Resolution to General Convention

This blog concerns the future of the Anglican Communion, a fellowship of Churches that provides for me a normally compelling basis for the hope that bonds of affection are sufficient for peoples of the Faith. I find the witness of Anglicans in our sister churches to be a source of encouragement as they engage the church and society from their vantage points.

The future of the Anglican Communion, and its several churches, is bound up with its willingness to speak out with as much truth telling as it can muster, on issues in society as well as about issues within it churches themselves. It must speak out even if its speech carries little power or influence, for we ought not be guided by potential success in saying what we do, but by the need to speak from the heart of truth. Not to do this is to make irrelevant all our internal mutterings about leadership in our churches, blessing of relationships, etc.

So, as a deputy to General Convention, convinced that our value as a sister Church in the Anglican Communion to our sister churches is bound up with our willingness to speak the truth to our own government as well as to one another, I have put forward a resolution for consideration at this General Convention regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons in preemptive strike. I assume that if this resolution finds endorsement from others and goes forward it will be 'perfected' in the process and issue in a statement of value.

Here it is:

A Resolution Against Preemptive Use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Resolved, the House of _____________ concurring, that this 75th General Convention instruct its presiding officers to convey to the representatives of the government of the United States of America the moral opposition by this Convention to the use of nuclear weapons of any type in preemptive military strike or in other actions in support of the foreign policy of the United States of America while not in a declared state of war, and be it further

Resolved, that the written statement of this Resolution be urgently conveyed by letter to the President of the United States of America, to the Secretary of State and to all members of the Congress, and that this Convention asks that, if practicable, this letter be delivered personally by the presiding officers of the General Convention to the President of the United States of America.

Explanation: The current policy of the United States of America provides for preemptive military strike when such action is deemed necessary. This policy does not exclude the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Such weapons are almost impossible to use without widespread injury and death to the general population. The threat of the use of such weapons in preemptive military action is a deterrent only to the extent that the possibility of use is real and attack without immediate provocation is condoned. Tactical nuclear weapons are in this case no longer weapons of defense, but weapons of first strike, and their use, or the threat of their use, become acts of aggression.

This Resolution registers the opposition, on moral grounds, of this General Convention to the possible or contemplated use of nuclear weapons of any sort in any preemptive actions by the government of the United States of America.


  1. Very good.

    Imagine the horror of the use of nuclear weapons against a country and later to find, as we have in Iraq with WMDs, that the intelligence used to justify the strike had been fudged.

  2. You should realize that the threshold for pre-emptive employment of a nuclear weapon is so high, this discussion is in reality only theoretical. The US has every incentive not to establish the precedent of usage. That being said...

    The decision to employ a nuclear weapon cannot be driven soley by the expectation of widespread destruction. It must also consider other costs:

    1) The cost which will be incurred by the selection of alternate means.

    2) The continuing cost of not achieving that objective.

    This calculation is neither simple nor determinative. By nature it involves uncertainty.

    The atomic bombings of Japan are illustrative. They killed on the order of 250,000 people. By inducing Hirohito to surrender, however, these two attacks had several important effects.

    1) They prevented the imminent destruction of the Japanese rail system, and the consequent emergence of widespread famine.

    2) They invalidated the strategic assumption of the Japanese plan for resisting invasion - bleed the Americans until they sue for peace. This tactic would have turned the entire Japanese population into one large militia, and condemned millions - mostly Japanese.

    3) They stopped the killing in the occupied territories; most especially China where Chinese were dying at a rate of 100,000 per month.

    3) They insured that the Japanese army did not have to be destroyed in detail everywhere it existed.

    5) Most important, they insured the militaristic government in Japan exited the war in humiliation. Japan would not re-emerge as a lethal threat in 1960 as did Germany in 1939.

    Did Truman know all these outcomes for certain? No. But he would have been wrong not to consider their possibility.

    Whether pre-emptive or not, whether war has been declared or not, these kinds of considerations cannot be ignored. The truth is that the employment of a nuclear weapon might be the best option available from a list of bad options. To forestall their use might theoretically result in greater devastation. This certainly was the case in Japan.

    The equation is not now and never has been "Nuclear weapons are bad so they should never be used." Other things out there can be much worse.


  3. anonymous said: "The equation is not now and never has been "Nuclear weapons are bad so they should never be used." Other things out there can be much worse."

    OK... that's not what I said. I am concerned particularly and exactly about preemptive strike, a doctrine that has nothing to do with what we might call a "just war" and I am concerned about the threat of the use of tactical nuclear weapons. On the one hand I disagree with the use the US Government has made of preemptive strike, as in Iraq, on the basis of supposedly solid information about Weapons of Mass Distruction. On the other hand I disagree even more with the use of nuclear weapons in such a preemptive situation because there is no way that civilians are not affected.

    This is NOT "The equation "Nuclear weapons are bad so they should never be used." This is that they should not be used in preemptive strikes.

    As to the threat...I continue to be convinced that a threat is only as good as the promise. If we threaten the use we are prepared to use.

    On the day after use the question will be raised, what country used nuclear weapons in more than one conflict? The answer will be the United States of America. Are we willing to live with that, particularly if the run up is as shallow as the one in Iraq?

  4. There is no boldness in first strike of any sort.
    There is no Christ in first strike!
    There is no witness in first strike.
    There is no faith in first strike.
    There is no love in first strike.
    There is no peace in first strike.
    There is only fear, and death, and hate, and anger, despair,

  5. Bill Carroll14/5/06 10:12 AM

    No nukes. No war. Period.

    Both are incompatible with the teaching of Jesus.

    This resolution might have some use as an act of concrete witness in the present climate. I doubt that the Bush administration will listen to us.

    So why not just reaffirm the claim often repeated by GC and Lambeth that war is "incompatible with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    And then add a paragraph or two about the illegal occupation of Iraq and about the unconscionable saber rattling against Iran.

    We are already on the record (1982) against any first use of nuclear weapons and against nuclear proliferation and for arms control. We have also called on all Episcopalians to engage in active peacemaking.

  6. So who are we considering to preemptively nuke? I remember some outcry last summer/fall about the existence of a pentagon plan to deal with threatened biologicals or some other such doomsday musing (could have been the Post or the Times), but I have not heard anything since. Is our media ignoring a current discussion, or is this proposed resolution in response to something older?



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