31 March 2021

Nuclear Deterrence

 I would remind some of those who have left comments, that Traditional Catholicism excludes doing something intrinsece malum so that good may come of it. However good an end is, it can never justify an intrinsically evil means. 

This is why PF was wrong in saying, or implying, that the End of enabling people "in second marriages" to live happily ever after, justifies their living in Adultery.

The Catholic Faith applies just as much to the morality of killing people as it does to the morality of having sexual intercourse with people.

Catholic moral teaching cannot be excluded from any human action.

To say that 'theologians interfering in the questions of Nuclear Warfare' is analogous to 'soldiers interfering in Theology' subverts the whole Catholic notion of morality and law. Catholic Morality is not simply about telling people off for genital misdemeanors. There are Ten Commandments.

To condemn theologians for 'interfering in questions of Nuclear Warfare' is as illogical and misguided as condemning theologians for 'interfering with medics in the question of Abortion'.

If you do not believe that Warfare is as subect to the Catholic Ethical Tradition as every other thing a human being does or may do, you are in, shall we say, an anomalous relationship with Catholicism. Just like the Pelosis and the Bidens and the Kennedy clan.


Compton Pauncefoot said...

All this I accept Father. But it does throw up consequences of real difficulty which, as Catholics, we must acknowledge and confront.

Jhayes said...

Canon 29 of the Secondt Lateran Council

29. We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on.

If the enemy has intrinsece malum weapons, the problem is to find defensive weapons that are not intrinsece malum but are unpalatable enough to ensure that the enemy will not use their weapons. .I think that problem has not been solved yet.

Grant Milburn said...

Some days I feel like Charles Ryder: "Why bring God into everything?" But of course you have to.

Compton Pauncefoot said...

Dear Father,
There's a fascinating article by Mary Wakefield in this week's Spectator on the Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor.
Apparently Father Linnane SJ, the President of Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland has ordered that her name be removed from its halls of residence:
'Dear members of the Loyola community, as we take intentional action steps in our equity and inclusion work, the office of equity and inclusion has created a web page where we can share some of the action occurring across the university… I am also forming a presidential renaming committee to evaluate all philanthropic and honorifically named spaces on campus. That committee will determine a process for maintaining and removing building names and develop a rubric for naming and renaming, leading a deliberative, inclusive process that centers our mission, values, diversity, equity, and inclusion in these decisions.’
Mary Wakefield's article quotes O'Connor herself:
'The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally.'

Ben of the Bayou said...

"subverts the whole Catholic notion of morality and law." Spot. on. Father.

We can see that idols come in all shapes and sizes, and ideologies.

E sapelion said...

Ronald Reagan, who thought Mutually Assured Destruction was a mad suicide pact, was sold SDI by the military industrial complex. A 'shield' which would have kept the whole earth under surveillance, and vaporised anything untoward. It has not yet been implemented, Thank God.

Mr Grumpy said...

George Weigel's latest First Things piece describes Easter as "the most explosive experience in human history". I really can't bring myself to read any further.

Michael Leahy said...

We are now in a very difficult situation, analogous to two people with a gun to each other's heads. It was wicked to get into this position, but quite tricky to get out of it. Each fears that if they withdraw their gun, the other-now safe from the mutually-assured-destruction of both firing together-will take the opportunity to fire.

Jhayes said...

In his 1982 Message to the General Assembly of the United Nations, John-Paul II said that deterrence was morally acceptable as “a step on the way” Unfortunately, we are still on that step

“8. In current conditions "deterrence" based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable. Nonetheless in order to ensure peace, it is indispensable not to be satisfied with this minimum which is always susceptible to the real danger of explosion.

What then can be done? In the absence of a supranational authority of the type Pope John XXIII sought in his Encyclical Pacem in terris, one which one would have hoped to find in the United Nations Organization, the only realistic response to the threat of war still is negotiation. Here I would like to remind you of an expression of Saint Augustine which I have already cited in another context: "Destroy war by the words of negotiations, but do not destroy men by the sword." Today once again, before you all, I reaffirm my confidence in the power of true negotiations to arrive at just and equitable solutions. Such negotiations demand patience and diligence and most notably lead to a reduction of armaments that is balanced, simultaneous and internationally controlled”


Ed the Roman said...

Men do not become tyrants in order to keep warm.

Antrodemus said...

Since the intentional murder of non-combatants is "intrinsice malum," so is a deterrence strategy that relies on the conditional intention to commit such murder. On the other hand, it does not seem reasonable to condemn as "intrinsice malum" either a deterrence strategy or a war plan that aims ONLY at military targets, though these may include certain military-industrial or logistics targets that cannot be attacked without "collateral damage." Obviously, Double Effect applies in all these casea--and men of good will can differ in their conclusions about what it is licit to attack and under what circumstances, though all will agree that it is almost impossible to come up with a plausible scenario under which first use of nuclear weapons is justifiable.
If we think about it, it should be obvious that the threat to kill non-combatants is not an efficacious way of deterring bad actors (yesterday's or today's) who value the military power of their state and their own political power more than the lives of their non-combatants. It should be equally clear that the use of nuclear weapons to kill non-combatants is (if my crassness may be excused) a waste of nuclear ammunition that would be better held in reserve to restore deterrence and peace.
Albert Wohlstetter's article in Commentary, June 1983, is--or should be--required reading for anyone who wants to discuss these matters and be taken seriously. Likewise, the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, where we read, "If deterrence fails, the initiation and conduct of nuclear operations would adhere to the law of armed conflict..."
It is a matter of regret that, while many secular "strategists" seem to think that they are entitled to ignore moral considerations, many moral ethicists and theologians seem equally convinced that they know all that they need to know about these matters and seem indisposed to be bothered with facts that may affect their cherished conclusions.