This year is part of the 100th anniversary of the Great War, aka World War I, or 'The War to End War'. (Ha.)
Ever wonder how much it cost?
Peaceniks in 1922
Believe it or not, it actually occurred to some people after World War I to challenge the idea that wars were necessary. And to make plans to prevent them. Even more astounding, some of these peaceniks were Christian church people. If this surprises you, you've been watching too much Fox News.
In a book called The Christian Crusade for a Warless World, published by a US group called the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America Commission on International Justice and Goodwill, the crusaders (and isn't it nice to see that word used in a non-military sense?) pointed out how much World War I had cost:
Then they outlined some ways to prevent future wars. No, they weren't ideas like, 'Be excellent to each other.' They were practical ideas, like improving international commerce agreements, things like that. Some of these idea were ones supported by Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points. Like Wilson, these folks didn't have a lot of success. World War II happened anyway – largely because people like this were ignored. But someday, maybe, somebody might listen. So reading the book is still a good idea.
A really cool section of the book is called 'Striking Quotations'. From what they quote, it is obvious that arms races worried them just as much in those pre-nuclear days as they did humanity during the Cold War. Or now. Here are a couple of good ones:
From the standpoint of labor it is more constructive to
destroy a battleship than to build one.
Samuel Gompers, labour leader.
Give the children a true idea of war in their history books
and the next generation would no more want a war than they would want an earthquake.
Israel Zangwill, British Zionist leader.
Peace is not the product of documents. Peace is the
product of good will among men.
Herbert Hoover, US President.
As Stephen Colbert recently reminded his audience, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Maybe it's a good idea we have these old books in an archive somewhere. Someday, maybe, some actual leader might actually read them…