M T McCOWAN, September 4. was carefully argued, yet he does not seem to have understood the completely new situation in which the human race finds itself. This is not 1940. It is all very well talking about "liberty, freedom and peace" but it is the continued existence of the human race that is now in question. for each of the superpowers is now (should God permit it) in a position to destroy the human race several times over.
However, let us suppose that the best (!) occurs as a result of nuclear war. for then its "only" consequences' would be: genetic damage (caused by radiation) to the entire human race into the infinite future, so that babies born centuries hence would often be malformed: and the virtual destruction of much of Europe, including the conversion of the British Isles into radioactive cinders on the Continental Shelf.
A thousand years hence, will many people — if, indeed. there are any — know what was meant by "Soviet Communism" or "American Imperialism"? Perhaps not — but the genetic consequences of a nuclear war in the 20th century would still be with them.
I find it hard to accept M T McCowan's view that a policy that gambles with the very existence of the human race, and that accepts the likelihood of a perversion of our Godgiven physical environment (air, land and water) and of a contamination of the unborn generations, can be described as either moral or realistic.
The Soviet threat to a Western Europe without nuclear weapons could be a-serious one. but. in the course of time, our people would no doubt find ways of working for "liberty, freedom and peace", against Soviet pressure or domination. However. we can hardly struggle if we no longer exist. We can learn a lesson from the histories of the Irish, the Poles. the Armenians and the Kurds: survival is a foundation on which freedom may, perhaps. be built. rather than the other way round.
In any case, the bureaucrats that dominate Soviet society, who no doubt wish to,prove their professional skill by solving internal problems. might consider that the subjection of the hostile peoples of Western Europe would create even more difficulties than the subjection of the Afghans.
Admittedly, this is very speculative: but what is not speculative is our extinction if we continue on the present path.
Although M T McCowan hopes that the "nuclear deterrent" may prevent war, the military planners in the Pentagon seem to be thinking increasingly in terms of an actual conflict — and one in which Europe (West and East) is expendable.
The world is dominated by two superpowers, each of which is understandably terrified of the other. (One of them has. indeed, been invaded three times within living memory. losing twenty million lives in the last invasion alone.) Since each superpower is locked into its perspective of achieving
"safety" by limitle.ss rearmament. it is difficult to see how this spiralling process can end except in catastrophe, sparked off either by design (when the other side is considered to be lagging behind in some vital technological respect) or by pure accident. involving. for example, a fautly computer. • 11 is blindingly obvious that both superpowers cannot, at the same time. negotiate from a position of strength: and our existence since 1945 would not suggest that there is much chance of serious negotiation even when one of the superpowers is in a relatively strong position.
Governments are not the same as people, but it is:worth noting that the present mood of theAmerican people is far more "gung ho" than that of the Russians.
On the other hand. dissident opinion has far more influence in the USA — but whether it has nearly enough influence to turn the course of events is quite another matter.
So the best hope is Western Europe, where a vast popular movement is beginning to stir. Even some of' the Dutch generals have realised the futility of the nuclear illusion.
Many Christians a re understandably inclined to prefer the American superpower to the Russian. because the former is not ofTicially wedded to an atheistic doctrine.
.However. the battered and tortured Catholic peasants of El Salvador and various other Latin-American countries might not consider this distinction very important: and the same is true of those Amerindian tribes in the Amazon basin that face extinctioh because of the activities of American dominated multi nationals, the people of Indo-China that had far more bombs dropped on them than were dropped throughout World War II. and so on.
I do not have to remind M T McCowan of the evils of Soviet because he is obviously aware of them already. Which of the two superpowers seems to be the greatest threat to "liberty, freedom and peace" depends largely on where one happens to be living.
The most we can honestly say is that many parts of the "Free World" are. indeed. more free than any parts of the Soviet world.
It is precisely because there are no easy choices and, indeed, because the outlook seems so black that we should turn to the Christian virtue of hope — and to Christian moral principles. (Prayer should go without saying!) It is difficult to see how a war fought with nuclear, chemical or bacteriological weapons could meet the conditions of a just war.
Denis Pethehridge Banbury MR McCOWAN's appeal for a return to moral values is welcome, but the burden of his letter seems to be that a Blimpish Cathoiiiiissa should
set its I'ace against unilateralism and keep the world locked in its present insane military postures and murderously divisive ,systems.
He cannot be allowed to evade the great moral issues raised by our NATO's readiness to resort to first use of weapons of mass-murder. There is an unassailable moral argument against our being involved in this evil stance: and this argument Mr MeCowan does not begin to confront.
He talks of unilateralists proposing a 'panacea' in a 'flight of fantasy'. Where does he meet these poor fantasists? By contrast he finds the threat to commit mass-murder 'distasteful'. One must presume that he has absolute faith in the wigdom of our masters never to use the damnable things. Who is the fantasist?
If deterrence works, why have the great powers with enough weaponry to liquidate humanity 15 times over. abandoned M.A.D. and gone on towards making first-strike capability more feasible? The next logical steps in nuclear technology are to reduce the time for cancellation and negotiation closer and closer to zero.
Are the 'realists' doing anything to stop them? No, the Government's decision to take Cruise missiles is taking us another step up this 'distasteful' impasse.
Governmental decisions taken secretly and undemocratically have clearly increased the risks of deterrence failing utterly, and have made official explanations ludicrously unconvincing.
Neither can one label unilateralism immoral because the consequences of it are 'manifestly evil'. If by refusing to commit ao evil' act we are bound to suffer evil consequences. this does not justify us in commiting that evil act.
To use nuclear weapons is an act 'against God and humanity far worse than anything else we might contemplate. The 'lesser of' two evils' argument is not so permissive!
Finally, we know that the search since the 1950s for 2iultilateral disarmament has proved a cruel deception and led only to greater build-ups and wider proliferation. Some great nation must be prepared to break out of this evil business for the sake of all humanity. As it is. the people we threaten to burn are God's children as much as we are. Let us try to be truly patriotic, more of a Christian nation and less of a military outpost. Let us think about the survival of Europe, for it is here that the apocalypse will probably occur. Let us above all return to traditional Catholic teaching on War: it is there for all to read and follow. When Mr McCowan calls for a return to moral values. one wonders how the Churches can be taken at all seriously when they attack. hedonism, materialism, and utopian Communism, if at the same ti met hey overlook or even capitulate to the moral enormities inherent in nuclear strategies.
ova, John Prangley