The Possession and use of Nuclear Weapons (My Position) (Part 6)

I would like to give my view on nuclear weapons. I think we should get rid of our nuclear arsenal. It seems to me that we are justified in possessing nuclear weapons only if we are willing to use nuclear weapons. Remember, you have to be willing to use nuclear weapons in order for the deterrence measure to work. I don’t think we are justified in using nuclear weapons; therefore we should not have nuclear weapons.

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My reasons for holding this position are contained in the previous posts, but they are also motivated by Just War Theory. Just War Theory attempts to give conditions under which a country is justified in using arms and how they should act while they are engaged in the use of arms.

Just War Theory has two major components:

Jus ad bellum (Latin for “right to war”): the conditions under which the use of arms is justified.
Jus in bello (Latin for “the law in waging war”): how to use arms in an ethical manner.

Jus ad bellum includes at least six guiding principles:

1. Just Cause: The end sought by the use of arms must be worth the destruction, devastation and loss of life inflicted by use of arms. A just cause could be national defense or humanitarian intervention.
2. Legitimate Authority: The people engaged in the use of arms must have the appropriate authority to do so.
3. Right Intention: State actors must intend to achieve the just cause and not some other unjustified goal.
4. Reasonable Prospects of Success: The use of arms must have a reasonable likelihood of achieving its just aims.
5. Proportionality: Use of arms cannot result in evils and harms that are graver than the evil to be eliminated.
6. Last Resort (Necessary Component): This means there is no other less harmful way to achieve the just cause than use of arms.

Jus in Bello includes at least 3 guiding principles:

1. Discrimination: Combatants are only allowed to use arms against enemy combatants, and not against non-combatants who are caught in a situation they did not create.
2. Proportionality: The harms inflicted by use of force must be proportionate to the military objective achieved.
3. Necessity: Use of arms must be kept at the most minimal level possible.

My reasons against possessing and using nuclear weapons are beautifully summed up by a presentation given by Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (UCCB):

1. Discrimination: For use of force to be just, it must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. One cannot intend to slaughter innocent civilians. The moral problem with nuclear weapons is that the devastation they wreak cannot discriminate between combatants and noncombatants.

2. Proportionality: The death and destruction caused by the use of force cannot be out of proportion to the goal of protecting human life and human rights. The raw destructive capacity and lingering radiation of nuclear weapons make their use morally unthinkable.

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3. Probability of success: The use of force must have serious prospects of success for it to be justified. What would success look like in a nuclear war? In 2006, Pope Benedict reminded us that in a nuclear war there would be no “victors, only victims” (World Day of Peace Message, #13).

What do you think?

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