Defence Environment

The nuclear question

Nuclear weapons provide the human race with terrible power to wipe out whole cities, killing millions.  Nuclear weapons are too powerful to be controlled by any single state or military alliance.  Instead an international court should hold nuclear weapons.  

The terrible power of nuclear weapons requires a guarantee that prevents them from being used, but that power should not be that of a single state.  Only the court with due legal process should be able to authorise their use and never as a first strike.  However, any regime that fired nuclear weapons could expect that it could be subjecting itself and its citizens to the same fate.  While I hope that retribution would never be necessary, it is a terrible deterrent.  Even so, the aim would be to bring those who ordered the firing of the weapons to justice rather than killing innocent civilians.   With the threat of an impending nuclear strike hopefully people would surrender the criminals to an international court, and accept the sanction of the court.  Which might be to provide land and support to the people devastated by a nuclear strike.  

My understanding is that the Trident replacement would essentially still be an American weapon, and from a practical perspective we cannot guarantee that in the future we will always be able to trust America.  

We need to start working with other countries who believe in international legality to set up an international court that would police the world stage.   While many nations would initially resist this, it could make nation states holding their own nuclear weapons obsolete.   The way to move to peace is to guarantee international law and justice.  When the police were initially introduced in Britain they were hated and rejected, but they have come to be accepted.  We need international policing.  

If countries were prepared to work together then the cost of the nuclear deterrent could also be shared.   Britain does not require an individual deterrent, it requires international cooperation, and should work urgently to this end.    I am not proposing immediate disarmament, but instead working for international guarantees backed by intentional courts with international weapons for international peace.

I believe this is a sensible and caring response.  I would like to be able to completely remove nuclear weapons however it is not that simple.


Foreign Policy

In knowing how we relate to others, we first have to ask ourselves how do we define ourselves?  What matters?  What are we trying to achieve internationally?  How can those ends best be met?

What defines Britain more than anything for me is that we are a legal democracy.  We are a free country and as such we are a democracy, but those freedoms are enshrined and protected by law.  Magna Carta does not just mean that there is no divine right of Kings and that the rights of Kings are subject to the rule of law, but also that Prime Ministers, Parliaments and even the people are subject to Common Law.  

Common Law is an important part of our heritage. As a nation,  the majority could desire to persecute a minority, but that would still be wrong, however much you passed laws and declared it legal.  When the nation came to its senses again, people who pursued those policies could still be prosecuted, even if while they did it was not illegal at the time because some things are always wrong.

We do not always live to those truths, but at our best it is who we are and hopefully will always be.  Therefore, our interaction with the rest of the world should never just be about our own interests, because we are human beings, and as John Donne said.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

As World  War II was finishing Churchill worked to establish the Human Rights Convention and the institutions to support these rights which became the European Court of Human Rights.  While Britain has been a colonial power and a slave trading nation, it also helped to abolish the slave trade and its own empire.  

Britain should always promote the rule of law and human rights internationally, and work with other nations to promote peace and the rule of law.  What the UN can achieve is limited but Britain should work with other nations who will, particularly through the Commonwealth, and also with Europe (whether in the EU or outside it)  to support human rights.  A world that supports human rights is a safer place.

Therefore, international aid should be linked to the rule of law, of human rights and of freedom.

When states or non-state organisations flout human rights we should oppose them.  Military action is not always appropriate, but whenever used should be on the basis of law.  We should work for independent international justice.  The world and nation states need policing. 

It seems at times that we have lost faith in legal democracy ourselves,  both democracy and legality have their issues, but together form a powerful combination.  As a nation we should promote these values across the world, and work with other nations with similar values to do likewise.

The great weakness of NATO is that the Americans do not believe that internationally the rule of law should apply to them and will not sign up to international justice.  I do not advocate leaving NATO, however I believe forming other alliances based on the rule of law beyond NATO would be beneficial both for Britain and the World.