Peace and Security—The Need
“War in the twentieth century has grown steadily more barbarous, more destructive, more debased in all its aspects. . . . The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended a war. They also made it wholly clear that we must never have another war. This is the lesson man and leaders everywhere must learn, and I believe that when they learn it they will find a way to lasting peace. There is no other choice.”—Henry L. Stimson, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” Harper’s Magazine, February 1947.
IT WAS just a year after the formation of the United Nations that Mr. Stimson, U.S. secretary of war from 1940-45, spoke the above words. Well, after almost 40 years, has man learned “the lesson”? Has the United Nations made it possible for you to enjoy life in “lasting peace”? Why, consider the high price mankind has paid for war and war preparation just since World War II.
THE HUMAN COST: What has been the human cost of wars since World War II, in the face of the United Nations’ efforts to bring about peace? “Since the conflagration of World War II, there have been 105 major wars ([reckoned by] deaths of 1,000 or more per year) fought in 66 countries and territories. . . . The wars since 1945 have caused 16 million deaths, many more among civilians than among the armed forces involved. (The count, especially for civilians, is incomplete; no official records are kept for most wars.)”—World Military and Social Expenditures 1983 by Ruth Sivard.
Peace and security actually are slipping farther away—the frequency of wars is on the rise. Explains Sivard: “In the 1950’s the average [number of wars] was 9 a year; in the 60’s, 11 a year; and in the 70’s . . . , 14 a year.”
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL COST: Ever since Hiroshima, man has lived in fear of nuclear war. Why, the few nuclear weapons of 1945 had grown to 50,000 worldwide by 1983. And still more are being produced! Obviously, as both the number of nuclear weapons and the nations possessing them increase, so does the risk of nuclear war. What, though, are the psychological effects of living in fear of nuclear war?
The book Preparing for Nuclear War—The Psychological Effects answers: “The effect of living in the shadow of nuclear weapons on the aspirations and behaviour of children and adults urgently needs further investigation . . . Here is a potentially vast, ongoing cost to our societies, compounding with interest as generations grow to maturity. What price the dreams of a child?”
Indeed, youths are particularly vulnerable to the lack of a secure future. A recent survey of Australian schoolchildren from 10 to 12 years of age produced comments such as: “When I grow up I think that there’s going to be a war and everyone in Australia is going to die.” “The world will be a wreck—there will be dead creatures everywhere, and the USA will get blown off the face of the earth.” More than 70 percent of the children “mentioned nuclear war as a likely possibility.” Social researchers fear that the lack of a secure future may be partly responsible for the let-me-live-today attitude of many youths, with the resulting search for kicks.
THE ECONOMIC COST: Before the mid-1930’s, world military expenditures were about $4.5 billion (U.S.) per year. But in 1982 the figure had risen to $660 billion. And, as you know, it has kept on rising. To help put such costs in perspective, World Military and Social Expenditures 1983 explains: “Every minute 30 children die for want of food and inexpensive vaccines and every minute the world’s military budget absorbs $1.3 million of the public treasure.” (Italics ours.) And now, in two more years, it has reached $2 million each minute.
When you consider the high price man has paid for war and war preparedness, one thing is certain: On his own, man has not found the “way to lasting peace.” However, ask yourself: Is there a way to worldwide peace and security in our lifetime? From what source can it come? Should you look to the United Nations? If not, how will peace and security be achieved?