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Alfred Tennyson: Ring out the thousand wars of old, ring in the thousand years of peace

December 31, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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Alfred Tennyson
Ring Out, Wild Bells (1850)

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Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

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

December 30, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Thomas Wolfe: Santimony and cant of war

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Thomas Wolfe
From Look Homeward, Angel (1929)

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Fear is a dragon that lives among crowds – and in armies.

***

He walked by lapping water through the dark. He heard its green wet slap against the crusted pier-piles: he drank its strong cod scent, and watched the loading of great boats drenched in blazing lights as they weltered down slowly into the water. And the night was loud with the rumble of huge cranes, the sudden loose rattle of the donkey-engines, the cries of the overseers, and the incessant rumbling trucks of stevedores within the peer.

His imperial country, for the first time, was gathering the huge thrust of her might. The air was charged with murderous exuberance, rioting and corrupt extravagance.

Through the hot streets of that town seethed the toughs, the crooks, the vagabonds of a nation – Chicago gunmen, bad n-ggers from Texas, Bowery bums, pale Jews with soft palms, from the shops of the city, Swedes from the Middle-West, Irish from New England, mountaineers from Tennessee and North Carolina, whores, in shoals and droves, from everywhere. For these war was a fat, enormous goose raining its golden eggs upon them. There was no thought or belief in any future. There was only the triumphant Now. There was no life beyond the moment. There was only an insane flux and re-flux of getting and spending.

***

He began to starve. Day crawled into weary day. The fierce eye of July beat down upon the pier with a straight insufferable glare. The boats and trains slid in and out, crammed to the teeth with munitions – with food for the soldiers…And he lay there, with the fading glimmer of the world about him, as the war mounted to its climax of blood and passion during that terrible month…

***

Eugene returned to Altamont two weeks before the term began at Pulpit Hill. The town and the nation seethed in the yeasty ferment of war. The country was turning into one huge camp. The colleges and universities were being converted into training-camps for officers. Every one was “doing his bit.”

Then, as the cogs of the machine began to grind more smoothly, and the university was converted into a big army post, with its punctual monotony of drilling, eating, studying, inspection, sleeping, he found himself detached, occupying a position of unique and isolated authority.

He Carried On. He Held High the Torch. He Did His Bit. He was editor, reporter, censor, factotum of the paper. He wrote the editorials. He seared them with flaming words. He extolled the crusade. He was possessed of the inspiration for murder.

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

December 29, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Humphrey Cobb: Selections on war

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Humphrey Cobb
From Paths of Glory (1935)

What about getting the priest in? No use in that either. He knew what he’d say. Thou shall not kill. Poor piece of translation, that. Should be, Thou shalt not commit murder. Better still, Thou shalt not commit individual murder. The church ought to get that changed before the next war. Make it much easier for good Catholics to answer embarrassing questions…

***

“One man’s got to be shot for a crime he didn’t commit, which nobody committed. Do you call that justice?”

“Who said anything about justice? There’s no such thing. But injustice is as much a part of life as the weather. And you’re getting away from the point again. He’s being shot for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s being shot as an example. That’s his contribution to the winning of the war. An heroic one too, if you like.”

“So you figure that the man who is shot as an example is as much a part of the scheme of an offensive as the man who calculates the barrages, the infantryman who goes over the top, or the quartermaster who doesn’t?”

“Of course, why not? Discipline is the first requisite of an army. It must be maintained and one of the ways of doing it is to shoot a man now and then. He dies, therefore, for the ultimate benefit of his comrades and of the country.”

“In other words, then, you think the general ought to come down and invest the victim with the médaille militaire, then step aside and let the firing-squad do its work?”

“Excellent, my boy, excellent!”

***

“…Shells kill good and bad soldiers without discrimination. So even speaking militarily, they aren’t worth more than anyone else. We’re all cannon fodder…”

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

December 28, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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

Edgar Lee Masters: The Philippine Conquest

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Edgar Lee Masters
Knowlt Hoheimer (1916)

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I was the first fruits of the battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the country jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, ”Pro Patria.”
What do they mean, anyway?

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Charles Reade: War is sweet to those who have never experienced it

December 27, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Charles Reade: To God? Rather to war and his sister and to the god of lies

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Charles Reade
From The Cloister and the Hearth (1861)

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“Burrow in the straw, then. You must be very new to the world, to grumble at this. How would you bear to lie on the field of battle on a frosty night, as I did t’other day, stark naked, with nothing to keep me warm but the carcass of a fellow I had been and helped kill?”

“Horrible! horrible! Tell me all about it! Oh, but this is sweet.”

“Well, we had a little battle in Brabant, and won a little victory, but it cost us dear; several arbalestriers turned their toes up, and I among them.”

“Killed, Denys? come now!”

“Dead as mutton. Stuck full of pike-holes till the blood ran out of me, like the good wine of Mâcon from the trodden grapes. It is right bounteous in me to pour the tale in minstrel phrase, for – augh – I am sleepy. Augh – now where was I?”

“Left dead on the field of battle, bleeding like a pig; that is to say, like grapes, or something; go on, prithee go on, ’tis a sin to sleep in the midst of a good story.”

“Granted. Well, some of those vagabonds, that strip the dead soldier on the field of glory, came and took every rag off me; they wrought me no further ill, because there was no need.”

“No; you were dead.”

“C’est convenu. This must have been at sundown; and with the night came a shrewd frost that barkened the blood on my wounds, and stopped all the rivulets that were running from my heart, and about midnight I awoke as from a trance.’

“And thought you were in heaven?” asked Gerard eagerly, being a youth inoculated with monkish tales.

“Too frost-bitten for that, mon gars; besides, I heard the wounded groaning on all sides, so I knew I was in the old place. I saw I could not live the night through without cover. I groped about shivering and shivering; at last one did suddenly leave groaning. ‘You are sped,’ said I, so made up to him, and true enough he was dead, but warm, you know. I took my lord in my arms, but was too weak to carry him, so rolled with him into a ditch hard by; and there my comrades found me in the morning properly stung with nettles, and hugging a dead Fleming for the bare life.”

Gerard shuddered. “And this is war; this is the chosen theme of poets and troubadours, and Reden Ryckers. Truly was it said by the men of old, dulce bellum inexpertis.”

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Robert Southey: Preparing the way for peace; militarism versus Christianity

December 26, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Robert Southey: Selections on peace and war

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Robert Southey
From Life of Bayard (1825)

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Did indeed the Christian spirit take possession of us with half as much force as the military spirit, war itself would be at an end, and the diseases of society would have their sure and only effectual remedy.

***

Would to God there were peace between your master and mine, that we might have some interviews, for I have loved you for your prowess all my life. The Spaniard was then introduced to Nemours, and those courtesies were exchanged, which even in the heat of war excite a wish for peace, and insensibly prepare a way for it.

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

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Alexander Pope
Messiah
A Sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of Virgil’s Pollio
(1712)

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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!

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William Cullen Bryant: Christmas 1875

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

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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

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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.

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

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Upton Sinclair: Selections on war

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Upton Sinclair
From Boston (1928)

Upton Sinclair

And later on, when dinner was over and the maid dismissed, the great lawyer settled himself into an easy chair with an ash-holder on the arm, and with the utmost tactfulness steered the conversation onto the subject of German propaganda; with the result that his mother-in-law put him on the griddle. “Tell me, Henry, how much do the Boston banks stand to lose if the Germans win?”

“Is this for publication, Mother?” The cloud of cigarette smoke did not obscure the twinkle in Henry’s fine dark eyes.

“Your name is not for publication, Henry. I’m told it’s a hundred million dollars.”

“Round figures are generally exaggerated. As a matter of fact it would be everything the Boston banks have, because when a panic like that got started, nobody could say where it would stop.”

“And that’s why we have to go in?”

“We live under a system, Mother. Maybe you know how to change it, I don’t.”

“And what’s this I hear about you and Rupert taking over the Haupt electric works”

“Jehoshaphat! Where did you get that?”

“Well, I have sources of information. I suppose that is the system too – our leading bankers getting the cost of their war-propaganda!”

“Well, Mother, we can’t expect the Germans to pay it for us; and if we do go in, we surely can’t leave the manufacture of our war-supplies to the enemy!”

“The fact that you and Rupert and James are getting your lines on Haupt Electric means that we are really going in, then?”

“Of course, Mother, we’re going in…”

***

So Rupert and Henry got possession of the great property for one-twentieth of its market value, and turned out the German-American executives, and put in some younger sons of the “blue-bloods,” and were ready to manufacture war supplies and sell them to the government at the highest possible prices. And the government was ready to buy with patriotic fervor. If the business men of the country made big profits, they could pay high wages, and enlarge the plants, and increase the product, and there would be prosperity for everyone except the Kaiser.

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George Gissing: Selections on war

December 23, 2014 Leave a comment
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Alexander Kuprin: Mounds and mountains of corpses under which moan the dying

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Russian writers on war

Alexander Kuprin: Selections on war

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Alexander Kuprin
From The Garden of the Holy Virgin (1917)
Translated by Leo Pasvolsky

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Far beyond the bounds of the Milky Way, upon a planet which will never be disclosed to the eye of the most diligent astronomer, blooms the wonderful, mysterious garden of the Holy Virgin Mary. All the flowers that exist upon our poor and sinful earth, bloom there for many long years, never fading, ever cared for by the patient hands of invisible gardeners. And each flower contains a particle of the soul of a man living on the earth, that particle which sleeps not during our nightly slumber, that leads us through marvelous lands, that shows us the centuries gone by, that conjures up before us the faces of our departed friends, that spins in our imagination the variegated tissues of our slumber-being, now sweet, now ludicrous, now terrible, now blissful, that makes us awaken in unreasonable joy, or in bitter tears, that often opens before us the impenetrable curtains, beyond which stretch out the dark paths of the future, discernible only to children, wise men, and blessed clairvoyants. These flowers are the souls of human dreams.

***

On this night, too, the Holy Virgin walks through her garden. But sad is her beauteous face, lowered are the lashes of her bright eyes, powerless hang her arms along the folds of her blue chiton. Terrible visions float before her; red fields and pastures, still reeking with blood; burnt homes and churches; violated women, tortured clildren; mounds and mountains of corpses under which moan the dying; groans, curses, blasphemy that breaks through the death-rattle and the cries; mutilated bodies, withered breasts, fields of battle black with ravens…

Oppressive silence, as before a thunderstorm, overhangs the world. The air is perfectly motionless. But the flowers tremble and sway in fright as in a tempest, bending to the very ground and extending their heads to the Virgin with boundless entreaty.

Closed are her lips, and sad is her face. Again and again before her rises the image of Him whom human malice, envy, intolerance, cupidity, and ambition sentenced to unbearable tortures and a shameful death. She sees Him — beaten, bleeding, carrying upon His shoulders His heavy cross, and stumbling under its weight. Upon the dusty road she sees dark sprays, the drops of His divine blood. She sees His beautiful body, mutilated by torture, hanging by out-turned arms upon the cross, with protruding chest, and bloody sweat upon His deathly pale face. And again she hears His dreadful whisper: “I am thirsty!” And again, as then, a sword is plunged into the mother’s heart.

The sun rises, hidden beyond dark, heavy clouds. It burns in heaven like an enormous red blot, the bloody conflagration of the world. And lifting up her saddened eyes, the Holy Virgin asks timidly, her voice trembling:

“Lord ! Where are the bounds of Thy great wrath?”

But relentless is the wrath of God, and none knows its bounds! And when, in grief and sorrow, the Holy Virgin lowers her eyes again, she sees that the innocent cups of gentle flowers are filled with bloody dew.

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Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas: Breaking oaths of peace, cover the fields with bloody carcasses

December 21, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas
From The Week, or, Creation of the World (1578)
Translated by Joshua Sylvester

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O princes, subjects unto pride and pleasure,
Who to enlarge but a hair’s breadth the measure
Of your dominions, breaking oaths of peace,
Cover the fields with bloody carcasses;
O magistrates, who to content the great,
Make sale of justice on your sacred seat,
And breaking laws for bribes, profane your place,
To leave a leek to your unthankful race;
You strict extorters that the poor oppress,
And wrong the widow and the fatherless,
To leave your offspring rich, of others’ good,
In houses built of rapine and of blood;
You city vipers, that, incestuous, join
Use upon use, begetting coin of coin;
You merchant mercers and monopolies,
Gain-greedy chapmen, perjured hypocrites,
Dissembling brokers, made of all deceits,
Who falsify your measures and your Weights
T’ enrich yourselves, and your unthrifty sons
To gentilize with proud possessions;
You that for gain betray your gracious prince,
Your native country, or your dearest friends;
You that to get you but an inch of ground,
With cursed hands remove your neighbor’s bound,
(The ancient bounds your ancestors have set,)
What gain you all? Alas, what do you get?

Yea, though a king by wile or war had won
All the round earth to his subjection,
Lo, here the guerdon of his glorious pains;
A needle’s point, a mote, a mite, he gains,
A nit, a nothing, did he all possess,
Or if than nothing anything be less.

***

Oh night, thou pullest the proud mask away
Wherewith proud actors in this world’s great play
By day disguise them; for no difference
Night makes between the peasant and the prince,
The poor and rich, the prisoner and the judge,
The foul and fair, the master and the drudge,
The fool and wise, barbarian and the Greek;
For night’s black mantle covers all alike.

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

December 20, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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James Lane Allen
From The Choir Invisible (1897)

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And then, just as she was fairly opening into the earliest flower of womanhood, the sudden, awful end of all this half-barbaric, half-aristocratic life – the revolt of the colonies, the outbreak of the Revolution, the blaze of way that swept the land like a forest fire, and that enveloped in its furies even the great house on the James. One of her brothers turned Whig, and already gone impetuously away in his uniform of buff and blue, to follow the fortunes of Washington; the other siding with the “home” across the sea, and he too already ridden impetuously away in scarlet. Her proud father, his heart long torn between these two and between his two countries, pacing the great hall, his face flushed with wine, his eyes turning confusedly, pitifully, on the soldierly portraits of his ancestors; until at last he too was gone, to keep his sword and his conscience loyal to his king.

And then more dreadful years and still sadder times; as when one dark morning toward daybreak, by the edge of a darker forest draped with snow where the frozen dead lay thick, they found an officer’s hat half filled with snow, and near by, her father fallen face downward; and turning him over, saw a bullet-hole over his breast, and the crimson of his blood on the scarlet of his waistcoat; so departed, with manfulness out of this world and leaving behind him some finer things than his debts and mortgages over dice and cards and dogs and wine and lotteries. Then not long after that, the manor-house on the James turned into the unkindest of battlefields; one brother defending at the head of troops within, the other attacking at the head of troops without; the snowy bedrooms becoming the red-stained wards of a hospital; the staircase hacked by swords; the poor little spinet and the slender-legged little mahogany tables overturned and smashed, the portraits slashed, the library scattered. Then one night, seen from a distance, a vast flame licking the low clouds; and afterwards a black ruin where the great house had stood, and so the end of it all forever.

During these years, she, herself, had been like a lily in a lake, never uprooted, but buried out of sight beneath the storm that tosses the waves back and forth.

Then white and heavenly Peace again…But with wounds harder to heal than those of the flesh; with memories that were as sword-points broken off in the body; with glory to brighten more and more, as time went on, but with starvation close at hand…

***

He was reclining against the trunk, his hat off, his eyes closed; in the heavy shadows he looked white and sick and weak and troubled. Plainly he was buried deep in his own thoughts. If he had broken off those low boughs in order that he might obtain a view of the road, he had forgotten his own purpose; if he had walked all the way out to this spot and was waiting, his vigilance had grown lax, his aim slipped from him.

Perhaps before his eyes the historic vision of the road had risen: that crowded pageant, brute and human, all whose red passions, burning rights and burning wrongs, frenzied fightings and awful deaths had left but the sun-scarred dust, the silence of the woods clothing itself in green. And from this panoramic survey it may have come to him to feel the shortness of the day of his own life, the pitifulness of its earthly contentions, and above everything else the sadness of the necessity laid upon him to come down to the level of the cougar and the wolf.

***

“All this prosperity, as the mere fruit of my toil, has been less easy than for many. I may not boast the Apostle that I have fought a good fight, but I can say that I fought a hard one. The fight will always be hard for any man who undertakes to conquer life with the few simple weapons I have used and who will accept victory only upon such terms as I have demanded. For be my success small or great, it has been won without inner compromise or other form of self-abasement. No man can look me in the eyes and say I ever wronged him for my own profit; none may charge that I have smiled on him in order to use him, or call him my friend that I might make him do for me the work of a servant.

“Do not imagine I fail to realize that I have added my full share to the general evil of the world: in part unconsciously, in part against my conscious will. It is the knowledge of this influence of imperfection forever flowing from myself to all others that has taught me charity with all the wrongs that flow from others toward me. As I have clung to myself despite the evil, so I have clung to the world despite all the evil that is in the world. To lose faith in men, not humanity; to see justice go down and not believe in the triumph of injustice; for every wrong that you weakly deal another or another deals you to love more and more the fairness and beauty of what is right; and so to turn with ever-increasing love from the imperfection that is in us all to the Perfection that is above us all…”

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Alfred Neumann: Modern war, the murderous happiness of the greatest number

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Alfred Neumann: Selections on war

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Alfred Neumann
From Empire (1936)
Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul

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The chronicler (mutinously determined that war, thus smuggled into the Exhibition for awed admiration, should be painted in its true lineaments of horror) penned a little study of the relationships of war technique to a hero’s death; starting with a moral and philosophical consideration of the way in which bravery had been put in the shade by mechanics. Suppose, for instance, that the most cowardly of Indians be armed with one of those magnificently exhibited and ardently admired new breech-loaders, whilst a hero with a blonde beard had nothing better at his disposal than an old muzzle-loader, the odds between them were no longer decided by cowardice on one side and bravery on the other, but by the fact that one of these fire-arms could discharge six shots per minute and the other only one. The moral? Technique had nothing to do with morals, only progress, as this Universal Exhibition proved. This our chronicler’s little essay should bear the title “The Technique of War or Progress of Heroic Death”. Obviously, this progress had been enormous. Think only how much trouble was needed to commit murder with a spear, a battle-axe, a mace, a broadsword, or an arquebus – if quantity be considered rather than quality. Of course one could kill fairly efficiently with those antiquated weapons, and a dead man was dead; still, it was hard with such tools to achieve murder in a satisfactory sense of the word, to kill a respectable number of the enemy, to achieve numbers, numbers, the murderous happiness of the greatest number. Now things were very different. We loaded at the breech, whether howitzer, field-gun, rifle, or pistol; we had a rapid use of ammunition, and automatically loading magazines; everything went as least six times as fast, which did not amount to saying that murder was increased sixfold; for we had to deal with the squares of the old numbers, while shells, which gave off thousands of white-hot murderous splinters, raised the number to a third power. But all this, look you good visitors, was but a beginning, for the technique of murder was an avalanche, and the depths of the abyss of the future was immeasurable…

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Siegfried Sassoon: Their dreams that drip with murder, of glorious war that shatter’d all their pride

December 18, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Siegfried Sassoon: Selections on war

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Siegfried Sassoon
Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Survivors

No doubt they’ll soon get well; the shock and strain
Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they’re ‘longing to go out again,’ —
These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They’ll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died, —
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they’ll be proud
Of glorious war that shatter’d all their pride…
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.

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Edward Bulwer Lytton: The sword, consecrating homicide and massacre with a hollow name

December 17, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Edward Bulwer Lytton: The heartless and miserable vanity from which arose wars neither useful nor honourable

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Edward Bulwer Lytton
From Devereaux (1829)

ARTlytton

I took out the sword, and drew it from the scabbard. “Come,” said I, and I kindled with a melancholy yet a deep enthusiasm, as I looked along the blade, “come, my bright friend, with thee through this labyrinth which we call the world will I carve my way! Fairest and speediest of earth’s levellers, thou makest the path from the low valley to the steep hill, and shapest the soldier’s axe into the monarch’s sceptre! The laurel and the fasces, and the curule car, and the emperor’s purple, – what are these but thy playthings, alternately thy scorn and thy reward! Founder of all empires, propagator of all creeds, thou leddest the Gaul and the Goth, and the gods of Rome and Greece crumbled upon their altars! Beneath thee the fires of the Gheber waved pale, and on thy point the badge of the camel-driver blazed like a sun over the startled East! Eternal arbiter, and unconquerable despot, while the passions of mankind exist! Most solemn of hypocrites, – circling blood with glory as with a halo; and consecrating homicide and massacre with a hollow name, which the parched throat of thy votary, in the battle and the agony, shouteth out with its last breath!…”

***

To people who have naturally very intense and very acute feelings, nothing is so fretting, so wearing to the heart, as the commonplace affections, which are the properties and offspring of the world. We have seen the birds which, with wings unclipt, children fasten to a stake. The birds seek to fly, and are pulled back before their wings are well spread; till, at last, they either perpetually strain at the end of their short tether, exciting only ridicule by their anguish and their impotent impatience; or, sullen and despondent, they remain on the ground, without any attempt to fly, nor creep, even to the full limit which their fetters will allow. Thus it is with the feelings of the keen, wild nature I speak of: they are either striving forever to pass the little circle of slavery to which they are condemned, and so move laughter by an excess of action and a want of adequate power; or they rest motionless and moody, disdaining the petty indulgence they might enjoy, till sullenness is construed into resignation, and despair seems the apathy of content. Time, however, cures what it does not kill; and both bird and beast, if they pine not to the death at first, grow tame and acquiescent at last.

…These, and the avocations they brought with them, consumed my time, and of Time murdered there is a ghost which we term ennui. The hauntings of this spectre are the especial curse of the higher orders; and hence springs a certain consequence to the passions. Persons in those ranks of society so exposed to ennui are either rendered totally incapable of real love, or they love far more intensely than those in a lower station; for the affections in them are either utterly frittered away on a thousand petty objects (poor shifts to escape the persecuting spectre), or else, early disgusted with the worthlessness of these objects, the heart turns within and languishes for something not found in the daily routine of life. When this is the case, and when the pining of the heart is once satisfied, and the object of love is found, there are two mighty reasons why the love should be most passionately cherished. The first is, the utter indolence in which aristocratic life oozes away, and which allows full food for that meditation which can nurse by sure degrees the weakest desire into the strongest passion; and the second reason is, that the insipidity and hollowness of all patrician pursuits and pleasures render the excitement of love more delicious and more necessary to the “ignavi terrarum domini,” than it is to those orders of society more usefully, more constantly, and more engrossingly engaged.

Wearied and sated with the pursuit of what was worthless, my heart, at last, exhausted itself in pining for what was pure…

***

“Listen: that man is wisest who is happiest,— granted. What does happiness consist in? Power, wealth, popularity, and, above all, content! Well, then, no man ever obtains so much power, so much money, so much popularity, and, above all, such thorough self-content as a fool; a fool, therefore (this is no paradox), is the wisest of men. Fools govern the world in purple: the wise laugh at them; but they laugh in rags. Fools thrive at court; fools thrive in state chambers; fools thrive in boudoirs; fools thrive in rich men’s legacies. Who is so beloved as a fool? Every man seeks him, laughs at him, and hugs him. Who is so secure in his own opinion, so high in complacency, as a fool? sua virtute involvit. Hark ye, St. John, let us turn fools: they are the only potentates, the only philosophers of earth. Oh, motley, ‘motley’s your only wear!'”

***

The stillness of noon; the holy and eloquent repose of twilight, its rosy sky and its soft air, its shadows and its dews, – had equally for her heart a whisper and a spell. The wan stars, where, from the eldest time, man has shaped out a chart of the undiscoverable future; the mysterious moon, to which the great ocean ministers from its untrodden shrines; the winds, which traverse the vast air, pilgrims from an eternal home to an unpenetrated bourne; the illimitable heavens, on which none ever gazed without a vague craving for something that the earth cannot give, and a vague sense of a former existence in which that something was enjoyed; the holy night; that solemn and circling sleep, which seems, in its repose, to image our death, and in its living worlds to shadow forth the immortal realms which only through that death we can survey…

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

December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Conrad Aiken: Vast symphonic dance of death

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Conrad Aiken
From The Wars and the Unknown Soldier

Conrad_Aiken

Dry leaves, soldier, dry leaves, dead leaves;
voices of leaves on the wind that bears them to
destruction,
impassioned prayer, impassioned hymn of delight
of the gladly doomed to die. Stridor of beasts,
stridor of men, praises of lust and battle,
numberless as waves, the waves singing
to the wind that bears them down.

Under Osiris,
him of the Egyptian priests, Osynmandyas the King,
easward into Asia we passed, swarmed over Bactria,
three thousand years before Christ.

The history of war
is the history of mankind.
So many dead:
look at them there in the dark, look at them going,
the longest parade of all, the parade of the dead:
between then and now, seven thousand million dead:
dead on the field of battle.

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U.S. Army Evaluates, Assists Ukrainian National Guard

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

U.S. Army Europe
December 15, 2014

U.S. Army Europe, Ukraine defense officials share lessons learned
By U.S. Army Europe Operations

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WIESBADEN, Germany:- Brig. Gen. John Hort, chief of operations, U.S. Army Europe, along with his staff and members of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, located at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, participated in a Global Security Contingency Fund — Ukraine planning requirements meeting with Ukrainian National Guard officials, here, Dec. 8-9, 2014.

The purpose of the requirements meeting was to identify Ukraine’s National Guard Unit organization, training readiness and unit end state conditions after training completion.

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Maurice Hewlett: Who prayeth peace?

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Maurice Hewlett: In the Trenches

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Maurice Hewlett
From The Argive Women (1912)

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PASIPHASSA

In Argos they sow the grain,
In Troy blood is their sowing;
There a green mantle covers the plain
Where the sweet green corn and sweet short grass are growing;
But here passion and pain –
Blood and dust upon earth, and a hot wind blowing.

SITYS

To the hold on the far red hill
From the hold on the wide green lea,
Over the running water, follow who will
Therapnae’s hawk with the dove of Amyklae.
But I would lie husht and still,
And feel the new grass growing quick over me!

[The scene grows dark as they sit.
Their eyes are full of tears.
Presently one looks up, listening,
then another, then another. They
are all alert
.]

CHTHONOE

Who prayeth peace? I feel her peace
Steal through me as a quiet air
Enters the house with sweet increase
Of light to healing, praise to prayer!

***

From Richard Yea and Nay (1900)

So far as estate went, seeing their country was fruitful, compact, snugly bound between France and Normandy (owing fealty to the first), they might have been sovereign counts…More: by marriage, by robbery on that great plan where it ceases to be robbery and becomes warfare…there was no reason why kingship should not have been theirs…

Differing from the Mantuan as much in sort as in degree, I sing less the arms than the man, less the panoply of some Christian king offended than the heart of one in urgent private transports; less treaties than the agony of treating, less personages than persons, the actors rather than the scene. Arms pass like the fashion of them, to-day or to-morrow they will be gone; but men live, their secret springs what they have ever been.

***

They saw the flash of a blade.

‘That is strange warfare,’ said Des Barres, greatly interested.

‘There is warfare in heaven also,’ said Savaric. ‘See those two eagles.’ Two great birds were battling in the cold blue. Feathers fell idly, like black snow-flakes; then one of the eagles heeled over, and down he came.

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Eastern Partnership: U.S., EU Step Up Anti-Russian Energy War

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Xinhua News Agency
December 14, 2014

EU, US pledge to strength EU energy security

[The Eastern Partnership program of the European Union (and, behind the scenes, the U.S.) intends to integrate all former Soviet republics in Europe and the South Caucasus except Russia and the Baltic States, the latter already being members of both the EU and NATO – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – into Western economic, political and military structures, thereby isolating and quarantining Russia in former Soviet space and bringing about the destruction of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the former of which includes all six targeted nations except Georgia and now presumably Ukraine (which have already withdrawn) and the latter of which includes Armenia and Belarus. The failure of the now overthrown Viktor Yanukovich government in Ukraine to immediately sign an Association Agreement with the European Union under the auspices of the Eastern Partnership in November of last year led to the coup d’etat in that country and the subsequent 244-day war and related showdown between NATO and Russia.]

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BRUSSELS: The United States and the European Union (EU) leaders on Wednesday pledged to strength the energy security of Europe and Ukraine after the EU-US Energy Council meeting.

The meeting was attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and Energy ministers from both sides.

An official statement said that the Council discussed ways in which the United States could provide assistance to strengthen energy security in EU candidate countries and Eastern Partnership countries.

It welcomed the prospect of U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to Europe to diversify supplies and further talks on a transatlantic trade deal.

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Eastern Europe: U.S. Moves To Subjugate ‘Immediate Hinterland Behind Front Lines’

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Xinhua News Agency
December 14, 2014

Hungary urges U.S. to halt unfriendly behavior

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BUDAPESTa: The United States should end its unfriendly behavior and policy toward Hungary, Hungary’s parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover said on Sunday.

Kover told local wire service MTI that he has sent a letter of protest to the U.S. Senate after Republican Senator John McCain called Prime Minister Viktor Orban “a neo-fascist dictator”, which came on the heels of a U.S. visa ban against several Hungarian tax officials citing corruption.

Washington has employed similar policies against the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, treating them as a tool in a bid to make its own brand of order “in the immediate hinterland behind the front lines”, he said.

He added that some U.S. foreign affairs decision-makers have communicated a negative opinion on Hungary whenever his Fidesz party was in power over the past 25 years.

“The tone may be more unusual and irrational now than earlier … (and) as allies we expect to see a minimum of a correct attitude on America’s part,” Kover said, adding that the U.S. holds the key to normalizing bilateral relations.

McCain called Orban a “neo-fascist dictator” on Tuesday while unsuccessfully trying to persuade the U.S. Senate to reject Colleen Bell, President Barack Obama’s nominee, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Hungary.

He said Hungary was “a very important country where bad things are going on” following a series of events, including a statement by Orban in support of “illiberal democracy” in which he cited Russia and Turkey as an example.

On Saturday, Kover sent a letter to Vice U.S. President Joe Biden, who is also president of the U.S. Senate, charging McCain with “crude statements reminiscent of the tone used during the Cold War”.

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Most Modern Ever: U.S. Provides Long-Range Missiles To Poland Against Russia

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
December 11, 2014

Poland Attributes Purchase Of U.S. Missiles To Regional Tensions

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Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak has said that long-range missiles Warsaw is buying from the United States are especially needed by Poland because of current tensions in the region.

Siemoniak also complained of “unprecedented” recent activity by Russia’s navy and air force in the Baltic Sea region — saying the majority of the incidents involved Russian operations in international waters.

Siemoniak, speaking December 11 at a signing ceremony for the $250 million deal, said the new U.S. missiles are the most modern military equipment Poland has ever purchased.

The purchase includes 40 joint air-to-surface missiles that are to be integrated into the Polish Air Force’s three tactical squadrons of F-16 fighter jets.

The U.S. State Department approved the deal in October. Delivery is to start next year with the missile systems being operational in 2017.

Based on reporting by AP and tvn24.pl

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Robert Graves: War follows its victims back home

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts</a>

Robert Graves: Selections on war

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Robert Graves
From Good-Bye to All That (1929)

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…I realized how bad my nerves were when one day, marching through the streets of Litherland on a Battalion route-march, I saw three workmen in gas-masks beside an open man-hole, bending over a corpse which they had just hauled up from a sewer. His clothes were sodden and stinking; his face and hands, yellow. Waste chemicals from the munitions factory had got into the sewage system and gassed him when he went down to inspect. My company did not pause in its march, so I only had a a glimpse of the group; but it reminded me so strongly of France that, but for the band-music, I should have fainted.

***

I decided to leave Litherland somehow, forewarned what the winter would be like, with the mist steaming up from the Mersey and hanging about the camp, full of T.N.T. fumes. During the previous winter I used to sit in my hut, and cough and cough until I was sick. The fumes tarnished buttons and cap-badges, and made our eyes smart. I thought of going back to France, but realized the absurdity of the notion. Since 1916, the fear of gas had obsessed me: any unusual smell, even a sudden strong scent of flowers in a garden, was enough to send me trembling. And I couldn’t face the sound of heavy shelling now; the noise of a car back-firing would send me flat on my face, or running for cover…

***

At the Peace Day celebrations in the Castle, I was asked, as the senior man at Harlech who had served overseas, to make a speech about the glorious dead. I spoke in commendation of the Welshman as a fighting man and earned loud cheers. But not only did I have no experience of independent civilian life, having gone straight from school into the Army: I was mentally and nervously organized for War. Shells used to come bursting on my bed at midnight, even though Nancy shared it with me; strangers in daytime would assume the faces of friends who had been killed. When strong enough to climb the hill behind Harlech and revisit my favourite country, I could not help seeing it as a prospective battlefield. I would find myself working out tactical problems, planning how best to hold the Upper Artro valley against an attack from the sea, or where to place a Lewis gun if I were trying to rush Dolwreiddiog Farm from the brow of the hill, and what would be the best cover for my rifle-grenade section. I still had the Army habit of commandeering anything of uncertain ownership that I found lying about; also a difficulty in telling the truth – it was always easier for me now, when charged with any fault, to lie my way out Army style…

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Hour-long interview: NATO and Ukraine

December 13, 2014 Leave a comment

J.D. Moore
Red Pill Reports
December 10, 2014

Guest: Rick Rozoff

Audio

Rozoff segment begins at 01:00

Rick Rozoff joins JD in the second hour to discuss the true nature of NATO as it pertains to Ukraine, ISIS, Russia and the West. Rick illustrates the connections between the global players, as the push for control over military, political and economic resources makes strange bedfellows and creates new divisions on the international chessboard.

Rick Rozoff lives and works in Chicago and has been an active opponent of war, militarism and intervention for over 40 years. He manages the Stop NATO e­mail list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato) and his website (https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com).

He writes on the threat of international militarization. Especially on the globalization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war

December 13, 2014 Leave a comment
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Radio Interview: Will NATO ‘Marry’ Ukraine After 20 Years’ Romance?

December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Sputnik International
December 12, 2014

Burning Point
Ekaterina Kudashkina

Will NATO ‘Marry’ Ukraine After 20 Years’ Romance?

Why would NATO need Ukraine and where could it take the rest of Europe? Radio Sputnik is discussing it with Rick Rozoff of the Stop NATO International Network.

Audio

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday to discuss prospects for a further relationship. Presenting the program of his government for 2015, he said the main task for the country next year will be to survive ‘Russian military aggression’ and a deep economic crisis. Kiev says the current crisis has left it with no choice but to seek protection from NATO. Yet, the truth is, the process of Ukraine’s integration into NATO was launched long before Maidan…

Says Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO International Network:

Yes, in 1994, 20 year ago, Ukraine became the first former Soviet federal republic to be recruited into NATO’s post-Cold War era transitional military partnership – one which is called Partnership for Peace. The name of which, of course, is a glaring misnomer, as it’s been in effect used to deploy troops for candidate members in several war zones, including in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and so forth.

But I think it is significant that 20 years ago, which is to say only three years after the formal dissolution of the Warsaw Pact or the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union into its 15 constituent federal republics, only three years later NATO (at the instigation of the US, undoubtedly) sought out Ukraine as the first former Soviet nation to be brought into that transitional program.

That same Partnership for Peace military program was the one used to cultivate 12 new military, full, members of NATO in the decade between 1999 and 2009, starting with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; seven more countries, including the three former Soviet republics in the Baltics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – in 2004; and then two Balkans countries in 2009.

So, what we are seeing is that the US, the Pentagon more specifically, and NATO have had their sights set on Ukraine a long time back. So, to claim that massive military expansion in Eastern Europe over the past 11 months of so is in any way specifically a response to the ‘annexation’ of Crimea or the fighting in the Southeast Ukraine is misleading people. The fact is that the US wanted to incorporate Ukraine into the NATO to consolidate the new military Iron Curtain that runs along Russia’s entire western border, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. That’s incontestable.

Now Ukraine is devastated and if we look at the similar examples in Europe, like Kosovo, for instance, there are quite dim prospects that this country is going to get more structured and more stable, and more peaceful. So, would NATO really want this kind of member?

Rick Rozoff:

A statement was reported in Polish press and Polish radio by the infamous, if you don’t mind the adjective of my own, Zbigniew Brzezinski – the former national security adviser to Carter administration and major Russophobe geostrategist, who cautioned the West at an event in Poland that bringing Ukraine into NATO would be neither good for NATO, nor for Ukraine. And he is correct.

However, using Ukraine as a territory from which NATO can operate is in many ways much more advantageous than bringing it in as a full member. And first of all, we have to recall that NATO stipulates quite clearly their preconditions for the full membership in the block.

Two of the obstacles, rather, confronting Ukraine currently: first of all, there could be no territorial conflicts in the nation, and there is vis-à-vis Crimea, certainly from the point of view of junta in Kiev, but also there is the fighting around the Donetsk and Lugansk region; number two – there can be no foreign military personnel on the territory of the candidate member state. And by “foreign” I think we are safe in assuming non-NATO. In other words, there could be a proliferation of US, German, French, Italian and British troops, but if there is one Russian peacekeeper anywhere in the disputed area that is considered a foreign military presence.

So, the fact that the Russian Black Sea fleet for a long time has been in the Crimea, automatically would have disqualified Ukraine under any conditions for full NATO membership. So, the obvious conclusion to draw from that is that the Russian Black Sea fleet had to be evicted.

And I’m certain that that was the active intent, based on the orders they receive from the likes of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev, that was the intent of the new junta in February – to evict the Russian Black Sea fleet and consolidate the nation under a pro-Western orientation so as to bring it into the NATO fold.

So, is it advantageous for Ukraine to be in NATO? No more than for Georgia. And, by the way, we should note that for at least the last decade those two countries formed a couple that we consider to be integratable at the same time and the plan was for NATO to bring them both in simultaneously.

As we know, Georgia also has unresolved territorial conflicts and it still has foreign troops on what they claim to be their territory – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We also know, by the way, that the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, modeled after the Rose Revolution, so-called, in Georgia in the preceding year, brought to the forefront, in the case of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, who is a US-educated attorney graduated from Columbia University, where Mr. Brzezinski taught; and we know that Viktor Yushchenko, who copied his example in 2004, is married to an American, Kathy Yushchenko, who was born and raised here in Chicago. So, there is an American hand in the color revolutions in both countries, and the two are considered to be a doublet to be incorporated simultaneously.

Another thing that is important to know, as much obliquely, as it is being poured at Viktor Yanukovych right now in the Western media and by the Western government officials trying to portray him, in essence, as a Russian puppet or something of this sort. He, Yanukovych, made Ukraine the first non-NATO country to supply a military vessel for NATO’s permanent naval surveillance and interdiction operation in the Mediterranean, Operation Active Endeavor.

Then, shortly thereafter his government supplied a vessel, again, the first non-NATO one to do it, to NATO’s now permanent naval operation off the Horn of Africa, in the Arabian Sea, Operation Ocean Shield, and up until the coup d’état in February this year in Ukraine, Ukraine was one of four non-NATO countries that was going to be incorporated into NATO’s new international Response Force. The other three being Georgia and another double, if you will, Finland and Sweden.

So, we see that the integration process with Ukraine has been underway for a long time. We have to remember that the Leonid Kuchma government supplied 2,000 troops for the occupation of Iraq after 2003, as part of arrangements under NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. So, Ukraine was already well underway towards being integrated into NATO. And what it appears is that the US may have overplayed its geopolitical hand in the area and set back its plans to bring Ukraine as the full member into NATO.

But what is NATO’s ultimate goal? Is it to attack Russia or, perhaps, use different tactics on Russia?

Rick Rozoff:

I’ve been long saying, and I think even an amateur military strategist or a student of military history can tell you, you don’t besiege a country, unless you intend to starve it out or attack it. And since the major round of NATO expansion in 2004 where they brought in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, they immediately, within weeks, if not days, set up a permanent what they refer to as an air policing operation in Lithuania. What these are, are air patrols by advanced-generation warplanes.

Initially, there were four planes. That’s been brought up now to, I think, six times that number, if I’m not mistaken. It is in the neighborhood of 20 or 24 warplanes, permanently, patrolling the Baltic from Lithuania. A comparable air base has been upgraded and turned over to NATO and the US in Estonia. A new one is on its way in Latvia as well.

The US has taken over, essentially, the Lask air base in Poland, where it is rotating F-16 warplanes, in addition to 48 F-16s they’ve basically compelled the Polish government to purchase at the beginning of this [century]. You know, Poland does not have 48 F-16s for any other reason, than to confront Russia.

Similarly, in Bulgaria and Romania in 2008-2009 the US secured 8 major military bases, including at least 3 large-scale or major, potentially strategic, air bases. And this goes on all the way down the line. The world’s first multinational strategic airlift operation is conducted by the US and NATO out of an air base in Hungary now.

So, the entire western flank of Russia, let me please emphasize that again, the entire western flank of Russia is now witnessing an increase in NATO military activities – the opening and upgrading of new military bases, the deployment of 600 US paratroopers to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the rotation of US F-16s from Italy to Poland, the permanent Task Force East (a multiservice military operation, operating out of Bulgaria and Romania), a Black Sea Rotational Force (component of the US Marine Corps in the same area) and we could go – incidentally, four years ago the deployment of the US Patriot Advanced Capability-3 longer-range interceptor missiles in Poland, some 30 miles from the Russian territory of Kaliningrad.

So, what is indisputable, and I think the significant fact right now is that… And that doesn’t even take into account the building of the US interceptor missile system where they are going to be deploying advanced, a new generation interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania, as well as the surveillance, radar facilities. So, you know, given all that (and I have by no means exhausted the deployment of NATO facilities and equipment, and personnel in the area), the inevitable conclusion I would have to draw from that is that somebody is preparing for a war with Russia.

And I might cite an article yesterday from Stars and Stripes, which is the official newspaper of the American armed forces, that talked about a recently concluded war game in Germany, the scenario for which was a nation invades Estonia, and it resulted, amongst other things, in missile strikes and cyber warfare. And I’ll leave it to your listeners’ imagination which country is intended as the aggressor in that scenario.

But this is a suicidal scenario for the US! Russia is not Libya, Russia is not Iraq. We are a nuclear power.

Rick Rozoff: I’m fully aware of the fact that Russia is a nuclear power. But I also know that the US has perfected the method of game theory, if you will. This is very cynical and, ultimately, it may be a catastrophic and even an apocalyptic gambit on the part of the US, but the intent is to test Russian resolve, see how they respond to various events. If they appear to be willing to concede, then keep pushing and escalating the pressure to see how far they can get away with it.

Look, the US in the post-Cold War period, but particularly in the last 15 years, they engineered a 78-day air war against the European country for the first time, incidentally, as an of aggression against an European country since Hitler’s and Mussolini’s wars of the late 1930s and early 1940s. It put on display for the entire world the impotence of the world community to intervene to stop that war.

And then, shortly thereafter we have the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the devastation of Syria, the overthrow of governments in the Ivory Coast and Yemen, and an attempt to replicate that model in a very bloody manner in Syria, and on and on. Unless the world community draws the line, the US has no incentive to stop.

And in this case Europe and its European allies are held hostage.

Rick Rozoff:

They are held hostage is the kindest interpretation of that. I think one should rather look into the curriculum vitae, into the biographies of the heads of states of Europe. You will discover, for example, that the head of the state of Estonia, whose country is the imaginary victim of something that could trigger WW III, is an American citizen – Toomas Ilves. He was raised in the US, he worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, that is, at the very least, for the State Department.

Up until a few years ago his counterpart in Lithuania was Valdas Adamkus, another American citizen, who lived here in Chicago for decades, who also worked for the US federal government. And at about the same time the head of state of Latvia was a woman who was raised in Canada and worked for the federal government.

You know, first of all, we have to understand who we are talking about when we are talking about the heads of states and other political figures in Europe. We are talking about people who belong to transnational think tanks and planning bodies. The US Atlantic Council, for example, which is the major think tank promoting NATO development and expansion around the world, has its counterparts in 30 or 40 other countries, including most every European country. They have essentially seduced, if not bribed or recruited, most every political leader in Europe. First of all, we have to be clear about that.

The fact that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday had to finally have some harsh words about German political leadership, and I’m thinking in particular of what he said vis-à-vis Chancellor Angela Merkel, I think should expose this charade that there is an independent foreign policy orientation in Europe and, somehow, that a person like Chancellor Merkel is one person when she is wearing her EU credentials and another one when she is wearing her NATO credentials. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The EU and NATO are effectively merging not only their military but their foreign policy orientations and programs, including sharing military commanders, sharing the military bases, sharing military assets. You know, it is a very delicate question right now where NATO ends and the EU begins. So, I think that anyone sitting in Moscow who believes that there is some essential difference between the EU orientation of European leaders and the NATO one, better go back to the drawing board and reevaluate their perspective. They’ve made a dangerous, if not a fatal mistake.

We have to keep in mind, when this whole tragedy in Ukraine began in November of last year when the Yanukovych government did not refuse, but simply delayed the signing of what was called an Association Agreement with the EU, one that was being pushed by the US, I need hardly add. And for anyone who’s seen the document, it has a very strong military component. It would effectively integrate Ukraine into Western military structures, whether there was an EU or a NATO stamp on it, it almost doesn’t matter, because the two – the EU and NATO – are united under a program of the 1990s called the Berlin Plus agreement which effectively merges the militaries of those two organizations.

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Richard Aldington: The Blood of the Young Men

December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Richard Aldington: Selections on war

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Richard Aldington
The Blood of the Young Men (1919)

RichardAldington

I

Give us back the close veil of the senses,
Let us not see, ah, hide from us
The red blood splashed upon the walls,
The good red blood, the young, the lovely blood
Trampled unseeingly by passing feet,
Feet of the old men, feet of the cold cruel women,
Feet of the careless children, endlessly passing…

II

Day has become an agony, night alone now,
That leisurely shadow, hides the blood-stains,
The horrible stains and clots of day-time.

III

All the garments of all the people,
All the wheels of all the traffic,
All the cold indifferent faces,
All the fronts of the houses,
All the stones of the street —
Ghastly! Horribly smeared with blood-stains.

IV

The horror of it!
When a woman holds out a white hand
Suddenly to know it drips black putrid blood;
When an old man sits, serene and healthy,
In clean white linen, with clean white hair,
Suddenly to know the linen foully spotted,
To see the white hair streaked with dripping blood.

V

O these pools and ponds of blood,
Slowly dripped in, slowly brimming lakes,
Blood of the young men, blood of their bodies,
Squeezed and crushed out to purple the garments of
Dives,
Poured out to colour the lips of Magdalen,
Magdalen who loves not, whose sins are loveless.
O this steady drain of the weary bodies,
This beating of hearts growing dimmer and dimmer,
This bitter indifference of the old men,
This exquisite indifference of women.

VI

Old men, you will grow stronger and healthier
With broad red cheeks and clear hard eyes —
Is not your meat and drink the choicest?
Blood of the young, dear flesh of the young men?

VII

Ah, you women, cruel exquisite women,
What a love-fountain is poured out for you,
What coloured streams for your pleasure!

Go your ways, pass on, forget them;
Give your lips and breasts to the old men,
The kindly, impetuous, glowing, old men!
They who will love you indeed, indeed, dears,
Not as we do, drained of our blood, with weeping.
Sell yourselves, oh, give yourselves to the cripples,
Give yourselves to the weak, the poor forgotten,
Give yourselves to those who escape the torture
And buy their blood from the pools with weight of
gold.

Give yourselves to them, pass on, forget us;
We, any few that are left, a remnant,
Sit alone together in cold and darkness,
Dare not face the light for fear we discover
The dread woe, the agony in our faces,
Sit alone without sound in bitter dreaming
Of our friends, our dear brothers, the young men,
Who were mangled and abolished, squeezed dry of
blood,
Emptied and cast aside that the lakes might widen,
That the lips of the women might be sweet to the old men.

VIII

Go your ways, you women, pass and forget us,
We are sick of blood, of the taste and sight of it;
Go now to those who bleed not and to the old men,
They will give you beautiful love in answer!
But we, we are alone, we are desolate,
Thinning the blood of our brothers with weeping,
Crying for our brothers, the men we fought with,
Crying out, mourning them, alone with our dead ones;
Praying that our eyes may be blinded
Lest we go mad in a world of scarlet,
Dripping, oozing from the veins of our brothers.

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Alfred Döblin: War is not ineluctable fate

December 11, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Alfred Döblin: The law and the police are at the service of the war state and its slavery

Alfred Döblin: The old grim cry for war

Alfred Döblin: We march to war, Death folds his cloak singing: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.

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Alfred Döblin
From Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929)
Translated by Eugene Jolas

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Keep awake, keep awake, for there is something happening in the world. The world is not make of sugar. If they drop gas-bombs, Ill have to choke to death; nobody knows why they are dropped, but that’s neither here not there, we had time to prepare for it.

If war comes along and they conscript me, and I don’t know why, and the war’s started without me, well, then it’s my fault, it serves me right. Keep awake ‘mid the strife, we’re not alone in this life. Let it hail and storm, there’s no way of guarding against it, but we can defend ourselves against many other things. So I will not go on shouting as I once did: Fate, Fate! It’s no use revering it merely as Fate, we must look at it, grasp it, down it, and not hesitate.

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Sean O’Casey: The dead of wars past clasp their colder arms around the newer dead

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Sean O’Casey: Battles of war changed for battles of peace

Sean O’Casey: The Prince of Peace transformed into the god of war

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Sean O’Casey
From Drums Under the Windows (1946)

images

If one only knew, he thought, there’s a helluva lot of moaning in the world today; and it would grow; grow till the common people came to themselves. Humanity’s music would be sad as ever, but it wouldn’t remain silent much longer. New thoughts were being born, not only in a cry, but in smoke, flame, and cannon-fire. Half the Christian world had just discovered that the other half no longer deserved to live. The slime, the bloodied mud, the crater and the shell-hole had become God’s Kingdom here on earth. Deep trenches led to the delectable mountains…In every ravine, on every hill, through every golden cornfield tens of thousands of Irish wriggled and twisted to death, their dimming eyes dazzled by the flame from a scarlet poppy, their dulling ears shocked by the lilting notes from a rising lark. The ghosts of them who fell at Dettigen, Fontenoy, and Waterloo were clasping their colder arms around the newer dead.

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Lactantius: War, object of execration, and its domestic analogue

December 9, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Lactantius: Selections on war

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Lactantius
From Epitome 58
Translated by Thomas De Quincey

Lactantius

What is so dreadful, what so dismal and revolting, as the murder of a human creature? Therefore it is, that life for us is protected by laws the most rigorous: therefore it is, that wars are objects of execration. And yet the traditional usage of Rome has devised a mode of authorising murder apart from war, and in defiance of law…Now, if merely to be present at a murder fastens on a man the character of an accomplice; if barely to be a spectator involves us in one common guilt with the perpetrator; it follows of necessity, that, in these murders of the amphitheatre, the hand which inflicts the fatal blow is not more deeply imbrued in blood than his who sits and looks on: neither can he be clear of blood who has countenanced its shedding; nor that man seem other than a participator in murder who gives his applause to the murderer, and calls for prizes in his behalf.

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Charles Kingsley: Empire, a system of world-wide robbery, and church

December 8, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Charles Kingsley: Tyrannising it luxuriously over all nations, she had sat upon the mystic beast

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Charles Kingsley
From Hypatia (1853)

CharlesKingsley

For somewhat more than four hundred years, the Roman Empire and the Christian Church, born into the world almost at the same moment, had been developing themselves side by side as two great rival powers, in deadly struggle for the possession of the human race. The weapons of the Empire had been not merely an overwhelming physical force, and a ruthless lust of aggressive conquest: but, even more powerful still, an unequalled genius for organisation, and an uniform system of external law and order. This was generally a real boon to conquered nations, because it substituted a fixed and regular spoliation for the fortuitous and arbitrary miseries of savage warfare: but it arrayed, meanwhile, on the side of the Empire the wealthier citizens of every province, by allowing them their share in the plunder of the labouring masses below them. These, in the country districts, were utterly enslaved; while in the cities, nominal freedom was of little use to masses kept from starvation by the alms of the government, and drugged into brutish good humour by a vast system of public spectacles, in which the realms of nature and of art were ransacked to glut the wonder, lust, and ferocity of a degraded populace.

***

But if the emperors had become Christian, the Empire had not. Here and there an abuse was lopped off; or an edict was passed for the visitation of prisons and for the welfare of prisoners; or a Theodosius was recalled to justice and humanity for a while by the stern rebukes of an Ambrose. But the Empire was still the same: still a great tyranny, enslaving the masses, crushing national life, fattening itself and its officials on a system of world-wide robbery; and while it was paramount, there could be no hope for the human race. Nay, there were even those among the Christians who saw, like Dante afterwards, in the ‘fatal gift of Constantine,’ and the truce between the Church and the Empire, fresh and more deadly danger. Was not the Empire trying to extend over the Church itself that upas shadow with which it had withered up every other form of human existence; to make her, too, its stipendiary slave-official, to be pampered when obedient, and scourged whenever she dare assert a free will of her own, a law beyond that of her tyrants; to throw on her, by a refined hypocrisy, the care and support of the masses on whose lifeblood it was feeding? So thought many then, and, as I believe, not unwisely.

***

Between the bare walls of a doleful fire-scarred tower in the Campagna of Rome, standing upon a knoll of dry brown grass, ringed with a few grim pines, blasted and black with smoke; there sat Raphael Aben-Ezra, working out the last formula of the great world problem —’Given Self; to find God.’ Through the doorless stone archway he could see a long vista of the plain below, covered with broken trees, trampled crops, smoking villas, and all the ugly scars of recent war, far onward to the quiet purple mountains and the silver sea, towards which struggled, far in the distance, long dark lines of moving specks, flowing together, breaking up, stopping short, recoiling back to surge forward by some fresh channel, while now and then a glitter of keen white sparks ran through the dense black masses…

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

December 7, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

George Santayana: Selections on war

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George Santayana
From The Last Puritan: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel (1935)

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When a private at first in the ranks, and soon in various more responsible posts, he realised how exactly how war was like football. He remembered all the false reasons which his mother and other high-minded people used to give to justify that game: that it was good for the health, or for young men’s morals, or for testing and strengthening character; whereas he knew by experience that after the playing season every blackguard was as much, or twice as much, a blackguard as before, every sneak a sneak and every rake a rake. So now the same outsiders apologised for this war, saying that poor Serbia had been outraged, or poor Belgium invaded, or the Lusitania sunk; all of which might be grounds for resentment. Yet the soldier feels no resentment – except perhaps against his own officers – and has suffered no wrong. He simply hears the bugle, as it were for the chase; endures discipline, when once he is caught in its mesh, because he can’t help it; and fights keenly on occasion, because war is the greatest excitement, the greatest adventure in human life. Just so, in little, football has been an outlet for instinct, and a mock war. The howling crowds were stirred vicariously by the same craving for rush and rivalry, and were exactly like the public in time of war, cheering each his own side…

***

“Old-fashioned: no doubt I am old-fashioned. Weh dir, dass du ein Enkel bist. I was born old. It is a dreadful inheritance, that of mine, that I need to be honest, that I need to be true, that I need to be just. That’s not the fashion of to-day. The world is full of conscript minds, only they are in different armies, and nobody is fighting to be free, but each to make his own conscription universal…My people first went to America as exiles into a stark wilderness to lead a life apart, purer and soberer than the carnival life of Christendom. We were not content to be well-dressed animals, rough or cunning or lustfully prowling and acquisitive, and perhaps inventing a religion to encourage us in our animality. We will not now sacrifice to Baal because we seem to have failed. We will bide our time. We will lie low and dip under, until the flood has passed and wasted itself over our heads…”

“I have submitted to all their conscriptions. I have played all their games. I am playing their horrible game now. I am going to fight the Germans whom I like on the side of the French whom I don’t like. It’s my duty. Yet in my inner man how can I be a conscript; and how can I help denouncing all these impositions and feeling that such duties ought not to be our duties, and such blind battles ought not to be our battles?”

***

The multitude of the fallen during those years had made death so familiar, that it was almost without pain, with a sigh of resignation at unforeseen inevitable evils, like bad weather and taxes…And the worst of it is, as Vanny in those days often had occasion to observe, that with the passing act, as for instance with this war, the purpose it might have had, or might be supposed to have had, passes also and becomes irrelevant…

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

December 5, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Sinclair Lewis: Selections on war

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Sinclair Lewis
From It Can’t Happen Here (1935)

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In July, 1939, when Doremus had been in Montreal a little over five months, and a year after his sentence to concentration camp, the American newspapers which arrived at N.U. headquarters were full of resentment against Mexico.

Bands of Mexicans had raided across into the United States – always, curiously enough, when our troops were off in the desert, practice-marching or perhaps gathering sea shells. They burned a town in Texas – fortunately all the women and children were away on a Sunday-school picnic, that afternoon. A Mexican Patriot (aforetime he had also worked as an Ethiopian Patriot, a Chinese Patriot, and a Haitian Patriot) came across, to the tent of an M.M. brigadier, and confessed that while it hurt him to tattle on his own beloved country, conscience compelled him to reveal that his Mexican superiors were planning to fly over and bomb Laredo, San Antonio, Bisbee, and probably Tacoma, and Bangor, Maine.

This excited the Corpo newspapers very much indeed and in New York and Chicago they published photographs of the conscientious traitor half an hour after he had appeared at the Brigadier’s tent…where, at that moment, forty-six reporters happened to be sitting about on neighboring cactuses.

America rose to defend her hearthstones, including all the hearthstones on Park Avenue, New York, against false and treacherous Mexico, with its appalling army of 67,000 men, with thirty-nine military aeroplanes. Women in Cedar Rapids hid under the bed; elderly gentlemen in Cattaraugus County, New York, concealed their money in elm-tree boles; and the wife of a chicken-raiser seven miles N.E. of Estelline, South Dakota, a woman widely known as a good cook and a trained observer, distinctly saw a file of ninety-two Mexican soldiers pass her cabin, starting at 3:17 A.M. on July 27, 1939.

To answer this threat, America, the one country that had never lost a war and never started an unjust one, rose as one man, as the Chicago Daily Evening Corporate put it. It was planned to invade Mexico as soon as it should be cool enough, or even earlier, if the refrigeration and air-conditioning could be arranged. In one month, five million men were drafted for the invasion, and started training.

***

Thus – perhaps too flippantly – did Joe Cailey and Doremus discuss the declaration of war against Mexico. If they found the whole crusade absurd, it may be stated in their defense that they regarded all wars always as absurd; in the baldness of the lying by both sides about the causes; in the spectacle of grown-up men engaged in the infantile diversions of dressing-up in fancy clothes and marching to primitive music. The only thing not absurd about wars, said Doremus and Cailey, was that along with their skittishness they did kill a good many millions of people. Ten thousand starving babies seemed too high a price for a Sam Browne belt for even the sweetest, touchingest young lieutenant.

***

…As month by month they saw that they had been cheated with marked cards again, they were indignant; but they were busy with cornfield and sawmill and dairy and motor factory, and it took the impertinent idiocy of demanding that they march down into the desert and help steal a friendly country to jab them into awakening and into discovering that, while they had been asleep, they had been kidnaped by a small gang of criminals armed with high ideals, well-buttered words and a lot of machine guns.

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

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Nathanael West: Selections on war

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Nathanael West
From Good Hunting (1938)

nathanael-west (1)

JARVIS

C company has been joined with D, making D full strength again.
(Moves flags)

FITZSIMMONS
(Ironically)

They’ll get two dinners per man tonight and double tobacco ration.

JARVIS
(Philosophically)

Wellington said: “You’ve got to break eggs to make an omelette.”

FITZSIMMONS

We’re not using eggs.

JARVIS

We must take the long view – every defeat is a victory in a war of attrition.

FITZSIMMONS

What would the men in the front lines think of that?

JARVIS

They know nothing of military science.

FITZSIMMONS

I think I could explain your war of attrition so they’d understand it. It’s like checkers. We have so many more men on the board than they have that we can afford to lose three of ours for every one of theirs and still win.

JARVIS
(Shocked)

The censors would never permit such an explanation.

FITZSIMMONS

Of course not. You couldn’t make war without the censors.

***

GRACE

(…BOWKER comes in on his way to the garden, carrying some silver)

(Stopping him and examining the silver)

What beautiful Chinese silver, Bowker. Does the government issue it?

BOWKER

No, ma’am. We captured it in the Boxer rebellion.

GRACE

Looting!

BOWKER
(Smiling)

Spoils of war, rather, ma’am.

GRACE

The General should bring thinks like that home. What’s the use of being a soldier’s wife if one doesn’t get souvenirs?

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George Gissing: War turns science into enemy of man

December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

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

George Gissing: Selections on war

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George Gissing
From The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1903)

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I hate and fear “science” because of my conviction that, for long to come if not for ever, it will be the remorseless enemy of mankind. I see it destroying all simplicity and gentleness of life, all the beauty of the world; I see it restoring barbarism under a mask of civilization; I see it darkening men’s minds and hardening their hearts; I see it bringing a time of vast conflicts, which will pale into insignificance “the thousand wars of old,” and, as likely as not, will whelm all the laborious advances of mankind in blood-drenched chaos.

****

Many a time I have said to myself that I would close the dreadful record of human life, lay it for ever aside, and try to forget it. Somebody declares that history is a manifestation of the triumph of good over evil. The good prevails now and then, no doubt, but how local and transitory is such triumph. If historic tomes had a voice, it would sound as one long moan of anguish. Think steadfastly of the past, and one sees that only by defect of imaginative power can any man endure to dwell with it. History is a nightmare of horrors; we relish it, because we love pictures, and because all that man has suffered is to man rich in interest. But make real to yourself the vision of every blood-stained page – stand in the presence of the ravening conqueror, the savage tyrant – tread the stones of the dungeon and of the torture-room – feel the fire of the stake – hear the cries of that multitude which no man can number, the victims of calamity, of oppression, of fierce injustice in its myriad forms, in every land, in every age – and what joy have you of your historic reading? One would need to be a devil to understand it thus, and yet to delight in it.

Injustice – there is the loathed crime which curses the memory of the world. The slave doomed by his lord’s caprice to perish under tortures – one feels it a dreadful and intolerable thing; but it is merely the crude presentment of what has been done and endured a million times in every stage of civilization. Oh, the last thoughts of those who have agonized unto death amid wrongs to which no man would give ear! That appeal of innocence in anguish to the hard, mute heavens! Were there only one such instance in all the chronicles of time, it should doom the past to abhorred oblivion. Yet injustice, the basest, the most ferocious, is inextricable from warp and woof in the tissue of things gone by. And if anyone soothes himself with the reflection that such outrages can happen no more, that mankind has passed beyond such hideous possibility, he is better acquainted with books than with human nature.

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

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Charles Yale Harrison: Selections on war

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Charles Yale Harrison
From Generals Die In Bed (1928)

How can I say to this boy that something took us both, his brother and me, and dumped us into a lonely, shrieking hole at night – it armed us with deadly weapons and threw us against each other.

I imagined that I see the happy face of the mother when she heard that her two boys were to be together. She must have written to the older one, the one that died at the end of my bayonet, to look after his younger brother. Take care of each other and comfort one another, she wrote, I am sure.

Who can comfort whom in war? Who can care for us, we who are set loose at each other and tear at each other’s entrails with silent gleaming bayonets?

***

I buy tickets for the theater. Inside, the performance has started.

On the stage a vulgar-faced comic is prancing up and down the apron of the stage singing. Behind him about fifty girls dressed in gauzy khaki stage uniforms, who look like lewd female Tommies, dance to the tune of the music. Their breasts bob up and down as they dance and sing:

Oh, it’s a lovely war.
What do we care for eggs and ham
When we have plum and apple jam?
Quick march, right turn.
What do we do with the money we earn?
Oh, oh, oh, it’s a lovely war.

The tempo is quick, the orchestra crashes, the trombones slide, the comic pulls impossible faces.

The audience shrieks with laughter. Gladys laughs until tears roll down her face.

The chorus marches into the wings. A Union Jack comes down at the back of the stage. The audience applauds and cheers.

I feel miserable.

The fat comic – the half-undressed actresses – somehow made me think of the line. I look about me. There are very few men on leave in the theater. The place is full of smooth-faced civilians. I feel that they have no right to laugh at jokes about the war.

I hear Gladys’s voice.

“Don’t you like it, boy?”

“No, these people have no right to laugh.”

“But, silly, they are trying to forget.”

“They have no business to forget. They should me made to remember.”

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Henri Troyat: Tolstoy’s visceral detestation of war

December 1, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Henri Troyat: Selections on war

Leo Tolstoy: Selections on war

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Henri Troyat
From Tolstoi (1965)
Translated by Nancy Amphoux

TROYAT-henri

1857

At the sight of Napoleon’s tomb, he was seized with indignation…How could a people who claimed to be peace-loving, freedom-loving and reason-loving dedicate this haughty sarcophagus in red porphyry to a man who had drenched all Europe in blood? “This idealization of a malefactor is shameful,” he thought. He scowled furiously at the names of the victories carved in the walls of the crypts…He left in a rage, and the sight of two old disabled veterans sunning themselves in the courtyard merely fanned the flames of his wrath. That evening the man who had once sung hymns to the bravery of the Crimean troops – whatever their nationality – wrote of these cock-hatted and medallioned derelicts, “They are nothing but soldiers, animals trained to bite. They should be left to starve to death. As for their torn-off legs – serves them right!”

1876

While the final chapters of Anna Karenina were being published, the public was badly shaken by news of the uprising of the Serbs and Montenegrins against the Turks. Could the Czar turn a deaf ear to this, could be abandon his traditional role of protector of the faithful in the Balkans? Aroused by the journalists’ call to arms, scores of Russians volunteered to serve under General Chernayev and defend their “little Slavic brothers.” Collections for the downtrodden rebels were taken up at church doors. The officers of the guards had visions of a short military tour through the land of the miscreants, complete with distributions of the St. George Cross. Tolstoy, who was writing the Epilogue to Anna Karenina, dared to express his disapproval through the mouth of his hero Levin, who said the volunteers for the front were “misguided…hotheads,” always itching for a fight on the first pretext that came along; nothing could be more scandalous than these ladies in sable capes and trains behind their dresses going to extort money out of the peasants, when their total collection amounts to less than the price of their train”; he even proclaimed that “the good of society is dependent on scrupulous obedience to of the moral law engraved in every human heart” and that “no one, therefore, should desire or advocate war, whatever generous aim it purports to serve.”

1900

The quelling of the Philippine uprising by the United States, and the British expeditions against the Boers in the Transvaal shocked his sense of justice. “They are horrible, these wars that the English and Americans are waging in a world in which even schoolchildren condemn war!” he wrote.

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