Nuclear weapons and the General Election

Nicola Sturgeon is not the only one raising the question of Trident in the run up to the elections. Martin Birdseye, Justice and Peace representative from Heston in Hounslow, wrote to the Universe last week:
“How shocking to see, in the Easter edition of a Catholic newspaper, a propaganda portrait of a gigantic war machine (“Defence spending is the key to peace in our time” 3rd April 2015). In his article Chris Whitehouse did not tell us that this new aircraft carrier is three times larger than any we have recently deployed. In urging us to maintain defence spending he did not reveal that UK defence spending is the fifth highest in the world, or that our recent good record on overseas aid still only brings it to about one third of defence spending. Even just from the point of view of our security, this ratio should arguably be reversed. From the point of view of followers of Christ, with the Easter message in mind and conscious of our mission to bring love and comfort as opposed to threats and confrontation, it should certainly be reversed.

Chris Whitehouse identifies the time since the end of the cold war as one of increasing danger and threats to our country. In that time, the Warsaw Pact has been disbanded while NATO has pushed right up to the borders of Russia, spending 15 times as much as Russia on defence. In the Middle East the West has reacted with appallingly disproportionate asymmetrical warfare to any provocation by extremist groups or despotic regimes. In terms of civilian death toll the 9/11 atrocity has been repaid more than a hundred fold in Afghanistan. Similar ratios apply to the Iraq war. The net effect has been to devastate these countries, leaving them with ineffective government and vastly greater numbers of uncontrolled weapons. From these two factors come most of the current threats to our security and, probably, the terrible position of Christians in the region.

He completes his analysis by urging that we should retain our nuclear weapons – weapons which cannot be deployed without contemplating things that are clearly opposed to everything else we believe in. Nuclear weapons have been rightly and repeatedly condemned by our church, most recently and forcibly by Pope Francis in his message to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” .

You could hardly ask for a more thorough argument, which Westminster Justice and Peace endorses completely.

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