North Korea complicate Corbyn’s nuclear arms rhetoric

Scott Houghton ponders Corbyn's ability to disarm Britain

19th October 2015
Scott Houghton ponders Corbyn's ability to disarm Britain

After the Americans dropped nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, and after the Soviet Union manufactured nuclear weapons for themselves and tested them, two dominant superpowers emerged. Later in the 1950’s and 1960’s the UK, France and China all gained nuclear weapons too. Now India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea also have them, with Iran a possibility for the future. But since the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 fears of a nuclear holocaust have, apparently, disappeared and been left to Hollywood.

One wonders if the creeping effects of globalisation would make a nuclear strike impossible

In 2015 we are still having the debate whether it is necessary, and whether it is even morally correct, to have nuclear weapons in the first place. Is nuclear disarmament possible? Many people seem to think so, especially Jeremy Corbyn. This year at The Labour Party Conference Corbyn received consternation for his views on scrapping Trident, the UK’s nuclear defence system, and even more for saying he would never press the fire button in the event of a nuclear war. But recent tensions, including Russia’s annexing of Crimea, alongside geo-strategic air incursions into foreign airspace by Russian planes in 2014, have caused Western governments to become preoccupied with the possible threat of nuclear war once more. This was compounded by the posturing of North Korea recently, with yet another synchronised military parade hardly cause for optimism.

One wonders if the creeping effects of globalisation would make a nuclear strike impossible; it would certainly upset the financial world greatly in an age when the world economies appear inseparable. It would have massively negative consequences on the country that pushed the button. How would McDonald's feel if America blew up their branch in Red Square, Moscow? Not too happy. And imagine what a world would look like without America itself rather than its banking system collapsing as it did in 2008. Aside from that you have the old analogy of two people pointing guns at each other – nobody wants to shoot first.

How would McDonald's feel if America blew up their branch in Red Square, Moscow?

What is more realistic than nuclear war is the fact that no nation wants to lose superpower status, nobody wants to look weak, and nobody wants to lose influence. We will never use nuclear weapons in warfare, the whole reason North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons so incessantly is because of its status symbol as a serious player on the world stage which the USSR and the USA got in 1945, and those who got them historically want to keep that status. In the UK it was deemed imperative to get nuclear weapons to cling onto what power had vanished after the British Empire faded. They are trophies to be polished on nuclear submarines.   

It is unfeasible that nuclear weapons will ever be totally disarmed because of what they mean as status symbols for every nation, not just authoritarian ones, plus that bit of extra diplomatic clout. For the UK that might be different, Corbyn could sweep to power and dismantle it because he wants to re-invest it in the people. What matters to the public is - would you feel less safe without it?

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