Thursday, 18 July 2013

Trident posturing - Lib Dems and Guardian talk sensible militarism

Following that 'much-anticipated' Whitehall review on Trident, Britain's new nuclear capacity, we're told, could be 'sensibly' scaled-down.

The proposal, now loftily embraced by the Liberal Democrats, comes after 'sensible' consideration of all the available options - excluding, of course, the most sensible one of scrapping it altogether.

For, after all, we must, even with such sensible Lib Dem efficiencies, maintain some sensible appearance as a feared and important world power.

But not so much that we shouldn't be equally sensible about discarding those old cold war costs and commitments. So, we also have the sensible Lib Dems to thank for steering us away from all that nuclear posturing.

As ever-sensibly reported at the Guardian: 
Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary, who oversaw the long-awaited review on behalf of the Lib Dems, described it as the "most comprehensive study ever published" by a British government on the country's nuclear weapons posture. Britain should "step down the nuclear ladder" he said, describing Trident as the "last unreformed bastion of cold war thinking".
Isn't that just so very sensibly reformist?

And just in case the funereal-sounding Defence Secretary Philip Hammond can't see this sensible new reality, here's the Lib Dem leader himself putting those cold-warring Tories in their place: 
"Nick Clegg said he hoped the report would open a "fact-based debate" on Trident, prior to the big decisions on the submarine replacement programme due to be taken in 2016, after the general election. "It clearly shows that there are options for our country that do not simply involve us sticking to the same strategic positions that were taken in the cold war," he said."
Soberly sensible, or what? Just where would we be without that restraining Lib Dem presence?
Alongside 'Wise Uncle' Vince Cable's move to flog Royal Mail - with sensibly expedient share bribes to push it along - we may be greatly reassured by the Lib Dems' nuclear reasoning.       

As reminded by the Guardian - like the Lib Dems, top-ranked in liberal posturing - there are still sensible options to outright disarmament:
The most important of these, though not the only one, is that the UK genuinely has the option of scaling down its nuclear weapons capability from the present four submarines based on the Clyde to three or even two. This is a possibility that deserves a serious public debate, free from the old scaremongering. Stepping back from continuous at-sea deterrence could help wean Britain off its unchanged cold war nuclear posture, make a contribution to a developing process of multilateral weapons reduction, send a signal that to debate nuclear weapons is not to be soft on defence. It could even save some money, while maintaining a flexible nuclear stance against potential threats. The threat would still be there. A political system worthy of respect ought to be able to have these debates. The Liberal Democrats, who insisted on the review as part of the coalition agreement, deserve credit for making it happen. For all its limitations, this review is a landmark step in opening the issues to debate. [Emphasis added.] 
Approved by Clegg and Alexander, it's also a Guardian-encouraged 'debate' that keeps the terms of reasonable discussion safely and sensibly situated around the 'best-option' of a 'cost-effective deterrent', rather than abandoning it completely. 
The Guardian's appreciative nod to those practical Lib Dems complements another such editorial warning over the rush to ditching Trident after any Yes vote for Scottish independence.

There may be popular support in Scotland, concede a sensibly-speaking Guardian, for the anti-nuclear option:
"But for the rest of the UK, the cost of relocating the Trident fleet of Vanguard submarines and finding an alternative base to Faslane is a very pricey headache. The news that active consideration is now being given in Whitehall to negotiating a future for the base as sovereign territory, with a status similar to the two Cyprus bases, may be dismissed by nationalists as absurdist scaremongering. But do the thought experiment anyway. Not quite as easy after all." [Emphasis added.]
Again, how very sensibly posed. Perhaps we really should bin all those humanitarian ideals of people-sparing and expense-saving disarmament for a more responsible appreciation of nuclear logistics and war economics.  

So, where best to site that vital weaponry? The Guardian dutifully note the Westminster preference:
"The deep water of Faslane and neighbouring Coulport, and their relatively remote location make them easily the best UK solution."
It's an interesting interpretation of "relatively remote", with potentially catastrophic nuclear-laden boats berthed near immediate conurbations like Helensburgh and just 30 miles from Glasgow.

But it's certainly remote in both miles and mindset from what gets crafted by the metropolitan Guardian as sensible policy discussion.   

And while the Guardian, like Cameron and Clegg, lightly brush-off the MoD's proposals for turning Faslane into UK-sovereign Tridentshire, the sobering fallout of nuclear disarmament on the Clyde is still ever-so-sensibly amplified: 
"What future for the 6,000 jobs that depend directly on Scottish nuclear bases, and the thousands of others that rely upon them? The SNP claims they would be replaced by converting the bases to conventional defence. Workers at the base are unconvinced. Then there would be heavy decommissioning costs to factor in, and the shape of a new Scottish defence force whose naval arm (another huge expense for the independent country currently predicting a total defence budget of £2.5bn) would be based a long way from many of its principal industrial assets."
Thus, decommissioning claims falsely noted, the voice of sensible Guardian moderation arrives at this not-so-dismissive conclusion:
"Of course it [independence] remains, according to the polls, only a distant possibility. Yet, faced with such a stand-off, the idea of a patch of sovereign territory just to the north-west of Glasgow over which a diminished union flag still flutters is just a bit less bonkers than it first sounds."
Sub-bonkers, perhaps. But not so bonkers that the Guardian still asks us to ponder such scenarios. As with the case for Western invasions and interventions, this is sensible preparatory-speak for getting us to think the seemingly unthinkable when dealing with pending 'military problems'. 

Such posturing is enough to make one appreciate the more direct Daily Mail-style fearmongering. At least with the Daily Hate it's upfront and virulent.

Thus, in a recent piece, we learn, apparently, that potential recruits to any independent Scottish army would likely opt, instead, for British regiments, "march[ing] south to England" in sensible fear of being "bored", restricted from elite training, major warfare and regular use of killer weapons.   
Citing a report "from the highly respected Henry Jackson Society", the Mail repeat this dark warning from a serving British officer: 
"What of the young officer born, raised, and educated in Scotland? He can either join the Paras [British Army Parachute Regiment] or the local Scots regiment. If he chooses the latter, he cannot go to Sandhurst; so he would be going to a new training school in Scotland, with the best hope of going and sitting on the border in Cyprus or Lebanon with a blue beret and no rounds in his rifle. Or he can join the Paras, one of the most recognisable regiments in the world. What’s he going to do? It’s a no brainer; the SDF would be too dead-end and too parochial."
Neither our war-fascinated officer or jingo-fuelled Mail, of course, sought to mention that in choosing "Alex Salmond's army" the risk of death, for soldier or civilian other, might be greatly diminished. 

But, then, why choose parochial peace-keeping and serving civilians when you can partake in crazed invasions and mass murder, while awaiting possible death by roadside explosive, suffering post-traumatic stress disorder or resorting to depressive suicide?

Why, moreover, be associated, soldier or civilian, with a nuclear-waiving state rather than a nuclear-waving one? Shouldn't we feel duly proud of our country in sparing all those billions for piling rockets and creepy subs rather than for combating poverty and austerity?      

And so the collective propaganda continues.  Whether via the Mail's 'recruitment fears' or the Guardian's weasel-worded case for 'managed nuclear warheads', it's all part of the same politically-guided, war-extolling, media-loaded chat; what we're encouraged to see as sensible militarism.

From the Westminster party cabal to the liberal-right media, there's no serious alternative to nuclear militarism. And that consensual endorsement of Trident, whether in its current or pretence 'scaled-down' version, is a key factor in driving both political and media hostility to Scottish independence.

There is but one political option, one editorial view that any seriously humanitarian politician or media outlet can take: outright opposition to Trident, nuclear proliferation and, indeed, the evil of warfare economics at large.

There's a common factor here linking the British state, the Lib Dems and the Guardian: one sits at the top nuclear/security table still trying to prove its militarist virility; the next sits at the top governing table trying to hide its grovelling collaborations; and the last sits, similarly shameless, at the table of radicals trying to cloak its corporate-establishment protections.

All in all, a posturing triangle of power, complicity and deceit.

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