'DICTATORS AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS'
The Times – 9 May 2019
Allan Mallinson misunderstands Admiral Lord West of Spithead’s argument that we cannot wage conventional campaigns against nuclear-armed dictatorships if we lack a nuclear deterrent of our own (letters, May 7 and 8). Of course Argentina was not deterred by our Polaris submarines from invading the Falklands. Dictatorships appreciate the reluctance of democracies to attack them with mass-destruction weapons except in response to nuclear aggression. Yet, because dictators lack such qualms, the reverse is not true, which is why even a few nuclear devices in the hands of the junta would have stopped us from re-taking the islands conventionally, without the neutralising shield of our own nuclear force.
For a nuclear deterrent to be effective, it must be continuously capable of inflicting unbearable and unavoidable retaliation. Brigadier Mallinson implies that this can be done without a like-for-like replacement of our Trident fleet. Yet, every suggested alternative system always fails the tests of affordability, effectiveness or continuous availability.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
* * *
The Times – 8 May 2019
Admiral Lord West of Spithead writes, in response to Field Marshal Lord Bramall: “Had the Argentinian junta possessed nuclear weapons, we could never have used our conventional forces to retake the islands if we lacked a nuclear retaliatory force” (letters, May 6 & 7).
This is a very moot point. Why in the first place were the Argentinians not deterred from invading the islands by our possessing nuclear weapons? In any case, Lord Bramall was not arguing for unilateral nuclear disarmament but for a review of like-for-like Trident replacement.
Cavalry and Guards Club
London W1J 7PX
* * *
The Times – 7 May 2019
Lord Bramall asserts that our Trident strategic deterrent “could not be used or even threatened under any circumstances” (letter, May 6). In reality, it is used every day as our ultimate insurance against nuclear blackmail or attack by any opponent armed with mass-destruction weapons and the means of their delivery.
At one end of the spectrum is the Falklands campaign. Had the Argentinian Junta possessed nuclear weapons, we could never have used our conventional forces to retake the islands if we lacked a nuclear retaliatory force.
At the other end of the spectrum, a tangible threat of conflict exists in Europe arising from the revanchist path regrettably chosen by Russia. The existence of a second centre of nuclear decision-making within NATO reduces the danger of Russian miscalculation that the United States might fail to respond to nuclear aggression against us and our allies.
This is not about winning “more credit and respect”, as Lord Bramall claims: it is about keeping us safe for the indefinite – and largely unpredictable – future.
Admiral Lord WEST OF SPITHEAD
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
* * *
The Times – 6 May 2019
As Max Hastings makes clear in his shrewd and hard-hitting article (Comment, May 3), Penny Mordaunt, the new Defence Secretary, faces a difficult job. She will have to judge defence requirements on their military merits and have the political clout to fund those that are actually needed, which must certainly include capability to conduct cyber warfare. She must also have the political courage not to waste any more money on items no longer essential to counter threats that face, or might feasibly face, the country today and its status on the world scene.
Unlike your leader “Deterrence Defended” (May 3), I would like to see included a review of the policy of a like-for-like replacement of Britain’s present nuclear deterrent, Trident, because it has lost its credibility. It no longer deters any perceivable threat to the United Kingdom and it could not be used or even threatened under any circumstances. I believe the country would obtain more credit and respect from making a positive contribution to the much sought-after multi-nuclear disarmament debate.
Field Marshal Lord BRAMALL