War Abolition Quotations
Other people besides Quakers, left wing college professors and hippies have called for war abolition. See these man-bites-dog quotations from General Douglas MacArthur, Harry Stimson and Arnold Toynbee:
During the Second World War, General Douglas MacArthur commanded over 1,000,000 men in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The following are quotations from General MacArthur’s address to the U.S. Congress on April 19, 1951:
“I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”….
“Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
Harry L. Stimson (US Secretary of State from 1929-1933, Secretary of War from 1911-1913 and 1940-1945) mirrored this assessment when he wrote “The Nuremberg Trial: Landmark in Law” for Foreign Affairs in 1947:
“We must never forget, that under modern conditions of life, science, and technology. All war has been greatly brutalized, and that no one who joins in it, even in self-defense, can escape becoming also in a measure brutalized. Modern war cannot be limited in its destructive method and the inevitable debasement of all participants… A fair scrutiny of the last two World Wars makes clear the steady intensification of the weapons and
methods employed by both, the aggressors and the victors. In order to defeat the Japanese aggression, we were forced, as Admiral Nimitz has stated, to employ a technique of unrestricted warfare, not unlike that which 25 years ago was the proximate cause of our entry into World War I. In the use of strategic air power the Allies took the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan…. We as well as our enemies have contributed to the proof that the central moral problem is war and not its methods, and that a continuance of war will in all probability end with the destruction of our civilization.”
Albert Speer, Armaments Minister for the Third Reich, in his memoirs Inside the Third Reich (page 520), reflected Stimson’s feelings by citing this quote in his advocacy to end war.
Arnold Toynbee who was possibly the best historian of the 20th century. In his Study of History, he called for war abolition. This is from volume 2, an abridgement of volumes vii-x by D.C. Sommerville, Dell Publishing, Laurel Edition, August, 1965. The copyright of the original edition was 1957. See this:
“To set against these bad omens there were more favorable symptoms. There was also one ancient institution, no less evil than war, which the Western civilization had got rid of. A society which succeeded in abolishing slavery might surely take heart from this unprecedented victory of a Christian ideal as it addressed itself to the task of abolishing the coeval institution of war. War and slavery had been twin cancers of civilization ever since this species of society had first emerged. The conquest of one of them was a good omen for the prospects of the campaign against the other.” Page 346.
“By A.D. 1955 the abolition of War had, in fact, become imperative; but it could not be abolished unless the control of atomic energy could be concentrated in the hands of some single political authority. The monopoly of the command of the master weapon of the age would enable, and indeed compel, the authority to assume the role of a World Government. The effective seat of this Government, in conditions of A.D. 1955, must be either Washington or Moscow; but neither the United States nor the Soviet Union was prepared to place itself at the mercy of the other.” Page 359.
President Eisenhower came close to wishing to abolish war:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953.
Reflecting these feelings, Ike’s defense budgets were low. President Kennedy increased defense spending to build up conventional armed forces instead of relying on nuclear deterrence.
My hope is that peace web sites and publications will use these quotations to reach out to non-peaceniks. Note that all of those quoted did not consider war as an option. Humankind must abolish war or war will abolish humankind.
Compiled by Ed O’Rourke, Houston, Texas USA 713-664-4343, [email protected]. Mr. O’Rourke spoke at the Quaker Peace Festival in Houston on November 11, 2007.