A Terrible Irony

Yesterday we read of the death of Joachim Ronneberg, the brave Norwegian who, with five others, in a daring raid on Rjukan, Telemark, in 1943 effectively put an end to Nazi attempts to develop an atomic bomb. We also read of President Trump’s threat to start another arms race by withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, I’m sure I’m not alone in seeing here a terrible irony. In eighty years we have swung from thinking nuclear war a bad thing, to be avoided at all costs, to relying upon a nuclear arsenal to ‘keep us safe’. I’m not an expert in what keeps people safe from war or violence, but I have a hunch that those who amass weapons are inclined to use them or, at least, become more casual about using them when they perceive a threat to something they value. The world’s leaders usually have bunkers to go to; it is the ordinary man, woman and child who must bear the brunt of the violence. We saw that in Japan at the end of World War II. Pray God we never see it again.

So, why do I write about this today? It is for the simple reason that, although it is our leaders who decide issues of war and peace, we, as citizens, have a huge responsibility to hold our leaders to account, to make our views known and not allow the world to blunder into another war — one in which we know there will be no winners. If we don’t, we give our leaders carte blanche to perpetrate whatever wrong they choose. No one in their right mind would choose destruction, but it has often been the unintended consequence of not being challenged or failing to foresee the consequences of certain policies or actions. Today I’m praying for wisdom and restraint in China, Russia and the U.S.A. and in all those lesser states, like North Korea, that will be taking a keen interest in how the world reacts.


8 thoughts on “A Terrible Irony”

  1. Thank you for putting these things into perspective.

    As someone who spent the best part of their adult life in the Armed Forces, where the prospect of Nuclear Conflict was a high risk, and we trained and prepared for such routinely. Off course the treaties between the USSR and the rest of the Armed Camps in the world, particularly the USA eased tensions, but didn’t abolish the risk entirely.

    We as a nation retain a Nuclear capability via the Submarines at Faslane but we now intend to spend obscene amounts to renew a capability just because others retain their capability. And I am aware that the UK reserves the right to use such weapons in a Strategic way if the UK or their allies are threatened or attacked.

    I am now a pacifist as far as war is concerned. I accept that countries have the right to have the capability to defend themselves, but the use of Nuclear, Chemical or Biological weapons in conflict are indiscriminate and could have unintended consequences (which always happens in armed conflict) and lead to the destruction of the whole of our civilization.

    Mr Trump is as always, playing to his audience, but withdrawing from the treaty to control medium sized Nuclear weapons is foolish and dangerous and sends signals to those who want them, that it’s OK and Manly to possess and to use them. Shame on him and those who advise him, many of whom are Evangelical Christians.

    • Thank you. I do wonder whether the mid-term elections have played a major part in Mr Trump’s thinking. At least we have had no obvious immediate tit-for-tat from Russia, but the catalogue of chemical weapon usage in Syria and the way in which Russia and China go about liquidating dissidents, etc. is truly horrific.

  2. It is chilling to think we may return to a Cold War scenario again. As you say, we can hold our leaders to account but we can also strive for peace within ourselves and avoid petty conflicts.

  3. “The world’s leaders usually have bunkers to go to; it is the ordinary man, woman and child who must bear the brunt of the violence.”
    The ordinary man and woman work in the factories that supply the means by which their leaders continue wars. Japan had several opportunities to surrender but were determined to fight on to the bitter end. That would have cost more allied lives.

    The last cold war finished because Reagan challenged the USSR to an arms race that it couldn’t afford. Reports suggest that Russia is in a similar economic position and it is about time Putin’s bluff was called.

    • You are, as always, entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. A lot depends on where one lives and one’s experience which tends to shape how one views history and interprets it.

  4. Thank you, dear Sister Catherine, for your relevant insight on this most important issue. It is bad enough that nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems exist. That we have political leaders who seem prepared to abandon the peace agreements renders us, the general populace, even more at risk than ever.
    Our dear saviour, Lord Jesus, came with only words of peace and love to save us from this sort of evil. He must still be weeping at the atrocities committed by armed men over the last two millennia. All we can do is pray, preach and protest in the hope that more and more people see the evil in these weapons and in the leaders who seek to use them.
    May the Lord bring us eternal peace and deliver us all out of the way of war.

  5. I understand that the need to protect yourself and the innocent may require some armed preparation but it seems clear that the posturing between powerful nations is currently far more about money and tactics to increase influence. Violent acts against civilians in embassies or on the streets of Salisbury do not cause leaders to rush to action. Soft options are used – probably to save money or influence…

    So the use of terrible weapons is not about keeping “us” safe, perhaps we should all pray that our governments seek social justice, peace and prosperity without the need to stockpile and threaten to use the worst technology we have managed to invent.

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