r HE Communists have been il conducting their "peace" campaign, with its condemnation of atomic weapons, in ..a m
most skilful and, from their point of view, a most successful manner.
The "peace" aspect of the campaign is not so immediately important, nor in itself so very original.
After all, every sane man is a 99 per cent. pacifist. It is the remaining 1 per cent. which involves his deepest principles which can make him a potential militarist.
Just as we are nearly all for peace, and will only envisage the possibility of war if war seems the sole alternative to the destruction of what we most deeply believe in, so the Communist is nearly all for peace, and will only envisage war if it turns out to be the only way of establishing what he most deeply believes in.
The difference between us here is not really on the question of peace, but on the reasons for war as a last resource. And here the difference is very sharp.
The Communist envisages war to propagate his views; we only envisage war to defend our views. The difference is really between the civilised person who can only envisage war defensively and the barbarian who envisages war offensively, if it be the best way. But though the Communists have a far less easy position to maintain, they have as usual been clever enough to dominate the peace propaganda, and to put us on the defensive.
In fact, we who are trying to eliminate war except as a last defensive resort have been jockeyed into the position of fighting a "cold" war (as the preparation for the " hot" war) against the campaigners for peace.
It is high time that the West began to take this sort of propaganda seriously and demonstrated in effective and popular ways Just how the real position stands.
* * UNFORTUNATELY, serious as this side of the Communist peace propaganda is, it is only a minor vexation as compared with the second Communist string, namely the campaign to condemn all use of atomic weapons.
Here we are dealing with something which quite obviously and genuinely appeals to every human being—and to something which in quite a special way appeals to anyone with a truly spiritual outlook.
For the truly religious person, love, not force, is the legitimate and effective weapon.
In the last resort only, force may be justified as the only possible way of defending at least the material framework within which the spirit has on this earth to act ; nevertheless, we are obliged to confess that even when force has to be chosen, the ultimate consequences, though doubtless better than if we had tamely succumbed to tyranny, are always worse than they were before. Every fight seems to involve at least a temporary deterioration of character ; every war seems to leave the world worse than before.
If all this is true when it is a question of any force, what are we to say of the annihilating quality of force associated with atomic weapons!
IT is no wonder that, in the wake
of the Communist campaign, though not in support of it, the French Bishops have recently condemned all atomic warfare. It would also appear that the Polish Bishops have agreed to sign a statement which Communists at least construe as virtual adhesion, not only to the atom bomb condemnation, but also to the Communist sponsored " peace" campaign. Who, then, with a conscience is not prepared to sign a condemnation of atomic weapons, hideous in themselves and inevitably disastrous to mankind as a whole in their effects ?
Yet before we act on what would appear to be so imperative a demand on a decent human conscience, we at least owe it to ourselves tb realise just what our action involves in these present circumstances.
IT is common ground that, in
defiance of all civilised and pacifiq notions and in defiance, too, of the idealism commonly professed by all the victorious nations of the last war, Soviet Russia has been building up decisively powerful armed forces for the last five years. The fighting display of the North Koreans, armed and trained from Communist sources, is a sufficient indication of the danger which faces civilisation.
Nor. alas, have we the smallest grounds for supposing that, whether an agreement on the abolition of atomic weapons were or were not signed, Communist Russia would not seek to develop atomic weapons.
During this period the West has disarmed. It has done so, largely because of political and economic reasons, civilised democratic regimes being unable to maintain themselves constantly in a state of war preparation. And it has done so because it genuinely believes that war is uncivilised and indefensible save as the last defensive resort.
But faced with the certain knowledge of Moscow policy and
Moscow preparations, America has countered by the rapid development of atomic weapons which, it hopes, will act as a deterrent to a powerfully armed Russia.
It is hard to sec what alternative America had except to remain in definitely fully mobilised for war in partnership with all other free countries,
Whether we like it or riot, such is the situation.
What does it mean in terms of our problem?
IT simply means that anyone who
signs his name to a condemnation of all use of atomic weapons is thereby virtually disarming civilisation and rendering it the helpless prey of what we believe to be a totalitarian barbarism.
Small wonder Russia is extremely keen to obtain as many signatures as possible !
Happily. it is not for us to decide for others so grave a spiritual and moral issue. It is enough that we seek to lay bare what is really involved in the choice; and we repeat—for it is a fundamental issue in the matter—that a wholesale condemnation of all atomic warfare does at present involve the virtual disarmament of the West.
Further, one may fairly indicate that logically at least those who hold that force is justifiable as a last defensive resort will find it hard to show why one quality of force is less justifiable than another.
Surely the only logical position is that, if force is justifiable at all, then the least degree of force that is necessary at the time to defend the material framework within which the spirit can act is the test of what is justifiable.
For our part, we can only leave it at that—and to our readers' views.