Home / Robert Farley / The US and the British Nuclear Deterrent

The US and the British Nuclear Deterrent


My first column at World Politics Review argues that the United States should nudge the UK towards dumping the Trident replacement:

Clearly, the United States cannot dictate British defense policy. Overt efforts to influence British decision-making might backfire, and in any case would seem inappropriate and heavy-handed. Nevertheless, the United States has an interest in both the size and composition of the British defense budget, and Britain’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines do not contribute to the security of either the United States or NATO. By contrast, British soldiers, aircraft, surface warships, and aircraft carriers can contribute to international stability, disaster relief, and the defense of the Western alliance. The government of the United Kingdom should realize this, and adopt an appropriate budgetary policy. But if it doesn’t, the United States should gently and carefully try to guide the U.K. in the right decision.

The column (dubbed “Over the Horizon”) will appear at WPR every Wednesday…

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  • Daragh McDowell

    Nice job Rob! BTW – as a proto-IR Nugget whose about to finish his PhD, how’d you come by all the writing gigs? Lots of unsolicited submissions, or have they been coming to you with the blog?

  • Very nice column.It helps I agree with you.If the british want to keep a nuclear force, let them rearm a few of the surface warships or build new small fighting craft and arm them with cruise missiles. Let them keep a few nucs and have people guess where they are. And get the subs out of Faslane where they cause serious political problems.

  • Embra

    It’s a convincing argument as to why the US would prefer dropping Trident but what points should they put to the British? Basically, if they didn’t trust the NATO deterrent against the USSR, why would a rogue state with multiple warheads be any different?

  • wengler

    So the advice is for the UK to adopt highly vulnerable surface ships to aid the US in neocolonial endeavors against extremely weak conventionally-armed enemies?

    Sure why not? I mean those subs were just kind of a nuclear wild card anyways.

  • steverino

    Ah, memories. I thought, “That looks like the entrance to Holy Loch in the b/g.” Sure enough:
    “Photo: A Vanguard-class submarine on maneuvers near Strone, Scotland…”

    40 for Freedom, and 1 for Training, was our motto.

  • The Pale Scot

    If I were the Brits the subs are the last thing I’d get rid of. Partly as Wengler said about supporting questionable endeavors. But there’s good chance that the way things are going the Christianist Reconstructionists are going to get their hands on the football. And a combined first strike launched on the US by the rest world may the only thing preventing an industrialized medieval period. Heck, the snake handlers will have everything targeted on Iran, Iraq, Pak/afgh and Yemen. Why do you think the Christianists all located to Colorado Springs?

    “An anonymous cadet at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA ) spoke out against alleged religious discrimination at the school last week, saying that some cadets must pretend to be evangelical Christians in order to maintain standing among their peers and superiors……….The email, published by Veterans Today, applauds the MRFF from the “underground” and indicates that the academy is “literally overrun with Christian conservative fanatics”


    What happened to guys like Godfrey, Johnson and those great A-10 pilots and officers in the book Warthogs. (OK, so the first two were AAF,)

  • John F

    apparently the Brits are actually building the Queen Elizabeth – but the second carrier is in jeopardy… but it seems this possibility had been anticipated by Brown’s regime- the contracts with the manufacturers apparently have a few “poison pills” in the event of cancellation…

  • The Pale Scot

    Bird & Fortune covered the carrier

  • Nathan

    It’s not like the Poms were doing anything with the boats besides having mindboggling traffic accidents by the sea floor with the French.

    • ajay

      Well, no one actually does anything with boomers, Nathan. At least, one hopes not.

      And the Navy will give up anything else before it gives up the carriers. Once it has the carriers, and once the economy improves in a few years, it can use them as a toothing-stone to argue for more escorts, more air groups, more RFAs and so on. With no carriers, questions like “so why do you need all these JCAs/destroyer escorts/etc” start being asked.

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