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vol 8: History
Palm Sunday 1985

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1: About
2: Synopsis
3: Development

Previous: History: Table of contents

4: Glossary
5: Questions

6: Essays
7: Notes
8: History

9: Persons

10: Supplementary
11: Policy



a personal journey to natural theology

This site is part of the natural religion project The natural religion project     A new theology    A commentary on the Summa    The theology company


Palm Sunday 1985

I might look young to you, but I am forty years old. I was born just before the first nuclear bomb was detonated. I have done many different thing sin my life, but at heart I am a philosopher.

I think it is important to tell you why I am a philosopher. As far back as I can remember, since I was a small child, I have lived with a sense of impending doom. I am quite sure nuclear weapons have something to do with this.

So why should I become a philosopher? My answer is that thinking is my antidote to despair. If I can convince myself that everything will be alright, perhaps I can learn to feel that way too.

The question that has worried me for years is this: is peace possible, and if peace is possible, will it last forever if it comes? Lately I have been feeling very optimistic. I think I have found a general proof that peace is possible, and that if we ever manage to achieve world peace, it will last.

For me this is rather like falling in love and having a baby and discovering the holy grail all at once., but it is such a long and complex story that cannot hope to tell you all of it today. If I may be permitted a little advertising, the full story will be on Manning FM Community Radio when it comes to air,

* * * * * * * * *

Let us concentrate on World War III. That is the one we have to win. We all want peace. We are not fighting a war. We are fighting war itself.

Nobody has much respect for a doctor who is afraid of getting blood on his hands, or a priest who does not want to know evil. Wishful thinking will not make war go away any more than it will make cancer go away.

Very few people want to talk about peace. Instead they talk about disarmament. To me, that is avoiding the issue.

War is not caused by arms. War is caused by human disagreement. Arms are the means, not the end. If people want to fight, they will fight with whatever they can lay their hands on. If they want to fight, they will continually look for better weapons, because we all fight to win.

Disarmament without peace is meaningless. No soldier worth tuppence lets go of his gun until he is dead or the war is over. What goes for guns goes for nuclear bombs too. First we must get peace, then weapons will be unnecessary.

So lets forget about disarmament for a while and talk about the real disease, and the peace that must end it. Lets talk about World War III.

* * * * * * * * *

Nazi Germany signed a general surrender in May 1945. The first nuclear bomb was exploded in the United States in July. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed in August, and Japan surrendered soon after.

The atomic bombings were cruel and unnecessary for the defeat of Japan. Japan was already beaten. What is clear is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not just a message to the Emperor of Japan. They were also aimed at the Soviet Union. World War III started before World War II was properly finished.

The United States developed the bomb and thought it could keep a secret. It could not. The laws of nature are there for all to see, and the Russians are no fools. The soon has the atom bomb. They were the first to make a usable hydrogen bomb. Not long afterwards, a new word entered the language: MAD, which means Mutual Assured Destruction.

If World War III comes to a full scale nuclear exchange, nobody will win and the whole planet will be very badly damaged. We know that and we must acknowledge it very clearly. World War III reached a stalemate thirty years ago and all we have heard since is empty rhetoric.

* * * * * * * * *

Every war is different. Nobody knew what World War I was going to be like. When it happened, everybody was shocked, soldiers, generals, politicians, the lot. Nobody, not a single human being, had taken the trouble to sit down and work out just what industrialized war would be like. They soon learnt. It was absolutely horrific.

World War II was different. It was the first scientific war. It was the first global war. It was the first big war which killed more civilians that soldiers. World war II was a war of propaganda and intelligence. It forced computers on us.

World War III will be different again. This time we have predicted what it will be like. Computers have some used. What we know with certainty is that Mutual Assured Destruction really is Mutual Assured Destruction.

* * * * * * * * *

What are we going to do? Why don't we talk about peace?

Last year I helped to write a book on uranium and nuclear weapons. It was my first close contact with the peace movement for many years. I wanted to put in a chapter about peace. Too risky, they said. Why? Because it sounds like communism. Its too left wing. It will turn people against us. I wondered about that , but now I see what's going on.

Wars usually end in the same way. First one side surrenders. Then thee are peace talks. At the peace talks, the winners dictate their terms. The losers are often disarmed. This is what happened to German and Japan.

In the old days, peace came after the surrender, not before. In those days, people who talked about peace before the surrender were suspect, potential traitors, collaborators with the enemy. I think old habits die hard. This is why we find it hard to talk about peace.

Mutual Assured Destruction has completely changed the nature of war. There is no victory in nuclear war. There will be no surrender. Mutual Assured Destruction means that both sides are equal and unconquerable.

Neither side will win, because when t comes to nuclear weapons, everybody will lose. That is what Mutual Assured Destruction means.

Mutual Assured Destruction changes everything, if only we could see it. We are not going to surrender and they are not going to surrender. We are not going to disarm and they are not going to disarm. To disarm before peace is suicidal. What are we to do?

* * * * * * * * *

There is nothing new about Mutual Assured Destruction. I could quite openly buy enough poison to kill all of you in the main street of Taree. Every day on the road I hold other people's lives in my hands. We have lived with Mutual Assured Destruction since the invention of lethal firearms. These days it is child's play to kill another human being.

Yet the streets are not full of dead bodies. How do we deal with this lethal situation? Quite simply we have learnt to settle our differences without murder. We have decided that we are al equal, and that life is sacred. No person has the right to use violence or murder to force his point of view upon another.

Individual people can live with Mutual Assured Destruction. The groups of people we call nations must learn to do the same. Since the invention of Mutual Assured Destruction the Russians have become our equals and we have become their equals.

So we must learn to deal with each other as equals. We cannot conquer them or dominate them any more than I can conquer you or you can conquer me. Since the invention of Mutual Assured Destruction, war has ceased to have a useful place in global affairs.

* * * * * * * * *

These facts make the way to peace very clear. There will be no victory. There will be no surrender, t the peace talks must begin now. They will not be peace talks between victor and vanquished. They will be peace talks between equal people.

Will people accuse us of collaborating with the enemy? Perhaps they will, because they do not understand the unique nature of World War III. No harm can come of such peace talks. They do not presuppose disarmament. Mutual Assured Destruction can remain in place. I do not think there will ever be nuclear disarmament, but I do think there will be stable world peace.

peace does not require surrender, peace does not require victory. All that it requires is that we settle our murderous differences. We cannot settle them by nuclear war, so we must settle them by negotiation. I see no other way.


Instead of sitting around waiting for the war to happen and talking endless useless words about disarmament, we must have the courage to think about peace, and we must have the courage to do something about it ourselves.

So how do we sort out our differences. Who are the real enemies in World War III?

It is easy to say that the Russians are our enemies or the American are our enemies. Or perhaps it is the Russian Government, or the American Government. It is easy to take sides, but it is wrong. It is just as wrong as the idea of a winnable nuclear war, because it divides the world into us and them.

Whenever we divide the world into us and them, you can bet that we think that us us the right side. This might be alright for football, because football is a winnable game.

Mutual Assured Destruction changes that. In World War II, either everybody wins or everybody loses.

Now Sherlock Holmes was a very scientific detective. He said look at al the evidence, and look at all the possibilities. Most of the possibilities will not fit the evidence. The possibilities that are left, no matter how weird or outrageous, must be the answer.

I have tried to do this. There is a war coming, World War III. It is unlike any war we have ever had, because neither side can possibly win. if we fight, we all lose. If we do not fight, we all win.

The only conclusion i can draw from this is that we are our own enemies. If we, that is everybody on the planet, cannot overcome our need to fight World War III, then we are finished., We will go the way of the dinosaurs, with no excuse, because we are doing it to ourselves.

* * * * * * * * *

This has been a long and difficult talk for a Sunday afternoon, but I do not apologize. We must sacrifice as much for peace as our mothers and our fathers did. We must sacrifice all those old ideas that lead to war.

There will be tears, but not much blood and sweat. We are in the age of intelligence now. What we need to survive is the willingness to face new ideas and new feelings. We really have to learn to love one another. Jesus of Nazareth told us that back in the days of the Roman Empire, and he was not wrong. I do not think Christianity is necessary for peace, but love certainly is. No love, no survival.

What does love mean. In our hearts, it may be a different thing for each one of us, but in public, I think it is just one thing. It is the willingness to enter into detailed and honest communications with other people, no matter what the risk.

That is what the planet needs. Lying and political bullshit will kill us all. Honest and respectful communication around the planed it our only salvation. I am sure of this..




Barnaby, Frank, How to Build a Nuclear Bomb and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, NationBooks 2004 Book Description: 'Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are the greatest threat to national security in the twenty-first century. How to Build a Nuclear Bomb explains what it takes for a rogue state or terrorist group to obtain and use them. But nuclear weapons and terrorism expert Frank Barnaby has not written a collection of scare stories. His purpose in How to Build a Nuclear Bomb is to counteract the "misinformation, often put out for propaganda purposes" and general ignorance on this most urgent of topics. Barnaby describes, in straightforward, non-sensational terms what is involved when a state or a terrorist group sets out to make a weapon of mass destruction, what they are capable of doing, and what is needed to produce one. By outlining the parameters of the problem, Barnaby is able to accurately gauge the threat that WMD pose, arguing that counterterrorist measures urgently need to be stepped up to meet the challenges of a new era of international terror.' 
Divine, Robert A, Eisenhower and the Cold War, Oxford University Press 1981  
Howard, Michael, The Causes of Wars and other essays, Unwin Paperbacks 1983  
Krass, Alan S, and Pete Boksma, Boelie Elzen, Wim A Smit, Uranium Enrichment and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation, Taylor and Francis 1983  
Macy, Joanna Rogers, Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age, New Society Publishers 1983 Introduction: 'This book is a guide to despair and empowerment work. The term refers to the psychological and spiritual work of dealing with our knowledge and feelings about the present planetary crisis in ways that release energy and vision for creative response. ... The work overcomes patterns of avoidance and psychic numbing; it builds compassion, community and commitment to act.' (xiii) 
Prins, Gwyn, Defended to Death: A Study of the Nuclear Arms Race, Penguin Books 1983  
Sagan, Carl, and Richard Turco, A Path where no Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race, Random House 1990  
Schlesinger, Stephen, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Super Powers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies & Enemies and Their Quest for a Peaceful World, Westview Press 2003 When President Roosevelt died in April 1945, the plans for a United Nations suddenly fell into peril. Many wondered if the unassuming new president from Independence, Mo., would postpone the long-planned San Francisco conference scheduled to begin in two weeks' time. But Truman's commitment to the global organization was steadfast. For the previous 50 years, he had carried in his pocket a folded piece of paper with the words of his favorite poem, "Lockesley Hall," by Alfred Lord Tennyson: "Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd/In the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World./There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe/And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law." Thus, nothing halted the gathering of delegates from all over the world to discuss the thorny issues that would be addressed in the U.N. charter. Most of Schlesinger's book covers the nine-week San Francisco conference, a fascinating web of intrigue, power and greed. Most interesting is the performance by the American secretary of state, Edward Stettinius, chief overseer and coordinator of the conference. While his ability was doubted and he was criticized by many, Stettinius performed brilliantly, according to Schlesinger, who credits him with the conference's success. Whatever the reader's opinion of the U.N. and its current role, Schlesinger, director of the New School University's World Policy Institute, provides a masterful account of the drama acted out on the pressure-filled stage of San Francisco. He handles the complexities with ease and provides the reader with an engaging and thorough account. 16 pages of b&w photos. 40,000 first printing. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. 
SIPRI, (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), Nuclear Radiation in Warfare, Taylor and Francis 1981 Jacket: 'This book examines the wide range of methods of exploiting the acute and long-term effects of radiation in nuclear weapons. It documents the various kinds of radiation which result from nuclear explosions and the factors affecting biological response to radiation. The biological effects of radiation on man are described in some detail, and the difficculties of making a quantitative estimate of casualties in a nuclear war are explained.' 
SIPRI, (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), and Bhupendra Jasani (ed), Outer Space: A New Dimension of the Arms Race, Taylor and Francis 1982  
TEC, Independent Committee of Inquiry into the Nuclear Weapons and Other Consequences of Australian Uranium Mining, Australia and the Nuclear Choice, Total Environment Centre 1984 Jacket: 'This report of the Independent Inquiry into the consequences of our uranium mining is the first community inquiry of its kind in the world. It considers the nuclear dilemma; the effects of nuclear war; problems of the fuel cycle, including environmental, occupational and waste disposal hazards; the political economy of nuclear energy, and the problem of controlling the build-up of nuclear arsenals.' 


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