The Tablet – 10 December 1983
Nuclear deterrence is a means of saving lives and preserving freedom, believes Group Captain Leonard Cheshire.
"a real hope of no conventional war between nuclear powers, no nuclear war between such powers and no subjection to an alien ideology imposed by force."
Group Captain Cheshire gives his views in The Nuclear Dilemma, A Moral Study, which was published on Thursday for the Commission for International Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, of which he is a member.
Group Captain Cheshire, a war-time pilot who as a government observer witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945, argues that the nuclear deterrent provides a relatively stable system of security because of the very awareness of governments of the
"immense destructive power"
of their armaments and of the
should war break out. He finds an inherent contradiction in the position of those who support unilateral nuclear disarmament while upholding the right of armed self-defence. An East-West conventional war, he writes, would be
"a catastrophe of enormous proportions";
if it is maintained that nuclear powers might contemplate a nuclear strike despite the
"terrifying retaliatory power"
of the other side, how, he asks, can it be suggested that, without fear of retaliation,
“no aggressor, however vicious"
would ever fall to the temptation of using nuclear weapons? He concludes that
"the moral choice"
lies between [nuclear] deterrence and no defence at all.
The paper, the third in the commission's series on peace, defence and disarmament, can be obtained from Catholic Information Services, 74 Gallows Hill Lane, Abbots Langley, Herts; price 45p.