Lecture to the Centre for Opposition Studies, University of Bolton
By Dr Julian Lewis MP
Delivered at the House of Commons – 30 October 2018
Given recent allegations about broken treaty commitments, this paper on The Politics of Britain's Nuclear Role has turned out to be far more topical than I expected when Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq invited me to deliver to deliver it. In spelling out what I remember of the past, it aims to offer serious guidance for controversies yet to come.
There have been two main categories of nuclear weapons based in the United Kingdom: those comprising our own strategic deterrent and those of United States origin allocated to NATO as part of the 'nuclear umbrella' protecting non-nuclear member states.
Largely by coincidence, both came to the forefront of UK politics at the start of the 1980s and both remained prominent until two key developments 1987: Labour's loss of the General Election, in June of that year, and the signing of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, in December. The former began the process by which Neil Kinnock and the late Gerald Kaufman tiptoed away from the Unilateralist stance that cost Labour so much in the 1983 and 1987 elections. The latter put the final nail in the coffin of the 'second wave', of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) by bringing to fruition the Zero Option offer – which NATO made implicitly in 1979 and which President Reagan made explicit in 1981.
During Defence Questions in the Commons early last week, I noticed that the date – 22 October – was the 35th anniversary of the largest CND demonstration ever held, when almost 100,000 protestors marched in Central London against the forthcoming replacement of Polaris by Trident and, especially, against the imminent deployment of American cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire. It follows that even postgraduate research students today, in their mid-twenties, must look on these events – a decade before they were born – rather differently from those of us who took part in those political battles and who continue to make the contemporary case for nuclear deterrence. For our part, we cannot take it for granted that the lessons learned in the 1980s are automatically understood by subsequent generations.
Forgive me, therefore, if I take some time to spell out what some of those lessons actually were:
The first was that the concepts of Unilateralism and Multilateralism are mutually incompatible. One requires abandonment of our own nuclear weapons and nuclear alliances unconditionally, whereas the other will consider nuclear renunciation only if our potential enemies carry this out at the same time.
The second lesson was that a nuclear-free world would not necessarily be a peaceful world. Abolition of the nuclear 'Balance of Terror' would be a curse, not a blessing, if it made the world safe once again for conventional conflict between the Superpowers. And, yes, in military terms, Russia remains a Superpower regardless of complacent Western analyses of the weakness of her economy.
The third lesson was the fundamental divide between those people, within Western societies, who believe that wars result mainly from groundless mutual fear and suspicion, and those who believe that only the prospect of retaliation in kind prevents adventurist states from acting aggressively. As I have previously sought to explain, these two views "respectively underpin the division between the Unilateralist and Multilateralist camps. They are psychologically poles apart, and there is little scope for halfway-houses between them". (Encounter, July–August 1985)
The fourth lesson was the validity of the hackneyed, but nevertheless accurate, concept of the 'Silent Majority'. Although individual polling questions could be devised to produce apparent majorities against deploying particular nuclear systems, whenever the fundamental issue of deterrence was posed the result was always decisive. Two-thirds of the British people wanted us to "continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as Russia has them", and only one-quarter wanted us to give them up unconditionally.
The fifth lesson was that, since fewer than 10 per cent of our people were undecided on this fundamental issue, it did not make political sense to try to appease either this small group or the much larger numbers of highly-committed Unilateralists who were still in a minority. The strategic task was to reinforce the views of the two-thirds who believed in what may be termed 'peace-through-strength-and-deterrence', rather than 'peace-through-disarmament', so that the issue would be in the forefront of their minds – which, indeed, it was – when they went to vote in the 1983 and 1987 General Elections.
The sixth, and final, lesson was that it is politically inept to announce, long in advance of being ready to implement it, the future deployment of new nuclear weapons. Of course, there must and will be time for democratic debate and Parliamentary votes; but what happened between 1979 and 1983 was, in essence, an open invitation to the ever-present and substantial Unilateralist minorities in Western Europe that they had four years in which to seek to make NATO's scheduled cruise and Pershing II missile deployments politically impossible.
Though 'ancient history' to many in this room, the events underlying those six lessons deserve closer study because of their continuing relevance. This is what happened. From 1977, the Soviet Union began deploying a new generation of SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in Eastern Europe and the Western USSR. These caused particular concerns amongst Continental NATO member states – especially in West Germany – but not because of any increased threat to the mass of their people. Mass populations were already fully targeted by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the event of an all-out nuclear exchange. No: the worry about the SS-20s was that their much greater accuracy meant that they could destroy NATO's military infrastructure without causing mass casualties. This would leave the Alliance with an unpalatable choice between acceptance of defeat in Western Europe or escalation to all-out nuclear strikes against Soviet cities.
In response to this new danger, leading European NATO states urged the United States to respond and, in December 1979, the 'twin-track' decision was announced: the Alliance would counter the SS-20s by deploying nuclear-armed cruise missiles in five NATO countries, including the UK, and Pershing II IRBMs in West Germany as well. At the same time, initiatives would be taken to reach agreement with the Soviet Union to achieve a stable equilibrium in the intermediate-range nuclear sphere such as already existed at the strategic nuclear level.
In the United Kingdom, the CND's prominent 'first wave' of protests, dating from its foundation in 1958, had come to an end in 1964, when the construction of the UK's Polaris submarines began irrevocably. By 1979, the CND had been virtually moribund for fifteen years. For six of those years in succession, from 1971–77, the movement's Chairman had been a leading British Communist, Dr John Cox. He was succeeded by the radical priest Bruce Kent, who later led the CND's 'second wave' as its full-time General Secretary from 1980–85. Indeed, Monsignor Kent used to pay fulsome tribute to the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Quakers as the two organisations which had kept CND functioning in what he called "the lean years" of the 1970s.
As my friend and fellow researcher Paul Mercer wrote in his detailed and devastating analysis 'Peace' of the Dead published in 1986,
"Western 'peace' campaigns flourish only when a NATO country is about to take some significant step to improve its [nuclear] defences. Then they subside until the next time."
And so it proved in the United Kingdom. In July 1980, just eight months after the 'twin-track' announcement, the new Thatcher Government announced the intention to replace the UK Polaris deterrent fleet with new submarines carrying Trident ICBMs. Thus it was that the CND sprang back into life: in October 1980, it held the first of a series of large annual London demonstrations, culminating in the Hyde Park Rally – already referred to – three years later, just one month before the first cruise missiles arrived at Greenham Common.
Turnout at these mass events was invariably inflated by the organisers, with 400,000 being claimed for the largest of them in October 1983, until aerial photography and a scientific process known as photogrammetry showed this to be a fourfold exaggeration. Nevertheless, they were still impressive public spectacles whose sheer scale worried politicians who should have known better. What those politicians failed to grasp was that the demonstrators were drawn from that one-quarter of British society which always opposes the peace-through-strength-and-deterrence approach.
Recalling how West Europeans had urged them to counter the SS-20 menace, the United States were baffled to find themselves facing demonstrations in West Germany and other NATO states scheduled to receive cruise missiles – the self-same countries that had asked them to act. In reality, as we have seen in the British case, the people making the protests, though numerous, were unrepresentative of majority public opinion.
Although the CND remained dormant during the Soviet deployment of hundreds of SS-20 missiles between 1977 and 1979, it had, after its revival in 1980, nominally adopted the slogan "No Cruise, No Pershing, No SS-20s". Yet, when President Reagan proposed precisely this suggestion in his 'Zero Option' offer in November 1981, the CND abandoned it overnight and declared:
"The Zero Option cannot be remotely acceptable to the Soviet Union: a valid Zero Option would include the scrapping of existing Pershing 1a missiles and British submarine-based missiles." (Campaign!, December 1981)
This attempt to link the British strategic nuclear deterrent to negotiations on intermediate-range systems was disingenuous, to put it mildly.
As history has recorded, Russian hopes that anti-nuclear agitation in NATO countries would thwart Western INF deployments were dashed. As soon as the missiles were in place, the protests passed their peak. Even when Ronald Reagan came to London in June 1984, the CND could muster barely half the numbers it had achieved the previous October. Predictably, the Soviet Union walked out of the nuclear arms negotiations but re-engaged with the West early in 1986: their hardline gamble had failed and reformist factions in Moscow had reaped the benefit. In December 1987 in Washington DC, Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan signed the INF Treaty, based explicitly on the 'Zero Option' offer and resulting in the scrapping of 572 NATO nuclear warheads and nearly 2,000 Soviet ones.
This was a massive vindication of the Multilateralist approach, and almost certainly hastened the dismantling of the Soviet empire. The finest contemporary verdict on the entire Euromissiles crisis came without doubt in an Editorial in the left-of-centre Observer newspaper, on 20 September 1987, just before the INF Treaty was signed. It is worth quoting in some detail:
"Is the Cold War over at last? It may be, to judge by the historic success of the arms control talks in Washington ... the removal of cruise, Pershing II and SS-20 missiles and their shorter-range cousins is the clearest possible signal that the nuclear arms race has a reverse gear ... Think back to 1979, when NATO settled on its 'twin-track' decision to deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles in Europe while continuing to negotiate with the Russians about the elimination of such systems. If the Soviet Union had then offered, inconceivably, to eliminate all its intermediate and short-range missiles aimed at Western Europe in return for the non-deployment of cruise and Pershing II, the offer would have been greeted with relief – and joy. Yet that is the very outcome that has now been achieved by deployment and negotiation: the twin-track decision has achieved its objective.
"Now is the moment for those who stood firm in 1983 – the year of deployment – to enjoy the results of their resolution. Despite public agitation and the parading of conscience through the streets, NATO was not deterred. Who would now have the nerve to claim that if the prescription of the peace groups had been followed the outcome would have been as good? The deal is a triumph for toughness and realism in international relations ... "
* * * *
Now, let us turn – "Not before time”, I hear you say – to the impact of all this on the British political scene. Although I speak as a Conservative Parliamentarian, I cannot state too often that the Labour Party has a long, proud and honourable history of commitment to the defence of this country. Whenever you find a Labour MP (and there are many) who believe in NATO and in nuclear deterrence, you can be sure you will never find anyone more patriotic, determined and reliable. Let us never forget that the vital decisions to build the British atomic bomb and to help create the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were taken by a Labour Government in the late 1940s.
However, both Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin were well aware of the left-wing strand within their party which has never deviated from adherence to the cause of unconditional – or one-sided – British nuclear disarmament. This is a minority opinion in society, as we have seen, and it is equally a minority view amongst Labour voters. Yet, from time to time, it has held sway within the Party as a result of its complex internal machinery.
The first serious setback to Labour's bipartisan Defence policy came with the notorious Unilateralist resolution which trade union block votes forced through the October 1960 Annual Party Conference in Scarborough, despite the pledge by Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell to "fight, fight and fight again" to reverse it. And reverse it he did twelve months later at the Blackpool Conference.
The next serious setback came with the successive election as Labour leaders of two prominent Unilateralists. One, Michael Foot, went to his grave with faith unshaken in the cause of unconditional nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom – irrespective of its huge contribution to his landslide defeat in the 1983 General Election. The other, Neil Kinnock, a long-standing supporter of the CND who had addressed its climactic Hyde Park rally within days of becoming leader in October 1983, proved equally inflexible – at first. His claim, during a television interview with David Frost, that an alternative to nuclear deterrence would be to use
"all the resources you have to make any occupation [of the United Kingdom] totally untenable"
was a gift to his Conservative opponents in the 1987 General Election campaign. And hard on the heels of that second crushing defeat for Labour, came the signing of the INF Treaty in apparent vindication of Margaret Thatcher's unwavering approach.
In 1988, therefore, Shadow Foreign Secretary Gerald Kaufman began the delicate operation of releasing Labour from the anti-nuclear hook on which it was impaled. Initially, his formula was to suggest that, instead of giving up all our nuclear weapons for nothing in return, a Labour Government would insist on what he called "Something for something". This line achieved some traction until successive Conservative Party Chairmen Kenneth Baker and Chris Patten, later joined by Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, launched a rolling barrage of open letters to the Opposition, drafted by the Conservative Research Department (where I happened to be working at that time). The letters pointed out that it is Unilateralism if a country gives up all its nuclear weapons for nothing in return; but that it is also Unilateralism if it does so on a one-for-one or even a one-for-two or more basis, if its adversary still has plenty more weapons in its possession. Indeed, what matters is not what each side gives up, but what each side has left at the end of the process.
This campaign bore fruit on 10 July 1991, when the Guardian newspaper, under the headline "Kinnock to Retain Nuclear Arms" reported that:
"Labour last night committed itself to the indefinite retention of the British independent nuclear deterrent, indicating that it will keep Trident until disarmament negotiations end with an agreement by all nuclear weapon states to eliminate their entire nuclear arsenals. This important policy development, provided by Gerald Kaufman, the Shadow Foreign Secretary in an article in today's Guardian, is designed to rebut the mounting Tory attack that Labour's policy would allow Britain to negotiate Trident away, but still leave the Soviet Union with a sizeable nuclear arsenal capable of destroying Britain."
The strongly anti-CND Sunday Times, was in no doubt that the Conservative campaign had forced this final, decisive policy shift by Labour. Its political editor, Michael Jones, concluded that:
" ... Chris Patten, the Tory Chairman, can take some credit for having pushed [Mr Kinnock] into making the break. Mr Patten's recent letters to Mr Kaufman on Defence have clearly worried the Labour leader, and Mr Kaufman's abusive replies failed to deflect the Tory attack as Mr Hurd joined in. Before Mr Kaufman's entitlement to become Foreign Secretary proceeds, we should note his reactions to Mr Patten's central question, which he finally addressed in the Guardian. He called Mr Patten 'silly', 'disingenuous', 'mischievous' and 'untruthful' (April 16), 'futile' and 'frantic' (April 19), 'puny' and 'incompetent' (April 26) and 'over-excited' (July 11). Then he and Mr Kinnock caved in." (Sunday Times, 14 July 1991)
In fairness to the memory of the late Sir Gerald Kaufman, it is only right to record his outstanding contribution years later – when Tony Blair was Prime Minister and Gerald was free to speak his mind – in the March 2007 Commons debate when Parliament voted by 409 votes to 161 to proceed with the initial stages of the next generation of the nuclear deterrent. After reminding MPs of his description of Labour's 1983 anti-nuclear manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history", he spelt out the reasons for finally ditching Unilateralism in July 1991:
"That shift of policy removed an insuperable barrier to the Labour Party's electoral credibility. Without it, many of my hon. Friends would not be in this House today, including some who may be contemplating voting against the Government this evening. Do those hon. Friends really believe that our shared objective of world nuclear disarmament can be achieved by unilateral disarmament by Britain? Do they really believe that if we gave up Trident, the eight other nuclear weapons powers would say, 'Good old Britain! They have done the right thing. We must follow suit.'? Pull the other one! ... Defeating the Government tonight … could so reduce our party's credibility as to contribute to a Labour defeat at the next election ... A cartoon in The New Yorker once showed an Army officer in a bunker saying to his assembled troops: 'Gentlemen, the time has arrived for us to make a futile gesture.' Futile gestures can be personally satisfying, but what do they get us? I will tell the House what they get us: 18 years in opposition. It is one thing to revisit the scene of the crime; it is quite another to revisit the scene of the suicide."
Whether the Labour Party intends to "revisit the scene of the suicide" is at present impossible to discern. Mr Blair's 248-vote majority at the end of that 2007 debate depended upon support from the Conservative Opposition: 87 Labour MPs rebelled – just under one-quarter of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Nevertheless, Parliamentary Labour CND was a shadow of its former self and few would have predicted that one of its severely depleted number would become Labour leader in September 2015 after a transformation of the Party's mass-membership base.
When Jeremy Corbyn was but an isolated backbencher, the two of us regularly supported each other's applications to the Backbench Business Committee for Parliamentary debating time to be allocated to nuclear deterrent-related subjects. (It always helps such applications to have people from both sides of an argument agreeing that it is necessary to debate it.) Having secured such debates, we would duly conduct them courteously against one another from our diametrically opposite viewpoints. I therefore feel qualified to say that there is not the slightest prospect of a Labour Government under Jeremy's leadership having a credible Defence policy based on nuclear deterrence – even though most Labour MPs remain firmly in favour of maintaining such a policy and proceeding with the Trident submarine renewal programme.
Labour Party policy is set by its Annual Conference and, as my friend and colleague on the Defence Committee, former Labour Armed Forces Minister John Spellar constantly reminds me, that policy remains one of nuclear Multilateralism. Indeed it does, at least for now, but the deterrent effect of our ultimate insurance policy must be hugely reduced by the fact that everyone would be well aware what Jeremy, as Prime Minister, would write in his secret letters to the submarine commanders to be opened after a nuclear attack on the UK.
Amongst the chaos of the Conservatives' 2017 election campaign, one embarrassing blip on this subject passed almost unnoticed. It was during a television interview with Labour's eminently moderate Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith. The interviewer pointed out that, whilst her Party’s policy was in favour of maintaining Trident, at least one leading figure was strongly against it.
"Well, I am the Shadow Defence Secretary,"
she firmly replied,
"and I am telling you what Labour’s policy is".
It would be a brave pundit indeed, who would dare to predict how this internal contradiction will finally be resolved. Will the existing policy survive a Labour leader whose trademark has been inveterate opposition to it? Will the huge transformation of Labour's mass membership gradually change either the attitude or the political composition of the Parliamentary Party? Or will the Labour moderates fight successfully, as in the past, to 'take back control' of their Party? It will be, to put it mildly, a steeply uphill struggle.
* * * *
From what has been said so far, you might be forgiven for thinking that I regard my own Party's record on nuclear deterrent issues as impeccable. That would be a mistake. Certainly, throughout the eight-year saga of the Euromissiles crisis, the Conservatives were led by a Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, with an unwavering commitment to continuing to retain a British strategic deterrent as long as other countries possessed nuclear weapons. However, the size of the mass anti-nuclear demonstrations (albeit much exaggerated), the initial imbalance in press and television coverage of the nuclear debate and even the packing of meetings in safe Conservative constituencies, where local MPs went head-to-head with full-time anti-nuclear spokesmen like Bruce Kent, caused a degree of unwarranted political anxiety.
When an organised counter-propaganda campaign was proposed to Conservative backbench MPs by my colleague, Sir Edward Leigh, two years before his own election to Parliament in 1983, several objected on grounds that it would "give more publicity to the CND". Patiently, it was explained (a) that the Unilateralists were getting plenty of publicity anyway; (b) that the vital task was to break their near-monopoly of favourable coverage; and (c) that not all publicity is good publicity in a propaganda contest of this sort.
What was needed was an all-out effort to reassure the 'Silent Majority' of supporters of peace-through-strength-and-deterrence by:
- contradicting the Unilateralists at every turn,
- monitoring and exposing their pro-Soviet bias,
- undermining their arguments at meetings,
- countering their public stunts – for example by over-flying their demonstrations with eye-catching aerial banners, and above all
- commissioning opinion polls confirming that two-thirds of the British people disagreed with the CND position.
In short, the objective of the anti-CND campaigns of the early 1980s was to convince the Conservative Government that, far from being unpopular, fierce rebuttal of the one-sided disarmers would be electorally rewarding. MPs and Ministers like Ray Whitney, Geoffrey Pattie, Peter Blaker and Michael Heseltine endorsed and adopted this approach which was thoroughly vindicated by the size of the 1983 landslide victory. Thereafter, apart from limited resistance in some quarters of Conservative Central Office prior to the similar 1987 success, the pro-deterrent cause remained sacrosanct within the Party, under successive leaders including David Cameron – until he became Prime Minister in 2010.
As we have seen, the decision to renew the Trident nuclear submarine fleet had been taken in principle – the so-called 'Initial Gate' – on 14 March 2007, under Tony Blair, by 409 votes to 161 (a massive majority of 248). The decision to commit to large-scale investment – previously known as the 'Main Gate' – was due to be taken early in the 2010 Parliament, but it did not happen until 18 July 2016 when it was finally carried by 472 votes to 117 (a truly colossal majority of 355). What was the reason for this unnecessary six-year delay, which was estimated to have cost the Ministry of Defence some £1.4 billion in extending the life of the existing Trident submarines?
The answer lay in a secret carve-up between Mr Cameron and his Liberal Democrat Coalition allies not to vote on the matter until after the next General Election due in 2015. The Liberal Democrats were viscerally opposed to what they termed "like-for-like" Trident replacement. Their hare-brained schemes, ranging from mounting nuclear cruise missiles on Astute-class hunter-killer submarines (less effective, more expensive and a great deal more vulnerable) to building too few Trident boats to maintain continuous at-sea deterrence and sending the remnants out to sea whilst leaving their Trident missiles on shore, rightly provoked ridicule. Yet, for five years there was a serious danger that the Liberal Democrats would actually have the last laugh.
No-one expected the Conservatives to win an overall majority in 2015 – least of all David Cameron, whose speechwriter was told to prepare one statement for the prospect of defeat and a second one for the prospect of another 'hung' Parliament. An overall majority was the one outcome for which no draft was made ready! In another 'hung' Parliament there would be every possibility that the Liberal Democrats would demand the discontinuation of Trident as the price for their support, or at least its downgrading to the point at which continuous at-sea deterrence could no longer be guaranteed.
Having secured an overall majority in 2015, much to its own surprise, and with the Coalition no longer required, the Cameron Government continued to play party politics with the nuclear deterrent. Anticipating a decisive vote at last, I had prepared information packs for every MP setting out the strongest possible case for Trident renewal. As well as my own material, the packs included an authoritative analysis by the pro-NATO Henry Jackson Society describing in detail the nuclear arsenals of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. In December 2015, an informed source high in the Ministry of Defence advised me that I should be ready to send out this material out, right at the beginning of 2016, when the MoD expected the vote to take place.
As the months went by with no sign of this happening, I began to suspect that it was being delayed by Number Ten, in the hope of promoting trouble, at the Labour Conference in the autumn, between Jeremy Corbyn and his pro-Trident MPs, if an earlier vote had not settled the matter. However, this was not the only consideration, as an article in the Financial Times eight days before the EU Referendum made clear:
"David Cameron is planning to spring a Commons vote on new Trident submarines next month as a part of his attempts to unify the Conservative Party after the bruising EU Referendum battle. Britain's nuclear deterrent is seen as a near-perfect issue to cover European cracks: it commands wide consensus among Tory MPs but divides Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, from scores of his MPs. After months of stories about the Conservative rift over Europe, a Trident vote would switch the media spotlight back on to Labour's internal divisions.
"However, the timing of a vote on the four Successor submarines depends on the outcome of next week's EU vote, and may be postponed to later in the year, people briefed on the Government plans said. An Out vote would be more likely to scupper the plan, according to MPs familiar with the Government's thinking." (Financial Times, 15 June 2016)
So much for nuclear bipartisanship and for putting national security ahead of party politics! In the event, the loss of the Referendum led to the Prime Minister's decision to resign. The 18 July date for the decisive Trident vote was set, in anticipation that the Conservative leadership contest would still be underway. However, the unexpectedly early withdrawal of one of the last two candidates led to David Cameron's premature departure. As a result, instead of being the last significant act of his premiership, the renewal of our nuclear deterrent fleet was the first of Theresa May's.
* * * *
This is the point where I expected to end my presentation. After inexcusable delays, despite overwhelming Parliamentary support for the next generation of the British strategic nuclear deterrent, its future has ultimately been secured with £31 billion (plus a £10 billion contingency fund) set aside to build four Dreadnought-class submarines to replace HMS Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance, as each belatedly goes out of service. But, on 20 October, the US President announced his intention to trigger the withdrawal process from the INF Treaty in view of growing concerns, for at least four years, that Russia is violating its prohibition on ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. The offending weapon has been identified as the 'Novator' or 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile, in the Russian designation, and has been allocated the label SSC-8 by the Americans. This is a variant of the 'Iskander' missiles which are believed to have been deployed to Kaliningrad in the Baltic.
According to Franklin Miller, a former senior Department of Defense and White House official at the heart of nuclear policy for decades,
"a treaty observed by one party but violated by the other is not arms control – it is unilateral restraint. And such unilateral restraint only encourages further violations.
"The INF Treaty is dead. It was killed by a cynical decision made at the highest levels of the Russian Government to violate it, conceal it and then shamelessly deny it when caught. The only proper response is, first, to acknowledge this fact; second, to recall that the only reason President Gorbachev’s government signed the treaty in 1987 was to halt further fielding of NATO systems designed to offset the SS-20 missile (deployments which the West had urged Moscow to curtail but which entreaties only resulted in additional SS-20s); and, finally, to consult with our allies as to an appropriate deterrent response to the SSC-8.
"Perhaps then, faced with a counter that serves to remind Moscow why it signed the INF Treaty in the first place, the Kremlin might reconsider its ill-advised course of action. For arms control advocates, this is a critical juncture: 'business as usual' while Russia continues to cheat, undercut treaties and destroy the integrity of arms control. The only way to save arms control is to insist that treaties agreed upon must be adhered to by all sides." (Defense News Online, 24 October 2018)
It will take six months for the US withdrawal to take effect. In that time, discussions with Continental European Allies and also with the United Kingdom are sure to be intense. If the SSC-8 is this century's equivalent to the SS-20, what will be recommended in lieu of cruise missiles and Pershing II IRBMs? Are land-based deployments the only answer in an era of pinpoint accuracy at much longer ranges? Finally, in the light of the four-year battle to implement the 1979 'twin-track' decision, can we make certain that any systems which European NATO states accept will be put in place as soon as the decision to deploy has been made?
If not, we must prepare to dust-off our files, to revisit our archives, and to draw up our campaign plans in preparation, once again, for the revival and reappearance of the anti-nuclear movement.