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.
Thank you, Father
As we hear the drums of war beat ever louder and we slowly but inexorably approach August 1914, what you wrote is so very important.
May God, in His inscrutable wisdom, protect and bless you - and all the readers of your blog.
Putin's words "By the way, they set a precedent" are, in context, a mere aside, in the middle of a passage expressing abhorrence for 20th century total war. I checked this (albeit, not knowing Russian, I am reliant on Google Translate) as soon as I worked out that this speech was being selectively reported in Western media.
Fr Hunwicke, I have been following the Russian/Ukraine conflict since 2014, trying to find every angle on it, since the British media seems to be zelensky's loud speaker system. What I have heard Putin say consistently is, that he will not submit to American/Nato 'nuclear blackmail' and that, if Russia is attacked or threatened in any way, he will use every means at his disposal to defend her. I have not heard him threaten a stand-alone, non-defensive, nuclear attack. It was America that started the narrative that Putin would use nuclear bombs, not Putin. It was as if, and still is, they were goading him to do so.
On the historical note about the Cuban Missile Crisis, what is usually not mentioned by fawning “historians” of the “JFK-American-Camelot,” is that the USSR put nukes in Cuba within close range of US cities to force the USA to remove already existing US nukes stationed in Turkey within close range of the USSR. Kruschev and the USSR got the US to “quietly” remove its nukes in Turkey, snd then the USSR removed its corresponding nuke threat from Cuba. It was a smart chess move, and USSR got what it wanted.
Dear Father. This is O.T. but you will love this post by Prof Esolen
I believe that nuclear weapons are irrelevant between two powers which both have them. No-one would dare fire them at an enemy similarly armed - the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine holds good. Not even Putin would have the cojones to make a nuclear first strike, and I doubt that Kennedy had the nerve to do so either. I do not worry about nuclear war - it's very, very unlikely to happen.
No rational person would consider the use of nuclear weapons anything but disastrous - emphasis on ‘rational’. Unfortunately rationality seems to be in short supply among certain ‘leaders’ past and present. It was not rational for Hitler to attack Russia and have to fight on two fronts, ignoring history and Napoleon’s experience.
Neither is it rational for those in the US Government and the EU financing the Ukraine conflict to achieve ‘regime change’ in Russia. But this is what happens when we are lead by incompetents – starting with Biden and his war- mongering Administration.
Rev Fr, Putin has since the Second Chechen War (between Russia and Ichkeria) of 1999 to 2009 spread misery and death. The provocation of the apartment bombings for that is credibly considered to be an FSB false flag. That war was the first of many wars where civilians were directly targeted and prisoners subjected to sick acts of degradation. There is no possible way the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity which overthrew a still hated kleptocrat Yanukovich can count as provocation, which appears unfortunately (but hopefully not) to be implicit to your argument. Decades of war on his neighbours and his own people, is no right of any country. We could well see the very fall of the Evil Empire, which savagely persecuted Catholics, the end of the degraded neo-Soviet Putinist age, so it is sad that Catholics still seem to believe the bad faith arguments of Putin's minions. The fall of Yanukovich was followed by the seizure of a bit of the decrepit and heavily subsidised Donbass and Crimea, neither of which are Russian. Putin and his crew like Kadyrov only have nuclear threats. They love their luxurious life too much to carry them out. The only end to this story is their end.
Given how Pope Francis refuses to criticise Putin (over Ukraine) or Red China (over Cardinal Zen), in a veritable coalition of bullies, Catholics should know that giving in to bullies never works.
Dear Father. Perhaps the most famous of all living experts on the art of war is this gentleman from Israel and he posted a guest piece about nuclear war by the American Bill Lind.
Your readers may find it interesting;
In the meantime, we can all be haunted by this eerie prophesy
Zacharias 14: 12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord shall strike all nations that have fought against Jerusalem: the flesh of every one shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
Dear Fr H
Please see this article by John Helmer - highly credentialled in both Russia and the west on geo-political matters - for deep insight into just who is threatening whom with nuclear weapons first use; not to include the almost daily madness on the same subject by senior western politicians too nummerous to mention.
President Putin has merely reiterated his country's published policy on nuclear weapons use and stressed that Russia will use 'all the weapons at its disposal, in the event of an existential threat (as, for example, has our very own Liz Truss) - but with his recent ominous addition that "...this is not a bluff"
Our problem in the West is that 'We are good and Russia is bad', so Russia is either not listened to or its statements go unreported except in the most lurid and scathingly offensive terms.
In support of Prayerful, Russia is in fact bad. We may not be entirely good, but Western powers have never this century sunk to the depths of waging war and attempted ethnic cleansing which is a routine policy in Russia. The Muscovite Mindset, as developed for centuries, feeds a totally skewed world view , which leads to a belief that their motherland is under existential threat from a predatory western culture. Because the only approach the Russian polity understands is to lash out and take any illegal and unethical steps to advance their position they cannot comprehend that the civilised world attempts, often not as successfully as one would wish, to support Christo-Judaic values and the rule of law. Putin is a gangster who has made his way to power through the unscrupulous deployment of money and assassination.
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