Published: December 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The government will soon be reaching a decision as to whether it will update Britain’s nuclear submarine deterent with the TRIDENT missile system. In the light of the continuing expansion of the Warsaw Pact nuclear missile forces – particularly with the recent deployment of the Soviet SS-20 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile – many voices in Britain and in NATO call for the improvement of NATO forces with missile choices such as PERSHING, CRUISE and CBX as well as TRIDENT.
Many people, on the other hand feel that the cost of such means of deterence far outweighs the advantages when compared to the other needs of our society such as social health care and the welfare services. When the present Tory government follows in the heels of the previous Labour regime in cutting back the various social whilst at the same time increasing defence expenditure many people feel that priorities are very badly mixed up.
But with the Soviet Union engaging in expansion in all parts of the world and at the same time contending with the United States for world domination many, far-sighted people feel that we in Western Europe cannot stand unarmed. Despite Brezhnev’s promised withdrawal of a single armoured division from the East German neo-colony, it can in no way effect the state of imbalance that exists between the NATO alliance and the forces of the Warsaw Pact. Even so, many people will point to this propaganda gesture (deliberately timed to put pressure on the forthcoming NATO Ministerial Conference) as ’evidence’ of the USSR’s ’good intentions’. But it seems that these ’good intentions’ were notably lacking with regard to the people of Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Laos and Kampuchea to mention only a few of the areas of Soviet armed intervention directly or by proxy. So while this points to the aggressive nature of the Soviet Union we must remember that in defending western Europe account must also be taken of the defence of the civil population.
The two superpowers have established extensive methods of civil-defence. So has Socialist China with entire factories deep underground in some cases, Switzerland has long maintained civil-defence – even utilising mountains to this effect. So Why don’t we? Without adequate means for the defense of the civil population we can have no real defence at all.
Furthermore; defence is not just a military question. What are vie defending if not the people and their interests? Yet by attacking the living standards, democratic rights and employment prospects of the mass of the people, the government is in fact weakening the social basis of effective defence. The aim should be for the people themselves to be mobilised in realising the full potential of the economy in their own interests including that of defence.
The mobilisation of the people of Britain and Europe in a democratic defence is the most effective defence we can ever have. In order to do this democracy should be extended and not curtailed as present government legislation intends. Including in this regard democratic self-government for the people of Scotland. A civil-defence organisation by the people and for the people is the best guarantee of our security.