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The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: Public ? Relations by Government Minister

Regrettable is a word used by officials when what they mean is disaster. It certainly applies in the case of the British submarine re-equipped to launch missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Described as the last line of defence, this weighty weapon was last tested a few years ago – not the warhead, you understand, just the launch mechanism. Regrettably it failed then, so more work was required. The intervening years have been devoted to perfecting this anomaly of war, the only conceivable purpose of launching which must be suicide.

Fast forward to a few days ago. The re-engineered launch mechanisms were assembled to demonstrate their formidable threat to any potential or actual aggressor. The Government Minister responsible was called on board to witness it, as was the Admiral of the Fleet. Regrettably the launch failed again in a way that apparently also somewhat threatened the submarine itself even though the nuclear carrying rockets were, of course, unarmed.

These are complex vehicles at the dynamic end of technology. Regrettable as the second failure is, these things happen. Brave people devote their lives to making great efforts to protect Britain and Western Democracy. However unfortunate the failure is we must admire the lengths to which our service men and women will go in looking after what we regard as of paramount value. We are thankful for their devotion, commitments and diligence.

For a defence-weary public then to be told that the ministry ‘guaranteed’ that the launch would have been ‘an unqualified success’ if it had been happening in ‘real time’ with real nuclear weapons loaded on all fifteen (I believe) launchers is nothing short of insulting. What would your reaction be to a message saying “Oops, sorry, we killed your comrade but we can guarantee that we wouldn’t have done so if we’d been really trying”?

Secrecy about military matters is important. We don’t expect a technological explanation of nuclear war preparations. We don’t even expect perfect technology all the time. Apparently even ChatGPT collapsed into garbage talk without warning a day ago, though how anyone could tell is beyond me.

We do expect educated, responsible people explaining a failure in what they have previously convinced us was vital defence to be able to distinguish between sense and rubbish. If what they are claiming is true then they should have had the brains to realise that nobody would believe it. And if it isn’t true then they should acquire the necessary brains.

Regrettable communications are as bad as regrettable weapons.

It’s about time someone learnt that, isn’t it?

Good morning

John Bittleston

23 February 2024