The Arms Race
—What is it producing?
—Will it require divine action to stop it?
By “Awake!” correspondent in Sweden
THE attention of the world was focused on Vienna, Austria, for three days in June 1979. Two men, surrounded by aides, soberly faced each other across a massive 25-foot (8-m)-long table. They eventually signed a treaty said to “reduce substantially the dangers of nuclear holocaust”—the feared finale of today’s arms race.
These men, Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union and Jimmy Carter of the United States, represented the front-runners in the international arms race that, in recent years, has reached lightning speed and created hideous means of mass destruction. Nearly $400 billion (U.S.) a year is used for military expenditures. Some 26 million persons around the world are in the armed forces.
The agreement signed in Vienna was labeled by Carter as “the most detailed, far-reaching, comprehensive treaty in the history of arms control.” Will it finally stop the maddening arms race? No! That is not even its expressed purpose. The Strategic Arms Treaty (widely known as SALT II) basically limits to a set number only certain types of weapons considered vital in the event of intercontinental warfare. And those limits are considerably higher than either country has yet attained. So they are really new goals toward which to reach.
Seven years ago these same governments signed an agreement that limited, among other things, the number of missile launchers. What was the result? Both powers, according to the New York Times, “learned to make the limit obsolete by loading a whole batch of weapons aboard each launcher.” The report concluded: “The fact is that the treaty [of 1979] does not prevent either side from building any weapon that it really cares to build.”
Though many feel that some control is better than no control, are such arms-limitation treaties really the answer to the problem? Will the nations, on their own, ever stop stockpiling weapons? Or will it require action from a source higher than man? Yes, is divine action needed? Think about those questions as we review what the nations already have developed in strategic arms and what they are now devising.
Arsenals of Nuclear Weapons
In the field of nuclear weapons alone, the destructive power is enormous. Arsenals contain tens of thousands of sophisticated nuclear warheads with a total explosive power equivalent to that of one million Hiroshima bombs. If only a fraction of these were used in war, civilization would cease to exist.
To reach distant targets quickly with nuclear weapons, so-called strategic delivery systems have been developed and have increased enormously in number and capability. According to a publication entitled “Armaments or Disarmament?—The Crucial Choice,” released in 1979 by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), the United States and the Soviet Union have at their disposal a total of 4,796 strategic nuclear-delivery systems, including land-based rocket-propelled missiles, submarine-carried missiles and strategic bombers.
These arsenals are now so huge that any further increase in number is meaningless. However, improvements are constantly being made in quality, particularly as regards accuracy and reliability. The SIPRI publication states:
“New warheads for the US Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, for example, are so accurate that 50% should fall within 200 metres [656 feet] of the intended target at intercontinental ranges. The next generation of these missiles will be accurate to within a few tens of metres. All military targets would be vulnerable to such weapons.”
Is there a realistic chance that such accurate weapons will be used? “Such precision, together with other advances,” warns the same publication, “may give military decision-makers misplaced confidence that they may actually fight and ‘win’ nuclear wars, rather than simply deter them. . . . The temptation to strike first will increase dangerously, and the risk of nuclear war by miscalculation, accident or madness will increase correspondingly.”
But that is not all. There are yet other weapons in the arsenals.
Chemical and Biological Weapons
“The deadliness of the agents, especially the nerve gases,” said one expert, “almost defies imagination. A drop of tabun or soman the size of a pinhead on your arm will kill you in three to six minutes.” Yet chemical or biological agents are available in great quantities and can be directed against enemy personnel, livestock or crops.
Among the lethal agents are those that attack the nervous system, poison the blood, asphyxiate, or even painfully blister the skin. A number of nonlethal agents are also found in military arsenals of the world. Some of them aim to harass unprotected personnel by causing intense crying, sneezing, vomiting or irritation of the upper respiratory tract.
Militarization Reaching into Space
Even outer space is becoming increasingly militarized. Between 1963 and 1978 a total of 1,536 satellites serving military purposes were launched into space. This is about 75 percent of all satellites launched. In 1978 alone, 112 military satellites were launched—about one every three days! Such satellites are used for reconnaissance, early warning of attack, and communications, and are especially important for navigation.
Researchers believe that soon, by means of a satellite-based navigation system, it will be possible to guide a weapon anywhere on earth to within 10 m (33 feet) of its target!
Further Projects for Mass Destruction
Besides all of this, men are still looking for new means of mass destruction. SIPRI states in the book Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Environment: “Increasing attention is being paid to the manipulation of geophysical or environmental forces for hostile purposes.” The harrowing report on this research says that a tampering with the atmosphere has been suggested for military purposes. This includes juggling the electrical properties of the ionosphere or troposphere to disrupt enemy communications, radar systems, navigation and missile-guidance systems.
The SIPRI report also suggests that techniques for initiating hurricanes or cyclones—or for redirecting natural ones—would make an immense destructive force available to the military. Another military aim is to learn how to control cloud-to-ground lightning for attacks.
The layer of ozone within the lower stratosphere, and which shields us from harmful amounts of ultraviolet radiation, is also viewed as a potential “weapon.” How so? An article in the New York Times quotes Dr. Michael B. McElroy of Harvard University as saying that the chemical element bromine appears to be so effective at ozone depletion that it could be used as a weapon. If injected into the stratosphere it would purge the ozone, permitting ultraviolet radiation to reach the ground with sufficient intensity to destroy crops and incapacitate the inhabitants. The SIPRI report says: “It is perhaps already within our capacity to open a ‘window’ in this ozone layer over an enemy territory by injecting into it a bromine compound via controlled releases from an orbiting satellite.”
Even the land could be used against an enemy. For example, if an enemy region happens to be located above or near some weak spot in the formation of the earth’s crust, it might become possible to trigger an earthquake there. Similarly, “sleeping” volcanoes situated in enemy territory could be stimulated into destructive activity. Some landforms might well be suitable to disruption through the triggering of avalanches or landslides.
Fire also is a contemplated means of mass destruction. Great areas of importance to the enemy may be devastated by wildfires initiated by military action. With the employment of high-efficiency delayed-action incendiary devices and scattered antipersonnel mines, fighting a wildfire could be made virtually impossible.
Rainmaking is still another environmental weapon already used in modern warfare. In the recent Indochina war, aircraft seeded the clouds with such agents as silver iodide and lead iodide. The resultant rains ruined enemy lines of communication, hampered enemy offensives, aided bombing missions and created generally disruptive floods.
The list of “doomsday” weapons is endless, and this despite disarmament talks and peace agreements. Is it not obvious that the nations will never stop the arms race on their own?
When the Soviet armies invaded Afghanistan, all the fanfare over the signing of SALT II ended abruptly without a ratification of the treaty. The United States increased its military budget, and many fear a third world war.
Divine Action Foretold
Happily the Bible foretells that God will not allow man to destroy our earth completely. The heartwarming prophecy at Revelation 11:18 assures us that God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” By a display of his awesome power, he will remove all instigators of war and forever stop today’s arms race. Note the details at Psalm 46:8, 9:
“Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons [war chariots] he burns in the fire.”—See also Daniel 2:44, 45 and Revelation 19:11-21; 21:3-5.
Can We Rely on Bible Prophecy?
“But those prophecies were written down centuries ago,” some might be thinking. “How can we be sure they will come true and that God will act?”
Well-established facts of history have confirmed the accuracy of Bible prophecy. For instance, did you know that the Bible foretold in detail the tragic destruction of one of the most influential cities of the ancient Mideast, Jerusalem? The fulfillment of that prophecy in 70 C.E. resulted in one of the greatest acts of destruction in the ancient world—1,100,000 killed!
Thirty-seven years in advance, Jesus Christ, because of the moral corruption of the city, foretold:
“Furthermore, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her.”—Luke 21:20, 21.
Thirty-three years later, Roman armies under Cestius Gallus “surrounded” Jerusalem and almost conquered it. However, according to an eyewitness, historian Josephus, the Roman general “recalled his soldiers” and “retired from the city, without any reason in the world.” At least that is how it appeared from a human standpoint. But this move allowed first-century Christians in Jerusalem to “withdraw” to safety, in harmony with Jesus’ prophecy.
Yet others in the city began to prepare feverishly for another siege. Josephus reports:
“Now in Jerusalem the [people] . . . both repaired the walls, and made a great many war like instruments, insomuch that in all parts of the city, darts and all sorts of armour were upon the anvil.”—“Wars” II, 19, ¶7.
War machines taken from the fleeing Romans were hauled inside the city and put to use. They armed themselves to the teeth! Yet such weapons, though imposing, were unable to prevent the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.
Jesus added an unusual detail by saying: “The days will come upon you [Jerusalem] when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side.” (Luke 19:43:) In 70 C.E. the Romans returned and General Titus, who was not a disciple of Jesus and had no interest in fulfilling Bible prophecy, proposed the very tactic that had been foretold, saying: “They [the Roman soldiers] must build a wall round the whole city.” In three days a massive four-and-a-half-mile (7-km) wall totally surrounded the city. This “incredible” feat, as Josephus called it, directly fulfilled Jesus’ words. The city was soon taken. The prophecy was accurately fulfilled.
This is but one example of hundreds of Bible prophecies that were precisely fulfilled. On this basis we can be assured that those concerning the destruction of persons “ruining the earth” will also come true—and soon! Why so?
Well, for the first time in history our generation holds within its grasp the means to reduce this earth to a lifeless sphere, and that by a number of ways! If ever there is a time for God to act, it is now during our lifetime.
Would you not enjoy living in a world without the fear of nuclear holocaust? Think of the relief to have removed the burden of financing an arms race. Consider the blessings to this earth when peace-loving individuals direct their energies and resources toward beautifying our earthly ball rather than destroying it. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be glad to show you from the Bible just how near such conditions are and what the Bible says you must do to enjoy them.