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Saturday 3 June 2017

Corbyn And The Bomb

Now for a few tense and terrible days the prospect was faced. People looked directly into the pit. There can be no doubt as to the result: thousands and perhaps millions began to wonder if there was not some slightly less heroic but substantially more pleasant alternative”. Recollection of the Cuban Missile Crisis by J K Galbraith, from The Age Of Uncertainty.
A BBC Question Time special yesterday evening featured - separately - Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, who were in turn subjected to a light grilling from a studio audience. While the Tory leader got questions about welfare cuts and lack of public sector wage increases, Jezza inevitably was confronted by those who considered his stance on nuclear weapons, confirming no first use, to be insufficiently bellicose.

What appears to have been forgotten in that more than half-century since the United States and the then USSR faced off over the latter deciding to station nuclear missiles in Cuba, very close to the US mainland, is what would result from the use of such weapons. Just to loose off one such device in anger would result in death and destruction on a scale unimaginable, the after-effects being with us for generations.

What also appears to have passed by all those - including, it seems, Theresa May - is that the destructive power of nuclear weaponry is now far in advance of the last ones to be used in anger, against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Those bombs wiped out entire cities, laid waste to swathes of land, spread death and disease whose effects were felt for decades afterwards.

But the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were puny in comparison with the firepower now in the hands of countries like Britain - and several others. The destructive power of modern nuclear weaponry would not merely lay waste to large cities, but to entire small-sized countries. The euphemistically titled “kill zones” would encompass not hundreds, but thousands of square kilometres, or miles for the imperial purist.

That is why British Governments from the 1950s to the present day - Ms May seemingly excepted - have predicated their holding of these weapons on there being no first use of them. The scale of destruction they would wreak is too terrible to imagine, the finality of their deployment too awful to contemplate, the likelihood of other countries being drawn into a yet more destructive nuclear exchange too much to even visualise.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was the generals who had previously advocated first strikes who were fortunately sidelined, in favour of those like JFK and his advisers who realised all too well the inevitable consequences of such actions. It is due to those men of restraint and common sense under pressure that we owe the pulling back from the brink.

And for those who still harbour dreams of that clean, decisive first strike, one more thought enters: there is no instance in history of nuclear weapons being deployed against an enemy capable of retaliating in kind. I’ll just leave that one there.


mirandola said...

I just wonder where this gung-ho call for the first use of nuclear weapons has so suddenly come from? Apparently Michael Farron the defence secretary was advocating it a month ago. It is criminally insane.

Perhaps it is part of neo-conservative posturing in their repeated attempts to stare down Russia? Somehow I don't think Putin is the sort of man to take be fooled by such lunacy.

Anonymous said...

Great read.
Very poignant.

The last paragraph was the apex of it all.

Arnold said...

I don't remember these people attacking Congress in January when it passed the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 to stop Trump starting his own nuclear war.

Anonymous said...

And the reason Khruschev placed missiles in Cuba was because the USSR was ringed with US nuclear weapons and, guess who, NATO. His words were, "Let them know how we feel".

If Kennedy had shown less belated strength in outmanoeuvring lunatics like Le May(!) and Lemnitzer the ultimate disaster would have happened. As it was, only a junior Russian submarine officer saved the day.

Kennedy of course paid with his life.

Now, thanks to the insanity of the West - particularly the USA - we're into the beginnings of Cold War 2, Mccarthyism, encirclement, and all the other utterly crazy evil. The exact methods and propaganda that brought on the slaughter of World War 1.

Corbyn has stood against this homicidal mania all his life. So did John Smith before he had a heart attack convenient only for toady warmongers Blair and Brown.

Anyone who thinks Britain could survive a full on nuclear launch is as mad as Doctor Strangelove and Generals Turgidson and Jack D. Ripper. Then again, common sense citizens knew it all along.

But how much common sense remains in a country being moved further to the paranoid right with each passing day? A country being turned en masse into tenth rate barrow boys and suburban curtain-twitchers.

Ceiliog said...

In the interests of balance, did the BBC invite members of Parents 4 Nuking Them NOW?

D Abbott said...


One large Calculator (Never used)
Comes with a four pack of unopened AAA batteries.

No time wasters.

SimonB said...

The point about committing to no first use of nukes is it de-escalates an arms race. The threat of first use leads, in our case, Russia to the strategic need to have enough surviving nukes to effectively retaliate if they're hit. They'll now feel pressure to re-arm. Just for the sake of halfwitted electoral posturing.

Arnold said...

Why the f*** are my readers worried about a nuclear war, c***?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be some(?) confusion about nuclear weapons. There is a difference between weapons that could be launched on, say, North Korea, and those in the Trident system designed to deter the USSR. This was evident in the armchair general berating Corbyn on QT.

hirundine said...

I wonder if the people in whichever government, the banker's puppets. Might consider the ridiculousness of the whole charade? After the bombs go off. Most people would be dead. Those living, deep underground for the next 100,000 years. Which means any sort of wealth measured in today's terms would be useless. The private estates, the luxury yachts, cars, horses, summer homes, etc. All gone.

So, this is the charade perpetrated on us the people. One where personal fiefdoms have been carved out bringing us silos, delivery systems and roads to these holes where rockets or cruise missiles live. The ships, on sea or under, all roaming the world waiting to deliver their payload. All at taxpayers cost.

Mr. Fallon should go back to what he does best, maybe? Private child-care. For his ignorance does little justice to the position in government he holds. If he wants radiation? He should move next to Fukushima Daiichi, where each day 300 times the amount of radiation that those two cities where subject to, flows into the Pacific daily. Chernobyl pales in comparison.

Andrew Barker said...

I don't see why some people appear to be more concerned about what, if it came to it, would be the last few minutes of their life, rather than the rest of it,

If it came close to a "red button" situation then we would almost certainly by that time have a coalition government, Party politics would be irrelevant. A war leader would have been chosen. We wouldn't be able to unleash our nuclear weapons without prior US approval. So we would be in a state of universal mass destruction.

Therefore Jeremy Corbyn's view on this matter is irrelevant. Instead people should be concerned about issues that that are relevant to their lives and ignore the bile being spewed out by the right-wing press.

Anonymous said...

How far backwards would Corbyn have had to bend over to please those bloodthirsty blokes in the audience, who kept on at him about a completely hypothetical nuclear war situation? He could have said he'd nuke somebody for looking at him funny in the pub, and they still wouldn't have been satisfied. Kudos to him for sticking to his principles, rather than trying to curry favour with people who probably wouldn't vote for him anyway.