The Letter of Last Resort: A Debate on Second Strike Nuclear Ethics

BBC hosted the following discussion:

What would you tell the commander of the Trident submarine at sea to do if the UK was destroyed, and its leadership killed, by a surprise nuclear strike?

To retaliate? Or not?

That is the question for Paddy O'Connell's guests: David Rodin (Oxford; Carnegie Council Global Ethics Fellow), Commodore Tim Hare, and Caroline Lucas (MP) debate what orders they would give in a "Letter of Last Resort."

The letters contain orders from beyond the grave. They are written out by every new Prime Minister, within days of entering office, four times -- one for each of Britain's four Trident submarines.

When a PM leaves office his or her orders are removed from the submarines, destroyed unread and replaced by the orders of their successor.

You can only give one order in the Letter of Last Resort. What should it be?

Listen to the full discussion on BBC Radio and add your thoughts here.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Defence Images (CC).

Tags: GEF, deterrence, ethics, military, navy, nuclear, peace, war

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The MAD (MutuallyAssuredDestruction) Policy between US and Soviets has Worked, to date. For such policy to be effective it needs to be Declared Beforehand that a Nuclear Attack would automatically  trigger a nuclear response. That Order would be in a "Letter of Last Resort" ;  the Trident Submarine Commander would need to have received the  Launch Enable Signal from the Launch Authority. (In the case of the US from POTUS (launch suitcase).

Another policy might be:" No 1st Use - Guranteed 2nd Use" ! (See "The Second Nuclear Age", Paul Bracken.)

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