JEAN-MARIE COLLIN. The Nuclear Illusion Strikes Again (La Tribune, 08/06/2018)

Jul 14, 2018

The issue of NW’s, everyone’s, is riddled with hypocrisy. This is a great example; from France, an ardent defender of the Iran agreement and, a country which played a major role in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

The Military Planning Law (Loi de programmation militaire, LPM) 2019/2025 has just been adopted in the French senate. 37 billion euros are budgeted for the nuclear arsenal, a 60% increase over the previous LPM. The farce consists of ignoring sensitive subjects that would discredit the policy of deterrence that has been in place. This is how the nuclear illusion is constructed, according to Jean-marie Collin, vice president of  Initiatives pour le désarmement nucléaire. The magicians are unbelievable. Even adults are deceived. They focus your attention on something they create and call it reality. It works every time. The problem is that this illusion endangers the population.

An illusory parliamentary consensus

The Minister of Defense, with his principal assistant the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is a master in the art of illusion. The LPM, under cover of the debates that have nothing to do with the transparency touted by the magicians, has engaged France in a process of complete renewal of its nuclear arsenal. Everything will be overhauled (ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, nuclear warheads, nuclear submarines, launchers, combat aircraft) in order to maintain nuclear deterrence, the keystone of defense according to the terminology used by President Macron.

The illusion of a parliamentary consensus was constructed by a magnificent trick. The most outrageous example is in the effort to not allow the amendment proposed by Senator Conway-mouret (Socialist Party). She proposed a “great national debate should be initiated so that citizens can understand what is involved.” Senator Cambon (Republican Party, head of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee in the senate), with the support of the government, asked her to withdraw the proposal under the pretext that “it’s something very complicated and very difficult to organize.” Furthermore, he added, it would not be wise to draw attention to opponents of the policy of deterrence! Apparently, the security of French citizens does not merit a public debate! Would the public not be intelligent enough to understand it? Finally, what kind of democracy do we have if we don’t want to listen to contrary voices?

37 billion euros for the nuclear arsenal

The LPM vote (like the annual budgetary votes for defense) should be a valued opportunity for public debate. In reality, the parliament no longer has, in actual practice, anything more than a secondary role in matters concerning the military budget, and, more widely, in defense policy. It had barely a few days to examine a law that involves dedicating 37 billion euros to the nuclear arsenal. The figure is difficult to detect because the magicians have been careful to break the law into two parts: one for 2019 to 2023, and the other for 2024-2025. Because of this, most parliamentarians and commentators have highlighted the 25 billion euros covering the first period, forgetting the other 12 billion euros for the latter period.

This LPM is exceptional because it introduces a conception of a nuclear weapons arsenal that will, in part, be usable until 2080. Surprisingly, parliamentarians seem to have forgotten that they wrote, just a few months ago, that “cyber-attacks could undermine nuclear deterrence, technically and in terms of nuclear doctrine” and “command and control systems could be vulnerable to large-scale cyber-attacks that aim to render launch orders inoperable.”

How can it be explained that these elected officials, who wish to protect France, ignore with their votes a risk that is likely to undermine their defense policy (in this case nuclear deterrence) and thereby erase the security they claim to be creating?

As nuclear weapons are to become illegal when the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into effect, probably in 2019, it is time for government authorities to engage in a process of honest reflection with all sectors of society. With a subject as serious as national security, it is time to make a definitive break with nuclear illusionism.

A translation by Dennis Riches of:

Jean-marie Collin, L’Illusion nucléaire a encore frappé ! La Tribune, June 2018/06/08.

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