Monday, May 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Nuclear Weapons: A Necessary Evil?

The Labour Party is facing a potential crisis: its Scottish branch has come out in support against the renewal of Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons system.  In the rest of the UK the maintaining of the programme is largely supported, although its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is in agreement with Scottish Labour in their opposition.  As the Labour Party shows itself to be more and more fragile upon the news of this revelation, the question on the need of nuclear weapons has undoubtedly reared its ugly head once more.

​Many will argue that in this cyber-orientated, interdependent, post-9/11 world that we inhabit, that nuclear weapons are both costly and obsolete, and that they pose a significant threat to us all; a valid argument indeed.  The scale of destruction that we all know nuclear weapons possess is terrifying, and the questionable actions recently taken by other countries who are known to own them have undoubtedly made many worry of the possibility that at any time our world could be forever changed.

​A harrowing thought indeed, but let’s for a moment consider nuclear weapons not as the apocalypse-inducing possessions of mad leaders bent on world domination, but a necessary evil for ensuring the balance of power and peace.  Ludicrous?  Potentially, but if you were to consider yourself as the leader of a nation, and as this leader you had to make a decision whether or not to go to war with a country in possession of nuclear weapons, any sane person would tell their troops to stay at home for the cost of war would be too great.

​Nuclear weapons are therefore not the war-mongering tools of lunatics, but the defensive necessities of rational governments.  Of course, to the nations without the nuclear weapons it screams imminent destruction, and they too will scramble for nuclear weapons as the Cold War has shown us.  But from that period of history came the creation of a state of mutually assured destruction, where not only would no nuclear weapons be fired for fear of deadly retaliation, but also that no two countries in possession of nuclear weapons would go directly to war through fear of its potential escalation to the pressing of that big red button.

​Now we come to a stage in history where nuclear weapons are considered pointless, simply because they haven’t been used for their purpose, and because warfare has seemingly changed.  To that, I say preposterous.  Nuclear weapons have been doing their job all along.  They have been deterring war, they’ve stopped huge nations from pulling the rest of the world into another bloody conflict, and strangely enough, each nuclear weapon has prevented the other from being fired.  To remove them now would only make the prospect of war between the so called first world likely again.