Our discussion of nuclear policy has been inconclusive, which may be as it should, for there are unlikely to be easy answers in this area. However, it does suggest that a search for alternatives to both a continuation of present deterrence policy, on one hand, and unilateral nuclear disarmament on the other, is well worth considering.
While we cannot consider all reasonable alternatives here, given the deficiencies of deterrence, it is important that the superpowers be willing to take some risk to alter the present situation. The status quo is hardly free from risk itself. For example, the United States might take the lead in eschewing the development of weapons systems that could be knocked out by a surprise attack. Thus, the more we invest in weapons, such as nuclear submarines, which are relatively safe from a surprise attack, and the more we encourage others to do the same, the less incentive there is for a first strike. We can at least make sure that deterrence is more stable and efficient than at present. Once that state is achieved, the United States might unilaterally reduce the size of its nuclear forces and wait for an appropriate Soviet response. If no such response was forthcoming, we might try other alternatives.
We are not suggesting any one alternative here; we are only suggesting that there are policies to be explored which require neither blind adherence to the arms race nor unilateral nuclear disarmament. All reasonable alternatives, including a nuclear freeze, and various plans for arms reduction, need exploring.
In this chapter, we have argued that morality does play a role in foreign affairs. That role is not one of oversimplified moralism, rightly criticized by the realists, but of consideration of complex and often competing moral factors. Thus, in the area of international distributive justice, our discussion suggests that the rich nations of the North have far greater obligations to the poor of the South than is presently acknowledged, although these obligations are limited by the rights and deserts of their own citizens, and by the unfortunate realities of governance in many of the nations of the Third World. Whether our particular lines of argument seem convincing, however, is perhaps less important than our principal conclusion. Morality does not stop at the water's edge.