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Just War Theory: Still Relevant?

Apocalypse by Albert Goodwin, 1903 [private collection]
A nuclear North Korea is putting additional strains on just war theory, already under great strains for more than a half-century owing to modern weaponry.

As an Air Force ROTC cadet in the 1950s at Loyola University, Los Angeles, I studied analyses of the logistics and effects of atomic and hydrogen bombs – how many people would be killed in population centers, who would or could avoid lethal exposure, etc., all very detailed and prosaic.

Many people then built bomb shelters in their backyards, and advertisers touted the advantages of their shelter “brands,” special amenities, how to avoid intrusions, etc.

After graduation, I taught in a public school, before going to graduate school. Those over 60 may still remember the government-devised “duck and cover” drills that we teachers inflicted on our students in preparation for a nuclear attack – crouching down under desks – even in classrooms with windows!

In the 1960s, after the failed “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba and President Kennedy’s close encounter with Soviet missiles, we learned that strategists had devised a new defense against nuclear attack, called “MAD” i.e., “mutually assured destruction.” During the “Cold” War with the Soviets, who were presumably non-suicidal, MAD gave us some assurances – barring possible accidents or failures of communication, although there were a few hair-raisers.

Read more at The Catholic Thing –

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