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By David Bachelor, PhD
Arms control filled the headlines last week. The shooting in Kentucky brought calls for restrictions on the types of firearms available to Americans. Outside our borders, two of America’s allies were doing their part to limit advanced weapons in the hands of our adversaries. Since the foreign arms restrictions did not get the prominence in America’s media of the Kentucky story, the international arms control news is the focus of this article.
The BBC’s March 31st headline declared, “US-China Chip War: Japan Plans to Restrict Some Equipment Exports.” The U.S. and Belgium have already placed constraints on computer chip making technology sold to China. The article notes, “Semiconductors, which power everything from mobile phones to military hardware, are at the centre of a bitter dispute between the US and China.” The U.S. knows the latest chips are essential to AI-enabled missile attacks, drone swarms, cyberattacks, and other twenty-first century threats.
On the same day as the BBC story, India’s Financial Times carried the headline, “Japan to Restrict Semiconductor Equipment Exports as China Chip War Intensifies.” The Times notes, “The move by Japan fulfils its side of a three-way agreement with the US and Netherlands.” The Times also points out that Japan’s restrictions on advanced chip technology do not mention China by name since, “China is not the only risk out there.” North Korea has recently splashed their latest generation of missiles off the coasts of Japanese islands.
Al Jazeera marked the end of March with the headline, “Japan to Restrict Chip Equipment Exports Amid China Fears.” The press release from Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said, “We are fulfilling our responsibility as a technological nation to contribute to international peace and stability.” The statement added, “Its [the restrictions] goal was to stop advanced technology from being used for military purposes.” Al Jazeera points out “[T]he US in October imposed sweeping restrictions on chipmaking tool exports to China…Washington, however, needs Japan and the Netherlands…to join it to make those restrictions effective.”
Sometimes the bad guys already have the advanced weapons, and they want to keep the good guys from gaining military parity, This was the case in Ancient Israel. Under the Philistines God’s people were targeted by arms control restrictions. The Philistines banned metal workers from making metal tools for the Israelites: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” (1Sa 13:19). When the time came for the Israelites to fight the Philistines, “Not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” (1 Sam 13:22). With God on the Israelites’ side, these two swords were enough. The Philistine’s arms control measures were a failure, and the Philistines were driven from the land.
The 20th Century had a dismal track record for arms controls treaties. The Japanese and the Germans were signatories on treaties that limited their military hardware, yet both broke the treaties and launched campaigns towards world domination. Maybe the lesson for God’s people is from our Savior who said, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed” (Luke 11:21).