Resuming atmospheric tests
One of the inescapable realities of the Cold War is that it has thrust upon the West a wholly new and historically unique set of moral dilemmas .
The first dilemma was the morality of nuclear warfare itself .
That dilemma is as much with us as ever .
The second great dilemma has been the morality of nuclear testing , a dilemma which has suddenly become acute because of the present series of Soviet tests .
When this second dilemma first became obvious -- during the mid to late '50's -- the United States appeared to have three choices .
It could have unilaterally abandoned further testing on the grounds of the radiation hazard to future generations .
It could have continued testing to the full on the grounds that the radiation danger was far less than the danger of Communist world domination .
Or it could have chosen to find -- by negotiation -- some way of stopping the tests without loss to national security .
This third choice was in fact made .
With the resumption of Soviet testing and their intransigence at the Geneva talks , however , the hope that this third choice would prove viable has been shaken .
Once again , the United States must choose .
And once again , the choices are much the same .
Only this time around the conditions are different and the choice is far harder .
The first choice , abandoning tests entirely , would not only be unpopular domestically , but would surely be exploited by the Russians .
The second choice , full testing , has become even more risky just because the current Soviet tests have already dangerously contaminated the atmosphere .
The third choice , negotiation , presupposes , as Russian behavior demonstrates , a great deal of wishful thinking to make it appear reasonable .
We take the position , however , that the third choice still remains the only sane one open to us .
It is by no stretch of the imagination a happy choice and the arguments against it as a practical strategy are formidable .
Its primary advantage is that it is a moral choice ; ;
one which , should it fail , will not have contaminated the conscience .
That is the contamination we most fear .
Leaving aside the choice of unilateral cessation of tests as neither sane nor clearly moral , the question must arise as to why resumption of atmospheric tests on our part would not be a good choice .
For that is the one an increasingly large number of prominent Americans are now proposing .
In particular , Governor Nelson Rockefeller has expressed as cogently and clearly as anyone the case for a resumption of atmospheric tests .
Speaking recently in Miami , Governor Rockefeller said that `` to assure the sufficiency of our own weapons in the face of the recent Soviet tests , we are now clearly compelled to conduct our own nuclear tests '' .
Taking account of the fact that such a move on our part would be unpopular in world opinion , he argued that the responsibility of the United States is `` to do , confidently and firmly , not what is popular , but what is right '' .
What was missing in the Governor's argument , as in so many similar arguments , was a premise which would enable one to make the ethical leap from what might be militarily desirable to what is right .
The possibility , as he asserted , that the Russians may get ahead of us or come closer to us because of their tests does not supply the needed ethical premise -- unless , of course , we have unwittingly become so brutalized that nuclear superiority is now taken as a moral demand .
Besides the lack of an adequate ethical dimension to the Governor's case , one can ask seriously whether our lead over the Russians in quality and quantity of nuclear weapons is so slight as to make the tests absolutely necessary .
Recent statements by the President and Defense Department spokesmen have , to the contrary , assured us that our lead is very great .
Unless the Administration and the Defense Department have been deceiving us , the facts do not support the assertion that we are `` compelled '' to resume atmospheric testing .
It is perfectly conceivable that a resumption of atmospheric tests may , at some point in the future , be necessary and even justifiable .
But a resumption does not seem justifiable now .
What we need to realize is that the increasingly great contamination of the atmosphere by the Soviet tests had radically increased our own moral obligations .
We now have to think not only of our national security but also of the future generations who will suffer from any tests we might undertake .
This is an ethical demand which cannot be evaded or glossed over by talking exclusively of weapon superiority or even of the evil of Communism .
Too often in the past Russian tactics have been used to justify like tactics on our part .
There ought to be a point beyond which we will not allow ourselves to go regardless of what Russia does .
The refusal to resume atmospheric testing would be a good start .
when his Holiness Pope John 23 , first called for an Ecumenical Council , and at the same time voiced his yearning for Christian unity , the enthusiasm among Catholic and Protestant ecumenicists was immediate .
With good reason it appeared that a new day was upon divided Christendom .
But as the more concrete plans for the work of the Council gradually became known , there was a rather sharp and abrupt disappointment on all sides .
The Council we now know will concern itself directly only with the internal affairs of the Church .
As it has turned out , however , the excessive enthusiasm in the first instance and the loss of hope in the second were both wrong responses .
Two things have happened in recent months to bring the Council into perspective : each provides a basis for renewed hope and joy .
First of all , it is now known that Pope John sees the renewal and purification of the Church as an absolutely necessary step toward Christian unity .
Far from being irrelevant to the ecumenical task , the Pontiff believes that a revivified Church is required in order that the whole world may see Catholicism in the best possible light .
Equally significant , Pope John has said that Catholics themselves bear some responsibility for Christian disunity .
A major aim of the Council will be to remove as far as possible whatever in the Church today stands in the way of unity .
Secondly , a whole series of addresses and actions by the Pope and by others show that concern for Christian unity is still very much alive and growing within the Church .
The establishment , by the Holy Father , of a permanent Secretariat for Christian Unity in 1960 was the most dramatic mark of this concern .
The designation of five Catholic theologians to attend the World Council of Churches assembly in New Delhi as `` official '' observers reverses the Church's earlier stand .
The public appeal by the new Vatican Secretary of State , Cardinal Cicognani , for renewed efforts toward Eastern and Western reunion was still another remarkable act .
Nor can one forget Pope John's unprecedented meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury .
Augustin Cardinal Bea , the director of the Secretariate for Christian Unity , has expressed as directly as anyone the new spirit that pervades the Church's stance toward the Protestant and Orthodox Churches .
Noting all the difficulties that stand in the way of reunion , he has said that they ought not to discourage anyone .
For discouragement , or the temptation to abandon our efforts , `` would show that one placed excessive trust in purely human means without thinking of the omnipotence of God , the irresistible efficacy of prayer , the action of Christ or the power of the Divine Spirit '' .
Can any Christian fail to respond to these words ? ?
The budget deficit
the administration's official budget review , which estimates a 6.9 billion dollar deficit for the current fiscal year , isn't making anyone happy .
Certainly it isn't making the President happy , and he has been doing his apologetic best to explain how the budget got into its unbalanced condition , how he intends to economize wherever he can and how he hopes to do better next year .
We sympathize with Mr. Kennedy , but we feel bound to say that his budget review doesn't please us either , although for very different reasons .
Furthermore , we find his defense of the unbalanced budget more dismaying than reassuring .
In the first place , a large part of the discrepancy between President Eisenhower's estimate of a 1.5 billion dollar surplus for the same period and the new estimate of an almost seven billion dollar deficit is the result of the outgoing President's farewell gift of a political booby-trap to his successor .
The Eisenhower budget was simultaneously inadequate in its provisions and yet extravagant in its projections of revenue to be received .
The rest of the deficit is also easily understood .
Four billion dollars of the spending increase is for defense , an expenditure necessitated by the penny-wise policies of the Eisenhhower Administration , quite apart from the recent crises in Berlin and elsewhere .
Four hundred million dollars of the increase is for the expanded space program , a responsibility similarly neglected by Mr. Eisenhower .
The farm program will cost an additional 1.5 billion , because of unusual weather factors , the Food for Peace program and other new measures .
Anti-recession programs -- aid for the unemployed , their children and for depressed areas -- account for only 900 million of the 6.9 billion dollar deficit .
Our complaint is that in many crucial areas the Kennedy programs are not too large but too small , most seriously in regard to the conventional arms build-up and in aid and welfare measures .
And yet Mr. Kennedy persists in trying to mollify the intransigents of the right with apologies and promises of `` tightening up '' and `` economizing '' .
We wish the President would remember that `` fiscal responsibility '' was the battle-cry of the party that lost the election .
The party that won used to say something about a New Frontier .
Ethics and peace
introduction of the `` dialogue '' principle proved strikingly effective at the thirty-fourth annual meeting of the Catholic Association for International Peace in Washington the last weekend in October .
Two of the principal addresses were delivered by prominent Protestants , and when the speaker was a Catholic , one `` discussant '' on the dais tended to be of another religious persuasion .
Several effects were immediately evident .
Sessions devoted to `` Ethics and Foreign Policy Trends '' , `` Moral Principle and Political Judgment '' , `` Christian Ethics in the Cold War '' and related subjects proved to be much livelier under this procedure than if Catholics were merely talking to themselves .
Usually questions from the floor were directed to the non-Catholic speaker or discussion leader .
In the earlier sessions there was plentiful discussion on the natural law , which Dr. William V. O'Brien of Georgetown University , advanced as the basis for widely acceptable ethical judgments on foreign policy .
That Aristotelean-Thomistic principle experienced a thorough going-over from a number of the participants , but in the end the concept came to reassert itself .
Speakers declared that Protestants often make use of it , if , perhaps , by some other name .
A Lebanese Moslem told about its existence and application in the Islamic tradition as the `` divine law '' , while a C.A.I.P. member who has been working in close association with delegates of the new U.N. nations told of its widespread recognition on the African continent .
The impression was unmistakable that , whatever one may choose to call it , natural law is a functioning generality with a certain objective existence .
Another question that arose was the nature of the dialogue itself .
The stimulus from the confrontation of philosophical systems involving certain differences was undeniable .
It was expected that the comparison of different approaches to ethics would produce a better grasp of each other's positions and better comprehension of one's own .
But a realization that each group has much of substance to learn from the other also developed , and a strong conviction grew that each had insights and dimensions to contribute to ethically acceptable solutions of urgent political issues .
One effect of the spirited give-and-take of these discussions was to focus attention on practical applications and the necessity of being armed with the facts : knowledge of the destructive force of even the tiniest `` tactical '' atomic weapon would have a bearing on judgments as to the advisability of its use -- to defend Berlin , for example ; ;
the pervasive influence of ideology on our political judgments needs to be recognized and taken into due account ; ;
it is necessary to perceive the extent of foreign aid demanded by the Christian imperative .