Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 11, 1999
Nuclear weapons an affront to God
By SENATOR DOUGLAS ROCHE
It had seemed obvious to me that the crisis in world affairs would now be obvious. Maybe not.
Consider the following:
Pope John Paul is devoting much effort to helping the Church and the world understand the magnitude of this transformation moment. We are entering a new era, spiritually and technologically. We should indeed welcome the new millennium in a spirit of jubilee.
But it bodes ill to accomplish the peace we wish one another if we close our eyes to the affront to God that we daily tolerate.
The biggest affront to God and crime against all humanity is the maintenance and continued development of nuclear weapons.
Some Canadians think that because Canada does not possess nuclear weapons we are not involved in this issue. How wrong they are. Canada lives under the NATO nuclear umbrella, which insists that nuclear weapons are "essential." There are 35,000 nuclear weapons in existence today, and 5,000 of them are on constant "alert" status, meaning they could be fired on 15 minutes' notice.
This summer, I went back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see once more the catastrophe that befell both Japanese cities when the atom bomb was dropped on them in 1945.
Canadians have forgotten the unspeakable human misery that was caused then, and are oblivious today to the fact that this country will not be spared the devastating effects of any nuclear exchange in the future.
For many years, the UN and a variety of international conferences have been trying to reduce the danger levels by cutting down on nuclear weapons, stopping testing, and making meaningful progress on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Such elimination is not a fanciful idea; it is called for by international law as expressed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This treaty is now jeopardized by the collapse of the ratification process of the test ban treaty. This is the real importance of the action by the U.S. Senate.
Some have said that domestic U.S. politics got in the way of the ratification process. That is partly true. But the real reason the process failed was because a new unilateralism in the U.S. asserted its political muscle.
This new unilateralism also prevents the U.S. from paying its dues to the UN, which results in the UN operating at near-starvation levels while the forces of war gobble up tax dollars.
Canada must become more active in telling our good friend and neighbour to the south that the U.S. must become part of the solution to world problems, not remain a principal problem.
The elimination of nuclear weapons cannot be done without creating a new security architecture for the world. This means that the growing gap between the rich and the poor must be cut back. Globalization has started to mean that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. This is a formula for increasing wars in the next century.
Similarly, more attention must be paid by governments to the violations of human rights before these violations erupt into genocide. This calls for preventive diplomacy and the allocation of resources into preventing conflict rather than merely cleaning up the debris of wars.
All these components of human security - disarmament, sustainable development, the protection of human rights - should be uppermost in our minds as we turn the calendar to the new millennium.
But I fear that we are in denial about the real condition of our times. We don't want to believe that the world is in a deep crisis. So we go on with the trivial, the distracting events, the inconsequen-tialities of life.
It seems to me that the pope has well recognized the power of this wonderful moment of the new millennium. God is truly giving humanity one more chance to recognize the integral nature of all human rights and to adopt the public policies needed to protect all life on the planet.
Happy Millenium, yes. But we will have to change the present ominous trend lines to enjoy an enduring peace in the era ahead.
(Senator Douglas Roche is author of a new book, Bread Not Bombs: A Political Agenda for Social Justice and is founding editor of the WCR.)
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.