Trident and the CofE

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by lanky, Mar 4, 2007.

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  1. Below is a very good article by a Pro-Trident Bishop:

    I believe in Trident, and using it if necessary
    By Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 04/03/2007

    Once again the General Synod of the Church of England has been wrong-footed by passing a last-minute motion declaring the renewal of Trident to be unethical. The original motion had been carefully thought-out and was supported by documents setting out the situation facing the United Kingdom and asking probing and intelligent questions about the Government's intentions. Instead, the Church has now been left in a position which can be seen as mere moralising and trying to dictate defence policy.

    All of this is extremely unfortunate because the Churches in general, and the Church of England in particular, have a legitimate role in the debate on the replacement or renewal of a minimum nuclear deterrent. Any Christian contribution in this area must, of course, reaffirm its commitment to the great Biblical vision of nations and peoples beating their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Such a controlling vision of peace will lead Christians and Churches to be involved in the work for complete nuclear and, indeed, conventional disarmament. Many will recognise, though, that progress in such matters is slow, painful and accompanied by many setbacks.

    In the meantime, Christians and Churches have also to take account of the real world. It is no use repeating endless mantras, as some did at the General Synod, about the end of the Cold War and how this makes a nuclear deterrent unnecessary. Those who had imagined that the demise of Communism heralded an end to significant regional and global conflict have been proved wrong. In an increasingly fragmented and disordered world, there are threats from a number of directions. The North Korean situation has, for the time being, been defused, although no one knows for how long. Iran continues to cause concern, in a variety of ways, to the security and stability of the Middle East and beyond. There is no sign that it is willing to pull back from its nuclear programme, even if significant sanctions are imposed.

    advertisementIt is quite possible to imagine a terrorist group, such as al-Qaeda, acquiring enough radioactive material to manufacture a dirty bomb or, indeed, for a terrorist organisation to be armed in this way by a rogue state. It is also possible that a presently stable situation, as in Pakistan, is overtaken by unforeseeable, but not unimaginable, events. More worryingly, the world is faced not with discrete terrorist groups and rogue states here and there. It confronts a global and increasingly well-organised ideological movement that has to be tackled as such and not merely in terms of the religious tradition from which it claims to arise.

    Nuclear weapons are here and they are not about to be disinvented. As they have done in the past, the Churches have a duty to set out the moral criteria for having, developing or replacing a nuclear capability. It is not their task to tell government what to do or to make policy on its behalf. They need to acknowledge that the government has the responsibility of protecting its citizens, strong and weak alike. They need to ask whether the international situation is such that a nuclear deterrent is needed. In the context of the Cold War, the General Synod agreed that it was. Is the situation any less dangerous today? I don't think so.

    As the General Synod's own paper, accompanying the original motion, points out, for deterrence to work there must be at least a possibility, however, remote, that the weapons may have to be used. I believe it is possible to apply the arguments of a "Just War" to the possibility of their use. In the past, General Synod has agreed that the purpose of a nuclear capability is "unmistakably defensive". As the Government's White Paper on renewing Tri-dent makes clear, the threshold for a nuclear response must be very high and the circumstances "extreme". It contains the promise that any response would be "proportionate" and it should be clear that any plan-ned use of Trident or its replacement would be based on a counter-combatant strategy that targets military and related sites keeping non-combatant casualties to an absolute minimum.

    These are all factors that arise from the "Just War" tradition. However, the possession of dangerous weapons by a state or organisation does not in itself justify "preventative" action. Pre-emptive action could, however, be justified if a state or other entity was prohibited by the international community from having such weapons, and if there was well-corroborated and convincing evidence that it possessed them and that it intended to use them. Iran comes to mind here, and what is needed now is clarity of purpose rather than a show of weakness. But it must be emphasised, in this connection, that the threshold for any such action would have to be very high indeed and the precise nature of the action would have to be very carefully decided. The support of allies, who might also be threatened by such weapons, and, at least, the acquiescence of the international community in such an action would also be very important.

    So far, the policy of deterrence has succeeded and there is no reason to believe that it should not be part of an overall policy to maintain global and regional peace. The Government claims it is "consistently and progressively" meeting its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is to be welcomed and it should be urged to use its considerable international influence to give impetus to a multilateral agreement for a nuclear free world.

    The cost of replacing or renewing Trident is often cited as a reason for not doing so. Instead, it is argued that the money should be spent on international development or environmental projects. Yet the cost of Trident is very small compared to the UK's GDP and is a small price to pay for the security on which many other social goods depend.

    Parliament will debate the question on Trident's replacement or renewal later this month. Because of what I have said above, I am personally in favour of retaining a minimum nuclear deterrent. The task of the Churches, however, is to resource this debate by setting out the moral criteria which need attention rather than trying to make Government policy from the sidelines.

    Michael Nazir-Ali is the Bishop of Rochester and author of Conviction and Conflict: Islam, Christianity and World Order (Continuum, 2006)
  2. A refreshingly different attitude from at least one member of the clergy.
  3. What a lot of rubbish!

    Unmistakably defensive? Vapourising a city full of non-combatants is pretty offensive, and the only defensive aspect of it is deterrence or mutually assured destruction.

    All this talk of using Trident as some sort of super precise LGB is nonsense.

    It seems that this 'christian' of the Cof E persuasion is quite happy to nuke people. Islamic people that is...

    Theses Skypilots should keep out of such dirty and pragmatic worldly issues as there confused logic seems only to undermine there own christian faith.

    I am not against Britains possesion or retention of Nuclear weapons, because we can't un-invent them. They should always be 'on the shelf' for deployment or use if absolutely neccessary. But a lot of tensions could be eased by reduction in deployment, never mind scrapping or abandoning the technology.
  4. I disagree. Usually the Church of England are tree huggers and most have hung around Aldermaston at various stages in their 'careers' or would have liked to wearing a CND badge.

    The fact he publishes that he doesn't want to influence goverment could be misconstrued but at least HE is willing to step back and let HMG make all the decisions. God fcuking help us which is where and when he comes in I suppose.

    If it hadn't been a slow Sunday, I wouldn't have even commented but I do think he is somewhat different from the clergy that are full of all the smart ideas that just basically get up people's noses.

    You think he's talking bollox but at least it's bollox I can appreciate and partially understand.
  5. But we agree its still bollox?
  6. We would only have one boat at sea - it just so happens to be untouchable by any body bar the septics at present. It makes good sense to me. But be under no illusions - it is a nuke we are talking about, albeit with a very low CEP and therefore counter force as opposed to counter value.
  7. I can't be bothered to argue as I have to rearrange my socks alphabetically so yes it is bollox.

    Though it does seem even bollox has more than one side of the coin.
  8. No, but I think your first post was.

    Trident is a DETERRENT, the idea is to be so scary that no other nation will consider nuking you for fear of dreadful retaliation(therefore, in a defensive capacity). Can you imagine any UK Government ever deciding to nuke another country except as retaliation for a similar attack on us?

    Admittedly this deterrence probably won't work against AQ etc, but do you honestly think they're the only baddies out there?
  9. No, because we, as a nation, have no independent strategic capability. There is no point in replacing/updating trident or indeed any other UK based system without first achieving total autonomous control of it's use. I am a supporter of this country's possession of nuclear weapons but firmly believe that we should be able to deploy them when we see fit, rather than when the Americans do.
  10. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Sorry, Pompeii, but this particular nonsense has been spouted - and rejected - many times on ARRSE already. Trident is independent. Its targeting and most importantly its firing chain are controlled throughout by the UK, and beholden to no-one. Neither the US nor NATO nor anyone else have anything to do with it. It is a dual-key system throughout, except at the start, when only the PM's authority is required. Now that part could be worrying......

  13. I was under the impression that Britain shares a pool of submarine launched ballistic missiles with the United States? My apologies if i've stuck my foot in my mouth.

    Edited because quoting gives me headaches.
  14. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    As far as the Church goes, they should be grateful that the whole process is quicker and more effective than burning non-believers at the stake.

    I wonder if they are going to apologise retrospectively for such a horrible abuse of human rights; after all, if Bliar can apologise for us banning the slave trade, then the General Synod can apologise for religious persecution.
  15. The church should stay out of defence and preach to paid up believers, i couldn't give a monkeys what CofE has to say.

    Is trident independant, of course it is.

    Do we need to keep it, well yeah!

    As soon as the cold war was over government slashed defence spending and manpower... the argument for scrapping trident this seems to be along the same "we don't need it now" lines. Look where that thinking has got us... undermanned and overstretched.

    Wars aren't very predictable, government did not predict the mess we're currently in, or what we'd need to cope.

    So, in terms of nuclear deterent, I'd rather we had something we didn't need, than needed something we didn't have.

    My 2p.