Hydrogen bombs, like the one North Korea detonated in January, have thankfully never been used in war. These bombs, also called H-bombs, rely on the fusion of hydrogen atoms, and can be thousands of times more powerful than nuclear bombs. They are easily weaponized in small packages and are capable of devastating a large city in one detonation.
North Korea has plans to further demonstrate their technical capabilities by shooting one or more missiles over the Japanese homeland. The Japanese are understandably rattled, and this past Wednesday Japan vowed to shoot down any North Korean missiles fired over its territory.
We may not be as nervous about nuclear war as those who practiced 1960s "duck and cover" drills, but there are other threats to peace that create regular alarm. At this moment there are 10 active wars worldwide.
With nuclear rogue states, wars and rumors of wars, what are the realistic hopes for peace in our time?
The world's longest war smolders on at the border between the Koreas. But the North Koreans say it is not their fault — they want peace. John Lennon earnestly imagined all people living in peace if only private property could be eliminated.
"We all came here for peace," said Christine to her friend Jim, at the communist experiment called Jonestown.
"I tried to give it to you," replied Rev. Jim Jones, before serving cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.
We all want peace but obviously not all promises of peace can deliver.
Can religion bring peace?
Europe is presently experiencing a desperate crisis as it engages with massive waves of immigrants from Muslim nations. Politicians, whether the ilk of Obama or Bush, almost invariably insist that such mass immigration is good because Islam is a religion that brings peace.
More Muslims means more peace, no?
In fact, the word Islam does not mean "peace," it means "submission" — the absence of opposition. This may not bring quite the peace politicians anticipated. Yet it seems that anyone who utters less than unquestioning approval of unfettered Islamic mass immigration is considered either Nazi or racist, certainly insincere.
Will submission bring peace? Or instead will successive crises unravel whatever social fabric and sense of peace and security remains? A little reflection on past and present Muslim-on-Muslim violence might be in order.
In 1969 John Lennon issued his first solo single apart from his friends in the Beatles. The song, "Give Peace a Chance," quickly became an anthem adored by the counterculture. Assorted hippies in peace movements would chant the song outside military bases while simultaneously demanding military disarmament. Disarmament, of course, not of the Soviet Union which was then engaged in a kind of Cold War with the United States, but disarmament of the free world.
The idea was that peace could be had by refusing to fight.
In 1964 Ronald Reagan scorned such thinking by saying, "There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender."
Reagan pointed out that the normal desire for peace, when based on naïve or false hopes and premises, can become delusional and dangerous. It can lead to the very opposite of the peace we so long for.
World leaders feel they have recently identified the nexus of peace. President Obama says the real crisis is global warming, aka climate change. Deal with this and you can have peace.
Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently said global warming is the greatest threat to the United States. This is just a reiteration of what President Obama declared in his 2015 State of the Union Address, viz., "No challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change."
A couple of months ago he opened a United Nations Climate Summit by reiterating this point: "What is at stake with this climate conference is peace."
Indeed, Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was even preemptively awarded partly on the assumption that he would use American power to encourage and propagate climate change policies.
Peace sounds like a really good idea, and who in his right mind would be opposed to it?
It is unquestionably part of human nature to desire peace, if not for others, then certainly for oneself. It seems that for leaders of the world the preferred political plan for peace is somehow wrapped up in the Green movement. That's the present fashion.
But perhaps there is a better way to seek peace.
I can't think of a better place to begin the search than in the words of Christ: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).