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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion At Victoria University College, Wellington, N. Z. Vol. 24, No. 4. 1961

For Nuclear Disarmament

For Nuclear Disarmament

Why do I support Nuclear Disarmament? That is a very hard question to answer, even at Salient's request, at such short notice. I suppose, basically, because I do not believe that anyone has the right to condemn anyone else to death, let alone, to destroy millions, and, very probably, the entire human race, by a nuclear war; as the American and Russian leaders have the means to do and, to judge from their utterances, the willingness also.

Make no mistake about it—there is no defence against a nuclear war.

"In present circumstances, it is impossible effectively to defend this country against an attack with hydrogen bombs."—Mr Duncan Sandys, British Minister of Defence.

"There is no such thing as a nation being prepared for a thermonuclear war."—Mr Val Peterson, U.S. Civil Defence Chief.

The bomb is in fact like a fire—extinguisher-use of which is guaranteed to burn down the house. There is a lot more that could, and should, be said against the "bomb" as a deterrent, as a weapon of war, about nuclear testing, and the genetic effects of such tests, but unfortunately time and space just do not permit me to deal with these problems.

These matters concern me, but not as vitally as another problem; the piling up of armaments, while some two-thirds of the world goes hungry. America's budget devotes a little over 50 per cent, of her revenue towards armaments—amounting in all to some 10 per cent of her gross national income, while a similar amount of Russia's national income goes in the same way. Even so desperately poor and under-developed a country as Pakistan under Western pressure spends 50 per cent, of her revenue on armaments. New Zealand is unique, in the West at any rate, in spending more on education than defence. It is this gearing of the world to death, thus allowing millions to live in a state of semi-starvation, that I oppose. I hope no one would consider it a moral policy to pile up armaments, devoting all our available income to this end, while millions in Asia and Africa exist—barely—on a sub-human level. This policy is eminently selfish and stupid as well.

I support Nuclear Disarmament because of these reasons, regarding it as a necessary stage towards what should be our ultimate goal—total disarmament. So that aid to go to the Asians and Africans to help solve the deeper problems of human misery, distrust and fear which are the basic causes of war.

For me, as for many others, the Nuclear Disarmament movement is worth supporting not only because of the immediate ideal but also because it represents a great popular upsurge of protest against the hate and fear of the war-ridden and supporting world that created and maintains the bomb. The Protestants in the Reformation knocked about statues of saints, etc., not only because they disliked statues but also, and far more important, because it was an attack on the ideas and organisation those statues represented. So, in the same way the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain is for many a protest not only against the Bomb, but also against the whole attitude that lies behind it. The politicians and the "machine" governments that take no account of human lives or human suffering, the division of the world into warring factions, the recourse to violence to solve problems, are all indirectly at least repudiated by the movement.

The spirit that, I hope, we march in is perhaps best expressed by a Nuclear Disarmament song, "The Family of Man" and by one verse in particular.

"From the North Pole ice to the snow al the other,
There isn't a man that I wouldn't call brother.
But I'm on my way 'cause I've had my fill
Of the men of war who want to kill!"