The aggregate deterrent

Something odd here.

Example 1:

On 15th July 1948, amid great trumpetings, at the hottest moment of the first Berlin crisis, President Truman ordered sixty B-29 atomic bombers to bases in Britain. An alternative version of that is: Ernie Bevin and Clem Attlee sidled up to the Americans, and said, “Wouldn’t it be a neat idea?” Somehow an agreement came about.

Except, under the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, Truman didn’t have that power. The bombs remained in the United States, under civilian control. Not all the aircraft despatched were nuke-capable. At worst, what arrived in Britain were “pumpkins”, the concrete-filled dummies used to practise loading and unloading.

Somehow, nobody noticed the difference.

Example 2:

After 1968 Britain threw large chunks of the defence budget at a submarine-based deterrent. Four Resolution-class nuclear-powered submarines would each mount sixteen Polaris missiles. The war-heads were derived from the WE177 device, and were designed and built in the United Kingdom. Mass wavings of the Union flag, if you’d be so kind.

Allegedly, and we know how these things proceed in Britain, deliveries ran late.

Resolution and its mates went to sea with less than their designed weaponry. To keep the balance of the boat, more concrete warheads were loaded.

Similar stories were muttered when Chevaline came along in 1982.

And we are to believe the Soviets (and their derivations) weren’t up to similar dissimulations?

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Filed under Britain, politics, Truman

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