The Folly of War
NEVER before in human history has man had the power to ruin the earth and destroy the human race. Small wonder that Albert Einstein once said: “The weapons of World War IV will be stone clubs.” That was one way of expressing the folly of war.
Many other similar expressions have been uttered in recent years. British historian Arnold Toynbee expressed it this way: “A third world war means mass-suicide in the atomic age.” And according to one of the world’s leading physiologists, Britain’s Dr. Edgar Douglas Adrian, it matters little whether bombs hit their targets or not. He warned that human life cannot survive the explosion of more than a few thousand atomic weapons, no matter where they hit. With such a frightful fate spotlighting the folly of war, is it likely that atomic weapons would be shelved in event of a third world war?
Not at all, says Soviet Defense Minister Georgi K. Zhukov. “Such weapons,” he says, “are bound to be used as the main striking force in case of a major war conflict.” Any future war, Marshal Zhukov added, “will involve not only the theatre of operations but will stretch out deep into the rear of the belligerents. . . . At present there is no place in the world where the aggressor could find shelter. The Soviet Air Force is able to strike shattering blows at any enemy, no matter where he is or where he is hiding.” It is a mistake, declared the Soviet defense minister, to suppose that the opposing forces in a future war would refrain from using atomic and hydrogen bombs because such weapons “can mutually destroy both sides.”—New York Times, March 20, 1957.
Had Zhukov shattered the theory of the atomic standoff? There were conflicting opinions. But many Western observers have long expressed little faith in such a theory. Senator Stuart Symington, former United States Air Force secretary, phrased it this way: “One of the dreams that lulls us into this hopeful make-believe is the theory of the so-called atomic standoff. This is the argument that, when both we and the Communists have plenty of atomic weapons, neither of us will use them. To gamble on such a miracle is like betting that two men armed with loaded pistols will merely wrestle until one of them is thrown to the ground and kicked to death. . . . Nations, like men, know that terrible weapons can mean sudden death; but neither nations nor men have ever refrained from using their decisive weapons in a life-or-death fight.”—U.S. News & World Report, July 30, 1954.
War is folly as never before; yet there is no sure guarantee that leaders will not plunge their countries into war. How strange a time we live in! It is really unique. But this uniqueness goes back to a time before the invention of the atomic bomb. That observer of politics and history, Elmer Davis, writing in his book Two Minutes Till Midnight, shows that this unique period goes back to 1914:
“A Rip van Winkle who had gone to sleep in the early summer of 1914 and woke up now would feel that he had emerged into a world of barbarism—a sophisticated and streamlined barbarism, of high technical competence, but barbarism none the less by contrast with the world he had known. There were tyrannies then, but very feeble and ineffective beside the tyrannies of today; and even before the fission or fusion bombs were invented, the free world had condoned methods of war-making which until August 1914 had seemed forever abandoned as unworthy of civilized man. But the code then existing was shattered by the Germans—not the nihilistic Nazis, but the respectable Christian Germans of the Kaiserreich; and once they had done what they thought might help them win, their opponents imitated them—as they always will.”
We entered this “world of barbarism” in 1914. That year indeed marked a turning point in the affairs of men. The outbreak of World War I that year was itself significant, for Christ Jesus, the great Prophet, foretold world war to mark the beginning of the “last days.” “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,” he said in his long-range prophecy, “and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”—Matt. 24:7, 8.
The “pangs of distress” that have convulsed this world since 1914 mean good news to those who know their significance. They mean that God’s heavenly kingdom will soon destroy this wicked, warring world and bring permanent peace to the earth. True, the situation from a human standpoint appears hopeless. Jesus said it was certain to be that way, that there would be “on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
Even now that we have come into this time when war is so catastrophic a folly, men do not know the way out. They are far from certain that the incredible folly of atomic war will prevent another world war. How vital, then, for true Christians to put their trust, not in men, but in God! He is the One who has promised that during this unique period in history he will ruin those ruining the earth: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Rev. 11:17, 18.
War is folly. It is folly also to trust in man to bring in permanent peace. God himself will do it. There will be no wars after Jehovah’s righteous war of Armageddon—no wars, not even wars with stone clubs. Jehovah’s promise is: “Come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth.”—Ps. 46:8, 9, AS.