WELL, it's a racket, all right.
A few profit and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it.
You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at
Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be
smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry
and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government
can conscript the young men of the nation it must conscript capital and industry
and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our
armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders
and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as
the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted to get $30 a month, the same wage
as the lads in the trenches get.
Let the workers in these plants get the same wages all the
workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers
yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all
politicians and all government office holders everyone in the nation be restricted
to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!
Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those
workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their
monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.
Why shouldn't they?
They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies
mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't
hungry. The soldiers are!
Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and
you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket
that and nothing else.
Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So
capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people those who
do the suffering and still pay the price make up their minds that those they elect
to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.
Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the
limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all
the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying.
There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory
or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a
uniform manufacturing plant all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the
event of war voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would
be called upon to shoulder arms to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who
would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of
voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.
There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected.
Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary
to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would
be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their
communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically.
Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of
war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the
power to decide and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit
and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer
should have the right to vote.
A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make
certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.
At each session of Congress the question of further naval
appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a
lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We
need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all,
they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these
admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and
annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy.
For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.
Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For
defense. Uh, huh.
The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the
Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The
maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the
The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond
expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as
would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist,
the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.
The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited,
by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine
would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would
have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample,
in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war
if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted
to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army
should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.
To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.
We must take the profit out of war.
We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide
whether or not there should be war.
We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.