Stop The MADness

    President Bush is back in the U.S. from Europe with a wonderful trophy in hand. It's called "a surprise breakthrough," and the president apparently has an agreement to begin new negotiations with Russian President Putin concerning the future of missile defense. Previous US-Russia negotiations were stymied by disputes over the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- a treaty I worked on when I was in the White House. It appears now that the parties may have found a way to get past this Cold War relic, and they've taken a giant step towards making the world a safer place. While Putin didn't endorse a specific plan, he did agree to work toward strategies whereby the ABM Treaty would be replaced, allowing the U.S. to develop defensive missiles and both sides could make large cuts in offensive weapons. The goal, Bush said, is for the leaders to forge "a more peaceful world." For his part, the Russian president said that he had no doubt that Russia and the U.S. would find a way to implement the two leaders' agreement. I'm impressed at how the president pulled this rabbit from the hat. For months critics, here and abroad, have insisted that the administration's missile defense program would only spawn a new arms race. Well, they were wrong. Instead the Bush-Putin deal would produce a two-thirds reduction in nuclear stockpiles. But I'm also excited by the possibility we could get rid of an immoral, nuclear deterrence strategy we've embraced for four decades. During the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was based on a policy called Mutual Assured Destruction (or MAD). With MAD, we held Soviet cities and population hostage while they held our cities and population hostage. The threat of nuclear holocaust stopped either side from attacking. Now nobody liked the idea and many thoughtful people questioned its morality. They rightly pointed out that the Just War Theory -- as articulated by St. Augustine -- demands that civilians not be targeted or attacked. In addition, they pointed out that threatening to commit an immoral act is, itself, immoral. The problem was that there were no workable alternatives, so we had to do it to keep the peace. But now all that's changed. The Soviet Union is gone and the principal threat to security today is from rogue states like North Korea and Iraq. Developing a missile defense that can counter that threat -- along with large reductions in the number of warheads -- enhances both American and global security. And it does so in a way consistent with Christian moral principles. So instead of all the media carping and political sniping -- particularly from the Senate -- that we've witnessed the past two weeks while the President has been Europe, I say it's time for all Americans to get behind what promises to be the most important initiative for peace since the fall of the Soviet Union. Americans, beginning with our elected representatives, need to understand that the issue here isn't parties or politics; it's life and death. And at its heart it is a profoundly moral question. Christians need to make this argument -- in our communities, our churches, and everywhere we have a chance to speak. You can make the case for a policy that leaves Cold War MADness behind and makes the world a safer and saner place.


Chuck Colson



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