Archive for the ‘Trident Challenge’ Category

Trident Challenge

vendredi, août 6th, 2010

France and the UK similar but now only medium-sized powers, still occupy two seats on the UN Security Council along with the US, Russia and China, the main and victorious allies from the second world war. Both have retained their own nuclear deterrent capability which would appear to be based on an assumed although non-existent Cold War threat of a surprise attack, but which also serves to reinforce their otherwise diminished claims to remain at the Security Council table, when challenged by e.g. the more economically powerful Germany or Japan and the rapidly emerging India or Brazil.
In the case of the UK, the defence strategy for conventional forces assumes the opposite to the nuclear option i.e. that there is no immediate threat of an attack by another state. Also, contrary to the independence of the French nuclear deterrent, the UK relies on the US for its technology and now faces a decision on renewal of its Trident seaborne deterrent, a £20 billion or more commitment over the next 15 years. The governing coalition has pledged to maintain this deterrent but both parties have agreed that the case for Trident be re-examined to ensure continuing value for money and that the Liberal Democrats can also propose an alternative for consideration. Trident itself has been specifically excluded from the Strategic Defence and Security review but the Conservative Defence Minister Liam Fox has been landed with the hot potato of not only producing budget savings of 10% or so within the Ministry of Defence but also finding an extra £20 billion to replace Trident. He is faced, therefore, with either budgeting for a straight Trident replacement and comprehensively cutting back on the conventional defence portion or choosing a cost-reduced, alternative deterrent and a new defence strategy.
The Trident challenge for Prime Minister David Cameron is that strong defence of the realm is the default position traditionally adopted by the Conservative Party and its supporters going back to Mrs Thatcher and her nuclear deterrent commitment in the 1980s.The harsh realities of coalition government have already meant that core Conservative beliefs in e.g. low taxes and first past the post voting etc. have already been compromised. The future of Trident could be viewed as challenging what the Conservative Party fundamentally stands for and Mr Cameron might do well, therefore, to spend more time reconnecting with traditional Conservative voters, activists and MPs on the issue of core Conservative values.