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

January 31, 2015 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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By June, the enrollment of the Minute Men had increased to 562,000, and the force was now able to accept as new members only such trusty patriots and pugilists as it preferred. The War Department was frankly allowing them not just "expense money" but payment ranging from ten dollars a week for "inspectors" with a few hours of weekly duty in drilling, to $9700 a year for "brigadiers" on full time, and $16,000 for the High Marshal, Lee Sarason… fortunately without interfering with the salaries from his other onerous duties.

Since all members of the National Guard were not only allowed but encouraged to become members of the Minute Men also, since all veterans of the Great War were given special privileges, and since "Colonel" Osceola Luthorne, the Secretary of War, was generous about lending regular army officers to Secretary of State Sarason for use as drill masters in the M.M.'s, there was a surprising proportion of trained men for so newly born an army.

Lee Sarason had proven to President Windrip by statistics from the Great War that college education, and even the study of the horrors of other conflicts, did not weaken the masculinity of the students, but actually made them more patriotic, flag-waving, and skillful in the direction of slaughter than the average youth, and nearly every college in the country was to have, this coming autumn, its own battalion of M.M.'s, with drill counting as credit toward graduation. The collegians were to be schooled as officers. Another splendid source of M.M. officers were the gymnasiums and the classes in Business Administration of the Y.M.C.A.

Most of the rank and file, however, were young farmers delighted by the chance to go to town and to drive automobiles as fast as they wanted to; young factory employees who preferred uniforms and the authority to kick elderly citizens above overalls and stooping over machines; and rather a large number of former criminals, ex-bootleggers, ex-burglars, ex-labor racketeers, who, for their skill with guns and leather life-preservers, and for their assurances that the majesty of the Five-Pointed Star had completely reformed them, were forgiven their earlier blunders in ethics and were warmly accepted in the M.M. Storm Troops.

It was said that one of the least of these erring children was the first patriot to name President Windrip "the Chief," meaning Führer, or Imperial Wizard of the K.K.K., or Il Duce, or Imperial Potentate of the Mystic Shrine, or Commodore, or University Coach, or anything else supremely noble and good-hearted. So, on the glorious anniversary of July 4, 1937, more than five hundred thousand young uniformed vigilantes, scattered in towns from Guam to Bar Harbor, from Point Barrow to Key West, stood at parade rest and sang, like the choiring seraphim:

"Buzz and buzz and hail the Chief,
And his five-pointed sta-ar,
The U.S. ne'er can come to grief
With us prepared for wa-ar."

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

January 30, 2015 Leave a comment

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

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

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Charles Reade
From The Cloister and the Hearth (1861)

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[‘T]is a rule with us soldiers never to publish our defeats: ’tis much if after each check we claim not a victory.”

“Now that is true,” said Gerard. “Young as I am, I have seen this; that after every great battle the generals on both sides go to the nearest church, and sing each a Te Deum for the victory; methinks a Te Martem, or Te Bellonam, or Te Mercurium, Mercury being the god of lies, were more fitting.”

***

Gunpowder has spoiled war. War was always detrimental to the solid interests of mankind. But in old times it was good for something: it painted well, sang divinely, furnished Iliads. But invisible butchery, under a pall of smoke a furlong thick, who is any the better for that? Poet with his note-book may repeat, “Suavi etiam belli certamina magna tueri;” but the sentiment is hollow and savours of cuckoo. You can’t tueri anything but a horrid row. He didn’t say “Suave etiam ingentem caliginem tueri per campos instructam.”

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Richard Aldington: How can we atone for the lost millions and millions of years of life, how atone for those lakes and seas of blood?

January 29, 2015 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
From Death of a Hero (1929)

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The casualty lists went on appearing for a long time after the Armistice – last spasms of Europe’s severed arteries. Of course, nobody much bothered to read the lists. Why should they? The living must protect themselves from the dead, especially the intrusive dead.But the twentieth century had lost its Spring with a vengeance. So a good deal of forgetting had to be done.

***

The death of a hero! What mockery, what bloody cant! What sickening, putrid cant! George’s death is a symbol to me of the whole sickening bloody waste of it, the damnable stupid waste and torture of it…The Army did its bit, but how could the Army individually mourn a million “heroes”?

***

Somehow or other we have to make these dead acceptable, we have to atone for them, we have to appease them. How, I don’t quite know. I know there’s a Two Minutes’ Silence. But after all, a Two Minutes’ Silence once a year isn’t doing much – in fact, it’s doing nothing. Atonement – how can we atone? How can we atone for the lost millions and millions of years of life, how atone for those lakes and seas of blood? Something is unfulfilled, and that is poisoning us…What can we do? Headstones and wreaths and memorials and speeches and the Cenotaph – no, no; it has got to be something in us. Somehow we must atone to the dead – the dead, murdered, violently-dead soldiers. The reproach is not from them, but in ourselves. Most of us don’t know it, but it is there, and poisons us. It is the poison that makes us heartless and hopeless and lifeless – us, the war generation, and the new generation too. The whole world is blood-guilty, cursed like Orestes, and mad, and destroying itself, as if pursued by an infinite legion of Eumenides. Somehow we must atone, somehow we must free ourselves from the curse – the blood-guiltiness. We must find – where? how? – the greater Pallas who will absolve us on some Acropolis of Justice. But meanwhile the dead poison us and those who come after us.

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Franz Werfel: How describe in a few words a world war?

January 28, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Franz Werfel: Selections on war

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Franz Werfel
From Star of the Unborn (1946)
Translated by Gustave O. Arlt

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“How can I, in just a few words, give you any impression of what we experienced in World War One or Two? Shall I describe the feelings of a relatively free young man who is unceremoniously jammed into a barracks with hundreds of others in order to be drilled, that is, to be subjected to a process of hardening and brutalization that fits him to be a soldier? How could I make highly developed people like you…understand the condition of men living by day and night for months on end in trenches, dugouts, and foxholes filled with water and muck, their lives endangered day in and day out by dive bombers, mortars, heavy artillery, field artillery, tank artillery, ships’ batteries, machine guns of every kind, and God knows what else, until they pray for a severe wound just to be delivered from this horrible exposure? And worse than that, how could you gentlemen…ever get an adequate concept of what it means when a boy, maddened by rum, benzedrine, and party fanaticism, crawls out of his foxhole, gun in hand, and stumbles over muddy clods, shell holes, land-mines, and barbed wire, over black, bloated corpses stinking to high heaven, on toward the enemy, filled with a breathless, insane lust to twist his bayonet in that enemy’s guts even when he has thrown up both arms and is screaming for mercy?”

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Alexander Herzen: Middle class idyll impossible with half a million bayonets clamoring for “work”

January 27, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Russian writers on war

Alexander Herzen: Selections on the military and war

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Alexander Herzen
From My Past and Thoughts
Translated by Constance Garnett

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Yes, if the army could be reduced to the defenders of property, the bodyguard of capital, everything would quickly reach its stable final order. But there is nothing perfect in the world, and the hereditary knightly spirit keeps up the ferment and prevents life from settling down. However tempting is plunder and however natural is blood-thirstiness to men in general, the dash of a huzzar, the aggressiveness of a Suvorov, are not compatible with maturity, with quiet unruffled culture. The dislike for everything military in China is much more comprehensible in a mature people than the passion of a Nicholas for ‘braid and epaulettes and buttonholes.’

That is just the trouble. What is to be done with the great people which boasts of being a military people, which is made up of Zouaves, pioupious, and Frenchmen, who are also soldiers!

Peuple de France, peuple de braves!

It is absurd to talk about quiet nights, moonlight walks, free trade, political freedom, or freedom of any sort, while five hundred thousand bayonets, bored and idle, are clamoring for their ‘right to work.’

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C.P. Snow: Selections on war

January 26, 2015 Leave a comment
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Alfred Neumann: War and the stock market

January 25, 2015 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 time has an unquenchable desire to laugh, it wants to laugh at death and the devil, at Jupiter and at itself. What’s afoot? War? Is this New Caesar happiness going to crash to-morrow or fifty years from now? Laugh, man, laugh! The quiet, sagacious laughter of political scepticism creates the best of all possible worlds out of an undervaluation and a contempt for political destiny…

The Bourse was raising a terrific outcry, there was a slump in values, Morny was pulling strings in the stock-market, Morny who was great at pulling strings. He was pale, and mute. Rothschild, however, was voluble enough. That shrewd and wealthy financier declared that the Emperor did not understand the new France he had made. Twenty years ago, France could have made war without serious internal convulsions; for in those days hardly anyone but the bankers held securities; now all the world and his wife owned railway shares or had invested money in the three per cents. The Emperor had once said that the Empire signified peace, and that had been a true word, the only true word. He seemed to have forgotten that it would be all up with the Empire should France go to war. So said Rothschild, and all the world and his wife agreed…

The Emperor invited Rothschild to invite subscriptions for the Austrian loan. This was a war-loan, since Austria was arming as vigorously and conspicuously as Piedmont…Securities rose, Rothschild was satisfied…

There are a lot of questions to ask in such days as these, when war has come at last, closing the streets like a turnpike gate which holds up the traffic, divides people in the old evil fashion into those who stay at home and those who go to the front, and in which all the women are weeping. Why are we at war? Why, nevertheless, has there been no panic on the Stock Exchange?

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Charles Yale Harrison: War and really murdering someone

January 23, 2015 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)

“I should like to go to Whitechapel this evening,” I say.

She looks at me with surprise.

“Why?”

“I’ve heard so much about it. I want to see it.”

“It’s not nice there.”

“I know, but I want to see more of London than just its music halls, Hyde Park, and its very wonderful pubs.”

“But very low people live there, criminals and such things – you will be robbed.”

“Well, I don’t mind. I am a criminal. Did I ever tell you I committed murder?”

She looks up with a jerk. Her eyes look at me with suspicion.

“It was some time ago. I came into a place where an enemy of mine was and I stabbed him and ran off,” I explain.

Her eyes are wide open. She is horrified. She does not speak.

I laugh and relate that the murder took place in a trench and that my enemy wore a pot-shaped helmet.

Her face glows with a smile.

“You silly boy. I thought you had really murdered someone.”

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Oliver Goldsmith: War and its servile press

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Oliver Goldsmith: Selections on war

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Oliver Goldsmith
From Citizen of the World (1762)

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But, perhaps, you may find more satisfaction in a real newspaper, than in my description of one; I therefore send a specimen, which may serve to exhibit the manner of their being written, and distinguish the characters of the various nations which are united in its composition…

VIENNA. We have received certain advices that a party of twenty thousand Austrians, having attacked a much superior body of Prussians, put them all to flight, and took the rest prisoners of war.

BERLIN. We have received certain advices that a party of twenty thousand Prussians having attacked a much superior body of Austrians, put them to flight, and took a great number of prisoners, with their military chest, cannon, and baggage.

Though we have not succeeded this campaign to our wishes; yet, when we think of him who commands us, we rest in security: while we sleep, our king is watchful for our safety.

PARIS. We shall soon strike a signal blow. We have seventeen flat-bottom’d boats at Havre. The people are in excellent spirits, and our ministers make no difficulty of raising the supplies.

We are all undone; the people are discontented to the last degree; the ministers are obliged to have recourse to the most rigorous methods to raise the expenses of the war.

Our distresses are great; but Madame Pompadour continues to supply our king, who is now growing old, with a fresh lady every night. His health, thank heaven, is still pretty well; nor is he in the least unfit, as was reported, for any kind of royal exercitation. He was so frighted at the affair of Damiens, that his physicians were apprehensive lest his reason should suffer, but that wretch’s tortures soon composed the kingly terrors of his breast.

ENGLAND. Wanted an usher to an academy. N. B. He must be able to read, dress hair, and must have had the small pox.

DUBLIN. We hear that there is a benevolent subscription on foot among the nobility and gentry of this kingdom, who are great patrons of merit, in order to assist Black and All Black, in his contest with the Paddereen mare.

We hear from Germany that Prince Ferdinand has gained a complete victory, and taken twelve kettle drums, five standards, and four waggons of ammunition prisoners of war.

***

After I had crossed the great wail, the first objects that presented were the remains of desolated cities, and all the magnificence of venerable ruin. There were to be seen temples of beautiful structure, statues wrought by the hand of a master, and around a country of luxuriant plenty; but not one single inhabitant to reap the bounties of nature. These were prospects that might humble the pride of kings, and repress human vanity. I asked my guide the cause of such desolation. These countries, says he, were once the dominions of a Tartar prince; and these ruins the seat of arts, elegance, and ease. This prince waged an unsuccessful war with one of the emperors of China; he was conquered, his cities plundered, and all his subjects carried into captivity. Such are the effects of the ambition of Kings! Ten dervises, say the Indian proverb, shall sleep in peace upon a single carpet, while two kings shall quarrel though they have kingdoms to divide them. Sure, my friend, the cruelty and the pride of man have made more deserts than nature ever made! She is kind, but man is ungrateful!

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U.S. Military To Stay In Afghanistan Indefinitely

January 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Press TV
January 20, 2015

US military to stay in Afghanistan ‘indefinitely’: Activist

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The US military plans to remain in Afghanistan “indefinitely” and conduct military operations inside the country for “years to come” despite the formal ending of US combat operations, an anti-war activist in Chicago says.

“The war [in Afghanistan] is not going to end in the imminent future,” said Rick Rozoff, a member of Stop NATO International.

“Western military forces who have been in the country for over 13 years…are to be there for an indefinite period of time,” Rozoff told Press TV on Tuesday.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.

The US-led combat mission in Afghanistan ended on December 31, 2014. However, some 13,500 foreign forces, mainly from the United States, will remain in Afghanistan in what is said to be a support mission.

The US-led NATO says the forces will focus more narrowly on counterterrorism and on training Afghan soldiers and policemen.

“The effort to portray a complete withdrawal of military personnel and an end of armed hostilities in the country is largely politically driven because of the [US] presidential election next year,” Rozoff said.

“The US will continue to directly and through its Afghan national army proxies conduct military operations in that country for years to come,” he added.

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John Galsworthy: “The war! The cursed war!”

January 20, 2015 Leave a comment

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

John Galsworthy: Selections on war

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John Galsworthy
From Saint’s Progress (1919)

John Galsworthy, 1867-1933

‘The war! The cursed war!’ In the unending rows of little grey houses, in huge caravanserais, and the mansions of the great, in villas, and high slum tenements; in the government offices, and factories, and railway stations where they worked all night; in the long hospitals where they lay in rows; in the camp prisons of the interned; in bar racks, work-houses, palaces – no head, sleeping or waking, would be free of that thought: ‘The cursed war!’ A spire caught his eye, rising ghostly over the roofs. Ah! churches alone, void of the human soul, would be unconscious! But for the rest, even sleep would not free them! Here a mother would be whispering the name of her boy; there a merchant would snore and dream he was drowning, weighted with gold; and a wife would be turning to stretch out her arms to – no one; and a wounded soldier wake out of a dream trench with sweat on his brow; and a newsvendor in his garret mutter hoarsely. By thousands the bereaved would be tossing, stifling their moans; by thousands the ruined would be gazing into the dark future; and housewives struggling with sums; and soldiers sleeping like logs – for to-morrow they died; and children dreaming of them; and prostitutes lying in stale wonder at the busyness of their lives; and journalists sleeping the sleep of the just. And over them all, in the moonlight that thought ‘The cursed war!’ flapped its black wings, like an old crow! “If Christ were real,” he mused, “He’d reach that moon down, and go chalking ‘Peace’ with it on every door of every house, all over Europe. But Christ’s not real, and Hindenburg and Harmsworth are!”

***

‘What humbugs we are!’ he thought: ‘To read the newspapers and the speeches you’d believe everybody thought of nothing but how to get killed for the sake of the future. Drunk on verbiage! What heads and mouths we shall all have when we wake up some fine morning with Peace shining in at the window! Ah! If only we could; and enjoy ourselves again!’

***

“How long have you been at the Front, monsieur?”

“Two years, mademoiselle. Time to go home and paint, is it not? But art – !” he shrugged his heavy round shoulders, his whole bear-like body. “A little mad,” he muttered once more. “I will tell you a story. Once in winter after I had rested a fortnight, I go back to the trenches at night, and I want some earth to fill up a hole in the ground where I was sleeping; when one has slept in a bed one becomes particular. Well, I scratch it from my parapet, and I come to something funny. I strike my briquet, and there is a Boche’s face all frozen and earthy and dead and greeny-white in the flame from my briquet.”

“Oh, no!”

“Oh! but yes, mademoiselle; true as I sit here. Very useful in the parapet – dead Boche. Once a man like me. But in the morning I could not stand him; we dug him out and buried him, and filled the hole up with other things. But there I stood in the night, and my face as close to his as this” — and he held his thick hand a foot before his face. “We talked of our homes; he had a soul, that man. ‘Il me disait des choses‘, how he had suffered; and I, too, told him my sufferings. Dear God, we know all; we shall never know more than we know out there, we others, for we are mad – nothing to speak of, but just a little, little mad. When you see us, mademoiselle, walking the streets, remember that.” And he dropped his face on to his fists again.

***

“He said, a strange thing,” murmured Noel; “that they were all a little mad.”

“He is a man of queer genius – Barra; you should see some of his earlier pictures. Mad is not quite the word, but something is loosened, is rattling round in them, they have lost proportion, they are being forced in one direction. I tell you, mademoiselle, this war is one great forcing-house; every living plant is being made to grow too fast, each quality, each passion; hate and love, intolerance and lust and avarice, courage and energy; yes, and self-sacrifice – all are being forced and forced beyond their strength, beyond the natural flow of the sap, forced till there has come a great wild luxuriant crop, and then – Psum! Presto! The change comes, and these plants will wither and rot and stink. But we who see Life in forms of Art are the only ones who feel that; and we are so few. The natural shape of things is lost. There is a mist of blood before all eyes. Men are afraid of being fair. See how we all hate not only our enemies, but those who differ from us. Look at the streets too – see how men and women rush together, how Venus reigns in this forcing-house. Is it not natural that Youth about to die should yearn for pleasure, for love, for union, before death?”

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NATO Announces 25,000-Troop Strike Force War Games

January 16, 2015 3 comments

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

January 16, 2015

Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 Academics

Trident Juncture 2015 (TRJE15) is a high visibility exercise that will showcase NATO on the world stage. It will take place from 28 September to 06 November in multiple locations across the Alliance including Italy, Portugal and Spain. Over 25,000 troops are expected to participate.

The purpose of TRJE15 is to train and test the NATO Response Force, a high readiness and technologically advanced force comprising of land, air, maritime and special forces units capable of being deployed quickly on operations wherever needed. The exercise represents the final step in the certification process for the command and control elements of the NRF for 2016 where JFC Brunssum will be the on-call Standby Command. The exercise will also allow Allies and partners the occasion to train, deploy and exercise in a complex and distributed environment.

This week from 12 till 16 January JFC Brunssum hosted a demanding and informative training program designed to establish the conceptual baseline underpinning TRJE15 participation. Amongst other topics the complicated crisis response scenario was briefed whilst, in particular, the opportunity was taken to: discuss lessons learned from previous exercises/missions; remind of the impact of a comprehensive approach; highlight the criticality of a sound legal framework; and debate the importance of strategic communications.

In his closing remarks General Hans-Lothar Domrőse, Command JFC Brunssum and designated Commander NRF 16, emphasised the vital importance of ensuring we have well trained People implementing efficient Processes that generate high quality Products which translate into appropriate and timely actions of forces.

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NATO Rotates Interceptor Missiles In Turkey

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Hurriyet Daily News
January 16, 2015

NATO Patriot air defense missiles arrive in Turkey

US Army Patriot missile battery trains on Kadena

Naval ships carrying Patriot air defense missiles, a result of Turkey’s request for NATO assistance, arrived at the İskenderun port on Jan 9. DHA Photo

Defense missiles from Spain have arrived in the southern Turkish province of Hatay’s İskenderun port, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

Naval ships carrying Patriot air defense missiles, a result of Turkey’s request for NATO assistance, arrived at the port on Jan. 9, officials stated.

The authorities have begun to unload the missiles from the military ships.

…The batteries will be deployed at the İncirlik 10th Tanker Base Command in the southern province of Adana.

In September, Spain decided to send Patriot air defense missiles to Turkey to replace withdrawing units from the Netherlands as part of NATO assistance. The Dutch will end their participation at the end of January.

The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries in 2012 to bolster Turkish air defenseThe U.S. and German contingents will continue to remain in Turkey….

Germany’s Cabinet on Jan. 7 agreed to keep two German Patriot missile batteries in southern Turkey for another year, Reuters reported.

The mandate, which needs approval from the German Parliament, allows a maximum of 400 German soldiers to serve in NATO-member Turkey until January 2016.

The civil war in Syria is about to enter its fifth year, with unrest inside the country having started in March 2011 as an extension of the Arab Spring that kicked off in Tunisia before rapidly spreading to the whole region.

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Serbia: One Step Closer To Full NATO Membership

January 16, 2015 1 comment

Tanjug News Agency
January 16, 2015

IPAP “improves Serbia-NATO cooperation”

A SMOKE RISES OVER NOVI SAD

BRUSSELS: Jens Stoltenberg welcomed on Friday the adoption of the Individual Partnership Action Plan with Serbia, “which improves cooperation between Serbia and NATO.”

This is an important step in strengthening dialogue, understanding and cooperation, the western military alliance’s secretary-general said in a statement for the media.

Stoltenberg said he fully understood Serbia’s policy of military neutrality, stressing that NATO was working with many nautral countries on the same basis.

The IPAP, adopted by the NATO Council on Thursday, contains details on Serbia’s future activities within the Partnership for Peace programme, and Stoltenberg noted that the cooperation between the two sides was mutually beneficial.

Serbia has been a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme since 2006, he pointed out.

The IPAP was supposed to enter into force in later 2014, but its adoption by the Council was blocked by Albania for a time.

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

January 16, 2015 1 comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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

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

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Washington Irving
From Salmagundi (1807)

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The following letter of my friend Mustapha appears to have been written some time subsequent to the one already published. Were I to judge from its contents, I should suppose it was suggested by the splendid review of the twenty-fifth of last November; when a pair od colors was presented at the City Hall to the regiments of artillery, and when a huge dinner was devoured by the corporation in the honorable remembrance of the evacuation of this city. I am happy to find that the laudable spirit of military emulation which prevails in our city has attracted the attention of a stranger of Mustapha’s sagacity; by military emulation I mean that spirited rivalry in the size of a hat, the length of a feather, and the gingerbread finery of a sword belt.

***

These soldiers have no pecuniary pay; and their only recompense for the immense services they render the country in their voluntary parades is the plunder of smiles and winks, and nods which they extort from the ladies. As they have no opportunity, like the vagrant Arabs, of making inroads on their neighbors, and as it is necessary to keep up the military spirit, the town is therefore now and then, but particularly on two days of the year, given up to their ravages. The arrangements are contrived with admirable address, so that every officer, from the bashaw down to the drum-major, the chief of the eunuchs or musicians, shall have his share of the invaluable booty, the admiration of the fair. As to the soldiers, poor animals, they, like the privates in all great armies, have to bear the brunt of danger and fatigue while their officers receive all the glory and reward…

Ay, but you’ll say is not this unfair that the officers should share all the sports while the privates undergo all the fatigue? Truly, my friend, I indulged the same idea, and pitied from my heart the poor fellows who had to drabble through the mud and the mire, toiling under cocked hats, which seemed as unwieldy and cumbrous as the shell which the snail lumbers along on his back. I soon found out, however, that they have their quantum of notoriety. As soon as the army is dismissed, the city swarms with little scouting parties, who fire off their guns at every corner, to the great delight of all the women and children in their vicinity; and woe unto any dog, or pig, or hog, that falls in the way of these magnanimous warriors; they are shown no quarter. Every gentle swain repairs to pass the evening at the feet of his dulcinea, to play “the soldier tired of war’s alarms,” and to captivate her with the glare of his regimentals; excepting some ambitious heroes who strut to the theater, flame away in the front boxes, and hector every old apple-woman in the lobbies.

***

The people of the United States have assured me that they themselves are the most enlightened nation under the sun; but thou knowest that the barbarians of the desert, who assemble at the summer solstice to shoot their arrows at that glorious luminary, in order to extinguish his burning rays, make precisely the same boast – which of them has the superior claim I shall not attempt to decide.

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Ambrose Bierce: The Coup de Grâce

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Ambrose Bierce: Selections on war

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Ambrose Bierce
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
The Coup de Grâce (1889)

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The fighting had been hard and continuous; that was attested by all the senses. The very taste of battle was in the air. All was now over; it remained only to succor the wounded and bury the dead – to “tidy up a bit,” as the humorist of a burial squad put it. A good deal of “tidying up” was required. As far as one could see through the forests, among the splintered trees, lay wrecks of men and horses. Among them moved the stretcher-bearers, gathering and carrying away the few who showed signs of life. Most of the wounded had died of neglect while the right to minister to their wants was in dispute. It is an army regulation that the wounded must wait; the best way to care for them is to win the battle. It must be confessed that victory is a distinct advantage to a man requiring attention, but many do not live to avail themselves of it.

The dead were collected in groups of a dozen or a score and laid side by side in rows while the trenches were dug to receive them. Some, found at too great a distance from these rallying points, were buried where they lay. There was little attempt at identification, though in most cases, the burial parties being detailed to glean the same ground which they had assisted to reap, the names of the victorious dead were known and listed. The enemy’s fallen had to be content with counting. But of that they got enough: many of them were counted several times, and the total, as given afterward in the official report of the victorious commander, denoted rather a hope than a result.

At some little distance from the spot where one of the burial parties had established its “bivouac of the dead,” a man in the uniform of a Federal officer stood leaning against a tree. From his feet upward to his neck his attitude was that of weariness reposing; but he turned his head uneasily from side to side; his mind was apparently not at rest. He was perhaps uncertain in which direction to go; he was not likely to remain long where he was, for already the level rays of the setting sun straggled redly through the open spaces of the wood and the weary soldiers were quitting their task for the day. He would hardly make a night of it alone there among the dead. Nine men in ten whom you meet after a battle inquire the way to some fraction of the army – as if any one could know. Doubtless this officer was lost. After resting himself a moment he would presumably follow one of the retiring burial squads.

When all were gone he walked straight away into the forest toward the red west, its light staining his face like blood. The air of confidence with which he now strode along showed that he was on familiar ground; he had recovered his bearings. The dead on his right and on his left were unregarded as he passed. An occasional low moan from some sorely-stricken wretch whom the relief-parties had not reached, and who would have to pass a comfortless night beneath the stars with his thirst to keep him company, was equally unheeded. What, indeed, could the officer have done, being no surgeon and having no water?

At the head of a shallow ravine, a mere depression of the ground, lay a small group of bodies. He saw, and swerving suddenly from his course walked rapidly toward them. Scanning each one sharply as he passed, he stopped at last above one which lay at a slight remove from the others, near a clump of small trees. He looked at it narrowly. It seemed to stir. He stooped and laid his hand upon its face. It screamed.

The officer was Captain Downing Madwell, of a Massachusetts regiment of infantry, a daring and intelligent soldier, an honorable man.

In the regiment were two brothers named Halcrow – Caffal and Creede Halcrow. Caffal Halcrow was a sergeant in Captain Madwell’s company, and these two men, the sergeant and the captain, were devoted friends. In so far as disparity of rank, difference in duties and considerations of military discipline would permit they were commonly together. They had, indeed, grown up together from childhood. A habit of the heart is not easily broken off. Caffal Halcrow had nothing military in his taste nor disposition, but the thought of separation from his friend was disagreeable; he enlisted in the company in which Madwell was second-lieutenant. Each had taken two steps upward in rank, but between the highest non-commissioned and the lowest commissioned officer the gulf is deep and wide and the old relation was maintained with difficulty and a difference.

Creede Halcrow, the brother of Caffal, was the major of the regiment – a cynical, saturnine man, between whom and Captain Madwell there was a natural antipathy which circumstances had nourished and strengthened to an active animosity. But for the restraining influence of their mutual relation to Caffal these two patriots would doubtless have endeavored to deprive their country of each other’s services.

At the opening of the battle that morning the regiment was performing outpost duty a mile away from the main army. It was attacked and nearly surrounded in the forest, but stubbornly held its ground. During a lull in the fighting, Major Halcrow came to Captain Madwell. The two exchanged formal salutes, and the major said: “Captain, the colonel directs that you push your company to the head of this ravine and hold your place there until recalled. I need hardly apprise you of the dangerous character of the movement, but if you wish, you can, I suppose, turn over the command to your first-lieutenant. I was not, however, directed to authorize the substitution; it is merely a suggestion of my own, unofficially made.”

To this deadly insult Captain Madwell coolly replied:

“Sir, I invite you to accompany the movement. A mounted officer would be a conspicuous mark, and I have long held the opinion that it would be better if you were dead.”

The art of repartee was cultivated in military circles as early as 1862.

A half-hour later Captain Madwell’s company was driven from its position at the head of the ravine, with a loss of one-third its number. Among the fallen was Sergeant Halcrow. The regiment was soon afterward forced back to the main line, and at the close of the battle was miles away. The captain was now standing at the side of his subordinate and friend.

Sergeant Halcrow was mortally hurt. His clothing was deranged; it seemed to have been violently torn apart, exposing the abdomen. Some of the buttons of his jacket had been pulled off and lay on the ground beside him and fragments of his other garments were strewn about. His leather belt was parted and had apparently been dragged from beneath him as he lay. There had been no great effusion of blood. The only visible wound was a wide, ragged opening in the abdomen. It was defiled with earth and dead leaves. Protruding from it was a loop of small intestine. In all his experience Captain Madwell had not seen a wound like this. He could neither conjecture how it was made nor explain the attendant circumstances – the strangely torn clothing, the parted belt, the besmirching of the white skin. He knelt and made a closer examination. When he rose to his feet, he turned his eyes in different directions as if looking for an enemy. Fifty yards away, on the crest of a low, thinly wooded hill, he saw several dark objects moving about among the fallen men – a herd of swine. One stood with its back to him, its shoulders sharply elevated. Its forefeet were upon a human body, its head was depressed and invisible. The bristly ridge of its chine showed black against the red west. Captain Madwell drew away his eyes and fixed them again upon the thing which had been his friend.

The man who had suffered these monstrous mutilations was alive. At intervals he moved his limbs; he moaned at every breath. He stared blankly into the face of his friend and if touched screamed. In his giant agony he had torn up the ground on which he lay; his clenched hands were full of leaves and twigs and earth. Articulate speech was beyond his power; it was impossible to know if he were sensible to anything but pain. The expression of his face was an appeal; his eyes were full of prayer. For what?

There was no misreading that look; the captain had too frequently seen it in eyes of those whose lips had still the power to formulate it by an entreaty for death. Consciously or unconsciously, this writhing fragment of humanity, this type and example of acute sensation, this handiwork of man and beast, this humble, unheroic Prometheus, was imploring everything, all, the whole non-ego, for the boon of oblivion. To the earth and the sky alike, to the trees, to the man, to whatever took form in sense or consciousness, this incarnate suffering addressed that silent plea.

For what, indeed? For that which we accord to even the meanest creature without sense to demand it, denying it only to the wretched of our own race: for the blessed release, the rite of uttermost compassion, the coup de grâce.

Captain Madwell spoke the name of his friend. He repeated it over and over without effect until emotion choked his utterance. His tears plashed upon the livid face beneath his own and blinded himself. He saw nothing but a blurred and moving object, but the moans were more distinct than ever, interrupted at briefer intervals by sharper shrieks. He turned away, struck his hand upon his forehead, and strode from the spot. The swine, catching sight of him, threw up their crimson muzzles, regarding him suspiciously a second, and then with a gruff, concerted grunt, raced away out of sight. A horse, its foreleg splintered by a cannon-shot, lifted its head sidewise from the ground and neighed piteously. Madwell stepped forward, drew his revolver and shot the poor beast between the eyes, narrowly observing its death-struggle, which, contrary to his expectation, was violent and long; but at last it lay still. The tense muscles of its lips, which had uncovered the teeth in a horrible grin, relaxed; the sharp, clean-cut profile took on a look of profound peace and rest.

Along the distant, thinly wooded crest to westward the fringe of sunset fire had now nearly burned itself out. The light upon the trunks of the trees had faded to a tender gray; shadows were in their tops, like great dark birds aperch. Night was coming and there were miles of haunted forest between Captain Madwell and camp. Yet he stood there at the side of the dead animal, apparently lost to all sense of his surroundings. His eyes were bent upon the earth at his feet; his left hand hung loosely at his side, his right still held the pistol. Presently he lifted his face, turned it toward his dying friend and walked rapidly back to his side. He knelt upon one knee, cocked the weapon, placed the muzzle against the man’s forehead, and turning away his eyes pulled the trigger. There was no report. He had used his last cartridge for the horse.

The sufferer moaned and his lips moved convulsively. The froth that ran from them had a tinge of blood.

Captain Madwell rose to his feet and drew his sword from the scabbard. He passed the fingers of his left hand along the edge from hilt to point. He held it out straight before him, as if to test his nerves. There was no visible tremor of the blade; the ray of bleak skylight that it reflected was steady and true. He stooped and with his left hand tore away the dying man’s shirt, rose and placed the point of the sword just over the heart. This time he did not withdraw his eyes. Grasping the hilt with both hands, he thrust downward with all his strength and weight. The blade sank into the man’s body – through his body into the earth; Captain Madwell came near falling forward upon his work. The dying man drew up his knees and at the same time threw his right arm across his breast and grasped the steel so tightly that the knuckles of the hand visibly whitened. By a violent but vain effort to withdraw the blade the wound was enlarged; a rill of blood escaped, running sinuously down into the deranged clothing. At that moment three men stepped silently forward from behind the clump of young trees which had concealed their approach. Two were hospital attendants and carried a stretcher.

The third was Major Creede Halcrow.

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Grant Allen: War and blood money

January 14, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Grant Allen: I cannot continute to making peaceable Canadian citizens throw themselves into the devouring whirlpool of militarism

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Grant Allen
From Philistia (1884) 

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‘But, Mr. Le Breton,’ Edie said, turning towards the path and drying her eyes quickly, ‘I really don’t think you ought to marry me. The difference in station is so great – even Harry would allow the difference in station. Your father was a great man, and a general and a knight, you know; and though my dear father is the best and kindest of men, he isn’t anything of that sort, of course.’

A slight shade of pain passed across Ernest’s face. ‘Edie,’ he said, ‘please don’t talk about that – please don’t. My father was a just and good man, whom I loved and honoured deeply; if there’s anything good in any of us boys, it comes to us from my dear father. But please don’t speak to me about his profession. It’s one of the griefs and troubles of my life. He was a soldier, and an Indian soldier too; and if there’s anything more certain to me than the principle that all fighting is very wrong and indefensible, it’s the principle that our rule in India is utterly unjust and wicked. So instead of being proud of my father’s profession, much as I respected him, I’m profoundly ashamed of it; and it has been a great question to me always how far I was justified at all in living upon the pension given me for his Indian services.’

***

‘Sit down, Le Breton,’ Mr. Lancaster said slowly when Ernest entered. ‘The matter I want to see you about’s a very peculiar one. I understand from some of my friends that you’re a son of Sir Owen Le Breton, the Indian general.’

‘Yes, I am,’ Ernest answered, wondering within himself to what end this curious preamble could possibly be leading up. If there’s any one profession, he thought, which is absolutely free from the slightest genealogical interest in the persons of its professors, surely that particular calling ought to be the profession of journalism.

‘Well, so I hear, Le Breton. Now, I believe I’m right in saying, am I not, that it was your father who first subdued and organised a certain refractory hill-tribe on the Tibetan frontier, known as the Bodahls, wasn’t it?’

***

It was a terrible memorable night, that awful Tuesday; the coldest night known for many years in any English winter. Snow lay deep upon the ground, and a few flakes were falling still from the cloudy sky, for it was in the second week of January. The wind was drifting it in gusty eddies down the long streets, and driving the drifts before it like whirling dust in an August storm. Not a cab was to be seen anywhere, not even a stray hansom crawling home from clubs or theatres; and Ernest set out with a rueful countenance to walk as best he might alone through the snow all the way to Holloway. It is a long and dreary trudge at any time; it seemed very long and dreary indeed to Ernest Le Breton, with his delicate frame and weak chest, battling against the fierce wind on a dark and snowy winter’s night, and with the fever of a great anxiety and a great remorse silently torturing his distracted bosom. At each step he took through the snow, he almost fancied himself a hunted Bodahl. Would British soldiers drive those poor savage women and children to die so of cold and hunger on their snowy hilltops? Would English fathers and mothers, at home at their ease, applaud the act with careless thoughtlessness as a piece of our famous spirited foreign policy? And would his own article, written with his own poor thin cold fingers in that day’s ‘Morning Intelligence,’ help to spur them on upon that wicked and unnecessary war? What right had we to conquer the Bodahls? What right had we to hold them in subjection or to punish them for revolting? And above all, what right had he, Ernest Le Breton, upon whose head the hereditary guilt of the first conquest ought properly to have weighed with such personal heaviness – what right had he, of all men, directly or indirectly, to aid or abet the English people in their immoral and inhuman resolve? Oh, God, his sin was worse than theirs; for they sinned, thinking they did justly; but as for him, he sinned against the light; he knew the better, and, bribed by gold, he did the worse. At that moment, the little slip of printed paper in his waistcoat pocket seemed to burn through all the frosts of that awful evening like a chain of molten steel into his very marrow…

The first sentence once more told him the worst. There was no doubt at all about it. The three guineas in his pocket were the price of blood!

‘The insult to British prestige in the East,’ ran that terrible opening paragraph, ‘implied in the brief telegram which we publish this morning from our own Correspondent at Simla, calls for a speedy and a severe retribution. It must be washed out in blood.’ Blood, blood, blood! The letters swam before his eyes. It was this, then, that he, the disciple of peace-loving Max Schurz, the hater of war and conquest, the foe of unjust British domination over inferior races – it was this that he had helped to make plausible with his special knowledge and his ready pen! Oh, heaven, what reparation could he make for this horrid crime he had knowingly and wilfully committed? What could he do to avoid the guilt of those poor savages’ blood upon his devoted head? In one moment he thought out a hundred scenes of massacre and pillage – scenes such as he knew only too well always precede and accompany the blessings of British rule in distant dependencies. The temptation had been strong – the money had been sorely wanted – there was very little food in the house; but how could he ever have yielded to such a depth of premeditated wickedness! He folded the piece of paper into his pocket once more, and buried his face in his hands for a whole minute…

‘It was a terrible temptation, darling,’ she said softly: ‘a terrible temptation, indeed, and I don’t wonder you gave way to it; but we mustn’t touch the three guineas. As you say rightly, it’s blood-money.’

Ernest drew the cheque slowly from his pocket, and held it hesitatingly a moment in his hand. Edie looked at him curiously.

‘What are you going to do with it, darling?’ she asked in a low voice, as he gazed vacantly at the last dying embers in the little smouldering fireplace.

‘Nothing, Edie dearest,’ Ernest answered huskily, folding it up and putting it away in the drawer by the window. They neither of them dared to look the other in the face, but they bad not the heart to burn it boldly. It was blood-money, to be sure; but three guineas are really so very useful!

Four days later, little Dot was taken with a sudden illness. Ernest and Edie sat watching by her little cradle throughout the night, and saw with heavy hearts that she was rapidly growing feebler. Poor wee soul, they had nothing to keep her for: it would be better, perhaps, if she were gone; and yet, the human heart cannot be stifled by such calm deliverances of practical reason; it WILL let its hot emotions overcome the cold calculations of better and worse supplied it by the unbiassed intellect.

All night long they sat there tearfully, fearing she would not live till morning; and in the early dawn they sent round hastily for a neighbouring doctor. They had no money to pay him with, to be sure; but that didn’t much matter; they could leave it over for the present, and perhaps some day before long Ernest might write another social, and earn an honest three guineas. Anyhow, it was a question of life and death, and they could not help sending for the doctor, whatever difficulty they might afterwards find in paying him.

The doctor came, and looked with the usual professional seriousness at the baby patient. Did they feed her entirely on London milk? he asked doubtfully. Yes, entirely. Ah! then that was the sole root of the entire mischief. She was very dangerously ill, no doubt, and he didn’t know whether he could pull her through anyhow; but if anything would do it, it was a change to goat’s milk. There was a man who sold goat’s milk round the corner. He would show Ernest where to find him.

Ernest looked doubtfully at Edie, and Edie looked back again at Ernest. One thought rose at once in both their minds. They had no money to pay for it with, except – except that dreadful cheque. For four days it had lain, burning a hole in Ernest’s heart from its drawer by the window, and he had not dared to change it. Now he rose without saying a word, and opened the drawer in a solemn, hesitating fashion. He looked once more at Edie inquiringly; Edie nodded a faint approval. Ernest, pale as death, put on his hat, and went out totteringly with the doctor. He stopped on the way to change the cheque at the baker’s where they usually dealt, and then went on to the goat’s milk shop. How that sovereign he flung upon the counter seemed to ring the knell of his seif-respect! The man who changed it noticed the strangeness of Ernest’s look, and knew at once he had not come by the money honestly. He rang it twice to make sure it was good, and then gave the change to Ernest. But Dot, at least, was saved; that was a great thing. The milk arrived duly every morning for some weeks, and, after a severe struggle, Dot grew gradually better. While the danger lasted, neither of them dared think much of the cheque; but when Dot had got quite well again, Ernest was concious of a certain unwonted awkwardness of manner in talking to Edie. He knew perfectly well what it meant; they were both accomplices in crime together.

When Ernest wrote his ‘social’ after Max Schurz’s affair, he felt he had already touched the lowest depths of degradation. He knew now that he had touched a still lower one. Oh! horrible abyss of self-abasement! – he had taken the blood-money. And yet, it was to save Dot’s life! Herbert was right, after all: quite right. Yes, yes, all hope was gone: the environment had finally triumphed.

In the awful self-reproach of that deadly remorse for the acceptance of the blood-money, Ernest Le Breton felt at last in his heart that surely the bitterness of death was past. It would be better for them all to die together than to live on through such a life of shame and misery. Ah, Peter, Peter, you are not the only one that has denied his Lord and Master!

***

Their own petty round of selfish pleasures from week’s end to week’s end – no thought of anybody else, no thought of the world at large, no thought even of any higher interest in their own personalities. Their politics are just a selfish calculation of their own prospects – land, Church, capital, privilege. Their religion (when they have any) is just a selfish regard for their own personal future welfare. From the time I went to Dunbude to this day, I’ve never heard a single word about any higher thought of any sort – I don’t mean only about the troubles or the aspirations of other people, but even about books, about science, about art, about natural beauty. They live in a world of amusing oneself and of amusing oneself in vulgar fashions – as a born clown would do if he came suddenly into a large fortune. The women are just as bad as the men, only in a different way – not always even that; for most of them think only of the Four-in-hand Club and the pigeon-shooting at Hurlingham – things to sicken one. Now, I’ve known selfish people before, but not selfish people utterly without any tincture of culture.

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Audio: Panel on worsening U.S.-Russia relations

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Audio:

A-Infos Radio Project

United States, Ukraine and Russia: What Happened?
January 10, 2015

Subtitle: Peril Of War In Ukraine
Program Type: Action/Event
Featured Speakers/Commentators: Dr. John Mearsheimer, Rick Rozoff
Contributor: Dale Lehman/WZRD [Contact Contributor]
Broadcast Restrictions: For non-profit use only.
License: Public Domain
Broadcast Advisory: No Advisories – program content screened and verified.
Summary: Program on the events that have undermined relations between the Russians and the United States. What might be the out come? What is at stake? Who is the aggressor?

Professor Mearsheimer will address the causes of the crisis and how it has poisoned relations between the United States and Russia to the detriment of both countries and disaster for the Ukraine.

Mr. Rozoff will speak on the transformation of NATO from a defensive alliance into a component of U.S. Foreign Policy, intent on neutralizing Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

Q&A provides additional historical perspective and analysis.
Credits: Evanston Neighbors for Peace
Evanston Public Library
Notes: Dr. John J. Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago

http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/Getting%20Ukraine%20Wrong.pdf

Rick Rozoff, anti-war activist and manager of the STOP NATO website.

https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/

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

January 13, 2015 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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Albert Maltz
From The Cross and the Arrow (1944)

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The last thing she remembered was the factory siren screaming “Blackout,” announcing that British planes were on their way. She said to herself bitterly: “It’s men who make wars, not us. It’s men who like politics and killing each other. How easy it is for them to die and leave us alone, the swine!”

***

“You have a family, I suppose?”

“No,” he said. He stopped playing, and a sense of aching dejection filled his heart. His blues eyes went blank; his face took on the dead look she had already marked. In a flat, unemotional tone, as though he were reciting something he had repeated many times before – or as though it were an old tale that no longer interested him – he said: “I had a boy and a wife, Frau Lingg. My boy died in the attack on Narvik. My wife was killed in a bombing. Now I’m alone.” He sat silent, stony, resenting her for the inevitable question, as he has resented all of the inquisitive ones before her.

***

A groan burst from his lips. “I can’t stand to think of my wife. I see her lying on the ground with her face all cut up, and her arms cut off, and her body looking like some butcher had dug his knives into her…If there was a funeral, maybe, if I cried like a man should cry…But ten times a day I bury her – and she’s still there, all cut up on the ground.”

***

Willi suddenly said, “Think of it – ten thousand dead today. That’s what the war means.”

She was astonished. “What?”

“Just think of it, Berthe. That’s what this war means. Today ten thousand men died in this world. Twice as many, perhaps.”

***

“…’Today, in one day, how many men died? Women, too, probably, and children.’ I remember how it was in the trenches in 1918. I’d look at the moon and I’d think, ‘The same moon is shining over peaceful, sleeping towns. How is it possible?’ That’s what I started to think now.”

Why was there war at all? Willi would ask. Who was responsible? Was it the same gang in this war as in the last – the munitions makers, as Karl always said? And when would peace come?

***

Others could speak glibly of conquering the world – but he remembered 1918 in his marrow. Their talk meant only one thing to him: More months of war, more starvation – the whole bloody mess repeated. And for what? It was this he had begun to ask himself…

***

“Men make wars, but why? It isn’t the miserable German peasant, dying in Russia for deluded patriotism, who covets oil and grain. And even if he does, he has been twice deluded, but to the profit of those who used him in the first place. Don’t you see that, Zoder? Who taught our children the glories of war? Who needed pawns? You’re a scientist. When a man comes with a running sore, he’s ugly, but you seek the germ. The manipulators, Zoder! Who has been seeking empire – you, me, Wegler? Oh, God in Heaven, see it! When children are hungry, their father steals! When a people like ours has been warped by hunger, then deceived, then puffed with vanity, they can be made rapacious. This is the living method of evil, Zoder, and its sources can be touched; they are real, they have a history and an origin.”

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Panelists Warn Against Peril Of War In Ukraine

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Daily Northwestern
January 11, 2015

Panelists offer closer look at Ukraine crisis in talk at Evanston library
Alice Yin/Daily Senior Staffer

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Two scholars warned against the peril of the war in Ukraine during a talk Saturday at the Evanston Public Library.

John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Rick Rozoff, manager of the Stop NATO website, met at EPL, 1703 Orrington Ave., for the event. Neighbors for Peace, an Evanston-based community organization aiming to promote peace throughout the world, hosted the talk, which drew about 40 people. The event featured a speech from both guests and a question-and-answer session from the audience.

The two speakers spoke on the civil unrest in Ukraine. The crisis began in late 2013, amid movement to integrate Ukraine with NATO and the European Union. The removal of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president and Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region sparked further tension in the country — and between the West and Russia.

Discussing the dwindling United States-Russia relationship and the expansion of NATO, the speakers encouraged taking a more critical view of the West’s role in the crisis.

“We continue to encourage (Ukraine) to become part of the West … while doing nothing to help the Ukrainians,” Mearsheimer said. “This is highly irresponsible.”

Mearsheimer, who wrote an article on the Ukrainian crisis published in the magazine Foreign Affairs last fall, said although Putin is not innocent, he is misunderstood. His involvement in Ukraine is a reaction to an increased Western presence near Russian borders, Mearsheimer said.

“Putin is not bent on conquering Ukraine,” Mearsheimer said at the talk. “He is wrecking Ukraine and destroying it as a functioning society. We have two choices: the West backs off or (Russia continues) to try to make Ukraine part of the West by wrecking the country.”

Dale Lehman, a member of Neighbors for Peace, said he felt the event was important to the organization’s mission of establishing peace in the international community. He said both speakers provided insight that the media and general public have not.

“Mearsheimer is a very prominent professor and knowledgeable about U.S. foreign policy,” Lehman said. “We were lucky to get him. Rozoff has all kinds of credentials as an independent researcher who’s followed changes in NATO — things that slip through media without context.”

Rozoff spoke on NATO’s growing threat as a military bloc, especially with talks in recent years to align the organization with Ukraine. The panelist underlined the danger in NATO’s failed promises to stop its expansion.

“Almost half of the countries in the world attended NATO’s last summit in Wales,” Rozoff told The Daily. “In 1991 if anyone had suggested this, they would be accused of being crazy.”

Libby Frank, a Chicago resident who attended the event, said both speakers helped her understand the different actions of the United States and Russia that led to the crisis.

“I don’t feel like I’m getting a real, true picture out of mainstream media so that’s why I came and that was the main takeaway,” Frank said. “This is very serious, and (the United States) had an unfortunately negative role.”

Rozoff said he was glad to come to Evanston and speak on the situation, which could become very “grave and dramatic,” as two nuclear superpowers are involved.

“Either NATO blinks or Russia blinks,” Rozoff said. “Or we may be heading into a warning about nuclear war.”

Email: aliceyin2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @alice__yin

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Tobias Smollett: War contractors fattened on the blood of the nation

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Tobias Smollett
From The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771)

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All these absurdities arise from the general tide of luxury, which hath overspread the nation, and swept away all, even the very dregs of the people. Every upstart of fortune, harnessed in the trappings of the mode, presents itself at Bath, as in the very focus of observation. – Clerks and factors from the East Indies, loaded with the spoil of plundered provinces; planters, negro-drivers, and hucksters, from our American plantations, enriched they know not how; agents, commissaries, and contractors, who have fattened, in two successive wars, on the blood of the nation; usurers, brokers, and jobbers of every kind; men of low birth, and no breeding, have found themselves suddenly translated into a state of affluence, unknown to former ages; and no wonder that their brains should be intoxicated with pride, vanity, and presumption. Knowing no criterion of greatness, but the ostentation of wealth, they discharge their affluence without taste or conduct, through every channel of the most absurd extravagance…

Categories: Uncategorized

James Boswell: Who profits by war?

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

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

James Boswell: On War

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James Boswell
From London Journal (1762)

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PHYSICIAN: Lord, Sir! We could not raise men for another campaign. Consider how the country has been drained. Ay, ay, it is easy for a merchant in London to sit by his warm fire and talk of our army abroad. They imagine we have got a hundred thousand stout soldiers ready to march up against the enemy. Little do they know what the severities they have suffered produce. Indeed we have a very thin army. And those that remain, what are they? Why, like Falstaff’s scarecrows. No, no, no more war! Let us not sink ourselves so many millions more in debt, and let our contractors, like Dundas, bring home a couple of hundred thousand pounds. We are now making a very good peace; let us be content.

***

I consider mankind in general, and therefore can not take a part in their quarrels when divided into states and nations. I can see that after a war is over and a great quantity of cold and hunger and want of sleep and torment endured by mortals, things are upon the whole just as they were.

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William Dean Howells: Selections on war

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment
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Robert Graves: War should be a sport for men above forty-five only

January 9, 2015 Leave a comment

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

Robert Graves: Selections on war

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

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We were both wondering whether the War should be allowed to continue. It was said that, in the autumn of 1916, Asquith had been offered peace terms on the basis of status quo ante, which he was willing to consider; but that his colleagues’ opposition had brought about the fall of the Liberal Government and its supersession by the ‘Win-the-War’ Coalition Government of Lloyd George. Siegfried [Sassoon] vehemently asserted that the terms should have been accepted; I agreed. We could no longer see the War as one between trade-rivals: its continuance seemed merely a sacrifice of the idealistic younger generation to the stupidity and self-protective alarm of the elder. I made facetious note about this time:

War should be a sport for men above forty-five only, the Jesse’s, not the David’s. ‘Well, dear father, how proud I am of your serving your country as a very gallant gentleman prepared to make even the supreme sacrifice. I only wish I were your age: how willingly would I buckle on my armour and fight those unspeakable Philistines! As it is, of course, I can’t be spared; I have to stay behind at the War Office and administrate for you lucky old men. What sacrifices I have made!’ David would sigh, when the old boys had gone off with a draft to the front, singing Tipperary: ‘There’s father and my Uncle Salmon, and both my grandfathers, all on active service. I must put a card in the window about it.’

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US, Ukraine and Russia: What Happened?

January 8, 2015 2 comments

US, Ukraine and Russia: What Happened?

Saturday January 10th, 3:00 pm
Community Meeting Room, Evanston Public Library
1703 Orrington Avenue
Evanston, Illinois
Phone: 847) 448-8620

Dr. John J. Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director
of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago; and Rick Rozoff,
anti-war activist and manager of the STOP NATO website will speak on the current crisis in the
Ukraine. Professor Mearsheimer will address the causes of the crisis and how it has poisoned
relations between the United States and Russia to the detriment of both countries and disaster
for the Ukraine. Mr. Rozoff will speak on the transformation of NATO from a defensive alliance into
a component of U.S. foreign policy intent on neutralizing Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

Program co-sponsored by Evanston Neighbors for Peace.

For more information, call (847) 448-8620.

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

January 7, 2015 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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

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Frank Stockton
From The Great War Syndicate (1889)

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No time was lost by the respective Governments of Great Britain and the United States in ratifying the
peace made through the Syndicate, and in concluding a military and naval alliance, the basis of which should be the use by these two nations…

The desire to evolve that power which should render opposition useless had long led men from one warlike invention to another. Every one who had constructed a new kind of gun, a new kind of armour, or a new explosive, thought that he had solved the problem, or was on his way to do so…

The treaty provided that all subjects concerning hostilities between either or both of the contracting powers and other nations should be referred to a Joint High Commission, appointed by the two powers; and if war should be considered necessary, it should be prosecuted and conducted by the Anglo-American War Syndicate…

Throughout all classes in sympathy with the Administrative parties of Great Britain and the United
States there was a feeling of jubilant elation on account of the alliance and the adoption by the two
nations of the means of prohibitive warfare. This public sentiment acted even upon the opposition; and the majority of army and navy officers in the two countries felt bound to admit that the arts of war in which they had been educated were things of the past…

Hereafter, if battles must be fought, they would be battles of annihilation.

This is the history of the Great Syndicate War. Whether or not the Anglo-American Syndicate was ever called upon to make war, it is not to be stated here. But certain it is that after the formation of this Syndicate all the nations of the world began to teach English in their schools…

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H.G. Wells: The young are the food of war

January 6, 2015 Leave a comment

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

H.G. Wells: Selections on war

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H.G. Wells
From Mr. Britling Sees It Through (1916)

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But what he perceived very clearly and did his utmost not to perceive was this qualifying and discouraging fact, that the war monster was not nearly so disposed to meet him as he was to meet the war, and that its eyes were fixed on something beside and behind him, that it was already only too evidently stretching out a long and shadowy arm past him towards Teddy – and towards Hugh….

The young are the food of war…

***

Was there no Greater Peace possible; not a mere recuperative pause in killing and destruction, but a phase of noble and creative living, a phase of building, of discovery, of beauty and research? He remembered, as one remembers the dead, dreams he had once dreamt of the great cities, the splendid freedoms, of a coming age, of marvellous enlargements of human faculty, of a coming science that would be light and of art that could be power….

But would that former peace have ever risen to that?…

After all, had such visions ever been more than idle dreams? Had the war done more than unmask reality?…

He came to a gate and leant over it.

The darkness drizzled about him; he turned up his collar and watched the dim shapes of trees and hedges gather out of the night to meet the dismal dawn. He was cold and hungry and weary.

He may have drowsed; at least he had a vision, very real and plain, a vision very different from any dream of Utopia.

It seemed to him that suddenly a mine burst under a great ship at sea, that men shouted and women sobbed and cowered, and flares played upon the rain-pitted black waves; and then the picture changed and showed a battle upon land, and searchlights were flickering through the rain and shells flashed luridly, and men darkly seen in silhouette against red flames ran with fixed bayonets and slipped and floundered over the mud, and at last, shouting thinly through the wind, leapt down into the enemy trenches….

And then he was alone again staring over a wet black field towards a dim crest of shapeless trees.

***

For the first time it seemed to Mr. Britling he really saw the immediate horror of war, the dense cruel stupidity of the business, plain and close. It was as if he had never perceived anything of the sort before, as if he had been dealing with stories, pictures, shows and representations that he knew to be shams. But that this dear, absurd old creature, this thing of home, this being of familiar humours and familiar irritations, should be torn to pieces, left in torment like a smashed mouse over which an automobile has passed, brought the whole business to a raw and quivering focus. Not a soul among all those who had been rent and torn and tortured in this agony of millions, but was to any one who understood and had been near to it, in some way lovable, in some way laughable, in some way worthy of respect and care. Poor Aunt Wilshire was but the sample thrust in his face of all this mangled multitude, whose green-white lips had sweated in anguish, whose broken bones had thrust raggedly through red dripping flesh…

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Sinclair Lewis: Other Unavoidable Wars to End All Wars

January 5, 2015 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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“We can go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin! It would just take a few thousand big shells and gas bombs to wipe out all the eager young men, and all the libraries and historical archives and patent offices, all the laboratories and art galleries, all the castles and Periclean temples and Gothic cathedrals, all the cooperative stores and motor factories – every storehouse of learning. No inherent reason why Sissy’s grandchildren – if anybody’s grandchildren will survive at all – shouldn’t be living in caves and heaving rocks at catamounts.

***

In this acid mood Doremus doubted the efficacy of all revolutions; dared even a little to doubt our two American revolutions – against England in 1776, and the Civil War.

For a New England editor to contemplate even the smallest criticism of these wars was what it would have been for a Southern Baptist fundamentalist preacher to question Immortality, the Inspiration of the Bible, and the ethical value of shouting Hallelujah. Yet had it, Doremus queried nervously, been necessary to have four years of inconceivably murderous Civil War, followed by twenty years of commercial oppression of the South, in order to preserve the Union, free the slaves, and establish the equality of Industry with Agriculture?…

A generation and a half (Doremus meditated) of the sturdiest and most gallant killed or crippled in the Civil War or, perhaps worst of all, becoming garrulous professional heroes and satellites of the politicians who in return for their solid vote made all lazy jobs safe for the G.A.R. The most valorous, it was they who suffered the most, for while the John D. Rockefellers, the J. P. Morgans, the Vanderbilts, Astors, Goulds, and all their nimble financial comrades of the South, did not enlist, but stayed in the warm, dry counting-house, drawing the fortune of the country into their webs, it was Jeb Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Nathaniel Lyon, Pat Cleburne, and the knightly James B. McPherson who were killed…and with them Abraham Lincoln.

So, with the hundreds of thousands who should have been the progenitors of new American generations drained away, we could show the world, which from 1780 to 1860 had so admired men like Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, the Adamses, Webster, only such salvages as McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, William Jennings Bryan, Harding…

Slavery had been a cancer, and in that day was known no remedy save bloody cutting. There had been no X-rays of wisdom and tolerance. Yet to sentimentalize this cutting, to justify and rejoice in it, was an altogether evil thing, a national superstition that was later to lead to other Unavoidable Wars – wars to free Cubans, to free Filipinos who didn’t want our brand of freedom, to End All Wars.

Let us, thought Doremus, not throb again to the bugles of the Civil War, nor find diverting the gallantry of Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys in burning the houses of lone women, nor particularly admire the calmness of General Lee as he watched thousands writhe in the mud.

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Upton Sinclair: The Juggernaut of war flattens out all opposition

January 4, 2015 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)

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“…But you must realize that Mother is going to fight from now on; Mother holds her convictions with just the same intensity that you hold yours, and something inside her compels utterance. It is that stern terrible thing we call out Puritan conscience. It is out of fashion at the moment, but it takes new forms, it has a rebirth, and does not rest until it has made some impression on the world – some change such as the independence of the colonies, or the abolition of slavery, or the outlawing of war, or the setting free of labor. And then the next generations forgets about the conflict, and says how famous Boston is, what great people it has produced! And their grandchildren become the aristocracy, and want everything to stay as it is!”

***

But Cornelia did not succeed in preventing the war. The great machine rolled on, flattening out all opposition. The Irish of Boston might parade and spit, they might hold meetings that turned into riots, they might make the city a scandal throughout the nation – but the great machine would flatten them out in the end, their mayor, their police force, and their cardinal. It would do the same with socialists and anarchists, pacifists, sentimentalists, all other varieties of cranks. Clear the way fro the Juggernaut!…

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

January 2, 2015 1 comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Mark Twain: Selections on war

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Mark Twain
Vice President of the Anti-Imperialist League, 1901-1910
From the New York Herald, October 15, 1900

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I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with he Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Phillippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Phillippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem…

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.

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