Monday, December 04, 2006

Cameron on Trident

Brilliant. Full marks. This is the section which shows he's really got the point:

"Those who argue that the world has changed, so that no deterrent is required, entirely miss the point.

Yes, the world has changed and yes continues to change rapidly.

That is the very case for keeping up our guard.

Just as today’s threat is so different from that predicted 20 years ago, so today we can’t predict the threat we will face in 20 years’ time.

Still less can we predict the threat in 40 to 50 years’ time, when the next generation of submarines actually will still be in service.

There are some who argue that, because the major threat is now rogue states, it is not necessary to have a submarine-based alternative.

But isn’t it the case that the replacement for Trident will cover the period 2025 to 2055, when the nature of the threat is so completely unpredictable?

It may be rogue states.

It may be major powers.

We should have a credible deterrent to both."

This is why arguments like Roy Hattersley's that deterrence is no longer useful miss the point and the only proper criticism is the old CND argument for unilateral disarmament which is, thankfully, no longer in the political mainstream.

The other argument in Hattersley's piece, that the US can do the job, is weak; in International Relations unlike other areas of policy honour matters and leaving our allies to bear the full moral weight of deterrence is dishonourable. It would reduce the perception of Western unity of purpose and action which truly deters enemies who know that the US does not like to act alone.

What I didn't see coming in Cameron's speech was this:

"First, on the number of submarines, will the Prime Minister confirm that it wouldn’t be right to rule out a fourth submarine?

The French deterrent, for example, does require four submarines.

The Prime Minister said the decision will be taken when we know more about the detailed design.

Will he confirm that the decision over the fourth submarine does not actually have to be taken possibly until as late as 2020?"

Exactly the kind of question a Conservative opposition should be raising responding to a Labour Prime Minister making the right decision.

1 comment:

Gracchi said...

Matt you've got it entirely right on Trident- the only argument is the CND one- the changed world one doesn't work because we don't know where the world is going, as you say and what threats are coming. Well Done.