When bands are playing, flags flying, and the soldier boys, amid cheers of the crowds, are marching away to war, there is an elemental query that should be uppermost in the sober reflection of all the people, but, for some unaccountable reason, from statesmen to shoe-black, it enter no man's thoughts.
In time the bands play again, the flags fly, rejoicing crowds cheer, and the soldier boys march home.
"The War is over" shout the people. "Our noble war is at an end" say the newspapers. "Blessings on our heroes" prays the Church. Not yet does the elemental query push itself forward and demand attention. In time it does.
That query is: WHO will pay for the war? Who will pay our share in it? HOW will the cost be paid? WHEN will it be paid? These are sordid, ugly questions! and the asking is put off as long as possible. All would prefer to hear the bands play and the crowds cheer.
One of the first things the League of Nations did was to learn the cost of the Great War. It was officially announced as one hundred and eighty-seven billions and our share was twenty-two billions, with an additional ten billions which was loaned to our war associates. It was the first time in the history of mankind that the cost of a great war was determined and publicly announced. But that was at the close of the war. Since then, however, the cost has grown; there has been interest to be paid on these great debts, pensions for soldiers, hospital care for wounded and disabled, and care for millions of men and women thrown out of work or robbed of income by the universal business catastrophes which the war brought to every nation.
Eight and a half years ago the heads of several women's national organizations, including the largest in the United States, agreed that wars cost far too much to be sanctioned by any really civilized nation. They said: "Surely there is intelligence enough in the world to find a better method for settling disputes than war." Therefore, these women formed a National Committee to study the cause and cure of war.
Eight annual conferences have been held, with delegates from every part of the nation. Men and women, whose experiences has taught them definite facts about the cause and cure of war, have come to speak to those audiences. Statesmen, Presidents, Cabinet members, Professors, and correspondents have been among the number. In the interim, reading courses have been prescribed and extensively used. Round Tables, forums, institutes, conferences, have been held all over the country and the National Committee, now in session in New York City, announces that it has learned well both the cause and cure of war.
The causes of war have been enumerated by writers in many pages. I have an interesting list of 257 causes, but, nevertheless, we are convinced that there is only one real cause - the stubborn continuation and support of the war system and the competition of armaments and tactics by governments afraid to substitute peaceful methods for methods of force. There is need of one cure only. That cure is peace machinery, strong enough to restrain each and all nations from war making.
Peace machinery, including the League of Nations, the Paris Pact, the many arbitration and similar treaties between nations, has been created since the close of the war. More machinery for peace has been constructed in these fifteen years than in fifty thousand years before. Yet, the machinery is not effective enough to guarantee the prevention of war, although it has already achieved much and is slowly approaching perfection.
With so many people in the world wanting to bring war to an end, why is it not abolished? Why does a Disarmament Conference sit in Geneva for nearly a year and a half, making eloquent speeches full of promises, yet failing to take a definite strong step toward reduction in armament? Why does not the Economic Conference, soon opening in London, boldly demand the elimination of the huge costs of the maintenance of the war machine by every nation as the first step toward balancing budgets and stabilizing currencies.
Because the world wishes peace, but does not will it. It is timid. It shrinks from demanding what it wants.
The National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War counts eleven organizations and millions of women in its membership. Learning the truth about war, teaching the facts about war, spreading the news of the coming peace, are the ways they are helping to prepare this nation to rise to the bold leadership it should assume in world affairs. We invite you to join us in the business of spreading national and world enlightenment. Let us, together, lead on toward an end of war; an end, too, of the poverty, crime, unemployment, restlessness, and financial ruin which have always been the symptoms of the so-called depressions that invariably follow wars. There never was a war without its aftermath of hard times. There is never money enough to pay for war and that fact causes the trouble. The way to get rid of depressions and all their misfortunes is to abolish their cause - WAR.
Let us mobilize what national common sense there is; let it be equipped with reason and tolerance, and thus, together, march on to the goal of no more war. War can and will be abolished when the people will it.
Catt, C. C. (1933). Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: Speech and Article File, 1892-1946; Speeches; Untitled; 1928 to 1944. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mss154040425.