On Deterrence and Trident


Yes deterrence can be a powerful defensive tool. It is often said that Argentina chose to invade The Falklands when they did because they gambled that the UK would not defend the islands. If they had known the lengths we would go to to get the Islands back they probably wouldn’t have invaded. When I was a kid I was going to be beaten up by a gang of skinheads. My mate told them I had seven brothers in the army. I don’t have any brothers. But the skinheads thought I did and left me alone fearful that these magnificent seven Jury brothers would seek revenge if they did me. So I get it. Deterrence can be a perfectly rational and very effective defensive posture.

However, that doesn’t really resolve anything. The questions we have to answer about Trident are:

  1. Does the UK need a nuclear deterrent?
  2. Is Trident an effective deterrent?
  3. Is the cost of Trident proportionate to the deterrence protection it provides?
  4. Does the UK have the resources or geopolitical status to provide such a deterrence?
  5. Should this deterrence be given priority above the myriad calls on the governments economic and financial resources?

In the case of Trident my answer to all of those questions is ‘no’. So despite accepting and understanding the ‘logic of deterrence’ I can, and do, still reject the idea that Trident is a proportionate or effective way of achieving it, or that the UK has the resources or geopolitical status to even be involved in the deterrence game.

A brief analysis of the costs involved in renewing Trident can be found on the BBC website here.

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