The Times – 8 April 2019
By attending the forthcoming Westminster Abbey service honouring the work of all who have protected this country under the strategic nuclear umbrella of Polaris and Trident, people like me recognise a truth which escapes worthy folk like the Bishop of Colchester ("Row over Abbey 'celebration' for nuclear weapons', April 5, and letter, April 6). Far from being “designed to indiscriminately kill and destroy thousands of innocent civilians”, as he asserts, these weapons have been created – and for 50 years successfully deployed by the Royal Navy – to eliminate any realistic possibility of hostile powers threatening to kill millions of UK civilians with impunity.
The latest report of the Commons Defence Committee, Missile Misdemeanours: Russia and the INF Treaty, published last week, quotes Mikhail Gorbachev’s rueful observation that, in deploying sophisticated SS-20 missiles in the 1970s,
“the Soviet leadership failed to take into account the probable reaction of the Western countries ... They might have assumed that, while we deployed our missiles, Western counter-measures would be impeded by the peace movement. If so, such a calculation was more than naive.” (Memoirs, English translation, 1996, p.443)
Naive churchmen have always been in the forefront of the movement for one-sided British nuclear disarmament. Fortunately for the rest of us, their views have never prevailed.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA