Scotland doesn’t have to keep nukes on the Clyde to be in NATO


  By Will McLeod

Will McLeod is the Government and World Affairs correspondent for Netroots Radio. He blogs at

I’ve been following the Scottish Independence referendum and the SNP for a few years now. Most of the fallacious arguments I’ve seen have been pretty well knocked down, but there’s one in particular that keeps cropping up which is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be dealt with.

I live in Washington DC and I do policy work. Since no other foreign policy and government policy geeks have knocked down the NATO argument and the defense spending argument, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring.

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m a supporter of Scottish Independence.

My main reasons to hoping you go for independence have a lot to do with the military issues I’m about to discuss. Scotland didn’t want to go to war, but your soldiers ended up in the desert with ours anyway. Scotland didn’t want nukes in the Clyde, but because of decisions made in London, ended up with them anyway, which a while ago included the occasional visiting American nuclear sub.

These sorts of events create a lot of distrust, and a lot of friction that just doesn’t need to be there between Scots and Americans. If we had a direct relationship with the Scottish people through Edinburgh instead of a second hand relationship through London, none of that would have happened.

I guarantee you that even though the Progressive movement is fighting hard and starting to win in the US right now, there will eventually be another warmongering Republican sitting in the White House. I cannot promise you that we’ll win in 2016, though I’m confident we will at the moment.

So if you stay in the UK, I can’t promise you that something like Iraq will never happen again. No matter how hard the left fights, sometimes my country just loses its damned mind.

But enough of that. The main thing I wanted to dispel was this myth that somehow if you don’t want Nuclear Weapons in the Clyde, NATO and the US will have a sad, and then will decide to punish Scotland somehow.

Let me say that this is complete and utter bullshit.

First off, the only NATO program that obligates a country to store nukes is what’s called Nuclear Sharing, which is a fun way of saying America gets to park our nuclear weapons in your country. The current NATO policies that exist in the UK exist ONLY because the UK already has Nukes.

Most NATO Members do not participate in nuclear weapons sharing. The ones that do are Germany, Turkey, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy. The rest of the 28 nations don’t have any American nukes sitting in their territory or their ports.

Our Boomer submarines, the ones that carry Nuclear weapons?

They do not ever dock in other nations. Ever. Any foreign dock is considered too great of a security risk. Yes, back in the 60’s, US submarines used to dock in the Clyde. But since the USS Cole incident, American subs carrying nuclear weapons have not been based outside of the US. Security is so tight that they only ever dock at two bases: Kings Bay, Georgia, and Bangor, Washington.

Any US Ohio-Classes that appear anywhere else in the world are ONLY carrying non-nuclear Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. And again, because of all the fancy tech on board, they usually only dock at Kings Bay or Bangor EVEN IF they’re carrying only conventional weapons.

So it doesn’t matter to us whether or not Scotland tells nuclear-armed submarines to go, because they aren’t our submarines, and we haven’t been visiting for years.

It matters a hell of a lot to London, who don’t want to move their nuclear weapons near people who matter to the outcome of general elections. Watch them try to build the next submarine base in Wales. [2]  It’s the same reason that the US puts all of our Nuclear Silos in what we call the “Flyover States.”

As for NATO membership, Canada kicked all American nukes off their soil and went Nuclear-Free in 1984. We’re still the best of friends, and they’re still a member of NATO. There is absolutely no reason why Scotland couldn’t make the same decision.

But lets say that Scotland wants to go further, and declare itself an official Nuclear-Free Zone.

You’d move beyond de-facto Non-Nuclear status, to actual, serious, legally mandated, nuclear-free status. You’d be the first nation in Europe to do that. This gives NATO Military Commanders a sad.  As for actual Americans, that’s no problem. We wouldn’t care.

One of our closest allies, Australia, refuses to host nuclear weapons or even allow nuclear weapons into their waters, because it’s declared itself a Nuclear-Free Zone. If Scotland wants to do the same, you’ll get absolutely no pushback from the United States. You’ll pretty much automatically be granted what’s called MNNA status, (Major Non-NATO Ally,) you’ll probably be offered status as a NATO Partner, which means that you get all of the economic benefits of NATO membership and most of the military ones, but you get to decide how much money you spend on defense and when and where you go to war without being treaty obligated to defend anyone else who got attacked.

At the same time, nobody would be obligated to defend you during a time of attack, but lets be honest, if Scotland is being attacked by someone, the American cavalry is going to show up whether or not you’re a member of NATO, so it’s a moot point. The UK, too. And France. And probably the rest of Western Europe.

Whether Scotland wants to stay in NATO is Scotland’s business. But Scotland will absolutely have the capability to be a NATO member, and like Canada or Norway, refuse to participate in Nuclear Sharing. Again, Of the 28 member nations, only seven participate in Nuclear sharing who don’t already have Nukes. So like I said, it’s got nothing to do with NATO, and everything to do with where the UK parks its own nukes. 

Whatever you want to do, whatever you decide to do, America is likely to give you whatever the hell you want, because America loves Scotland. You really have no idea.

Our politicians are almost sycophantic in their love of Scotland. I want to point out that we have something called “The Friends of Scotland Caucus.”
It was founded by Rabid Anti-Iraq War Democrat Jim Webb, and Rabid Conservative Laughingstock, Lindsey Graham.

Claire McCaskill jumped on board, and between the three of them, they brought together 30 senators from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans both. That makes it one of the largest bi-partisan caucuses in the Senate, and it’s committed to the simple idea of “Hey, let’s give Scotland whatever the hell it wants.” There’s a similar body in the House.

You know who was a founding member of the Friend’s of Scotland Caucus?  John Kerry. He’s the current US Secretary of State, which means that he’s second in command on foreign policy issues to the President Himself. He’s our chief diplomat.

America’s chief diplomat was a founding member of the Friends of Scotland Caucus.[4]  What was that about America somehow wanting to punish Scotland for not having nukes?

So all this fear-mongering about America somehow wanting to punish Scotland for doing what it decides it needs to do on military policy? All these statements about how if Scotland gets rid of nukes that we’ll let the UK flaunt international law? It’s bullshit.

Second Point. You are fantastically wealthy, and your current military budget has enough extra money left over that you could build yourselves a goddamned supercarrier. And not one of the efficient British Models that you’re building now, I’m talking about one of the overwhelmingly expensive star-spangled cock extenders that my country builds. The American models cost about 9 Billion dollars after research (or 5.35 billion pounds) over eight years. Your military budget SURPLUS is 10.5 billion pounds over eight years.

After the Tory cuts, you spend 3.3 Bn pounds on defense every year, but only 2 Bn in Scotland. That leaves you with a yearly surplus of 1.3 Bn pounds PER YEAR. Over a decade, which is about how long it takes to research and build a new Aircraft carrier, that’s 13 Billion pounds.

That’s an absolutely absurd amount of money, and you’ll just have that sitting around under the current budget.

I know that you folks probably don’t want a carrier, and you especially don’t want one of the nuclear-powered international airports at sea that we build. You’re probably going to be fiscally responsible, build yourselves a modest navy for Search and Rescue in the North Sea, and spend the rest of your money on actually important things like Schools, Hospitals, New Industry, Wind Farms and the like. And who could blame you for that?

I just wanted to make the point that you’re fantastically wealthy, even though you’re told you aren’t. Anyone who looks at your budget and says otherwise isn’t being honest.