Opinion

The Devastating Consequences of Nuclear War and the Essential Need for Absolute Justice (II)

(Excerpts from a speech by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masrur Ahmad, the Fifth Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community delivered on 24 March 2012 at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in London on the occasion of the 9th Annual Peace Symposium. This follows on from the previous instalment) 

If we stop raising our voices against cruelty and injustice, we will become people without moral values or standards of any kind. It is irrelevant whether our voices are heard or have influence. We must continue to advise others in favour of peace. It always gives me great joy to see that, regardless of differences in religion or nationality, and just for the sake of upholding human values, many people come to this event to listen, learn and talk about ways to establish peace and compassion in the world. 

So I ask all of you to strive for peace to the best of your abilities, so that we can keep the flame of hope burning for a time when true peace and justice will reign in all parts of the world. 

We must remember that when human efforts fail, God Almighty issues His decree to determine the fate of humanity. Before God's decree is set in motion, and compels people to comply with Him and the rights of human beings, the peoples of the world had better pay attention to these crucial issues, for when Almighty God is compelled to take action, His wrath takes hold of humanity in a truly severe and terrifying manner. 

In today's world, a terrible manifestation of God's decree could come in the form of a new World War. Undoubtedly the effects of such a war and its destruction would not be limited to the war itself, or even to this generation. On the contrary, its terrible consequences will be felt for many generations to come. Just one of the tragic consequences of such a war will be the effect it will have on newborn children, both now and in the future. The weapons available today are so destructive that they could result in generation after generation of children born with severe genetic or physical defects. 

Japan is the only country to have experienced the aberrant consequences of atomic warfare, when it was attacked by nuclear bombs during World War II. Even today, when you visit Japan and meet its people, you can detect an absolute fear and hatred of war, visible in their eyes and expression. However, the nuclear bombs that were used at that time, and which caused widespread devastation, were far less powerful than the atomic weapons that even small countries possess today. 

It is said that in Japan, despite seven decades having passed, the effects of atomic bombs are still being felt by newborn babies. If a person is wounded by a bullet, he or she may survive with medical treatment, but if a nuclear war breaks out, those in the line of fire are not so lucky. On the contrary, people die immediately, they are frozen like a statue, and their skin simply fades away. Drinking water, food and vegetation are contaminated and affected by radiation. We can only imagine what kind of diseases the contamination leads to. In places that are not directly affected and where the effects of radiation are less, there is also a high risk of illness and disease, and future generations will take much higher risks. 

Therefore, as I have said, the devastating and destructive effects of war will not be limited to the war and its aftermath, but will be passed on from generation to generation. These are the real consequences of such a war; and yet today there are selfish and stupid people who are proud of their invention and describe what they have developed as a gift to the world. The truth is that the so-called beneficial aspects of nuclear energy and technology can be extremely dangerous and lead to widespread destruction, either through negligence or accident. We have already seen such catastrophes, such as the nuclear accident that occurred in 1986 at Chernobyl in what is now Ukraine, and last year after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which again had to deal with great danger and the fear of an entire country. When these events occur, it is very difficult to re-populate the affected regions. Because of their unique and tragic experiences, the Japanese have become very cautious and, in fact, their sense of fear and terror is fully justified. 

It is an obvious statement that people die in wars, and so when Japan entered World War II, its government and people were well aware that many people would die. It is said that approximately 3 million people died in Japan, which was 4% of the country's population. Although other countries may have suffered a higher proportion of deaths in terms of total numbers, the hatred and aversion to war that we find among the Japanese people is still much greater than in other countries. The reason for this is undoubtedly the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II, the consequences of which Japan is still witnessing and must continue to endure. Japan has shown its greatness and resilience by being able to repopulate and rehabilitate its people relatively quickly. But it must be made clear that if nuclear weapons were used again today, it is more than possible that parts of certain countries would be wiped off the map. They would cease to exist. 

Conservative estimates put the death toll of World War II at around 62 million, and it is said that around 40 million of those who died were civilians. In other words, more civilians died than military personnel. Such devastation occurred despite the fact that outside Japan a traditional war was fought with conventional weapons. 

The UK had to bear the loss of about half a million people. Of course, it was still a colonial power at the time, so its colonies also fought on its behalf. Including these losses, the death toll would be in the millions. In India alone, some 1.6 million people lost their lives. 

Today, however, the situation has changed, and those same countries that were colonies of the United Kingdom, and that fought for the British Empire, could fight against Britain if another war broke out. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, there are even some small countries that have acquired nuclear weapons. 

What causes great fear is the knowledge that such nuclear weapons could end up in the hands of people who either do not have the necessary capability, or choose not to think about the consequences of their actions. Indeed, such people would not care about the consequences either. 

Thus, if the great powers do not act justly, do not remove the frustrations of smaller nations, and do not adopt wise and noble policies, the situation will spiral out of control, and the accompanying destruction will be beyond our comprehension and imagination. Even most of the world that desires peace will be engulfed by the devastation. 

Therefore, it is my ardent wish and hope that the leaders of all great nations will come to understand this terrible reality and, consequently, strive to adopt policies that promote and secure justice, rather than aggressive policies and use of force to achieve their goals and objectives. 

Recently, a senior Russian military commander issued a serious warning about the potential risk of nuclear war. He was of the opinion that such a war would not be fought in Asia or elsewhere, but would take place on the borders of Europe, and that the threat would come and emanate from the countries of Eastern Europe. While some people say that this was simply his personal opinion, I personally do not think that his view is unlikely, but I also believe that if war breaks out, it is very likely that Asian countries will be involved. 

Another news item that was recently widely covered in the media was the view of a recently retired head of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, who, during an interview with the well-known US television channel CBS, said that it was becoming clear that the Israeli government wanted to declare war on Iran. He said that if such an attack were to be carried out, it would be impossible to know where or how such a war would end. He therefore strongly recommended refraining from any attack. 

In this regard, my personal view is that such a war will end in nuclear devastation. 

(lpbD) - God's peace and blessings be upon him. 

(lpd) - peace be upon him. 

(We will continue this discourse in the next installment: "The Devastating Consequences of Nuclear War and the Essential Need for Absolute Justice (III)").