Soldiers' Dilemma of Conscience
SIR,-The discussion on war and weapons in your columns has run to great lengths, but are we any nearer -to answering or even facing the questions on which statesmen and generals (and, in matters of conscience, serving soldiers) must make their moral decisions?
Modern war between great industrial nations is, and must be. total war. Every city becomes an arsenal. for more than half the active population below, both men and women, are at work on the sinews of war.
If the war is just and all things are 'proportionate. etc. such cities seem as much lawful targets in their industrial areas (which may well be the entire city) as any fleet at sea. 'they seem lawful targets for A-bomb or H-bomb.
We can save ourselves any hairsplitting about " proportionate" means because, in a modern war between great industrial powerblocks, the speedy reduction of such industrial potential will be decisive for victory.
We have no right to approve the shield if the means of making it are immoral. Moralists must answer the real issues of modern war, not more convenient questions of their ,own posing which are irrelevant to the facts of life. The real issue is whether a major war is lawful for any cause, in the modern world, and whether there can ever be, in fact, not in theory, a cause proportionate to excuse the horrors which in war are permissible under the moral law to avoid the greater evil of defeat. and also those further horrors and excesses which are always perpetrated beyond any military necessity by bitterly lacerated contestants in the last phases of the struggle.
It ought to be borne in mind that to deny the use of A-weapons, and perhaps H-weapons, in the reduction of the industrial potential is to deny the moral permissibility of modern major war.
This ultimate question of the permissibility of major war in the modern age seems so grave that it would need a declaration from the highest magistracy in the Church to rule against it, whether the ruling was direct, or indirect by the prohibition of certain types of weapon.
In fact the Church would be calling on Christian men and Christian nations to go to crucifixion rather than defend themselves by such "proportionate" means. It may come to that; that may be the answer.
In the meantime. in fairness to young men who enlist or are called to the colours, we can remind ourselves that a total attack by the Communist powers against " the West " would represent the ultimate evil justifying the ultimate permissible moral sanction in weapons of war.
It would be like the devastating march of Islam across Spain and Eastern Europe in past days, a total war indeed. the total destruction of the Faith and its values, nationhood and culture. every value for which a man may take the sword, and for which, in desperate cases, on rome occasions in the Old Testament the Israelites (let us face it) were commanded to wage total war. The alternative would have been the annihilation or total corruption of the Messianic providence of God on earth.
Not every province of Christendom lost by heresy and the sword -they have nearly always gone together-has been regained in later years, as we know in our own land, and is the moral evil and the loss worse than the most extreme physical destruction? I personally do not think so: Not by bread alone does man live...."
Even in the matter of the radioactive fall-out, etc., can we be sure that the misery. servility, and stress of life under a Government such as that which presses upon Hungary cause any less disease, both personal and hereditary. than "fall-out"?
What of the sickness and neurosis caused by the broken homes and the evil living of our own sodnmitical generation in the West? Why pick on one largely unknown cause of physical suffering, when sin in every form causes gross and obvious sickness in mind and body?
In short. Sir. the next great war might well be an ultimate war, and the conqueror something of an ultimate conqueror, for he would have no rival possible on earth. He could show himself to the people as if he were God: he could possibly obliterate the Church totally
from earth, and precipitate the end of the world.
It may come that way, I do not profess to know, but until the Church solemnly calls us to abandon war in self-defence and follow the Lamb of God to the Cross, we ought not to trouble the minds of our youngsters and put them in bad Faith.
For, if that war is permissible. it would he the most necessary. and therefore the most just, of the crusades. whatever the price, and so would I for one regard it-saving the assurance of the Church that it cannot be. and only the ultimate weapon. the Crucifixion, can now redeem the time. for the days are most evil. (Fr.) Edward Holloway, S.T.L.
Chertsey Road, Windlesham.
Bombs : Clean or Dirty
SIR,-Readers of Canon Drink water's letter in your issue of last week might conclude that I was the first to tell the world about small and relatively clean H-bombs. Their existence has, in fact. been well-known to interested scientists for some years, but not, unfortunately, to many of those who discuss the morality of nuclear weapons.
The important point is that an Ji-bomb causes less radioactive contamination than an A-bomb of the same destructive power and so, when Canon Drink water writes " the targets mentioned by Fr. Donnelly could all be dealt with by an A-bomb, so there would be no justification for letting loose the extra superfluous and indiscriminate destruction of the H-bomb". he would have been scientifically accurate if he had said Fl-bomb where he says A-bomb. and vice versa. P. E. Hodgson