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Source: (consider it) Thread: Trident
Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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I'm detecting a note of British exceptionalism here.

Why is the UK so special that its existence is threatened by mighty nuclear armed superpowers and can only be defended by our own 'independent' deterrent?

The argument has already been made for a nuclear-armed Ukraine - why not Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Malaysia, or Ethiopia?

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Forward the New Republic

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
The argument is that our potential enemies need to think that we might retaliate. Not, necessarily, that we actually would.

But then you run into the Corbyn/May dilemma - of either saying "I'm not prepared to authorise this" (in which case there's no point in having the thing) or "Yes, I'm prepared to wipe out 100,000 innocent people at a stroke" (which appals all who hear it and may not ultimately be true).

The only way not to be caught on the horns of this dilemma is not to have it in the first place.

[ 22. July 2016, 08:00: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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mdijon
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I expect that what one says is of little importance. It seems unlikely that one would feel comfortable saying "He said he wouldn't use nuclear weapons, let's get on with invading the world won't be reduced to radioactive ash. Unless he changes his mind."

What counts is whether he gets rid of the nuclear weapons or not. If he does then he obviously can't use them. If he doesn't then he might change his mind.

(What Theresa May said is most important for its impact on her party and electorate rather than on other world leaders thinking of invading. I'm not sure it does appall all who hear it. It appalls me but I'm not the average voter. I can imagine tabloid headlines like "Female PM unwilling to use nucs, gives green light to our enemies").

[ 22. July 2016, 08:26: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I'm detecting a note of British exceptionalism here.

Why is the UK so special that its existence is threatened by mighty nuclear armed superpowers and can only be defended by our own 'independent' deterrent?

The argument has already been made for a nuclear-armed Ukraine - why not Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Malaysia, or Ethiopia?

It really isn't a note of British exceptionalism. It's actually the reverse - Britain is almost uniquely vulnerable because of where it is and who its allies are.

The lesson of history is that Britain is essentially Airstrip One. If you hold the continent without holding Britain then longer term you're in trouble because it can be used as the jumping off point for the opposition.

Throughout the Cold War, there was a belief that the UK would get hit before the US did:

- the US might be brought to the negotiating table if its friend got hit
-the US might not go nuclear in response to a threat to Britain
- regardless of which side Britain happened to be on it was likely to get pre-emptively smacked just to deny its use as a concentration point

You could argue that all of those are still reasonable points. Overall, its not British exceptionalism so much as British geography. Like it or not Britain is always going to be one of the first places to be attacked in the event of a general war.

Even if we were to become a nation of disarmed pacifists.

Saudi and Iran would both quite like their own nuclear weapons anyway.

There is a certain irony in the knots Labour ties itself in over nuclear weapons given it was them that built the British bomb in the first place!

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
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You've made an excellent case for the Irish to have the bomb.

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Forward the New Republic

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Baptist Trainfan
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Or Portugal, "our oldest ally" (especially Madeira and the Azores).
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
What Theresa May said is most important for its impact on her party and electorate rather than on other world leaders thinking of invading. I'm not sure it does appall all who hear it. It appalls me but I'm not the average voter. I can imagine tabloid headlines like "Female PM unwilling to use nucs, gives green light to our enemies".

You are (sadly, in my view) correct. But that doesn't mean we should allow ourselves to continue with this kind of dangerous rhetoric.

Interestingly I was phoned up by my local BBC radio station yesterday asking if I would be prepared to be interviewed about Trident on their Sunday morning programme. This follows a plea put out by the "Joint Public Issues Team" which includes the Baptists and URC, and a resolution at the recent URC General Assembly. The interviewer is a very decent man but I can imagine myself getting some flak from Joe Public (if he is listening!)

[ 22. July 2016, 09:02: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Alwyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I'm detecting a note of British exceptionalism here.

Why is the UK so special that its existence is threatened by mighty nuclear armed superpowers and can only be defended by our own 'independent' deterrent?

That is how I see it, too.

I think I can see where pro-Trident people are 'coming from'. The world is dangerous, crises can happen suddenly and unexpectedly and a country cannot acquire Trident overnight. betjemaniac made a good point that in the Second World War the UK's geography put us in a different situation.

betjemaniac's point raises questions for me. Do we need to be Airstrip One anymore? That image seems to rely on a WWII or WWIII-style scenario. For 70 years, that has not been the kind of war which the UK has fought. Maybe, by investing in Trident, we are repeating the mistake of 'preparing for the last war, not the next one'? I would be interested to know what we could get if we spent the price of Trident on ways of protecting ourselves from terrorist attacks, for example.

Even if we do still need to be Airstrip One, do we need Trident? If the Wikipedia page on Nuclear sharing is accurate, then the US provides nuclear weapons for Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Maybe could 'opt in' to nuclear weapons sharing, as a cheaper solution?

The question I keep coming back to is: how many other European countries have their own nuclear weapons? If I understand it correctly, the answer is one: France. Countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark do not seem to have suffered any harm from not having any nuclear weapons.

[ 22. July 2016, 09:04: Message edited by: Alwyn ]

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Or Portugal, "our oldest ally" (especially Madeira and the Azores).

there might be a case for levying NATO members for nuclear weapons costs actually. In an alliance not everyone needs to do everything. The Dutch have a strength in anti-submarine warfare; the Italians are excellent at anti-shipping attacks from the air, Turkey brings weight of numbers, etc.

Portugal has got US bases in it, and is adjacent to Spain (which for a long time was used to base US nuclear weapons). Portugal is in NATO, so it is under the nuclear umbrella.

Everyone in NATO is essentially under the American umbrella and getting their defence on the cheap. The British and French deterrents really make up the numbers and share a little bit of the load - the French because they can be ambivalent about NATO so want to do their own thing, and Britain because the Labour party decided that nuclear weapons needed to have the Union Jack on them...

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And is it true? For if it is....

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:


betjemaniac's point raises questions for me. Do we need to be Airstrip One anymore? That image seems to rely on a WWII or WWIII-style scenario. For 70 years, that has not been the kind of war which the UK has fought.

a pro-nuclear person (and I just served in the navy, I wouldn't say I was particularly "pro" but I did have to deal with the moral question on a daily basis simply through doing my job) might say that the reason that we haven't fought that sort of war for 70 years is that peoples' minds have been focused by how high the stakes are.

That reading says NATO and trident (to say nothing of the Warsaw Pact and the Third Shock Army) have done more for European peace and security than anything else since 1945.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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mdijon
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Is it clear that for the MAD doctrine to be consistent then every country in NATO needs weapons? It seems to me consistent to argue that some-one needs the weapons but not every NATO country.

Personally I don't buy the MAD doctrine because I think the risks are too high and the likelihood of global aggression by a state is too low to justify it, but I do think MAD can be internally consistent at least. (I don't think it is impossible that Putin might eye more in Europe than the Ukraine, but I don't think it very likely, and the likelihood of a mishap seems higher).

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
The only way not to be caught on the horns of this dilemma is not to have it in the first place.

There's a joke, isn't there, where the punch line is, 'Well, I wouldn't start from here.' Unfortunately, leaders of governments have to be practical, though, don't they, however much we may wish it wasn't so.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
Maybe could 'opt in' to nuclear weapons sharing, as a cheaper solution?

That might answer the financial question, but not the moral one. If we choose to hide under the US umbrella, safe in the knowledge that their nuclear deterrent protects us as well, then we are still saying we'd be prepared for our enemies to be obliterated if they attack us.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
The use of nuclear weapons to the extent that they win a war between, shall we say, East and West would so fuck up the world that there would be no winner.

In the case of a nuclear war where only one side is able/willing to use nukes I doubt it would need more than one or two cities to be destroyed before the white flag came out. There have been a lot more than one or two nuclear explosions in the last century, and the world doesn't seem to be massively fucked up by them.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
The only way not to be caught on the horns of this dilemma is not to have it in the first place.

There's a joke, isn't there, where the punch line is, 'Well, I wouldn't start from here.' Unfortunately, leaders of governments have to be practical, though, don't they, however much we may wish it wasn't so.
I realise that; nevertheless, isn't there virtue in being the nation that says, "We're going to be bold and break the nuclear cycle rather than subscribe to it".
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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
The use of nuclear weapons to the extent that they win a war between, shall we say, East and West would so fuck up the world that there would be no winner.

In the case of a nuclear war where only one side is able/willing to use nukes I doubt it would need more than one or two cities to be destroyed before the white flag came out. There have been a lot more than one or two nuclear explosions in the last century, and the world doesn't seem to be massively fucked up by them.
We wouldn't try to assassinate a genocidal nuclear armed leader ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Alwyn
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That's true, Marvin. My first thought was to remember what Mal Reynolds once said in Firefly:-
"... don't you ever stand for that sort of thing. Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back."

That's probably too flippant for a moral question like this one. I think one of your earlier posts provides a better answer:

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
That's why Mutually Assured Destruction works. Destroying us would mean destroying yourself as well, therefore you don't try to destroy us.

Could the UK could scare off states with nukes from attacking us by sheltering under a US/collective nuclear umbrella? (As I said, while this line of argument could be right, it assumes that we need nukes to protect us from nuke-armed states - even though some countries in Europe have lived for decades without any nuclear weapons while their cities remain intact.)

Why not have Trident, then? The money saved by a cheaper option could be spent on ways of protecting us from a terrorist with a dirty bomb in a suitcase, the kind of thing which has happened in Simon Morden's Metrozone series. If there are too many people doing suspicious things for the security services to investigate all of them, then more resources might help.

[ 22. July 2016, 14:35: Message edited by: Alwyn ]

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
We wouldn't try to assassinate a genocidal nuclear armed leader ?

I wouldn't recommend it if there is the faintest chance of missing and provoking retribution. Unless it is already too late.
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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
The use of nuclear weapons to the extent that they win a war between, shall we say, East and West would so fuck up the world that there would be no winner.

In the case of a nuclear war where only one side is able/willing to use nukes I doubt it would need more than one or two cities to be destroyed before the white flag came out. There have been a lot more than one or two nuclear explosions in the last century, and the world doesn't seem to be massively fucked up by them.
We wouldn't try to assassinate a genocidal nuclear armed leader ?
At which point? Before he declares war on us?
Pretty morally dubious. After he declares war? How long do you think he'd give us to prepare, brief and deploy an SAS squad before launching an ICBM? After the first city gets vaporised? By that point he's on the phone telling us to surrender unconditionally or he presses the button again.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
(As I said, while this line of argument could be right, it assumes that we need nukes to protect us from nuke-armed states - even though some countries in Europe have lived for decades without any nuclear weapons while their cities remain intact.)

Most of them are/were members of either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. And the rest are strategically, economically and politically insignificant.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Pretty morally dubious.

[Killing me]

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Forward the New Republic

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Pretty morally dubious.

[Killing me]
I have to admit, that was my first reaction to the idea that we can retain the moral high ground by disposing of our nukes and simply assassinating any foreign leader who looks like they might use theirs.

There is a moral difference - to me, at least - between throwing the first punch and throwing the second.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Pretty morally dubious.

[Killing me]
I have to admit, that was my first reaction to the idea that we can retain the moral high ground by disposing of our nukes and simply assassinating any foreign leader who looks like they might use theirs.

There is a moral difference - to me, at least - between throwing the first punch and throwing the second.

We've already done it. Gulf War II.

Aside from the fact that Saddam didn't actually have any WMDs, of course.

[tangent]
In Civilisation 5, there's a bug in the program. Gandhi's aggression is set so low that he never declares war on anyone. Until the late game, when the non-player factions have their aggression pegged back. Gandhi's falls to zero.

Except that 'zero' is read by the computer as 'psychopathic levels of hatred'. Gandhi then nukes every other faction and revels in the carnage he's wrought.

So, the player is left with the imperative to eliminate entirely peaceful Gandhi from the game before nuclear weapons can be built.

[/tangent]

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Forward the New Republic

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
We've already done it. Gulf War II.

Yes. And I agree with those who say we should arrest Bliar and Shrub for war crimes because of it.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:


[tangent]
In Civilisation 5, there's a bug in the program. Gandhi's aggression is set so low that he never declares war on anyone. Until the late game, when the non-player factions have their aggression pegged back. Gandhi's falls to zero.

Except that 'zero' is read by the computer as 'psychopathic levels of hatred'. Gandhi then nukes every other faction and revels in the carnage he's wrought.

So, the player is left with the imperative to eliminate entirely peaceful Gandhi from the game before nuclear weapons can be built.

[/tangent]

I used to be rather an addict of Gandhi, I read everything and anything I could find of what he wrote, I read many different writings about him and based on his ideas of non-violence. I don't think it is totally inaccurate to say that at one time I was a disciple of Gandhi, albeit one influenced by necessity by his followers rather than him.

Now, not so much. I kinda think that his non-violence was itself a rather aggressive form of powerplay and that he may well have been rather lax in stepping forward to protect innocent people from aggression, instead wheeling out his stock phrases about how they should stand and take the violence rather than lashing out.

I can't imagine him ever launching a nuke, but I'm not sure that bug in that game is entirely inaccurate.

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arse

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Alwyn:
(As I said, while this line of argument could be right, it assumes that we need nukes to protect us from nuke-armed states - even though some countries in Europe have lived for decades without any nuclear weapons while their cities remain intact.)

Most of them are/were members of either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. And the rest are strategically, economically and politically insignificant.
Well, having voted ourselves out of the EU we're well on the way to becoming a politically and economically irrelevant archipelago of little strategic importance (we don't even have any coal mines or steel works, and the oil in the North Sea is rapidly running out).

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Well, having voted ourselves out of the EU we're well on the way to becoming a politically and economically irrelevant archipelago of little strategic importance (we don't even have any coal mines or steel works,

That was our choice. There is still plenty of coal, although it would be a hell of a job to reach it through mostly flooded mines.
quote:


and the oil in the North Sea is rapidly running out).

It needn't have done, but the decision was made to fund substantial tax cuts using the oil tax revenues (eg, base tax rate from 33% to 20%). Now that the oil is running down, that cut in revenue means that an alternative source must be found to pay for Trident.

[ 22. July 2016, 23:57: Message edited by: Sioni Sais ]

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Alwyn
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# 4380

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[tangent]
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
[...] So, the player is left with the imperative to eliminate entirely peaceful Gandhi from the game before nuclear weapons can be built.


Ah, that explains what happens in this video, particularly at 2:08. (I played Civ II to IV. V looks like fun.) [/tangent]

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Most of them are/were members of either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. And the rest are strategically, economically and politically insignificant.

If they were members of NATO without having nuclear weapons and if that was enough to protect them from nuclear strikes, then that option looks good. Was there really a country which would have nuked the UK, if we had been a member of NATO but not had our own nukes between 1945 and 2016?

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Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:

[tangent]
In Civilisation 5, there's a bug in the program. Gandhi's aggression is set so low that he never declares war on anyone. Until the late game, when the non-player factions have their aggression pegged back. Gandhi's falls to zero.
[/tangent]

[tangent]
I think perhaps this is somewhat incorrect - the bug dates back to the original Civilisation. AFAICT in V he's just much more likely to drop nukes indiscriminately when pushed. Presumably they kept some aspects of 'angry Gandhi' because the moral questions made the game more interesting.
[/tangent]

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