I read the editorial in today's Times (I am now behind the Murdoch Paywall of Death so I can) and was struck by it, thinking of the moral equivalence - if there is a need for an independent British nuclear deterrent, as Attlee thought, and as I think, for different reasons, then why shouldn't everyone think they should have their own, and deserve one? Good question, hein? Good answer, Norm, below.
From a Times leader today (£) on the need for an independent British nuclear deterrent:
The arguments advanced for Britain's independent deterrent have altered, but the essential judgment made by Attlee was right. In a world that includes hostile and bellicose regimes, and in which there is no world government capable of countering aggression, an independent deterrent is Britain's insurance against nuclear blackmail.
One way of avoiding this conclusion would be to assume that the world is safe against the possibility of nuclear threats from hostile regimes. However, to think the world is like this - isalready like this - after the experience of the last 100 years or so, you must have spent too much time listening to chants of 'Love and peace, man'. Yet for those of more pessimistic intelligence, the above argument from the Times leader has a rather dispiriting general consequence. If 'an independent deterrent is Britain's insurance against nuclear blackmail', then so, equally, would an independent deterrent be the insurance against nuclear blackmail for another country. If we consider the issue as a matter of impartial justice, therefore, every country can make the same claim with the same moral force.
On the other hand, as is well-known, the possibility of non-nuclear powers (such as Iran) becoming nuclear powers isn't looked on by the existing nuclear powers with the kind of equanimity one might expect if 'fair-mindedness' (for want of a better word) ruled in this matter. From which one may conclude that in international affairs the demands of inter-state equity reach only so far. In the circumstances prevailing this may not be a bad thing entirely, since some states are better than others.