Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Renewed Nuclear Danger: Respond in Faith, Not Fear

There is no doubt that North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon today increases the nuclear danger. North Korea is not likely to start a nuclear war. They clearly developed these weapons as a deterrent against perceived U.S. aggression after Bush named them as part of an “Axis of Evil,” and then invaded Iraq. The third member of the supposed “Axis,” Iran, is pursuing nuclear weapons (probably; it says it is only pursuing peaceful nuclear energy, but others have said the same while developing nuclear weapons) for the same reason. But the more nations with nuclear weapons, the greater the danger of accidental nuclear war. And, although Bush’s speeches about North Korea possibly selling nuclear weapons to terrorists is mostly election rhetoric, that danger, however remote, remains a possibility that cannot be ignored.

There are two paths of response: One is fear-based and leads to new nuclear arms races, preemptive wars with North Korea & Iran, and increases the danger to the entire world. As Norman Solomon points out, the attempt to control nuclear weapons by the hypocrisy of “we can have them, but you can’t” isn’t working. And, North Korea’s nuclear test is more a sign of its own weakness and fear than of strength. Weapons experts point out that Pentagon projects encouraged by Bush, to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in conventional wars, is leading us down a path to nuclear war. And Chris Hedges notes that the apocalyptic “rapture” eschatology embraced by Bush makes nuclear Armaggeddon a sign of Christ’s return rather than a blasphemy against Creation. The fear-based path will lead to a cycle of destruction.

A faith-based response places our trust in God, not in weapons. It opposes nuclear weapons for EVERYONE, including the U.S., UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel (an undeclared nuclear power)–and not just those like North Korea and Iran whom we deem unworthy of the “nuclear club.” If we get rid of the nukes, terrorists cannot use them. Since nukes violate the JWT principles of discrimination (between soldiers and civilians) and proportionality, Just War folk ought to join with pacifists in working to abolish nuclear weapons. The technology cannot be unlearned, but we can refuse to build, keep, or use nuclear weapons. A good place to begin is for individuals and their faith groups to join Faithful Security: The National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger and work on their campaigns. We should respond to this crisis not as Americans (or Britons, etc.), but as persons of faith. Trusting in “horses and chariots,” as the prophets saw long ago, doesn’t lead to greater security, but to more war. Let’s renounce the nuclear idolatry.

October 9, 2006 - Posted by | nuclear weapons, peacemaking


  1. The idea that North Korea pursued nukes because of Bush strikes me as going to the extreme on revisionism. The nuke pursuit was probably started under Reagan or earlier. The agreement that South Korea would feed the North Koreans while North Korea diverted its entire economy to the military (Clinton was president) is clearly what earned it the “Axis of Evil” slot. In the long run, that decision should probably be justified under the cold calculation that either Kim’s nukes might kill a million people or so, but his famines are proven to kill many millions. Why not leave it at that? Why engage in this projection process where Kim Jong Il’s insanity is conveniently transferred to your political enemy?

    Comment by Looney | October 9, 2006

  2. Kim Jon Il is clearly insane and clearly had earlier nuclear ambitions. The agreement that Carter reached with him during the Clinton admin., however, was working–until Bush came to power and IMMEDIATELY cancelled the U.S. part of the deal of supplying nuclear power. Still, North Korea did not start pursuing nuclear WEAPONS again until Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech and then the invasion of Iraq. The timing is no coincidence.

    Further, North Korea TOLD us why it was renewing its nuclear pursuits and what it wanted to stop them: A non-aggression pact from the U.S. Bush’s unwillingness to meet directly (he considers talking with the enemy a reward for good behavior as he has said numerous times; Jesus considered it a command)and refusal to negotiate such a treaty, along with his continued pursuit of “usuable nukes for conventional wars” feeds Kim Jong-il’s paranoia.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 9, 2006

  3. “North Korea TOLD us why it was renewing its nuclear pursuits”

    And you believe them?

    Comment by Looney | October 9, 2006

  4. Yes, because this made sense. IF Bush signed a nonaggression pact, it could easily be on condition of North Korea giving up its nukes and allowing IAEA inspectors in to oversee dismantling, with routine inspections afterword. Pyong-yang had agreed to that before. And, if they didn’t agree, or reneged later, THEN they would be revealed as liars and could face negative sanctions.

    But for us to just dismiss their stated reasons and continue actions that people far more sane than Kim Jong Il would consider aggressive and threatening makes no sense. This is why global polls continue to show the world’s peoples believe Bush to be a bigger threat to world peace.

    Not that Japan and S.K. aren’t plenty threatened now. Not that we can afford to ignore this threat from N.K. But we MUST see the policies of the current U.S. admin. as part of the problem, not part of the solution. That’s not personal against my political enemy (Kim Jong Il isn’t exactly my political FRIEND), it is approaching the world from a just peacemaking approach rather than the bullying approach that Bush and Kim Jong Il share.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 9, 2006

  5. Well, I guess I don’t believe the ealier agreements made the slightest difference to NK’s investment in nuclear weapons. There is plenty of work to do and the vast majority wouldn’t be traceable by the IAEA. Kim Jong Il isn’t stupid either, so when Bush responded to the cheating, he merely announced that he was “restarting” what had never been stopped. Propaganda 101.

    Comment by Looney | October 9, 2006

  6. Jim Jong Il is crazy-not-stupid. Bush is both.

    There is ZERO evidence that N.K. was cheating before the Axis of Evil speech. The Axis of Evil speech was written almost word for word before 9/11 in the depths of the evil NeoCon Think Tank, the Project for a New American Century. Their plan was even posted on their website until enough people post 9/11 began drawing attention to it. Part of that plan was to isolate N.K. and make it (more) paranoid so that Japan would change its constitution and permit U.S. to put “protective” nukes on its soil.

    Kim Jong Il is a true madman who may have been a problem no matter who was in office. I have no intention of minimizing his threat. But Bush and the neocons have made it worse.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 9, 2006

  7. Actually, I was living in Japan (1995-1997) after the Clinton deal and was contacted by the North Korean embassy to provide training on a computer program they got from LLNL. They were cheating.

    Comment by Looney | October 9, 2006

  8. I’m not sure how your living in Japan or lending your computer expertise to N. Korea was able to reveal nuclear “cheating” to you, Looney, but I won’t debate this further.

    You have not addressed the thrust of my post at all, which was to avoid the fear-based response which can only lead to war and embrace a faith-based response that renounces hypocrisy and works for the elimination of nukes for EVERYONE.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 10, 2006

  9. I thought that the thrust of your post was that Kim Jong Il’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons was Bush’s fault!

    I didn’t lend any expertise to NK, but they were trying to acquire expertise which was almost certainly for nukes.

    The Aum Shinrykyo group developed Sarin gas(a WMD) and killed some people in the Tokyo subway. They were threatened by no one. Now we can talk about the wisdom of different approaches, but madmen will still seek WMDs.

    Comment by Looney | October 10, 2006

  10. Read carefully, Looney. I claim that Bush’s rhetoric was a FACTOR, not that it is all his fault. Non-madmen would have chosen other reactions to Bush, after all.

    And you are right that madmen will seek WMDS no matter what. That REINFORCES my major point that we have to get rid of nukes. The fewer there are, the fewer madmen can get–especially terrorists. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach is not working.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 10, 2006

  11. “They clearly developed these weapons as a deterrent against perceived U.S. aggression after Bush named them as part of an “Axis of Evil,” … “

    You blamed Bush for NKs nukes.

    Comment by Looney | October 10, 2006

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