Archive for 2011

Julia Ward Howe: Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Julia Ward Howe: The Development of the Peace Ideal


Julia Ward Howe
Mother’s Day Proclamation (1870)

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stephen Crane: There was crimson clash of war

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Stephen Crane: An Episode of War

Stephen Crane: War Is Kind


Stephen Crane
There was crimson clash of war (1905)

There was crimson clash of war.
Lands turned black and bare;
Women wept;
Babes ran, wondering.
There came one who understood not these things.
He said, “Why is this?”
Whereupon a million strove to answer him.
There was such intricate clamour of tongues,
That still the reason was not.

Categories: Uncategorized

William Vaughn Moody: Bullet’s scream went wide of its mark to its homeland’s heart

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war


William Vaughn Moody
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines (1901)

Streets of the roaring town,
Hush for him, hush, be still!
He comes, who was stricken down
Doing the word of our will.
Hush! Let him have his state,
Give him his soldier’s crown.
The grists of trade can wait
Their grinding at the mill,
But he cannot wait for his honor, now the trumpet has been blown.
Wreathe pride now for his granite brow, lay love on his breast of stone.

Toll! Let the great bells toll
Till the clashing air is dim.
Did we wrong this parted soul?
We will make it up to him.
Toll! Let him never guess
What work we set him to.
Laurel, laurel, yes;
He did what we bade him do.
Praise, and never a whispered hint but the fight he fought was good;
Never a word that the blood on his sword was his country’s own heart’s-blood.

A flag for the soldier’s bier
Who dies that his land may live;
O, banners, banners here,
That he doubt not nor misgive!
That he heed not from the tomb
The evil days draw near
When the nation, robed in gloom,
With its faithless past shall strive.
Let him never dream that his bullet’s scream went wide of its island mark,
Home to the heart of his darling land where she stumbled and sinned in the dark. 

Categories: Uncategorized

American writers on peace and against war

December 28, 2011 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts


George Ade: The dubious rights granted a people “liberated” through war

Conrad Aiken: The history of war is the history of mankind, seven thousand million dead on the field of battle

Conrad Aiken: Vast symphonic dance of death

Julius Myron Alexander: The Flag of Peace

Julius Myron Alexander: It is but war, ask not the cause

Hervey Allen: Dragon’s Breath

Hervey Allen: Hands off our dead! To war orators.

James Lane Allen: Then white and heavenly Peace again. Eteocles and Polyneices in America

Ellen P. Allerton: Peace After War

Sherwood Anderson: War destroys brotherhood

W. H. Anderson: Our Brother’s Keeper

H. Lavinia Baily: By the Sea. An Argument for Peace.

H. Lavinia Baily: A Lost Song?

H. Lavinia Baily: A New Earth

H. Lavinia Baily: Recall

Josephine Turck Baker: To the Mothers of the Martyred Dead upon the Field of Battle

Joel Barlow: War after war his hungry soul require, each land lie reeking with its people’s slain

Katharine Lee Bates: Selections on war and peace

Katharine Lee Bates: Carnage! Bayonet, bomb and shell! Merry reading for hell!

Katherine Lee Bates: Children of the War

Katharine Lee Bates: The doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns

Katherine Lee Bates: Fodder for Cannon

Katharine Lee Bates: Marching Feet

Katharine Lee Bates: Mother

Katharine Lee Bates: When the Millennium Comes

Edward Bellamy: We have no wars now, and our governments no war powers

Stephen Vincent Benét: The dead march from the last to the next blind war

Stephen Vincent Benét: Nightmare For Future Reference: The second year of the Third World War

Stephen Vincent Benét: Toy soldiers

W. C. Benet: Hymn of Peace

William Rose Benét: The Red Country

Ida Whipple Benham: The Friend of Peace

Ida Whipple Benham: War’s weeding

Ida Whipple Benham: The White Prince of peace

Adelaide George Bennett: The Peace-Pipe Quarry

Samuel Bernard: A pipe dream of peace

Ambrose Bierce: Selections on war

Ambrose Bierce: Chickamauga

Ambrose Bierce: The Coup de Grâce

Ambrose Bierce: Demonic war

Ambrose Bierce: He created patriotism and taught the nations war

Ambrose Bierce: Killed At Resaca

Ambrose Bierce: Military Malthusianism

Ambrose Bierce: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce: War as parricide

Ambrose Bierce: Warlike America

Charles A. Blanchard: What is war? Is peace possible?

Robert Bly: War, writers and government money

Carl John Bostelmann: Hate, still thy drums! War, make thy trumpets mute!

Randolph Bourne: Selections on war

Randolph Bourne: The War and the Intellectuals

Randolph Bourne: War and the State

Randolph Bourne: Willing war means willing all the evils that are organically bound up with it

Randolph Bourne: Conscience and Intelligence in War

Randolph Bourne: Twilight of Idols

Randolph Bourne: Below the Battle

Berton Braley: The nobler army fights the bloodless battles of industry and peace

Edward Arnold Brenholtz: Selections on peace and war

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Demon, War

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Dying Warrior

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: If war is sane, make me insane

Edward Arnold Brenholtz: Now be the God of Peace adored

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Passion of Peace

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: Peace, the Conqueror

Louis Bromfield: NATO, Permanent War Panic and America’s Messiah Complex

Van Wyck Brooks: The truth about war that Mark Twain could only divulge after death

William E. Brooks: Memorial Day

Laura Helena Brower: Heritage. The blighted fruit of war.

Charles Brockden Brown: Such is the spectacle exhibited in every field of battle

Waldo R. Browne: War, a parable

Kenneth Bruce: Universal Peace

William Jennings Bryan: What the world would have lost if Shakespeare had been killed as a soldier, Burns had fallen on the battlefield

William Cullen Bryant: Christmas 1875

William Cullen Bryant: Emblem of the peace that yet shall be, noise of war shall cease from sea to sea

John Wright Buckham: The Heroisms of Peace

George Shepard Burleigh: Martial Heroism

George Shepard Burleigh: When shall the crystal fount of Peace wash out the hideous stain of blood?

Dana Burnett: Selections on war

Dana Burnet: Ammunition. The Dead.

Dana Burnet: Christmas in the Trenches

Dana Burnet: The Deserter

Dana Burnet: The Dreadnaught

Dana Burnet: The Glory of War

Dana Burnet: Napoleon’s Tomb

Dana Burnet: Sleep, Little Soldier, Sleep

Dana Burnet: The Village

Dana Burnet: War

Dana Burnet: The world’s awry and there are no more dreams!

Vincent Godfrey Burns: An Ex-Serviceman Makes a Vow

Vincent Godfrey Burns: Hell à la mode

Vincent Godfrey Burns: The Hun

Amelia Josephine Burr: Two Viewpoints

Elihu Burritt: Dismantled Arsenals. Death, sin and Satan weep over the grave of their renowned confederate, War.

Elihu Burritt: Woman and War

Struthers Burt: To a Friend Wanting War

Witter Bynner: War

William Herbert Carruth: When the Cannon Booms

Alice Cary: Better dwell the lowliest shepherd of Arcadia’s bowers

Anne Cleveland Cheney: All Ye Who Pass By

Charles Chesnutt: Justice, Peace – the seed and the flower of civilisation

Thomas Curtis Clark: Apparitions

Thomas Curtis Clark: Bugle Song of Peace

Thomas Curtis Clark: Who made war?

Florence Earle Coates: The New Mars

Florence Earle Coates: War

Humphrey Cobb: Selections on war

Humphrey Cobb: Generals are reassured by the smell of the dead

Humphrey Cobb: Hallucination of fantastic butchery; too much for one man to bear

Humphrey Cobb: The paths of glory lead but to the rats

Humphrey Cobb: Reworking the sixth commandment for war; thou shalt not commit individual murder

Humphrey Cobb: War never settled anything except who was the strongest

John Collins: Till war becomes a crime abhorred, and earth be blessed with endless peace

Elizabeth Connor: This World War

James Fenimore Cooper: Is there a star where war and bloodshed aren’t known?

James Fenimore Cooper: Oppression and injustice the natural consequences of military power uncurbed by restraints of civil authority

James Fenimore Cooper: War’s victory not worth the sacrifice of human life

Malcolm Cowley: By day there are only the dead

Wilbur F. Crafts: Not mailed but nailed the hands he turned to the world

Stephen Crane: An Episode of War

Stephen Crane: There was crimson clash of war

Stephen Crane: War Is Kind

F. Marion Crawford: Find a priest for those I have killed

F. Marion Crawford: The real issue is between civilization and barbarism, between peace and war

F. Marion Crawford: When everyone understands war it will stop by universal consent

F. Marion Crawford: The world dreads the very name of war, lest it should become universal once it breaks out

Maria Briscoe Croker: War and Peace

Ernest Crosby: Selections against war, for peace

Ernest Crosby: The Bugler in the Rear

Ernest Crosby: Peace

Ernest Crosby: The Peace Congress

Ernest Crosby: Peace has outgrown all that, for Peace is a man

Ernest Crosby: They know not love that love not peace

Ernest Crosby: War and Hell

Ernest Crosby: Woman and War

Martha Foote Crow: There is no Christ left in all those carnage-loving lands

E. E. Cummings: Detention camp during wartime

Mary L. Cummins: The News of War

Mary L. Cummins: The Women Who Wait

Olive Tilford Dargan: Beyond War

Richard Harding Davis: Destruction versus civilization, soldiers and engineers

John William De Forest: Uncivil war

Cecelia De Vere: The American flag. Peacemakers, called the children of Great God.

Emily Dickinson: I many times thought Peace had come

Nathan Haskell Dole: Selections on peace

Nathan Haskell Dole: Death: War is my Master-stroke since Days of Yore

Nathan Haskell Dole: Here are War’s pomp and circumstance

Nathan Haskell Dole: Peace’s exultation

Nathan Haskell Dole: The Reign of Peace

Nathan Haskell Dole: Thanks offering of the God of Waste and Destruction

Nathan Haskell Dole: The Vision of Peace

John Dos Passos: Selections on war

John Dos Passos: Meat for guns. Shot for saying the war was wrong.

John Dos Passos: The miserable dullness of industrialized slaughter

John Dos Passos: Not wake up till the war was over and you could be a human being again

John Dos Passos: They were going to kill everybody who spoke that language

John Dos Passos: Three Soldiers

John Dos Passos on Randolph Bourne: War is the health of the state

John Dos Passos: What was the good of stopping the war if the armies continued?

Marion Doyle: Mars and Kings have silenced all their singing

Theodore Dreiser: If he went he might be shot, and what would his noble emotion amount to then? He would rather make money, regulate current political, social and financial affairs

Theodore Dreiser: The logic of military victory, an apologue

Theodore Dreiser and Smedley Butler: War is a Racket

Louise Driscoll: The Metal Checks

W.E.B. Du Bois: Work for Peace

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Birds of peace and deadened hearts

S. B. Dunn: In Terra Pax

Finley Peter Dunne: A great nation at war (in the vernacular)

J.A. Edgerton: A Song of Peace

J.A. Edgerton: When the cannon’s roar shall be heard no more

Emma Catherine Embury: Proud soldier turns from scenes of war

Ralph Waldo Emerson: All history is the decline of war. Cannot peace be, as well as war?

Ralph Waldo Emerson: The cause of peace is not the cause of cowardice

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Universal peace is as sure as is the prevalence of civilization over barbarism

John Erskine: Dedication

Nathaniel Evans: Ode on the Prospect of Peace

Maria Louise Eve: Disarm!

Laura Bell Everett: The Skein of Grievous War

Marianne Farningham: Give Peace

William Faulkner: All we ever needed to do is just say, Enough of this

William Faulkner: There is only the question: When will I be blown up?

William Faulkner: To militarists, all civilians, even their own, are alien intruders

Eugene Field and Thorne Smith: Bacchus disables Mars

F. Scott Fitzgerald: War comes to Princeton

Mary Weston Fordham: Ode to Peace

Harold Frederic: War inflicts stifling political conformity

Robert Freeman: Peace on Earth

Philip Freneau: Death smiles alike at battles lost or won

Philip Freneau: The Prospect of Peace

Henry Blake Fuller: Killed and wounded on the fields of hate

Margaret Fuller: America, with no prouder emblem than the Dove

F. Benjamin Gage: The Sword and the Plough

Hamlin Garland: Cog in a vast machine for killing men

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Selections from the Peace Sonnets

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: The blessed salve of peace for the whole bleeding world

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Crown him with many crowns, the Prince of Peace

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: I sing the soldiers of the coming wars, those that save and heal

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Speak peace, that thou and all the lands may live, ere thou and they all perish by the sword!

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: They say they are of Christ and do the works of Cain

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: War is the mailèd hand of criminal states

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: We feed bread of our children to the war-god’s greed

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Flag of Peace

Mary Putnam Gilmore: Sweet Peace is Here

Ellen Glasgow: Selections on war

Ellen Glasgow: The Altar of the War God

Ellen Glasgow: His vision of the future only an endless warfare and a wasted land

Ellen Glasgow: The Reign of the Brute

Ellen Glasgow: “That killed how many? how many?”

Ellen Glasgow: Then the rows of dead men stared at him through the falling rain in the deserted field

Edgar Guest: The Peaceful Warriors

Louise Imogen Guiney: The voice of Peace

Hermann Hagedorn: Selections against war

Hermann Hagedorn: The fourth estate turning the thoughts of our children to war

Hermann Hagedorn: How to engineer a war

Hermann Hagedorn: Leave God out of the game!

Hermann Hagedorn: Slaughter! And voices, begging shrill the merciful grace of death.

Hermann Hagedorn; There’s nothing like a war to make a man president

James Norman Hall: Broken, bleeding bodies with all their beauty gone

Hala Jean Hammond: War’s black hatred

Philip M. Harding: White Feather

C. F. Harper: Song of the Battleships

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Selections on peace and war

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Do Not Cheer, Men Are Dying

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Furl the banners stained with blood, ’till war shall be no more

Frances Ellen Harper Watkins: Grant that peace and joy and gladness may like holy angels tread

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Home from war

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Music to soothe all sorrow till war and crime shall cease

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Peace till war and crime shall cease

Frank Harris: Soulless selfishness of war; Anglo-Saxon domineering combativeness greatest danger to Humanity

Frank Harris: Henri Barbusse and the war against war

Charles Yale Harrison: Selections on war

Charles Yale Harrison: Bombardment, maniacal congealed hatred

Charles Yale Harrison: This is called an artillery duel

Charles Yale Harrison: Two kinds of people in the world, those who like wars and those who fight them

Charles Yale Harrison: War and really murdering someone

Charles Yale Harrison: War is a hell that no god, however cruel, would fashion for his most deadly enemies

Charles Yale Harrison: War’s snarling, savage beasts

Charles Yale Harrison: War’s whispered reminder, you must come back to my howling madness

Charles Yale Harrison: We have learned who our enemies are

Charles Yale Harrison: Who can comfort whom in war? The mother of the man who died at the end of my bayonet

Ernest Hartsock: Let Mars and all his mangled mourners pass

Ernest Hartsock: Who told you God raises sons to slay them all in battle?

W. T. Hawkins: A Song of Peace

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selections on war

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?

Nathaniel Hawthorne on war: Drinking out of skulls till the Millennium

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Every warlike achievement involves an amount of physical and moral evil

Nathaniel Hawthorne: How glorious it would have been if our forefathers could have kept the country unspotted with blood!

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Slaughter’s way. No laurel wreath can wake the silent dead.

Nathaniel Hawthorne: War personified; red cheek emblem of fire and sword; blackness of other betokened mourning that attends them

Ernest Hemingway: Selections on war

Ernest Hemingway: All armies are the same

Ernest Hemingway: Beaten to start with, beaten when they took them from their farms and put them in the army

Ernest Hemingway: Champs d’Honneur

Ernest Hemingway: Combat the murder that is war

Ernest Hemingway: “Down with the officers. Viva la Pace!”

Ernest Hemingway: “If everybody would not attack the war would be over”

Ernest Hemingway: “It doesn’t finish. There is no finish to a war.”

Ernest Hemingway: Nothing sacred about war’s stockyards

Ernest Hemingway: Perhaps wars weren’t won any more. Maybe they went on forever.

Ernest Hemingway: There are people who would make war, there are other people who would not make war

Ernest Hemingway: Who wins wars?

O. Henry: The ethics of justifiable slaughter

Stefan Heym: Sure it’s a vicious circle, it’s war

Stefan Heym: The whole scene was immersed in the silence of absolute death

Stefan Heym: The world market…making new wars

Amanda M. Hicks: A Truce for the Toilers

Leslie Pinckney Hill: The patriotism of pacifism

Martha Lavinia Hoffman: The Song of Peace

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Hymn to Peace

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Not so enamored of the drum and trumpet

John Horn: False Ideas About War and Peace

Julia Ward Howe: The Development of the Peace Ideal

Julia Ward Howe: Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870

William Dean Howells: Selections on war

William Dean Howells: Editha

William Deans Howells: Everyday sacrifices.”I don’t want to see any more men killed in my time.”

William Dean Howells: If we have war, every good cause will be set back

William Dean Howells to Henry James: The most stupid and causeless war

William Dean Howells: Spanish Prisoners of War

William Dean Howells: On Mark Twain and war

William Dean Howells to Mark Twain: War for humanity turned into war for coal-stations

William Dean Howells: War Stops Literature

William Dean Howells: Warmongers should tremble when they remember that God is just

William Dean Howells: Wilson’s Mexican war, wickeder than that of 1846

Langston Hughes: A mighty army serving human kind, not an army geared to kill

James Huneker: Remy de Gourmont and philosophic abhorrence of war

Frank Walcott Hutt: The Peace Congress

Washington Irving: The laudable spirit of military emulation. Soldiers, poor animals

Washington Irving: Most pacific nation in the world? Rather the most warlike

Washington Irving: The renown not purchased by deeds of violence and blood

Henry James: Beguiled into thinking war, worst horror that attends the life of nations, could not recur

Henry James: No more sacrifice on the altar of war

Henry James: War, the waste of life and time and money

William James: Selections on war

William James: At the least temptation all the old military passions rise and sweep everything before them

William James: The horrors of a war of conquest

William James: The Moral Equivalent of War

William James: Party of civilization must oppose increase of military might

William James: The Philippine Tangle

William James: A sweet little place. One never sees a soldier.

Randall Jarrell: In bombers named for girls, we burned the cities we had learned about in school

Robinson Jeffers: Eagle Valor, Chicken Mind

Robert Underwood Johnson: The fairest of daughters, heavenly Peace

Rossiter Johnson: Infinitely better to learn how to avert war

Rossiter Johnson: Where swell the songs thou shouldst have sung by peaceful rivers yet to flow?

Harry Kemp: I Sing the Battle

Frederic Lawrence Knowles: The New Age. The victory which is peace.

Raymond Kresensky: When patriotism is pushing propaganda for war

Sidney Lanier: Selections on war

Sidney Lanier: Blood-red flower of war, whose odors strangle a people, whose roots are in hell

Sidney Lanier: Death in Eden

Sidney Lanier: Dialogue on the war-flower

Sidney Lanier: War by other means

Sidney Lanier: The wind blew all the vanes in the country in one way – toward war

Richard Le Gallienne: Selections on war

Richard Le Gallienne: Christ at Notre Dame: abhorred be they who ever draw again the sword

Richard Le Gallienne: The Illusion of War

Richard Le Gallienne: Is this to be strong, ye nations, your vulgar battles to fight?

Richard Le Gallienne: A nation is merely a big fool with an army

Richard Le Gallienne: Poetry and war

Richard Le Gallienne: The Rainbow

Ruth Le Prade: Out of Chaos

Derrick Norman Lehmer: Militarism

William Ellery Leonard: The Pied Piper

Sinclair Lewis: Selections on war

Sinclair Lewis: Can’t depend on Providence to supply wars when you need them

Sinclair Lewis: College education makes soldiers more patriotic, flag-waving, and skillful in the direction of slaughter

Sinclair Lewis: The democracy of death

Sinclair Lewis: The disguised increase, false economizing of war budgets

Sinclair Lewis: Don’t much care what kind of war they prepare for

Sinclair Lewis: For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more…for peace!

Sinclair Lewis: General: State of peace far worse than war

Sinclair Lewis: Get us into war just to grease their insane vanity and show the world that we’re the huskiest nation going

Sinclair Lewis: Inevitable war with Canada, Mexico, Russia, Cuba, Japan, or perhaps Staten Island

Sinclair Lewis: It Can(‘t) Happen Here

Sinclair Lewis: The only thing not absurd about wars was that they kill a good many millions of people

Sinclair Lewis: Other Unavoidable Wars to End All Wars

Sinclair Lewis: Pining for a good war

Vachel Lindsay: Speak Now for Peace

Vachel Lindsay: Tolstoi, that angel of peace

Vachel Lindsay: The Unpardonable Sin

Martha Shepard Lippincott: Nations now for mammon fight

Martha Shepard Lippincott: Peace on Earth

Martha Shepard Lippincott: Shame will fall upon us for barbarous deeds of war

Jack London: Some day all men will counsel peace. No man will slay his fellow. All men will plant.

Jack London: War

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Forevermore, forevermore, the reign of violence is o’er!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: I am weary of your quarrels, weary of your wars and bloodshed

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals the blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies!

Amy Lowell: Misericordia

Amy Lowell: A pattern called a war. Christ! What are patterns for?

James Russell Lowell: Selections on war and peace

James Russell Lowell: Dante and universal peace

James Russell Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood

James Russell Lowell: The military qualifications of a prospective president

James Russell Lowell: Uncle Sam presents his bill for war

James Russell Lowell: A war supporter’s credo

Ernest Neal Lyon: A Dream of Peace

Archibald MacLeish: The disastrous war, the silent slain

Albert Maltz: A children’s wartime bestiary

Albert Maltz: Conquering the world but losing your son

Albert Maltz: “Ten thousand dead today. That’s what the war means.”

Edwin Markham: Peace

Edwin Markham: Peace Over Africa

Edwin Markham: Semiramis, the conqueror

E. P. Marvin: War Disenchanted

Caroline Atherton Mason: Enemy, oh, let our warfare cease!

Edgar Lee Masters: “The honor of the flag must be upheld”

Edgar Lee Masters: The Philippine Conquest

Edgar Lee Masters: The words, Pro Patria, what do they mean, anyway?

Peter Maurin: Disarmament of the heart

John McGovern: War: three letters, fifty million plunged into worst misfortune

Thomas McGrath: All the Dead Soldiers

Thomas McGrath: Homecoming

Thomas McGrath: Nocturne Militaire

Thomas McGrath: Ode for the American Dead in Asia

Thomas McGrath: Senators mine our lives for another war

Grenville Mellen: The Lonely Bugle Grieves

Grenville Mellen: Slaughter rides screaming on the vengeful ball

Herman Melville: Selections on peace and war

Herman Melville: Characterological drawback of consorting with cannon

Herman Melville: Gaining glory by a distinguished slaughtering of their fellow-men

Herman Melville: How can a religion of peace flourish in a castle of war?

Herman Melville: In the solace of the Truce of God, the Calumet has come

Herman Melville: Minister of the Prince of Peace serving the God of War

Herman Melville: Trophies of Peace

Herman Melville: War-pits and rattraps. Soldier sold to the army as Faust sold himself to the devil.

Herman Melville: When shall the time come, how much longer will God postpone it?

Herman Melville: The whole matter of war is a thing that smites common-sense and Christianity in the face

H.L. Mencken: New wars will bring about an unparalleled butchery of men

Thomas Merton: Simone Weil and why nations go to war

Lillian Rozell Messenger: Seeking a new world of peace

Lillian Rozell Messenger: Why this feast of shells each day, the fury, blood and wail of war?

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Conscientious Objector

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Lament

Emily Huntington Miller: Hymn of Peace

Joaquin Miller: The People’s Song of Peace

Ruth Comfort Mitchell: He Went for a Soldier

Harriet Monroe: Over me wash the seas of war

William Vaughn Moody: Bullet’s scream went wide of its mark to its homeland’s heart

Marianne Moore: I must fight till I have conquered in myself what causes war

Angela Morgan: Selections on war and peace

Angela Morgan: Beauty thy call must wait (while world is furrowed by graves of precious youth who died in vain)

Angela Morgan: For the moment’s red renown. Battle Cry of the Mothers.

Angela Morgan: God prays for peace

Angela Morgan: In Spite of War

Angela Morgan: Mothers “Go, fashion the Future’s laws that war shall be no more”

Angela Morgan: The Summons

Angela Morgan: Tell us the battlefields have lied, that men are still immaculate

Angela Morgan: War! Shall you be our lover? War! Shall you be our mate?

Angela Morgan: Whether to yield in meekness to War’s devouring curse

Christopher Morley: Humanity’s most beautiful gift, Peace

Christopher Morley: No enthusiasm for hymns of hate

Jean Lewis Morris: A Patriot I!

Philip Stafford Moxom: The Palace of Peace

Benjamin Musser: Paradox

Charles Eliot Norton: Fighting the devil with his own arms: Declaration of war does not change the moral law

Grace Fallow Norton: O I have heard the drums beat for war!

Sara Louisa Oberholtzer: The dawn of peace is breaking!

Eugene O’Neill: The hell that follows war

Frances Sargent Osgood: Peace and the olive branch

Josephine Preston Peabody: Harvest Moon

Lori Petri: Battleships

David Graham Phillips: Captains of industry, industrial warfare, marauders and renegade generals

David Graham Phillips: Hate war and fightin’ and money grabbin’

John Pierpont: Not on the Battle-Field

Edgar Allan Poe: The Valley of Unrest

Ernest Poole: Apply for death certificates here. War’s house of death.

Ernest Poole: The hatred rising in all men has already butchered millions and will butcher millions more!

Ernest Poole: War cuts off the past from the future

Ernest Poole: War was the fashion. War was a pageant, a thing of romance.

Beatrice Witte Ravenel: Missing. How many women in how many lands wait beside the desolate hearthstone!

Frank C. Reighter: Victim of War’s murd’rous tyranny

Elmer Rice: The expediency of choosing the right side in a war

Charles Richardson: The Dawn of Peace

James Whitcomb Riley: Sang! sang on! sang hate – sang war –

Edwin Arlington Robinson: Though your very flesh and blood the Eagle eats and drinks, you’ll praise him for the best of birds

E. Merrill Root: Drill, like sheep with wolves’ fangs, meek to kill

E. Merrill Root: Military drill. Murder’s witless marionettes.

Rick Rozoff: A Protest

Edwin L. Sabin: Where Will the War be Next?

Edgar Saltus: Soldiers and no farmers; imperial sterility…and demise

Francis Saltus Saltus: Selections on peace and war

Francis Saltus Saltus: Deem you one ambitious whose subjects bleed and perish on a field?

Francis Saltus Saltus: If we saw but a century of peace

Francis Saltus Saltus: Peace to see our Love and Law arrived to witness cruel War

Francis Saltus Saltus: Thy theme was one of utter peace

Francis Saltus Saltus: The wind favors poets over conquerors

Carl Sandburg: Selections on war

Carl Sandburg: And They Obey

Carl Sandburg: The grass grows over Austerlitz and Waterloo

Carl Sandburg: Ready to Kill

Carl Sandburg: Statistics

Carl Sandburg: Wars

Carl Sandburg: What it costs to move two buttons one inch on the war map

George Santayana: Selections on war

George Santayana on war and militarism

George Santayana: Fatal wars: equally needless, equally murderous

George Santayana: If dreadful outer world became troublesome, it would be necessary to make war on it and teach it a lesson

George Santayana: Only the dead have seen the end of war

George Santayana: Such blind battles ought not to be our battles

George Santayana: We want peace and make war

Mary McDermott Santley: The serene light of peace to all mankind

Lawrence Schoonover: Accursed powder

Lawrence Schoonover: An age of strict justice and peace, when nations shall live under law, without war

Lawrence Schoonover: An entire nation praying for peace at one time

Clinton Scollard: Selections on war and peace

Clinton Scollard: Can mankind win to heights of peace and perfect amity?

Clinton Scollard: The Carnival of war

Clinton Scollard: Mars’ mad and holocaustal rite

Clinton Scollard: The Night Sowers

Clinton Scollard: Prayer: bid this reign of hate and horror end!

Clinton Scollard: Sunset Trees

Clinton Scollard: The Vale of Shadows

Clinton Scollard: Victories

Clinton Scollard: The Watcher by the Tower

Clinton Scollard: The Winds of God

Kate Brownlee Sherwood: This one soft whisper – Peace

Robert Sherwood: War is essentially a false, hideous mistake

Lydia Sigourney: Peace was the song the angels sang

Louise Morgan Sill: I am the Hell-god, War!

Upton Sinclair: Selections on war

Upton Sinclair: After war, the color revolution cleanup

Upton Sinclair: A banker’s post-war nightmare

Upton Sinclair: Decade of national cynicism, corruption followed “war for democracy”

Upton Sinclair: Gigantic stir of war preparation for global territorial aggrandizement

Upton Sinclair: How wars start, how they can be prevented

Upton Sinclair: The Juggernaut of war flattens out all opposition

Upton Sinclair: The lost people are those who go to be shot, killed in big war (Dante through Vanzetti)

Upton Sinclair: New Lysistratas: Women must refuse to have babies until men stop killing

Upton Sinclair: The plea of Nicola Sacco, “What is war?”

Upton Sinclair: Spending several times as much money to prepare for an even greater war to end war

Upton Sinclair: U.S. invasion of Russia: nothing but wholesale murder; American army and navy as a world police-force

Upton Sinclair: Using all the machinery and brains of civilization to slaughter one another

Upton Sinclair: The war system, bankers recouping the costs of war propaganda

Upton Sinclair: War’s one-sided boost to the economy

Upton Sinclair: What it costs a woman to keep the world at war

Upton Sinclair: World war as a business enterprise

Ina Duvall Singleton: The Women’s Litany

Rembert G. Smith: O bid the wars of men to cease

Thorne Smith: Make statues of war’s wholesale butchers before they strike

Fanny Bixby Spencer: The shame of the cannonade

Fanny Bixby Spencer: Will your son kill mine or will mine kill yours?

George Sterling: To the War-Lords

George Sterling: War past, present, future

Arthur E. Stilwell: The Day of Peace

Margaret Stineback: The Unknown Soldier

Frank Stockton: Battles of annihilation, the Anglo-American War Syndicate

Frank Stockton: The Great War Syndicate: “On to Canada!”

Sara Teasdale: Dusk in War Time

Sara Teasdale: Spring in War-Time

Edith Matilda Thomas: Air war: They are not humans.

Edith Matilda Thomas: The Altar of Moloch

Edith Matilda Thomas: The Flag

Henry David Thoreau: It is commonly said that history is a chronicle of war

Henry David Thoreau: Taxes enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood

Henry David Thoreau: War belies the claim that civilization is making rapid progress

Eunice Tietjens: Children of War

Edythe C. Toner: The Wraiths

Katrina Trask: Selections on war and peace

Katrina Trask: After the Battle

Katrina Trask: Civilized warfare

Katrina Trask: A dialogue on God and war

Katrina Trask: The Logic of War

Katrina Trask: The Statue of Peace

Katrina Trask: “Wars shall cease. Peace shall knit the world together in a bond of common Brotherhood.”

Lucia Trent: Breed, little mothers, breed for the war lords who slaughter your sons

Lucia Trent: Women of War

Nancy Byrd Turner: Let Us Have Peace

Mark Twain: Selections on war

Mark Twain: The War Prayer

Mark Twain: To the Person Sitting in Darkness

Mark Twain: The basest type of patriotism: support for war and imperialism

Mark Twain: The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date)

Mark Twain: Cain and mankind’s legacy of war

Mark Twain: Epitome of war, the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity

Mark Twain: Grotesque self-deception of war

Mark Twain: I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.

Mark Twain: Maxims on battleships and statesmanship

Mark Twain: Only dead men dare tell the whole truth about war

Mark Twain: Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War

Mark Twain: An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war

Mark Twain on Western military threat to China: I am a Boxer

Mark Twain: Cecil Rhodes and the civilizing mission: He wants the earth and wants it for his own

Louis Untermeyer: Daybreak after war

Henry van Dyke: Stain Not the Sky

Thorstein Veblen: Habituation to war entails a body of predatory habits of thought

Louise B. Waite: Let There Be Peace

Henry Ward: Ode to Peace

Gretchen Warren: Dying Peace

Maurice C. Waugh: A Plea for Peace

James H. West: No More

Nathanael West: Selections on war

Nathanael West: Every defeat is a victory in a war of attrition

Nathanael West: The noble motives, the noble methods of war

Nathanael West: Not their fault, they thought they had bombed a hospital

Nathanael West: One live recruit is better than a dozen dead veterans

Nathanael West: They haven’t the proper military slant

Phillis Wheatley: From every tongue celestial Peace resounds

Robert Whitaker: Whence Cometh War?

Walt Whitman: Away with themes of war! away with war itself!

Anna M. Whitney: The Call for Peace

John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war

John Greenleaf Whittier: Disarmament

John Greenleaf Whittier: The Gospel of Christ is peace, not war, and love, not hatred

John Greenleaf Whittier: If this be Peace, pray what is War?

John Greenleaf Whittier: Nobler than the sword’s shall be the sickle’s accolade

John Greenleaf Whittier: The Peace Convention at Brussels

John Greenleaf Whittier: The stormy clangor of wild war music o’er the earth shall cease

Margaret Widdemer: After War

Margaret Widdemer: Men have to wage world-wars, children are left to die

Margaret Widdemer: A Mother to the War-Makers

Margaret Widdemer: War-March

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Selections on peace and war

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: The Paean of Peace

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: A Plea To Peace

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: What We Need

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: When the Regiment Came Back

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Women and War

Thomas Wolfe: His imperial country at war, possessed of the inspiration for murder

Thomas Wolfe: Santimony and cant of war

Clement Wood: Seedtime and harvest

Clement Wood: Victory – Without Peace

George Edward Woodberry: American I am; would wars were done

Elinor Wylie: Peace falls unheeded on the dead

Barbara Young: Peace is not bought with dead men slain

Categories: Uncategorized

Edgar Allan Poe: The Valley of Unrest

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war


Edgar Allan Poe
The Valley of Unrest (1845)

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless —
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye —
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep: — from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edwin Arlington Robinson: Though your very flesh and blood the Eagle eats and drinks, you’ll praise him for the best of birds

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war


Edwin Arlington Robinson

“Today I have been thinking of Hitler and of what one fanatic neurotic may yet do to us and drag us into. It is all right to say it can’t happen here, but unfortunately it can.”

Letter, 1934


Cassandra (1914)

I heard one who said: “Verily,
What word have I for children here?
Your Dollar is your only Word,
The wrath of it your only fear.

“You build it altars tall enough
To make you see but you are blind;
You cannot leave it long enough
To look before you or behind.

“When Reason beckons you to pause,
You laugh and say that you know best;
But what it is you know, you keep
As dark as ingots in a chest.

“You laugh and answer, ‘We are young;
Oh, leave us now, and let us grow:’
Not asking how much more of this
Will Time endure or Fate bestow.

“Because a few complacent years
Have made your peril of your pride,
Think you that you are to go on
Forever pampered and untried?

“What lost eclipse of history,
What bivouac of the marching stars,
Has given the sign for you to see
Milleniums and last great wars?

“What unrecorded overthrow
Of all the world has ever known,
Or ever been, has made itself
So plain to you, and you alone?

“Your Dollar, Dove, and Eagle make
A Trinity that even you
Rate higher than you rate yourselves;
It pays, it flatters, and it’s new.

“And though your very flesh and blood
Be what the Eagle eats and drinks,
You’ll praise him for the best of birds,
Not knowing what the eagle thinks.

“The power is yours, but not the sight;
You see not upon what you tread;
You have the ages for your guide,
But not the wisdom to be led.

“Think you to tread forever down
The merciless old verities?
And are you never to have eyes
To see the world for what it is?

“Are you to pay for what you have
With all you are?” – No other word
We caught, but with a laughing crowd
Moved on. None heeded, and few heard.


The Valley of the Shadow (1921)

There were faces to remember in the Valley of the Shadow,
There were faces unregarded, there were faces to forget;
There were fires of grief and fear that are a few forgotten ashes,
There were sparks of recognition that are not forgotten yet.
For at first, with an amazed and overwhelming indignation
At a measureless malfeasance that obscurely willed it thus,
They were lost and unacquainted—till they found themselves in others,
Who had groped as they were groping where dim ways were perilous.

There were lives that were as dark as are the fears and intuitions
Of a child who knows himself and is alone with what he knows;
There were pensioners of dreams and there were debtors of illusions,
All to fail before the triumph of a weed that only grows.
There were thirsting heirs of golden sieves that held not wine or water,
And had no names in traffic or more value there than toys:
There were blighted sons of wonder in the Valley of the Shadow,
Where they suffered and still wondered why their wonder made no noise.

There were slaves who dragged the shackles of a precedent unbroken,
Demonstrating the fulfilment of unalterable schemes,
Which had been, before the cradle, Time’s inexorable tenants
Of what were now the dusty ruins of their father’s dreams.
There were these, and there were many who had stumbled up to manhood,
Where they saw too late the road they should have taken long ago:
There were thwarted clerks and fiddlers in the Valley of the Shadow,
The commemorative wreckage of what others did not know.

And there were daughters older than the mothers who had borne them,
Being older in their wisdom, which is older than the earth;
And they were going forward only farther into darkness,
Unrelieved as were the blasting obligations of their birth;
And among them, giving always what was not for their possession,
There were maidens, very quiet, with no quiet in their eyes;
There were daughters of the silence in the Valley of the Shadow,
Each an isolated item in the family sacrifice.

There were creepers among catacombs where dull regrets were torches,
Giving light enough to show them what was there upon the shelves—
Where there was more for them to see than pleasure would remember
Of something that had been alive and once had been themselves.
There were some who stirred the ruins with a solid imprecation,
While as many fled repentance for the promise of despair:
There were drinkers of wrong waters in the Valley of the Shadow,
And all the sparkling ways were dust that once had led them there.

There were some who knew the steps of Age incredibly beside them,
And his fingers upon shoulders that had never felt the wheel;
And their last of empty trophies was a gilded cup of nothing,
Which a contemplating vagabond would not have come to steal.
Long and often had they figured for a larger valuation,
But the size of their addition was the balance of a doubt:
There were gentlemen of leisure in the Valley of the Shadow,
Not allured by retrospection, disenchanted, and played out.

And among the dark endurances of unavowed reprisals
There were silent eyes of envy that saw little but saw well;
And over beauty’s aftermath of hazardous ambitions
There were tears for what had vanished as they vanished where they fell.
Not assured of what was theirs, and always hungry for the nameless,
There were some whose only passion was for Time who made them cold:
There were numerous fair women in the Valley of the Shadow,
Dreaming rather less of heaven than of hell when they were old.

Now and then, as if to scorn the common touch of common sorrow,
There were some who gave a few the distant pity of a smile;
And another cloaked a soul as with an ash of human embers,
Having covered thus a treasure that would last him for a while.
There were many by the presence of the many disaffected,
Whose exemption was included in the weight that others bore:
There were seekers after darkness in the Valley of the Shadow,
And they alone were there to find what they were looking for.

So they were, and so they are; and as they came are coming others,
And among them are the fearless and the meek and the unborn;
And a question that has held us heretofore without an answer
May abide without an answer until all have ceased to mourn.
For the children of the dark are more to name than are the wretched,
Or the broken, or the weary, or the baffled, or the shamed:
There are builders of new mansions in the Valley of the Shadow,
And among them are the dying and the blinded and the maimed.

Categories: Uncategorized

William Cullen Bryant: Christmas 1875

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

William Cullen Bryant: Emblem of the peace that yet shall be, noise of war shall cease from sea to sea


William Cullen Bryant
Christmas 1875

(Supposed to be written by a Spaniard)

No trumpet-blast profaned
The hour in which the Prince of Peace was born;
No bloody streamlet stained
Earth’s silver rivers on that sacred morn;
But, o’er the peaceful plain,
The war-horse drew the peasant’s loaded wain.

The soldier had laid by
The sword and stripped the corselet from his breast,
And hung his helm on high –
The sparrow’s winter home and summer nest;
And, with the same strong hand
That flung the barbed spear, he tilled the land.

Oh, time for which we yearn;
Oh, sabbath of the nations long foretold!
Season of peace, return,
Like a late summer when the year grows old,
When the sweet sunny days
Steeped mead and mountain-side in golden haze.

For now two rival kings
Flaunt, o’er our bleeding land, their hostile flags,
And every sunrise brings
The hovering vulture from his mountain-crags
To where the battle-plain
Is strewn with dead, the youth and flower of Spain.

Christ is not come, while yet
O’er half the earth the threat of battle lowers,
And our own fields are wet,
Beneath the battle-cloud, with crimson showers –
The life-blood of the slain,
Poured out where thousands die that one may reign.

Soon, over half the earth,
In every temple crowds shall kneel again
To celebrate His birth
Who brought the message of good-will to men,
And bursts of joyous song
Shall shake the roof above the prostrate throng.

Christ is not come, while there
The men of blood whose crimes affront the skies
Kneel down in act of prayer,
Amid the joyous strains, and when they rise
Go forth, with sword and flame,
To waste the land in His most holy name.

Oh, when the day shall break
O’er realms unlearned in warfare’s cruel arts,
And all their millions wake
To peaceful tasks performed with loving hearts,
On such a blessed morn,
Well may the nations say that Christ is born.

Categories: Uncategorized

Alexander Pope: Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Alexander Pope: War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades

Alexander Pope: Where Peace scatters blessings from her dovelike wing


Alexander Pope
A Sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of Virgil’s Pollio


All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail;
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-robed Innocence from Heaven descend.

No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o’er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.


Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus and th’ Aonian maids,
Delight no more – O thou my voice inspire
Who touched Isaiah’s hallowed lips with fire!
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse’s root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies:
Th’ ethereal spirit o’er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye Heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storm a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail;
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-robed Innocence from Heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th’ expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring:
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel’s flowery top perfumes the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers:
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!
A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim th’ approaching Deity.
Lo, Earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down, ye mountains! and ye valleys, rise!
With heads declined, ye cedars, homage pay!
Be smooth, ye rocks! ye rapid floods, give way!
The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf! and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day:
‘Tis he th’ obstructed paths of sound shall clear
And bid new music charm th’ unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe.
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear.
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall Death be bound.
And Hell’s grim tyrant feel th’ eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air,
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o’ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms:
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promised Father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o’er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield.
And the same hand that sowed, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise;
And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds, to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon’s late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys, once perplexed with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn:
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead
And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead:
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim’s feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleased, the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongue shall innocently play.
Rise, crowned with light, imperial Salem, rise!
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes!
See a long race thy spacious courts adorn:
See future sons and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barbarous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend!
See thy bright altars thronged with prostrate kings,
And heaped with products of Sabean springs!
For thee Idumè’s spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir’s mountains glow.
See Heaven his sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more the rising Sun shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O’erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Revealed, and God’s eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away!
But fixed his word, his saving power remains;
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns!

Categories: Uncategorized

John Milton: Without ambition, war, or violence

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

John Milton: Men levy cruel wars, wasting the earth, each other to destroy

John Milton: No war or battle’s sound was heard the world around

John Milton: What can war but endless war still breed?


John Milton
From Paradise Regained


[Jesus speaking to Satan]

They err who count it glorious to subdue
By Conquest far and wide, to over-run
Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,
Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,
Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more
Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe’re they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titl’d Gods,
Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
Worship’t with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;
One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,
Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,
Rowling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death thir due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may be means far different be attain’d
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance.

Categories: Uncategorized

John Greenleaf Whittier: If this be Peace, pray what is War?

December 21, 2011 4 comments


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war


John Greenleaf Whittier
The Peace Of Europe (1852)

“Great peace in Europe! Order reigns
From Tiber’s hills to Danube’s plains!”
So say her kings and priests; so say
The lying prophets of our day.

Go lay to earth a listening ear;
The tramp of measured marches hear;
The rolling of the cannon’s wheel,
The shotted musket’s murderous peal,
The night alarm, the sentry’s call,
The quick-eared spy in hut and hall!
From Polar sea and tropic fen
The dying-groans of exiled men!
The bolted cell, the galley’s chains,
The scaffold smoking with its stains!
Order, the hush of brooding slaves
Peace, in the dungeon-vaults and graves!

O Fisher! of the world-wide net,
With meshes in all waters set,
Whose fabled keys of heaven and hell
Bolt hard the patriot’s prison-cell,
And open wide the banquet-hall,
Where kings and priests hold carnival!
Weak vassal tricked in royal guise,
Boy Kaiser with thy lip of lies;
Base gambler for Napoleon’s crown,
Barnacle on his dead renown!
Thou, Bourbon Neapolitan,
Crowned scandal, loathed of God and man
And thou, fell Spider of the North!
Stretching thy giant feelers forth,
Within whose web the freedom dies
Of nations eaten up like flies!
Speak, Prince and Kaiser, Priest and Czar
If this be Peace, pray what is War?

White Angel of the Lord! unmeet
That soil accursed for thy pure feet.
Never in Slavery’s desert flows
The fountain of thy charmed repose;
No tyrant’s hand thy chaplet weaves
Of lilies and of olive-leaves;
Not with the wicked shalt thou dwell,
Thus saith the Eternal Oracle;
Thy home is with the pure and free!
Stern herald of thy better day,
Before thee, to prepare thy way,
The Baptist Shade of Liberty,
Gray, scarred and hairy-robed, must press
With bleeding feet the wilderness!
Oh that its voice might pierce the ear
Of princes, trembling while they hear
A cry as of the Hebrew seer
Repent! God’s kingdom draweth near!

Categories: Uncategorized

William James: The Philippine Tangle

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

William James: Selections on war

William Dean Howells: Spanish Prisoners of War

Edgar Lee Masters: The Philippine Conquest

Leo Tolstoy: Two Wars and Carthago Delenda Est

Mark Twain: To the Person Sitting in Darkness


William James
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
The Philippine Tangle (1899)


Why, then, do we go on? First, the war fever; and then the pride which always refuses to back down when under fire. But these are passions that interfere with the reasonable settlement of any affair; and in this affair we have to deal with a factor altogether peculiar with our belief, namely, in a national destiny which must be “big” at any cost, and which for some inscrutable reason it has become infamous for us to disbelieve in or refuse. We are to be missionaries of civilization, and to bear the white man’s burden, painful as it often is. We must sow our ideals, plant our order, impose our God. The individual lives are nothing. Our duty and our destiny call, and civilization must go on.

The issue is perfectly plain at last. We are cold-bloodedly, wantonly and abominably destroying the soul of a people who never did us an atom of harm in their lives. It is bald, brutal piracy, impossible to dish up any longer in the cold pot-grease of President McKinley’s cant…

The impotence of the private individual, with imperialism under full headway as it is, is deplorable indeed. But every American has a voice or a pen, and may use it. So, impelled by my own sense of duty, I write these present words. One by one we shall creep from cover, and the opposition will organize itself.


An observer who should judge solely by the sort of evidence which the newspapers present might easily suppose that the American people felt little concern about the performances of our Government in the Philippine Islands, and were practically indifferent to their moral aspects. The cannon of our gunboats at Manila and the ratification of the treaty have sent even the most vehement anti-imperialist journals temporarily to cover, and the bugbear of copperheadism has reduced the freest tongues for a while to silence. The excitement of battle, this time as always, has produced its cowing and disorganizing effect upon the opposition.

But since then, Executive and all, we have been swept away by the overmastering flood. And now what it has swept us into is an adventure that in sober seriousness and definite English speech must be described as literally piratical. Our treatment of the Aguinaldo movement at Manila and at Iloilo is piracy positive and absolute, and the American people appear as pirates pure and simple, as day by day the real facts of the situation are coming to the light.

What was only vaguely apprehended is now clear with a definiteness that is startling indeed. Here was a people towards whom we felt no ill-will, against whom we had not even a slanderous rumor to bring; a people for whose tenacious struggle against their Spanish oppressors we have for years past spoken (so far as we spoke of them at all) with nothing but admiration and sympathy. Here was a leader who, as the Spanish lies about him, on which we were fed so long, drop off, and as the truth gets more and more known, appears as an exceptionally fine specimen of the patriot and national hero; not only daring, but honest; not only a fighter, but a governor and organizer of extraordinary power. Here were the precious beginnings of an indigenous national life, with which, if we had any responsibilities to these islands at all, it was our first duty to have squared ourselves. Aguinaldo’s movement was, and evidently deserved to be, an ideal popular movement, which as far as it had had time to exist was showing itself “fit” to survive and likely to become a healthy piece of national self-development. It was all we had to build on, at any rate, so far – if we had any desire not to succeed to the Spaniards’ inheritance of native execration.

And what did our Administration do? So far as the facts have leaked out, it issued instructions to the commanders on the ground simply to freeze Aguinaldo out, as a dangerous rival with whom all compromising entanglement was sedulously to be avoided by the great Yankee business concern. We were not to “recognize” him, we were to deny him all account of our intentions; and in general to refuse any account of our intentions to anybody, except to declare in abstract terms their “benevolence,” until the inhabitants, without a pledge of any sort from US, should turn over their country into our hands. Our President’s bouffe-proclamation was the only thing vouchsafed: “We are here for your own good; therefore unconditionally surrender to our tender mercies, or we’ll blow you into kingdom come.”

It is horrible, simply horrible. Surely there cannot be many born and bred Americans who, when they look at the bare fact of what we are doing, the fact taken all by itself, do not feel this, and do not blush with burning shame at the unspeakable meanness and ignominy of the trick?

Why, then, do we go on? First, the war fever; and then the pride which always refuses to back down when under fire. But these are passions that interfere with the reasonable settlement of any affair; and in this affair we have to deal with a factor altogether peculiar with our belief, namely, in a national destiny which must be “big” at any cost, and which for some inscrutable reason it has become infamous for us to disbelieve in or refuse. We are to be missionaries of civilization, and to bear the white man’s burden, painful as it often is. We must sow our ideals, plant our order, impose our God. The individual lives are nothing. Our duty and our destiny call, and civilization must go on.

Could there be a more damning indictment of that whole bloated idol termed “modern civilization” than this amounts to? Civilization is, then, the big, hollow, resounding, corrupting, sophisticating, confusing torrent of mere brutal momentum and irrationality that brings forth fruits like this! It is safe to say that one Christian missionary, whether primitive, Protestant or Catholic, of the original missionary type, one Buddhist or Mohammedan of a genuine saintly sort, one ethical reformer or philanthropist, or one disciple of Tolstoi would do more real good in these islands than our whole army and navy can possibly effect with our whole civilization at their back. He could build up realities, in however small a degree; we can only destroy the inner realities; and indeed destroy in a year more of them than a generation can make good.

It is by their moral fruits exclusively that these benighted brown people, “half-devil and half-child” as they are, are condemned to judge a civilization. Ours is already execrated by them forever for its hideous fruits.

Shall it not in so far forth be execrated by ourselves? Shall the unsophisticated verdict upon its hideousness which the plain moral sense pronounces avail nothing to stem the torrent of mere empty “bigness” in our destiny, before which it is said we must all knock under, swallowing our higher sentiments with a gulp? The issue is perfectly plain at last. We are cold-bloodedly, wantonly and abominably destroying the soul of a people who never did us an atom of harm in their lives. It is bald, brutal piracy, impossible to dish up any longer in the cold pot-grease of President McKinley’s cant at the recent Boston banquet – surely as shamefully evasive a speech, considering the right of the public to know definite facts, as can often have fallen even from a professional politician’s lips. The worst of our imperialists is that they do not themselves know where sincerity ends and insincerity begins. Their state of consciousness is so new, so mixed of primitively human passions and, in political circles, of calculations that are anything but primitively human; so at variance, moreover, with their former mental habits – and so empty of definite data and contents; that they face various ways at once, and their portraits should be taken with a squint. One reads the President’s speech with a strange feeling – as if the very words were squinting on the page.

The impotence of the private individual, with imperialism under full headway as it is, is deplorable indeed. But every American has a voice or a pen, and may use it. So, impelled by my own sense of duty, I write these present words. One by one we shall creep from cover, and the opposition will organize itself. If the Filipinos hold out long enough, there is a good chance (the canting game being already pretty well played out, and the piracy having to show itself henceforward naked) of the older American beliefs and sentiments coming to their rights again, and of the Administration being terrified into a conciliatory policy towards the native government.

The programme for the opposition should, it seems to me, be radical. The infamy and iniquity of a war of conquest must stop. A “protectorate,” of course, if they will have it, though after this they would probably rather welcome any European Power; and as regards the inner state of the island, freedom, “fit” or “unfit;” that is, home rule without humbugging phrases, and whatever anarchy may go with it until the Filipinos learn from each other, not from us, how to govern themselves. Mr. Adams’s programme – which anyone may have by writing to Mr. Erving Winslow, Anti-Imperialist League, Washington, D.C. – seems to contain the only hopeful key to the situation. Until the opposition newspapers seriously begin, and the mass meetings are held, let every American who still wishes his country to possess its ancient soul – soul a thousand times more dear than ever, now that it seems in danger of perdition – do what little he can in the way of open speech and writing, and above all let him give his representatives and senators in Washington a positive piece of his mind.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mark Twain: To the Person Sitting in Darkness

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Mark Twain: Selections on war


William Dean Howells: Spanish Prisoners of War

William James: The Philippine Tangle

Edgar Lee Masters: The Philippine Conquest

Leo Tolstoy: Two Wars and Carthago Delenda Est


Mark Twain
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
To the Person Sitting in Darkness (1901)


“It is yet another Civilized Power, with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other. Is there no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift ourselves down to its level?”

The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost sure to say: “There is something curious about this – curious and unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.”

What we wanted, in the interest of Progress and Civilization, was the Archipelago, unencumbered by patriots struggling for independence; and the War was what we needed.

And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one – our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.


Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked – but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce ­– too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization. More – they have begun to examine them. This is not well. The Blessings of Civilization are all right, and a good commercial property; there could not be a better, in a dim light. In the right kind of a light, and at a proper distance, with the goods a little out of focus, they furnish this desirable exhibit to the Gentlemen who Sit in Darkness:


– and so on.

There. Is it good? Sir, it is pie. It will bring into camp any idiot that sits in darkness anywhere. But not if we adulterate it. It is proper to be emphatic upon that point. This brand is strictly for Export – apparently. Apparently. Privately and confidentially, it is nothing of the kind. Privately and confidentially, it is merely an outside cover, gay and pretty and attractive, displaying the special patterns of our Civilization which we reserve for Home Consumption, while inside the bale is the Actual Thing that the Customer Sitting in Darkness buys with his blood and tears and land and liberty. That Actual Thing is, indeed, Civilization, but it is only for Export. Is there a difference between the two brands? In some of the details, yes.

We all know that the Business is being ruined. The reason is not far to seek. It is because our Mr. McKinley, and Mr. Chamberlain, and the Kaiser, and the Czar and the French have been exporting the Actual Thing with the outside cover left off. This is bad for the Game. It shows that these new players of it are not sufficiently acquainted with it.

It is a distress to look on and note the mismoves, they are so strange and so awkward. Mr. Chamberlain manufactures a war out of materials so inadequate and so fanciful that they make the boxes grieve and the gallery laugh, and he tries hard to persuade himself that it isn’t purely a private raid for cash, but has a sort of dim, vague respectability about it somewhere, if he could only find the spot; and that, by and by, he can scour the flag clean again after he has finished dragging it through the mud, and make it shine and flash in the vault of heaven once more as it had shone and flashed there a thousand years in the world’s respect until he laid his unfaithful hand upon it. It is bad play – bad. For it exposes the Actual Thing to Them that Sit in Darkness, and they say: “What! Christian against Christian? And only for money? Is this a case of magnanimity, forbearance, love, gentleness, mercy, protection of the weak – this strange and over-showy onslaught of an elephant upon a nest of field-mice, on the pretext that the mice had squeaked an insolence at him – conduct which ‘no self-respecting government could allow to pass unavenged?’ as Mr. Chamberlain said. Was that a good pretext in a small case, when it had not been a good pretext in a large one? ­– for only recently Russia had affronted the elephant three times and survived alive and unsmitten. Is this Civilization and Progress? Is it something better than we already possess? These harryings and burnings and desert-makings in the Transvaal ­– is this an improvement on our darkness? Is it, perhaps, possible that there are two kinds of Civilization – one for home consumption and one for the heathen market?”

Then They that Sit in Darkness are troubled, and shake their heads; and they read this extract from a letter of a British private, recounting his exploits in one of Methuen’s victories, some days before the affair of Magersfontein, and they are troubled again:

“We tore up the hill and into the intrenchments, and the Boers saw we had them; so they dropped their guns and went down on their knees and put up their hands clasped, and begged for mercy. And we gave it them – with the long spoon.”

The long spoon is the bayonet. See Lloyd’s Weekly, London, of those days. The same number – and the same column – contains some quite unconscious satire in the form of shocked and bitter upbraidings of the Boers for their brutalities and inhumanities!

Next, to our heavy damage, the Kaiser went to playing the game without first mastering it. He lost a couple of missionaries in a riot in Shantung, and in his account he made an overcharge for them. China had to pay a hundred thousand dollars apiece for them, in money; twelve miles of territory, containing several millions of inhabitants and worth twenty million dollars; and to build a monument, and also a Christian church; whereas the people of China could have been depended upon to remember the missionaries without the help of these expensive memorials. This was all bad play. Bad, because it would not, and could not, and will not now or ever, deceive the Person Sitting in Darkness. He knows that it was an overcharge. He knows that a missionary is like any other man: he is worth merely what you can supply his place for, and no more. He is useful, but so is a doctor, so is a sheriff, so is an editor; but a just Emperor does not charge war-prices for such. A diligent, intelligent, but obscure missionary, and a diligent, intelligent country editor are worth much, and we know it; but they are not worth the earth. We esteem such an editor, and we are sorry to see him go; but, when he goes, we should consider twelve miles of territory, and a church, and a fortune, over-compensation for his loss. I mean, if he was a Chinese editor, and we had to settle for him. It is no proper figure for an editor or a missionary; one can get shop-worn kings for less. It was bad play on the Kaiser’s part. It got this property, true; but it produced the Chinese revolt, the indignant uprising of China’s traduced patriots, the Boxers. The results have been expensive to Germany, and to the other Disseminators of Progress and the Blessings of Civilization.

The Kaiser’s claim was paid, yet it was bad play, for it could not fail to have an evil effect upon Persons Sitting in Darkness in China. They would muse upon the event, and be likely to say: “Civilization is gracious and beautiful, for such is its reputation; but can we afford it? There are rich Chinamen, perhaps they could afford it; but this tax is not laid upon them, it is laid upon the peasants of Shantung; it is they that must pay this mighty sum, and their wages are but four cents a day. Is this a better civilization than ours, and holier and higher and nobler? Is not this rapacity? Is not this extortion? Would Germany charge America two hundred thousand dollars for two missionaries, and shake the mailed fist in her face, and send warships, and send soldiers, and say: ‘Seize twelve miles of territory, worth twenty millions of dollars, as additional pay for the missionaries; and make those peasants build a monument to the missionaries, and a costly Christian church to remember them by?’ And later would Germany say to her soldiers: ‘March through America and slay, giving no quarter; make the German face there, as has been our Hun-face here, a terror for a thousand years; march through the Great Republic and slay, slay, slay, carving a road for our offended religion through its heart and bowels?’ Would Germany do like this to America, to England, to France, to Russia? Or only to China the helpless ­– imitating the elephant’s assault upon the field-mice? Had we better invest in this Civilization ­– this Civilization which called Napoleon a buccaneer for carrying off Venice’s bronze horses, but which steals our ancient astronomical instruments from our walls, and goes looting like common bandits ­– that is, all the alien soldiers except America’s; and (Americans again excepted) storms frightened villages and cables the result to glad journals at home every day: ‘Chinese losses, 450 killed; ours, one officer and two men wounded. Shall proceed against neighboring village to-morrow, where a massacre is reported.’ Can we afford Civilization?”

And, next, Russia must go and play the game injudiciously. She affronts England once or twice – with the Person Sitting in Darkness observing and noting; by moral assistance of France and Germany, she robs Japan of her hard-earned spoil, all swimming in Chinese blood ­– Port Arthur – with the Person again observing and noting; then she seizes Manchuria, raids its villages, and chokes its great river with the swollen corpses of countless massacred peasants – that astonished Person still observing and noting. And perhaps he is saying to himself: “It is yet another Civilized Power, with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other. Is there no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift ourselves down to its level?”

And by and by comes America, and our Master of the Game plays it badly – plays it as Mr. Chamberlain was playing it in South Africa. It was a mistake to do that; also, it was one which was quite unlooked for in a Master who was playing it so well in Cuba. In Cuba, he was playing the usual and regular American game, and it was winning, for there is no way to beat it. The Master, contemplating Cuba, said: “Here is an oppressed and friendless little nation which is willing to fight to be free; we go partners, and put up the strength of seventy million sympathizers and the resources of the United States: play!” Nothing but Europe combined could call that hand: and Europe cannot combine on anything. There, in Cuba, he was following our great traditions in a way which made us very proud of him, and proud of the deep dissatisfaction which his play was provoking in Continental Europe. Moved by a high inspiration, he threw out those stirring words which proclaimed that forcible annexation would be “criminal aggression;” and in that utterance fired another “shot heard round the world.” The memory of that fine saying will be outlived by the remembrance of no act of his but one – that he forgot it within the twelvemonth, and its honorable gospel along with it.

For, presently, came the Philippine temptation. It was strong; it was too strong, and he made that bad mistake: he played the European game, the Chamberlain game. It was a pity; it was a great pity, that error; that one grievous error, that irrevocable error. For it was the very place and time to play the American game again. And at no cost. Rich winnings to be gathered in, too; rich and permanent; indestructible; a fortune transmissible forever to the children of the flag. Not land, not money, not dominion – no, something worth many times more than that dross: our share, the spectacle of a nation of long harassed and persecuted slaves set free through our influence; our posterity’s share, the golden memory of that fair deed. The game was in our hands. If it had been played according to the American rules, Dewey would have sailed away from Manila as soon as he had destroyed the Spanish fleet – after putting up a sign on shore guaranteeing foreign property and life against damage by the Filipinos, and warning the Powers that interference with the emancipated patriots would be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States. The Powers cannot combine, in even a bad cause, and the sign would not have been molested.

Dewey could have gone about his affairs elsewhere, and left the competent Filipino army to starve out the little Spanish garrison and send it home, and the Filipino citizens to set up the form of government they might prefer, and deal with the friars and their doubtful acquisitions according to Filipino ideas of fairness and justice – ideas which have since been tested and found to be of as high an order as any that prevail in Europe or America.

But we played the Chamberlain game, and lost the chance to add another Cuba and another honorable deed to our good record.

The more we examine the mistake, the more clearly we perceive that it is going to be bad for the Business. The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost sure to say: “There is something curious about this – curious and unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.”

The truth is, the Person Sitting in Darkness is saying things like that; and for the sake of the Business we must persuade him to look at the Philippine matter in another and healthier way. We must arrange his opinions for him. I believe it can be done; for Mr. Chamberlain has arranged England’s opinion of the South African matter, and done it most cleverly and successfully. He presented the facts – some of the facts – and showed those confiding people what the facts meant. He did it statistically, which is a good way. He used the formula: “Twice 2 are 14, and 2 from 9 leaves 35.” Figures are effective; figures will convince the elect.

Now, my plan is a still bolder one than Mr. Chamberlain’s, though apparently a copy of it. Let us be franker than Mr. Chamberlain; let us audaciously present the whole of the facts, shirking none, then explain them according to Mr. Chamberlain’s formula. This daring truthfulness will astonish and dazzle the Person Sitting in Darkness, and he will take the Explanation down before his mental vision has had time to get back into focus. Let us say to him:

“Our case is simple. On the 1st of May, Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet. This left the Archipelago in the hands of its proper and rightful owners, the Filipino nation. Their army numbered 30,000 men, and they were competent to whip out or starve out the little Spanish garrison; then the people could set up a government of their own devising. Our traditions required that Dewey should now set up his warning sign, and go away. But the Master of the Game happened to think of another plan – the European plan. He acted upon it. This was, to send out an army – ostensibly to help the native patriots put the finishing touch upon their long and plucky struggle for independence, but really to take their land away from them and keep it. That is, in the interest of Progress and Civilization. The plan developed, stage by stage, and quite satisfactorily. We entered into a military alliance with the trusting Filipinos, and they hemmed in Manila on the land side, and by their valuable help the place, with its garrison of 8,000 or 10,000 Spaniards, was captured – a thing which we could not have accomplished unaided at that time. We got their help by – by ingenuity. We knew they were fighting for their independence, and that they had been at it for two years. We knew they supposed that we also were fighting in their worthy cause – just as we had helped the Cubans fight for Cuban independence – and we allowed them to go on thinking so. Until Manila was ours and we could get along without them. Then we showed our hand. Of course, they were surprised – that was natural; surprised and disappointed; disappointed and grieved. To them it looked un-American; uncharacteristic; foreign to our established traditions. And this was natural, too; for we were only playing the American Game in public – in private it was the European. It was neatly done, very neatly, and it bewildered them. They could not understand it; for we had been so friendly – so affectionate, even – with those simple-minded patriots! We, our own selves, had brought back out of exile their leader, their hero, their hope, their Washington – Aguinaldo; brought him in a warship, in high honor, under the sacred shelter and hospitality of the flag; brought him back and restored him to his people, and got their moving and eloquent gratitude for it. Yes, we had been so friendly to them, and had heartened them up in so many ways! We had lent them guns and ammunition; advised with them; exchanged pleasant courtesies with them; placed our sick and wounded in their kindly care; entrusted our Spanish prisoners to their humane and honest hands; fought shoulder to shoulder with them against “the common enemy” (our own phrase); praised their courage, praised their gallantry, praised their mercifulness, praised their fine and honorable conduct; borrowed their trenches, borrowed strong positions which they had previously captured from the Spaniard; petted them, lied to them – officially proclaiming that our land and naval forces came to give them their freedom and displace the bad Spanish Government – fooled them, used them until we needed them no longer; then derided the sucked orange and threw it away. We kept the positions which we had beguiled them of; by and by, we moved a force forward and overlapped patriot ground – a clever thought, for we needed trouble, and this would produce it. A Filipino soldier, crossing the ground, where no one had a right to forbid him, was shot by our sentry. The badgered patriots resented this with arms, without waiting to know whether Aguinaldo, who was absent, would approve or not. Aguinaldo did not approve; but that availed nothing. What we wanted, in the interest of Progress and Civilization, was the Archipelago, unencumbered by patriots struggling for independence; and the War was what we needed. We clinched our opportunity. It is Mr. Chamberlain’s case over again – at least in its motive and intention; and we played the game as adroitly as he played it himself.”

At this point in our frank statement of fact to the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should throw in a little trade-taffy about the Blessings of Civilization – for a change, and for the refreshment of his spirit – then go on with our tale:

“We and the patriots having captured Manila, Spain’s ownership of the Archipelago and her sovereignty over it were at an end – obliterated – annihilated – not a rag or shred of either remaining behind. It was then that we conceived the divinely humorous idea of buying both of these spectres from Spain! [It is quite safe to confess this to the Person Sitting in Darkness, since neither he nor any other sane person will believe it.] In buying those ghosts for twenty millions, we also contracted to take care of the friars and their accumulations. I think we also agreed to propagate leprosy and smallpox, but as to this there is doubt. But it is not important; persons afflicted with the friars do not mind the other diseases.

“With our Treaty ratified, Manila subdued, and our Ghosts secured, we had no further use for Aguinaldo and the owners of the Archipelago. We forced a war, and we have been hunting America’s guest and ally through the woods and swamps ever since.”

At this point in the tale, it will be well to boast a little of our war-work and our heroisms in the field, so as to make our performance look as fine as England’s in South Africa; but I believe it will not be best to emphasize this too much. We must be cautious. Of course, we must read the war-telegrams to the Person, in order to keep up our frankness; but we can throw an air of humorousness over them, and that will modify their grim eloquence a little, and their rather indiscreet exhibitions of gory exultation. Before reading to him the following display heads of the dispatches of November 18, 1900, it will be well to practice on them in private first, so as to get the right tang of lightness and gaiety into them:


Kitchener knows how to handle disagreeable people who are fighting for their homes and their liberties, and we must let on that we are merely imitating Kitchener, and have no national interest in the matter, further than to get ourselves admired by the Great Family of Nations, in which august company our Master of the Game has bought a place for us in the back row.

Of course, we must not venture to ignore our General MacArthur’s reports – oh, why do they keep on printing those embarrassing things? – we must drop them trippingly from the tongue and take the chances:

“During the last ten months our losses have been 268 killed and 750 wounded; Filipino loss, three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven killed, and 694 wounded.”

We must stand ready to grab the Person Sitting in Darkness, for he will swoon away at this confession, saying: “Good God, those ‘niggers’ spare their wounded, and the Americans massacre theirs!”

We must bring him to, and coax him and coddle him, and assure him that the ways of Providence are best, and that it would not become us to find fault with them; and then, to show him that we are only imitators, not originators, we must read the following passage from the letter of an American soldier-lad in the Philippines to his mother, published in Public Opinion, of Decorah, Iowa, describing the finish of a victorious battle:


Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again, and explain them to him. We should say to him:

“They look doubtful, but in reality they are not. There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn’t it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit’s work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America’s honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety per cent. of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty State Legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right.”

Now then, that will convince the Person. You will see. It will restore the Business. Also, it will elect the Master of the Game to the vacant place in the Trinity of our national gods; and there on their high thrones the Three will sit, age after age, in the people’s sight, each bearing the Emblem of his service: Washington, the Sword of the Liberator; Lincoln, the Slave’s Broken Chains; the Master, the Chains Repaired.

It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see.

Everything is prosperous, now; everything is just as we should wish it. We have got the Archipelago, and we shall never give it up. Also, we have every reason to hope that we shall have an opportunity before very long to slip out of our Congressional contract with Cuba and give her something better in the place of it. It is a rich country, and many of us are already beginning to see that the contract was a sentimental mistake. But now – right now – is the best time to do some profitable rehabilitating work – work that will set us up and make us comfortable, and discourage gossip. We cannot conceal from ourselves that, privately, we are a little troubled about our uniform. It is one of our prides; it is acquainted with honor; it is familiar with great deeds and noble; we love it, we revere it; and so this errand it is on makes us uneasy. And our flag – another pride of ours, our chiefest! We have worshipped it so; and when we have seen it in far lands – glimpsing it unexpectedly in that strange sky, waving its welcome and benediction to us – we have caught our breath, and uncovered our heads, and couldn’t speak, for a moment, for the thought of what it was to us and the great ideals it stood for. Indeed, we must do something about these things; we must not have the flag out there, and the uniform. They are not needed there; we can manage in some other way. England manages, as regards the uniform, and so can we. We have to send soldiers – we can’t get out of that – but we can disguise them. It is the way England does in South Africa. Even Mr. Chamberlain himself takes pride in England’s honorable uniform, and makes the army down there wear an ugly and odious and appropriate disguise, of yellow stuff such as quarantine flags are made of, and which are hoisted to warn the healthy away from unclean disease and repulsive death. This cloth is called khaki. We could adopt it. It is light, comfortable, grotesque, and deceives the enemy, for he cannot conceive of a soldier being concealed in it.

And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one – our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones. And we do not need that Civil Commission out there. Having no powers, it has to invent them, and that kind of work cannot be effectively done by just anybody; an expert is required. Mr. Croker can be spared. We do not want the United States represented there, but only the Game.

By help of these suggested amendments, Progress and Civilization in that country can have a boom, and it will take in the Persons who are Sitting in Darkness, and we can resume Business at the old stand.

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Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz: The word pax, pax, pax

December 18, 2011 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980)
From The Brotherhood of Man
Translated by Adam Gillon and Ludwik Krzyzanowski

When tempests rage upon the ocean, and many-storied
waves clap
against each other,
emitting sounds like many thousands clapping hands,
and toss ships and fishing boats against the rocks,
and cast men upon the waters of the sea, their heads
like wooden logs from shipwrecks –
then suddenly the clouds are rent asunder, like grey
curtains upon
the stage, and a solitary ray falls,
like a gigantic arrow, or a chord that joins the sky
with sea, and
the sea is calmed, and the vessels creep to their ports,
lowering their
tattered sails.
As a mother standing over her son’s grave drops her
And the ray upon the turgid but already clearer wave
draws the word: pax, pax, pax…
Thus we too await for heavens to draw open and to
give a sign
to all of us, to clasp our hands,
and to exclaim as that ray of sun:

Think of those whose mouths were filled with plaster,
and of those felled by bullets before they could cry out,
and of those who eyes were filled with blood and could
not cast a glance upon the sky,
as you look upon it now,
nor on the victorious banner,
because they died in degradation –
and think about the brotherhood of Man!

And if you cannot fight for man
and if you too take to swords and rifles
and kill your brothers –
mankind shall not attain salvation.

Think, think of this now.
Think of happiness and freedom.
For only the struggle for good can win goodness
and only the degradation of evil can elevate goodness
and only the brotherhood of man can raise upon the
the Olympic flag, great as the world.

Take each other’s hand and sing:
pax, pax, pax
to signify the brotherhood of Man.

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Wole Soyinka: Civilian and Soldier

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Wole Soyinka
Civilian and Soldier (1967)

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, ‘I am a civilian.’ It only served
To aggravate your fright. For how could I
Have risen, a being of this world, in that hour
Of impartial death! And I thought also: nor is
Your quarrel of this world.

You stood still
For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson
Of your training sessions, cautioning –
Scorch earth behind you, do not leave
A dubious neutral to the rear. Reiteration
Of my civilian quandary, burrowing earth
From the lead festival of your more eager friends
Worked the worse on your confusion, and when
You brought the gun to bear on me, and death
Twitched me gently in the eye, your plight
And all of you came clear to me.

I hope some day
Intent upon my trade of living, to be checked
In stride by your apparition in a trench,
Signalling, I am a soldier. No hesitation then
But I shall shoot you clean and fair
With meat and bread, a gourd of wine
A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that
Lone question – do you friend, even now, know
What it is all about?

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Alfred Tennyson: Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d 

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace


Alfred Tennyson
From Locksley Hall (1835)

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro’ the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

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Émile Verhaeren: I hold war in execration; ashamed to be butchers of their fellows

December 15, 2011 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Émile Verhaeren
From The Dawn (1898)
Translated by Arthur Symons


Know, then, that it is in the name of the clearest, simplest, most unvarying law that I appeal to your honour as a man. In a few days this plain will be ruin, putrefaction, and blood. You have a mere word to say, and all our lives, to which we all have a right, will be saved. The help that men owe to men, you who bear arms, you first of all owe to us. This duty wipes out all others. There was a time when the very name of army and of watchword was unknown.


This captain belongs to the race of men who realize the impossible. Think! he and I, to kill the war dead, here, before the discharged and powerless chiefs! To bring about the public reconciliation of the foreign soldiers and ours! To exhaust all the forces of one’s being, all the energies of one’s faith, for that supreme end! What a splendid dream!


…The troops refuse to fight; they are tired out; they disband. Ideas of justice are in the air. There is vague talk of concord; the spark is set to the grate. I await the breath of wind that shall set the wood and straw alight.


I hold war in execration. This between men of the same soil terrifies me more than any other. You, in Oppidomagne, have moved heaven and earth to bring it about. You have cultivated the misery of the people; you have refused it bread, justice, dignity; you have tyrannized it in its body and in its thought; you have helped yourselves with its ignorance, as with your disloyalty, your cleverness, your lying, your irony, and your contempt. You are unworthy and culpable.


The army itself is in a ferment with our dreams. Every discontent, every grudge, every injustice, every oppression, every enslavement, takes an unknown voice to make itself heard! Our masters hate each other. They have no more strength. They obey a phantom. Among the enemy, the same confusion, the same weakness. Mutinies break out among the soldiers. There are revolts against the cruelty of chiefs, against the horrors and follies of the campaign. Storms of hatred arise. Sick of nameless dreads, distresses, and miseries, all long after the necessary union of man with man. They are ashamed to be butchers of their fellows. And now, if this conflagration of instincts could be extinguished; if our besiegers could be made to feel that they would find brotherly souls among us; if by a sudden understanding we might realize to-day a little of the great human dream, Oppidomagne would be forgiven for all its shame, its folly, its blasphemy; it would become the place in the world where one of the few sacred events had happened. It is with this thought that you must all follow me down, towards your children.

I was his disciple, and his unknown friend. His books were my Bible. It is men like this who give birth to men like me, faithful, long obscure, but whom fortune permits, in one overwhelming hour, to realize the supreme dream of their master. If fatherlands are fair, sweet to the heart, dear to the memory, armed nations on the frontiers are tragic and deadly; and the whole world is yet bristling with nations. It is in their teeth that we throw them this example of our concord. They will understand some day the immortal thing accomplished here, in this illustrious Oppidomagne, whence the loftiest ideas of humanity have taken flight, one after another, through all the ages. For the first time since the beginning of power, since brains have reckoned time, two races, one renouncing its victory, the other its humbled pride, are made one in an embrace. The whole earth must needs have quivered, all the blood, all the sap of the earth must have flowed to the heart of things. Concord and good will have conquered hate. Human strife, in its form of bloodshed, has been gainsaid. A new beacon shines on the horizon of future storms. Its steady rays shall dazzle all eyes, haunt all brains, magnetize all desires. Needs must we, after all these trials and sorrows, come at last into port, to whose entrance it points the way, and where it gilds the tranquil masts and vessels.  

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Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: All labor’s dread of war’s mad waste and murder

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Nobel prize in literature recipients on peace and war

Scandinavian writers on peace and war

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: I saw a dove fear-daunted


Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
For the Wounded (1871)
Translated by Arthur Hubbell Palmer

no-nb_blds_01191 001

A still procession goes
Amid the battle’s booming,
Its arm the red cross shows;
It prays in many forms of speech,
And, bending o’er the fallen,
Brings peace and home to each.

Not only is it found
Where bleed the wounds of battle,
But all the world around.
It is the love the whole world feels
In noble hearts and tender,
While gentle pity kneels; –

It is all labor’s dread
Of war’s mad waste and murder,
Praying that peace may spread;
It is all sufferers who heed
The sighing of a brother,
And know his sorrow’s need; –

It is each groan of pain
Heard from the sick and wounded,
‘T is Christian prayer humane;
It is their cry who lonely grope,
‘T is the oppressed man’s moaning,
The dying breath of hope; –

This rainbow-bridge of prayers
Up through the world’s wild tempest
In light of Christ’s faith bears:
That love and loving deeds
May conquer strife and passion;
For thus His promise reads.

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George Bernard Shaw: The shallowness of the ideals of men ignorant of history is their destruction

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

George Bernard Shaw: Selections on war


George Bernard Shaw
The Quintessence of Ibsenism
From the Preface to the Third Edition (1922)


Since the last edition of this book was printed, war, pestilence and famine have wrecked civilization and killed a number of people of whom the first batch is calculated as not less than fifteen millions. Had the gospel of Ibsen been understood and heeded, these fifteen millions might have been alive now; for the war was a war of ideals. Liberal ideals, Feudal ideals, National ideals, Dynastic ideals, Republican ideals, Church ideals, State ideals, and class ideals, bourgeois and proletarian, all heaped up into a gigantic pile of spiritual high explosive, and then shovelled daily into every house with the morning milk by the newspapers, needed only a bomb thrown at Sarajevo by a handful of regicide idealists to blow the centre out of Europe. Men with empty phrases in their mouths and foolish fables in their heads have seen each other, not as fellow-creatures, but as dragons and devils, and have slaughtered each other accordingly. Now that our frenzies are forgotten, our commissariats disbanded, and the soldiers they fed demobilized to starve when they cannot get employment in mending what we broke, even the iron-mouthed Ibsen, were he still alive, would perhaps spare us, disillusioned wretches as we are, the well-deserved ‘I told you so.’

Not that there is any sign of the lesson being taken to heart. Our reactions from Militarist idealism into Pacifist idealism will not put an end to war: they are only a practical form of reculer pour mieux sauter (“recoil the better to jump forward”). We still cannot bring ourselves to criticize our ideals, because that would be a form of self-criticism. The vital force that drives men to throw away their lives and those of others in the pursuit of an imaginative impulse, reckless of its apparent effect on human welfare, is, like all natural forces, given to us in enormous excess to provide against an enormous waste. Therefore men, instead of economizing it by consecrating it to the service of their highest impulses, grasp at a phrase in a newspaper article, or in the speech of a politician on a vote-catching expedition, as an excuse for exercising it violently, just as a horse turned out to grass will gallop and kick merely to let off steam. The shallowness of the ideals of men ignorant of history is their destruction.

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William Collins: Ode to Peace

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war


William Collins
Ode to Peace (1747)

O Thou, who bad’st thy Turtles bear
Swift from his Grasp thy golden Hair,
And sought’st thy native Skies:
When War, by Vultures drawn from far,
To Britain bent his Iron Car,
And bad his Storms arise!

Tir’d of his rude tyrannic Sway,
Our Youth shall fix some festive Day,
His sullen Shrines to burn:
But Thou who hear’st the turning Spheres,
What Sounds may charm thy partial Ears,
And gain thy blest Return!

O Peace, thy injur’d Robes up-bind,
O rise, and leave not one behind
Of all thy beamy Train:
The British Lion, Goddess sweet,
Lies stretch’d on Earth to kiss thy Feet,
And own thy holier Reign.

Let others court thy transient Smile,
But come to grace thy western Isle,
By warlike Honour led!
And, while around her Ports rejoice,
While all her Sons adore thy Choice,
With Him for ever wed!

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Federico García Lorca: War goes crying with a million gray rats

December 10, 2011 2 comments

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Federico García Lorca
From Ode to Walt Whitman
Translated by Rick Rozoff


Agony, agony, dream, ferment and dream.
This is the world, friend, agony, agony.
The dead decompose under the clock of the cities,
war goes crying with a million gray rats,
the rich give to their mistresses
small illuminated dying things,
and life is not noble, nor good, nor sacred.


Agonía, agonía, sueño, fermento y sueño.
Éste es el mundo, amigo, agonía, agonía.
Los muertos se descomponen bajo el reloj de las ciudades,
la guerra pasa llorando con un millón de ratas grises,
los ricos dan a sus queridas
pequeños moribundos iluminados,
y la vida no es noble, ni buena, ni sagrada.

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James Thomson: Peace is the natural state of man; war his corruption, his disgrace

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

James Thomson: Philosophy’s plans of policy and peace

James Thomson: Despise the insensate barbarous trade of war


James Thomson


From Coriolanus (1745)

I glory…
To own myself an advocate for peace.
Peace is the natural state of man;
War his corruption, his disgrace.

Why should we purchase with the blood of thousands,
What may be gained by mutual, just concession?
Why give up peace, the best of human blessings,
For the vain cruel pride of useless conquest?


Peace (1740)

O Peace! the fairest child of heaven,
To whom the sylvan reign was given,
The vale, the fountain, and the grove,
With every softer scene of love:
Return, sweet Peace! and cheer the weeping swain!
Return, with Ease and Pleasure in thy train.

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Paul Laurence Dunbar: Birds of peace and deadened hearts

December 9, 2011 1 comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war


Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Sparrow (1896)

A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.

So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life’s window-sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic’s rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.


We Wear the Mask (1896)

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, –
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!


The Lesson (1896)

My cot was down by a cypress grove,
And I sat by my window the whole night long,
And heard well up from the deep dark wood
A mocking-bird’s passionate song.

And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
And my life’s cold winter that knew no spring;
Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
Of my heart too sad to sing.

But e’en as I listened the mock-bird’s song,
A thought stole into my saddened heart,
And I said, “I can cheer some other soul
By a carol’s simple art.”

For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
Come songs that brim with joy and light,
As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
The mocking-bird sings at night.

So I sang a lay for a brother’s ear
In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
Though mine was a feeble art.

But at his smile I smiled in turn,
And into my soul there came a ray:
In trying to soothe another’s woes
Mine own had passed away.

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W.H. Auden: A land laid waste, its towns in terror and all its young men slain

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

W. H. Auden: O What Is That Sound

W. H. Auden: The shield of Achilles


W.H. Auden



As evening fell the day’s oppression lifted:
Far peaks came into focus; it had rained:
Across wide lawns and cultured flowers drifted
The conversation of the highly trained.

Two gardeners watched them pass and priced their shoes:
A chauffeur waited, reading in the drive,
For them to finish their exchange of views;
It seemed a picture of the private life.

Far off, no matter what good they intended,
The armies waited for a verbal error
With all the instruments for causing pain:

And on the issue of their charm depended
A land laid waste, with all its young men slain,
Its women weeping, and its towns in terror.


Fleet Visit

The sailors come ashore
Out of their hollow ships,
Mild-looking middle-class boys
Who read the comic strips;
One baseball game is more
To them than fifty Troys.

They look a bit lost, set down
In this unamerican place
Where natives pass with laws
And futures of their own;
They are not here because
But only just-in-case.

The whore and ne’er-do-well
Who pester them with junk
In their grubby ways at least
Are serving the Social Beast;
They neither make nor sell –
No wonder they get drunk.

But the ships on the dazzling blue
Of the harbor actually gain
From having nothing to do;
Without a human will
To tell them whom to kill
Their structures are humane

And, far from looking lost,
Look as if they were meant
To be pure abstract design
By some master of pattern and line,
Certainly worth every cent
Of the millions they must have cost.


Epitaph On A Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.


The Quarry (O What Is That Sound)

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear,
What are they doing this morning, morning?
Only their usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there,
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in their orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care,
Haven’t they reined their horses, horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want, with white hair,
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer that lives so near.
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farmyard already, dear,
And now they are running.

O where are you going? Stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.

O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning;
Their boots are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.

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Rousseau: The State of War

December 7, 2011 2 comments


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Jean-Jacques Rousseau on peace and war


Jean-Jacques Rousseau
From The State of War
Translated by Charles Edwyn Vaughan



I hear a hideous noise. What a tumult and what cries! I draw near; before me lies a scene of murder, ten thousand slaughtered, the dead piled in heaps, the dying trampled under foot by horses, on every side the image of death and the throes of death. And that is the fruit of your peaceful institutions! Indignation and pity rise from the very bottom of my heart. Yes, heartless philosopher! come and read us your book on a field of battle!


These examples suffice to give some notion of the various means by which a hostile State may be weakened and which the usages of war seem to justify as methods of injuring the enemy. With regard to the treaties presupposed by some of these means, what are such forms of peace at bottom but a continuation of the war, now waged with all the more cruelty that the enemy has no longer the right of self-defence?…

Add to all this such plain proofs of ill-will as to refuse to another Power its recognised titles, to reject its just claims, to treat its rights with contempt, to deny free trade to its subjects, to incite other powers to attack it: in a word, the breach of international law to its prejudice, under any pretext whatsoever.

I must beg my readers to remember that I am not asking what makes war profitable to him who wages it, but what makes it legitimate. To be just almost always entails some sacrifice. But does that entitle a man to be unjust?

If there never was and never could be such a thing as a war between individuals, who then are those between whom war takes place and who alone can truly be called enemies? I answer that they are public persons. And what is a ‘public person’? I answer that it is that moral creation called a Sovereign, which owes its existence to a social compact and all the decisions of which go by the name of ‘laws.’ Applying here the distinctions made above, we are entitled to say, when considering the results of war, that it is the Sovereign which causes the injury and the State which suffers it. And if war is possible only between such ‘moral beings’ it follows that the belligerents have no quarrel with individual enemies and can wage war without destroying a single life. This, however, requires explanation.

What then is it to make war upon a sovereign Power? It is to attack the social convention and all that is involved in it; for it is that which constitutes the essence of the State. And if the social compact could be dissolved at a single stroke, that instant the war would be at an end. At that one stroke, and without the loss of a single life, the State would be killed.

I open the books on Right and on ethics; I listen to the professors and jurists; and, my mind full of their seductive doctrines, I admire the peace and justice established by the civil order; I bless the wisdom of our political institutions and, knowing myself a citizen, cease to lament I am a man. Thoroughly instructed as to my duties and my happiness, I close the book, step out of the lecture room, and look around me. I see wretched nations groaning beneath a yoke of iron. I see mankind ground down by a handful of oppressors. I see a famished mob, worn down by sufferings and famine, while the rich drink the blood and tears of their victims at their ease. I see on every side the strong armed with the terrible powers of the Law against the weak.

And all this is done quietly and without resistance. It is the peace of Ulysses and his comrades, imprisoned in the cave of the Cyclops and waiting their turn to be devoured. We must groan and be silent. Let us for ever draw a veil over sights so terrible. I lift my eyes and look to the horizon. I see fire and flame, the fields laid waste, the towns put to sack. Monsters! where are you dragging those hapless wretches? I hear a hideous noise. What a tumult and what cries! I draw near; before me lies a scene of murder, ten thousand slaughtered, the dead piled in heaps, the dying trampled under foot by horses, on every side the image of death and the throes of death. And that is the fruit of your peaceful institutions! Indignation and pity rise from the very bottom of my heart. Yes, heartless philosopher! come and read us your book on a field of battle!

What soul of man but would be moved at these woeful sights? But in our days it is forbidden to be a man, or to plead the cause of humanity. Justice and truth are commanded to give way before the interest of the powerful: that is the rule of the world. No pension, no office, no chair in the Academy is in the gift of the people. Why then should the people be protected? High-souled princes! I speak in the name of the literary profession. Oppress the people with a clear conscience! It is to you only that we look for advancement. To us the people is good for nothing.

How can a voice so weak as mine make itself heard through the din of corrupt applause? Alas! I must hold my peace, though the cry of my heart would fain break the cruel silence. And without entering into hateful details, which would be taken for satire just because they are the truth, I will confine myself to testing the institutions of man by their first principles; to correcting, if so it may be, the false notions which the self-interest of writers strives to spread among us; at least, to making it impossible that injustice and violence should impudently usurp the names of Right and justice.

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Oliver Wendell Holmes: Hymn to Peace

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Not so enamored of the drum and trumpet


Oliver Wendell Holmes
Hymn to Peace (1869)

[The author was a fervent war supporter four years prior to writing this, but the sentiment expressed in the verses is valid notwithstanding.]

Angel of Peace, thou hast wandered too long!
Spread thy white wings to the sunshine of love!
Come while our voices are blended in song, —
Fly to our ark like the storm-beaten dove!
Fly to our ark on the wings of the dove, —
Speed o’er the far-sounding billows of song,
Crowned with thine olive-leaf garland of love, —
Angel of Peace, thou hast waited too long!

Joyous we meet, on this altar of thine
Mingling the gifts we have gathered for thee,
Sweet with the odors of myrtle and pine,
Breeze of the prairie and breath of the sea, —
Meadow and mountain and forest and sea!
Sweet is the fragrance of myrtle and pine,
Sweeter the incense we offer to thee,
Brothers once more round this altar of thine!

Angels of Bethlehem, answer the strain!
Hark! a new birth-song is filling the sky! —
Loud as the storm-wind that tumbles the main
Bid the full breath of the organ reply, —
Let the loud tempest of voices reply, —
Roll its long surge like the-earth-shaking main!
Swell the vast song till it mounts to the sky!
Angels of Bethlehem, echo the strain!

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W.E.B. Du Bois: Work for Peace

December 5, 2011 3 comments


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war


W.E.B. Du Bois
From Work for Peace
Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois (1963)



“Leading this new colonial imperialism comes my own native land, built by my father’s toil and blood, the United States. The United States is a great nation; rich by grace of God and prosperous by the hard work of its humblest citizens…Drunk with power we are leading the world to hell in a new colonialism with the same old human slavery which once ruined us; and to a Third World War which will ruin the world.”

“I represent millions of citizens of the United States who are just as opposed to war as you are. But it is not easy for American citizens either to know the truth about the world or to express it.”

The half-billion persons in the world who signed the Stockholm Appeal and the billion who would have signed if given the chance, were moved not by the thought of defending the Soviet Union so much as by the desire to prevent modern culture from relapsing into primitive barbarism.

“Manifestly, to meet this hysteria, it is not so much a question of the concept of war under any circumstances, as the far deeper problem of getting the truth to the masses of the citizens of the United States who still in overwhelming majority hate murder, crippling destruction and insanity, as a means of progress. By personal contact, by honest appeal, by knowing the truth ourselves, we can yet win the peace in America. But it is going to take guts and the willingness to jeopardize jobs and respectability…”


My connection with the peace movement had been long. Even in my college days I had vowed never to take up arms. I wrote in The Crisis in 1913 concerning the meeting of the peace societies at St. Louis:

“Peace today, if it means anything, means the stopping of the slaughter of the weaker by the stronger in the name of Christianity and culture. The modern lust for land and slaves in Africa, Asia,and the South Seas is the greatest and almost the only cause of war between the so-called civilized peoples. For such ‘colonial’ aggression and ‘imperial’ expansion, England, France, Germany, Russia, and Austria are straining every nerve to arm themselves; against such policies Japan and China are arming desperately. And yet the American peace movement thinks it bad policy to take up this problem of machine guns, natives, and rubber, and wants ‘constructive’ work in ‘arbitration treaties and international law.’ For our part we think that a little less dignity and dollars and a little more humanity would make the peace movement in America a great democratic philanthropy instead of an aristocratic refuge.”

At the Congress of Versailles in 1919, my contribution was the Pan-African Congresses, and appeals to the Mandate Commission and the International Labor Organization. In 1945, as consultant to the American delegation to the UNO in San Francisco, I tried to stress the colonial question. I wrote May 16, 1945:

“The attempt to write an International Bill of Rights into the San Francisco Conference without any specific mention of the people living in colonies seems to me a most unfortunate procedure. If it were clearly understood that freedom of speech, freedom from want and freedom from fear, which the nations are asked to guarantee, would without question be extended to the 750 million people who live in colonial areas, this would be a great and fateful step. But the very fact that these people, forming the most depressed peoples in the world, with 90 per cent illiteracy, extreme poverty and a prey to disease, who hitherto for the most part have been considered as sources of profit and not included in the democratic development of the world; and whose exploitation for three centuries has been a prime cause of war, turmoil, and suffering – the omission of specific reference to these peoples is almost advertisement of their tacit exclusion as not citizens of free states, and that their welfare and freedom would be considered only at the will of the countries owning them and not at the demand of enlightened world public opinion.”

On February 5, 1949, O. John Rogge, formerly U.S. Assistant Attorney-General, wrote me:

“The recent development in American-Soviet relations places a new emphasis on the need for a meeting such as our Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace. Certainly intellectuals today are faced with no greater challenge than to give the best of their talent, skills, and special knowledge to the problem of how we achieve a real peace.

“We are most eager to make this Conference a real contribution to the solution of the problems that now block the way to peace. For that reason we are asking you and a small group of key individuals among our sponsors to meet with us to help in the preparation of the subject matter and program as well as speakers for this Conference…”

The conference took place in March 1949, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, and marked an era in the cultural history of the United States. It was sponsored by 550 of the outstanding leaders of American cultural and liberal thought. It succeeded in bringing together an extraordinary representation of the leaders of modern culture, and especially cultural leaders of the Soviet Union.

So rabid was its reception by the American press, that a concerted and directed movement against peace and in favor of war against the Soviet Union was made clear. Distinguished cultural figures like Picasso were refused visas to attend. The meeting became a matter of bitter recrimination; the sessions were picketed,and the distortion of the whole enterprise in the press was unprecedented.

Thus a conference called by persons of the highest standing in science, literature and art, and conceived with the best motives, became as the New York Times said, one of “the most controversial meetings in recent New York history”; and a signal expression of the witch-hunting and calumny in this nation which drove free speech and the right to inquire and reason into almost total eclipse.

At the final meeting in Madison Square Garden I said in introducing the Chairman, Harlow Shapley:

“We know and the saner nations know that we are not traitors nor conspirators; and far from plotting force and violence it is precisely force and violence that we bitterly oppose. This conference was not called to defend communism nor socialism nor the American way of life. It was called to promote peace! It was called to say and say again that no matter how right or wrong differing systems of beliefs in religion, industry, or government may be, war is not the method by which their differences can successfully be settled for the good of mankind.”

The next month I was urged by O. John Rogge, Albert E. Kahn, and others to attend a world peace meeting in Paris. The American committee offered to pay a part of my expense, and I paid the rest. I went to what seems to me to have been the greatest demonstration for peace in modern times. For four days witnesses from nearly every country in the world set forth the horrors of war and the necessity of peace if civilization was to survive. On the concluding Sunday, 500,000 pilgrims from all parts of France, coming on foot, by automobiles, by train and plane, filed through the vast Buffalo Stadium crying, “Peace, no more war!” At this Conference I emphasized colonialism and said:

“Let us not be misled. The real cause of the differences which threaten world war is not the spread of socialism or even of the complete socialism which communism envisages. Socialism is spreading all over the world and even in the United States…Against this spread of socialism, one modern institution is working desperately and that is colonialism, and colonialism has been and is and ever will be one of the chief causes of war…Leading this new colonial imperialism comes my own native land, built by my father’s toil and blood, the United States. The United States is a great nation; rich by grace of God and prosperous by the hard work of its humblest citizens…Drunk with power we are leading the world to hell in a new colonialism with the same old human slavery which once ruined us; and to a Third World War which will ruin the world.”

On Monday, April 25th, during the last session of the Congress, a Peace Manifesto was adopted. This historic document whose preamble declared it was drawn up by representatives of the people of 72 countries, “men and women of every creed, philosophy, color, and type of civilization,” solemnly proclaimed that “the defense of Peace is henceforth the concern of all peoples.” In the name of the 600 million represented, the Congress sent out this message: “We are ready and resolved to win the battle for Peace, which means to win the battle for Life.”

The Congress adjourned and the delegates returned to their 72 countries.

In July 1949, I joined with Linus Pauling, John Clark, Uta Hagen and O. John Rogge to call an “American Continental Congress for World Peace” to be held in Mexico City in September.

Again in August 1949, 25 prominent Americans were asked to attend an all-Soviet peace conference in Moscow. For reasons which arose directly from the violent reception given the peace congress in March, I was the only one who accepted the invitation. I addressed the 1,000 persons present:

“I represent millions of citizens of the United States who are just as opposed to war as you are. But it is not easy for American citizens either to know the truth about the world or to express it. This is true despite the intelligence and wealth and energy of the United States. Perhaps I can best perform my duty to my country and to the cause of world peace by taking a short time to explain the historic reasons for the part which the United States is playing in the world today. I can do this the more appropriately because I represent that large group of 15 million Americans, one tenth of the nation, who in a sense explain America’s pressing problems…”

My trip to the Soviet Union made it impossible for me to get to the Congress in Mexico City, but I watched with interest other peace conferences: in Cuba in August; in Australia in April 1950; the delegations to the Parliaments of the world, projected by the Defenders of Peace in Paris in February 1950. I joined a group to welcome persons selected to come here, including the Dean of Canterbury, and the great painter, Picasso. They were refused visas. A Mid-Century Conference for Peace was called by the Committee for Peaceful Alternatives in May 1950, in which I was asked to conduct a panel; but a previous engagement kept me away. I was asked to attend the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Paris Defenders of Peace in Prague in August 1951, and accepted. This meeting was to call a Second World Congress and make a new plea for disarmament.

But before this meeting, we had succeeded in forming in the United States an organization to work for peace. This was the Peace Information Center. There were about 60 Americans who attended the World Congress of the Defenders of Peace in Paris in April 1950. We were all tremendously impressed and discussed many times the question as to what we could do when we returned to America. We did nothing for nearly a year, because in the state of hysteria and war-mongering which we found in the United States, it was not at all clear as to what could be done legally.

Finally I received this telegram from O. John Rogge:

“Strongly urge your participation meeting my house 400 East 52 Street at 8 o’clock Wednesday evening March 1st. Purpose is to discuss certain vital problems relating to current activities for promotion of world peace.”

I went to the meeting and found that the 30 or 40 persons attending had already in previous meetings been exploring methods of organizing for peace in the United States. The first idea seemed to have been a federation of the various peace movements in the United States already in existence. That had fallen through. Then a committee to welcome the prominent advocates of peace who proposed to visit the United States proved useless when they were refused visas. We appointed a committee to explore possibilities.

A number of the participants in this initial meeting went to Europe to attend a meeting of the Bureau of the Defenders of Peace in Stockholm, and also to visit Russia under the plan of approaching Parliaments in the interests of peace. Our committee adopted a plan which seemed to us all unusually apt and legal, and that was, as we decided at a later meeting in a private home, to form a Peace Information Center, the object of which should be simply to tell the people of the United States what other nations were doing and thinking about war.

Johannes Steele suggested that we publish what he called a “Peacegram” at intervals, and in that way we could collect information and send it over the United States. The proposal to organize was made by the chairman of the committee, Elizabeth Moos, and we proceeded to locate offices and start organized work. In July, Mrs. Moos, on account of ill health, resigned with regret after having put the organization on its feet.

Abbott Simon, a young veteran interested in work among youth, was her obvious successor and became our executive secretary from July to our dissolution. Kyrle Elkin was a young businessman, educated at Harvard, and engaged in small manufacturing. He had never been especially active in social work, but was attracted by our program, and in his quiet way helped us by accepting the duties of treasurer.

We all worked together smoothly and effectively. We issued the “Peacegrams,” and then reprinted and circulated the “Stockholm Appeal” to abolish the atom bomb. We distributed this over the nation, and collected in all 2,500,000 signatures. We printed and distributed other demands and arguments for peace, like the Red Cross Appeal, the statement of the Friends, and many others.

The half-billion persons in the world who signed the Stockholm Appeal and the billion who would have signed if given the chance, were moved not by the thought of defending the Soviet Union so much as by the desire to prevent modern culture from relapsing into primitive barbarism.

The first direct public attack on the Peace Information Center came in a broadside from the United States Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, released July 12 (New York Times, July 13, 1950):

“I am sure that the American people will not be fooled by the so-called ‘world peace appeal’ or ‘Stockholm resolution’ now being circulated in this country for signatures. It should be recognized for what it is – a propaganda trick in the spurious ‘peace offensive’ of the Soviet Union…”

I replied immediately on July 14, saying in a release to the press:

“The main burden of your opposition to this Appeal and to our efforts lies in the charge that we are part of a ‘spurious peace offensive’ of the Soviet Union. Is it our strategy that when the Soviet Union asks for peace, we insist on war? Must any proposals for averting atomic catastrophe be sanctified by Soviet opposition? Have we come to the tragic pass where, by declaration of our own Secretary of State, there is no possibility of mediating our differences with the Soviet Union? Does it not occur to you, Sir, that there are honest Americans who, regardless of their differences on other questions, hate and fear war and are determined to do something to avert it?…

“We have got to live in the world with Russia and China. If we worked together with the Soviet Union against the menace of Hitler, can we not work with them again at a time when only faith can save us from utter atomic disaster? Certainly hundreds of millions of colonial peoples in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, conscious of our support of Chiang Kai-shek, Bao Dai and the colonial system, and mindful of the oppressive discrimination against the Negro people in the United States, would feel that our intentions also must be accepted on faith.

“Today in this country it is becoming standard reaction to call anything ‘communist’ and therefore subversive and unpatriotic, which anybody for any reason dislikes. We feel strongly that this tactic has already gone too far; that it is not sufficient today to trace a proposal to a communist source in order to dismiss it with contempt.

“We are a group of Americans, who upon reading this Peace Appeal, regard it as a true, fair statement of what we ourselves and many countless other Americans believed. Regardless of our other beliefs and affiliations, we united in this organization for the one and only purpose of informing the American people on the issues of peace.”

The Peace Information Center continued its work. The evidence of the desire for peace came in from all parts of the United States, and especially from those regions where the newspapers were suppressing information. Surprising interest and support came to us especially from the West and South.

In August, I had a cablegram from Paris inviting me to attend as a guest the meeting of the Bureau of the World Congress of the Defenders of Peace in Prague. They were meeting for two main purposes: to broaden the Stockholm Appeal by asking for disarmament; and to arrange a Second World Peace Congress. I regarded this as important and applied for extension of my passport.

It took ten days of deliberation in Washington and two telephone calls before permission came. Even then it was carefully limited to 60 days in Czechoslovakia and “necessary lands” enroute, and “was not to be validated for additional countries without the express authorization of the Department of State.” I felt like a prisoner on parole.

When asked at Prague to speak, I said:

“For 50 years I have been in touch with social currents in the United States. Never before has organized reaction wielded the power it does today: by ownership of press and radio, by curtailment of free speech, by imprisonment of liberal thinkers and writers. It has become almost impossible today in my country even to hold a public rally for peace. This has been accomplished by inducing Americans to believe that America is in imminent danger of aggression from communism, socialism and liberalism, and that the peace movement cloaks this threat…

“Manifestly, to meet this hysteria, it is not so much a question of the concept of war under any circumstances, as the far deeper problem of getting the truth to the masses of the citizens of the United States who still in overwhelming majority hate murder, crippling destruction and insanity, as a means of progress. By personal contact, by honest appeal, by knowing the truth ourselves, we can yet win the peace in America. But it is going to take guts and the willingness to jeopardize jobs and respectability…”

After this meeting in Prague where the Bureau of the Defenders of Peace finally voted to broaden the “Stockholm Appeal” so as to ask for disarmament and condemn aggression and armed intervention, I started home; but on my way I received two messages in Paris, which led to a political campaign and a criminal indictment.

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Hugh MacDiarmid: A war to save civilization, you say?

December 4, 2011 2 comments


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war


Hugh MacDiarmid

To Nearly Everybody In Europe Today

A war to save civilization, you say?
Then what have you to do with it, pray?
Some attempt to acquire it would show truer love
Than fighting for something you know nothing of.


Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries (1935)

It is a God-damned lie to say that these
Saved, or knew, anything worth any man’s pride.
They were professional murderers and they took
Their blood money and their impious risks and died.
In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty persist here and there on earth.

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Lu Hsün: Ballads among bushes of bayonets, hungry dove amid crumbling walls

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Lu Hsün/Lu Xun

For a forgotten memory (1931)
Translated by Jerome Ch’en and Michael Bullock

A habit now, to spend spring in this eternal night,
In exile, with wife, child and greying temples.
In dreams, I dimly see my mother’s tears,
On battlements, ever-changing, lords’ banners.
With sorrow, I watch friends become new ghosts;
In anger, I look for ballads among the bushes of bayonets.
Then I lower my eyes and find nowhere to write
Save, on my black robe, in bright moonlight.


Poem (1933)
Translated by Jon Kowallis

Dashing thunder and flying flame
leave mortal men slain.
‘Mid crumbling walls and caved-in wells
a hungry dove remains.
By chance he meets a kindly heart
and leaves the fiery dwelling.
In old Nippon a lofty tomb
commemorates our starveling.
Were he to wake as though from dream,
the dove’s shade would carry pebbles,
and stand with comrades resolute –
‘gainst tide and flood as rebels.
We brothers will yet see the day
when stormy surges all abate.
On reuniting, with one smile,
we’ll wash away the hate.

Postscript by Lu Xun on this 21st of June 1933: Dr. Nishimura found a homeless dove after the fighting in Shanghai, which he then took back with him to Japan to raise. At first it got on well but later passed away, so a stupa was erected in which to bury the dove. Asked to supply a verse for the stupa, I scratched out this poem for my friend from afar.

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Attila József: War stirs its withering alarms, I shudder to see hatred win

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Attila József
March 1937
Translated by Edwin Morgan

Soft rain is drifting like a smoke
across the tender fuzz of wheat.
As soon as the first stork appears
winter shrivels in retreat.

Spring comes, tunnelling a path
mined with exploding spikes of green.
The hut, wide open to the sun,
breathes hope and wood-dust sharp and clean.

The papers say that mercenaries
are ravaging the face of Spain.
A brainless general in China
chases peasants from hill to plain.
The cloth we use to wipe our boots
comes laundered back in blood again.
All round, big words bemuse and smooth
the voiceless miseries in men.

My heart is happy as a child’s.
Flora loves me. But oh what arms
the beauty of love? For us, for all,
war stirs its withering alarms.
The bayonet contends in zeal
With the assaulting tank. Alone
I draw to us the force I need
against the fear I can’t disown.

Men – women – all have sold themselves.
A heart? They keep it close as sin.
Hearts torn by hate – I pity you,
I shudder to see hatred win.
A little life on earth I have,
yet here I watch all life unfold –
O Flora, in the blaze of love
nothing surrenders to the cold!

May our daughter be beautiful
and good, our son fearless, keen.
May they transmit some sparks beyond
star-clusters you and I have seen.
When this sun loses its great fire,
the children of our illumination
will launch towards infinity
their own galactic exploration.

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Rubén Darío: You think the future is wherever your bullet strikes

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Latin American writers on war and peace


Rubén Darío
To Roosevelt
Translated by Lysander Kemp

The voice that would reach you, Hunter, must speak
in Biblical tones, or in the poetry of Walt Whitman.
You are primitive and modern, simple and complex;
you are one part George Washington and one part Nimrod.
You are the United States,
future invader of our naive America
with its Indian blood, an America
that still prays to Christ and still speaks Spanish.

You are strong, proud model of your race;
you are cultured and able; you oppose Tolstoy.
You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,
breaking horses and murdering tigers.
(You are a Professor of Energy,
as current lunatics say).

You think that life is a fire,
that progress is an irruption,
that the future is wherever
your bullet strikes.

The United States is grand and powerful.
Whenever it trembles, a profound shudder
runs down the enormous backbone of the Andes.
If it shouts, the sound is like the roar of a lion.
And Hugo said to Grant: “The stars are yours.”
(The dawning sun of the Argentine barely shines;
the star of Chile is rising..) A wealthy country,
joining the cult of Mammon to the cult of Hercules;
while Liberty, lighting the path
to easy conquest, raises her torch in New York.

But our own America, which has had poets
since the ancient times of Nezahualcóyolt;
which preserved the footprint of great Bacchus,
and learned the Panic alphabet once,
and consulted the stars; which also knew Atlantic
(whose name comes ringing down to us in Plato)
and has lived, since the earliest moments of its life,
in light, in fire, in fragrance, and in love –
the America of Moctezuma and Atahualpa,
the aromatic America of Columbus,
Catholic America, Spanish America,
the America where noble Cuauthémoc said:
“I am not in a bed of roses” – our America,
trembling with hurricanes, trembling with Love:
O men with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls,
our America lives. And dreams. And loves.
And it is the daughter of the Sun. Be careful.
Long live Spanish America!
A thousand cubs of the Spanish lion are roaming free.
Roosevelt, you must become, by God’s own will,
the deadly Rifleman and the dreadful Hunter
before you can clutch us in your iron claws.

And though you have everything, you are lacking one thing:


A Roosevelt

Es con voz de la Biblia, o verso de Walt Whitman,
que habría que llegar hasta ti, Cazador!
Primitivo y moderno, sencillo y complicado,
con un algo de Washington y cuatro de Nemrod.
Eres los Estados Unidos,
eres el futuro invasor
de la América ingenua que tiene sangre indígena,
que aún reza a Jesucristo y aún habla en español.

Eres soberbio y fuerte ejemplar de tu raza;
eres culto, eres hábil; te opones a Tolstoy.
Y domando caballos, o asesinando tigres,
eres un Alejandro-Nabucodonosor.
(Eres un profesor de energía,
como dicen los locos de hoy.)
Crees que la vida es incendio,
que el progreso es erupción;
en donde pones la bala
el porvenir pones.

Los Estados Unidos son potentes y grandes.
Cuando ellos se estremecen hay un hondo temblor
que pasa por las vértebras enormes de los Andes.
Si clamáis, se oye como el rugir del león.
Ya Hugo a Grant le dijo: «Las estrellas son vuestras».
(Apenas brilla, alzándose, el argentino sol
y la estrella chilena se levanta…) Sois ricos.
Juntáis al culto de Hércules el culto de Mammón;
y alumbrando el camino de la fácil conquista,
la Libertad levanta su antorcha en Nueva York.

Mas la América nuestra, que tenía poetas
desde los viejos tiempos de Netzahualcoyotl,
que ha guardado las huellas de los pies del gran Baco,
que el alfabeto pánico en un tiempo aprendió;
que consultó los astros, que conoció la Atlántida,
cuyo nombre nos llega resonando en Platón,
que desde los remotos momentos de su vida
vive de luz, de fuego, de perfume, de amor,
la América del gran Moctezuma, del Inca,
la América fragante de Cristóbal Colón,
la América católica, la América española,
la América en que dijo el noble Guatemoc:
«Yo no estoy en un lecho de rosas»; esa América
que tiembla de huracanes y que vive de Amor,
hombres de ojos sajones y alma bárbara, vive.
Y sueña. Y ama, y vibra; y es la hija del Sol.
Tened cuidado. ¡Vive la América española!
Hay mil cachorros sueltos del León Español.
Se necesitaría, Roosevelt, ser Dios mismo,
el Riflero terrible y el fuerte Cazador,
para poder tenernos en vuestras férreas garras.

Y, pues contáis con todo, falta una cosa: ¡Dios!

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Adam Mickiewicz: The transient glory of military conquerors

November 30, 2011 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
The Ruins of the Castle at Balaklava
Translator unknown

These castles heaped in shattered piles once graced
And guarded you, Crimea, thankless land!
Today like giant skulls set high they stand
And shelter reptiles, or men more debased.
Upon that tower a coat of arms is traced,
And letters, some dead hero’s name, whose hand
Scourged armies. Now he sleeps forgotten and
The grapevine holds him, like a worm, embraced.
Here Greeks have chiseled Attic ornament,
Italians cast the Mongols into chains
And pilgrims chanted slowly, Mecca bent:
Today the black-winged vulture only reigns
As in a city, dead and pestilent,
Where mourning banners flutter to the plains.

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Rampant Militarization of the World: West Risks New Arms Race In Europe

November 29, 2011 6 comments

Voice of Russia
November 29, 2011


Does the West want to start arms race in Europe?
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to

Collage: Voice of Russia

About a month ago, NATO tested first-strike capabilities by using a mobile radar in Turkey. Why would a defensive system need to test offensive capabilities? We have the cyber warfare center. You said it also can be used as an offensive tool by the U.S. We have hypersonic missile tests and the Prompt Global Strike system. I think these are pretty good reasons for the Russian Federation to be worried, to put it mildly, as to the intentions of the West. Why would the West want to start an arms race in Europe? Why would this be profitable? Why not include Russia as part of the sectoral approach system? It’s probably a rhetorical question but can you touch upon it?

There is no rational answer to it, certainly not a persuasive one from the West. For example, as you mentioned, Russia is far from simply arbitrarily and firmly opposing the creation of a unilateral U.S. interceptor missile system in Europe. The entire western flank of Russia is affected by this, of course: From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

Russia went out of its way, Russian political leadership went out of its way to be accommodating; to offer, for example, the use of the Gabala radar site it maintains in Azerbaijan to be employed in conjunction with NATO. It offered a sectoral approach in which Russia would cover part of the affected area and NATO the other and so forth, for purposes of integration and communication. But we know that several things have occurred this week, and so far this month – the advanced hypersonic weapon test earlier this month, the statement by Anatoly Serdyukov, the defense minister of Russia, the day before Medvedev’s statement stating that Russian Air Defenses will be equipped to protect Russian nuclear strategic capabilities in the European part of the Russian Federation, and also that the U.S. announced – and was soon followed by 14 NATO allies in doing so – that it is effectively pulling out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, blaming Russia for it because Russia suspended its activities within the CFE, as it’s known, in 2007 – but did so because the U.S. and its NATO allies refused to ratify amendments to the treaty. The U.S. has used the presence of a comparatively small contingent of Russian peacekeepers in Transdniester and, before Mikhail Saakashvili launched an assault against South Ossetia and began the 5-day war with Russia in August of 2008, the existence at that time of, again, small contingents of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, using that as an excuse for basically suspending, for not ratifying amendments to, the CFE Treaty.

And we have, as you know, President Medvedev’s statement on Wednesday, the fact that Russia may be compelled to suspend its activities in or withdraw from the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). This is a very momentous week in terms of security in Russia with the fear of not only a new arms race, a new missile race, but something perhaps even more ominous than that.

What we are looking at is brinkmanship, lawlessness – I don’t know what other words to use to describe it – very bold and threatening actions by the U.S. and its NATO partners to move missiles up to Russia’s borders, in the case of Poland, which adjoins Kaliningrad, and perhaps Aegis-class warships equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Russia and, of course, the 24 Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors that are going to be placed in Romania, directly across the Black Sea from Russia.

I believe that President Medvedev mentioned precisely that – “on our borders and in waters bordering Russia” and so forth. What we are seeing is an almost calculated provocation, as I would characterize it. That’s the best interpretation.

The worst is that the U.S. and NATO are building up the military capability for neutralizing Russia’s strategic deterrent capability in the west and the south of the country. And I suspect that, having this year a military budget of some $730 billion, which in constant dollars is at a World War II level, the highest since 1945, I’m reminded of the old expression that the abuse of power inevitably results from the power to abuse. As long as the U.S. has built itself into, in Obama’s terms, “the world’s sole military superpower,” it feels it can operate with impunity.

Would you say it’s time for the world to be very concerned here?

It’s way past time to be very concerned. I don’t know if it occurred at this year’s General Assembly session at the UN but I know that in preceding years Russia and China jointly went to the General Assembly and introduced resolutions addressing yet another threat, which is the militarization of space by the U.S. This is the ultimate facet of the so-called global missile shield. So there will be a space component to this in addition to land-, air- and sea-based interceptor missiles and radar. The world has sounded the alarm, at least major nations have. But I would like to see both the Security Council and the General Assembly convene on an emergency basis, to be honest about it, to demand that this rampant militarization of the world stop. Two years ago, the Financial Times talked about a $123 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia and three of its Persian Gulf allies with the U.S. The Saudi portion of that is estimated at $60-67 billion, which is the single largest bilateral military deal in human history.

We’ve seen comparable buildups with countries like Canada, Australia and Japan. You don’t build up this kind of military capability unless, at the very least, you are going to use it to blackmail somebody.

We should recall that on Wednesday President Medvedev’s statements were very tempered. He was mentioning certain contingency plans that would only be put into operation if the U.S. didn’t eventually heed the plea by Russia to notify it of its missile deployment plans and not pose a threat, or a potential threat, to Russian strategic interests and so forth. This wasn’t a threat. This was rather stating that Russia would be compelled to introduce certain defensive measures if the U.S. and NATO continued to turn a deaf ear to Russia’s offers of cooperation but was also an expression of its concern. One major Russian official – it may have been Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, I’m not sure – says the U.S. claims to be defending its own territory by building up a missile defense system, but that missile defense system is encroaching on Russian borders.

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John Greenleaf Whittier: The Peace Convention at Brussels

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war


John Greenleaf Whittier
The Peace Convention at Brussels (1848)


Then, o’er Earth’s war-field, till the strife shall cease,
Like Morven’s harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian’s lyre,
Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.

Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war,
Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky’s rim, the fountain-shading palm.


Still in thy streets, O Paris! doth the stain
Of blood defy the cleansing autumn rain;
Still breaks the smoke Messina’s ruins through,
And Naples mourns that new Bartholomew,
When squalid beggary, for a dole of bread,
At a crowned murderer’s beck of license, fed
The yawning trenches with her noble dead;
Still, doomed Vienna, through thy stately halls
The shell goes crashing and the red shot falls,
And, leagued to crush thee, on the Danube’s side,
The bearded Croat and Bosniak spearman ride;
Still in that vale where Himalaya’s snow
Melts round the cornfields and the vines below,
The Sikh’s hot cannon, answering ball for ball,
Flames in the breach of Moultan’s shattered wall;
On Chenab’s side the vulture seeks the slain,
And Sutlej paints with blood its banks again.

“What folly, then,” the faithless critic cries,
With sneering lip, and wise world-knowing eyes,
“While fort to fort, and post to post, repeat
The ceaseless challenge of the war-drum’s beat,
And round the green earth, to the church-bell’s chime,
The morning drum-roll of the camp keeps time,
To dream of peace amidst a world in arms,
Of swords to ploughshares changed by Scriptural charms,
Of nations, drunken with the wine of blood,
Staggering to take the Pledge of Brotherhood,
Like tipplers answering Father Matthew’s call;
The sullen Spaniard, and the mad-cap Gaul,
The bull-dog Briton, yielding but with life,
The Yankee swaggering with his bowie-knife,
The Russ, from banquets with the vulture shared,
The blood still dripping from his amber beard,
Quitting their mad Berserker dance to hear
The dull, meek droning of a drab-coat seer;
Leaving the sport of Presidents and Kings,
Where men for dice each titled gambler flings,
To meet alternate on the Seine and Thames,
For tea and gossip, like old country dames!
No! let the cravens plead the weakling’s cant,
Let Cobden cipher, and let Vincent rant,
Let Sturge preach peace to democratic throngs,
And Burritt, stammering through his hundred tongues,
Repeat, in all, his ghostly lessons o’er,
Timed to the pauses of the battery’s roar;
Check Ban or Kaiser with the barricade
Of “Olive-leaves” and Resolutions made,
Spike guns with pointed Scripture-texts, and hope
To capsize navies with a windy trope;
Still shall the glory and the pomp of War
Along their train the shouting millions draw;
Still dusty Labor to the passing Brave
His cap shall doff, and Beauty’s kerchief wave;
Still shall the bard to Valor tune his song,
Still Hero-worship kneel before the Strong;
Rosy and sleek, the sable-gowned divine,
O’er his third bottle of suggestive wine,
To plumed and sworded auditors, shall prove
Their trade accordant with the Law of Love;
And Church for State, and State for Church, shall fight,
And both agree, that “Might alone is Right!”
Despite of sneers like these, O faithful few,
Who dare to hold God’s word and witness true,
Whose clear-eyed faith transcends our evil time,
And o’er the present wilderness of crime
Sees the calm future, with its robes of green,
Its fleece-flecked mountains, and soft streams between, –
Still keep the path which duty bids ye tread,
Though worldly wisdom shake the cautious head;
No truth from Heaven descends upon our sphere,
Without the greeting of the skeptic’s sneer;
Denied and mocked at, till its blessings fall,
Common as dew and sunshine, over all.”

Then, o’er Earth’s war-field, till the strife shall cease,
Like Morven’s harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian’s lyre,
Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.
Lend, once again, that holy song a tongue,
Which the glad angels of the Advent sung,
Their cradle-anthem for the Saviour’s birth,
Glory to God, and peace unto the earth!
Through the mad discord send that calming word
Which wind and wave on wild Gennesareth heard,
Lift in Christ’s name his Cross against the Sword!
Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war,
Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky’s rim, the fountain-shading palm.
Still lives for Earth, which fiends so long have trod,
The great hope resting on the truth of God, –
Evil shall cease and Violence pass away,
And the tired world breathe free through a long Sabbath day. 

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Hypersonic Missiles: Who Is The Target?

November 28, 2011 3 comments

Voice of Russia
November 28, 2011

Hypersonic missile: who is the target?
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global


The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?

In a rather alarming manner we’ve seen an expanding recruitment for the U.S. missile system in Europe, through the mechanism of NATO, in the last couple of months where, in addition to the countries where we know there are going to be US interceptor missiles stationed, the deployment of a Forward-Based X-Band Radar facility in Turkey has been confirmed.

We’ve also seen the recruitment of nations like Spain, the Netherlands and others into what the White House and the Pentagon refer to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile system, one that is going to proceed in four phases, the third and fourth phases with the introduction of very advanced-stage Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors, with the understanding that these can be employed not strictly for defensive purposes but to target all Russian strategic deterrent forces and capabilities in Europe.

Recently, the U.S. and NATO conducted tests for their new hypersonic missile. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about that?

Earlier this month, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) did just that. It’s actually an interdepartmental weapon system, its part of what’s called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or sometimes simply Prompt Global Strike.

Last year, for example, the Obama administration asked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a billion dollars for this year to develop the capacity. It’s meant to deliver conventional weapon attacks to any site on the planet within no more than 60 minutes. And what happened earlier this month was that the U.S. Army tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which traveled an estimated 7,400 km/h, which is over six times the speed of sound.

In August, an unsuccessful test of an AHW-related component was to have traveled at 27,000 km/h, which is over MACH 20 – that is 20 times the speed of sound. To be hypersonic one has to exceed MACH 5, or five times the speed of sound.

The day before President Medvedev’s statement about moving mobile ISKANDER missiles into the Kaliningrad District, but also potentially into Belarus and into the southern Krasnodar region, which would be closer to US missiles in Romania and to the NATO radar facility in Turkey, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov mentioned that Russia’s new air-defense systems are capable of intercepting any kind of missiles, including U.S. interceptor missiles but also, he explicitly mentioned, hypersonic weapons.

He said that explicitly? Hypersonic?

Yes, he said it specifically in reference to the test that had been conducted a week earlier by the U.S.

You mentioned earlier this was a part of the Prompt Global Strike system? Is this a first-strike system?

I’ll read you a comment that was made a couple of years ago by a person who is now retired, then-Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright, who stated that the proclaimed intent of the Prompt Global Strike program was to deliver strikes by conventional missiles or heavy bombers – long-range bombers – anywhere on the face of the Earth within an hour.

Marine General James Cartwright stated: “At the high end, strikes could be delivered in 300 milliseconds,” which is a fraction of a second.

There was also a comment by another person who is now retired, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense William Lynn, who stated roughly the same thing a year and a half ago. He said: “The next air warfare priority for the Pentagon is developing a next-generation, deep-penetrating strike capability that can overcome air defenses,” meaning again that a first-strike capability or part of a general first-strike capability that would permit the US to strike fast, deep and undetected presumably into the interior of countries that have advanced air defense systems. I can only think of three countries that would match that description – Iran, to a lesser extent, and Russia and China, to a greater.

How would this all tie in with the Cyber Warfare Center that’s been active recently in Estonia?

Yes, in 2008, NATO set up one of what they call, what NATO calls, a Center of Excellence, a Cyber Defense Centre in the capital of Estonia, in reaction to cyber attacks, real or alleged.

So we have three components being integrated, one of them being the so-called global missile shield. But, first of all, there is no real assurance that the missiles in fact pack a non-explosive warhead. They are supposed to be what are called kinetic or hit-to-kill missiles, but at any time that the U.S. chooses I suspect it can put a strategic warhead on one of these missiles after they are deployed in Poland or Romania and no one would be the wiser.

We know that the momentous statement by President Medvedev on Wednesday cited the fact that Russia was not consulted about anything. In his own words, the U.S. rather blithely announces developments after the fact or rather the president or defense minister of Russia have to read in Western newspapers information concerning U.S. plans to deploy, under NATO auspices, 48 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania and Poland, 24 each, and, as he put it, it’s presented to Russia as an accomplished fact.

With that lack of consultation, with that lack of openness, transparency, one would be justified in fearing the ultimate purpose of U.S. missiles in nations like Poland and Romania or ship-based versions of Standard Missile-3 interceptors that will be deployed in the Baltic Sea and may well find their way into the Barents, Norwegian and Black Seas.

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D.H. Lawrence: Future War, Murderous Weapons, Refinements of Evil

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

D. H. Lawrence: Selections on war


Future War

After our industrial civilisation has broken, and
the civilisation of touch has begun
war will cease, there will be no more wars.
The heart of man, in so far as it is budding, is budding warless
and budding towards infinite variety, variegation
and where there is infinite variety, there is no interest in war.
Oneness, makes war, the obsession of oneness.


Murderous Weapons

So guns and strong explosives
are evil, evil
they let death upon unseen men
in sheer murder.

And most murderous of all devices
are poison gas and air-bombs
refinements of evil.

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John Davidson: Blood in torrents pour in vain, for war breeds war again

November 26, 2011 2 comments


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

John Davidson: The blood of men poured out in endless wars


John Davidson
War Song (1899)


In anguish we uplift
A new unhallowed song:
The race is to the swift;
The battle to the strong.

Of old it was ordained
That we, in packs like curs,
Some thirty million trained
And licensed murderers,

In crime should live and act,
If cunning folk say sooth
Who flay the naked fact
And carve the heart of truth.

The rulers cry aloud,
“We cannot cancel war,
The end and bloody shroud
Of wrongs the worst abhor,
And order’s swaddling band:
Know that relentless strife
Remains by sea and land
The holiest law of life.
From fear in every guise,
From sloth, from lust of pelf,
By war’s great sacrifice
The world redeems itself.
War is the source, the theme
Of art; the goal, the bent
And brilliant academe
Of noble sentiment;
The augury, the dawn
Of golden times of grace;
The true catholicon,
And blood-bath of the race.”

We thirty million trained
And licensed murderers,
Like zanies rigged, and chained
By drill and scourge and curse
In shackles of despair
We know not how to break –
What do we victims care
For art, what interest take
In things unseen, unheard?
Some diplomat no doubt
Will launch a heedless word,
And lurking war leap out!

We spell-bound armies then,
Huge brutes in dumb distress,
Machines compact of men
Who once had consciences,
Must trample harvests down –
Vineyard, and corn and oil;
Dismantle town by town,
Hamlet and homestead spoil
On each appointed path,
Till lust of havoc light
A blood-red blaze of wrath
In every frenzied sight.

In many a mountain pass,
Or meadow green and fresh,
Mass shall encounter mass
Of shuddering human flesh;
Opposing ordnance roar
Across the swaths of slain,
And blood in torrents pour
In vain – always in vain,
For war breeds war again!

The shameful dream is past,
The subtle maze untrod:
We recognise at last
That war is not of God.



The war of words is done;
The red-lipped cannon speak;
The battle has begun.

The web your speeches spun
Tears and blood shall streak;
The war of words is done.

Smoke enshrouds the sun;
Earth staggers at the shriek
Of battle new begun.

Poltroons and braggarts run:
Woe to the poor, the meek!
The war of words is done.

“And hope not now to shun
The doom that dogs the weak,”
Thunders every gun;

“Victory must be won.”
When the red-lipped cannon speak,
The war of words is done,
The slaughter has begun.

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Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

James Russell Lowell: Selections on war and peace


James Russell Lowell
From To Lamartine (1848)

I did not praise thee when the crowd,
‘Witched with the moment’s inspiration,
Vexed thy still ether with hosannas loud,
And stamped their dusty adoration;
I but looked upward with the rest,
And, when they shouted Greatest, whispered Best.


Now thou’rt thy plain, grand self again,
Thou art secure from panegyric,
Thou who gav’st politics an epic strain,
And actedst Freedom’s noblest lyric;
This side the Blessed Isles, no tree
Grows green enough to make a wreath for thee.


The highest duty to mere man vouchsafed
Was laid on thee, – out of wild chaos,
When the roused popular ocean foamed and chafed
And vulture War from his Imaus
Snuffed blood, to summon homely Peace,
And show that only order is release.

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Lamartine: The republic of peace

November 24, 2011 1 comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Alphonse de Lamartine: Mercenaries, taking others’ lives for hire

Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood


Alphonse de Lamartine
From Manifesto to Europe (1848)
Translator unknown

The proclamation of the French republic is not an act of aggression against any form of government in the world. Forms of government have diversities as legitimate as the diversities of character – of geographical situation – of intellectual, moral, and material development among nations.

War, therefore, is not now the principle of the French republic, as it was the fatal and glorious necessity of the republic of 1792. Half a century separates 1792 from 1848. To return, after the lapse of half a century, to the principle of 1792, or to the principle of conquest pursued during the empire, would not be to advance, but to regress. The revolution of yesterday is a step forward, not backward. The world and ourselves are desirous of advancing to fraternity and peace…

The republic pronounced at its birth, and in the midst of a conflict not provoked by the people, three words, which have revealed its soul, and which will call down on its cradle the blessing of God and man: liberty, equality, fraternity. It gave on the following day, in the abolition of the punishment of death for political offences, the true commentary on those three words, as far as regards the domestic policy of France; it is for you to give them their true commentary abroad. The meaning of these three words, as applied to our foreign policy, is this: the emancipation of France from the chains which have fettered her principles and her dignity; her reinstatement in the rank she is entitled to occupy among the great powers of Europe; in short, the declaration of alliance and friendship to all nations. If France be conscious of the part she has to perform in the liberal and civilising mission of the age, there is not one of those words which signifies war. If Europe be prudent and just, there is not one of those words which does not signify peace.

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Fénelon: War is the most dreadful of all evils by which heaven has afflicted man

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace


François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon
From The Adventures of Telemachus (1699)
Translated by John Hawkesworth

“‘We hold, as thou seest, king, in one hand the sword, and an olive-branch in the other. Here are peace and war; make your choice. Peace has the preference in our estimation; it is for peace that we have yielded to thy people the delightful borders of the sea, where the sun renders the earth fertile, and matures the most delicious fruits. Peace is still more sweet than these fruits; and for peace we have retired to the mountains that are covered with eternal snow, where spring is decorated with no flowers, and autumn is enriched with no fruit. We abhor that brutality, which, under the specious names of ambition and glory, desolates the earth and destroys mankind. If thou hast placed glory in carnage and desolation, we do not envy, but pity the delusion, and beseech the gods that our minds may never be perverted by so dreadful a phrensy. If the sciences which the Greeks learn with so much assiduity, and the politeness of which they boast with such a conscious superiority, inspire them with desires so sanguinary and injurious, we think ourselves happy to be without these advantages. It will be our glory to continue ignorant and unpolished, but just, humane, faithful, and disinterested; to be content with little, and to despise the false delicacy which makes it necessary to have much. We prize nothing but health, frugality, freedom, and vigor both of body and of mind; we cultivate only the love of virtue, the fear of the gods, benevolence to our neighbors, zeal for our friends, integrity to the world, moderation in prosperity, fortitude in distress, courage to speak truth in every situation, and a just abhorrence and contempt of flattery. Such are the people whom we oflTer thee as neighbors and alUes. If thou shalt be so blinded by the gods in their displeasure as to reject them, experience shall teach thee, when it is too late, that those whose moderation inclines them to peace, are most to be dreaded when compelled to war…'”


“All the misfortunes that you have suffered hitherto have not taught you what should be done to prevent a war. What you have yourself related of the candid integrity of these barbarians, is sufficient to show that you might have shared with them the blessings of peace; but pride and arrogance necessarily bring on the calamities of war.

“You have been afraid of making your enemies proud; but you have, without scruple, made them powerful, by an arrogant and injurious conduct, which has united innumerable nations against you. To what purpose are these towers, of which you have so pompously displayed the advantages, but to reduce all the surrounding nations to the necessity, either of perishing themselves, or of destroying you to preserve their freedom? You erected these towers for your security, but they are really the source of your danger.

“By attempting to appear powerful, you have subverted your power; and, while you are the object of enmity and terror to your neighbors from without, your strength is exhausted within, to maintain a war which this enmity and terror have made necessary…”


“Among other princes in this assembly I see Nestor. Thy years and wisdom, O Nestor, have acquainted thee with the calamities of war, even when it is undertaken with justice, and is favored by the gods. War is the most dreadful of all evils by which heaven has afflicted man. Thou canst never forget what was suffered by the Greeks, during the ten years they spent before the walls of Troy — what divisions among their chiefs! what caprices of fortune! what carnage from the hand of Hector! what calamity in distant cities, during the long absence of their kings! and what misfortunes at their return!”

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Zuhair: Accursed thing, war will grind you between millstones

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Zuhair/Zuhayr (520-609)
From The Poem of Zuhair
Translated by F. E. Johnson

“And war is not but what you have learnt it to be, and
what you have experienced, and what is said concerning it,
is not a story based on suppositions.

“When you stir it up, you will stir it up as an accursed
thing, and it will become greedy when you excite its greed
and it will rage fiercely.

“Then it will grind you as the grinding of the upper millstone
against the lower…”

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Dylan Thomas: The Hand That Signed the Paper

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war


Dylan Thomas
The Hand That Signed the Paper (1936)

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.

The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The finger joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose’s quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.

The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.

The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.

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Cervantes: Everything then was friendship, everything was harmony

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Miguel de Cervantes
From Don Quixote
Translated by Tom Lathrop

Quixote among the goatherds

“What a happy time and a happy age were those that the ancients called Golden! And not because gold — which in this our Age of Iron is so valued — was gotten in that fortunate time without any trouble, but rather because the people who lived then didn’t know the two words yours and mine! In that holy age all things were commonly owned. To find their daily sustenance, they had only to raise their hands and take it from the robust oaks, which liberally offered their sweet and ripe fruit to them. Crystal clear fountains and running rivers, in magnificent abundance, offered them their delicious and transparent water. In the fissures of boulders and in the hollows of trees, the diligent and prudent bees formed their republics and offered to any hand, without recompense, the fertile harvest of their very sweet work. The robust cork trees shed their lightweight bark without any artifice other than their own courtesy, with which people began to cover their rustic houses, built only for protection against the rigors of the heavens. Everything then was friendship, everything was harmony. The heavy plow had not yet dared to open nor visit the pious bowels of our first mother, for she, without being forced, gave everywhere from her fertile and broad bosom that could fill, sustain, and delight the children that possessed her then.

“It was then that the simple and beautiful young shepherdesses could travel from valley to valley and from hill to hill, either in braids or with their hair flowing behind, with only enough clothing to cover modestly what decency requires, and has always required. And their ornamentation was not like the Tyrian purple and silk woven in a thousand different ways that women esteem nowadays, but rather it was of intertwined green-dock and ivy, with which they carried themselves with perhaps as much dignity and composure as our courtesans do nowadays, strutting about in extravagant dresses. In those days, literary expressions of love were recited in a simple way, without any unnatural circumlocution to express them.

“Fraud, deceit, and wickedness had not as yet contaminated truth and sincerity. Justice was administered on its own terms and was not tainted by favor and self-interest, which now impair, overturn, and persecute it. Arbitrary law had not yet debased the rulings of the judge, because in those days there was nothing to judge, nor anyone to be judged.

“Young women, with their chastity intact, traveled about on their own anywhere they wanted, as I’ve said, without fearing the damaging boldness or lust of others, and if they suffered any ruination it was born of their own pleasure and free will. Nowadays, in our detestable age, no young woman is secure, even though she be hidden and locked in a new labyrinth of Crete, for even there, through the cracks or borne in the air, the plague of lust finds its way in with the zeal of cursed importunity, and brings her to ruin in spite of her seclusion. As time went by and as wickedness grew, the order of knight errantry was instituted to defend young women, protect widows, and help orphans and needy people.

“I am a member of this order, brother goatherds, and I’m grateful for the hearty welcome and reception you’ve given me and my squire. For, although under natural law all living souls are obliged to show favor to knights errant, it’s still fitting that — knowing as I do you received and entertained me with no knowledge of this obligation — I should acknowledge your good will with utmost gratitude.”

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J.B. Priestley: Insane regress of ultimate weapons leads to radioactive cemetery

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war


J.B. Priestley
Britain and the Nuclear Bombs (1957)



The prospect now is not one of countries without navies but navies without countries. And we have arrived at an insane regress of ultimate weapons that are not ultimate.

For that matter, why should it be assumed that the men who create and control such monstrous devices are in their right minds? They live in an unhealthy mental climate, an atmosphere dangerous to sanity. They are responsible to no large body of ordinary sensible men and women, who pay for these weapons without ever having ordered them, who have never been asked anywhere yet if they wanted them.

It is possible, as some thinkers hold, that our civilisation is bent on self destruction, hurriedly planning its own doomsday. This may explain matters better than any wearisome recital of plot and counter plot in terms of world powers. The curious and sinister air of somnambulism there is about our major international affairs, the steady drift from bad to worse, the speeches that begin to sound meaningless, the conferences that achieve nothing, all the persons of great consequence who somehow feel like puppets.

It will be universal catastrophe and apocalypse…And it is not hard to believe that this is what some of our contemporaries really desire, that behind the photogenic smiles and cheerful patter nothing exists but the death wish.


Two events of this autumn should compel us to reconsider the question of Britain and the nuclear bombs. The first of these events was Mr Aneurin Bevan’s speech at the Labour Party conference, which seemed to many of us to slam a door in our faces. It was not dishonest but it was very much a party conference speech, and its use of terms like ‘unilateral’ and ‘polarisation’ lent it a suggestion of the ‘Foreign Office spokesman’. Delegates asked not to confuse ‘an emotional spasm’ with ‘statesmanship’ might have retorted that the statesmanship of the last 10 years has produced little else but emotional spasms. And though it is true, as Mr Bevan argued, that independent action by this country, to ban nuclear bombs, would involve our foreign minister in many difficulties, most of us would rather have a bewildered and overworked Foreign Office than a country about to be turned into a radioactive cemetery. Getting out of the water may be difficult, but it’s better than drowning.

The second event was the successful launching of the Soviet satellite, followed by an immediate outbreak of what may fairly be called satellitis, producing a rise in temperature and delirium. In the poker game where Britain still sits, nervously fingering a few remaining chips, like a Treasury official playing with two drunk oil millionaires, the stakes have been doubled again. Disarmament talks must now take place in an atmosphere properly belonging to boys’ papers and science fiction, though already charged with far more hysterical competitiveness. If statesmanship is to see us through, it will have to break the familiar and dubious pattern of the last few years. Perhaps what we need now, before it is too late, is not statesmanship but lifesmanship.

One ‘ultimate weapon’, the final deterrent, succeeds another. After the bombs, the intercontinental rockets; and after the rockets, according to the First Lord of the Admiralty, the guided-missile submarine, which will ‘carry a guided missile with a nuclear warhead and appear off the coasts of any country in the world with a capability of penetrating to the centre of any continent.’ The prospect now is not one of countries without navies but navies without countries. And we have arrived at an insane regress of ultimate weapons that are not ultimate.

But all this is to the good; and we cannot have too much of it, we are told, because no men in their right minds would let loose such powers of destruction. Here is the realistic view. Any criticism of it is presumed to be based on wild idealism. But surely it is the wildest idealism, at the furthest remove from a sober realism, to assume that men will always behave reasonably and in line with their best interests? Yet this is precisely what we are asked to believe, and to stake our all on it.

For that matter, why should it be assumed that the men who create and control such monstrous devices are in their right minds? They live in an unhealthy mental climate, an atmosphere dangerous to sanity. They are responsible to no large body of ordinary sensible men and women, who pay for these weapons without ever having ordered them, who have never been asked anywhere yet if they wanted them. When and where have these preparations for public warfare ever been put to the test of public opinions? We cannot even follow the example of the young man in the limerick and ask who does what and with which and to whom? The whole proceedings take place in the stifling secrecy of an expensive lunatic asylum. And as one ultimate weapon after another is added to the pile, the mental climate deteriorates, the atmosphere thickens, and the tension is such that soon something may snap.

The more elaborately involved and hair-triggered the machinery of destruction, the more likely it is that this machinery will be set in motion, if only by accident. Three glasses too many of vodka or bourbon-on-the-rocks, and the wrong button may be pushed. Combine this stock-piling of nuclear weapons with a crazy competitiveness, boastful confidence in public and a mounting fear in private, and what was unthinkable a few years ago now at the best only seems unlikely and very soon maybe inevitable. Then western impatience cries ‘Let’s get the damned thing over!’ and eastern fatalism mutters ‘If this has to be, then we must accept it’. And people in general are now in a worse position every year, further away from intervention; they have less and less freedom of action; they are deafened and blinded by propaganda and giant headlines; they are robbed of decisions by fear or apathy.

It is possible, as some thinkers hold, that our civilisation is bent on self destruction, hurriedly planning its own doomsday. This may explain matters better than any wearisome recital of plot and counter plot in terms of world powers. The curious and sinister air of somnambulism there is about our major international affairs, the steady drift from bad to worse, the speeches that begin to sound meaningless, the conferences that achieve nothing, all the persons of great consequence who somehow feel like puppets. We have all seen people in whom was sown the final seed of self-destruction, people who would sit with us making sensible plans and then go off and quietly bring them to nothing, never really looking for anything but death. Our individual civilisation, behaving in a similar fashion, may be under the same kind of spell, hell-bent on murdering itself. But it is possible that the spell can be broken. If it can, then it only will be by an immensely decisive gesture, a clear act of will. Instead of endless bargaining for a little of this in exchange for a little of that, while all the time the bargainers are hurried down a road that gets steeper and narrower, somebody will have to say ‘I’m through with all of this’.

In plain words: now that Britain has told the world she has the H-bomb she should announce as early as possible that she has done with it, that she proposes to reject, in all circumstances, nuclear warfare. This is not pacifism. There is no suggestion here of abandoning the immediate defence of the island. Indeed, it might be considerably strengthened, reducing the threat of actual invasion, which is the root fear in people’s minds, a fear often artfully manipulated for purposes far removed from any defence of hearth and home. (This is of course the exact opposite of the views expressed at the Tory conference by Mr Sandys, who appears to believe that bigger and bigger bombs and rockets in more and more places, if necessary, thousands of miles away, will bring us peace and prosperity.) No, what should be abandoned is the idea of deterrence by the threat of retaliation. There is no real security in it, no faith, hope, nor charity in it.

But let us take a look at our present policy entirely on its own level. There is no standing still, no stalemates, in this idiot game; one ‘ultimate weapon’ succeeds another. To stay in the race at all, except in an ignominious position, we risk bankruptcy, the disappearance of the Welfare State, a standard of living that might begin to make communist propaganda sound more attractive than it does at present. We could in fact be so busy, inspired by the indefatigable Mr Sandys, defending ourselves against communism somewhere else, a long way off, that we would wake up one morning to hear it knocking on the back door. Indeed this is Moscow’s old head-I-win-tails-you-lose policy.

Here we might do well to consider well Western strategy, first grandiloquently proclaimed by Sir Winston in those speeches he made in America just after the war. The Soviet Union was to be held in leash by nuclear power. We had the bomb and they hadn’t. The race would be on but the West had a flying start. But Russia was not without physicists, and some German scientists and highly trained technicians had disappeared somewhere in eastern Europe. For the immediate defence of West Germany, the atom bomb threat no doubt served its turn. But was this really sound long-term strategy? It created the unhealthy climate, the poisonous atmosphere of our present time. It set the Russians galloping in the nuclear race. It freed them from the immense logistic options that must be solved if large armies are to be moved everywhere, and from some very tricky problems of morale that would soon appear once the Red Army was a long way from home. It encouraged the support of so-called peoples’ and nationalistic and anti-colonial wars, not big enough to be settled by nuclear weapons. In spite of America’s ring of advanced air bases, the race had only to be run a little longer to offer Russia at least an equally good set-up, and, in comparison with Britain alone, clearly an enormously better set-up.

We are like a man in a poker game who never dares cry ‘I’ll see you’. The Soviet Union came through the last war because it had vast spaces and a large population and a ruthless disregard of losses, human and material. It still has them. Matched against this overcrowded island with its intricate urban organisation, at the last dreadful pinch – and party dictators who feel unsure of their power can pinch quicker than most democratic leaders – the other side possesses all the advantages. If there is one country that should never have gambled in this game, it is Britain. Once the table stakes were being raised, the chips piling up, we were out. And though we may have been fooling ourselves, we have not been fooling anyone else.

This answers any gobbling cries about losing our national prestige. We have none in terms of power. (The world has still respect and admiration for our culture, and we are busy reducing that respect and admiration through starving it. The cost of a few bombs might well have made all the difference.) We ended the war high in the world’s regard. We could have taken over its moral leadership, spoken and acted for what remained of its conscience; but we chose to act otherwise – with obvious and melancholy consequences both abroad, where in power politics we cut a shabby figure, and at home, where we shrug it all away or go to the theatre to applaud the latest jeers and sneers at Britannia. It has been said we cannot send our ministers naked to the conference table. But the sight of a naked minister might bring to the conference some sense of human situation. What we do is something much worse: we send them there half-dressed, half-smart, half-tough, half-apologetic, figures inviting contempt. That is why we are so excited and happy when we can send abroad a good looking young woman in a pretty new dress to represent us, playing the only card we feel that can take a trick – the queen.

It is argued, as it was most vehemently by Mr Bevan of Brighton, that if we walked out of the nuclear arms race then the world will be ‘polarised’ between America and the Soviet Union, without any hope of mediation between the fixed and bristling camps. ‘Just consider for a moment’ he cried, ‘all the little nations running, one here and one there, one running to Russia, one to the US, all once more clustering under the castle war…’ But surely this is one of those ‘realistic’ arguments that are not based on reality. The idea of the Third Force was rejected by the very party Mr Bevan was addressing. The world was polarised when, without a single protest from all the guardians of our national pride, parts of East Anglia ceased to be under control and became an American airbase. We cannot at one and the same time be an independent power, bargaining on equal terms, and a minor ally or satellite. If there are little nations that do not run for shelter to the walls of the White House or the Kremlin because they are happy to accept Britain as their nuclear umbrella, we hear very little about them. If it is a question of brute power, this argument is unreal.

It is not entirely stupid, however, because something more than brute power is involved. There is nothing unreal in the idea of a third nation, especially one like ours, old and experienced in world affairs, possessing great political traditions, to which other and smaller nations could look while the two new giants mutter and glare at each other. But it all depends what the nation is doing. If it is still in the nuclear gamble, without being able to control or put an end to the game, then that nation is useless to others, is frittering away its historical prestige, and the polarisation, which Mr Bevan sees as the worst result of our rejection of nuclear warfare, is already an accomplished fact. And if it is, then we must ask ourselves what we can do to break this polarity, what course of action on our part might have some [chance] of changing the world situation. To continue doing what we are doing will not change it. Even during the few weeks since Mr Bevan made his speech the world is becoming more rigidly and dangerously polarised than ever, just because the Russians have sent a metal football circling the globe. What then can Britain do to de-polarise the world?

The only move left that can mean anything is to go into reverse, decisively rejecting nuclear warfare. This gives the world something quite different from the polarised powers: there is not a country that can make H-bombs but decides against them. Had Britain taken this decision years ago the world would be a safer and saner place than it is today. But it is still not too late. And such a move will have to be ‘unilateral’; Domesday may arrive before the nuclear powers reach any agreement; and it is only a decisive ‘unilateral’ move that can achieve the moral force it needs to be effective.

It will be a hard decision to take because all habit is against it. Many persons of consequence and their entourages of experts would have to think fresh thoughts. They would have to risk losing friends and not influencing people. For example, so far as they involve nuclear warfare, our commitments to NATO, SEATO and the rest, and our obligations to the Commonwealth, would have to be sharply adjusted. Anywhere from Brussels to Brisbane, reproaches would be hurled, backs would be turned. But what else have these countries to suggest, what way out, what hope for man? And if, to save our souls and this planet, we are willing to remain here and take certain risks, why should we falter because we might have complaints from Rhodesia and reproaches from Christchurch, N.Z.? And it might not be a bad idea if the NATO peoples armed themselves to defend themselves, taking their rifles to the ranges at the weekend, like the Swiss.

American official and service opinion would be dead against us, naturally. The unsinkable (but expendable) aircraft carrier would have gone. Certain Soviet bases allotted to British nuclear attack would have to be included among the targets of the American Strategic Air Service. And so on and so forth. But though service chiefs and their staff go on examining and marketing their maps and planning their logistics, having no alternative but resignation, they are as fantastic and unreal in their way as their political and diplomatic colleagues are in theirs. What is fantastic and unreal is their assumption that they are traditionally occupied with their professional duties, attending in advance to the next war, Number Three in the world series. But what will happen – and one wrong report by a sleepy observer may start it off – will not be anything recognisable as war, and an affair of victories and defeats, something that one side can win or that you can all call off when you have had enough. It will be universal catastrophe and apocalypse, the crack of doom into which Communism, western democracy, their way of life and our way of life, may disappear forever. And it is not hard to believe that this is what some of our contemporaries really desire, that behind the photogenic smiles and cheerful patter nothing exists but the death wish.

We live in the thought of this prospect as if we existed in a permanent smog. All sensible men and women – and this excludes most who are in the V.I.P.–Highest-Security-Top-Secret-Top-People Class, men now so conditioned by this atmosphere of power politics, intrigue, secrecy, insane invention, that they are more than half-barmy – have no illusions about what is happening to us, and know that those responsible have made two bad miscalculation. First, they have prostituted so much science in their preparations for war and they have completely changed the character of what they are doing, without any equivalent change in the politics of and relations between states. Foreign affairs are still conducted as if the mobilisation of a few divisions might settle something [if they] are not backed with push-button arrangements to let loose earthquakes and pestilences and pronounce the death sentences of continents. This leaves us all in a worse dilemma than the sorcerer’s apprentice. The second miscalculation assumed that if the odds were multiplied fast enough, your side would break through because the other side would break down. And because this has not happened, a third illusion is being welcomed, namely, that now, with everything piling up, poker chips flung on the table by the handful, the tension obviously increasing, now at last we are arriving at an acknowledged drawn game, a not-too-state stalemate, a cosy old balance of power. This could well be the last of our illusions.

The risk of our rejecting nuclear warfare, totally and in all circumstances, is quite clear, all too easy to understand. We lose such bargaining power as we now possess. We have no deterrent to a nuclear threat. We deliberately exchange ‘security’ for insecurity. (And the fact that some such exchange is recommended by the major religions, in their earlier and non-establishment phases, needs not detain us here.) But the risk is clear and the arguments against running it irrefutable, only if we refuse, as from the first too many of us here have refused, to take anything but short-term conventional views, only if we will not follow any thought to its conclusion. Our ‘hard-headed realism’ is neither hard-headed nor realistic just because it insists on our behaving in a new world as if we were living in an old world, the one that has been replaced.

Britain runs the greatest risk just by mumbling and muddling along, never speaking out, avoiding any decisive creative act. For a world in which our deliberate ‘insecurity’ would prove to be our undoing is not a world in which real security could be found. As the game gets faster, the competition keener, the unthinkable will turn into the inevitable, the weapons will take command, and the deterrents will not deter. Our bargaining power is slight; the force of our example might be great. The catastrophic antics of our time have behind them men hag-ridden by fear, which explains the irrationality of it all, the crazy disproportion between means and ends. If we openly challenge this fear, then we might break this wicked spell that all but a few uncertified lunatics desperately wish to see broken, we could begin to restore the world to sanity and lift this nation from its recent ignominy to its former grandeur. Alone, we defied Hitler; and alone we can defy this nuclear madness into which the spirit of Hitler seems to have passed to poison the world. There may be other chain-reactions besides those leading to destruction; and we might start one. The British of these times, so frequently hiding their decent, kind faces behind masks of sullen apathy or sour, cheap cynicism, often seem to be waiting for something better than party squabbles and appeals to the narrowest self-interest, something great and noble in its intention that would make them feel good again. And this might well be a declaration to the world that after a certain date one power able to engage in nuclear warfare will reject the evil thing forever.

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U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran

November 18, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO articles

November 18, 2011

U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran
Rick Rozoff

Rumors and reports of, speculation over and scenarios for attacks against Iran’s civilian nuclear power facilities and military sites by the United States, Israel or both have flared up periodically over the past several years, especially since early 2005.

However, recent statements by among others the president and defense minister of Israel and a leading candidate for the American presidency in next year’s election – Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Mitt Romney respectively – before and after the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program manifest a more stark and menacing tone that has been heard in a long time. Standing U.S. head of state Barack Obama recently stated, “We are not taking any options off the table.”

The above threats and others of the same tenor have been noted in the capitals of countries around the world.

Last week the Global Times, a publication of the Communist Party of China, featured an unsigned editorial entitled “Winds of war start blowing toward Iran,” which contained these excerpts:

“The financial crisis is showing cracks in the Western lifestyle, making people anxious and irritable. History teaches us that war can quickly raise its ugly head at such times. There are always those who think wars can be a catalyst to move past a crisis.”

“While the US and other Western countries are struggling economically, their military power reigns supreme. This contrast is inevitably tempting in their strategic thinking but would have a profoundly negative impact on world peace.”

“Military rhetoric is usually heard from Western mouths. Where will the next war happen? War first exists in the minds of those obsessed with military might. If war is treated as a tool to solve problems, new excuses for it can easily be found.”

“The last few days have seen tensions over Iran take a sharp turn for the worse. Some feel that the US and Israel should combine to strike at Iranian nuclear facilities. This is reminiscent of those who encouraged NATO to hit Syria a few weeks ago.” [1]

On November 14 former Cuban president Fidel Castro warned that “a U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran would inevitably unleash a bloody war,” adding that because of the country’s size and comparative military strength “an attack on Iran is not like the previous Israeli military adventures in Iraq and Syria.” In fact, with a population as high as 75-77 million, Iran is larger in that regard than the last four nations attacked by the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies combined: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Four days earlier Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Duma Committee for International Affairs, in casting grave doubts on the accuracy and purpose of the recent IAEA report on Iran, said:

“A military operation against Iran could have grave consequences. And Russia should make every effort to control emotions, bring negotiations back into the field of political and expert discussion, and not allow any such action against Iran.” [2]

The following day it was announced that Iran was pursuing full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (Iran’s fellow observers in the group are India, Pakistan and Mongolia), with the Supreme National Security Council’s Secretary Assistant Ali Bageri stating, “We have already submitted a relevant application.” [3]

Slightly over two years ago the U.S, and Israel held the world’s largest-ever live-fire anti-ballistic missile drills in the second country, Juniper Cobra 10. [4]

Over a thousand U.S. and an equal amount of Israeli troops participated in the war games which included three of the four tiers of rapidly the evolving American global interceptor missile network: The Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Standard Missile-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems.

Early next year Juniper Cobra 12 will be held in Israel with the involvement of over 5,000 U.S. and Israeli troops, the largest joint military exercise ever conducted by the two nations.

Last summer the Jerusalem Post ran a feature with the title “Israel, US to hold massive missile defense drill next year,” which stated:

“Called Juniper Cobra, the exercise will be held in early 2012 and will include the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The exercise will likely include the actual launching of interceptors from these systems.”

The Israeli daily added:

“The purpose of the exercise is to create the necessary infrastructure that would enable interoperability between Israeli and American missile defense systems in case the US government decided to deploy these systems here in the event of a conflict with Iran, like it did ahead of the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991.” [5]

Another major Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, ran a story last week under the title “Israel, U.S. to embark on largest joint exercise in allies’ history,” which cited Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, stating that the upcoming missile drills will represent the “largest” and “most significant” joint military maneuvers ever held by the U.S. and Israel.

The account added:

“‘Our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before,’ said Shapiro, adding that Israel’s military edge was a ‘top priority’ for himself, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama.” [6]

The intensification of already unprecedented missile interception coordination between two of the world’s main military powers indicates preparation for withstanding potential Iranian retaliation following Israeli, American or joint strikes against Iran.

The deployment of a U.S. Forward-Based X-Band Radar in Israel’s Negev Desert three years ago and this past summer’s first deployment of an Aegis class guided missile warship, USS Monterrey, to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the U.S.-NATO Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile system endorsed at NATO’s summit in Portugal a year ago, which will further entail the stationing of missiles and radar in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey and other, as yet undisclosed, countries, are further signs of systematic plans for guaranteeing that the U.S. NATO allies and partners (like Israel) are invulnerable to counterattacks. [7]

The withdrawal of American and allied troops from Iraq and the beginning of a drawdown of their counterparts in Afghanistan can also be seen in this context, as removing targets for possible retaliation should a large-scale attack be staged against Iran.

In the last three weeks features have appeared in two of America’s major newspapers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which reveal another source for prospective attacks against Iran: The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). All are close military allies of and recipients of weapons from the U.S. and are linked with NATO through the eponymous Istanbul Cooperation Initiative launched at the 2004 NATO summit in Turkey. [8] A recent headline in Britain’s Guardian alluded to a “mini-NATO” in the Persian Gulf and Voice of Russia featured an article with the title of “US envisions NATO of the Gulf.”

A New York Times report of October 29 mentioned that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently confirmed the Pentagon currently has 40,000 troops in the Persian Gulf region (excluding Iraq), including 23,000 in Kuwait. The daily stated that new U.S. plans could include the deployment of more combat troops to the latter state and a heightened presence of American warships in the area.

The account further detailed that the Obama administration “is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new ‘security architecture’ for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.” [9]

On November 11 the Wall Street Journal revealed that the White House will provide the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with “thousands of advanced ‘bunker-buster’ bombs and other munitions, part of a stepped-up U.S. effort to build a regional coalition to counter Iran.” The weapons will “vastly expand the existing capabilities of the country’s air force to target fixed structures, which could include bunkers and tunnels — the kind of installations where Iran is believed to be developing weapons.” [10] Another source mentioned 500 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles in addition to the other munitions. A news story four days later disclosed that the U.S. Air Force has received “super-heavy bunker buster bombs” from Boeing to be carried by B-2 bombers. The new bunker-busters weigh “13.6 tons and [have] a built-in satellite navigation system, with “experts not[ing] that this type of bomb which is capable of breaking 18-meter-thick concrete walls is a perfect weapon for attacking nuclear facilities in Iran.” [11]

The Wall Street Journal report, echoing that of the New York Times earlier, added:

“The Obama administration is trying to build up the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, U.A.E. and Kuwait, as a unified counterweight to Iran.

“In recent months, the U.S. has begun holding a regular strategic dialogue with the GCC bloc. And the Pentagon has been trying to improve intelligence-sharing and military compatibility among the six countries.”

The newspaper reminded its readers of a $67 billion arms deal initiated by the White House with Saudi Arabia in 2010 to supply the second nation with 84 F-15 fighter jets and 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, 72 Black Hawk and 70 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and other missiles, and warships. The largest bilateral weapons sale in history. Two years ago a Financial Times feature estimated that Washington plans to sell $123 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the U.S. Defense Department plans to supply Stinger missiles and medium-range air-to-air missiles to Oman.

Citing Pentagon officials, the paper added:

“The U.A.E. has a large fleet of advanced U.S.-made F-16 fighters that could carry the bunker-busters. The U.A.E. currently has several hundred JDAMs [joint direct attack munitions/bunker-busters] in its arsenal, and the 4,900 in the new proposal would represent a massive buildup [of] direct attack munitions.”

“Proponents of the deal point to the U.A.E.’s support for U.S. efforts to isolate Iran, and its critical backing to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air campaign in Libya. Officials said providing JDAMs and other U.S. weapons systems to the U.A.E. will make it easier for the country to participate in similar missions in the future.” [12]

The role of the UAE and its GCC partners this year in NATO’s war against Libya and in interventions in Bahrain and Yemen and against Syria will be addressed later. [13]

A Russian expert, Professor Sergei Druzhilovsky at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, characterized the intensification of American arms sales to its Gulf clients in the following words:

“Clearly, the aim is to provoke Iran to respond by some inadequate moves, which would enable the Americans to justify subsequent violence and military force. Because no further arming of U.S. allies in the Arab Middle East will make them any stronger. It’s not the strength of its allies, which simply doesn’t exist, but its own military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain and its own fleet in the Persian Gulf that Washington relies upon. So, this is a pure provocation.” [14]

The Wall Street journal article also discussed the integration of the six GCC states into U.S. plans for an international interceptor missile system:

“The U.S. has also sought to build up missile-defense systems across the region, with the goal of building an integrated network to defend against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Iran. [15]

Last year Washington announced the sale of land-based interceptor missiles to Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, mainly of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 model.

With land- and ship-based interceptor missiles in the Persian Gulf, Washington will link the NATO system in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean with that being developed in the Asia-Pacific region with partners Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and, with what of late has been an initiative of U.S. permanent representative to NATO Ivo Daalder, India joining the NATO missile interception system [16] to increasingly surround Iran, Russia and China.

On November 13 Aviation International News reported that Washington is planning to provide Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries to the United Arab Emirates, adding to nine Patriot Advanced Capability-3 units on order. The Pentagon has deployed two THAAD active batteries to date, both in the U.S., so the stationing of the interceptors (96-144 missiles) in the UAE would be the first time they have been deployed overseas.

The news site supplied these details:

“[T]he UAE was the first export customer to be cleared to receive the system. THAAD has completed 12 successful flight tests, nine of which involved target engagements. The latest test, FTT-12, was undertaken on October 5 at the Pacific Missile Test Range at Barking Sands, Hawaii. Two interceptors were launched successfully against two targets in a near-simultaneous engagement.”

“[T]here is significant interest in upgraded Patriot and THAAD systems [in the region]. Kuwait and Qatar have both reported interest in the latter.

“As well as anticipating finalization of the THAAD contract, Lockheed Martin is awaiting the outcome of another UAE decision concerning an air defense battle management system.” [17]

According to Press TV earlier this month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that the NATO missile system, particularly the deployment of an X-Band radar unit in Turkey, “jeopardizes the interests of the country and the entire region.”

This year has seen the emergence of Persian Gulf monarchies grouped in the Gulf Cooperation Council as a military adjunct to NATO, as a combat-ready and -proven force ready to collaborate with their Western arms suppliers and allies to intervene and wage war in the Middle East and North Africa.

The United Arab Emirates provided six U.S. F-16 and six French Mirage warplanes for NATO’s Operation Unified Protector and its 26,000 air missions and nearly 10,000 combat flights over Libya. Qatar supplied six Mirage fighter jets and two C-17 military transport planes. News reports at the time remarked that the above represented the first time Gulf Cooperation Council states had joined a NATO combat mission. (Although the UAE has a contingent of troops serving under NATO in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.)

In June Robert Gates, while still U.S. defense secretary, praised the role of the UAE, Jordan ad Morocco in the war against Libya – Jordan and Morocco have since applied for membership in the GCC – stating, “In Libya, the involvement of Jordan, Morocco, the UAE and others in the Middle East have been hugely important.”

The then-Pentagon chief added this significant comment:

“I am not sure we would have moved forward to the UN, even undertaking this enterprise, had it not been for the vote in the Arab League that then paved the way for the UN Security Council resolutions.” [18]

Gates paralleled repeated statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the war citing the Arab League initiative against Libya on February 22 when the organization, then dominated by the GCC as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were in turmoil and Syria soon to join them, condemned and suspended the membership of the North African country, a move recently repeated in relation to Syria.

The GCC’s participation in NATO’s naval blockade and air war against Libya was accompanied by its first armed intervention in a member state, the deployment of 1,500 Saudi and Emirati troops to Bahrain in the middle of March in an operation called Peninsula Shield. [19]

After Libya, Bahrain and Afghanistan, GCC members, severally and collectively, have been prepared for a military conflict closer to home, in the Persian Gulf.

In May Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski announced after meeting with his UAE counterpart that the Gulf state will “become the first Arab country to open an embassy at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The following day the Kuwait News Agency quoted a statement from the French Foreign Ministry supporting the initiative:

“The United Arab Emirates has just asked for the accreditation of an ambassador to NATO.

“We fully support this request.

“This is a new step in our relations, which have witnessed an intensity and quality in cooperation between the UAE and the Alliance, notably in the framework of Operation Unified Protector in Libya.”

The Iranian response was, according to Press TV, that “This move by the UAE sets the stage to officially authorize the presence of an uninvited guest in the region.”

The preceding month five NATO warships visited the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait “under the 2004 Istanbul Cooperation Initiative” as an Agence France-Presse dispatch phrased it.

In commenting on the earlier-cited New York Times article on the Persian Gulf, a Voice of Russia commentary stated:

“[W]ith Qatar and the United Arab Emirates participating in the latest NATO-led campaign against Libya, this new ‘security architecture’ will mostly likely expand to carry out a similar function throughout the Middle East.

“[A]s the United States moves towards integrating the six states of the Gulf Co-operation Council into a security alliance that would increase both US and Saudi domination in the region, Iran could very well find itself the next victim of a US-led ‘humanitarian intervention.'” [20]

In addition to the escalation of U.S. military presence in the region, in 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened a military complex – with a navy base, air base, and training camp – in the United Arab Emirates, his country’s first permanent base in the Persian Gulf. In doing so Paris joined the U.S., Britain, Canada, the Netherlands. Australia and New Zealand in maintaining a military presence in the country. (Canada has since abandoned Camp Mirage in the UAE.)

The UAE has recently reopened negotiations with France for a military surveillance satellite, which “could also be linked to the protracted negotiations to buy 60 Dassault Aviation Rafale multi-role fighter jets, a deal that could be worth up to $10 billion.”

According to a United Press International story of late last month, “On April 24, the emirates launched its fifth communications satellite into orbit, the first to provide secure and independent telecommunications for its armed forces amid a drive by Arab states in the gulf to boost their military capabilities against Iran.

“The Emirates’ Y1A satellite was launched from the European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket.”

Another report by the same agency a month before said that “Dassault Aviation hopes to capitalize on France’s participation with the United Arab Emirates in the air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s crumbling regime in Libya to promote the sale of 60 Rafale multi-role jets to the Persian Gulf state.” The story mentioned that “The emirates’ military says it wants missiles capable of reaching targets deep inside Iran,” and offered this description of current UAE air capabilities:

“The United Arab Emirates has built up what is widely viewed as the most formidable air force in the Persian Gulf. It has 184 combat aircraft, including 155 ground-attack fighters, mainly 55 Lockheed F-16E Block 60 Desert Eagles, 25 F-16F Block 60 Eagles and 18 French Dassault Mirage 2000-9DADs and 44 Mirage 2000-9RADs.”

The arming of the GCC by the U.S., France and other NATO powers at an exponential rate is, in addition to providing an economic boon to crisis-ridden Western countries, transparently and exclusively directed against Iran.

The advantages accruing to the U.S. and Israel in having a regional grouping of its neighbors attack Iran in lieu of doing so themselves are sufficiently evident not to warrant being belabored.

Washington is using the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies to act as surrogates for its own interests against Iran as it is with Georgia against Russia [21] and the Philippines vis-a-vis China. (NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the North Atlantic Council just returned from Georgia, the second such visit a NATO chief and the bloc’s 28 ambassadors have paid, the first occurring the month after Georgia invaded South Ossetia in August 2008, provoking a five-day war with Russia. Late last month 2,000 U.S. and 1,000 Filipino marines participated in combat drills near the Spratly Islands, which are contested by the Philippines and China.

Even if the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their GCC partners don’t launch unprovoked strikes against Iranian nuclear and military sites, a provocation staged, say, by the UAE around the oil-rich island of Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf (frequently referred to by U.S. officials as the Arabian Gulf in a direct affront and challenge to Iran), administered by Iran but claimed by the UAE, will be casus belli enough for the GCC and through it the Arab League it controls. From there, as with Libya earlier this year, the U.S. and its NATO allies will take up cudgels on behalf of the “threatened” Arab Gulf states and enter the lists against Iran.

The Obama Doctrine [22], like the Nixon Doctrine of forty years earlier, emphasizes the role of proxies (identified as allies and victims) in doing what the U.S. chooses not to do, not to do alone or to be seen doing alone. It justifies military aggression in the name of decisions reached by organizations it doesn’t belong to, like the Arab League and the African Union in regards to Libya, and settles geopolitical scores with independent-minded rivals under the guise of intervening on behalf of aggrieved and injured third parties. A lesson that Russia has already learned, China is now learning and Iran may be taught next.


1) Winds of war start blowing toward Iran

Global Times, November 9, 2011
2) ‘Russia can prevent military operation against Iran’
RT, November 10, 2011
3) Tehran applies for full membership in SCO
Trend News Agency, November 11, 2011
4) Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran
Stop NATO, November 5, 2009
5) Israel, US to hold massive missile defense drill next year
Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2011
6) Israel, U.S. to embark on largest joint exercise in allies’ history
Ha’aretz, November 11, 2011
7) Israel: Global NATO’s 29th Member
Stop NATO January 17, 2010
8) NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul
Stop NATO, February 6, 2009
9) U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq
New York Times, October 29, 2011
10) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
11) US Air Forces get super-heavy bunker buster bombs
Itar-Tass, November 15, 2011
12) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
13) Gulf State Gendarmes: West Backs Holy Alliance For Control Of Arab World And Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, May 25, 2011
14) Profitable provocation
Voice of Russia, November 11, 2011
15) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
16) NATO and India to build joint missile defense system?
Voice of Russia, September 2, 2011

NATO in India overtures
Voice of Russia, September 2, 2011

India may agree to deploy NATO missile system
Pakistan Observer, September 6, 2011
17) THAAD on Target for UAE
Aviation International News, November 13, 2011
18) World Tribune, June 12, 2011
19) Bahrain: U.S. Backs Saudi Military Intervention, Conflict With Iran
Stop NATO, March 16, 2011
20) US envisions NATO of the Gulf
Voice of Russia, October 31, 2011
21) Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts
Stop NATO, January 14, 2011
22) Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
Stop NATO, December 10, 2009

Categories: Uncategorized

William Dean Howells: Editha

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

William Dean Howells: Selections on war


William Dean Howells
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
Editha (1905)

(Thanks to and in memory of Geoff Berne)

The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst. Editha sat looking out into the hot spring afternoon, with her lips parted, and panting with the intensity of the question whether she could let him go. She had decided that she could not let him stay, when she saw him at the end of the still leafless avenue, making slowly up towards the house, with his head down and his figure relaxed. She ran impatiently out on the veranda, to the edge of the steps, and imperatively demanded greater haste of him with her will before she called him aloud to him: “George!”

He had quickened his pace in mystical response to her mystical urgence, before he could have heard her; now he looked up and answered, “Well?”

“Oh, how united we are!” she exulted, and then she swooped down the steps to him, “What is it?” she cried.

“It’s war,” he said. and he pulled her up to him and kissed her.

She kissed him back intensely, but irrelevantly, as to their passion, and uttered from deep in her throat. “How glorious!”

“It’s war,” he repeated, without consenting to her sense of it; and she did not know just what to think at first. She never knew what to think of him; that made his mystery, his charm. All through their courtship, which was contemporaneous with the growth of the war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even more than he abhorred it. She could have understood his abhorring any sort of bloodshed; that would have been a survival of his old life when he thought he would be a minister, and before he changed and took up the law. But making light of a cause so high and noble seemed to show a want of earnestness at the core of his being. Not but that she felt herself able to cope with a congenital defect of that sort, and make his love for her save him from himself. Now perhaps the miracle was already wrought in him. In the presence of the tremendous fact that he announced, all triviality seemed to have gone out of him; she began to feel that. He sank down on the top step, and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, while she poured out upon him her question of the origin and authenticity of his news.

All the while, in her duplex emotioning, she was aware that now at the very beginning she must put a guard upon herself against urging him, by any word or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed him to take, for the completion of her ideal of him. He was very nearly perfect as he was, and he must be allowed to perfect himself. But he was peculiar, and he might very well be reasoned out of his peculiarity. Before her reasoning went her emotioning: her nature pulling upon his nature, her womanhood upon his manhood, without her knowing the means she was using to the end she was willing. She had always supposed that the man who won her would have done something to win her; she did not know what, but something. George Gearson had simply asked her for her love, on the way home from a concert, and she gave her love to him, without, as it were, thinking. But now, it flashed upon her, if he could do something worthy to have won her – be a hero, her hero – it would be even better than if he had done it before asking her; it would be grander. Besides, she had believed in the war from the beginning.

“But don’t you see, dearest,” she said, “that it wouldn’t have come to this if it hadn’t been in the order of Providence? And I call any war glorious that is for the liberation of people who have been struggling for years against the cruelest oppression. Don’t you think so, too?”

“I suppose so,” he returned, languidly. “But war! Is it glorious to break the peace of the world?”

“That ignoble peace! It was no peace at all, with that crime and shame at our very gates.” She was conscious of parroting the current phrases of the newspapers, but it was no time to pick and choose her words. She must sacrifice anything to the high ideal she had for him, and after a good deal of rapid argument she ended with the climax: “But now it doesn’t matter about the how or why. Since the war has come, all that is gone. There are no two sides any more. There is nothing now but our country.”

He sat with his eyes closed and his head leant back against the veranda, and he remarked, with a vague smile, as if musing aloud, “Our country – right or wrong.”

“Yes, right or wrong!” she returned, fervidly. “I’ll go and get you some lemonade.” She rose rustling, and whisked away; when she came back with two tall glasses of clouded liquid on a tray, and the ice clucking in them, he still sat as she had left him, and she said, as if there had been no interruption: “But there is no question of wrong in this case. I call it a sacred war. A war for liberty and humanity, if ever there was one. And I know you will see it just as I do, yet.”

He took half the lemonade at a gulp, and he answered as he set the glass down: “I know you always have the highest ideal. When I differ from you I ought to doubt myself.”

A generous sob rose in Editha’s throat for the humility of a man, so very nearly perfect, who was willing to put himself below her.

Besides, she felt, more subliminally, that he was never so near slipping through her fingers as when he took that meek way.

“You shall not say that! Only, for once I happen to be right.” She seized his hand in her two hands, and poured her soul from her eyes into his. “Don’t you think so?” she entreated him.

He released his hand and drank the rest of his lemonade, and she added, “Have mine, too,” but he shook his head in answering, “I’ve no business to think so, unless I act so, too.”

Her heart stopped a beat before it pulsed on with leaps that she felt in her neck. She had noticed that strange thing in men: they seemed to feel bound to do what they believed, and not think a thing was finished when they said it, as girls did. She knew what was in his mind, but she pretended not, and she said, “Oh, I am not sure,” and then faltered.

He went on as if to himself, without apparently heeding her: “There’s only one way of proving one’s faith in a thing like this.”

She could not say that she understood, but she did understand.

He went on again. “If I believed – if I felt as you do about this war – Do you wish me to feel as you do?”

Now she was really not sure; so she said: “George, I don’t know what you mean.”

He seemed to muse away from her as before. “There is a sort of fascination in it. I suppose that at the bottom of his heart every man would like at times to have his courage tested, to see how he would act.”

“How can you talk in that ghastly way?”

“It is rather morbid. Still, that’s what it comes to, unless you’re swept away by ambition or driven by conviction. I haven’t the conviction or the ambition, and the other thing is what it comes to with me. I ought to have been a preacher, after all; then I couldn’t have asked it of myself, as I must, now I’m a lawyer. And you believe it’s a holy war, Editha?” he suddenly addressed her. “Oh, I know you do! But you wish me to believe so, too?”

She hardly knew whether he was mocking or not, in the ironical way he always had with her plainer mind. But the only thing was to be outspoken with him.

“George, I wish you to believe whatever you think is true, at any and every cost. If I’ve tried to talk you into anything, I take it all back.”

“Oh, I know that, Editha. I know how sincere you are, and how – I wish I had your undoubting spirit! I’ll think it over; I’d like to believe as you do. But I don’t, now; I don’t, indeed. It isn’t this war alone; though this seems peculiarly wanton and needless; but it’s every war – so stupid; it makes me sick. Why shouldn’t this thing have been settled reasonably?”

“Because,” she said, very throatily again, “God meant it to be war.”

“You think it was God? Yes, I suppose that is what people wi11 say.”

“Do you suppose it would have been war if God hadn’t meant it?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes it seems as if God had put this world into men’s keeping to work it as they pleased.”

“Now, George, that is blasphemy.”

“Well, I won’t blaspheme. I’ll try to believe in your pocket Providence,” he said, and then he rose to go.

“Why don’t you stay to dinner?” Dinner at Balcom’s Works was at one o’clock.

“I’ll come back to supper, if you’ll let me. Perhaps I shall bring you a convert.”

“Well, you may come back, on that condition.”

“All right. If I don’t come, you’ll understand.”

He went away without kissing her, and she felt it a suspension of their engagement. It all interested her intensely; she was undergoing a tremendous experience, and she was being equal to it. While she stood looking after him, her mother came out through one of the long windows onto the veranda, with a catlike softness and vagueness.

“Why didn’t he stay to dinner?”

“Because – because – war has been declared,” Editha pronounced, without turning.

Her mother said, “Oh, my!” and then said nothing more until she had sat down in one of the large Shaker chairs and rocked herself for some time. Then she closed whatever tacit passage of thought there had been in her mind with the spoken words: “Well, I hope he won’t go.”

“And I hope he will,” the girl said, and confronted her mother with a stormy exaltation that would have frightened any creature less unimpressionable than a cat.

Her mother rocked herself again for an interval of cogitation. What she arrived at in speech was: “Well, I guess you’ve done a wicked thing, Editha Balcom.”

The girl said, as she passed indoors through the same window her mother had come out by: “I haven’t done anything – yet.”

In her room, she put together all her letters and gifts from Gearson, down to the withered petals of the first flower he had offered, with that timidity of his veiled in that irony of his. In the heart of the packet she enshrined her engagement ring which she had restored to the pretty box he had brought it her in. Then she sat down, if not calmly yet strongly, and wrote:

“George: – I understood when you left me. But I think we had better emphasize your meaning that if we cannot be one in everything we had better be one in nothing. So I am sending these things for your keeping till you have made up your mind.

“I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry any one else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to say to me,

“‘I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.’

“There is no honor above America with me. In this great hour there is no other honor.

“Your heart will make my words clear to you. I had never expected to say so much, but it has come upon me that I must say the utmost. Editha.”

She thought she had worded her letter well, worded it in a way that could not be bettered; all had been implied and nothing expressed.

She had it ready to send with the packet she had tied with red, white, and blue ribbon, when it occurred to her that she was not just to him, that she was not giving him a fair chance. He had said he would go and think it over, and she was not waiting. She was pushing, threatening, compelling. That was not a woman’s part. She must leave him free, free, free. She could not accept for her country or herself a forced sacrifice.

In writing her letter she had satisfied the impulse from which it sprang; she could well afford to wait till he had thought it over. She put the packet and the letter by, and rested serene in the consciousness of having done what was laid upon her by her love itself to do, and yet used patience, mercy, justice.

She had her reward. Gearson did not come to tea, but she had given him till morning, when, late at night there came up from the village the sound of a fife and drum, with a tumult of voices, in shouting, singing, and laughing. The noise drew nearer and nearer; it reached the street end of the avenue; there it silenced itself, and one voice, the voice she knew best, rose over the silence. It fell; the air was filled with cheers; the fife and drum struck up, with the shouting, singing, and laughing again, but now retreating; and a single figure came hurrying up the avenue.

She ran down to meet her lover and clung to him. He was very gay, and he put his arm round her with a boisterous laugh. “Well, you must call me Captain now; or Cap, if you prefer; that’s what the boys call me. Yes, we’ve had a meeting at the town-hall, and everybody has volunteered; and they selected me for captain, and I’m going to the war, the big war, the glorious war, the holy war ordained by the pocket Providence that blesses butchery. Come along; let’s tell the whole family about it. Call them from their downy beds, father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks!”

But when they mounted the veranda steps he did not wait for a larger audience; he poured the story out upon Editha alone.

“There was a lot of speaking, and then some of the fools set up a shout for me. It was all going one way, and I thought it would be a good joke to sprinkle a little cold water on them. But you can’t do that with a crowd that adores you. The first thing I knew I was sprinkling hell-fire on them. ‘Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.’ That was the style. Now that it had come to the fight, there were no two parties; there was one country, and the thing was to fight to a finish as quick as possible. I suggested volunteering then and there, and I wrote my name first of all on the roster. Then they elected me – that’s all. I wish I had some ice-water.”

She left him walking up and down the veranda, while she ran for the ice-pitcher and a goblet, and when she came back he was still walking up and down, shouting the story he had told her to her father and mother, who had come out more sketchily dressed than they commonly were by day. He drank goblet after goblet of the ice-water without noticing who was giving it, and kept on talking, and laughing through his talk wildly. “It’s astonishing,” he said, “how well the worse reason looks when you try to make it appear the better. Why, I believe I was the first convert to the war in that crowd to-night! I never thought I should like to kill a man; but now I shouldn’t care; and the smokeless powder lets you see the man drop that you kill. It’s all for the country! What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

Editha had a great, vital thought, an inspiration. She set down the ice-pitcher on the veranda floor, and ran up-stairs and got the letter she had written him. When at last he noisily bade her father and mother, “Well, good-night. I forgot I woke you up; I sha’n’t want any sleep myself,” she followed him down the avenue to the gate. There, after the whirling words that seemed to fly away from her thoughts and refuse to serve them, she made a last effort to solemnize the moment that seemed so crazy, and pressed the letter she had written upon him.

“What’s this?” he said. “Want me to mail it?”

“No, no. It’s for you. I wrote it after you went this morning. Keep it – keep it- and read it sometime -” She thought, and then her inspiration came: “Read it if ever you doubt what you’ve done, or fear that I regret your having done it. Read it after you’ve started.”

They strained each other in embraces that seemed as ineffective as their words, and he kissed her face with quick, hot breaths that were so unlike him, that made her feel as if she had lost her old lover and found a stranger in his place. The stranger said: “What a gorgeous flower you are, with your red hair, and your blue eyes that look black now, and your face with the color painted out by the white moonshine! Let me hold you under the chin, to see whether I love blood, you tiger-lily!” Then he laughed Gearson’s laugh, and released her, scared and giddy. Within her wilfulness she had been frightened by a sense of subtler force in him, and mystically mastered as she had never been before.

She ran all the way back to the house, and mounted the steps panting. Her mother and father were talking of the great affair. Her mother said: “Wa’n’t Mr. Gearson in rather of an excited state of mind? Didn’t you think he acted curious?”

“Well, not for a man who’d just been elected captain and had set ’em up for the whole of Company A,” her father chuckled back.

“What in the world do you mean, Mr. Balcom? Oh! There’s Editha!” She offered to follow the girl indoors.

“Don’t come, mother!” Editha called, vanishing.

Mrs. Balcom remained to reproach her husband. “I don’t see much of anything to laugh at.”

“Well, it’s catching. Caught it from Gearson. I guess it won’t be much of a war, and I guess Gearson don’t think so either. The other fellows will back down as soon as they see we mean it. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m going back to bed, myself.”

Gearson came again next afternoon, looking pale and rather sick, but quite himself, even to his languid irony. “I guess I’d better tell you, Editha, that I consecrated myself to your god of battles last night by pouring too many libations to him down my own throat. But I’m all right now. One has to carry off the excitement, somehow.”

“Promise me,” she commanded, “that you’ll never touch it again!”

“What! Not let the cannikin clink? Not let the soldier drink? Well, I promise.”

“You don’t belong to yourself now; you don’t even belong to me. You belong to your country, and you have a sacred charge to keep yourself strong and well for your country’s sake. I have been thinking, thinking all night and all day long.”

“You look as if you had been crying a little, too,” he said, with his queer smile.

“That’s all past. I’ve been thinking, and worshipping you. Don’t you suppose I know all that you’ve been through, to come to this? I’ve followed you every step from your old theories and opinions.”

“Well, you’ve had a long row to hoe.”

“And I know you’ve done this from the highest motives -”

“Oh, there won’t be much pettifogging to do till this cruel war is -”

“And you haven’t simply done it for my sake. I couldn’t respect you if you had.”

“Well, then we’ll say I haven’t. A man that hasn’t got his own respect intact wants the respect of all the other people he can corner. But we won’t go into that. I’m in for the thing now, and we’ve got to face our future. My idea is that this isn’t going to be a very protracted struggle; we shall just scare the enemy to death before it comes to a fight at all. But we must provide for contingencies, Editha. If anything happens to me -”

“Oh, George!” She clung to him, sobbing.

“I don’t want you to feel foolishly bound to my memory. I should hate that, wherever I happened to be.”

“I am yours, for time and eternity – time and eternity.” She liked the words; they satisfied her famine for phrases.

“Well, say eternity; that’s all right; but time’s another thing; and I’m talking about time. But there is something! My mother! If anything happens -”

She winced, and he laughed. “You’re not the bold soldier-girl of yesterday!” Then he sobered. “If anything happens, I want you to help my mother out. She won’t like my doing this thing. She brought me up to think war a fool thing as well as a bad thing. My father was in the Civil War; all through it; lost his arm in it.” She thrilled with the sense of the arm round her; what if that should be lost? He laughed as if divining her: “Oh, it doesn’t run in the family, as far as I know!” Then he added gravely: “He came home with misgivings about war, and they grew on him. I guess he and mother agreed between them that I was to be brought up in his final mind about it; but that was before my time. I only knew him from my mother’s report of him and his opinions; I don’t know whether they were hers first; but they were hers last. This will be a blow to her. I shall have to write and tell her -”

He stopped, and she asked: “Would you like me to write, too, George?”

“I don’t believe that would do. No, I’ll do the writing. She’ll understand a little if I say that I thought the way to minimize it was to make war on the largest possible scale at once – that I felt I must have been helping on the war somehow if I hadn’t helped keep it from coming, and I knew I hadn’t; when it came, I had no right to stay out of it.”

Whether his sophistries satisfied him or not, they satisfied her. She clung to his breast, and whispered, with closed eyes and quivering lips: “Yes, yes, yes!”

“But if anything should happen, you might go to her and see what you could do for her. You know? It’s rather far off; she can’t leave her chair -”

“Oh, I’ll go, if it’s the ends of the earth! But nothing will happen! Nothing can! I -”

She felt her lifted with his rising, and Gearson was saying, with his arm still round her, to her father: “Well, we’re off at once, Mr. Balcom. We’re to be formally accepted at the capital, and then bunched up with the rest somehow, and sent into camp somewhere, and got to the front as soon as possible. We all want to be in the van, of course; we’re the first company to report to the Governor. I came to tell Editha, but I hadn’t got round to it.”

She saw him again for a moment at the capital, in the station, just before the train started southward with his regiment. He looked well, in his uniform, and very soldierly, but somehow girlish, too, with his clean-shaven face and slim figure. The manly eyes and the strong voice satisfied her, and his preoccupation with some unexpected details of duty flattered her. Other girls were weeping and bemoaning themselves, but she felt a sort of noble distinction in the abstraction, the almost unconsciousness, with which they parted. Only at the last moment he said: “Don’t forget my mother. It mayn’t be such a walk-over as I supposed,” and he laughed at the notion.

He waved his hand to her as the train moved off – she knew it among a score of hands that were waved to other girls from the platform of the car, for it held a letter which she knew was hers. Then he went inside the car to read it, doubtless, and she did not see him again. But she felt safe for him through the strength of what she called her love. What she called her God, always speaking the name in a deep voice and with the implication of a mutual understanding, would watch over him and keep him and bring him back to her. If with an empty sleeve, then he should have three arms instead of two, for both of hers should be his for life. She did not see, though, why she should always be thinking of the arm his father had lost.

There were not many letters from him, but they were such as she could have wished, and she put her whole strength into making hers such as she imagined he could have wished, glorifying and supporting him. She wrote to his mother glorifying him as their hero, but the brief answer she got was merely to the effect that Mrs. Gearson was not well enough to write herself, and thanking her for her letter by the hand of someone who called herself “Yrs truly, Mrs. W. J. Andrews.”

Editha determined not to be hurt, but to write again quite as if the answer had been all she expected. Before it seemed as if she could have written, there came news of the first skirmish, and in the list of the killed, which was telegraphed as a trifling loss on our side, was Gearson’s name. There was a frantic time of trying to make out that it might be, must be, some other Gearson; but the name and the company and the regiment and the State were too definitely given.

Then there was a lapse into depths out of which it seemed as if she never could rise again; then a lift into clouds far above all grief, black clouds, that blotted out the sun, but where she soared with him, with George – George! She had the fever that she expected of herself, but she did not die in it; she was not even delirious, and it did not last long. When she was well enough to leave her bed, her one thought was of George’s mother, of his strangely worded wish that she should go to her and see what she could do for her. In the exaltation of the duty laid upon her – it buoyed her up instead of burdening her – she rapidly recovered.

Her father went with her on the long railroad journey from northern New York to western Iowa; he had business out at Davenport, and he said he could just as well go then as any other time; and he went with her to the little country town where George’s mother lived in a little house on the edge of the illimitable cornfields, under trees pushed to a top of the rolling prairie. George’s father had settled there after the Civil War, as so many other old soldiers had done; but they were Eastern people, and Editha fancied touches of the East in the June rose overhanging the front door, and the garden with early summer flowers stretching from the gate of the paling fence.

It was very low inside the house, and so dim, with the closed blinds, that they could scarcely see one another: Editha tall and black in her crapes which filled the air with the smell of their dyes; her father standing decorously apart with his hat on his forearm, as at funerals; a woman rested in a deep arm-chair, and the woman who had let the strangers in stood behind the chair.

The seated woman turned her head round and up, and asked the woman behind her chair: “Who did you say?”

Editha, if she had done what she expected of herself, would have gone down on her knees at the feet of the seated figure and said, “I am George’s Editha,” for answer.

But instead of her own voice she heard that other woman’s voice, saying: “Well, I don’t know as I did get the name just right. I guess I’ll have to make a little more light in here,” and she went and pushed two of the shutters ajar.

Then Editha’s father said, in his public will-now-address-a-few-remarks tone: “My name is Balcom, ma’am – Junius H. Balcom, of Balcom’s Works, New York; my daughter -”

“Oh!” the seated woman broke in, with a powerful voice, the voice that always surprised Editha from Gearson’s slender frame. “Let me see you. Stand round where the light can strike on your face,” and Editha dumbly obeyed. “So, you’re Editha Balcom,” she sighed.

“Yes,” Editha said, more like a culprit than a comforter.

“What did you come for?” Mrs. Gearson asked.

Editha’s face quivered and her knees shook. “I came – because – because George -” She could go no further.

“Yes,” the mother said, “he told me he had asked you to come if he got killed. You didn’t expect that, I suppose, when you sent him.”

“I would rather have died myself than done it!” Editha said, with more truth in her deep voice than she ordinarily found in it. “I tried to leave him free -”

“Yes, that letter of yours, that came back with his other things, left him free.”

Editha saw now where George’s irony came from.

“It was not to be read before – unless – until – I told him so,” she faltered.

“Of course, he wouldn’t read a letter of yours, under the circumstances, till he thought you wanted him to. Been sick?” the woman abruptly demanded.

“Very sick,” Editha said, with self-pity.

“Daughter’s life,” her father interposed, “was almost despaired of, at one time.”

Mrs. Gearson gave him no heed. “I suppose you would have been glad to die, such a brave person as you! I don’t believe he was glad to die. He was always a timid boy, that way; he was afraid of a good many things; but if he was afraid he did what he made up his mind to. I suppose he made up his mind to go, but I knew what it cost him by what it cost me when I heard of it. I had been through one war before. When you sent him you didn’t expect he would get killed.”

The voice seemed to compassionate Editha, and it was time. “No,” she huskily murmured.

“No, girls don’t; women don’t, when they give their men up to their country. They think they’ll come marching back, somehow, just as gay as they went, or if it’s an empty sleeve, or even an empty pantaloon, it’s all the more glory, and they’re so much the prouder of them, poor things!”

The tears began to run down Editha’s face; she had not wept till then; but it was now such a relief to be understood that the tears came.

“No, you didn’t expect him to get killed,” Mrs. Gearson repeated, in a voice which was startlingly like George’s again. “You just expected him to kill some one else, some of those foreigners, that weren’t there because they had any say about it, but because they had to be there, poor wretches – conscripts, or whatever they call ’em. You thought it would be all right for my George, your George, to kill the sons of those miserable mothers and the husbands of those girls that you would never see the faces of.” The woman lifted her powerful voice in a psalmlike note. “I thank my God he didn’t live to do it! I thank my God they killed him first, and that he ain’t livin’ with their blood on his hands!” She dropped her eyes, which she had raised with her voice, and glared at Editha. “What you got that black on for?” She lifted herself by her powerful arms so high that her helpless body seemed to hang limp its full length. “Take it off, take it off, before I tear it from your back!”

The lady who was passing the summer near Balcom’s Works was sketching Editha’s beauty, which lent itself wonderfully to the effects of a colorist. It had come to that confidence which is rather apt to grow between artist and sitter, and Editha had told her everything.

“To think of your having such a tragedy in your life!” the lady said. She added: “I suppose there are people who feel that way about war. But when you consider the good this war has done – how much it has done for the country! I can’t understand such people, for my part. And when you had come all the way out there to console her – got up out of a sick-bed! Well!”

“I think,” Editha said, magnanimously, “she wasn’t quite in her right mind; and so did papa.”

“Yes,” the lady said, looking at Editha’s lips in nature and then at her lips in art, and giving an empirical touch to them in the picture. “But how dreadful of her! How perfectly – excuse me – how vulgar!”

A light broke upon Editha in the darkness which she felt had been without a gleam of brightness for weeks and months. The mystery that had bewildered her was solved by the word; and from that moment she rose from grovelling in shame and self-pity, and began to live again in the ideal.

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Juvenal: Mighty warriors and their tombs are circumscribed by Fate

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Juvenal: The spoils of war and the price thereof

Juvenal: War and violence, baser than the beasts

Juvenal: Weigh the greatest military commanders in the balance


From Satire X
Rendered into English by William Popple

There are whom Martial Glory only charms,
Who place their chief felicity in Arms.
The blood-stain’d Casque, the Chariot arm’d with Steel,
The waving Pendant, and the broken Keel,
The shatter’d Breastplate and the blunted Spear,
The mournful Captive foll’wing in the rear,
Inspire with Joy – By these urg’d on to Fame,
Greek, Roman, and Barbarian gain’d a Name.
But let unbiass’d reason trace the cause,
Why Thirst of Glory more than Virtue draws;
The wonder ceases when the cause is shown,
“Glory gives recompense, but Virtue none.”
For from the virtuous act, the Palm but take,
And who will follow Virtue for its sake?
Yet let this Passion in the Hero reign,
And ev’ry Hero proves his Country’s Bane.
But what’s the recompense which Virtue gives?
The mighty Warrior on a Tomb-stone lives;
The pompous Epitaph his Toil rewards,
The Sculptur’d Stone his sacred ashes guards;
The stately Monument attracts all Eyes,
And the vain Hero thinks he never dyes.
But let some barren Fig-tree’s ample root
Beneath the Base its spreading branches shoot,
(For Tombs, like Heroes, have their certain date,
Their periods both are circumscribed by Fate,)
Down drops the brittle Marble on the floor,
And the vain Hero dies to live no more.

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La Fontaine: When shall Peace pack up these bloody darts?

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace


Jean de La Fontaine
From An Animal in the Moon (1677)
Translator unknown

Some change had taken place on high,
Presaging earthly changes nigh;
Perhaps, indeed, it might betoken
The wars that had already broken
Out wildly over the Continent.

A mouse, between the lenses caged,
Had caused these wars, so fiercely waged!
No doubt the happy English folks
Laughed at it as the best of jokes.
How soon will Mars afford the chance
For like amusements here in France!

We wish for peace, but do not sigh.
The English Charles the secret knows
To make the most of his repose.
And more than this, he’ll know the way,
By valour, working sword in hand,
To bring his sea encircled land
To share the fight it only sees today.
Yet, could he but this quarrel quell,
What incense-clouds would grateful swell!
What deed more worthy of his fame!
Augustus, Julius, pray, which Caesar’s name
Shines now on story’s page with purest flame?
O people happy in your sturdy hearts!
Say, when shall Peace pack up these bloody darts,
And send us all, like you, to softer arts?


From the translation by Edward Marsh

And though we pray for peace, we do not sigh.
Charles has his choice of Peace and War:
Well graced to shine in both, will he resolve
T’indulge his prowess, and his Isle involve
In these fierce sports she watches from afar?
Nay, could his mediation bring surcease
Of rage and strife, ’twere worthier of his fame.
Think you Augustus left a lower name
Than the first Caesar with his conquering star?
Too happy England! When shall we
Like you with single mind have liberty
To follow undistraught the arts of Peace?

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Syria In Western Strategy For Global Military Supremacy

November 15, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO articles

November 15, 2011

Syria In Western Strategy For Global Military Supremacy
Rick Rozoff

The League of Arab States (Arab League) suspended the membership of Syria in the organization on November 12 as it had with Libya on February 22 of this year. In the case of Libya, whose membership was reinstated after NATO bombed proxy forces into power in late August, reports at the time indicated that member states Algeria and Syria had been opposed to the action but folded under pressure for a consensus from the eight Arab states governed by royal families – Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which to all intents and purposes now are the Arab League, with the other formal members either victims of recent regime change of one sort or another or likely targets for such a fate.

With the replication of the February move this past weekend, Algeria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the suspension of Syria and Iraq abstained through some combination of principled opposition and self-interest, as the four may well be the next nations to be suspended by the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and Jordan and Morocco (the latter two having recently applied for membership though not in the Persian Gulf, Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean) should the U.S.-NATO-Arab monarchs entente demand it.

Washington is pressuring Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign as he being shown the door courtesy of a plan devised by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as demanding the same of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The GCC deployed troops to Bahrain in March, in that instance to prop up the government, that of the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied NATO with warplanes and the Transitional National Council with weapons and special forces personnel for the almost 230-day blockade and bombardment of Libya, and Jordan and Morocco joined the two Gulf states at the Paris summit on March 19 that launched the war against Libya.

The four Arab nations are both close bilateral military allies of the Pentagon and members of NATO partnership programs, the Mediterranean Dialogue in the case of Jordan and Morocco, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Jordan and the UAE are to date the only official Arabic Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

On October 31, eleven days after the murder of former Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen flew into Tripoli and offered the services of the world’s only military bloc in reconstituting the battered nation’s military and internal security forces as NATO is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan with the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan. Rebuilding, transforming and modernizing the armed forces of Libya, as with those of the other two countries, to achieve NATO standards and interoperability.

A week later Ivo Daalder, long-time proponent and architect of Global NATO [1], now empowered to put his plans into effect as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the military alliance, offered the inevitable complement to Rasmussen’s offer in reiterating that “NATO is prepared, if requested by the new Libyan authorities, to consider ways in which it could help the Libyan authorities, particularly in the area of defense and security reform.”

According to the same Agence France-Presse account, “Daalder also said Libya could bolster its ties with the transatlantic alliance by joining NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, a partnership comprising Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Jordan and Israel.” (The new regimes in Egypt and Tunisia are fully honoring previous military commitments to the U.S. and NATO.)

The exact scenario that a Stop NATO article warned about on March 25, six days after U.S. Africa Command launched Operation Odyssey Dawn and the beginning of the over seven-month-long war against Libya:

“If the current Libyan model is duplicated in Syria as increasingly seems to be the case, and with Lebanon already blockaded by warships from NATO nations since 2006 in what is the prototype for what NATO will soon replicate off the coast of Libya, the Mediterranean Sea will be entirely under the control of NATO and its leading member, the U.S.

“Cyprus in the only European Union member and indeed the only European nation (except for microstates) that is – for the time being – not a NATO member or partner, and Libya is the only African nation bordering the Mediterranean not a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program.” [2]

If indeed Syria becomes the next Libya and a new Yemeni regime is installed under the control of the Gulf Cooperation Council, then the only nations remaining in the vast stretch of territory known as the Broader or Greater Middle East, from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast to Kazakhstan on the Chinese and Russian borders, not tied to NATO through multinational and bilateral partnerships will be Lebanon (see above), Eritrea, Iran and Sudan.

Djibouti hosts thousands of troops from the U.S. and other NATO member states. NATO has airlifted several thousand Ugandan and Burundian troops for the proxy war in the capital of Somalia as well as establishing a beachhead in the semi-autonomous/autonomous Puntland region of the country for its Operation Ocean Shield naval deployment in the Gulf of Aden. The six GCC states are included in NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are members of the Partnership for Peace, the program employed to graduate twelve Eastern European countries to full NATO membership from 1999-2009. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Armenia also have NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans and Georgia a special Annual Program as well as an Alliance liaison in its capital (NATO Contact Point Embassy.) In 2006 Kazakhstan became the first non-European nation to be granted an Individual Partnership Action Plan. [3]

NATO also has a liaison office in Ethiopia which assists in the development of the eastern component of the African Standby Force, modeled after the global NATO Response Force.

With the partnerships in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Persian Gulf connecting with those in Central and South Asia (NATO has troops stationed on bases in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and beyond that with India and the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations [4], linking up with the military bloc’s Contact Country partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, the U.S. and its major Western allies are tightening a NATO band, an armed phalanx, along the entire Northern Hemisphere. An American-led military axis from, in language Western leaders have used throughout the post-Cold War era, Vancouver to Vladivostok (proceeding eastward).

Three years ago Malta rejoined the Partnership for Peace, thereby adding to bases in Sardinia, Sicily, and Crete NATO, and bases in Cyprus Britain, can use as fighter jet, supply, refueling, arms storage and docking jumping-off points for military aggression in Africa and the Middle East.

Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Libya are the only Mediterranean countries that are not currently NATO members or partners and the U.S. and its fellow NATO members have designs on all four. Libya’s joining the Mediterranean Dialogue will complete Alliance partnerships across North Africa from Egypt to Morocco and will entail its Western-rebuilt navy being recruited into NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor maritime surveillance and interdiction activities across the length and breadth of the Mediterranean Sea, an operation now in its eleventh year.

The government of Syria is not only Iran’s main but it’s only reliable ally among state actors in the Arab world. The Syrian port city of Tartus hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. Regime change in Damascus, however it’s effected, will oust the Russian and Iranian navies from the sea by eliminating the only friendly docking facilities.

The consequences of the installation of a pro-Western government in Syria would also affect neighboring Lebanon, where Israel and its Western patrons would have a free hand to attack Hezbollah and Communist Party militias in the south of the nation and along with efforts by the U.S. to buy off the state’s military over the past five years eliminate all opposition to Western control of the country, military and political.

Palestine would not fare any better. In August Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting American congressmen that “the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command,” according to an aide cited by the Ma’an News Agency. [5]

He may well see NATO and U.S. troops stationed on his nation’s soil, but not on the terms he intends.

Nothing occurs in isolation and surely not in the age of Western powers employing expressions like the world’s sole military superpower and Global NATO and forging ahead with projects for their realization. Syria is no exception.

1) 21st Century Strategy: Militarized Europe, Globalized NATO
Stop NATO, February 26, 2010

West Plots To Supplant United Nations With Global NATO
Stop NATO, May 27, 2009
2) Libyan War And Control Of The Mediterranean
Stop NATO, March 25, 2011
3) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
4)  India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure
Stop NATO. September 10, 2010

Southeast Asia: U.S. Completing Asian NATO To Confront China
Stop NATO, November 6, 2011
5)  Abbas tells US lawmakers: NATO role in Palestinian state
Ma’an News Agency, August 12, 2011

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Christopher Marlowe: Accurs’d be he that first invented war!

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Christopher Marlowe: Parricide and filicide. While lions war, poor lambs perish.


Christopher Marlowe
From Tamburlaine the Great (1587)

Blood is the god of war’s rich livery.

Accurs’d be he that first invented war!
They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,
How those were hit by pelting cannon-shot
Stand staggering like a quivering aspen-leaf
Fearing the force of Boreas’ boisterous blasts!

Hast thou beheld a peal of ordnance strike
A ring of pikes, mingled with shot and horse,
Whose shatter’d limbs, being toss’d as high as heaven,
Hang in the air as thick as sunny motes…
Hast thou not seen my horsemen charge the foe,
Shot through the arms, cut overthwart the hands,
Dying their lances with their streaming blood…?

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Alexander Blok: The kite, the mother and endless war

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war


Alexander Blok
Translated by Alex Miller

The Kite (1916)

Describing circle after circle,
The wheeling kite looks down upon
A dream-like, empty meadow. A mother
Grieves in the cabin for her son:
“Here, suck this breast, here, take this bread.
Grow up, be humble, trust in God.”

The ages pass, endless war rages,
Revolt flares, villages are burned,
But you are still the same, my homeland,
In beauty ancient and tear-stained.
How long must that poor mother cry,
How long the kite wheel in the sky?


Untitled (1905)

Then they charged, straight at
the breast-bone
Came the glittering bayonet.
Someone shouted, “Hallelujah!”
Someone whispered, “Don’t forget!”

Someone fell, arms flailing wildly,
Then the ranks closed over him.
Underfoot, someone was struggling,
Who – no time to take it in.

Only in a cheerful memory
Was a candle lit somewhere,
On and on they thundered, trampling
That warm body lying there.

No one’s destined to grow older –
Death from mouth to mouth is passed…
Fury blazes ever higher,
Far ahead lies bloody waste…

Gnashing shall be all the louder.
Pain more sweet, life swifter spent.
Afterwards, the earth will try to
Soothe the affrighted firmament.


Untitled (1911)

Yes, inspiration so commands me:
My vision, being wholly free,
Is drawn to where all’s degradation,
And dirt, and gloom, and poverty.
And yet I love this world of horror;
Through it I glimpse another one,
A promised land that’s full of beauty,
A land that’s simple and humane.
But if you neither sow nor harvest,
If you’re just human, as you say –
What can you know? How can you venture
Judgement in this mad century?
Have you not been reduced by sickness,
Poverty or starvation ever?
Have you not seen children in Paris?
Beggars in winter by the river?
Open your eyes, open them quickly,
To life’s unfathomable horrors,
Before the great storm that’s impending
destroys all in this land of yours.
But do not let your proud wrath strike
The ones who bear life’s heavy burden.
Another sowed the seeds of evil.
And yet that sowing was not barren…
He’s right, who has at least rejected
Life’s cheap cosmetic show outright,
And, like the timid mole, has burrowed
Underground, hiding from the light,
And wilted there, his whole life hating
That light and railing at it so,
Not even looking to the future,
And saying to the present, “No!”

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