The Sunday Telegraph – I believe in Trident, and using it if necessary. By Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (Bishop of Rochester in the CofE, a dual Pakistani and British citizen, and author of Conviction and Conflict: Islam, Christianity and World Order)
Once again the General Synod of the Church of England has been wrong-footed by passing a last-minute motion declaring the renewal of Trident to be unethical. The original motion had been carefully thought-out and was supported by documents setting out the situation facing the United Kingdom and asking probing and intelligent questions about the Government’s intentions. Instead, the Church has now been left in a position which can be seen as mere moralising and trying to dictate defence policy.
All of this is extremely unfortunate because the Churches in general, and the Church of England in particular, have a legitimate role in the debate on the replacement or renewal of a minimum nuclear deterrent. Any Christian contribution in this area must, of course, reaffirm its commitment to the great Biblical vision of nations and peoples beating their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Such a controlling vision of peace will lead Christians and Churches to be involved in the work for complete nuclear and, indeed, conventional disarmament. Many will recognise, though, that progress in such matters is slow, painful and accompanied by many setbacks. …
So far, the policy of deterrence has succeeded and there is no reason to believe that it should not be part of an overall policy to maintain global and regional peace. The Government claims it is “consistently and progressively” meeting its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is to be welcomed and it should be urged to use its considerable international influence to give impetus to a multilateral agreement for a nuclear free world.
The cost of replacing or renewing Trident is often cited as a reason for not doing so. Instead, it is argued that the money should be spent on international development or environmental projects. Yet the cost of Trident is very small compared to the UK’s GDP and is a small price to pay for the security on which many other social goods depend.
Parliament will debate the question on Trident’s replacement or renewal later this month. Because of what I have said above, I am personally in favour of retaining a minimum nuclear deterrent. The task of the Churches, however, is to resource this debate by setting out the moral criteria which need attention rather than trying to make Government policy from the sidelines.
I wonder if he’s been reading ninme’s comments.