Gerard Vanderhaar, professor of religion and peace at Christian Brothers College, Memphis, and chairman of the NEL of Pax Christi US. PEOPLE are deceived when they are led to believe that the new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) means a reduction of nuclear weapons. It is, in fact, a licence to continue the nuclear arms race:. It locks firmly in place the macabre relationship of "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) that exists between the United States and the Soviet Union.
This assessment is inescapable when one sees the details of the Treaty in the context of the present nuclear threat.
The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency personnel, who provided those details at a Conference on SALT for Religious Leaders at the US State Department last October, were hoping to build up support for the Treaty. Most of us who attended the Conference went to Washington favouring SALT IL and were interested in the facts which would back ii up. But the facts that were presented had the opposite effect. They revealed SALT 11 as a legitimation, rather than a limitation, of the nuclear arms race.
"Assured destruction capability" was the phrase with which Robert McNamara defined US nuclear policy when he was Secretary of Defence. In the event of an enemy attack, the United States possessed so many thermonuclear weapons (hydrogen bombs) and such diversified and potent delivery systems (missiles and bombers) that it could assure the destruction of the industrial and population centres of an enemy country. Behind the bureaucratic language lay the promise of widespread retaliatory murder.
The weapons labelled strategic. the subject of SALT, are hydrogen bombs designed to destroy cities, with delivery systems to carry them halfway around the world. The strategy is to win a war by destroying population centres.
The damage that could be caused by a hydrogen bomb was spelled out in a United Nations report in 1967. A one-megaton hydrogen bomb, the average size in strategic arsenals. exploded over a city with a population of
one million, wail kill approximately 270,000 people by blast and fire. Another 90SX.X) will die from the radioactive fallout, and still another 90,000 will be severe') injured. Almost hall' the population of the city will be dead or severely wounded by the one bomb, after the model of Hiroshima.
In 1965 the Second Vatican Council condemned the use of these weapons. "Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or or extensive ;ireas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself.
Both the US and the USSR. under "mutual assured destruction."' intend to commit this crime against God and man. pros ided one side starts LLWar against the other.
I n the mid-1960's. Robert McNamara outlined for Congress his calculus of nuclear destruction. Four hundred warheads would kill 74 million Russians (thirts per cent of the population). and destroy seventysix per vent of the country's industrial capacity. And that, in his estimation. was more than enough. "I would judge that a capability on our part to destroy. say. one-fifth to one-fourth of her population and one-half of her industrial capacity. would . . represent intolerable punishment to any twentieth century nation." he concluded. -Fite US at the time had several thousand strategic nuclear warheads, and was building more. The Soviet Union had several hundred, and was building more.
The first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 1), signed in May of 1972, served the
purpose of escalating the arms race, not limiting it III 1973, the US had 6.784 total warheads on its missiles and bombers: the Soviet Union had 2.200. In 1978, the US had increased its strategic arsenal ie Lass), the Soviets to 4,950. Both sides arc equipping their missiles with several bombs
that can he aimed at different targets (M1RVs Multiple Independent ly-targetable Re entry Vehicles),
High-level Carter administration officials arc urging the American people to support SA LI II as a genuine move towards peace. But a careful reading of the Treaty's details reveals it to he nothing of the sort.
ihe treaas basical Is covers launchers (missiles and bombers). According to State Department figures released at the Conference on SALT for Religious I casters. the superpowers nos hike this strategic equipment: Land-hased Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles: US 1,054, USSR 1,4()0: Seabased Submarine-I aunched Ballistic Missiles: US 656, USSR 950: .1ir-horne long Range Bombers: US 349, USSR L 50; Total Launchers: US 2.059, USSR 2.500.
The first limit of SALT II (previously agreed by President Ford and Secretary Brezhnev at Vladivostok in 1974) is 2.40(1 launchers for each side, varied among the three categories as each side chooses. The US can build to that level from its present total of 2,059: the Soviets will have to dismantle one hundred of their present missiles or bombers.
SA1.1 II says nothing ahem how many hydrogen bombs the two countries can have in their siratepic arsenals. Within the agreed total of 2,250 missiles and bombers. the Treaty calls for each side to have as many as 1,320 of them MIRVed, including bombers equipped with cruise missiles. At present the US has about 1,100 MIRVed launchers, the USSR about 500. Since MI RV
means more hydrogen bombs per launcher. SALT 11 will have the effect of encouraging both sides to put considerably more xvarheads on their missiles,
This ,nets to the real problem ssith LT II. It is bombs, not missiles, that actually explode .over cities and kill thousands of people. Bombs are the basis of
MAD. To put a ceiling on missiles Nv hilt: allowing limitless production of bombs is to evade the heart of the matter,
with or without SALT II. both sides will harden their present missile sites. and build mobile
missiles (the MX) if they choose. With or without SALT II. both
sides will continue their technological refinements. and produce murderous monstrosities like the Trident submarine which alone will have the power to destros 408 separate cities.
SALT II, then, will mean an increase in the number of hydrogen hornhs, an increase in
the number sif multiple warheads and cruise missiles, and an increase (for the US) in the number of delivery vehicles. Because the treaty has received world-wide attention. and because it is solemnly signed by leaders or the superpowers, it represents an internationally acknowledged framework within which the present nuclear arms nice can continue. Although it poses as arms limitation, it is in reality arnts escalation, legitimised by treaty.
First published in Fellowship, the journal of the American section of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
QUAKER caravans for peace have been travelling for a couple of weeks every summer for several years now. They have cOnsister' of a small group or Friends walking or motoring from place to place talking, discussing and teaching peace in like-minded individuals.
In 1977 a Chesterfield Friend had the idea of making such a group a permanent part of the society's witness. He envisaged a brightly painted, flag bedecked vehicle arriving in the town square, disgorging a team of street actors to perform sketches and distribute leaflets on the whole range of "peace issues".
This virion has been taken up, developed and discussed at length to the point where the Quaker Peace Action Caravan is now an official project of the London Yearly Meeting (of the Religious Society of Friends) through its Peace and Service Department. Its first co-ordinator is already working part-time and will become full-time in Apirl 19/01, with the other four members of the team.
Street theatre will only be a small part of the caravan's activities — hearing the British climate in mind. Its use will be in catching the interest of the passer-by, who may not be much concerned with the problems of peace, but who may at least he given pause for thought by this ere catching means.'!'he performing will be backed up by a team of "leafletters", recruited from local peace groups and an adjoining exhibition.
Similar work will he done in schools, both primary and secondary, as well as on the campus of the local university. In these places, however, the peace caravan will have greater time for in-depth presentation and disucssion of the roots of peace, which lie in our ordinary day-to-day behaviour and are nourished by the way in which we treat each other. The team will seek to educate people away from the consuming and competitive society towards a world in which our prime concern is with being our brother's keeper.
The team also plans to run seminars and conferences for teachers and youth leaders and for everyone concerned with the escalation of violence within our society of which nuclear weapons and the arms trade are the pinnacle. Those involved in the
education of the young are in a strong position to loosen the thread of violence that binds together so much of our thinking and so many of our actions and permits military force to be the final arbiter in all our quarrels.
1 he last group to whom the Quaker Peace Action Caravan will address itself are those who are already committed to working for a peaceful world. The sharing of the team's professional skills in performing, speaking, leading discussion and teaching will enable individuals and groups to be even more effective in their work and more coherent in their local activity than at present.
In putting this Mobile Training and Resource Centre on the road the Friends are dipping deeply into their corporate pocket, since the team will be fully paid and the costs of equipment including vehicle, exhibition and petrol are to be met from a three-year budget. But it is an act of faith, not only by the Society of
Friends, but also on the part of the team's workers, who will radically change their present way of life in order to lead this work.
In 1661 George Fox testified to Charles II that "... the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight against any man with outward weapons ..."
Three hundred years later modern Quakers are saying the same thing. The spirit of Christ is unchanging, but the means by which it finds expression are brought up to date from generation to generation.
Readers who would like to be informed of the Quaker Peace Action Caravan's visit to their area should contact the clerk of their local Friends' !Meeting. A visit to every Monthly Meeting is planned during the first fifteen months and your support and presence will be warmly welcomed.