The only occasion when I have taken part in a public demonstration was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was convinced, as I still am, of the Catholic Church's teaching with regard to the conditions to be satisfied if a War is to be deemed 'just'. It is clear to me that a fully nuclear war could never be 'just' because of the principles regarding proportionality. The millions of deaths during and following such a war would be as nothing compared with the damage which would caused to our planet by the thousands of generations of deep radio-active pollution which would ensue.
I was horrified by the nuclear sabre-rattling the other day by Vladimir Putin.
Mind you, his rhetoric was, as far as rhetoric inter arma can ever be, fair and just. It is true that America is the only state which has ever used nuclear weapons. I think it highy probable that Kennedy would have used nuclear weapons if Nikita Khruschev had not been prepared to lose face by ordering his bomb-carrying ships to turn back from Cuba.
We owe a lot to that vulgar little man, an active persecutor of Christianity, for averting the risk. Perhaps we ought also to remember the teenage girl with whom Kennedy was indulging his gross sexual incontinence during the hours of the crisis. 'Camelot', indeed!
Problems of irresponsible danger between nuclear powers raised their heads again in 1999. During the Balkans crisis, an American general called Wesley Clark ordered General Sir Mike Jackson, commander of the British component in the NATO forces, to engage militarily with Russian units. Sir Mike observed "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you." Instead of firing rockets, he drove across to the Russky general with whisky and cigars and established a general-to-general relationship. Some polemophiliac Americans suggested that Jackson's action in refusing a direct order on a battlefield from a superior officer had been illegal, but Queen Elizabeth gave him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.
The other day, Vladimir Vladimirovich could very fairly have shared with his hearers some historical facts. What I find profoundly disappointing is his claim that the history of American policy in this matter somehow gives Russia a "precedent".
Not in a million years.
Vladimir would have shown himself a statesman rather than merely a politician if he had been big enough to say that, despite more than half a century of provocative and immensely dodgy American policies, Russia would, under no circumstances, make first use of nuclear weapons in the Ucrainian theatre.