We must always prepare for the next war. Not the one we’re fighting now. And who knows what the next war might involve?
There’s another reason it’s important for the navy to maintain its fleet of boomers*. Having a nuclear submarine in your arsenal is what makes a country important. Take that away and what is Britain left with?
Clarkson seems here to understand both truly strategic planning and the importance of an independent deterrent. Or maybe not. We shall see about this soon…
So. Problem. We have to have our boats for defence and for self-esteem. And we can’t afford them. And that’s why I was so pleased to hear the other day about an offer from the French, who are in the same boat, so to speak, to join forces.
Oh Gods, the super-plus unleaded has started to kick-in!
Of all the countries that we are likely to fight in the coming century, France must hover pretty close to the bottom of the list.
Huh, I thought you were for always being prepared? Wars tend to come like bolts from the blue. Who a mere decade ago would have predicted we’d be tear-assing round the ‘stan? Deep down I think this is just Clarkson’s noted Francophilia coming out of the closet again.
So it makes sense, financially and politically, for each of us to run two nuclear missile subs, and for us to take it in turns to be on patrol.
The only problem I can see is military.
Wow! I’m speechless. Perhaps Jezza ought to run that one past an admiral?
Because let’s just say the Argies get uppity again, and that this time we simply don’t have the ability to go down there and give them a bloody nose. And let’s just say, I don’t know, that I am in No 10 at the time. Frankly, I’d want to nuke them.
And here’s the tricky bit. If I rang the captain of a French submarine and asked him to destroy Buenos Aires, would he oblige? Similarly, would one of our chaps be happy to wipe Libya from the map if Nicolas Sarkozy decided his wife had run off with Colonel Gadaffi? This is the crucial question.
And the answer, I think, is probably no. But the important bit of that answer is “probably”. Uncertainty is what makes nuclear weapons work. Not knowing whether the response to your attack will come in the shape of a mushroom.
Britain being protected by Capitaine de la Mer, with his stripy jumper and his onions, makes the prospect of us being able to mount a nuclear response less likely. But it is still a threat. And that’s what matters.
This is complete and utter bollocks. Jezza is now totally away with the fairies. Since when in all of history have we ever profited from having the French onside?
Anyway, I don’t think the answer to his question is “probably no”. It’s absolutely, “Va chier!”. The idea that the French would make themselves international pariahs to an extent that makes the DPRK look like a happy and productive member of the family of nations over the defence of the last outpost of the British Empire is risible.
Moreover any offensive military operation is a gamble. So even if the French might help us out in an “affair Anglais” most of the nutters out there will most certainly fancy their chances. Essentially for a deterrent to be credible it has to be likely to be used so even if Clarkson’s “probably no” is right his argument is still wrong. History shows us that some of the most dangerous characters of all time have been the real high-odds gamblers. What was Operation Barbarosa if not a staggering gamble? I mean Hitler was already at war with the British Empire and the USA was easing into it by that stage. He shoved the whole of Germany onto the table against the three biggest players on the planet.
Nuclear deterrence works – to the extent that it does – when there is a clear command chain. If not there is always going to be someone bonkers in the nut enough to have a go. And what if the French (or British) decided to scrap their subs and missiles? The other party would be in a dilly of a pickle. They’d end-up with nuclear deterrence when there is an “r” in the month or something. And that doesn’t work. Nuclear deterrence is an absolute because of the unprecedented destructiveness of these things but it has to be absolute. Mutually Assured Destruction” has to be assured because there are some quite absurd chancers out there.
There’s something else a lot of people don’t get. It isn’t so much arms build-ups or races that result in wars but it’s military and policy changes – the risk is not so much in the value but in it’s first derivative so to speak. There is always someone out there ready to “start” who will read the runes and think, “Hey ho, let’s go!” Galtieri did in ’82 when he heard of John Nott’s defence review suggesting scrapping much of the Royal Navy. Saddam did in 1980 when he thought Iran would be in utter chaos in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution and Hitler did in ’41 thinking (with a certain level of justification it must be said) that the Red Army would still be in disarray following the ’37 purge of officers. Of course what he didn’t reckon on was that distance = time in invasions and that gave the Red Army breathing space to get it’s house in order, or the winter, or that given the geography the front would get wider as the Wehrmacht advanced, or the spring thaws, or the sheer bloody-mindedness of the Russian people…
Of course there is another, more important aspect to the French suggestion. We recently retreaded the entente cordial and there is much wittering about “joint EU rapid reaction forces”** (even an EU army) and also of a single EU permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This is a perfidious Froggie scheme to tie us permanently into the Union. They’ve snagged us politically. They have (so far) failed to snag us economically via the Euro but if they can snag us via the military and our ultimate weapons to boot then that’s it. That’s checkmate. This is a blatantly political move and the cost savings are just a little bonus. The nukes will ultimately be controlled from Brussels and that will be part of our contribution to EUMil or whatever dreadful name they’re going to call it. The Krauts will do the tanks (they’re good at that), the Italians will provide the catering corps and the Dutch will do the walking on by whenever there is a genocide going on. Brilliant!
Anyway, Jezza, stop talking rot and write a review of some motor that “sets your hair on fire” or amusingly blow something up with May and The Hamster and leave defence analysis to the likes of Lt Col NickM (Jane’s Fighting Armchairs).
*In case you don’t enjoy the fine prose of Tom Clancy, “POTUS said to CINLANT…” that’s a nuclear ballistic missile sub.