THIRD CONFERENCE ON THE CAUSE AND CURE OF WAR
The Status Today of War vs. Peace
By Carrie Chapman Catt
Ten years after the Great War we may solemnly inquire of events whether the civilized nations are drifting toward that much advertised “next war” or toward the certainties of perpetual peace.
To the most casual observer it is evident that the advocates of peace are growing in number, that the various groups are more tolerant toward each other, that there is more friendliness between them, and that slowly but certainly they are being convinced of the need of a common program, a unanimous aim, and the advantage of a common directing agency. Yet these highly desirable ends are as yet remote and their probability uncertain.
On the other hand, it is also clear that the advocates of war are increasing in number, and that there is a greater solidarity among them than among peace forces. Using as a symbol the game called “The Tug of War,” the war forces are pulling hard at one rope, the peace forces are pulling at many ropes and thus distributing their energy in many directions.
Mrs. Waid will tell you of many heartening enterprises whose aim is the cultivation of friendliness between nations and she will give you evidences of increased good will. An equally strong statement, however, could be made of new rasping irritations and lack of confidence between nations and of more preparations for war.
War is an institution as old as human records and is almost inextricably entwined with the law, the precedents and the thought of nations. It is bound up with social stability, education, and even religion. War is picturesque, heroic, dramatic, romantic, vivid. War makes a picture for the artist and rhythm for the poet. Writers find material for stories in it, and each one is full of action, heroism, events, humor, pathos, tragedy. All the things that have made human life are bound together in the tales of war. This combination grips human sensibilities with well-nigh unshakable power.
War is also a mighty vested interest and millions live by it. Not only is war the daily support of soldiers and sailors and their officers, but the profit from the supplies of war itself and from the supplies of hundreds of the ramifications of the war machine is the chief support of many an industry. The combination of traditional opinion plus the widespread bread-and-butter interest in war furnishes a colossal support of the institution of war and a well-nigh insurmountable resistance to peace.
More, the war forces have a slogan that appears to be so logical that millions believe it to be unanswerable. To my mind this slogan is one of two chief causes of muddled thinking on peace and war. No one knows from whence it came – so old is it. The slogan is, “The way to maintain peace is to prepare for war.” Washington said, “My first wish, I repeat, my first wish is that this plague of mankind (war) may be banished from the earth,” but he did not know how to banish it nor how to take the first step toward its abolition and so, helplessly, repeated this universal slogan.
An examination of the utterances of the Presidents would probably reveal that each, in turn, has repeated that same belief – certainly many did. Very many of those Presidents have been men of peace, but they could find no way to effect the continuance of the institution of war and therefore directed the Ship of State by the war slogan. This slogan is the watchword of every war college and training camp. It is the creed of war; the basis of war propaganda the world around. Every soldier and sailor is educated to his duties from that starting point. The precedents of most foreign policies of the nations are based upon it. It enters into the chief thinking of Departments of State, of War, and of the Navy. It leads in press editorials and colors the news. Not long since we were taught that Germany had built a great war machine and launched it against the nations of the world. G. Lowes Dickinson in his "International Anarchy" says: "In the course of the debate in the Reichstag on the competition in armament this general position was illustrated. 'Then the Germans intended war with England?' (asked one). 'Intended it?' (replied another). 'No, they intended only to be prepared for it,' and, like everyone else, were ready to assume that preparations for war prevent war." No fallacy ever held the minds of men in its grasp more tenaciously than this one, yet fallacy it is. Whenever Nation A has adopted a new armament, Nation B has followed its example and improved upon it. Then Nation A adopted the improvement and added another, and so the competition proceeded, each laying the full blame for the rivalry upon the wicked ambition of the other. Meanwhile each prepared for war, but for defense only. These few sentences tell the history of the civilized world for the last 500 years. A man with a revolver in his pocket is a safe citizen so long as his mind is calm, but when and if he loses his temper, he is apt to shoot somebody and he becomes a murderer. So a nation, all prepared for defense, is a safe neighbor when the public mind is undisturbed, but at any moment an incident, whose meaning is undetermined, may stir that nation into an hysterical emotion. The mental excitement of that nation arouses another and without knowing quite how it happened, war is on. Scholars have investigated causes of the last war for ten years. A humorist puts the combined findings in a brief diagnosis. He meant it to be funny; it is tragic. Said he:
"There is no person in the thirty-two nations that engaged in the Great War who knows Who started it, Who won it, or, Who will pay for it."
It is doubtful if any informed person would deny these conclusions. The Great War to the honest investigator stands as proof positive of the falsity of the universal war slogan. Yet, that slogan is as certainly leading on in 1928 and drawing the world to war as it did in 1914.
Let me say if I were invited to be a Secretary of War or a Secretary of Navy – there is no immediate question on that point – but if it were to be the case I should certainly follow that slogan. There would be no other policy which would be possible for me to pursue. Therefore as a question we must regard concerning it is why is it a fallacy and why does it fail?
Statesmen are not blamable for the hesitation in this transition period from war to peace. This is still a war world populated with men equipped with war minds. War is still the policy of nations. Armies and navies cannot be scrapped at this period. Every nation is still based on force. Defense is still needed. The puzzling question is – who can judge how much and what kind of defense is required. Because this question remains unanswered, statesmen are prone to follow the easy old beaten path. It is always with agony that new trails are blazed. It is not the business of departments of army and navy to create a new policy of peace. There can be no compromise with the old war slogan and, therefore, the way out of the present maze of tradition, precedent, and unclear thinking is the substitution of a wholly new slogan for the old one. "The way to maintain peace is to prepare for peace."
How much have the nations done toward establishing a substitute? The most optimistic pacifist must agree that the preparations for peace are feeble, timorous and cautious as compared to the need.
In the report of the Secretary of the Treasury for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1927, and submitted to Congress last month, the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew D. Mellon, assigned 82 per cent of the federal expenditures for 1927 to past and future wars. Therefore, 82 cents out of every dollar paid in Federal taxes by the people of this nation goes to the maintenance of the institution of war and to the support of the war slogan: "The way to maintain peace is to prepare for war." How much from each dollar goes to build up the substitute slogan? I estimate that it may be 1/100 part of one cent.
The facts are that the horrors of the last war and the consequent exhaustion of nations have filled the world with dread and have made governments willing to yield concessions to peace. They honestly wish to clip the wings of the war power and to restrain war as an admitted menace to the safety of civilization. Yet all nations are controlled by suspicion and distrust of each other and they dare not let go of the institution of war. They have, as yet, no sense of security in the machinery of peace as a protection, and no wonder. All peace machinery is new and, despite its many notable achievements, it is still untried. The League of Nations and the World Court can only march forward as fast or as far as their constituent member nations permit. These member nations are slow, hesitant, cautious; because all the influences of the traditional war power, with its commanding slogan, resists within each government every step toward peace.
No citizen should expect War, Navy, or Department of State to build a new spirit for peace-that must come from slow, determined, intelligent education and it must arise from the people. It is certain that each nation would stoutly declare, as ever, that it is preparing solely for defense and that no idea of war prevails in the thought of any citizen.
Despite these conditions, preparations for the next war go on as energetically and as normally as before the last war. The sorry facts are that there are more armed men in Europe today than there were in 1914. An open and hectic competition between the Great Powers in airplane construction fills the front pages of the press. It is alleged, in one moment, to be conducted in the interests of commercialism, but in the next it is announced that the new war will be fought in the air, and that commercial planes can be transformed into war machines in short order. Chemical laboratories are still working. I have been keeping a scrap book. I noted that the chief of the American Chemical Bureau announced that the United States was better prepared, chemically, for war than any other nation. In about a month another nation made the same announcement, and at a later period a third nation made the same declaration. So we know that three nations, at a certain date, were better prepared to fight, chemically, than any other in the world!
It seems but yesterday that the world was marvelling at the Big Bertha firing its mighty projectiles upon Paris. Now all the Great Powers have bigger Berthas. The shells, since the war ceased, have grown larger, the bombs of airplanes and torpedoes of submarines have grown more destructive. Machine guns and rifles shoot farther than they did. Any American can remember how startled this nation was when young Germans arose from the deep like mermaids and walked ashore with dye-stuffs just before we entered the war. No one had dreamed that a submarine could cross the ocean. After a day they descended again to the depths and traveled elsewhere. Now submarines have gone around the world and they carry guns. Propaganda, that most powerful and dangerous arm of the war institution, proceeds apace. The number of those who believe the "next war" is near is increasing and several writers have fixed the approximate date and named the cause. The public mind is being reconciled to it.
All around the world suspicion rankles in the minds of men. Despite the acknowledged good offices of the League of Nations and the Locarno pacts, there are those in England, who, through the press, see France Napoleonized and overrunning Europe; those in France who see Italy Caesarized and marching northward over the old Roman roads; those in Italy who see Germany Bismarckized and, like the Goths and Vandals of old, descending upon them, while there are many in Europe who see a threatening young military giant growing up in America. Although all America disclaims the charge, those who distrust the United States can make a fairly good case against us. Lord Cromer said, that the Allies floated to victory on a wave of oil in the Great War. At present warships, airplanes, submarines, war automobiles and trucks all depend upon oil. There could be no great war without it, and the United States has the largest supply. Modern wars cannot go forward without steel, and this country largely controls the steel market. The most needed factor in the war is money, and this is the richest nation in the world. Last April World's Work issued a “The Next War" number. Perhaps the most outstanding contribution was that of Rear Admiral, U. S. N. (Retired), Bradbury A. Fiske on the subject of "How We Shall Lose the Next War and When." It was a fervid petition for more preparation to save us from Japan.
Henry J. Reilly, Brigadier-General, 0. R. C., added: "The armies of the world today are as a whole better prepared for war and more powerful than they were in 1914, despite the fact that the treaties of peace which concluded the Great War disarmed Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Frederick Palence added: "In the old sense for which wars were made we won and won more than Germany planned to win. We won more of the booty, that is, modern power, than any nation ever won in a single war. * War wages infatuated labor. War profits infatuated capital. One staked his claim; there was gold in every claim."
It will be remembered that when this country entered the war it was with the boast that she sought nothing and would take nothing. Has the unexpected taste of booty lured some of her citizens into hope for another venture?
Put yourself in the place of a Japanese and read World's Work of April, 1927. Would you not advise your nation to prepare? The distrust that drives this country toward a bigger navy operates in precisely the same way in the minds of other nations. I t shocks us when anything our nice peaceful citizens have said startles another nation, but so it astonishes the people of that nation, say Japan or England, whose nice, peaceful people have said things that alarm us.
These are curious things to be happening in an era when 56 nations have united "to achieve peace by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war." Last summer a world's disarmament conference met; it refused to disarm. Why is this gigantic war machine maintained, and why do the nations refuse to limit their armaments if they are intentioned to establish a genuine peace?
Last summer there was also a naval conference called by our President. Japan plead for reduction, but the representatives of Great Britain and the United States would not reduce. In Great Britain there is a general belief that the cause of failure was the unwarranted ambition of the United States. In the United States the idea prevails that the cause was the indefensible stubbornness of Great Britain. Why did they fail? [Personally, I think the failure was due to the pride and ambition of two nations who sent naval men to reduce their own powers.] Here we stand today. The war power is still enthroned; the peace power petitioning on its knees.
As the result of 10 years of hard reading about war and peace, I have arrived at six very definite conclusions. I take personal responsibility for them and I do not state them as proved truisms, because each one is denied by very intellectual and distinguished men. I merely lay them before you, not for your collective consideration, but for your private reflection. I have long believed that when the rubbish surrounding war discussions could be cleared away, the problem of transition from war policies to peace policies would be very simple. Naturally the process must include a change of the public mind all along the line. That may be a slow and tedious process, but it is never impossible, since all men and women have some sense of logic. My conclusions are:
War, as an institution, a policy, can be abolished by civilized nations as between themselves; and that can be done when they so will.
- The only way to treat the problem of war is to isolate it absolutely from all other questions. Treat it as a sin, a crime, an iniquity, an unethical institution, an unpractical policy, or what you will. It is, in truth, a barbarism with no rightful place in an enlightened age. Whatever you may call it, set it apart from all other problems and deal with it in that sense.
I well remember the time when woman suffrage was as much surrounded with rubbish as is the whole problem of war. Looking backward, how simple that question looks now when the rubbish has been torn away. And looking a little farther back, reading about it in history, there was the same kind of rubbish surrounding the question of human slavery. How simple it looks now when it is isolated from everything else. Yet it took a hundred years of campaigning and a civil war to clear the rubbish away. I ask you to try to get this question away from the rubbish and to treat it as an isolated problem itself.
Wars now have no causes; they have excuses, and wars go on because nations have the habit and move by precedent. I came to this conclusion when I had listed 257 causes, alleged to have been the actual causes of wars of history.
- Wars cannot settle anything. The strong nation, not the right nation, wins. I note that· Napoleon, who knew a great deal more than I about war, said the same thing in several ways.
The problems that now confront nations, and their number is legion, are far too momentous, too crucial, to be tried by the arbitrament of guns and- bombs; how irrational to attempt to settle them that way. They call for statesmen with brains, not soldiers with guns; for reason, not submarines; for round tables, not battlefields; for conciliation, not poison gas, and let me add, they call for prayer, not because God is necessarily on our side, but because He supposedly is on the right side.
- The only possible substitute for war, and, therefore, the foundation of world peace, are compacts between and among all civilized nations to proscribe war absolutely as between themselves and in agreements to find the means of settling all disputes arising by peaceful means. The unit of this foundation of world peace is the compact between two nations.
These six points are not a complete creed. They leave enough problems to keep the world occupied for the next 500 years. They will not end war except between civilized nations, but for me they blaze a trail. For years I walked through a morass, where there was neither light nor compass. Now I can walk through a straight path to a high place where the vision is fairly clear. I invite you to walk up that trail a little way with me.
Fifty-six members of the League of Nations have signed treaties agreeing to arbitrate differences between them. This was an enormous step forward when the Covenant of the League was written. The nations had just emerged from the most terrible war in all history. They were still timorous and they left gaps in those treaties quite big enough for the wardogs to crawl through, and between the lines one sensed the lack of confidence in their own pledges. Now the Locarno pact between France, Belgium and Germany has closed all gaps between those countries and offers an immortal example for other nations to follow. It is such a treaty that Briand has suggested as between France and the United States.
Since the United States is not a member of the League of Nations, it has not taken the League commitments. The United States has many treaties of arbitration of the Root and Bryan variety. There are frequent boasts of the superior attitude on the question of arbitration of this country, but the facts are that it has no compact so binding as those of the covenant of the League and none approaching that of France and Germany in sincere pledges to abstain from war.
The treaty is being written, but in the usual secrecy. There have been some official announcements and also leaks in both countries, but whether of truth or mere guesses is unknown. Locarno set a standard to which civilized nations will certainly rise as soon as their intelligence permits. To establish a new treaty with France, after her invitation to renounce war between our two countries that falls below that standard, will be a sorry humiliation for many Americans. A bold all-inclusive treaty, agreeing upon no war and peaceful settlements of all disputes, would be a world triumph, a milestone even higher than Locarno. That treaty was between a great power and a power no longer great; this would be between two great powers. The difference is significant.
When the world went to war there were eight so-called great powers. These were Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Russia, the United States, and Japan. What is a great power? Perhaps some may think it is a nation whose territory and population exceed those of other countries, or whose culture, education and general civilization overtop those of other people. Not at all. A great power is one whose army and navy and general condition enable it to impose its will upon weaker nations. It was the rivalry of the great powers of Europe over trade and markets that led to the competition of armament, and that brought on the World War. Three of these powers ceased to be great after the war. Austria was disarmed and dismembered. Germany was disarmed and lost her navy and her colonies. Her people are the same people, but no longer can she impose her will. Russia surrendered to revolution. Five great powers remain; that is, each is a nation with army and navy and all the varieties of modern equipment sufficient to impose its will upon another nation. All of them would be called empires had they a king. All have colonies, under some title, where people live who are alleged to be backward and whose territory is more or less rich in possibilities. All are afraid, each of the other four. All want to hold big markets for their exported goods and to keep the others out. They are engaged in a competition in trade, a rivalry between dollars and pounds sterling. Governments in all these countries are constantly changing. When one of these appears to hold its finger on the trigger, every other great power Jacks up its preparedness for war. Every one of .them knows that war may burst out at any time over some unexpected incident and in each country there are some who hope the expected "next war" will come soon. Each of these is making its war power stronger by armament, orgamzat1on, and propaganda.
These five nations are just now the war power of the world. Other nations possessing this power may rise, but just now these five nations compose it. They, and they alone, hinder the substitution of peace as an "instrument of policy" for war. Let no one forget nor deny that a nation completely prepared for defense affrights every other nation.
Look backward and downward upon all the nations shivering with fear and preparing for war; look upward to the time when all civilized lands at least will have foresworn war as an institution; is it not as clear as sunlight that when and if these five powers by treaties with each other will agree not to go to war but to settle differences by peaceful means, the backbone of present-day war will have been broken?
It must be understood that arbitration treaties, the usual expression, do not mean settlement of difficulties by the kind of arbitration defined as such in the dictionary, but is, rather, an inclusive term meaning the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.
Treaties of peace, however, in order to be effective in loosening the grip of war psychology, must positively pledge each nation to keep the peace. Between such treaties and the present attitude of national governmental minds there lies a long stretch of necessary undertakings whereby important questions must be definitely answered. Nations may be unwilling to make anti-war agreements until these questions are answered.
It is the custom of all countries, including our own, to exclude from so-called arbitration treaties questions of "national honor," "domestic concern," "national interests," etc. Yet it is clear that any nation might fly from its responsibility in an arbitration treaty and hide behind the claim that the reason for disregarding its pledges is that the dispute is a question of honor or domestic concern. There are few offenses that a nation could not twist into an affront upon its national honor or find it of home concern. These terms have never been defined. No one nation can authoritatively decide what they mean and the definitions must certainly be fixed by all civilized nations together.
An official of Japan, who doubtless represents the official view in that country, announced great interest in Japan over the proposal of Secretary Kellogg to make treaties renouncing war among all nations, but adds that Japan cannot enter into such a compact until the immigration question is settled. In Holland, I learned that the feeling is widespread in Europe that there can be no genuine goodwill toward us until our tariff walls art lowered. Immigration and tariffs are certainly domestic concerns and there are numerous Americans who would shed other men's blood to the last drop before yielding on either point.
The question of interest to us is: Which is the better way; to offer the lives of men on battlefields, or wreck the tempers of statesmen in a series of round tables where talk is the equipment and reason the decisive influence?
There is even a graver problem to be solved. At a rough estimate, we may say that about one-half of the peace people in the world believe that when all-inclusive treaties firmly pledge its signatories to submit all disputes arising to peaceful means of settlement, public opinion is a sufficient guarantee that each nation will honorably keep its pledge; the other half have no such confidence and believe in so-called "sanctions." "Sanctions" means that a penalty will be put upon a nation that has pledged itself to arbitrate its differences and either fails to submit its dispute to any of the peaceful methods, or, having done so, fails to accept the award.
The covenant of the League of Nations in which it must be remembered fifty-six of the sixty-four nations of the world are members, provides in Article 16 that "Should any member of this League resort to war in disregard of its covenants under Articles 12 to 15, it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League." It has been understood that when and if misfortune should arise, it may be necessary for all the nations in the League to unite in making war upon the offending nation in order to bring it to peace. This is a policy firmly advocated by many statesmen, notably those of France, but it is denounced by most of the peace advocates in our own country.
A very serious anxiety possesses men in Europe on this question of sanctions. Thus far they have not been necessary. But when and if they should be ordered by the League of Nations, will the United States, not a member of the League destroy the undertaking by permitting her citizens to sell munitions and to lend money to the offending nation? This is a sore point in Europe that Congressman Burton's bill proposes to soothe.
The question, therefore, of what is to happen when and if any nation should so far forget its pledges as to go to war is a vexed and entirely unsettled one. An equally momentous question is the meaning of the word "aggression" or "aggressor nation." The covenant in the famous Article 10 employs the expression that the nation members will undertake "to preserve as against external aggression" and from that point a controversy began which has circumnavigated the globe.
What is aggression? Who possesses the acumen to determine at what point it starts or what has provoked it? The question remains unanswered while the theory grows that every war sows behind it the seeds of the next one, and that if one would discover the real cause of the Great War it will be necessary to go back to events that happened before history was written.
In the Protocol of Geneva the definition of aggression was definitely made. An aggressor nation, it said, is one that either refuses to submit its disputes to arbitration or to abide by the award. This definition appears to me much like the multiplication table. This definition, however, has not been accepted by the nations. It may have taken time to accept the multiplication table.
These technical questions loom so large just now in the public eye that they seem to constitute all the obstacles between war and peace. Behind the proposal for such treaties, behind the unwillingness to disarm, behind the dream of big navies, there is a staggering situation. Like an incubus, it lies across the way to peace. No human knows how to climb over it, or dig under it, or get around it, nor how to remove it.
Some call it economic rivalry; others, economic penetration, economic exploitation; the new imperialism. Men write books about it and display it as a certain cause for coming wars. There are excuses for a hundred wars in the situation, although the causes call not for war, but reason. [If there is common sense, justice, logic, fair play, in the minds of men, they should be mobilized and put to work upon this task.]
In the words of Dr. Parker Thomas Moon, in his "Imperialism and Politics:"
"More than half of the world's land surface and more than a billion human beings are included in the colonies and backward countries dominated by a few imperialistic nations. Every man, woman, and child in Great Britain has ten colonial subjects, black, brown, and yellow. For every acre in France, there are twenty in the French colonies and protectorates. Italy is as large as her colonies. The nations of Western Europe are dwarfs beside their colonial possessions."
Note than one billion people are living in colonies and dependencies.
It happens that there are only one and a half billions of people in the entire world. One-third only of this number are of the white race, and it is that white race that has gained imperial control of the other two-thirds. The principle whereby these possessions are held is the old, old one:
"The ancient rule sufficeth them, the simple plan
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can."
There is little doubt that the white races would approve peace agreements between themselves, but let no one forget nor deny that each great power and some small ones with large colonial possessions intend to hold that two-thirds of the world under an imperialism more or less benevolent and to impose their will upon it by force. This is an arm of war no nation intends to cut off. It is for this that great navies are built and billions of dollars spent. It is for this that disarmament conferences do not disarm. This, with the war slogan, constitutes the two chief obstacles to peace.
Why at this time are the nations so desperately anxious to hold these possessions? Nathaniel Pepper, in his "White Man's Dilemma," puts it well:
“The vast number and variety of raw materials which are indispensable to the functioning of our industrial machinery, and so many of which are found in economically undeveloped and foreign-controlled lands, cannot be obtained expeditiously, cheaply and profitably if these lands are freed from foreign control. Their inhabitants have not the experience, technology and organizing efficiency to develop their own resources on the scale demanded by modern industry and capital. But foreign capital cannot be invested in such regions without a measure of political and almost complete financial control; otherwise it would be wasted by inefficiency if not eaten away by corruption. In short, let the dependencies of the great empires go free and not only should we lose economically, but our whole industrial system would be thrown out of joint.”
“So,” continues Mr. Pepper, “The action,” and let me interpolate, politics, rivalry, jealousy and war, – “no longer turns on the clash of nation and nation as in Europe sundered by animosities but on the clash of continents, systems, races and civilizations in antagonisms fired by the most inflammable of elements, racial passion.”
A retired American Admiral not long ago painted the picture of British Manchester fighting American Manchester before the gates of China in order to secure the cotton market there. Can it be that we, the people of Great Britain and America, will tolerate so sordid a thing, or would we so far lose our senses as to shout "We fight for liberty and democracy"? And suppose the winner should sail into the port of Shanghai, ready to acclaim his right to sell, would the Chinese repeat the astounding phenomenon of Hongkong and rob him of his triumph?
Says another Admiral, Japan is getting ambitions; we need defense. Ambitions? Was it not our Commodore Perry who tore open the front door of Japan when she chose to keep it shut? In the words of Dooley: "When the door was open, we didn't go in, as in other cases; the Japs kim out." They said to themselves : "We'll learn the ways of these Westerners or otherwise they will subject us as they have other peoples throughout the oriental lands." So they founded an army and sent for Germans to train it, and set up a navy with England to organize it, just like Christians and then invited the white race to permit them to run their own affairs. Why is it that it is patriotism for one nation to prepare to defend itself and dangerous ambition and wily craftiness for another nation to pursue the same policy? There are times when it occurs to me that very great men think and say very silly things.
In his book "The Origin of the Next War," John Bakeless clearly shows the strange similarity in the symptoms of this day as compared with those preceding 1914 and in his final chapter he says:
“We have examined the forces that are slowly drawing us down the road to disaster. The strange thing is that though all our feet are set upon that road, we go reluctantly. No one, not even the modest statesman who is ready to send other men out to die, least of all the soldier who will face death, desires the new war that the whole human race is so blithely preparing. It is not fatality that pursues us, but our folly. For though we solemnly avow our love of peace, we make no effort, while there is still time, to check the forces that are making new wars."
The two horns of the international dilemma are these: on the one side, "the next war," followed by a procession of other wars, all caused by muddled thinking, slowly moving down upon us with the pitiless certainty of an avalanche· and on the other a series of rock-ribbed treaties pledging the civilized nations led by the Great Powers to renounce war as between themselves. It is a race for a goal; the one that arrives first will possess it. Alas, while the avalanche is sliding silently downward, the nations are hesitant, distrustful, uncertain. They await the mandate from the people and the people are, as ever, unable to understand the tangled facts.
In Amsterdam women delegates presented messages from many great men, including Briand, the grandest man of peace in these times; Stresemann, boldly pledging Germany shall lead in peace; Benis, the Czeckoslovakian statesman whose wisdom has won world approval; L. Loudon, the Dutch chairman of the Preliminary Disarmament Commission, and still others. All pronounced the achievement of peace so difficult that it may not be possible unless women work for it with a genuine sense of responsibility and put into it their very utmost capacity. The unanimity of these messages composed a united call to action that made a profound impression there; its echoes we should hear even in distant Washington. If ever there is peace, it will be when women will it, order it, enforce it.
In conclusion, will you, one and all, retire to silence somewhere with the world shut out and put three serious questions to yourselves.
How much moral courage have you?
Are you ready to unite with others to compose an obstacle big enough to stop the avalanche of the next war?
- If men possess heroism enough to die for war, why should you not possess heroism enough to live and give for peace?