An Augustinian analysis of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Jon McClendon White, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Applying the Christian principles of depraved human nature, expectation of detrimental behavior from irrational actors, and rational attempts to limit the destructiveness of war, Augustine would conclude that the declared nuclear weapons states have a moral obligation to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons. Laws suitable to the needs of the times are the appropriate method for accomplishing this. The pending Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is one such law. Because the CTBT bans all nuclear explosions and establishes an intrusive inspection scheme, it will have an impact on the U. S. Department of Energy (DoE). DoE should respond by participating in the new inspection organization, by interpreting findings resulting from inspections, and by continuing management of the Nevada Test Site. The CTBT may be efficacious in preventing nuclear weapons proliferation in the short term. Considering a longer-term perspective, a frightening prospect emerges as a result of an Augustinian assessment of human nature.