I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know
the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another
Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a
platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he
would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare
war on Germany.
In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they
had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed
away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.
Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?
An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the
war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers.
The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he
told the President and his group:
"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the
allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American
manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.
If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we,
England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and Germany won't.
Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned,
and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been
available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War.
But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our
boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for
democracy" and a "war to end all wars."
Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had
then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France
or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or
Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.
And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that
the World War was really the war to end all wars.
Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms
conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have
been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and
our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?
The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral
wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men
without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at
all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the
sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not
disarm or seriously limit armaments.
The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to
achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for
any potential foe.
There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability.
That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle,
every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.
The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with
battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be
fought with deadly chemicals and gases.
Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier
means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the
shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and
rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the
soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits
But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of
If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish
mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the
constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this
useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war even the
TO HELL WITH WAR!