WAR AND PEACE
A LEAGUE OF PEACE
THE futility of war as a means of producing peace between nations has often been dwelt upon. It is really the most futile of all remedies, because it embitters contestants and sows the seeds of future struggles. Generations are sometimes required to eradicate the hostility engendered by one conflict. War sows dragons’ teeth, and seldom gives to either party what it fought for. When it does, the spoil generally proves Dead Sea fruit. The terrible war just concluded is another case in point. Neither contestant obtained what he fought for, the reputed victor being most of all disappointed at last with the terms of peace. Had Japan, a very poor country, known that the result would be a debt of two hundred millions sterling loading her down, or had Russia known the result, differences would have been peacefully arbitrated. Such considerations find no place, however, in the fiery furnace of popular clamor; as little do those of cost or loss of life. Only if the moral wrong, the sin in itself, of man-slaying is brought home to the conscience of the masses may we hope speedily to banish war. There will, we fear, always be demagogues in our day to inflame their brutal passions and urge men to fight, as a point of honor and patriotism, scouting arbitration as a cowardly refuge. All thoughts of cost or loss of human life vanish when the brute in man, thus aroused, gains sway.
It is the crime of destroying human life by war and the duty to offer or accept peaceful arbitration as a substitute which need to be established, and which, as we think, those of the church, the universities, and of the professions are called upon to strongly emphasize.
If the principal European nations were not free through conscription from the problem which now disturbs the military authorities of Britain, the lack of sufficient numbers willing to enter the manslaying profession, we should soon hear the demand formulated for a league of peace among the nations. The subject of war can never be studied without recalling this simplest of all modes for its abolition. Five nations cooperated in quelling the recent Chinese disorders and rescuing their representatives in Pekin. It is perfectly clear that these five nations could banish war. Suppose even three of them formed a league of peace—inviting all other nations to join—and agreed that since war in any part of the civilized world affects all nations, and often seriously, no nation shall go to war, but shall refer international disputes to the Hague conference or other arbitral body for peaceful settlement, the league agreeing to declare non-intercourse with any nation refusing compliance. Imagine a nation cut off to-day from the world. The league also might reserve to itself the right, where non-intercourse is likely to fail or has failed to prevent war, to use the necessary force to maintain peace, each member of the league agreeing to provide the needed forces, or money in lieu thereof, in proportion to her population or wealth. Being experimental and upon trial, it might be deemed advisable, if necessary, at first to agree that any member could withdraw after giving five years’ notice, and that the league should dissolve five years after a majority vote of all the members. Further provisions, and perhaps some adaptations, would be found requisite, but the main idea is here.
The Emperor of Russia called the Hague conference, which gave us an international tribunal. Were King Edward or the Emperor of Germany or the President of France, acting for their governments, to invite the nations to send representatives to consider the wisdom of forming such a league, the invitation would no doubt be responded to and probably prove successful.
The number that would gladly join such a league would be great, for the smaller nations would welcome the opportunity.
The relations between Britain, France and the United States to-day are so close, their aims so similar, their territories and fields of operation so clearly defined and so different, that these powers might properly unite in inviting other nations to consider the question of such a league as has been sketched. It is a subject well worthy the attention of their rulers, for of all the modes of hastening the end of war this appears the easiest and the best. We have no reason to doubt that arbitration in its present optional form will continue its rapid progress, and that it in itself contains the elements required finally to lead us to peace, for it conquers wherever it is tried; but it is none the less gratifying to know that there is in reserve a drastic mode of enforcement, if needed, which would promptly banish war. . . .
Let me close by quoting the words of Lincoln. When a young man, employed upon a trading boat, he made a voyage of some weeks’ duration upon the Mississippi. He visited a slave market, where men, women and children were not slaughtered, as formerly in war, but were separated and sold from the auction block. His companion tells that after standing for some time Lincoln turned and walked silently away. Lifting his clenched hand, his first words were, “ If ever I get a chance, I shall hit this accursed thing hard.” Many years passed, during which he never failed to stand forth as the bitter foe of slavery and the champion of the slave. This was for him the paramount issue. He was true to his resolve throughout life, and in the course of events his time came at last. This poor, young, toiling boatman became president of the United States, and was privileged with a stroke of his pen to emancipate the slaves last remaining in the civilized world, four millions in number. He kept the faith, and gave the lesson for all of us in our day, who have still with us war in all its enormity, many of us more or less responsible for it, because we have not hitherto placed it above all other evils and concentrated our efforts sufficiently upon its extinction. Let us resolve like Lincoln, and select man-slaying as our foe, as he did man-selling. Let us, as he did, subordinate all other public questions to the one over-shadowing question, and, as he did, stand forth upon all suitable occasions to champion the cause. Let us, like him, keep the faith, and as his time came, so to us our time will come, and, as it does, let us hit accursed war hard until we drive it from the civilized world, as he did slavery.—Andrew Carnegie in the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY for May, 1906.