Comment, autumn 2010

I have listened, at two highly respectable London think tanks, to dramatic accounts, one of Iran’s Missiles, based on Israeli intelligence, the other about China’s economic and military espionage, based on American.

What with a new coalition government, a financial crisis, global warming, a deficit and government’s cuts and its SDSR, we in this country seem to have lost sight of the military risks the world is facing, in the Middle, and in the Far, East.

Neither of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has offered any real likelihood of nuclear weapons being used. But today we have nuclear-armed Israel facing a perhaps about to be nuclear-armed Iran, and a vastly nuclear-armed USA facing a modestly nuclear-armed China. None of them would actually wish to use nuclear weapons, but equally none of them appears prepared to back away from accelerating confrontation.

During the Cold War, “Mutual Assured Destruction” ensured full-scale deterrence. Now: Israel and the US are fully armed and Iran is not yet; the US is fully armed and China is not yet. “Deterrence” seems not to be operating in either case.

So: the risk is that the fully-armed will be tempted to act sooner, rather than wait for the opponent to further improve its weaponry.

Moreover, later this year, Israel will have its comprehensive Missile Defence system up and running, protecting it – it hopes – from retaliation: Missile Defences in fact form an active part of an OFFENSIVE posture, not, as implied, of a defensive one. (And NATO should not be thinking of wasting our money on buying Missile Defences.)

As for Cyber, perhaps Cyber this and that will prevent any of the systems – nuclear or “conventional”, offensive or defensive – from working. But we shouldn’t be counting on that just yet. Maybe in time. For now, “they” are still thinking they might be able to fight “cyber wars”.
Governments – including ours – need to raise their eyes from the horrible problems they certainly face, look at these one, even more horrendous, and deal.

not published

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