents, but is meant to be interpreted by the public as the more scary nuclear weapons.

Some of the localised incidents Mr Turner mentions could, in the past, easily have escalated into world war affairs but for the multilateral possession of nuclear weapons, that is, in a rather bizarre fashion they could be described as “weapons of prevention of mass destruction”.

In nuclear war the combatants would certainly suffer devastating damage but let us be aware that at least 1,000 nuclear weapons have already been detonated and the world goes on.

Civilisation would be drastically affected but not utterly destroyed as Mr Turner claims.

(Dr) A McCormick

Kirkland Road

Dumfries

It is delightfully appropriate that the Monty Python team is having a rerun of its classic “dead parrot” routine in London while the Ministry of Defence is assuring us that the nuclear deterrent is vital, but just resting. Honest, guv.

It never deterred 9/11 in America, the 7 July, 2005 bombings in London, the 2007 attack in Glasgow Airport, the many IRA attacks on UK, Galtieri in the Falklands, or Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait. In truth, it has never deterred anybody from doing anything.

The trick is to keep to keep using the word “deterrent”. This weasel word automatically justifies the object it denotes. It is nukespeak’s most successful euphemism.

It is up there with "collateral damage", "demographic targeting", "flexible response" and "countervailing strategies". The spoken word is itself the lie.

The world’s most powerful machine for the mass extinction of life does not have an honest name. It’s Trident, and it’s just a deterrent. Honest, guv.

Brian Quail

Hyndland Avenue

Glasgow