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Response to Revd. David Sinclair by B Georgeot
I am very honoured to have the possibility of expressing myself after Reverend David Sinclair and please accept my apology for my poor mastery of English language.
I would specify first that I am speaking as a member of French section of Pax Christi International and in this section as chairman of the Commission “Defence and Disarmament”.
The belonging of France to the happily restricted club of owners of nuclear armament sets a problem for an organisation as Pax Christi inspired by non-violence evangelical values.
It is that very preoccupation which leads Pax Christi to organise, nearly one year ago, a conference on the topic:” Ethic and Nuclear Deterrence”.
During that meeting have expressed advocates of keeping nuclear armament as French Admiral Thierry d’Arbonneau, old chief of Strategic Oceanic Forces regrouping nuclear powered ballistic missile armed submarines or old socialist Ministry of Défense ( 1997-2002) Alain Richard as well as advocates questioning this same maintenance as the Catholic Bishop Marc Stenger, chairman of Pax Christi France or Etienne de Jonghe, general secretary of Pax Christi International.
Pax Christi France has never had a clear position on keeping or no French nuclear deterrence.
That absence of position is a specificity of our national section and may explain its comparative decline and its lack of attraction for young Christians.
I will try to sum up arguments exposed by both parties to make discernable the difficulties to get a consensus on a so sensitive subject.
Advocates of keeping national deterrence forces put forward uncertainty about the future in matter of security for considering post cold war as a transition before a new wordly stability.
Threats on national security remain diffused: spreading out of nuclear proliferation, rising of terrorism, coming of regional powers more or less aggressive.
At the end of that transition period , a reflexion will have its place but meanwhile statue quo is imperative.
These advocates also underline the strategic evolution of French deterrence which has evolved : during the cold war strategy was from the weak to the strong and now it is from the strong to the fool.
The old frightful threat of annihilation of innocent populations, morally unacceptable, has disappeared on behalf of threat of surgical strikes against definite people, their organisation, their personal power , their places of decision, sparing partly populations;
Doubts on evolution of threats compared to the time needed for bringing back to a good level a dismantled deterrence force ( several years) lead to carefulness and brush aside any notion of dismantlement and more, impose permanently to bring to level the existing force.
Advocates of renunciation of that deterrence tool remind of articles of Non-Proliferation-Treaty which, in asking non-nuclear subscribers to give up being a nuclear power, assigned nuclear nations, on the other hand, to a graduated dismantlement.
That has not taken place except the appreciable reduction of the excessive armament issued of the cold war.
These same advocates underline that Peace could not be reached by what has been called “Balance of Terror” but rather by a reduction of disparities of development.
Money spared by renunciation to nuclear deterrence could be used to the development of poorest countries.
Last, we may say that arguments called upon for keeping our national need of security is valuable for any country and it’s a broad way for general proliferation.
For France, renunciation to our deterrence forces will lead to a lower position on the international scene and its example will be unhappily without any effect as far as other nuclear nations are not doing the same.
More, considered as an occidental nation, we will remain under US protection and we will be morally but hypocritically satisfied.
Most members of Pax Christi France would be supporters of a renunciation to the nuclear shield clearly condemned now by Vatican which had accepted in the eighties, with reserves, this rampart against communism.
Nevertheless, Pax Christi, accepts that some members don’t share that position.
Are-they more realistic?
Let us hope that future will have not to say so.
I thank you for your attention.