I READ with considerable regret that Pax Christi is pressing for Catholic support for unilateral nuclear disarmament on the grounds that nuclear weapons, and nuclear strategies, are all intrinsically wicked. August 21. No one more than I realises the terrifying power of nuclear weapons and I do appreciate that, at the moment. as was so carefully explained in The Times recently by Mr John Barry. NATO strategists are aware of the need for an overhaul of current deterrence theory, primarily because of the astonishing scale of Soviet rearmament in recent years.
However. the fact that nuclear weapons are terrifying and that NATO is politically and militarily unsure of itself is not a reason for supporting the dangerously attractive concept of unilateral nuclear disarmament. least of all on moral grounds. The political and military factors associated with the nuclear balance art complicated and the dash for the supposed panacea of unilateralism is fraught with danger and reduces the possibility of attaining a stable and satisfactory solution.
The most mystifying unilateralist doctrine is. as Dr Edward Norman has put it the miraculous transformation of human nature which apparently provides that one party in a conflict will cease offensive activity just because the other throws down his means of defence."
The simple fact that unilateralists do not appreciate is that once disarmed, a country is at the mercy of an enemy with nuclear weapons.
When unilateralists say there is no reason why this enemy should wish to use his nuclear weapons against his non nuclear opponent, they are unwittingly acknowledging the fact that deterrence has so far prevented one party from mounting a nuclear attack on the other because of the danger of retaliation.
There is nothing particularly moral about unilateralism when it opens up the possibility of blackmail exploitation and extermination.
Through deterrence those unilateralists who claim that they seek to destabilise both NATO and the Warsaw Pact through public opinion have, as the Times editorial recently put it "been misled by the special circumstances of Poland into exaggerating the potential power of public opinion in the Warsaw Pact."
In fact, if their well meaning meddling were to become in any way noticeable among dissident groups behind the Iron Curtain. the likelihood is that the Soviet govern ment would not hesitate to violently repress (no doubt with the aid of nuclear blackmail if Western Europe had already disarmed) those who were seekirig to promote such ideas in the East.
Above all. they would prObably seek to deal with those in the West who had spread the idea in the first place, After all the USSR wielded its iron fist over less serious issues in East Berlin in 953, in Hungary and Poland in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Hence, attempts to destabilise both blocks from below are most likely to lead to the extinguishing of any independence that has been gained in Eastern Europe most notably in Poland. and the overt Soviet coercion of Western Europe as well.
Besides at a time when the USSR can ill afford to buy Western food surpluses, technology and expertise. all of which it badly needs for its own ailing economy and when the need for such commodities is even greater given the Eastern block's internal tensions, the temptation to 'rob a unilateralist Western Europe through nuclear blackmail must become ever greater.
The concept of people delivered into internal bondage sounds totally unrealistic but. so far as 1 can see, this possibility' becomes all too given the unilateralists' dual wish of an end to NATO and a non nuclear Europe, plus a nuclear Warsaw Pact.
Guerilla warfare and passive resistance would be untenable in the face of nuclear blackmail and he who controlled the bomb would be the arbiter of life. death and liberty.
Given the nature of Soviet government it is unlikely that those with their hands on the nuclear trigger will be of atruistic or liberal temperament.
To support unilateralism is to connive at its consequences and. if these are manifestly evil. support for unilateralism has a strong thread of immorality within it.
Those who say the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral presumably wish them to be eventually banned from the face of the earth-. Since man does not yet know how to uninvent an invention. this is manifestly impossible. The information for developing such weapons will always exist and. given human nature, there will always be those who wish to build such weapons for offensive purposes.
Short of a complete revolution in human nature. which the doctrine of original sin would seem 10 discount the only way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons as a means of coercism is for those who treasure liberty. freedom and peace to possess such weapons and, despite the undoubtedly distasteful and terrifying nature of the subject to work to deter potential aggressors from using these weapons.
Such an approach, coupled with a renewed search for multilateral dis armament, will undoubtedly require much care, patience. hard work and debate and will not be easy.
However, such work towards peace and liberty seems to me to be lair more realistic. sincere and infinitely preferable to ignoring serious practical problems and launching into flights of fantasy by searching for what de Gaulle would have called reassuring panaceas.
The Catholic Church (which today seems to me to lack the courage to face up to materialism. the infatuation with hedonism. and Utopian Marxism) must take an independent stand on the nuclear issue and. above all. avoid mounting the unilateralist bandwagon and helping to reduce a complex issue to the level of such dangerously attractive platitudes and aphorisms as "Ban the Bomb," "No Crime". "Make Love, not War" and "Fight War. not Wars."
M T. McCowan Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs.
1 ADD my voice to the increasing number of your contributors writing about nuclear weapons.
I decided many years ago that there could be no circumstances in which nuclear weapons could be used morally, and recent events. have not made me change my mind. The first duty which arises out of such a decision is to make your views known and do what you cart to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
There is a perfectly legal way to avoid paying the proportion of income tax which the Government would use for the purchase of nuclear weapons. It is to sign a Deed of Covenant in favour of a charity (say ('arod) which would use the tax reclaimable in an acceptable way. The individual can to a considerable extent determine how his tax is spent.
A letter indicating what has been done could be sent to the Secretary of State for Defence or the Prime Minister., C .1 Feetenby Leeds