Pacem In Terris 109-111: Causes of the Arms Race

The discouraging days of the Cold War are over, but Church teaching on military build-up is still with us:

109. On the other hand, We are deeply distressed to see the enormous stocks of armaments that have been, and continue to be, manufactured in the economically more developed countries. This policy is involving a vast outlay of intellectual and material resources, with the result that the people of these countries are saddled with a great burden, while other countries lack the help they need for their economic and social development.

The arms race, as it existed, and as it still exists is a robbery of one’s own citizens, a destabilization of the world, and a lack of responsibility for the poor.

110. There is a common belief that under modern conditions peace cannot be assured except on the basis of an equal balance of armaments and that this factor is the probable cause of this stockpiling of armaments. Thus, if one country increases its military strength, others are immediately roused by a competitive spirit to augment their own supply of armaments. And if one country is equipped with atomic weapons, others consider themselves justified in producing such weapons themselves, equal in destructive force.

111. Consequently people are living in the grip of constant fear. They are afraid that at any moment the impending storm may break upon them with horrific violence. And they have good reasons for their fear, for there is certainly no lack of such weapons. While it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance. Moreover, even though the monstrous power of modern weapons does indeed act as a deterrent, there is reason to fear that the very testing of nuclear devices for war purposes can, if continued, lead to serious danger for various forms of life on earth.

While we no longer live in fear of worldwide holocaust, many innocent people do have a different outlook on their personal safety, and the security of their corner of the world. Some, such as those who suffer in many Middle Eastern countries, experience it as a constant reality. Even the citizens of “economically developed countries” experience the shadow of violence. Not to mention the pretense for denial of rights or the misuse of resources to fight what may well be prevented–if only international relations could be conducted with more good sense and mutual respect.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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