Saying Peace While Readying for War
DÉTENTE has become a household word in recent months. A ‘relaxing of tensions,’ as the word means, seems to be setting in. What appears to be serious talk about peace punctuates the statements of world leaders. They and their followers say that they are sick of war; the world is ripe for peace.
Curiously, however, during the same period, one of the most fervent arms races in history has also shifted into high gear. Both developed and developing nations are buying and/or selling armaments on an unprecedented scale. However, because of their advanced technologies and the size of the weapons, the arms race between the U.S. and Russia, particularly, disturbs the rest of the world. Who is ahead in this race?
Who Is Winning?
Opinions vary, even among supposed neutrals. Both of the major combatants are secretive regarding many of their weapons, as to number, size and capability. The Russians boast that they have bigger weapons; the Americans, that theirs are more accurate. The U.S. is said to have over three times as many long-range bombers as the Russians—496 to 140.
On the other hand, the Russians have more missile-equipped submarines. But U.S. submarines are claimed to be quieter and harder to detect, and many of the missiles they carry have ten to fourteen warheads. Since the mid-1950’s the Soviet Union has outbuilt the U.S. in naval vessels. It now has 221 major surface combat vessels compared to 174 for the U.S.
Currently much research and development by both nations concentrates on missiles. But have not the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and other agreements served to stop missile construction between these two powers? No. SALT has primarily outlawed defensive missiles. But what about offensive missiles?
The U.S. was allowed 1,054 land-based missile launchers and 656 sea-based launchers under terms of the May 1972 SALT agreement. The Soviet Union was permitted 1,618 land-based launchers if it built up to 950 sea-based ones. Why were the Russians allowed a majority? Because the U.S. thought it had a clear advantage in the field of missiles with MIRV.
MIRV stands for ‘multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle’; one missile has a number of warheads, each of which can be focused on a different target once the missile is in a general area. The U.S. is said to have already about 7,000 mounted MIRVs. But even though the U.S. seemed to have an advantage when the SALT agreement was signed, that nation was in for a surprise.
The Russians began testing their own MIRVs in 1973, prompting fears that the Soviets might overtake the U.S. But, then, the U.S. countered this action. How?
By introducing MaRV—the ‘maneuverable reentry vehicle.’ Like MIRV, a number of warheads can be attached to one missile and sent to separate targets. However, the MaRV warheads can be maneuvered to change course during the final part of their flight as they zero in on target.
But the big powers are stocking more than their nuclear weapons. The nonnuclear variety is also proliferating. Recent smaller wars have educated both the East and the West about such arms.
The Nonnuclear Race
In Vietnam, for instance, the U.S. perfected cluster bombs, learning to control their fragmentation pattern. A single cluster bomb dropped from a jet fighter and detonated at an altitude of 600 feet was able effectively to disperse killing fragments over 900 meters (3,000 feet). One F-4 Phantom can include eight of such bombs and, with special racks, may carry as many as fifteen or twenty.
Another weapon that was partially tested in Vietnam was the “glide bomb” or “smart bomb.” In the past, the flight of bombs from an aircraft has depended only on gravity. These newer models, however, are accurately targeted with the help of laser beams or TV. Even conservative experts speak of a coming “revolution” in warfare because of guided bombs.
The Middle East war held some surprises for U.S. military experts. Russian-made weapons manned by the Arab nations proved far superior to what the Americans had anticipated. The Soviet-built portable SAM-7 missile launcher was effectively used to shoot down Israeli fighters. Yet, it is a comparatively inexpensive weapon.
Much of the decisive warfare in the Middle East was armored combat—tank warfare. But a single infantryman, it was also found, could knock out an enemy tank. A high explosive antitank projectile called “Heat” was used. It carries a quantity of copper metal. When the warhead explodes against the tank’s armor it releases a jet of molten copper that burns a hole through the steel and asphyxiates the crew, detonating any explosives on the vehicle. Some heat-warhead antitank projectiles are wire guided and so can be controlled on the way to their target by the soldier who fires them. The Israelis say that such weapons were the major source of their tank losses.
Another surprise for the U.S. was the large amount and variety of night-fighting equipment supplied to the Arabs by the Russians. The Pentagon has now stepped up U.S. night-warfare research after finding that the Russians have perfected starlight scopes and infrared devices for tanks, antitank rockets and grenade launchers, as well as for lighter guns. Similar equipment was used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy in Vietnam.
Nerve gases are currently a center of debate in the U.S. One variety, binary nerve gas, consists of two chemical agents that are safe when kept separate. However, once mixed, as in a fired artillery shell, they become deadly. U.S. chemical-weapons experts Julian Perry Robinson and Mathew S. Meselson told a House subcommittee that the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons is four times as large as it was at the close of World War II.
But the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. do not have a corner on the buying and selling of weapons. Other, smaller nations, are also involved.
The Other Arms Races
The hope of many that nuclear power would be hoarded by only a few big nations was shattered when India detonated a nuclear device in May. Now there is the fear that a number of other smaller nations and even organized mobsters may be able to perfect nuclear weapons. Since India set off her nuclear device, fewer experts are scoffing at such a possibility. The details needed to manufacture a nuclear bomb can be found in unclassified U.S. Atomic Energy Commission documents. The small supply of plutonium needed to fuel the bomb is becoming readily more available.
Meanwhile, internationally, the weapons cache of nation after nation grows. The lands of Latin America, for instance, no longer want American hand-me-downs, but are bargaining for powerful new weapons. Most of the spending there has been done by six countries—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela—who paid out most of the 1.7 billion dollars spent on heavy arms in Latin America between the years 1967 and 1972. The U.S. claimed only 13 percent of those sales. Who sold the rest?
The remainder of the sales went to Britain (35 percent) for warships and jets, and France (22 percent) primarily for Mirage jet fighters and tanks. Other supplying countries included West Germany and Canada. And, now, the Russians are selling to Latin America.
This is not entirely new. Cuba, for instance, has been in the Communist camp for some time and is said to have more than 200 Russian MIG fighters. The Russians are estimated to have spent more than a billion dollars arming Cuba over the last ten years. But, recently, Peru is said to have become a Russian customer when she purchased some 200 tanks and allowed military advisers into the country, the first ones on the continent.
Meanwhile, the two most powerful South American countries, Brazil and Argentina, have started making aircraft and are said to be experimenting with rocketry.
At the same time what is called a ‘small arms race’ is stepping up in Asia. “The newest status symbol” of Asian nations, says the Los Angeles Times, “is to have [their] own weapons factory.” The Philippines, Singapore and South Korea are either producing or plan soon to be producing the U.S. M-16 rifle. Malaysia, Indonesia and Burma are turning out automatic rifles or munitions. The U.S. Department of Defense admits that it has stockpiled a billion dollars’ worth of weapons to turn over to its Asian allies in South Korea, Thailand and South Vietnam in the event of future war involving those nations.
Weapons buying and selling indeed is international business—in spite of talk about peace. The expanded dealings in weapons in South America, Europe, Asia and Africa led one news magazine to refer to the ‘global growth of guns.’
Why the Race Goes On
If the major military nations of the earth really want peace, why do they continue to enlarge their war machines?
Well, for one thing, they fear that their enemies will continue to arm even should they themselves stop doing so. They feel that if they fail to arm, their opponents may conclude that they have weakened and will then consider an attack. Thus U.S. Department of Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger says: “We must build our peace structure on the hard facts of the international environment rather than on gossamer hopes for the imminent perfectability of mankind.” He accuses the Kremlin of building a massive nuclear force.
And on the other side? Soviet Chief of Staff General Viktor G. Kulikov counters: “In the main capitalist countries, the process of material preparation for a new war, of accumulating and perfecting the quality of weapons, and first of all nuclear ones, continues and has even intensified.”
Neither side trusts the other. So each is determined to have the most effective military apparatus; as the late American General Tooey Spatz once said: “A second best airplane is like a second best poker hand”—no good! In an effort to get the “best,” more and more money is sunk into armaments. An American B-1 bomber now costs 76 million; that is up almost twenty million dollars in recent months. The F-15 supersonic fighter will cost over twelve million dollars.
But many persons ask: ‘Each side already has enough fire power to more than obliterate the enemy. Why keep spending all that money to build more weapons?’
‘Because,’ says the military expert, ‘this arms race is different.’ In what way? They claim that the newer arms are needed to give them more alternatives in war. Earlier arms races were aimed at ‘mutual assured destruction.’ A war threat, in other words, then meant all-out war, an international holocaust. Now, however, the military claims that it wants to be able to push the button on smaller wars, retaliate like for like. Thus, if the Russians were to strike an American base, the U.S. could control its response by knocking out a similar Russian target. The race must go on, they contend, to gain these newer, more sophisticated weapons.
But there are other reasons why the research and development of armaments go on. Individual people—not just nations—are involved. Leaders fear becoming politically unpopular if they appear to be weakening before the enemy or discourage arms production. Thousands of jobs for ordinary people depend on the military budget; to slow down or stop production would be financially disastrous for them personally.
Nevertheless, what sane person wants one of man’s all-out international conflicts to occur? No one. Yet the arms race goes on, definitely pointing men in the direction of such a conflict. Why? Could there be yet an additional source that is egging on the rulers of the earth and their followers to continue to arm themselves? That would seem logical.
A Deeper Reason
The Bible points to that other moving force. We read about it at Revelation 16:14, 16: “Expressions inspired by demons . . . gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty . . . to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” Yes, spurred on by the invisible demons “the kings of the earth and their armies” actually are arming themselves to fight against God.—Rev. 19:11-13, 19.
Worldly-minded men may doubt that the demons are really behind the nations, rallying them to a conflict with God. But who of them will honestly deny that in spite of all the talk about peace, “the kings of the earth and their armies” are indeed mobilizing themselves for something?
Of course, this Biblical reference could not mean that all the armies of the world are gathered to the literal place called Megiddo, which anciently dominated a strategic passageway in the Middle East. All the armies would not fit into this location. Then what does the Scriptural term “Har–Magedon” or “Armageddon” mean?
Well, anciently Megiddo was the site of decisive battles. So, the Bible’s use of the term indicates that an issue must be involved—otherwise there would be no war. What issue? “Kings” rule over kingdoms. These kings, therefore, apparently want to preserve their sovereignty. But God, too, has a purpose for the whole earth. The Bible shows that the time is near when he, through Jesus Christ, purposes to clean out all opposers of his righteous rule over the earth.
Does it seem logical to you that the nations are likely to give up their rulerships to God and Christ when the precise time arrives? What is there in their history even remotely to indicate such a course? Have they not always been absolutely determined to hold onto every inch of territory that they could?
It is not that the nations consciously plan on a battle with God and contemplate such possibilities in their ‘war rooms.’ But the nations’ determined efforts to run earth’s affairs in their way, regardless of God’s stated purpose, make a confrontation absolutely necessary. They will be brought to the point where they unitedly use force to try to hold onto their own way of rulership. God will react with counterforce. With what consequences?
Revelation chapter 19 describes how the One (Jesus Christ) who fights victoriously for God defeats the ‘kings and military commanders’ of the earth. God will preserve those persons he deems righteous. The demons, who have given additional drive to the nations’ already natural tendency toward protecting their sovereignty, would delight to see the earth a poisoned, ruined cinder. But God will not let that occur. Rather, the demons themselves will be put out of the way.—Revelation 12:12; 19:11-20:3.
All the current efforts toward détente, therefore, do not belie the truth of the matter—that the nations will use the greatest force they can muster to hold onto their rulerships. They might say peace, but war is inevitable. Yet, after the greatest of all wars “the kings of the earth and their armies” will be gone forever. Only then will true peace prevail over the earth.
[Box on page 5]
“We find that the United States today, while talking peace, is developing new generations of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, each more terrifying, more efficient and more lethal than the last, and that the situation in the Soviet Union is much the same. We find policy makers on both sides increasingly ensnared, frustrated and neutralized by domestic forces having a vested interest in strategic inventories. The worldwide arsenal of nuclear warheads continues its astronomical upward spiral.”—“The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.”
[Box on page 6]
“It is quite possible that a simple but devastating atomic weapon could now be made by one or more terrorists without advanced scientific and technical skills. That is the conclusion of a growing number of nuclear experts.”—“Time,” May 13, 1974.
[Chart on page 4]
“PEACETIME” ARSENALS GROW
1,710 MISSILE LAUNCHERS 2,358
(land- and sea-based)
7,000+ NUCLEAR WARHEADS 2,300
496 LONG-RANGE BOMBERS 140
41 NUCLEAR SUBMARINES 42
174 SURFACE COMBAT SHIPS 221