Mutually Assured Hypocrisy
Last night the BBC News led on a 'looming international crisis' over Iran's nuclear fuel programme. The fear, of course, is that they will use the technology to develop nuclear weapons.
Now I'm as concerned as the next person at regimes like Iran having nuclear weapons. The problem is that I have this childish belief in consistency and a dislike of double standards.
It would be perfectly reasonable, and indeed desirable, to have an international policy that prohibited nations from having nuclear weapons and worked towards universal disarmament.
But the present position is that a handful of developed nations assert the right to have nuclear weapons and seek to deny that right to others.
It's rather as though the wealthy upper classes were allowed to drink and drive even though it was illegal for everyone else. 'Of course, it's not a good idea and we'd rather they didn't but they tend to be more responsible people and lots of them live in the country and have to drive to the pub.'
Britain is soon to take a decision on replacing Trident, our 'independent' nuclear deterrent. I use inverted commas because I believe we don't actually own it but lease it from the Americans. It's the ultimate in big boys' toys and few come more expensive.
Every Prime Minister, on taking office, has to write a personal instruction to fire nuclear weapons which is then locked away in our nuclear submarines. As I understand it, this is for the scenario in which Britain is already a smouldering wasteland and the weapons are fired in retaliation. The submarine crews, unable to make contact with the mainland and finding there's no Today programme, open the safe and say 'Mr Tony, he say yes!' Mr Tony, like most of the population, may well be dead but wait till you see what we do to the other guys.
If one of Blair's last acts is to replace Trident, we can assume that after years of studying his favourite book he has found 'an eye for an eye' more appealing than 'turn the other cheek'.
So far as 'rogue states' and 'the axis of evil' are concerned, the ultimate sanction to prevent them joining the nuclear club is to bomb them to buggery. In the interests of world peace, of course.
But if they can manage to acquire the weapons before we get round to it, they suddenly disappear from the political radar and can be as evil and repressive as they like. Hardly surprising then that they want the nuclear weapons.