Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Mushroom Crowd

I think I may have finally reached the point at which I lose contact with the sane world today.  Certainly today appears to be incontrovertible proof that I do not share the views of many of my fellow humans on this little, jumped-up island. Why do I feel so detached from everyone else?  It's because I'm an anti-nuclear pacifist.

Jeremy Corbyn has admitted, plainly and honestly, that if he were Prime Minister he would not use nuclear weapons.  Now I'm far from think that he's the saviour of us all come to solve all the problems on broken Britain with a few loaves and fishes, but I think having a PM who has nothing but a healthy disregard for one of the most repulsive human inventions of all time is a good thing.  But it appears that members of the political class, his own party, the military establishment and a majority of the citizenry of the country disagree due to fear and a hard-on for big things that go boom boom.  I imagine if they had their way every nuclear war-head would be painted to look like Basil Brush.

Those who say that he is naive, failing to play the game of international brinkmanship and deterrence properly and accuse people like him and me of being irresponsible could not sound more bananas to my ears.  There are nine nations who have nuclear weapons.  Nine.  Us, the States, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia.  I'm sure one or two others are perhaps working on them, but a great deal of countries - both developed and developing - appear to be getting on just fine without trying to create the ultimate death weapon.  Whether these are countries at the top of the Standard of Living league table in Scandinavia or corrupt dictatorships, they appear to share one thing in common: they realise that it's impossible to cultivate the education of your nation's youth / skim off a few extra pounds of gold bullion for your own personal piggy bank, if there's the constant threat of your country becoming a radioactive hole in the ground.

Let's look at the runners and riders of who might use weapons:

USA: Already done it. Let's never forget this.  It's absolutely no secret that the World's (Self-Appointed) Policeman is very much of the Dirty Harry, rather than Dixon of Dock Green variety.  The bombs dropped in Japan were as much about political dick-swinging in anticipation of the Cold War as they were about quickly ending a war they were always going to win.  Not that the US would ever fire nukes at us (and anyway, if they did they'd probably end up hitting Rekjavik as collateral damage) but we can't escape the fact that we live in a world where our 'side' are the only ones to have ever actually dropped an actual nuclear bomb.  Twice.

China: China is already the most economically powerful entity on Earth.  This is going to grow and grow and I can't imagine they would particularly want to blow-up potential markets for goods.  The only place they could realistically attack with a nuke is Japan and, frankly, if they haven't learnt their lesson from fifty years of Godzilla films, they'll get what's coming to them.  Plus, Prime Minister Pig-Fucker telling them "no seriously chaps, my finger is hovering right over the button" is hardly going to deter them.

France: There is a small chance the French might detonate a bomb to express their feelings about the futility of existence and human endeavour and because Luc Besson still hasn't won an Oscar, but they're not going to do it anywhere near us.

Israel: Even with Jeremy "loves a Muzzie" Corbyn in charge, I can't imagine Israel would ever nuke Western Europe.  Of course, their eyes are on defending their borders from a variety of Gulf States.  But if they bombed Iran or another similar country the whole area would just descend into horrifically violent mayhem.  I don't think some Great British Plutonium would help.

India/Pakistan: They literally could not give a shit about anyone else, this is just one might arm wrestle on the Kashmiri border.  Which is ironic, because if there's one country that these two might like to club together to punish for their horrendous Victorian imperialism, it's us.

North Korea: The perennial school nutter who's brought an air gun to school. If Kim-Jon Un decided to fire his Mecano rocket into space it would be like watching a live action re-creation of a Road Runner cartoon.  It's a surprise that when the UN Inspectors had a look around his nuclear facility it wasn't full of boxes marked ACME.  In the small likelihood that the launch is successful China would crush the state like a bug and release press releases along the lines of "North Korea?? Never heard of the place."

Which leaves us with...Russia: Now, even without the addition of various pieces of Western spin, the Russians are currently a little bit terrifying with a leader who is the answer to the question: "What would happen if you gave an under-sexed nightclub bouncer all of the money and guns?"  And there is no doubt they are being aggressive, but I've heard interviews with British military leaders claiming that Ukraine's decision to give up nuclear weapons was a key reason for the invasion by the Russians, ignoring the fact that even if that were true in that particular situation, Ukraine is a damn sight more convenient for the Russians to invade than Dover is.  Similarly, the top, shiny brass, suggested that now that Corbyn has said that he won't use nuclear weapons, the Russian are free to blackmail us, now they know destruction would not be mutually assured.  What he really meant is "now that one of our politicians has admitted that he wouldn't be quite as big a bastard as you'd like to be you now have free reign to act as you like."  Maybe the world is that nasty and dirty, but I admire Corbyn's hope.  Does this reaction that we can never see a pacifist leader in Number 10?  Must we always have some form of conflict at the heart of our relationship with the world?

But the reality is that Russia is simply not going to get involved in any sort of nuclear war with us.  Is it the most likely nation near by to fire nukes?  Of course. If they did should we respond?  Fuck no, they'll bomb us out of existence.  In the unlikely set of circumstances that they went full Strangelove we don't need our own nuclear deterrent, because the cowboys over the pond have got more than we could ever wish for and should have our backs in perpetuity.

And here's the key bit, even if they didn't, we still should get rid of the weapons, because of the message it would send internationally and domestically. I've just heard some pretty patronising and repulsive military figure on the radio witheringly describe Jeremy Corbyn and his "henchmen" (only Tom Watson in the Shadow Cabinet could be described as "hench" and even then he could probably be distracted from henching with a cookie and the latest copy of Mojo) as not having a clue about the realities of global politics.  I'd suggest he doesn't have a clue about how a country could or should be run.  Yes the world is dangerous - terrorists, drug runners, rogue states and the like - but by golly it's safer than it's been, possibly in he history of the world. There is a small chance that you could be unlucky enough to be born in a warzone or are part of an indiscriminate attack

I don't feel safer for having nuclear weapons.  I feel angrier.  Angrier that our tax is being wasted on something that has the same chance of being used as me having the lottery numbers for the next 6 draws tattooed on one of the Loch Ness Monster's flippers.  Angry that that money could be put towards our nation's education, health, the reforming of prisoners, the building of houses and buttressing of the arts.  Angry that somehow the current narrative on the radio and TV is of such unforgiving belligerence that the man saying "how's about we put the guns down and learn to work together?" is being painted as the idiot and the charlatan.  Angry that the protocol of being Prime Minister is that on achieving office you are given a sheet of paper to sign that in effect says "give us the ok PM, we can use the nukes and no more will be said about it." Angry that there appears to be certain aspects of our political culture that are ossified and broken and will not change and the public are happy for that to remain the same way.  Angry that will kill us won't be a thundering cloud of nuclear damnation, a maelstrom firestorm brought about by a lack of diplomacy and understanding.  Angry that it'll be our own cowardice and failure to understand each other.

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