Why Such a Peace Effort Now?
NINETEEN hundred years ago Bible prophecy foretold a time when men would be proclaiming, “Peace and security!” That prophecy seems to be rapidly nearing its fulfillment.
World leaders, in fact, use these words repeatedly. But it is not the mere use of a phrase that is so significant.
We live in a unique time in many ways. Stop and think of the grim realities the world faces today. Consider why now, of all times, world leaders would be both stupid and insane if they did not make their greatest efforts ever to gain peace and stability.
World Peace or World Suicide?
Never before our time have men had the means for literally ruining the whole earth. Consider:
The United States has forty-one nuclear missile submarines. Each one carries more explosive power than all the bombs used by both sides in World War II—the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan included! Russia is developing forty-two such submarines. France began testing its nuclear missile submarine in July.
The Russians have about 300 huge SS-9 hydrogen bombs, each with a capacity of twenty-five megatons. That is the equivalent of twenty-five million tons of TNT each. Just one of these bombs would make a hideous shambles of any great city on earth.
Right now, at this minute, besides its submarine missiles, the United States has 1,000 land-based Minuteman missiles, equipped with one- or two-megaton warheads, aimed at the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet Union has about 1,300 equally powerful missiles aimed at the United States aside from its SS-9’s.
One push of buttons by the opposing nations and an estimated three hundred million people would perish in less than an hour.
Yet the superpowers have kept on stockpiling more and more warheads. Thus physicist Ralph E. Lapp some time ago pointed out that the United States has stockpiled “enough nuclear explosives to overkill the Soviet Union at least 25 times.”
China is now rapidly heading toward superpower status in nuclear weaponry.
More than that—a report by the International Peace Research Institute of Sweden shows that about one third of all countries will have “significant nuclear programs by the end of the nineteen-seventies.” This, it says, could lead to “a totally new situation in military and strategic affairs.”
With good reason, President Nixon warned: “In a nuclear war there would be no winners—only losers.” “If we are drawn into conflict, the possibility of mutual suicide is very great.”
In the past, when war threatened, national rulers had to weigh the prospects of losing power, losing a portion of the population, losing some industrial strength, and having large sections of major cities destroyed.
But they never had to contemplate the loss of virtually the entire country, of seeing their nation become a place uninhabitable for living things.
Now they face those very prospects.
Threat to Human Environment Demands Global Action
Mankind needs to make peace with the very planet it inhabits. For decades man has been ‘at war’ with his own environment, polluting it nearly to death. He is now reaping what he has sown.
We reap polluted air. In 1970 scientists at an atmospheric research center predicted that, at the present rate, “in a decade urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution.” In Tokyo, Japan, traffic policemen already must resort to oxygen machines at intervals.
We reap polluted water from poisoned rivers, lakes and even the seas and oceans. Despite all the warnings, the polluting goes on. The Daily Yomiuri of June 27, 1972, reports: “Contamination of the seas around Japan is aggravating at an alarming rate.”
This, and other contamination, cannot be solved by separate nations, piecemeal. Commenting on the United Nations conference in Sweden on the threat of world pollution, Editorial Research Reports magazine said:
“Anything less than a full-scale international effort seems futile. The world’s ecosystem is one; it is such that no nation alone can clean up its environment. The atmosphere carries industrial pollutants and pesticides all over the earth. Virtually every international waterway is polluted, and becoming worse year by year.”
The danger of world disaster by pollution is as real and as grave as that of nuclear war.
The Human Bomb—Near Exploding Point
It took thousands of years for the human population to reach one billion persons (in 1850). In just eighty years it reached two billion. It is now 3.6 billion and estimates are that it will increase—not just another billion—but to double the present figure in just the next thirty years!
Every day there are some 200,000 more mouths to be fed on this planet. But the planet remains the same size. And agricultural production is not keeping pace with the need.
World leaders know that there is great ferment among the peoples of the so-called Third World, those in the poorer, ‘developing nations.’ Those nations have more than twice the population of the richer, industrial nations and are increasing at a faster rate.
To meet growing discontent among this huge population, the big powers have tried to give technological aid. Gains have been made; but the problems are great and the population growth just about wipes out any advancement made. Thus, a recent United Nations survey shows that “the gap between have and have-not nations is steadily widening.”
The threat now posed by the “human bomb” grows worse every day. To defuse it, the big powers recognize the need to turn from their rivalries and work to improve conditions world wide.
Domestic Problems Demand Attention
World leaders also face growing internal, domestic problems. They see their major cities in crisis, many decaying at a frightening pace. Money is badly needed, but military expenses and ‘cold-war competition’ keep it in short supply.
There is a growing consumer demand in the Soviet Union and other countries that must be met if the people are to remain submissive. And something needs to be done to stop the tidal wave of crime engulfing all nations.
Also, people note the successful space activity of major powers. They have seen men walking on the moon. They see that the nations are successful in space, so they wonder why they should not do the same on earth.
The United Nations—Can It Merit That Title?
Once proudly acclaimed as mankind’s crowning achievement, the United Nations Organization is in trouble. It is in danger of losing all prestige unless some major world change occurs.
However, with Communist China now in its ranks, for the first time it embraces virtually the world population. What if the major powers were to work out a peace arrangement with the U.N.’s help? What if it could aid in defusing the fights and quarrels between smaller nations?
Then the United Nations might appear to live up to its exalted title. It could gain great support and praise.
World Religion in Crisis
World religion, particularly that of Christendom, has been in severe decline in recent years. Internal disputes within the churches have cost them much respect. Their apparent ineffectiveness to bring peace and to solve human problems makes many begin to doubt their worth. But the religious leaders now see prospects of great gain from a world peace settlement.
If the pronouncement of ‘world peace and security’ were soon to be heralded around the earth—with the churches in position to claim some share in bringing it about—this might restore at least some of their diminished influence, prestige and favor. They need it—and they know it.
Pope Paul VI admitted that dissent, criticism and protest were afflicting the Catholic Church and causing “a state of uneasiness that we cannot and will not conceal.”—New York Times, June 24, 1972.
A world peace arrangement could do much to calm that uneasiness and increase confidence about the future. It could stir hopes of a religious revival and renewed strength on the part of world religions.
The reasons, then, why men should make an all-out effort for world peace and security are many and very powerful. There is evidence that they will bring matters to a point soon where the cry of “Peace and security” becomes the slogan of the day!
But the big question is: Will it last?
We can know the answer to that question, now.
[Box on page 11]
HUMAN BOMB NEAR EXPLODING POINT
Population now 3,600,000,000
Predicted to double in 30 years
The fastest increase is among the poorer nations, which already have twice the population of the richer nations
[Picture on page 10]
On both sides, the United States and Russia, there are over 1,000 land-based missiles aimed and ready to be fired at the push of a button
One of these missiles can race through space at 15,000 miles per hour and rain nuclear death on an entire city within a half hour from the time the signal is flashed
[Picture on page 11]
Each day there are some 200,000 more persons to be fed. Food production is not keeping pace with the need