Desire for Peace, But Will the Nations Disarm?
NOTHING makes peace more desirable than to reflect on the horrors of war. Millions were killed and horribly wounded in the Vietnam War, but that is only part of the story. Six months after their return, 38 percent of the married United States veterans were either separated or getting a divorce. Some 175,000 were using heroin. And it is also reported that about half a million have attempted suicide since their discharge!—New York Times, May 27, 1975.
The case of Claude Eatherly, pilot of the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, vividly illustrates the horrible aftereffects of war. Claude was discharged from the military in 1947 after psychiatric tests indicated a “severe neurosis and guilt complex.” He was later in and out of mental institutions. “I can remember him waking up night after night,” his brother noted at Claude’s funeral this past summer. “He said his brain was on fire. He said he could feel those people burning.”
To comprehend more fully the horrors of war, reflect on that scene of 33 years ago. It was the morning of August 6, 1945. High above was the B-29 Enola Gay; below was the busy Japanese industrial city of some 400,000 inhabitants. At 8:15 the 13-kiloton atomic bomb, slowed in its fall by three parachutes, exploded at 1,900 feet (580 meters) over the center of Hiroshima. Some 140,000 persons were blasted to death; many of them were roasted alive by the heat and radiation. Victims are still slowly dying due to radiation effects.
The horrors wrought by that atomic blast, and the one three days later over Nagasaki, are beyond human comprehension.
Need for Peace
Less than a month later, on September 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered. “A new era is upon us,” General Douglas MacArthur observed on that memorable occasion. He continued: “Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. . . . The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door.”
These sentiments have often been repeated by world leaders. In the fall of 1961, United States President John F. Kennedy proposed a “program for general and complete disarmament.” He explained that “mankind must put an end to war—or war will put an end to mankind. . . . The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.”
Have the nations since then made positive steps toward disarmament?
Progress Toward Peace?
Soon after stressing the need for disarmament, President Kennedy asked the U.S. Congress to add $6 billion to the military budget. And that has been the pattern. At one moment there is talk of peace and the extolling of disarmament, but the next moment there are orders for the building of bigger and deadlier weapons. So despite the many fine-sounding proposals—there are more than 9,000 entries in a current bibliography on arms control and disarmament—no progress has been realized. The Nation of May 27, 1978, observes:
“Since 1945, American, Soviet and other diplomats have met at least 6,000 times to discuss ‘disarmament’ and its illegitimate offspring, ‘arms control,’ but in thirty-two years not a single weapon has been eliminated by mutual agreement. On the contrary, the arms race—conventional and nuclear, but especially nuclear—has escalated relentlessly.”
Illustrating the failure, “disarmament” generally is not even the subject of discussion anymore; it is ‘arms control.’ But control of weapons is out of hand. The public in general have lost all confidence that anything in a meaningful way will ever be done to improve the situation.
This was shown earlier this year when the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament was held. In announcing the coming session, a Buffalo News heading read, “U.N. MOVING TO HEAD OFF ARMAGEDDON.” The five-week session was historic in that it was the first global disarmament meeting since the League of Nations Disarmament Conference of 1932-34, some 45 years ago. Yet the meetings received very little prominence in the press or other news channels.
As the sessions moved toward their halfway point, Dr. Frank Barnaby, the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, lamented that even less than what he had hoped was being accomplished. “There is an air of pessimism; the general atmosphere is pretty awful,” he said.
Yet, as informed persons realize, there is a crying need for relieving the critical situation. The danger of nuclear war is very real and is increasing, Mr. Barnaby pointed out. And the elderly British delegate Lord Noel-Baker, who was also a delegate to the League of Nations Disarmament Conference, observed: “The great danger is that the facts of nuclear war have just not penetrated.”
What are these facts?
Particularly, they have to do with the great power of nuclear weapons, the tremendous numbers that are on hand, and the sophisticated means that the nations have developed to deliver them to any target on earth. Consider the facts.
The words kiloton (1,000 tons) and megaton (1,000,000 tons) refer to the TNT equivalent of nuclear weapons. Thus the 13-kiloton Hiroshima bomb was only a small “firecracker” compared to modern multimegaton weapons. For example, bombs up to 60 megatons—over 4,600 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima—have been tested. Yet, in 1945, it took only that comparatively tiny bomb to incinerate 140,000 people, thousands horribly, and to devastate Hiroshima.
A modern weapon may typically be about a megaton—some 75 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Since each bomb can wipe out a large city, try to imagine what a multimegaton bomb would do to a populated area such as greater New York, London or Tokyo. The nations have tens of thousands of powerful nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union and the United States possessing the vast majority. These weapons have the power to kill every human on earth so many times over that the figures become meaningless.
The frightening fact is that this destructive power can be used to destroy practically any target on earth, within minutes of its release. An American president was not joking when he said: “I could push this button right here and in 20 minutes 70 million Russians would be dead.”
Today’s missile launchers can deliver warheads accurately, within a few yards of a target thousands of miles away. Furthermore, a modern-type missile will carry a number of bombs. Once the missile reaches the general area to be destroyed, each bomb can be directed to a different target. Nor are missile launchers confined to stationary land positions; missiles can be launched from planes in the air or from vessels in the sea.
A single submarine, equipped with nuclear missile launchers, has a capability for destroying 224 separate targets, each as large as a big city! Both the Soviet Union and the United States have dozens of submarines equipped to deliver such destruction, and they are building larger improved ones. Soon the new U.S. submarine, the Trident, will be in service. Saturday Review explains:
“A Trident has built into it an undersea launching platform for thermonuclear bombs, some of which contain more explosive force than a thousand atomic bombs of the kind that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. . . . Trident officers have in their hands more power than had been accumulated by human beings in recorded history up through 1945.”
What It All Costs
All this military preparedness costs money, and lots of it. Since 1945 the nations have spent well over $6,000,000,000,000 ($6 trillion) on military activities! The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of May 1978 observed: “Global military spending currently runs at about $400 billion a year.” And it is increasing rapidly, climbing toward $1 million a minute!
The magnitude of the military buildup is staggering. In 1977 James Reston of the New York Times stated: “Last year, the nations of the world spent 60 times as much equipping each soldier as we spent on educating each child.” Around the world some 60 million people serve in the armed forces or are engaged in military-related occupations. About half the world’s scientists are employed in weapons development.
Think of what could be accomplished if all that money and effort were channeled to constructive purposes rather than the building of armaments. There could be fine housing for all, better health care and education, and many other benefits. As it is, armament programs are contributing to the bankruptcy of nations, both physically and morally.
The claim is made, however, that military preparedness will prevent war. But has it? To the contrary. Since 1945 more than 25 million persons have been killed in some 150 wars fought around the globe. On any given day, there have been, on the average, 12 wars going on somewhere in the world. True, since 1945 nuclear bombs have not been used in these wars. But does building up vast stockpiles of such weapons, as well as developing sophisticated methods of delivering them, make their use less likely?
Many do not think so. As a former U.S. congressman from Oregon said: “The cards are stacked now for vast destruction and death. . . . The facts can be stated in a few words. First, thousands of nuclear weapons, many of unthinkable power, exist today. Second, almost all of them are ready for instant detonation. Third, their custodians are human beings.”
Yes, humans are imperfect; they are subject to error and prone to selfishness and greed, setting the stage for war. The Bible shows where selfish desire may lead: “Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force.”—Jas. 4:1, 2, The Jerusalem Bible.
Nations will fight with what is at hand. By 1985, says the Stockholm International Peace Institute, some 35 nations will achieve nuclear capability. With what result? “Stable nuclear deterrence as we have known it will become impossible,” warns the institute, “and war will become inevitable.”
Any Hope for Peace?
Mankind’s desire for peace is strong. At the recent United Nations Special Session on Disarmament, 500 Japanese observers presented U.N. officials with 20 million signatures on petitions calling for immediate world disarmament. These petitions filled 450 cartons weighing more than 12 tons!
Will disarmament and peace ever be realized? If we are to judge by the actions of world leaders, the answer is a definite, No. They are doing virtually nothing to put the armaments race into reverse. This was again illustrated by their attitude toward the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which it was hoped would make outer space a zone of peace. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists observes: “The treaty has done little to check the number of military satellites. About 75 percent of all satellites launched have military uses. During 1977, 133 satellites were launched, and of these 95 were military satellites.”
Yet there is basis for confidence that disarmament and peace will be realized. The Bible promise inscribed on a stone wall just across from the United Nations’ main building proclaims: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Isa. 2:4, Authorized Version.
But how will this promise be fulfilled? The United Nations obviously has not been able to fulfill it. What basis, then, is there for confidence that true peace will be realized? Is religion the answer?
[Blurb on page 5]
“Since 1945, American, Soviet and other diplomats have met at least 6,000 times to discuss ‘disarmament’ and its illegitimate offspring, ‘arms control,’ but in thirty-two years not a single weapon has been eliminated by mutual agreement.”—The Nation, May 27, 1978.
[Blurb on page 6]
“A Trident has built into it an undersea launching platform for thermonuclear bombs, some of which contain more explosive force than a thousand atomic bombs of the kind that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. . . .”—Saturday Review, April 17, 1978.
[Blurb on page 7]
“In the past thirty-three years, there has been continuous fighting around the globe—or, as one Hungarian professor computed it, ‘there were no more than twenty-six days . . . in which there was no war somewhere in the world.’ That same professor calculated that in the past three decades, some twenty-five million souls have perished in battle, a figure representing more military fatalities than were incurred in both world wars combined.”—Esquire, March 1, 1978.
[Blurb on page 8]
“About 75 percent of all satellites launched have military uses. During 1977, 133 satellites were launched, and of these 95 were military satellites.”—The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1978.
[Picture on page 8]
THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES AND THEIR SPEARS INTO PRUNING HOOKS NATION SHALL NOT LIFT UP SWORD AGAINST NATION NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE